In Photos: 5 Best Places for a Lakeside Retirement Overseas

Resultado de imagen para bacalar lake

By International Living

Expats are drawn to lakeside living because of its natural beauty and temperate climate—unlike the heat and humidity you sometime find in coastal areas. It can be a great option for anyone looking to avoid a busy beach lifestyle and heavy tourism. With lakeside living, you get the water and all the fun and beauty that comes with it, but without the downsides.

Here are five good-value, fresh-water destinations where retirees can enjoy lakeside living—complete with great views, fishing, and boating—for a fraction of what a comparable lifestyle would cost in the States.

Lake Bracciano, Italy

Lake Bracciano Italy

Mention Italy’s Lake District and most people will think of the northern glacial lakes—Lake Maggiore, Lake Garda, and of course Lake Como. While their glitzy reputation as a playground for the rich and famous draws lots of visitors, Lake Bracciano is a lesser-known, laidback alternative.

Lake Bracciano is just an hour from Rome but is a tranquil world away. The only motors allowed are those of the ferries that connect the three lakeside towns. All other boats, including the fishermen’s boats, have to paddle. This ensures not only a peaceful ambiance but a safer environment for kayakers and stand-up paddle boarders who don’t have to contend with jet skis or motor boats.

Three towns grace the shore of Lake Bracciano. On the south side of the lake are Bracciano and Anguillara Sabazia, while on the north side is teensy Trevignano Romano.

Bracciano, with its imposing 15th-century castle, sits above the lake and has a bustling feel. Anguillara Sabazia is a stunning sight as it sits out on a promontory. Anguillara Sabazia is a stunning sight as it sits out on a promontory. And Anguillara is big enough to provide all the daily services and amusements while retaining a small-town feel and appeal with a sense of community.

Lake Bracciano doesn’t just boast proximity to Rome. It’s also less than an hour from the Mediterranean Sea, and is at the gateway to Tuscia, the ancient Etruscan land where timeless places like Sutria, Vetralla, and Viterbo (and many more) offer endless exploration opportunities.

For less than what it costs to buy a studio apartment in Rome, you can buy a townhouse with garden, garage, and roof terrace near Lake Bracciano. It has two bedrooms, a studio, and one bathroom set out on two floors, in a quiet country-like setting. Price: $221,884.

Lake Chapala, Mexico

Lake Chapala Mexico

Lake Chapala is Mexico’s largest lake, and the surrounding area is also home to one of the largest concentrations of North American expats in the world. Located in west-central Mexico, about an hour south of Guadalajara, the Lake Chapala region sustains approximately 20,000 expats, most from the U.S. and Canada, and the vast majority are retired. That number roughly doubles during the cold Canadian winter months, when thousands more migrate to the area for about six months each year.

Two quaint towns, Chapala and Ajijic, support most of the expat population, with Ajijic holding the edge when it comes to numbers. Both communities are nestled along the lake’s shoreline and separated by only a few miles.

The enormous appeal of this area is easy to understand. In addition to the overall affordability, the area also boasts the second-best climate on the planet; daily temperatures are almost always 75 F to 78 F, under a bright blue sky and sunshine. Rain, when it happens, is usually at night. The areas’ elevation, at about 5,000 feet above sea level, assists with the stability of the climate.

Retiring is not the end of the line, but the beginning of a new adventure.

There are ample restaurants as well as modern theaters, garden clubs, Spanish classes, art exhibits, book clubs, dancing classes, chess clubs, and practically any kind of activity desired. Medical care is handled by local clinics and the cost is reasonable. For serious issues, and for serious shopping, you can head to the city of Guadalajara.

“My husband, Walter, and I recently relocated to Ajijic to escape Chicago winters,” says Miriam Ditchek. “Since living here, I have found that retiring is not the end of the line, but the beginning of a new adventure.

“I have become both a teacher and a student. Between taking art classes, Spanish language classes, and teaching English, I am busier now than when I was working a nine-to-five job. The difference being that I love what I am doing. Painting has become my passion along with teaching English as a second language to Mexican adults who want to advance in their chosen careers.

“The Lake Chapala Society is primarily a meeting place for expats. There is an annual registration fee of $38. For seniors over 79, the fee is discounted $30. We attend lectures, discussion groups, movies, exercise classes, and take advantage of health screening. There are also art and chess classes for children. My husband enjoys the bridge group that meets twice per week.

“There are many restaurants that cater to all tastes and are inexpensive by U.S. standards. My favorites are Cocinart, La Sima del Copal, and Tango. La Sima del Copal sits at the top of a mountain peak and offers the most beautiful view of the lake at sunset. Dinner for two, including a glass of wine and tip, will cost approximately $25. For those on a limited budget, there are less expensive restaurants that are also very good.”

Lake Arenal, Costa Rica

Lake Arenal Costa Rica

About three hours northwest of Costa Rica’s capital, San José is the 33-square-mile Lake Arenal.

Although this is Costa Rica’s showpiece lake, there isn’t much boat traffic and rarely any noisy jet skis, but plenty of windsurfers and kite boarders. For those seeking a more leisurely pace, kayaking is popular too.

Year-round temperatures are moderate, although there is a healthy rainy season in Costa Rica from May to November which brings out an array of green in the trees and foliage.

Construction within 50 meters of the lakeshore is prohibited. (This is because Lake Arenal is a man-made lake created to generate hydroelectric power. Costa Rica generates close to 100% of its electricity from renewable resources.) There are no large resorts, only a few small marinas, and no big condo or hotel towers to spoil the views. It’s mostly rural; a farming community—as it has been for decades.

One drawback is the lack of major medical services, but there are clinics and doctors’ offices for basic needs. For specialist care, locals and expats travel two hours west to Liberia, the closest city, where there is also an international airport.

The main hub of activity on the lake is the small village of Nuevo Arenal; many expats also live a quick drive into town on the water on either side.

“The road from Nuevo Arenal to La Fortuna is one of the best two-lane roads in Costa Rica,” says Stephen Day. “Our house is located down this road. It’s only eight minutes from the center of town, up a steep, paved driveway, and it brings you to a vista that will take your breath away the first time you see it. From it, my wife, Christine, and I have a view of Lake Arenal, from the whirling wind turbines of Tronadora to the north, all the way south to the majestic Arenal Volcano. The lot is well worth the $60,000 we paid for it in December 2016.

“As a 71-year-old, retired from careers in education and real estate, I have always worked within a strict budget. It’s no different here. We have no expenses for heat or air conditioning, because the temperature is always between 65 F and 85 F. The electricity we use runs about $50 a month. I pay $75 a month for internet and another $50 a month for TV and cable. Our cellphones cost us $140 a month, because we do make quite a few international calls. The house is paid for, and so is the one car we share. My car insurance, for very good coverage, costs me about $75 a month. All told, I estimate that we spend another $1,200 a month for all our food, restaurants, and propane for cooking, and gasoline.”

Lake Bacalar, Mexico

Lake Bacalar Mexico

Known as the Lake of Seven Colors, Lake Bacalar, a 26-mile-long, mile-wide body of freshwater on Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula, mimics the Caribbean Sea in its turquoise color and crystal clarity. It offers visitors an unusual, tranquil, wave-free experience in a freshwater lake.

In the early 1700s pirates attempted to take Bacalar from the Spanish in a bloody battle. The town’s fort, Fuerte de San Felipe, built of stone in the shape of a four-pointed star and ringed by a now-dry moat, was built shortly after the pirate attack. Now it houses a museum with plaques in both English and Spanish. A public beach club, Balneario Ejidal, provides walk-in access to the lake (for about 50 cents), along with a restaurant, palapa-covered picnic tables, a craft market, and a water slide.

The main attraction here is the lake’s natural beauty. But for medical care, shopping (including Costco), government services, and other conveniences, the city of Chetumal is only 40 minutes’ drive south. The border with Belize is not too far beyond that, making weekend trips possible. There’s even a water taxi that runs from Chetumal to Ambergis Caye in Belize.

And the area’s beautiful Caribbean beaches are also close by.

As in the rest of Mexico, a couple can live quite well on about $2,000 a month, including housing, medical care, and all other expenses. To live in a place with natural beauty found nowhere else and the laidback lifestyle, it’s a bargain. You can fill up a bag bursting with fruits and veggies for less than $10. And there are other goodies on offer.

“When I visited Bacalar, we didn’t feel like cooking. So, we went to one of the many grill restaurants in town. Two pounds of grilled skirt steak, with tortillas, hot sauce, rice, and beans, cost us about $8,” says ILs Roving Latin America Editor, Jason Holland

Lake Llanquihue, Chile

Lake Llanquihue Chile

With its wild beauty and seemingly endless, wide-open spaces, Chile’s Lake District seems like the last perfect place at the far end of the world. However, it offers one of the most First World lifestyles in Latin America.

The Lake District is one of Chile’s most popular vacation areas, with cool, freshwater lakes for summertime vacations and, in some parts, wintertime skiing, as well. In spite of the country’s reputation for seismic activity, the Lake District long had a smattering of mostly European expats. Now those from the U.S. and Canada are putting down roots in this region, too.

“When we tied the knot all those years ago, my husband, Jim, and I never dreamed that we would be celebrating our 28th anniversary under the stars of the Southern Hemisphere,” says Lori Dorchak.

“But when the financial crisis of 2007-2008 destroyed our real estate brokerage, development, and appraisal firm, we felt that we were living in front of a computer screen, working harder and harder to make less and less. What’s more, all we had to show for it was chronic heartburn, a perpetual headache, and empty pockets.

“Disillusioned with the American Dream, we decided to close our business and retire to paradise. We were having a midlife crisis together. But our dream of paradise did not include palm trees and relaxing on the beach. We were only in our early 50s and felt we still had lots of living to do, besides building that homestead we’d always dreamed about and raising the children still left at home.”

The couple decided to settle in Puerto Octay, a town on the north shore of Llanquihue Lake in Los Lagos Region in the south of Chile. Lake Llanquihue is a vast, blue expanse with the snow-capped peaks of two volcanoes, Osorno and Calbuco, clearly visible on its far side. There are several villages scattered along the shores of Lake Llanquihue, all of them surrounded by forest.

“We chose here because of the spectacular scenery, year-round mild climate, and because it is just a bit off the beaten track.

“We came from South Carolina, which has a pretty low cost of living. In comparison, some things in Chile can be more expensive, like technology and imported items. On the other hand, many everyday expenses are significantly cheaper here, like rent, utilities, and locally grown food (in my opinion, these are the important things). Out in the country, we have found rents on modest family homes to be as low as $200 a month, while in the cities, a larger three-bedroom furnished apartment can run from $500 to $800.

“Our experience with the Chilean healthcare system has also been very positive. For minor illnesses like the flu, we just go to our local hospital. Before we signed up for the national insurance plan, which costs around $25 a month for our family, we were charged just $15 to see the doctor. Medicines usually cost us less than $5. If we want better quality or service, we can always go to the private hospital for a slightly higher co-pay. The quality of care here is comparable to the U.S., with more of a focus on prevention.

“The freedom we experience living in the countryside of southern Chile is marvelous.”

Original Source

She’s 63 and living by the beach in Mexico on $1,000 a month: ‘I can’t imagine living in the U.S. again’


By Catey Hill | Market Watch

Janet Blaser knows a thing or two about reinvention.

Once a food and restaurant writer in Santa Cruz, Calif., the now-63-year-old struggled to find work roughly a decade ago as journalism increasingly moved online. She lost one beloved job, got her hours cut at another, and ended up working odd jobs, including one in human resources at an amusement park.

With little savings and a low salary, the single mother of three struggled — even as she watched friends buy million-dollar homes and pricey cars. “I constantly felt like I wasn’t ‘enough’ and didn’t have ‘enough,’ ” she writes in her new book, “Why We Left,” which profiles 27 expats in Mexico.

A trip to Mazatlán, Mexico — a colorful resort town on the Pacific coast — changed the course of her life. “I fell in love, I felt this heart connection somehow — there were beautiful old buildings, cobblestone streets, plazas with wrought iron and the beautiful glittering Pacific Ocean, warm and swimmable,” she tells MarketWatch. “It just felt deeply healing, friendly and welcoming.” Plus, she saw the interesting cultural, outdoors and foodie offerings of the town and its abundance of English-speaking expats and tourists, and realized that there was almost no information in English about Mazatlán’s many goings-on. It sparked an idea: that she could use her journalism experience to create an English-language magazine about Mazatlán and its cultural happenings.

Panoramic view of the Mazatlán shoreline.

And so, though the surfing enthusiast initially considered moving to New Orleans, off to Mazatlán she went, by herself, in 2006 — her Toyota Echo packed to the gills. The trip took about four days, and it wasn’t absent self-doubt: She called each of her three children, who by that time were adults, sobbing, wondering if she was making a huge mistake. But she knew that staying in Santa Cruz would leave her scrambling for every dollar, unsure of her future, and she was ready for a new life — and a new journalistic endeavor. (Plus, she jokes, “I wanted warmer weather and a warmer [expanse of] ocean that I could swim and play in.”)

She spent the first year in Mazatlán living on what she was paid for part-time editing work she did online and some savings (Janet lives on about $1,000 a month), while she explored how to start that local arts-and-entertainment magazine. M! Magazine launched in 2007 — filled with restaurant reviews, profiles, and advice on what to do and see — and Janet owned it for nine years.

Fast-forward more than a decade — during which time Janet also started a local organic farmers market — and, though Janet misses her kids and now three grandkids in the U.S., she reports she “can’t imagine living in the U.S. again” — in part because, she says, “I couldn’t afford to live in the States again” and that “the more easygoing Mexican lifestyle agrees” with her.

“It’s a very different vibe here that’s kind of hard to explain. It’s not about being retired, because I wasn’t that until a year ago. It’s just a different understanding of what’s important in life, and a more relaxed, live-and-let-live attitude. If something doesn’t get done today — there’s always tomorrow, or the next day. What’s the big deal?” she explains. Here’s what her life in Mazatlán is like, including the costs, residency issues, health care and more.

Matt Mawson
Janet Blaser framed by lush surroundings.

Costs: Janet says she lives on about $1,000 a month, with her biggest regular expenses being rent ($210 a month, including water and electricity, for a one-bedroom apartment), gas for her car ($100 to $150 a month) and food (groceries cost her about $250 a month). While produce is cheap, specialty items like fancy cheese or high-end pasta are a bit more than they might be in the U.S., she says. She likes going out to breakfast sometimes and pays about $6, including tip, for that; a fancy dinner might cost $18 or so, she says. She also pays about $22 a month for Wi-Fi for her apartment, and $18 for phone (she uses WhatsApp a lot, which is how we talked), and adds that entertainment is very cheap in the area. You can go to a movie for under $5, for example. She even has a vet who makes house calls ($15) and a bike-repair person who does the same ($10, plus parts).

One bigger, albeit irregular, expense is travel, as flying to the U.S. is pricey, she says. One hack: You can fly out of Culiacán, which is about 220 kilometers north of Mazatlán, to Tijuana and then walk across the border, she says.

Health care: Janet says she spends roughly $1,500 a year on health insurance through an international health-insurance company. Her deductible is $1,000, and she rarely meets that because routine health care in Mexico is inexpensive. She says she’ll spend about $30 on a doctor’s visit and can get appointments the same week and sometimes even the same day; a recent trip to get two dental crowns cost her $135 each. So far, she says she’s had a good experience with the health care in Mexico and highlights the two privately run hospitals in town as a perk.

Language hurdles: Though Janet had studied Spanish while living in the U.S., and “thought I knew what I was doing — that I’ve got this,” she quickly realized upon moving to Mexico that she wasn’t quite as close to fluent as she thought (and even today isn’t perfect). “I can carry on a conversation and make a phone call and order food to go and give directions, but I will never be completely fluent,” she says. The difference between now and then, though, is that “I’m not afraid to try. Even if I sound like a caveman, I’m not afraid — it’s a constantly humbling position,” she says, adding with a laugh that sometimes she still sounds like “a toddler.”

Janet Blaser
Sunset in town

Residency: Janet says the process to secure permanent residency status was relatively easy for her more than a decade ago but notes that is has changed and is more complicated now, though still doable.

Cons of living in Mexico: Janet fully admits that life in Mexico has some significant downsides. “There are issues in this country,” she writes in her new book. These include “extreme poverty in some parts,” she tells MarketWatch. On a more day-to-day front, Janet laments being unable to find the underwear and organic body products that she likes, and that she finds some store-bought products like kitchen utensils, towels and sheets to be of low quality.

Bottom line: “For all the challenges, I can’t imagine living in the U.S. anymore,” despite the pull of her grandkids and “the deep comfort of being around my adult children,” Janet writes in her book. “When I visit, it doesn’t feel like home anymore; I am indeed a visitor.” And, she tells MarketWatch, “I’m able to actually live a more simple life and be satisfied in a way I could never before in the U.S.”

Oirinal Source

How Much Money Do You Need to Retire in Mexico?

More and more Americans are retiring abroad to enjoy better weather, new experiences, and relaxed lifestyles, as well as access to affordable health care and a lower cost of living. Mexico is a popular destination because it offers all this – plus it’s close enough to home that travel back and forth to the States to visit friends and family (and for them to visit you) is relatively easy and reasonably priced.

A primary consideration when deciding on a retirement location is what it’s going to cost. Here, we take a quick look at how much money you might need to retire comfortably in Mexico.

Lifestyle Matters

No matter where you retire – at home or abroad – how you retire greatly affects the amount of money you’ll need. It’s possible to retire in Mexico on a fraction of what one would need in the United States if you are willing to live modestly in a small apartment, eat simple meals at home, and forgo some of the comforts and conveniences you may be used to back home. Alternatively, you could easily spend $10,000-plus a month living large in an exclusive beachside community and taking full advantage of the myriad fine dining, entertainment, and travel opportunities.


Most people who retire abroad won’t fall into either extreme, seeking a comfortable lifestyle that still keeps them on a reasonable budget. To achieve this in Mexico, a retired couple might be looking at the following monthly costs. Note that this level of budget in Mexico permits renting a house with three-times-a-week maid service and a weekly gardener (rough estimates):

Housing (a two-bedroom house rental) $900
Utilities (electric, gas, water, local phone, cable TV and internet) $150
Household help (maid service 3X/week; gardener 1X/week) $215
Groceries $350
Dining out and entertainment $250
Health care (both people on Mexican IMSS insurance, plus extra expenses) $140
Incidentals $150
Monthly total $2,155 

*Based on estimates from retirement website

So for roughly $2,155 a month, or about $25,860 per year, a couple could retire comfortably in Mexico. And depending on the exchange rate between the peso and the U.S. dollar, Americans might be able to stretch their retirement budget even further. The average monthly benefit for a retired couple is $2,340, according to 2018 data from the Social Security Administration. That adds up to $28,080 each year – just enough to cover this budget.

Of course, retirement costs vary from person to person, and your costs could be lower or significantly higher than these estimates depending on your situation, lifestyle choices, and any unforeseen expenses. And, keep in mind that these estimates don’t include expenses such as traveling to/from your retirement destination, moving your household, emergencies, and taxes.

Ways to Save

One way to save is through Mexico’s retirement benefits program. If you are 60 or older and have a Mexico resident visa, you are eligible for Mexico’s Instituto Nacional para las Personas Adultas Mayores (INAPAM) benefits program. This program provides discounts of 10%-50% on a variety of services, including health care (dental work, doctor visits, hospitals, lab work, medical devices, and pharmacies); cultural activities such as archeological sites, museums and the theater; transportation (including airfare, bus fare, car rentals and car purchases); and hotels.

Another important way to control costs is to find out where the locals shop and go there. Get to know the local vendors and farmers, and learn where you can buy things at the “local” rate instead of the “tourist” rate. Remember, you’re not on vacation. It might be OK to splurge while on a short vacation, but if you live like that every day, it’s easy to burn through your entire retirement budget.

The Bottom Line

Retiring in Mexico might be a good choice for those looking to enjoy new experiences and cultures, access to affordable health care, a change of scenery, and a lower cost of living. Since life outside the United States can be very different from what you may be accustomed to, it’s helpful to have an adventurous spirit and open mind to fully enjoy and appreciate the experience.

Be aware that some regions of Mexico are safer than others. It’s especially important in Mexico to research regions you’re considering before you move, use common sense, and avoid (or use extra caution) in areas with active travel alerts and warnings.

Visa and residency requirements, plus taxes (both in Mexico and U.S. tax regulations for citizens living abroad) can be complicated. It makes sense to work with a qualified attorney and/or tax specialist when making plans to retire outside the United States.

Original Source

Keeping fit now pays off in retirement, says new study


By Dr. Liji Thomas | News Medical

A new study from the University of Anglia demonstrates that physical fitness in middle age is important for a healthy retired life. Especially, it focuses on the crucial role of physical exercise in those over 55 years of age, in ensuring not just physical fitness, but mental and social resilience. On the other hand, it also throws light on barriers to fitness in this age group, such as health issues, lack of time or motivation, and low energy levels. This could leave retirees facing significantly impaired health in their post-retirement years.

The current study was based on an online survey covering over 1,000 people over the age of 55 years, titled “Physical Activity and Retirement Transitions”, which asked them about their current fitness level as well as their expectations of or current experiences during their retired life. In addition, the researchers directly met groups of people nearing or just after retirement, to find out more about this aspect of their lives during this transition period.

Interestingly, researcher Charlotte Salter found that interest in physical activity showed a decreasing trend around the age of 55 years in the English. She points out that in conjunction with this, people are showing poor health and a tendency to slip towards ill health much earlier nowadays. Earlier, these characteristics were seen in the elderly or retired adults, but are now evident in 1 out of 3 people aged between 50 and 65 years.

She comments: “Adults are spending more years of their life working than ever before. Retiring is a life-changing event which provides all sorts of opportunities – but it coincides with declining physical activity, health and wellbeing.”

In contrast to the typical expectations of a healthy and enjoyable retired life, for which people begin to plan from around the age of 55 years, the reality is much grimmer. Retired people often find themselves weak and ill, unable to enjoy the free time they now have.

The gamechanger is maintaining physical fitness from 50 years onwards. However, the study found that many older adults cannot do this because of varied reasons. Some cited illness, others a lack of motivation, while still others said they could not afford sports or fitness facilities. For others, these were simply not available, or that they felt out of place among the typical young athlete or fitness enthusiast towards whom the classes or activities were geared.

Still another class said they had no time for fitness-related activities, because of work or having to care for others. However, once they retire, they have time but not the ability to take advantage of the opportunity to do what they wanted to do. Also, society needs to recognize that as the population becomes older overall, the workforce is also aging. This will mean that these soon-to-be retirees will need current support if they are to lead active lives both during their working lives and after retirement.

The take-home is that adults facing retirement in the next decade or so must plan to make sure they remain fit. Also, they need support to achieve this. For instance, those over 55 could take up other physical activities involving other people of their age, or goal-oriented activities such as walking the dog, gardening, doing more housework, looking after children, or voluntary work at charities or other organizations which require physical labor.

The report also includes recommendations on achieving better physical fitness in the over-55 age bracket. One encouraging observation is that the less time one spends at work, the more time is spent on physical activity like gardening or other leisure activities. This is determined largely by pre-retirement habits.

Some recommendations are therefore aimed at employers and healthcare providers – such as formulating policies to encourage a health and fitness culture for older employees within the organization; allowing the flexibility to work out while working, such as through groups formed to walk together, or incentives to cycle to work; or a package including help with finding the right activity and planning an active retirement while still at work.

Others are focused at improving the integration of older people into sports and community programs that encourage fitness. These include more information on locally available sports or fitness activities for older workers, greater access to parks and other green spaces, training the staff to cater to older people, and designing appropriate keep-fit activities for this age group. This could include free demos and trial offers, discounts for older citizen groups, and the availability of time and opportunity for these individuals to spend time together at such facilities along with exercising.

Study partner Active Norfolk’s Rachel Cooke adds, “Active Norfolk will be working with our partners to influence policy and provision across these three target areas to support over-55s to be active in the lead up to and during retirement.” This is echoed by Salter, who says, “[This] could ensure people are more mobile, capable and healthier once retired.”

The study titled “The Physical Activity and Retirement Transitions Study (PARTS)” was published on August 12, 2019.

Original Source

Get the Right Visa to Live in Mexico


By Diane Schmidt | The Spruce

If you are planning to move to Mexico either permanently or for an extended period, you will invariably have to obtain the necessary documents and requirements and understand the immigration laws of the country.

If you’re uncertain which visa you need or need help to obtain a visa, we recommend hiring an immigration lawyer. But before you do, know that most of the paperwork is easy to fill out and submit and that a lawyer may not be able to process your visa any faster than if you do it yourself. Plus, you’ll be saving lawyer fees.

There are three types of Mexican visitor permits/visas you need to be aware of. The first is known as the FMM (Forma Migratoria Multiple). For US and Canadian residents, this is all the official documentation you require for visiting Mexico (aside from your passport) if you wish to stay no longer than 180 days. If you’re not from the US or Canada, make sure you read the complete list of countries that do not require special visas to enter Mexico.

The Tourist Card

Most people visiting Mexico will be issued the visitor’s visa that’s meant for tourists or people who are conducting business for six months or less. Once you’ve been in the country for six months, you need to leave and re-immigrate if you want to stay longer. The tourist card cannot be renewed without leaving the country. If you want to stay longer than six months, then you should apply for the non-immigrant or immigrant visa.

The FMM is the most common visa tourist card issued to all visitors to Mexico. If you are flying, it will be given to you on board the flight. It is also available from immigration officials at the airport when you arrive at your Mexican destination. There is a cost for the FMM, which is included in the price of your airline ticket

If you enter the country overland or by sea, the form will be issued to you by the immigration office at the border or port of entry. The FMM will cost you around US$22, which has to be paid at a bank. Banks are usually available near the immigration office if you need to obtain local currency. If you’re carrying US dollars, most offices will accept dollars instead of pesos.

This form that you need to fill out and give to the officials–who will stamp and process it will grant you a stay in the country for no more than 180 days. When they stamp your form at immigration, they’ll give back the right-hand part of the form for your safekeeping. Make sure you keep this half of the form with you and safe at all times no matter how long you’re staying. Keep it with your passport or in a locked box as immigration will ask for it when you leave the country. If you lose it, you’ll have to pay a fine and be hassled at the border. Just keep it safe during your visit.

The Non-Immigrant Visa

The FM3 Long-Term, Non-Immigrant Visa is the document you need if you plan to stay in Mexico for anything longer than six months. It is a document that is renewable indefinitely and is renewed annually. For most foreigners living in Mexico, this is the only visa they need. It gives them the right to live in Mexico under the conditions stipulated by the visa. This visa does not lead to permanent residency status or Mexican citizenship.

The Immigrant Visa

The FM2 Immigrant Visa is for those who wish to achieve Mexican Permanent Residency Status or Citizenship in the country. With an FM2, one may apply for permanent residency or citizenship after 5five years. You do not have to hold an FM3 to apply for an FM2.

Original Source

Celebrating Four Years of Retirement in Mexico


By QROO PAUL | Two Expats in Mexico

It’s been four years since Linda and I arrived at the Cancun airport with all of our worldly belongings packed into four suitcases, all weighing under 50 lbs. We had just spent the previous year selling, donating or otherwise disposing of all of the ‘stuff’ we had accumulated throughout our lives.

When we got rid of our stuff, we got rid of the debt that came with it. No more mortgage or car payments. We were actually debt free for the first time in our adult lives. The key was to maintain that status while we built a new life in Mexico and learned to live on a retirement income that was only about 1/3 of what we were making when we were both working.

Our original plan was to try it for a year to see if we liked it and if we could afford to live in Mexico — and live well. One of the reasons that we decided to retire young was so we could enjoy it while we had our health, but ‘enjoying it’ meant having enough disposable income to travel, go out to eat etc. — otherwise, what’s the point?

After only two months into our one year trial period, we had already decided that Mexico was the perfect place for us. We loved the area, the people, the food, the healthcare, and most of all, the low cost of living. Not only were we able to live well on on our reduced income, we even put some money in savings each month.

That’s when the stars really aligned for us and the owner of the condo that we were renting, and loved, asked if we were interested in buying it with all of the contents included. We were able to do it without accruing any debt by using the money that we had made from selling virtually everything we owned back in the States. We were laying down roots!

We started this blog near the end of our first year in Mexico, so if you’re a regular reader of the blog, you already know how things have been going over the last four years. If you’re not, I’ll sum it up in one word: outstanding!

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‘Why go back to the U.S.?’ This divorced retiree left L.A. for Mexico — where he found love and halved his cost of living

By Catey Hill | Market Watch

It’s a far cry from his life in Los Angeles right before he left for Mexico in 2015. The 66-year-old former aerospace management professional had recently gotten a divorce and sold his home and was temporarily living at his sister’s house while he figured things out. “It was kind of depressing. Here I am 60 years old, living in my sister’s spare bedroom with my belongings in an 8-by-10 storage unit.”

Then a friend invited him to visit her in Akumal, Mexico — a little town about 25 miles from Playa del Carmen, a popular tourist spot on the Caribbean. “She was living in this condo on the beach. You walk in and there are sliding glass doors that look at the water. Her backyard was the Caribbean,” recalls Uriarte, who’d always dreamed of a house on the beach. It was on that day he decided the next chapter of his life would be in Mexico, where he’d spent two years of his childhood.

He moved in January 2015 to Akumal — “I spent that first seven months at the beach every day,” Uriarte says — and in 2016 he moved to Playa del Carmen to be closer to restaurants and friends and meet more people. (“There’s only so much self-reflection you can do,” he jokes of his beach-combing life in Akumal.) It was there that he began volunteering at the Keep Kids in School Project (KKIS), an organization that helps raise money to send children to high school (public education is not free in Mexico, thanks to the myriad extras like uniforms, textbooks, supplies and fees that many families have to pay) and college. And it was there he met his now-girlfriend.

“We had both been invited to an expat going-away party by mutual friends. I was sitting alone at a table. and she came over and began speaking English to me. I spoke back in Spanish, and she was surprised. We just hit it off.”

The couple has now moved with her teenage son to Querétaro, a gorgeous city lined with historic colonial architecture (the city center is a UNESCO world heritage site) that has a fast-growing aerospace industry. (Uriarte hopes to start consulting soon.) It’s a sophisticated city with lots of shopping, art galleries and museums, numerous hospitals, award-winning restaurants and multiple universities.

Here’s what their life is like in Querétaro — from costs to health care and safety to residency and daily life:

Querétaro at sunset.

Querétaro at sunset.

The cost: ‘Living here cut my cost of living by at least half’

Life in California — Uriarte lived in Redondo Beach, in Los Angeles County — was extremely expensive, in terms of taxes, real estate and car expenses, insurance, and other costs. Moving to Mexico cut Uriarte’s living costs “by at least half,” he says. Out of 315 cities that Expatistan ranks, Querétaro ranks as the 245th cheapest, and International Living estimates that monthly costs for a couple living pretty modestly are under $2,000 a month.

By the numbers: Querétaro, Mexico

Population 640,000
Weather Typically between 42°F and 85°F

Sources: Google, WeatherSpark

Uriarte’s biggest monthly expense is rent: Uriarte, his girlfriend and her son now live in a four-bedroom modern home in a gated community in a high-end neighborhood for $1,600 a month. The water bill is about $25 a month, and electricity is between $75 and $100 a month. Food, he says, costs probably 60% of what it costs in the U.S.; groceries for three people for the week costs about $75 to $100 — and that’s shopping at a Whole Foods–like grocery store. Going out to eat is also cheaper: A casual lunch with a glass of wine might cost $10 per person; a nice dinner with a glass of wine might cost $30 or $35 and at a super-high-end spot $75, he says. Car insurance costs about $700 a year, and, though Uriarte says that gas is a bit more expensive than in the U.S., he doesn’t drive as often so he spends much less.

Monthly cost of living: Querétaro, Mexico

Rent (two-bedroom apartment) $750
Utilities $80
High-speed internet $30
Two cell phones $25
Groceries/household items $300
Entertainment $150
Health care for two $80
Incidentals $150
TOTAL $1,565

Source: International Living

One other big expense is travel. Uriarte goes back to the U.S. see his four daughters and grandkids at least once a year. “One of the advantages of living in Querétaro is that I can fly roundtrip to Tijuana for about $300 and walk across to the U.S. via the new border bridge (CBX) directly from the airport,” he says. “Once across on the U.S. side I can rent a car or take public transportation to the train station in San Diego,” which, he says, beats landing at LAX. He notes that “Querétaro has an international airport with several flights to U.S. cities, but the cost is about $700 to $900 U.S.”

Health care

Though you can buy health insurance in Mexico that’s a lot cheaper than in the U.S., says Uriarte, he’s opted to get medevac insurance, which will evacuate a policyholder via air ambulance or another fast transport mode in an emergency.

Uriarte pays roughly $500 a year for that insurance, he says. He also has Medicare, so he can see his doctors in the U.S. using that coverage.

While in Mexico, for smaller checkups and other for services, Uriarte pays out of pocket. Care, he says, has been good as well as cheaper than it would be in the U.S. A checkup in Mexico costs him about $60 or $70. When he returns to the U.S., he sees his longtime doctors and refills his prescriptions. There are multiple hospitals in Querétaro.

Evening in Querétaro.

Evening in Querétaro.


“I’ve never felt threatened,” says Uriarte. He says that, while he lives in a gated community with a 24/7 guard, his children in Los Angeles live behind gates, too. Querétaro is known as one of the safer cities in Mexico. “I feel very comfortable here,” Uriarte says.


Uriarte recommends expats who are considering moving to Mexico become permanent residents, as it “makes life a little less complicated when renting or buying a house, applying for a driver’s license or opening a bank account,” he says. He applied about two years ago and says the whole process took him a little over a month and cost about $100 (for an immigration specialist to help him).

Daily life

Though Uriarte hopes to start consulting in the aerospace industry, the area in which he formerly worked, he’s kept busy separate from that. He’s on the board at KKIS, the organization he volunteered with in Playa, he’s taken up woodworking, and he’s very involved in the expat community, including organizing events. “My life is pretty busy,” he reports. “The days go by really fast. Life tends to present you with opportunities if you’re open to them.”

What to know before moving to Mexico

“You do need to understand that life in Mexico is not always what it is in the U.S.,” says Uriarte, who has seen some people relocate south only to head home to the U.S. in short order. “When you’re going to the bank, to the grocery store, you’re going to wait in line,” he says. “There’s also a lot of traffic.” The key to being happy in Mexico, says Uriarte, bilingual since childhood, is integrating yourself with the local community and picking a spot that you love, not just one that’s got a low cost of living.

Bottom line

Uriarte doesn’t have any plan to move back to the U.S. anytime soon, and that’s a “growing sentiment” he’s hearing from other expats, he says. “Why go back to the U.S. when I have everything here? The quality of life is good, [and] the cost of living is cheaper.”

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