Our Experience Paying Property Taxes in Mexico

Source: Q-Roo Paul

This past week we went to Tulum, Mexico to pay our property taxes for 2017. The municipality was offering a 15% discount to anyone who paid them early and that was music to my thrifty ears. It would have been 20% if we had gone a month earlier but we missed that deadline.

We expected long lines and the typical delays that we had become accustomed to when dealing with government offices in Mexico – but there were none. The entire procedure took less than 15 minutes and we left with our receipt in hand. Someone down at city hall definitely deserves a raise!

If you haven’t had to deal with Mexican bureaucracy in your life, then you cannot truly appreciate just how amazing and rare this experience was.

Comparing Property Taxes in the U.S. and Mexico

When we lived in the United States, we had a modest home valued at less than $159,000 in a non-gated community in Central Florida. The house was located outside the city limits and that helped us save money at tax time.

According to the Property Appraiser’s website, the taxes on my former residence came to over $1600 USD in 2016. Of course that included the Homestead Exemption.

Here in Mexico, we have a condo located inside of a gated resort complex. The neighborhood is well maintained, modern and beautiful. We have access to multiple swimming pools, the beach and a host of amenities.

Although our condo is valued higher than our house was in the United States, the property taxes are significantly lower. With the discount for early payment, we paid less than $180 USD for 2017.

Just in case you thought that was a typo – here it is again: less than $180 USD.

Let’s Wrap This Up

The low property taxes are just one of over a thousand reasons why Mexico is such an attractive destination for retirees from the United States and Canada.

We took a 67% cut to our annual income when we decided to retire early and move to Mexico. Although we have to be more budget conscious than we used to be in the U.S., our standard of living is higher here in Mexico.

Sometimes I still have trouble wrapping my head around that one.

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About the Author

Q-Roo Paul

Paul Kurtzweil (Q-Roo Paul) was a deputy sheriff in Florida for 25 years and retired at the rank of lieutenant in 2015. He moved to Mexico with his wife six days later to enjoy a laid-back, Caribbean lifestyle on a tight budget.

In 2016, Paul started a blog to share information with other people who may be thinking of making the move to Mexico. The blog, Two Expats Living in Mexico (qroo.us), has been viewed over a million times and Paul’s articles appear in periodicals across Mexico.

34 Comments on "Our Experience Paying Property Taxes in Mexico"

  1. Lori Quakenbush | December 18, 2016 at 4:08 pm | Reply

    I find this interesting. We are 60, not retired yet. And I wish I could make this work for us!

  2. I wonder if that discount of 15% discount applies to all of Mexico or is it different depending on which city or state you live in. We get to our new home in January just in time to pay it.

    • In Quintana Roo, most of the municipalities offer the discount for early payment. I would imagine this is a common practice in other areas as well.

  3. Hi I was wondering what the date is for early payment thanks.

  4. Javier Macías | December 18, 2016 at 5:02 pm | Reply

    As many have done so, please allow me to congratullate you on your blog and all you post. I started following you some months ago as I’m an endocrinologist in Mexico city and one of your posts became a little viral between the mexican medical community, that one being the one where you shared your good experience once you had an appointment to the dermatologist. It is no surprise that with so many bad things usually being told about our people and country, it is always nice to hear from a neutral point of view, american people having good things said about our country and us. Perhaps an important reason you and the expat community have (luckily) found kind mexican people around you, is due to the fact you live in an area which is very conscious of the importance of treating well national and international tourists and residents. I was always taught mexicans were welcoming and respectful, over the time I learned I had been lucky to be raised on a family which has always been respectful and good hearted; thus not necesarily the first being true for the entirety of the popullation, especially as ours is a country of an abismal difference in welfare between the rich and poor people; but in general we like to think we still live in a country which in spite of its many problems, it can still be lived in the way you’ve lived it, in an optimist way. Like me, as you’ve learned, there are millions of people willing to be kind, respectful and heart welcoming to the people from any part of the world regardless of their nationality, so as one of them, I thank you for being the kind of american any country would love to have you in. You’re the kind of american most good hearted mexicans (which fortunately I can say we are still the most) would with no hesitation immediately open their arms to you and invite you and your family to our home and to our fiestas.
    I really wish and hope you and your family keep enjoying so much your everyday’s life here in Mexico and keep convincing others they can have a happy / satisfying living in Mexico.
    P.S. In Mexico city, perhaps as it is a more expensive city, with neighbourhoods being as expensive as to compete with the US top ten, my appartment, being not a huge one, nor a tiny one, but a modest 1700 sq ft and not in the most expensive neighbourhoods but close to one, pays $18,000 MXN on property taxes, two years ago that equalled $1,200 USD but as our mexican peso is now weaker (the bad part of being paid in pesos and not in US dollars) that equals nowadays only $900 USD.
    Best wishes.
    P.S. (2) Maybe you could post on how the USD – MXN peso parity nowadays should be more attractive to US expats.

    • Thank you so much for following the blog and for your very kind comments. I must say that your English is excellent!

      Also, thank you for the information about the taxes in DF. It doesn’t surprise me to hear that they are significantly higher. The property taxes tend to be much higher in the metropolitan areas of the U.S. as well.

      The exchange rate between the dollar and the peso is a great article idea. I’m sure the peso will bounce back against the dollar soon enough but until then, it’s a good time for Americans to invest in Mexico.

      • Thanks again! It turns out my grandfather was one of the first mexicans to work as a mining engineer in the northern state of Chihuahua. He worked for an american mine located in a very small town in the mountains where there was a wealthy small area where americans were sent to work and live, the rest of the town was for the workers of the mine. My father was born there in 1938 and attended school with the american kids at the american school of the town, (as my grandfather was an engineer there) and became a fluent english speaker; later he had the chance to study at Austin’s Texas A&M way before the massive migration wave from Mexico to the US. That around 1958. I once saw his Texas A&M Engineer Class of 1962 he being the only one with a latin lastname of a class of no less than 500. How times have changed!
        When I was in Jr. High he was very concerned of me and my siblings having to learn english (we had english classes at school but they weren’t very good) so he managed to send me (legally) to the house of one of his ex classmates from Texas who had a son my age so that I could learn english. That was at a small town-city??? called Ft. Smith (AR) and I lived there one year, that was 1996-1997 during my high school’s sophomore year. It was the best year of my life. I still have friends I keep in touch with via Facebook. I studied Medicine in Mexico, having learned english was helpful all the way through medical career as most of the medical literature is written in english, not to mention international medical congresses are english spoken. I made a four month internship program at the Massachussets General Hospital (MGH) in 2002 which wouldn’t have been possible without my previous learning of english and which became a medical experience that helped me open my eyes to a first level quality of medical practice. One thing we “lucky”mexicans learn is that with effort we can become as well prepared and competitive as graduates of any other country; luckily that’s some of my friends and mine’s experience. Medical graduates of the best medical schools in Mexico (for example Mexico city, Monterrey and Guadalajara) who decide to specialize in the US, usually do achieve entering and finishing very competitive programs in the US. My best friend who was only a very little smarter than me became a Nephrologist and currently works at Johns Hopkins at Baltimore, another one an infectologist at MGH and another one a Gynecologist at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital at Boston. I decided to stay in Mexico where I live a happy life enjoying the little things and trying to enjoy all that can be done in this country. I always think it must have been God who decided I should have chased and make a Mexican Dream instead of chasing the American one, and I truely think I took a decision that really makes me happy and allows me to also help the less lucky ones. (Plus there are very interesting blogs like yours concluding similar aspects as you do in terms of costs of living, hours worked and quality of spare time among american doctors practicing in the US; who lately seem in general not so happy as everybody would assume). I’m starting to forget english, not written or read (as I have more time to think it) but listened and spoken, guess I need to practice it more. I’m only 35 yo. Just visited with my kids (2.9 and 1.3 yo) and my wife Orlando last week and had as ussual a great time. Best wishes!

        • What an interesting story! Thanks so much for taking the time to share it with us. I used to live about 40 minutes from Orlando. I moved from one tourist area to another one…haha.

  5. We got 25% off! Was crazy, would be great if they did something similar in the States but I imagine the ‘regular’ price would be the discounted price and when you paid in full it would actually be including a penalty.

  6. Cozumel discounts are 20% off if you pay in November, 15% discount if you pay in December, 10% January. Took us about 15 minutes and we were handed the receipt 2017 paid in full. We own 2 lots that have power, water and sewer to the property. Our 2017 taxes covering both lots were……… wait……. $35. Yes $35 dollars. We will try to start construction next year.

  7. it was very refreshing to hear Javier response- just another reason why I have so much respect for the locals…I agree I think the US, should take more hints on how Mexicans handle things, discount for paying taxes early, that would be awesome…

  8. Again, a great article! We pay over $3000 Canadian here for our property tax! Can’t wait to leave!! Almost just that amount alone could support two of us comfortably for a couple of months where you are.

    This isn’t related to this article, but is there a Mexican TV station or news based radio station (in English), so that we can try to keep up with the local news and goings on? Or do you rely on newspaper, perhaps?

    Thank you for excellent blog that we have followed very closely. Do you golf? My husband is an avid golfer and he is worrying about the high cost of his favorite hobby and having to almost budgeting that out of his retirement. Would love to hear whether being local saves him more on that particular hobby.

    • Thanks for following the blog. There aren’t any local news channels in English but there are a few online papers. They tend to be a little heavy on the “fluff” side, and I prefer real news. There are some online papers that you can instantly translate to English with Google translate. I plan on doing a post on how to do that with some links for the readers who aren’t tech savvy.

      As far as golf, that can be an expensive addiction. There are several different courses where we live and some offer discounts for certain times and days. The best advice is to befriend a member and then go with them 🙂

  9. Great article Paul! Our experience was similar. And, having moved to Mexico from Texas, our difference in taxes was much greater. With a comparably priced home, our property taxes in the US were almost $6000, after homestead exemption, while here it was less than $250 after the discount.

    But, one thing to keep in mind is that in the US we have many more city/government provided services (professional police, fire, etc.), so while it feels good to pay less, we do give up some things in return.

    • Yes, there is less infrastructure here but we don’t feel it as much living in a tourist area. Those tourist dollars pay for a lot of it so we don’t have to.

  10. Donna Norstadt | December 19, 2016 at 9:38 am | Reply

    We pay our taxes online and I did it last month to get the highest discount, so two houses totaled under $150. Dollars. Of course I also have to pay the Mexican trust since I am not a Mexican national.

  11. You’re living on the wrong side of the peninsula. Our taxes here in Progreso are $25 per year, without the pay-early discount, for a single family house a block off the beach. Thanks for the blog.

  12. We are in Puerto Penasco, Sonora. We pay taxes here in January to receive discount. Taxes for us in a gated resort, $150 for the year, we also have to add in trust fee.we have been here 3 1/2 years, like you, we have retired and living a much higher standard of living on a greatly reduced income.
    Don’t worry Paul, over 3 years in and we too are still finding lowerebcosts hard to believe

  13. I enjoy your blog. I was wondering if you earn a income from your blog? If so, how and where does it come from? I do not see any ads. Just curious and keep up the good work!

    • I was making some income from the Google ads on the site but I pulled them a week ago after I made enough to cover the operating costs for 2017. I just hate ads and I was worried that people would think that I endorsed all of those products and services.

      Occasionally we will get a referral fee from a business we recommend but other than that, it’s basically just a hobby. The day that I stop enjoying it, you will know because it will suddenly disappear…haha.

  14. Another wonderfully informative piece and I imagine serious food for thought for others contemplating a full-time move to Mexico!
    Loving the commentary between you and Dr. Javier!

  15. With every post I read, I am desiring a move to Mexico more and more. The people, citizens have always be very friendly whenever we’ve vacationed there. It’s the tourists who we found were usually the problems. Your post on taxes is unbelievable compared to the USA. Wife and I have seen quite a few VRBO type properties down there that we’re going to use to scout the area and for vacation. Again, Paul, your posts are very helpful and informative. Thanks again.

    • I actually think that I do a poor job expressing how much we love it down here. It goes way beyond the cost of living — you can find that in a lot of countries. It’s the people, the culture, the infrastructure….and so much more.

  16. Do you have condo fees or hoa? We r looking to buy soon and were wondering about how much that would cost. Your blog has helped us tremendously. We hope to b moved to Mexico by April2017.

  17. Ok…..I’m looking to learn how to pay my Tulum, Mexico property taxes online….does anyone known of a website that works? I found a couple and entered my Clave Catastral number as instructed but they said my property does not exit…….anyone that can help?

    • The municipal site will pull up the taxes due — when it works — but you have to head down there to pay them in person. You can complete a letter of authorization “carta poder” if you have someone down here that can do it for you, like a property management company or a friend.

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