By Justin Walton | Investopedia.com
Retirees living in Mexico enjoy a low cost of living, warm climate, natural beauty, modern infrastructure and one of the world’s most intriguing cultures. Many airports throughout Mexico offer short, direct flights to the United States, making it easy to return home or to have visitors. And, of course, it’s just over the border from the U.S..
The low cost and high quality of Mexico’s healthcare system also attract many retiring Americans. With more than one million Americans living in Mexico (the Washington Post once described some of them as “Mexico’s own problem with illegal immigration”), it is clearly not a fad.
Retiree Real Estate Developments
Many real estate developments have been built throughout Mexico specifically for American retirees. Oceanfront developments in Baja California, 30 minutes from the California border, 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 cost 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 could be had for as little as $350,000 with only $1,000 in annual property taxes.
Thriving Expat Communities
Many traditional tourist destinations in Mexico not only welcome travelers but also cater to American retirees. Puerto Vallarta, Lake Chapala, San Miguel de Allende, Baja California and Cancun 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 Walmart and Costco.
Affordable Quality Healthcare
Certainly one of the largest factors for retirees to consider when moving abroad is the availability of quality healthcare. Many are surprised to find the healthcare 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 50% 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 (more recent specific data not available), an office visit with a doctor or specialist cost approximately $35 to $50. House calls were around the same price. Lab tests clocked in at about a third of the price paid in the United States, and a CT scan cost 25% 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 $30. Prices have risen in Mexico, but also in the U.S., so the general difference seems to be about the same.
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 will only improve the nation’s economy and quality of life.