By: Alfonso Galindo |

Retirees living in Mexico enjoy a low cost of living, warm climate, natural beauty, modern infrastructure and one of the most intriguing cultures in the world.

Many airports throughout Mexico offer short, direct flights to the United States, making it easy to return home or to have visitors. The low cost and high quality of Mexico’s health care system also attract many retiring Americans.

The dream of retiring south of the border is far from a new concept. The Yucatan Peninsula has over 50,000 foreign residents, and with over 1 million North Americans living in Mexico, it is clearly not a fad.

1.Real Estate Developments for Retirees
Many real estate developments have been built throughout Mexico specifically for American retirees. Oceanfront developments in Costa Yucatan, 20 to 45 minutes from the cosmopolitan city of Merida, offer luxurious amenities at a fraction of the cost of the same in the U.S. As of 2015, a three-bedroom oceanfront condo in the San Diego area costs around $3.5 million with $35,000 in annual property taxes. A comparable property just south of the border in a specially designed retirement community can be had for as little as $99,000 with only $100 in annual property taxes.

2. Thriving Expat Communities
Many traditional tourist destinations in Mexico not only welcome travelers but also cater to American retirees. Costa Yucatan, Merida, Puerto Vallarta, Lake Chapala, San Miguel de Allende, Baja California, Riviera Maya and Costa Maya are among the most popular with Americans. These areas provide a wide range of real estate options, from modest housing in good neighborhoods to high-end gated communities with 24-hour security. The economies in these areas are driven by North American tourists and retirees. Most businesses have English-speaking employees, and restaurants usually have menus printed in English. Adding more familiarity, most Mexican cities have stores found in the U.S. such as, Home Depot, Office Depot, Walmart and Costco.

3. Affordable Quality Health Care
Certainly one of the largest factors for retirees to consider when moving abroad is the availability of quality health care. Many are surprised to find the health care system in Mexico is not only very good, it is actually world class and very affordable. Costs for common surgeries and procedures can be 25% to 80% of what is paid in the U.S. Doctors and dentists are commonly educated and trained in America and Europe, and their facilities are usually supplied with the latest equipment and technologies. Many foreigners travel to Mexico from all over the world for medical treatments or procedures. Medical tourism has boomed in Mexico because many procedures and treatments, which have proven to be successful, are either extremely expensive or not yet approved in other countries.

As of 2014, an office visit with a doctor or specialist costs approximately $15 to $50. House calls are provided for around the same cost. Lab tests cost about a third of the price paid in the United States, and a CT scan costs 65% of what is paid for the procedure north of the border. An overnight stay in a private hospital room is under $100 on average, and a visit to a dentist for teeth cleaning costs around $15.

4. Infrastructure and Communications

While not as advanced as in the U.S., Mexican infrastructure and communications systems are improving. Most populated areas of the country have good cellular coverage and widely available high-speed Internet. These factors help make Mexico a popular choice for those looking to semi-retire by managing their business while sitting on a beach with a laptop.

In 2013, Mexico announced plans to invest $320 billion through 2018 to improve its infrastructure and communications in an effort to establish the country as a true emerging economic leader in the 21st century. Improvements to highways, rail lines, airports and shipping ports are only going to improve the nation’s economy and quality of life.


By: Lynda & Lawrie Lock |

 A few days ago a local taxi driver asked me: “Where are you from?” And I replied as I always do: “I live here, but I am originally from Canada.”

We then moved on to discussing the winter weather and how this has been a record-breaking cold winter north of the Mexico-U.S. border.

Menos treinta grados centígrados? -30 Celsius?” He tosses both hands in the air in an expression of mock horror. (-30 C is -22 Fahrenheit. That’s damn cold on any temperature scale!)

Por qué?” He asks. “Why? Why live there?”

“I don’t know!” I respond, grinning.

My response prompted a comedy routine. Unusually expressive, his hands hardly touched the steering wheel for the entire ride as regaled me with his thoughts on living anywhere where the temperature was less than 15 Celsius.

I was still laughing as I exited the taxi and then I started thinking of our Top Ten Reasons Why We Live in Mexico. And here they are in reverse order in the style of David Letterman:

  • No. 10— History and culture: Mexico is ancient, dating back to Mayan, Aztec and Toltec civilizations. Add in a little Spanish culture starting in the 1540s and you get a nice mix of romantic, expressive and passionate people.
  • No. 9— Sea creatures: Whale sharks, sea turtles and dolphins still abound in this ocean. Deepsea fishing is a thriving business as are the underwater photographic safaris specializing in whale shark, sailfish and marlin dives.
  • No. 8— Good restaurants and cool beverages: We can eat, drink, and be merry at a choice of restaurants, bars and taquerías. We can choose between Cuban, Italian, Swiss, Argentinian, Chinese, French, Mediterranean, Tex-Mex, or of course local Mexican flavors in a range of prices from expensive to very inexpensive.

Many of the eating establishments feature live music during the late afternoon or evening. The music adds to the festive feeling of a holiday in paradise.

  • No. 7— Sunrise and sunsets: My favorite times of the day, the beginning and the end. In the morning the sleepy sun reaches up to finger-paint the sky in pinks, and oranges and purples. It is the start of another new day.

At sunset the sun slowly gathers in the colors, putting them back into a paint-box for the night, tucked away safely until morning.

A glass of wine and my sweetie beside me as we watch the sunset — it’s a perfect ending to another great day.

  • No. 6— Beaches and boats: Two of my favorite things to photograph are the white sandy beaches, and the myriad of interesting boats moored or anchored nearby.

Many of the boats are painted delightfully cheerful combinations of yellow and blue, turquoise and white, red and yellow, or green and orange, reflecting the love of bright colors prevalent in this culture.

  • No. 5— Laughter and easy acceptance: living on Isla Mujeres is the best choice for us. It is a small community where people care about you as a person. Friends accept you for who you are, not what you were. You are simply a friend.
  • No. 4— Kids can be kids: The uncomplicated lives of local kids always brings a smile to our faces. Here the kids play: they play with friends, with toys and with older siblings and grandparents.

They ride bikes. Swim in the ocean. Explore the neighborhood. Run from house to house with friends. Giggle and laugh. We feel younger just watching their antics.

  • No. 3— Colors: Reds, blues, greens, yellows, oranges and purples tossed willy-nilly as if an omnipresent painter was having a temper tantrum, scattering tins of paint with a sweep of a large hand.

Houses decorated in fanciful combinations reflect the owners’ personal preferences. Brilliantly tinted flowers tumble over walls, in an array of reds, oranges and pinks. Eye-catching and beautiful colors abound.

  • No. 2— The weather: January is the coldest month of the year with average daytime temperatures of 27 degrees C and nighttime temperatures of 19. November to April is the dry season and that normally gives us cool dry weather with an average of nine hours of sunshine per day.
  • No. 1— New adventures keep us young: just ask any of our multitude of “senior citizen” friends. We are all healthy, happy, active and enjoying life. No one cares that we are getting older. We enjoy each day.

So, -30 C in many parts of Canada and the U.S. as opposed to +27 C in Mexico on the same day in the month of February.

No wonder the taxi driver regaled me with his comical anecdotes about Canadian weather. It was totally beyond his comprehension why people would live in colder countries.



And the praise came as no surprise to the large expat community living in Banderas Bay, because there are so many reasons that the region is a snowbird’s paradise.

While making the effort to learn some Spanish is a great idea, English is so widely spoken in Puerto Vallarta and Riviera Nayarit that it’s easy to avoid a language barrier.  And people here are so friendly that even those who don’t speak English will go out of their way with smiles and sign language to ensure that you can communicate.

And Puerto Vallarta is famous for being a tourist destination that has maintained its charm as a Mexican town.  Between Puerto Vallarta, Nuevo Vallarta and the region that surrounds them, there are endless restaurants, galleries, shops, activities and adventures to provide a never-ending supply of entertainment.

With a near perfect year-round climate, a favorable cost of living, security and such easy access from the USA and Canada due to so many direct flightoptions offered by airlines like Continental, American, Alaska, and Westjet, it’s not hard to understand why so many snowbirds are making Puerto Vallarta and Riviera Nayarit their first choice destination.–A-Snowbird’s-Paradise



By: Donald Murray |

After 35 years in soggy Seattle, Pat and Russ Huber were ready for a drier, warmer climate. They thought that Santa Barbara, California, close to friends and family and with much improved weather, would be their solution. They sold all their stuff, putting only a few things in storage, loaded their car, and headed south, looking forward to their new lives. But after about a year in California, Pat encountered a major medical issue.

“I learned that I needed hip-replacement surgery,” she says. “The price the doctor quoted was beyond our reach for only one hip and I needed two.”

Too young to qualify for Social Security or Medicare, and with no medical coverage since she left her job, Pat was in a bit of a bind. As immediate surgery wasn’t an option, the doctor told Pat that she needed to move to a warm, dry climate away from coastal humidity.

“I asked Russ if he remembered a quaint little community in Mexico we had visited some years before,” Pat recalls. “It was Ajijic (Ah-eee-eek) right on the shore of Lake Chapala. The climate was perfect and the cost of living seemed very reasonable. I really liked it and thought that’s where we should go.”

The couple also liked the fact that there was an international airport less than an hour away in Mexico’s second-largest city, Guadalajara, and felt comfortable knowing that a large group of retired Americans and Canadians had already staked their claim in the area.

So in September of 2012, Pat and Russ decided to make one more move…to the small village of Ajijic. “It’s been wonderful,” Pat exclaims.

They joined some 15,000 other expats who now live on the shore of Mexico’s largest inland body of water, Lake Chapala. Situated at an elevation of about 5,000 feet in the Sierra Madre Mountains, the twin communities of Chapala and Ajijic, only a few miles apart, host the large numbers of expats who have been coming to the area for over 40 years.

And it’s not hard to see why. The region boasts the second-best climate in the world with daily temperatures between 75 F and 78 F, no major humidity, and bright blue skies and sunshine are the norm. The moderate rain, when it happens, falls usually at night.

“Ajijic has absolutely everything we need,” says Russ. “The weather really is perfect and if we can’t find what we need here or up the road in Chapala, it’s less than an hour to Guadalajara.”

Although the village itself is small, it is quite picturesque with narrow cobblestone streets and colorful storefronts. Look in one direction and you can see houses, all with spectacular panoramas, climbing up the mountainside. Look in the other direction and you’ll be treated to a spectacular lake view.

Besides the perfect weather, Pat and Russ appreciate their growing network of expat friends, one of whom suggested that Pat see a local doctor about her hip problems.

“After I saw a local doctor, he agreed that I needed both hips replaced and scheduled the first surgery in Guadalajara a few days later. I had both hips replaced for about one third the cost I was quoted in California. And the doctor even assisted with special payment arrangements. The care and treatment I received was wonderful,” she says.

Pat and Russ rent a beautiful home in the centrally located San Antonio neighborhood. For $550 a month they rent a spacious, two-bedroom, two-bathroom home with pretty Mexican tile work in both bathrooms. There’s also a large outdoor patio and garden area bursting with plant life. They say they can easily live on their $2,100 combined Social Security income and have enough left over for dinners in nice restaurants and for savings.

“Russ likes to sing,” says Pat, “and I like to dance. He takes his guitar with him when we go out to dinner and it’s not unusual for an evening to end with a bunch of friends sitting around singing in one of the local restaurants. It’s great fun and with my new hips, I can dance again.

“Living here has brought us closer together and made us stronger. It’s a wonderful life. Ironically, the only thing I miss is Taco Bell,” Pat chuckles.


By: Rodney Brooks |

 It turns out that concerns about having all that time on your hands after you retire may be a bit overstated.

A Merrill Lynch retirement survey, conducted with Age Wave and released last week, indicates that retirees are enjoying their time away from work just fine.

“Retirees are experiencing a liberation from their hard-working and often workaholic pasts and report having more freedom, more fun, new beginnings and greater emotional well being than at any other point in their lives,” according to “Leisure in Retirement: Beyond the Bucket List.”

“This is taking a popular perception and turning it on its head,”  said Andy Sieg, head of global wealth and retirement solutions at Merrill Lynch.

Nearly 10,000 baby boomers are retiring every day, and life expectancy is at an all-time high. Because we are living longer, we can now spend as long in retirement as we can in our careers. So instead of viewing retirement as the finish line, 9 of 10 of those interviewed see it as an opportunity for new beginnings, the survey says.

And without the pressures and stress of a job, retirees say they are having more freedom, flexibility and fun. Only 7 percent said they are having less fun in retirement. The main reason for that was — you guessed it — financial.

Social networks are important. As it turns out, pre-retirees say what they will miss most from work is that reliable paycheck. But retirees say what they ended up missing most was their social networks.

And finally, as with anything in life, planning was key.

“This study revealed that planning for retirement leisure can have a very positive impact,” Sieg said. “Those who have done some preparation are far more likely to say retirement is more fun, enjoyable and pleasurable. Yet, very few people actually plan for this important dimension of their retirement experience.”



 No longer known only for border-town dentistry and cosmetic surgery, Mexico has in recent years come into its own as a global healthcare hub, offering patients an array of specialties and procedures that now begin to rival its competitor nations in Asia.

While estimates vary, researchers place the number of patients traveling to Mexico between 200,000 and 1.1 million, with undocumented Hispanics returning home for care forming much of the discrepancy.

The lion’s share of medical travelers to Mexico patients are regional—from Texas, Nevada, Arizona and Southern California seeking easy access to affordable dental care and cosmetic surgery. However, patients from Canada and the UK are also drawn to the region due to the lack of waiting times from overburdened public healthcare systems and the lure of the warm Caribbean waters.

With new facilities and services has come increased international recognition. In 2006 Mexico had no JCI-accredited facilities; in 2015 it has nine.

Many hospitals in Mexico enjoy affiliation with major educational institutions. Hospital San Jose Tec de Monterrey, for example, is sponsored by the internationally recognized Tecnológico de Monterrey, a premiere educational institution that boasts more than 18,000 full-time students and operates 32 campuses across Mexico. Through its Medical School, Center for Biotechnology, and Center for Innovation and Technology Transfer, Tecnológico de Monterrey educates health professionals, while developing new models for clinical care and research.

Not all of Mexico’s medical offerings are located in major medical centers. Mexico-bound health travelers often seek out smaller clinics run by two or three physicians, some of them second- and even third-generation family enterprises. Unassuming yet clean and efficient, these clinics are often headed by either expatriate US physicians or practitioners trained in the US or Europe. Such clinics reliably treat tens of thousands of medical travelers each year, with many of their patients returning annually for checkups, dental cleanings, physicals, and a host of other treatments that can be had far less expensively than in the US, Europe, and even many Asian countries.

Some Cautions

In recent years, stories of drug-cartel violence in Mexico have become increasingly common. Is Mexico safe for the medical traveler? The short answer is “yes,” if you use your head and follow the new rules of the road: trust only established providers of travel arrangements, and don’t head off on your own. Don’t rent cars or take your own tours. Use only official taxis. Use guides and tour leaders recommended by your hospital’s international patient staff. Stay in a well-regarded international hotel and ask the concierge there to arrange transportation and sightseeing for you. Prior to travel, travelers should check advisories about unrest in destinations of choice, and exercise the usual cautions when in country.

Mexico Healthcare and Medical Tourism

Although quality clinics are located in nearly every major city and resort in Mexico, finding a good one can be fraught with frustration. Many websites remain in Spanish, and English-speaking physicians are not always available, nor are translation services. In smaller Mexican clinics, the health traveler is likely to encounter fewer English speakers than in Malaysia or Thailand, tens of thousands of miles away. So, unless you’re fluent in Spanish, you may want to enlist the assistance of a good health travel agency when arranging care in Mexico.

These challenges aside, geographical convenience is the big motivation for many Mexico-bound health travelers who reside in North, Central and South America, and the Caribbean. More than 70 percent of Mexico’s US patients travel from the border states of California, Texas, or Arizona. Nearby patients from San Diego, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Tucson, Dallas, and Houston make the two- to six-hour trek across the border to their clinic of choice, stay a night or two in a hotel, and then drive back. As one veteran cross-border patient comments, “A three-hour drive across the border saves me $700 in physicals and dental work every year. That’s a no-brainer.”



By: Elle Cosimano | Time. Com


Life isn’t a race

I had my mid-life crisis during a sales meeting. Or more specifically, during one of those cliché icebreaker games in a room of a hundred real-estate agents, where we all stumbled around in designer knock-off pumps, wielding cheap logo-emblazoned ballpoint pens, sharing interesting tidbits about our lives in a mad race to fill up a bingo card so one of us could win a free lunch at some overpriced restaurant chain. “Tell me something interesting about you,” said a silver-haired man. “Quick. I’ve almost got bingo!”

The epiphany hit me with the force of 14 wasted years.

I was successful real estate agent at the top of my game, living in a six bedroom, two-story colonial on two acres in the Washington, D.C., suburbs. I had a home theater in my basement, a fireplace in my bedroom, two ovens in my granite kitchen, and enough square footage that I didn’t have to hear my children killing each other in X-Box games on the other side of the house. I had it all.

And I was miserable. Our whole family was miserable. In that moment, I couldn’t think of one interesting thing about my life.

“I’m writing a novel,” I said. I had no idea where the words came from — only that they came from some deep forgotten place. What I didn’t realize at the time was that not only had I just committed to writing that book, I had also committed to rewriting my family’s life. It was terrifying. And exhilarating. It was empowering! We were going to have a brand new story, and I was determined to make it better.

That summer, I took a sabbatical and moved our family to a grass hut in the jungle on the Riviera Maya where I wrote the first draft of a novel. When I reached the end, it felt more like a beginning. I never went back to real estate. My kids never went back to public school. We never went home, and I’ve never looked back. Here’s what I’ve learned.

1) Less really is more.

For years, I was buying stuff, and more stuff, and then better stuff because I thought it would make us all happy. The value of our stuff has become the measuring stick of our success. And the more stuff I accrued, the more space I needed for all that stuff. And the more space we had, the further apart our family grew.

We co-existed in a state of parallel play, each of us more attached to our cell phones and tablets and game systems than to each other. My husband and I slept in a California King bed because it filled the aesthetic space in a room so vast we never had to touch each other.

The grass hut we live in now is tiny and spare. We have small rooms and small beds. We live close and we cuddle more. We rid ourselves of things we don’t absolutely need (like the $500 designer mixer we whipped out when company came, or the glossy shelves in the living room containing hardback books with perfect spines that we never had time to read). And in doing so, we learned that the only things we truly need are each other.

2) It’s OK to be selfish.

For many years, I denied myself the time and space to discover my own self-fulfillment in the name of being a “good mom.” It’s drilled into us from an early age that parenting means sacrifice—giving up the person we once were for the sake of the adults we hope our children will later become.

But here’s the thing: I don’t want my children to give up on their dreams or set aside their happiness for others. Through my own choices, I was teaching my children that adulthood is soul-sucking, that parenthood is exhausting, and that growing up means putting everything you’re passionate about on hold. Now, I teach them through my own example that they are part of my dreams.

3) It isn’t a race.

Why are we all in such a hurry for our kids to grow up? So many of my friends are pushing their kids ahead, drowning them in extracurricular activities, and lobbying their principals to let them skip kindergarten because their darling daughters and sons are “advanced” and they want to improve their chances of getting into a good college. They’re buying smartphones for their fourth graders so they can keep up with Facebook and Instagram accounts they’re not old enough to have.

Are we only trying to give our kids a competitive edge at life? Or are we rushing them through it, expecting them to behave like adults, so we can sooner arrive in that empty nest where we might rediscover the youthful passions we set aside in the name of raising them?

4) You don’t have to follow the herd.

Don’t settle for a standardized education if you don’t want your kids to live a standardized life. When we left the U.S., we took our OCD/TS/ADD son off the medications we’d be using to keep him anchored in front of a textbook and in test prep eight hours a day. We enrolled the boys in a non-standardized school that embraces music, art and handcrafts, free play, and outside recess.

We took away the anxiety and pressure of surviving school and made learning joyful again. My oldest son doesn’t have anxiety attacks anymore. My youngest son isn’t singled out as a problem-child because he can’t sit all day and regurgitate a textbook. I have given back to my children the gift of their childhood. And I have given myself the gift of my life according my terms.

5) There’s a great big world out there.

We cling to the ideology that America is the only place to have a life. We live with the assumptions that our children will always stay where they are. We think that their world will never need to expand beyond the one or two weeks a year when they use vacation days to rush, rush, rush off someplace else where they can “relax,” only to rush home and start the clock ticking again so they can accrue enough leave to do it again next year.

When we moved to Mexico, I received letters from friends and family back home suggesting that it was all well and good to need a break, but everyone has to come back to reality at some point. After all, we can’t live in a grass hut forever. To this, I ask: Why not? Why is this life any less imaginable than one lived someplace else? There’s a great big world out there. And there’s plenty of time to live it—really live it.