By: Jean Folger | Investopedia.com

One of the many decisions older adults must make is where to live during retirement. A small but growing number of adventurous retirees choose to settle down overseas – at least on a part-time basis – to enjoy new experiences, pleasant weather and the possibility of a lower cost of living.

Another motivator: If you have family roots abroad – for instance, you were born abroad or your parents come from outside the U.S. – you may decide to explore the “home country” during retirement. There are important considerations when retiring abroad in a country where you have family roots, and Mexico is no exception.

Social Security Benefits

As long as you are eligible for U.S. Social Security payments, you can receive them while living in Mexico – whether you are a citizen of the U.S. or Mexico (special rules may apply if you are not a U.S. citizen and if you receive benefits as a dependent or survivor of a worker). Use the Social Security Administration’s Payments Abroad Screening Tool for details pertaining to your specific situation.

According to the Social Security Administration, you can opt to have your benefits mailed to you in Mexico, or deposited directly into a bank account or other financial institution of your choice – in Mexico or the U.S. (or in any country that participates in the Social Security Administration’s International Direct Deposit program).

In many cases, the direct deposit option makes the most sense: You won’t have to worry about delayed, lost or stolen checks, plus you’ll get your money a couple of weeks faster than if you wait for checks to come in the mail. Once your benefits are deposited, you’ll be able to access them using an ATM card in Mexico.

If you need help with anything Social Security-related, the U.S. Embassy Mission Mexico has three Federal Benefits Unit locations: the U.S. Embassy Mexico City, the U.S. Consulate General Guadalajara and the U.S. Consulate General Ciudad Juárez. It’s an appointment-only system: To schedule an appointment or to obtain more information, use the online form on the Embassy’s website. You’ll need to include your name, address in Mexico, phone number(s), email address, Social Security number and a brief message stating the reason for your inquiry. Responses typically take up to three business days, and the office is closed on holidays and the last working day of each month.

Note that Medicare does not cover health services you receive outside the U.S. Medicare benefits are available if you return to the U.S., but you will end up paying a 10% higher premium for each 12-month period you could have been enrolled but were not.

Land Ownership Laws

Foreigners can own property in the interior of Mexico – including tourist areas like Guadalajara, Cuernavaca and even Mexico City – but are technically forbidden from holding title to any property in the “Restricted Zone” established under the Mexican Constitution, which extends 100 kilometers (62 miles) from any international border and 50 kilometers (32 miles) from any coastline at high tide.

Note that foreigners and Mexican nationals alike are prohibited from owning property in the Federal Zone – any beachfront property within 20 meters (65 feet) of the mean high tide line. (Similar “littoral rights” exist in the U.S.: While you can buy beachfront property, you only own as far as the median high-water mark; beyond that is the government’s property.)

Even though foreigners are technically banned from buying in the Restricted Zone, it is possible to use a bank trust (called a fideicomiso) to purchase in these areas. In this situation, a bank acts as a trustee by holding the trust deed for the buyer, who is the beneficiary of the trust. The fideicomiso is authorized by the Mexican government through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and while the bank is the legal owner, the beneficiary retains the legal rights of ownership and can rent, sell and bequeath the fideicomiso or property at will.

Another option for ownership: Mexican corporations, which can be 100% foreign-owned, can hold title within the Restricted Zone. So you and your spouse could form a corporation, which in turn could purchase the property without the need of a bank trust. All real estate transactions in Mexico require the services of a notary public (notario publico) – a government-appointed lawyer who processes and certifies all real estate transactions.

Citizenship and Visa Options

With few exceptions, if you are born in Mexican territory you are automatically considered a Mexican national at birth. If you were born in Mexico to American citizen parent(s), you will have dual citizenship (Mexican and American) at birth. Likewise, if you are born in the U.S. to at least one Mexican parent, you will have dual citizenship.

If you enter Mexico on your Mexican passport, you can stay in the country indefinitely. If you use your U.S. passport, you can stay for up to 180 days as a tourist. Beyond that, you have a couple of options. The Temporary Resident Visa is valid for up to four years, and you’ll need to prove you have sufficient income or investments to support yourself (currently about $1,500 a month).

If you plan on staying for long periods of time or want to seek permanent residency, you can apply for the Permanent Resident Visa. To be eligible, you must have a monthly income of about $2,500, or an average monthly bank/investment account balance over 12 months of about $103,000. You’ll also have to satisfy one or more of the requirements: family connections, income/investments, points score or political asylum.


Residents (regardless of nationality) are subject to Mexican income tax on income earned worldwide; non-residents are taxed only on Mexican-sourced income. Because the U.S. and Mexico have a Double Taxation Agreement, you won’t be taxed twice on the same income. Taxpayers generally pay taxes in both countries, but have offsetting tax credits that essentially limit taxes to one country. Mexico does not have any estate or inheritance taxes. Tax laws are complicated and change frequently, so it is recommended that you work with a qualified tax accountant to make sure you have the most favorable tax outcome possible.

The Bottom Line

While it’s important to do your homework so you know what to expect regarding things like Social Security benefits, buying property and visas, it’s important to consider the emotional and logistical impact of retiring abroad. A move to another country can challenge your comfort zone in every way as you get used to a new language, culture, foods, customs and everyday living.

While many people embrace these changes inherent in moving abroad, others may find overseas living works out better on a part-time basis – say, six months in the U.S. and the rest of the year abroad. If you have a choice when it comes to living outside the U.S., give careful consideration to your own situation, comfort level, friends, family and healthcare needs before making any decisions.

Note: U.S. citizens traveling or living abroad are encouraged to enroll in the Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP), which provides security updates and makes it easier for the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate to contact you and/or your family in case of an emergency.


By: Shannon O’Donnell | ALittleADrift.com


 Total Cost of a Month of Living in San Pancho, Mexico

This entire post outlines the baseline costs — my fixed monthly expenses for one person.

Costo por mes

The chart to below shows all the basics; not included in this is medical/health insurance, my plane flight to Mexico, or any expenses I incur outside of living (running this site, insurance, work, etc). But all the baseline costs are covered, and really unlike the Thailand post, this total includes toiletries and any expenses inside Mexico that cropped up—I literally never withdrew more than $750 from the ATM each month. And this budget is on the high-end for one person; if I had looked around for an apartment or shared a house with friends my costs would have lowered to $600 (and my friend Earl says that’s about the cost of living in Playa del Carmen on the east coast beaches.

One of the high points of Mexico, a clear advantage over living in Asia, is the visa situation. As a US citizen I receive a six months visa on arrival automatically, and this can be reset simply by crossing a border and coming back … indefinitely. The visa situation in Southeast Asia is a lot trickier, and though I didn’t include the visa runs into my baseline costs in SEA, it was a part of living there for six months that could add up a lot if you were there years on end. Right now the peso is roughly 12 pesos to 1 US dollar as a guide to the food and transport costs I mention.

What Does That Look Like in Terms of Living Life?

The various facets of living abroad are part of what makes one place appeal to some expats while others prefer something vastly different. I’m on the fence between Asia and Latin America, I love them both for different reasons, so rather than compare these aspects of life to each other, below is the food, life, and culture you get for that budget living in a beach town on Mexico’s Pacific coast.

A Light, Airy Studio Apartment

I didn’t look very hard for my apartment; in fact, it’s the first one I came across. I loved the family compound I lived within (they had a separate house with three rental apartments within their lot) and it’s one of the things I value living solo.  I like having other people nearby who have my well-being in mind in case something happens. So, the apartment was 4,500 pesos per month ($375) which is on the high-end for a studio in my town but the price included all utilities and really strong internet, which is essential for my online work.

A high point of living in Mexico is the fact that apartments and houses come with full kitchens (though mine was minus an oven), this is really great if you’re a keen cook—anything you rent here will likely come with a stove and pots and pans if it’s a furnished apartment. Other than the kitchen it had everything else you would expect in a studio—full size bed, counter with stools (where I worked from), closet, and a bathroom.

Other places in town rent out as vacation rentals or rooms for anywhere from USD $200 per month on the very low-end (likely no wi-fi) to $500+ for 1 and 2 bedrooms. And one town over, in Sayulita (which is bigger and more touristy has a great beach, a lot more food, bars, etc), the prices are actually pretty comparable if you like the idea of Mexico but think my town was a bit too small!

Delicious Vegetarian Eats

It’s no secret I’m a vegetarian, so for me, a country gets bonus points for not only the accessibility of vegetarian food, but the understanding of the concept of vegetarianism. Mexico’s good on both fronts, though not always great. During high season my little town had just enough options to keep it interesting, and as the seasons shifted I cooked in my apartment a lot more using fresh veggies from the markets, which was fun and gave me a kick toward my goal of becoming a better cook (Asia spoiled me because the lack of kitchens and cheap street food meant I never had to learn to cook these past years).

For costs, a cheap quesadilla runs 15 pesos (just over $1) at one of the stands, a nicer taco is about 40 pesos (about $3.25), and a veggie meal at one of the handful of restaurants in town runs up to $10 or $15 USD. I was luck to have friends in town so I could split one of the big pizzas for our weekly Friday-night gatherings, and my friends Victoria and Steve often hosted potlucks. I drink coffee a lot, so though I made my own pot each day, the food budget included several expressos each week. My food budget was pretty generous so if you cooked at home, even cooking meat I think you could get by on 1000 pesos each week. I often bought organic veggies at the Friday market in Sayulita, so the food budget really is generous.

Getting From Here to There

One of the perks of living in a one-street town is that you don’t need a whole lot of transportation! That being said, I chose to live on the far end of the main street very close the community center where I volunteered (and about a 10 minute walk from the beach). 10 minutes doesn’t seem like much, but in the scorching heat I was happy to have use of a bicycle from the family compound.

And for leaving San Pancho, Puerto Vallarta is about 45 minutes away and costs just a few dollars each way on the bus—this is the closest big city. Sayulita is a perfectly lovely small town (much bigger than mine though) and it was merely 20 minutes up the road. This ride costs $1 each way on the bus or a quick (and easy) hitchhike ride. Sayulita was perfect to have nearby if I needed to vary up my food, explore a bit, or just get out of town for a few hours. There are many other beaches drive-able, some ruins, old stuff to look at, etc. if you’re keen to explore. I worked a lot so my bike took me most anywhere I wanted to go.

Night Life in San Pancho

I am not a partier. Whew, glad we got that out of the way. Now, when I say that I have a low-budget for alcohol and partying you can adjust it up accordingly for yourself. San Pancho is a great town for nightlife if you like a bit of variety but nothing too crazy—no dance clubs but we did have two great bars and a lot of live music throughout the week. In fact, during high season there was live music at one of the bars or restaurants nearly every night.

One of the things I loved best about the town was that the pace of partying was a lot closer to what I prefer—everyone chilling, talking, listening to music, and enjoying company. Add to that some game nights at Victoria and Steve’s for Jungle Speed (had never heard of this game but it was fun and hilarious to play in a group), beach bonfires, and conversation. I felt like Goldilocks, San Pancho was just right.

Quality of Life in Mexico

This bit surprised me some, I knew that many Americans headed south of our border to live but I never really understood why until I stopped and spent four months on the Pacific coast taking in the truly stunning sunsets, the relaxed atmosphere and the affordable lifestyle. The only thing I expected but never found was the fear and danger.

I talked about danger last week and how our perceptions and reality are often skewed, and I think that is true of Mexico. While there are certainly dangerous places in Mexico, the country is huge, the people and cultures shift and change with the terrain and there are some surprisingly safe cities throughout the country if you know where to look (look to the blogosphere!).

I really loved the access to affordable healthcare (a bonus Thailand had as well), like-minded expats who I now call close friends, and a pace of life that encouraged me to slow down and enjoy the little moments. On the healthcare front, and safety and all that, expat friends even had a baby in Puerto Vallarta, showing even me that the perceptions and reality are just so different on the ground.

The short of it all is that Mexico proved more expensive than Thailand, but still at least half the rent I paid living in Los Angeles in my pre-travel days. And though it wasn’t as cheap, it’s a place I’m considering making a more regular stop on my travels; I really love that the plane flights are cheaper and I speak the language. It helps.

It’s the sum total of it all that I love—by living outside the US I am able to scale back the hours I have to work each week to survive, and instead focus that attention on doing things I love: volunteering in the nearby community center, taking photographs, and having the time to enjoy the friendships I make. No place is perfect, but for $750 a month, nightly sunsets, lots of friends, and tasty tacos.  I’ll may return again this fall.




By: Nicole Zymek | 12news.com

 It’s summer time and you’re looking for a vacation spot, or a quick weekend escape. Why not cross the border and explore Sonora?

Rocky Point is about a 3.5 hour drive from Phoenix, while San Carlos is about 6 hours. Either city has great beaches and is rich with Mexican culture.

But before you get in your car and head out, here are some things you might be wondering.

Do I need a visa or passport?

Americans do NOT need a visa to visit Mexico, as long as you have a US passport or if you visit Mexico for business or leisure for 180 days or less.

You do, however, need a passport to cross the border.

I’ve heard of “Sonora” Mexico, but is it a city or a region? 

It’s a state, actually, Sonora is the second largest state in Mexico. It’s a popular among Arizonans for some of its beach towns such as Rocky Point and San Carlos. Both a short drive away from Phoenix.

Do you need car insurance to drive in Mexico?

Yes. US auto insurance policies are not recognized in Mexico. Only policies from a Mexican insurance company are. Under Mexican law, motorists are required to have insurance or “proof of financial responsibility” in the event of an accident. You can buy Mexican car insurance online.

Can you bring fruits and vegetables with you? 

According to the US Customs and Border Protection website you must declare any food products your bringing into the US. If you don’t you could be fined up to $10,000.

I have a conceal and carry permit. I can bring my gun to Mexico, right? 

Absolutely not. Ammunition and fire arms are not allowed in Mexico. Mexican laws are very strict about this.




By: Darrell Dickinson | ASupplementalRetirementIncome.com

Now The USA Today stated that 90% of people, who will be retiring shortly, or who have already retired, have not prepared themselves for the emotional side of retirement.  What we are most concerned about is the financial aspects of retirement.  We need to be thinking, and asking ourselves if we can afford to retire.  But equally important is, are we emotionally prepared to retire?

Can we afford to retire?

That’s still got to be the first question we have ask ourselves when we prepare to retire.  If we can’t afford retirement, and we retire anyway, and hope for the best, retirement will quite possibly turn out to be an emotional nightmare.  It is important that we prepare ourselves financially.

What adjustments do we have to make when we retire?

Let’s say we’ve been working 5 days a week, 40 hrs a week, for the past 40 years, and then we retire.  So now we have all this time on our hands.  After we get up, eat breakfast, and drink our 2 cuts of coffee, and we ask ourselves what’s next?  Hopefully we saw this dilemma coming when we were still working.  Now is the time to get started doing the thing, or things, we have always wanted to do, but haven’t had the time to do them.  The important thing is that we stay active, or guaranteed, our emotions are going to get the best of us.

What are we going to do after we retire?

Perhaps we have had a hobby that we have always wanted to turn into a business.  Now’s the time to get started on that project.  Maybe we have a passion for a cause, and we want to do volunteer work to turn that passion into a reality.  This is a good time to give back.

If we want to start our own business, but like many baby boomers, we don’t have the funds to get a brick and mortar business of the ground, an internet version of our business idea, may be the answer.

Most people have a bucket list when they retire.  It’s probably never to early to start checking stuff off of our bucket list.  That’s probably one of the more enjoyable things we can do.

What do we want our identity to be when we retire?

When we were working, chances are we had a identity.  We did something to make a living, and we were identified by what we did.  Why should we not be identified by the stuff we do now that we are retired.  When someone ask me what I do now that I’m retired, I don’t want to simply say “I’m retired”, because that’s not all that I do.  I’d rather say that I’m an Affiliate Marketer, or a Internet Marketer, or that I run a blog about Baby Boomers supplementing their retirement income.

Likewise we may identify ourselves as a volunteer for a specific cause.  Or a small business owner for the new business venture that we have created.  Whatever you are doing that paints your wagon, you can be identified by that.  Just another way to make our retirement exciting.

How will retirement affect our relationship with our spouse?

My spouse and I have both had jobs.  I’m retired while my spouse is still working.  Presently my wife goes to work, while I stay at home and work on my internet business.  Everything is cool.  Now in a year or two my wife will retire, and probably the first thing I’m going to have to do is buy another car.  That’s so we can get out of each other’s way.

It’s important that spouses have their own space when they retire.  My wife and I, for example, are not used to being with each other 24/7.  That’s a situation which is common for most baby boomer couples.  We boomer couples have both had divers careers.  Likewise in retirement we will have divers goals to achieve in our retirement.  We need to allow each other the ability to work to the completion of these goals.

What are the consequences for not considering our emotions when we retire?

If we don’t take a good look at our negative emotions, and identify what causes these negative emotions, these emotions may lead to depression, and a generally crappy retirement.

Identify what you enjoy doing in your retirement, and don’t allow negative emotions a chance to influence how we participate in our retirement.

How are we going to stay physically fit after we retire.

 Think stay active, eat well, and rest well also.  Make exercise a part of our normal day.  Do things like, when we go to the store or mall, park in the far reaches of the parking lot.  Walking is great exercise.  It may be a good idea for us to join a exercise and health club.  That way we take part in a structured exercise program.

If going to gym is not your thing, there are online exercise systems, which work well for boomers who would rather exercise in their own home.

Exercising helps us keep our energy level up.  High energy equals positive emotions.  Not to mention the positive effects that exercise has on our health.


Retirement should be an exciting time for us.  Our emotions should yield positive results, and an enjoyable retirement.  Remember to be flexible, and follow your positive emotions to enjoy your retirement.

That’s all I got for now.  I hope you have found this post interesting, and of some service to you.  I do want to hear from you if you disagree with anything I have mentioned.  Also if you have anything to add.  You can leave your comments below.




By Rodney Brooks | WashingtonPost.com

I’ve written quite a lot about the fact that today people can live just as long, or longer, in retirement, as they do in their working lives. The lesson is you can’t scrimp on saving for retirement because it’s likely you will live into your 80’s or 90’s.

Some people are using those active years after their “first” retirement to find encore careers or start businesses — doing things they truly love instead of the things they had to do for the old careers.

Now there’s a new take on those post retirement years. “A Gift of Time,” a new study from Allianz Life Insurance Co. says Americans are embracing the opportunity to make up for those decisions they regret, such as the college they attended or the career they chose.

“As Americans come to terms with the fact that they’ll likely live an extra 30 years, they have the opportunity to look back and evaluate their past decisions and consider the newfound possibilities for the future afforded by time,” said Katie Libbe, Allianz Life vice president for consumer insights.

According to Allianz, 32 percent of Americans say they regret their major life choices. The biggest regrets were not following their dreams (39 percent); not taking more risks with their careers (38 percent) and not taking risks with their lives in general – things like taking new jobs or going back to school – 36 percent.

Thirty five percent also said they wish they had been gutsier in their choices and done things they really wanted to do.

Fifty-six percent said they would travel “extensively” or live in a different place and a quarter said they would “take more risks in life.”

Ninety-three percent say are happy they can live another 30 years. (That 30 years is what the Stanford Center for Longevity says is the average increase in life expectancy in the U.S.) That extra time means more opportunities and different life and career paths, including:

  • Starting a new business, 29 percent
  • Having a second career doing something they really enjoy, 21 percent
  • Volunteering and supporting the environment, 19 percen

And finally, the survey respondents said they realize that a longer life means they have to do a better job with planning in order to fund those new life goals.



By: Johnny Punish | Munknee.com

 So writes “Johnny Punish” (JohnnyPunish.com) in edited excerpts from his article written originally as an exclusive for www.munKNEE.com (Your Key to Making Money!) and under the title The Top 10 Places to Live and Retire in Mexico and the reasons why. Note: this paragraph must be included in any re-posting to avoid copyright infringement.

Punish goes on to say:

In the process of putting together this comprehensive report I have consulted with highly experienced ex-pats who have lived and/or live in the places that I rate here so, without further wait, here’s the top 10 places to live and retire in Mexico and the reasons why:

  1. Lake Chapala, Jalisco
  2. Ensenada, Baja California
  3. San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato
  4. Guadalajara, Jalisco
  5. Merida, Yucatan
  6. Riviera Maya, Quintana Roo
  7. Mazatlan, Sinaloa
  8. Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco
  9. La Paz, Baja California
  10. San Cristobal de las Casas Chiapas


  1. Lake Chapala, Jalisco (Winner)

According to Kristina Morgan of Focus on Mexico, “Of all the places in Mexico I have been, none can quite compare with Lake Chapala. There’s something about this place that just seems…magical and, as corny as it sounds, that’s the word I hear people use to describe Lake Chapala time and again. Lake Chapala gets into your heart and becomes home. It’s like stepping back 50-70 years here regarding the simpler lifestyle, culture and values. When I’m here I feel like I can be me, like I can breathe a little more freely and be the person I want to be and this is a sentiment expressed by most everyone who has ever been here or lives here”.

Lake Chapala used to be just a retirement community but in the last 10 years that’s changed and a lot of younger families and entrepreneurs are moving there for the obvious business opportunities and lower cost of living.

The Lake Chapala community is composed of a string of villages, mostly on the north shore, with Ajijic being the crown jewel of the area in terms of artisans, charm and amenities. Horses clopping down the road, vendors selling fresh fruit, women weaving, live music everywhere from classical to salsa and teenagers helping their grandmothers are common sights. There’s a happy hum of activity there.

The most compelling reasons are listed below.


The Climate: The weather, of course, is a huge draw. National Geographic touts Lake Chapala as the 2nd best climate in the world. The Lake is surrounded by the Sierra Madre Mountains and is a mile high so there is very little humidity. The distance inland is still close to the ocean but far enough away to not have to worry about storms and hurricanes off the coast. We have all the same flora as Hawaii as well as the same vegetation in arid states like Colorado—pines and palms—growing equally well, side by side!

The most-developed expat/English infrastructure in Mexico:

You may feel like you’ve stepped back in time, but there’s still a lot to do here, from golfing, to boating, to organized group activities including a community theater in English, two American Legion posts, the Lake Chapala Society, churches in English in every denomination, concerts and events (the Bolshoi Ballet even came to Ajijic!), live entertainment, world-class restaurants that will impress even the most seasoned palate and much more!

Ajijic and the Lake Chapala area is the largest expat community anywhere outside the U.S. and Canada. I figure 20,000 expats can’t be wrong but as Latin World says, “Despite being home to one of the heaviest concentrations of North Americans in Mexico, Lake Chapala doesn’t feel quite as Americanized as other retirement enclaves in Mexico.” I believe that is due to the fact that this isn’t a resort area catering to tourists, but rather a place to adopt a new way of life and be a part of a community.

There are also many real opportunities to get involved and make a difference through any of the numerous charities here if you want to volunteer your time. The rewards are greater than any paycheck.

Affordable, top-notch medical care is available: The University of Guadalajara, less than 1 hour away, boasts an excellent medical school. In fact, many U.S. doctors are educated there! There are excellent facilities, doctors, specialists and medical staff in Mexico and a major benefit is that they are readily available (no long waiting periods). Many of the doctors even speak English and often have taken some training in the United States or abroad. The doctors here have such a gift for listening carefully to you and not making you feel as if they don’t have time to spend with you. They even make house calls! There are two clinics here as well.

Proximity/Accessibility: Guadalajara, airport, coast: One of the reasons we chose Lake Chapala is its easy access to other places of interest in Mexico. Ideally located about 40 minutes from Guadalajara (Mexico’s 2nd largest city), 25 minutes from Guadalajara’s international airport, and as close as 3 hours to the pacific coast and a 12 hour drive to back to the U.S. so it is easy to trade the frigid winters and the wilting heat of summers north of the border for paradise. We wanted to know that they can get back home quickly if we need to so being so close to the airport makes being home in a few hours possible. It is interesting to note that travel is part of the culture in this area, for Mexicans and retirees alike and the low surcharge at the airport in Guadalajara makes flying more affordable.

Low cost of living: I didn’t move to Mexico to spend a lot of money! It has been said that Lake Chapala is the place to be if you want a bargain and all the amenities you’re used to from back home.

Home prices are still low here. I know people who have looked into different retirement destinations all over Mexico and say they have found the best deals here. We also have an MLS, which almost nowhere else in Mexico has so it is easier find the right home for you. On the coast, you must purchase property through a bank trust but because we are inland you are allowed to own property outright through a direct deed.

This is a real community: To me, this is the most compelling reason to come here. People come to Lake Chapala for the weather and lower cost of living and end up staying because of the people. Lake Chapala still has a small-town feel to it. It seems like everyone knows everyone and the people, both Mexican and expats, are very friendly and look out for each other. This area also has the largest singles population owing to the sense of safety and community here. It is said that people are nicer here than they were back home. The Mexicans are still very warm and welcoming, largely due to the fact that most of the transplants are very cognizant that we are guests in their country and we try to be as gracious and considerate as our Mexican friends are. There is still an old-world, genteel flavor here. Mexicans embrace family, customs and tradition and tend to dote on their children and cherish their elderly. The people who come here are frequently in awe of the close ties in our community and how quickly they are welcomed and accepted. I haven’t seen anything like this anywhere else in the world, not even in other places in Mexico.

A safe and secure environment: Despite a rather negative media representation which focuses on drug related violence, Mexico is actually a top choice when it comes to safety. The conflicts which make the headlines are mostly limited to the U.S. border area; the majority of the country is virtually unaffected, and news of these unfortunate events is as distant to these areas as it is to the U.S., and in some cases, even more so. “In Lake Chapala violent crime is almost unheard of,” points out Shawn Gaffney. “In Lake Chapala, the citizens walk the streets at any time of day or night safely and confidently.” Statistics back this feeling of comfort; in most parts of Mexico, violent crime is significantly lower than in large U.S. cities.

Stunning beauty: Lake Chapala has breathtaking sunsets over the lake, and majestic mountain views. Flowers are prolific and seem saturated in bold color. There are charming cobbled streets with stone walls and fuchsia bougainvillea draped like petticoats over the tops. The best way to give you a picture is that people say it looks like Hawaii. The vivid color here is whimsical and artistic, with many murals all over the area, including some that are painted on houses and businesses. There are at least 3 waterfalls in the area and thermal springs that will transport you with their relaxing and curative properties. Sun-drenched terra-cotta tiles, mesmerizing vistas and tropical foliage make it feel like you’re on permanent vacation—but without the heat, humidity, tourists, hurricanes or expense.

Solid investment: When you’re considering a place to retire, no one wants to flush their money into an area where they would have a hard time getting it back out if they ever needed to. This area is at a steady growth rate with promise of more future growth. You’ll get a lot of bang for your buck now while knowing your money will grow here.

Slower pace of life: We can learn so much from the people here about what is truly important in life. For those who are seeking to simplify their lives, Lake Chapala should be on your short-list. This isn’t a “time is money” culture. Mexicans work to live while many of us have lived to work. In general, the people here have their priorities straight. It’s all about how you treat people and recognizing that each day is a gift to be lived fully and graciously.


Altitude: At a mile high, some people who have respiratory illnesses may find this is a little too high in altitude for them. However, some people report feeling far better here and being able to sleep better than they ever could. The elevation is also a major reason we have such a temperate climate and why the area isn’t prone to natural disasters.

Language: If you move to Mexico you’re going to have to learn at least a little of the Spanish language to get by. Some people find this daunting and intimidating. The good news is that compared to anywhere else in Mexico, English is spoken to one degree or another by most people.

Small villages: If you’re looking for a big city feel then Lake Chapala isn’t for you. Think quaint fishing villages with an old world feel and modern amenities and you’ll have the idea. However, village life has its benefits in safety and community and if you need a break from the tranquility and want to head to the big city then Guadalajara is just up the road.

Noise levels: This can be said about any area in Mexico but I still think it needs to be said. Village life is noisy with live music, church bells tolling at all hours, roosters who crow all day and night, fireworks, parades and processions, parties and cars driving by announcing everything from their wares to who has a fresh catch of fish down at the pier. On Mother’s Day, some lucky moms are woken before dawn with mariachi bands serenading them outside their window. If this would drive you crazy, then be sure to look for homes on the outskirts of the villages or in a planned development, or gated community. Thankfully, there are a lot of places to choose from to escape the noise.

Not a Business Mecca: For those young and aggressive, they will be disappointed because the Lake Chapala area is NOT a mecca for business. Business gets done but for the most part, retiree’s are slower more set in their ways and thus are not seeking big opportunities so trying to sell them something using a carrot for the future can be frustrating and will land you in the “con man” category real quick.

It is not the ocean: Lake Chapala is Mexico’s largest lake at 77 miles long and 13 miles across but if your heart is set on a daily routine of drinking a margarita on the beach with endless waves stretching out to the horizon then this isn’t for you. While this is the largest lake in Mexico and the conquistadores thought this was the ocean when they first arrived here, it is still a lake – a beautiful lake.

In short, Lake Chapala is a one in a million place with everything it offers. Of course, one size doesn’t fit all but if you’re looking for a paradise with a low-cost of living, an established English infrastructure and activities, modern amenities, near-perfect climate and a friendly and safe community, come visit Lake Chapala and see if this might be for you. Retiring in Mexico couldn’t be better.

  1. Ensenada, Baja California

According to John Vogel of BajaWine.info, “In Ensenada, you have everything that a major city could have but it’s still a small family town” The weather is very temperate between 60 to 80 F mostly all year round. It’s never too hot or too cold in Enenada as it’s on the Pacific coast in a bay so it’s somewhat shielded by direct ocean winds. For expats, it’s an easy transition because Ensenada is really half Southern California half Mexico. Most speak English as the border is just 1 hour away. So travel back and forth is relatively easy. It’s a major benefit for those that want to live an Mexico lifestyle but still get the San Diego Chargers game every NFL Sunday for a little tailgating.


  • Close to US Border
  • Easy going beach weather
  • Inexpensive
  • Very little rain fall
  • Family friendly city
  • All kinds of events held almost every weekend


  • Airport is in Tijuana about 1 hour away and San Diego International Airport is about 1 hour and 30 minutes away by car albeit, there is a border crossing that could take from 1 to 3 hours depending on time of day.
  • Anti-septic Mexican culture meaning that the culture in Baja is more close to the USA culture as it’s a mixed culture. If you’re looking for authentic rustic old Mexico, Ensenada is NOT the place to be. This is San Diego South and the people of Baja are a hybrid of Mexico and USA.
  • You must have a car to get around.


  1. San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato

According to Rebecca Fass San Miguel de Allende is “the most wonderful place on the planet”. This place is probably the most well-to-do city in all of Mexico. With world-class arts, music, and amazing restaurants with the highest end people from all over the world, SMDA is the most exquisite classy place to live in Mexico. So if you’re looking to hob-nob with the rich, famous, artsy types, and people who really hold their own at the highest levels, SMDA is the place to be.

Klaudia Oliver says “I can´t speak for that many places in Mexico but I can certainly suggest that San Miguel is THE top destination. Why? Because there is an overriding sense of well-being which permeates the inhabitants of this beautiful colonial town. There is a swirl of social events and it’s like a college campus for baby boomers with cultural and social activities constantly”.


  • Amazing cultural beauty
  • Old Mexico meets the well-heeled traveler
  • Small town full of super interesting internationally renown people who you will get to know quickly
  • English spoken everywhere
  • 3 hours away from Mexico City and all it’s available big city offerings
  • Friendly small town atmosphere
  • Beautiful architecture and history.
  • Excellent nightlife


  • Not close to major city or airport
  • High desert elevation means it’s cold in winter and hot in summer
  • Extreme temperatures mean that in one day can go from high 80′s at high noon and then into the 40′s at night.
  • Very expensive to live.
  • Feels like living on a desert island since there is nothing within an hour away.
  • Nearest airport is in the City of Leon; about an hour and a half away.


  1. Guadalajara, Jalisco

The weather is amazing; Perfect really! Guadalajara is the 2nd largest city in Mexico so if you are used to living in the city, then you will enjoy Guadalajara as it is the very best big city in Mexico. Guadalajara is not as inexpensive as it used to be but you can still find bargains if you look hard.


  1. Merida, Yucatan

An old colonial city in the heart of the Yucatan jungle. It is very hot and humid mostly all year round and so you must love warm to hot weather to enjoy Merida. Amenities are excellent. According to resident expatriate, Randy Miller, “Progresso, our closest beach, is a fabulous place to swim. It’s only a short 20 minute drive from the house. There are so many things to do here; art, markets, museums, theater and so much more”.

Merida is about a 4 hour bus ride from the major resorts of Cancun and Playa del Carmen. It’s a Mexican business working city where prices are low and life is excellent.


  1. Riviera Maya, Quintana Roo

Welcome to the Jungle! The Riviera Maya includes Cancun in the North, Playa del Carmen in the center and Tulum in the South and all points in between.

According to Bil Mabra , ” Even though the cost of living in the Riviera Maya is a bit higher than other areas of Mexico it is still way more affordable than in the United States or Canada.”

Even with the real estate market in the U.S. taking a huge dive, the properties in Riviera Maya are still cheaper. Consider buying something that is not right on the beach but possibly walking distance or a 5-10 car ride to the Caribbean ocean….Lastly, upkeep on your Mexican home will not cost you as much because the cost of labor is a fraction of what it is in other countries.

If you are retiring then a question everyone has is about health care. In the Riviera Maya there are 3 top hospitals—2 of them are run by a group from Spain called Hospiten. The other is the American Hospital in Cancun. Hospiten is recognized for being a top-notch medical facility the world over and is on par or above most health care facilities you find in the U.S. and Canada. Most of the doctors and nurses that work at Hospiten are bi-lingual so even if your Spanish is not that great you can still communicate very effectively.

It is an every day occurence for people to migrate from the U.S. to have all types of medical procedures—everything from cosmetic surgery to heart bypasses and everything in between – done in Mexico. Compare the cost of healthcare and medications in Mexico to the cost in other countries and you will find the cost is usually more than 50% less.

The Riviera Maya climate is tropical but the actual daily temperature does not vary that much from the winter time to the summer time. Yes, summertime there is more humidity and it gets hot but typically there are only 3 months of the year where it is very hot from July to September. A lot of people take their vacations during this time if they want a little break from the heat. The other 9 months of the year it is very comfortable.

Highs in the winter time are usually around 84 degrees fahrenheit with lows in the high 60s to low 70s. Highs in the summertime are typically around 93 to 95 degrees with more humidity in the hottest months. If you come from a colder climate it takes a few months to get acclimated but once you do it sure is nice wearing your shorts and flip-flops in January and February.

Living in the Riviera Maya also allows many people to get in and out of the country very easy. There is an international airport in Cancun servicing many major cities daily in the U.S. and Canada and another airport is now being built near Tulum. Getting to and from the Riviera Maya of Mexico has never been easier.

As far as amenities go, how about going shopping at Wal-mart, Costco or Sam’s Club and then going to have lunch at Applebee’s? Yes, now in this area of Mexico there are mostly all the creature comforts which all of us have grown accustomed to such as high speed and wireless Internet, satellite TV and GSM mobile phones.

20 years ago, this was a small fishing community – from Playa del Carmen to Tulum. Now, because of the influx of European and Mexico City money, this area has exploded. This is good for many reason, people choosing to now move and live here, have all the necessary amenities that one could need. The beaches are some of the best in the world. Miles and miles of white sand and beautiful Caribbean warm waters.

  1. Mazatlan, Sinaloa

Mazatlan is a local Mexican resort city. It is older, inexpensive, and has a wonderful older downtown with excellent cultural rustic Mexican life. Excellent seafood in this very unique resort town.

  1. Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco

Life in the pacific tropics is excellent in Puerto Vallarta. Lovely fun downtown, great restaurants. Prices are relatively high for Mexico and so it’s not for the budget retiree.

  1. La Paz, Baja California Sur

Inexpensive city life on the Sea of Cortes near Cabo San Lucas, La Paz is a family friendly small city. It’s very hot so it’s not for those that love colder climates.

  1. San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas

Randy Bowser, who’s lived in Mexico for over 10 years says: ”I lived in San Cristobal de las Casa for 1 year and have to say really liked it a lot. The truest of Mexican culture exists in San Cristobal. It’s 5000ft above see level. It does have a chilly feel to the climate year round but the beauty of the area is well worth the trade-off. It’s not really a viable place to live for the younger generation but for those retiring from life and wanting a slow, relaxed, peaceful existence, then this would be the place for you. It’s a magical place.




By: Vanessa Sanchez | TheNuHerald.com

 As Mexico’s second largest city, Guadalajara’s magic is in its cocktail of preserved history and artistic innovation. Often noted as the cultural hub of Mexico, majestic Guadalajara and its offerings are just a three-hour flight from Tijuana. For easy and inexpensive travel between Tijuana and Guadalajara, use the first binational airport terminal, Cross Border Xpress, located in San Diego. The Cross Border Xpress offers an airport terminal that takes passengers directly from San Diego to the Tijuana airport with ease.

After using your passport to cross the Cross Border Xpress bridge and completing the three-hour flight from Tijuana, it is a short cab ride from the airport to the historic center. Be warned, though: Mexican cab drivers channel their inner Formula 1 racecar drivers with each fare.

The beauty of Guadalajara is unrivaled. You walk down cobblestone streets lined with towering gothic buildings and taco shops with lines wrapped around the block. It is quite literally a European city in the center of Mexico with Spanish, French and indigenous influences visible in the architecture, food and culture.

 The historic center of Guadalajara is reminiscent of a European city with its plazas, shops and masses of people walking the streets. There are soccer tournaments on one side of the plaza, teachers protesting on behalf of various causes or movements on the other side and students taking turns reading “Frankenstein” into a microphone.

Frozen in time, there are shoeshiners lining the plazas and men at desks with typewriters helping citizens fill in their government paperwork. A Starbucks across the street will quickly bring you back to the 21st century. There really is no way to capture the time portal Guadalajara is in, but it is a magical trip for anyone eager to see the beauty in a city torn between its past and its present.

 A few of the must–see sights include the Instituto Cultural Cabanas in the nearby town of Tlaquepaque

Founded as an orphanage in 1791, the Instituto Cultural Cabanas now houses one of the most culturally significant murals painted by popular Mexican artist Jose Clemente Orozco.

Only $4 for admission–less than a McDonalds Happy Meal–, provides you access to connecting rooms filled with Mexican art. This all leads to one of the most sacred pieces of Mexican art: El Hombre de Fuego by Orozco.

 This isn’t just any mural or graffiti splattered on walls Orozco painted the entire hall from bottom to dome ceiling Mexico’s history and its revolution. You can lie back on a bench and try to determine the most minute details in this intricate mural, while listening to an animated guide proudly explain the history of the mural, or just sit there and realize you are surrounded by art in its truest form.

Another must–see in Guadalajara is the nearby municipality of Tlaquepaque.

Proudly the home of the Mariachi, Tlaquepaque is home to boutique shops with artisan crafts, hidden restaurants boasting authentic Mexican food and, best of all, tequila shops.

Guadalajara is the birthplace of the mighty tequila that can bring you to or to your knees with a punch Muhammad Ali. The tequila shops have bottles from floor to ceiling, free tastings and knowledgeable sales clerks ready to sell you a lifetime supply of 100 percent pure tequila.

 It’s highly suggested you down a few tortas before walking into the shop and buy more than one bottle if you expect any of it to make it back home. Yes, the tequila is that delicious and no customer leaves disappointed. Or sober.

Guadalajara really does have it all: history, culture, food and booze. It can be a romantic couple’s getaway, a family destination or a party trip. Mexico’s second largest city boasts a Mexican-European atmosphere with low prices and high culture and it’s a cocktail not to be missed.