By: Mexperience |

One of the most popular programs that senior citizens in Mexico enroll for is the INAPAM (Instituto Nacional para las Personas Adultas Mayores) discount card. This is offered to all Mexicans and foreign residents who are 60 years of age or older and enables them to enjoy worthwhile discounts on a whole range of goods and services including food, medicines, transport, clothing, as well as recreation and leisure activities.

Increasing numbers of firms and businesses are actively advertising the fact that they offer discounts to INAPAM card holders, and even those who don’t may well give a discount on goods and services you buy if you present your card to them.  Many organizations in Mexico are pleased to give seniors a discount, and this card is the means by which prove your residency and age qualification status.

Once enrolled you receive a plastic card that you can present at thousands of stores, businesses, and government service agencies across Mexico to claim discounts of between 10% and 50% on goods and services you buy. Some municipalities are also offering discounts on property taxes and water bills to senior citizens with this card.

Here are some examples of the services that offer discounts:

Healthcare: Many pharmacies give discounts on medications (medicines are already much less expensive in Mexico than the US, and these discounts are in addition to the lower prices Americans enjoy here), and some dentists and doctors and other medical specialists will also give seniors a discount when they present the card;

Public Transportation: Bus companies, airlines, and some local taxi firms offer discounts on fares;

Food and Groceries: Local food stores, convenience stores, and specialist food emporiums offer discounts on your grocery shopping, saving you more money on your basic living costs;

Leisure: Many hotels and travel agencies in Mexico offer discounts to senior citizens who present the card. If you plan a party, many of the festivity halls (salon de fiestas) offer a discount on rentals to seniors booking the facilities;

Eating Out: Many cafes and diners, including the big-name national diner chains, offer discounts to INAPAM card holders;

Culture: Many museums, archaeology parks, art galleries, and bookstores offer discounts to card holders;

Miscellany: A whole raft of businesses offer seniors a discount when they present their card, for example: legal firms, art & craft stores, car service and repair centers, computer sales and repair stores, clothing and apparel stores, accountants, construction firms, hardware stores, florists, printers, locksmiths, jewelry stores, beauty salons, home DIY centers, stationers, plumbers, electricians, dry cleaners, veterinary services, etc.

Discount on Property Taxes and Water Bills: Some municipalities are offering seniors a discount on their annual property taxes (Predial) and their water bills.  Discounts, where offered, vary by municipality—check locally for details in your area.

How to Apply for the Card

The INAPAM card is available to all seniors who are 60 years or older. It’s simple and free to apply for the card.

You will need to present some official identification, like a passport or driver’s license, your birth certificate and, as a foreigner, you will also need to present your old FM3/FM2 or your new Residente Temporal or Residente Permanente residency permit.  You will also be asked for a utility bill or some other document that shows your current address in Mexico. Most people use their telephone bill.

You take these documents (as well as 2 photocopies of each) along with three passport-sized photographs of yourself to your local government office dealing with INAPAM applications (check locally where you live) and, when the application is completed, you will be presented with a card that you can use to obtain the discounts.

The government also staffs a helpline that is open from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. weekdays to answer questions you may have. The call is free from inside Mexico, dial 01 800 007 3705.

You can find additional information online about the program and the application process on the INAPAM web site (see link above). The page is in Spanish, and you can use the Google page translation feature if you need to.

Basic living costs in Mexico are already lower than those in the US, Canada and Europe. With the INAPAM card, seniors can enjoy additional discounts, and thus help to make their fixed incomes stretch further in retirement


By: Mexperience |

The term ‘Baby Boomer’ is a moniker popularized in North America to describe people born between 1946 and 1964. Now, with their own children having grown-up and flown family nests, Baby Boomers are contemplating their situation and looking for ways to exercise their living inheritance. They are beginning to make a series of lifestyle choices not so readily available previous generations, including emigration — part-time or full-time — to Mexico.

While some Baby Boomers are comfortable financially, not all are — and financial developments over the last decade have left retirees (or those coming up to retirement) on fixed incomes with less disposable income than before. Living costs have been rising, and property taxes along with other forms of taxation are also taking their toll, as governments everywhere seek to increase their revenues. One of the consequences of this process is that some people are looking to Mexico as a place to simplify their lifestyle and reduce outgoings.

As a result of the changing economic landscape, some of these Baby Boomers are seeking a place to live where essential outgoings are lower and their incomes stretch further.  Mexico continues to offer attractive options in these respects as property taxes are low, house maintenance costs are a fraction of those in the U.S., Canada and Europe, and overall household and living costs can be lower.

A recent trend among Baby Boomers with larger family homes which they have spent their life paying-off, is that they are now electing to ‘down-size’ to smaller houses, as part of a plan to purchase a home abroad or purchase a smaller house in their home country and acquire a second home abroad. The latter configuration is particularly popular with retired people who want to retain a foot-hold in their home country whilst also enjoying a home abroad, usually situated in warmer climes for use during the winter months, and providing a rental income in the summer.  Some however, are seeking a complete break from their homeland and want to move abroad permanently.

Americans and Canadians look to Mexico as a natural place for retirement, as the country offers attractive features including a good climate, good infrastructure and amenities, modern healthcare facilities, geographical proximity to the US and Canada, and excellent road and air connections.

Where are they going?
As communications evolve, both in terms of physical communications (roads, airports) and communication technologies (internet), people are venturing further off the beaten track.

Some areas in Mexico have been popular with expatriates for decades.  For example, San Miguel de Allende and Ajijic/Chapala (near Guadalajara) are teeming with communities of foreign expats.

The southern areas of Baja, too, are already popular, although some areas in the northern reaches of the peninsula are quickly catching up: with even closer proximity to the US border and a number of recent investment projects, for example in San Felipe, the scene is being set for hitherto-ignored northern Baja to be ‘the next big place’ in Mexico.

Locations like Patzcuaro and Morelia, situated in the mountains west of Mexico City, Veracruz and Campeche on the Gulf coast, Merida in the Yucatan, and San Cristobal de las Casas in the southern region of Chiapas, are just some of the places most foreign expats would never have considered moving to in decades past.  Today, they are emerging as locations with significant living and investment potential.

Puerto Vallarta has been booming for over a decade now: some say that PV is now the fastest-growing city in Mexico.  So popular perhaps, that just 40 minutes north of Vallarta, Punta de Mita is becoming a new area of consideration as Baby Boomers scout for ideal retirement nests along the Pacific coast.

Other towns along the Pacific like Mazatlan and Zihuatanejo are also serious contenders for significant future baby-boomer communities; and today, you will even find a significant number of boomer-age expats living in Acapulco if you look in the right places.

Our guides to Living & Lifestyle in Mexico share extensive information and knowledge about the places on offer and considerations you need to take into account as you plan your move to Mexico. Whether the move is for work, to retire, buy a home or take a sabbatical, you will find a trove of useful and practical information in our guides.


Baby Boomers in Mexico


By: Glynna Prentice |

With more than a million expats estimated to live there, Mexico is far and away the most popular destination for North Americans looking to move abroad. But—with so many places to choose from—where in Mexico should you move? It’s a very large country, after all.

Much depends, of course, on what you’re looking for. There are places in Mexico where you can live totally off the grid, or immerse yourself in a small village where there’s nary a foreigner around you. Alternatively, there are cities and neighborhoods where you can live a gringo life, never seeing a local and never needing Spanish.

Most expats seek something between these two extremes: places where the transition to Mexico is easy (and so is getting there), amenities abound, and local culture and color are all around. Based on that happy medium, here are my three top picks for living in Mexico.


Puerto Vallarta: Live by the Sea

Puerto Vallarta has been an expat haven for over 60 years. What was once a small village on Mexico’s Pacific Coast is now a major international resort, with an urban area that runs for nearly 30 miles along the shore of Banderas Bay. The entire area—from southern Jalisco up to the bay’s northern point at Punta de Mita, in the state of Nayarit—is referred to as Costa Vallarta.

The Costa Vallarta offers a seemingly endless number of activities, thanks to the natural attractions and the tourist infrastructure that has built up over time. You can saunter down the malecón (boardwalk) that stretches along the downtown area and look inside the boutiques, cafés, and restaurants. Or you can spend the day on any of the more than half-dozen golf courses in the Puerto Vallarta area. If you want to escape the heat, the nearby Sierra Madre mountains offer exhilarating activities such as hiking, biking, and canopy tours that take you swinging from branch to branch. Near the Bay of Banderas are more options—whale watching, boat tours, fishing, sailing, dolphin excursions, kitesurfing, wind-surfing, and parasailing.

Flights from Puerto Vallarta’s international airport can get you back to the U.S. in just a few hours. Puerto Vallarta is also a popular medical-tourism destination, with several top hospitals offering state-of-the-art medical care.

San Miguel de Allende: Rich in Culture

Considered one of the prettiest small towns in Mexico, San Miguel is a Spanish-colonial jewel glowing in pastel colors. With a rich arts-and-crafts tradition, San Miguel has small shops a-plenty where you can spend hours admiring (and buying) pottery, painting, sculptures, hammered-tin mirrors and lamps…the list is endless. You can also enjoy its many art galleries, restaurants, and scenic plazas.

Like Puerto Vallarta, San Miguel is home to thousands of expats from all over the world. Here you can get by in English if you want, or speak Spanish if you prefer. (In my experience here, if you greet folks in Spanish when you enter a shop, they continue in that language unless you decide otherwise.) And most North Americans love its high-desert climate, with warm days and cool nights most of the year, so it’s not surprising that of 140,000 people living in the metropolitan area, it is estimated that 10,000 are expats.

There’s no international airport right in San Miguel, so choose from two in the region: León, which is about two hours away, and Querétaro, about an hour. Or if you prefer, just fly into Mexico City, three hours away, and take the bus to San Miguel.

Mérida: Colonial City-Living

Like San Miguel, Mérida is a Spanish-colonial city. But Mérida is a very different animal… Unlike small-town San Miguel, Mérida is a metropolis of almost a million people, with universities, major corporations, museums, and its own international airport with direct flights back to the U.S. And Mérida is in the semi-tropical Yucatán Peninsula, at the opposite end of the country from San Miguel. It’s just half-an-hour from the Yucatán Gulf Coast, where the white-sand beaches are punctuated by little beach towns and you can still find beach homes for around $100,000.

Mérida is one of the safest cities in Mexico. Depending on how many suburbs are included, the population of metropolitan Mérida is approaching 1 million. But when you walk down the city’s tree-lined streets, some paved with hand-laid tiles, you feel as though you are in a city that is much smaller.

Mérida’s expat community numbers about 4,000, but that’s a drop in the bucket for a city this size. As a result, you’ll have more need—as well as opportunity—to learn Spanish here than in Puerto Vallarta or San Miguel. Or learn to sing it—this is a very musical city. You’ll find bands performing in some plaza or other almost every day of the week. And if you think you know Mexican cooking, think again—Yucatán cuisine is distinctly different, and on display here in Mérida.

Whether or not you choose to settle in any of these picks, they’re all worth a visit.


By: Mexperience


When new laws came into effect on January 2015 to shake-up Mexico’s telecommunication market, fixed-line all charges dropped sharply from residential telephones. The reforms caused Mexican landline telephone charges to go from being among the most expensive in the world, to among the cheapest.

Since then, the Mexican cellular telephone market has been undergoing some major reforms too, and you can now elect to buy a plan that, for a modest monthly fee, gives unlimited calling and SMS messages to all phones across Mexico, the United States, and Canada—and you can also use the mobile data included in your plan across all three countries without any data roaming costs. These “unlimited” deals are also available on pay-as-you-go monthly plans: there is no need to sign a long term contract.

If you have a smart phone that isn’t tethered to a network through a contract—whether you purchased it in Mexico or brought it from abroad—you can use the number portability procedure to hop from one network to another on pay-as-you-go deals, depending on who’s offering the best plan this season. Constant hopping is unlikely to be beneficial, but occasional hops may be useful to take advantage of deals that match your present needs or usage habits.

By way of example: AT&T, Telcel, Movistar and Virgin Mobile currently offer a month-to-month plans (no contract) for MXN$200 pesos (US$11) that includes unlimited call minutes and SMS messages across North America (Mexico, the US and Canada), and at least 500 MB of data.  An additional 1 GB of data is included for use of Facebook, Twitter, and WhatsApp. Visit the websites of the mobile operators to learn about these new unlimited plans which offer good value for money.

Plans last for 30 days and can be renewed or not, as you wish: automatic renewal can be set-up, or you can renew manually. If you don’t renew the plan, your tariff reverts to a peso-per-minute (or per-MB) rate.  If your data quota runs out before the 30 days, you can pay-per-MB until the plan’s renewal date, or re-initiate your plan for an additional 30 days starting on the (earlier) date of the renewal.

When lower residential phone line tariffs came into force at beginning of 2015, many people didn’t believe it was true until they started getting their first phone bills that year and saw that calls to Mexican cell phone and long distance calls across the country and the world were being charged at zero rates—all included in the monthly plan, which also includes fixed-line high-speed internet.

Now with the Mexican cellular market following suit, Mexico is one of the least expensive countries in the world to own and use a mobile phone: staying in touch with friends, family, and business contacts on the move in Mexico and when roaming with a Mexican cell phone in the United States and Canada has never been easier and less expensive than it is today.


By: Kathleen Peddicord | U.S. News


Mexico offers a wider range of attractive retirement lifestyle options than any other country in Latin America. And they’re all just across the border. Many homes are available at a very affordable price right now, thanks to the dollar’s strong position against the Mexican peso.

First, the beaches:

The options for seaside living in Mexico are so broad that you can specify a price point, a convenience factor and a lifestyle and still have plenty of choices.

On the east coast, you have:

Cancún. One of Mexico’s top two resort towns, Cancún was nothing more than a small fishing village when it was targeted for development in 1974. As it exploded into a tourist mecca of more than 700,000, the swath of development extended southward to Playa del Carmen.

Playa del Carmen. “Playa” to the locals is just 57 minutes south of Cancún. The city has evolved to become the region’s chic place to be and be seen. Here you find vacationing Europeans and North Americans as well as a sizeable number of expats-in-residence. Just off the town square is the Avenida Quinta (5th Avenue) running parallel to the shore and offering more than 20 blocks of fine restaurants and shops. This unique main drag is almost as big a draw as the beautiful beaches.

Riviera Maya. This section of Caribbean coast on the eastern side of the Yucatán Peninsula between Playa del Carmen and Tulum is about 125 miles long. The Riviera Maya features warm Caribbean waters and pristine beaches. Just offshore, the Great Mayan Reef, the largest coral reef in the Atlantic Ocean, provides world-class diving and snorkeling. Another draw to this area are the well preserved Mayan archaeological sites. A few world-class golf courses round out the local attractions.

Tulum. The biggest town of note along the Riviera Maya is Tulum. Just a few years ago, Tulum consisted of a handful of cabins and a few fishing shacks. Today, the census counts more than 18,000 people in Tulum.

On Mexico’s Pacific coast:

Puerto Peñasco. This seaside resort is convenient to the United States by car because it’s just over an hour from the border. Also known as Rocky Point, Puerto Peñasco has been a playground for the western United States and Canada for almost 100 years. Homeowners in Puerto Peñasco can drive over the border and head right for their seaside homes without even stopping to register their cars. Yet the beaches are second to none. Puerto Peñasco enjoys warm, calm waters all year, broad, sandy beaches, lots of housing options and low property prices. You can find two-bedroom condos on this beach starting at just $109,000. These are ideal for a vacation home or a weekend getaway.

Mazatlán. This city has rebounded from the 70s and 80s, when it was largely forgotten. Today, its 20 miles of beaches and boardwalks are again as busy as when John Wayne and Gary Cooper put this town on the resort-traveler’s map. Meantime, the historic center has been renovated over the past 10 years. Now it’s a fine example of Spanish-colonial America, with world-class restaurants, sidewalk cafés and a beachfront promenade.

Puerto Vallarta. PV has been one of Mexico’s most popular resorts since the 1960s, though its rich colonial history goes back hundreds of years. Unlike many resort areas, PV includes a number of coastal sections with beaches interspersed among them, meaning different areas with unique characters. One of the best things about Puerto Vallarta are its ocean views. Here you’ll find lots of hillside homes with long views out to the ocean.

Beyond the beach:

Not everyone dreams of retirement on the beach. Many retirees prefer the ambiance and better weather of Mexico’s colonial heartland. These three colonial towns in particular have attracted large numbers of foreign retirees:

San Miguel de Allende. This is a remarkably beautiful and sociable colonial town. Many expats believe that San Miguel de Allende is the finest example of colonial living abroad in any country and thousands of expats call it home. Its magnificent historic center is walkable and full of delights for visitors and residents. The quantity of first class restaurants and fine shopping venues per block is probably unmatched anywhere else in Mexico.

Guanajuato. Rather than thousands of expat retirees in residence, as in San Miguel, Guanajuato is home to hundreds. This is a big town with everything you need for comfortable retirement living – plus beautiful architecture – but the ambiance and culture are more Mexican, with less expat influence.

Álamos. For a small-town alternative to cities like San Miguel, Guanajuato, and Oaxaca, consider Álamos. A small town of fewer than 25,000 people, Álamos has restored and preserved its historic center. Further, this bohemian town is home to artists, writers, musicians and poets.

Faced with all these options, how do you find the place that’s right for you? It comes down to personal taste and priorities. But it’s hard to imagine not finding a lifestyle to suit you somewhere in Mexico, whatever your budget. Just imagine, when the cold and snow hits the United States, you can load up the car and head down to your sunny second home in Mexico. Your affordable retirement overseas really could be that simple.


By: Donald Murray |

Mexico, by an enormous margin, is the number one choice for expats moving and retiring abroad. According to recent official population estimates, the foreign-born population of Mexico is around 1,007,063, the majority from the U.S. But Mexico’s extraordinary popularity with expats is not hard to understand.

With warm weather and breath-taking landscape, first-world amenities, and a tranquil lifestyle that gently whispers to your spirit, Mexico’s appeal is hard to ignore.

There is one region of the country, however, that for more than two decades has attracted more U.S. expats than any other part of Mexico. In fact, many believe that it hosts the largest concentration of expats on the globe, a number often estimated to be over 20,000. This is the area surrounding Lake Chapala in Mexico’s Central Highlands.

Lake Chapala is Mexico’s second-largest lake. Located at an altitude of about 5,000 feet in the Sierra Madre range, the Lake Chapala area hosts the sister villages of Chapala and Ajijic on the northern shore.

Here are five reasons why this area wins the award for the number one expat destination in Mexico…and possibly the world.


1. Perfect Weather

According to the experts, the area surrounding Lake Chapala might actually have the best weather on the planet. Daily temperatures generally hover around 75 F, with bountiful sunshine. Nighttime temperatures fall into the 60s F or (rarely) into the high 50s F…perfect for sleeping. Rain happens, most often, at night, leaving your days free to explore the area or participate in any number of organized expat activities.


2. The Three Qs: Quaint…Quiet…Quintessential

For many, particularly those seeking a retirement destination, finding a place that fills their senses with gorgeous scenery and defines the culture of the country they have chosen is high on their list. The Lake Chapala region hits those marks. It is the perfect blend of old Mexico and modern life, with a large, vibrant expat population for support.

The small villages of Ajijic and Chapala retain their Spanish charm with narrow cobblestone streets and restaurants serving authentic regional foods. In both towns, (which are separated by only a few miles) there is a central square that is active day and night, with couples (young and old) holding hands and talking. Children minded by older siblings and grandparents can be seen running and playing with soccer balls, dolls, and sticks for pretend-swords. Vendors provide a variety of traditional food offerings. Sometimes, there are mariachi bands providing music to dance to. Coming to the park in the evening is like taking a class in local culture.

3. Close…But a World Apart

Located only about 40 minutes from the major city of Guadalajara, with its large, international airport, Chapala and Ajijic are easily accessible by air, with direct flights to and from all the major U.S. hubs. In fact, driving to this area is common, as the nearest U.S. border in Texas is only 650 miles away.


4. Affordability

This is the part I like the best. The Lake Chapala area is affordable. By that I mean that it is absolutely doable to live on your social security check here, and two checks is an absolute no-brainer. While you can certainly spend more, furnished apartments and houses can be found for around $500 per month if renting, and homes can be purchased for around $100,000 (or less). There is no need to own a car here as both towns are easily walkable, and buses regularly run between the communities. Between Ajijic and Chapala, Chapala has a slight edge when it comes to affordability.


5. Excellent and Affordable Medical Care

There is an abundance of good doctors in the area as well as several good clinics for routine care. For more extensive treatment, Guadalajara—just an hour away—offers several large, modern hospitals. Healthcare in Mexico is only a fraction of the cost of care in the U.S., and doctors often hold the same—or similar—credentials. And many speak perfect English. Prescriptions are not required for most medication and the cost is a fraction of U.S. prices. Simply walk into the pharmacy and ask for what you need. Most elect to pay cash for their care as the prices are reasonable. A regular office visit can cost around $12 to $20 and a specialist visit may be $25 to $40. And doctors still make house calls.


By Rodney Brooks | The Washington Post

Small business owners are just as unprepared for retirement as the rest of us, it turns out. Maybe more so.

According to a new report from BMO Wealth Management, only a fraction of the nation’s 28 million small business owners are prepared for retirement. BMO called the report “startling.”

According to the survey:

  • 75 percent of small business owners have saved less than $100,000 in retirement funds. In the upper age bracket (ages 45-64) the entrepreneurs were only slightly more prepared — 68 percent have saved less than $100,000.
  • Only 8 percent had saved more than $500,000, which is still not considered enough for retirement for many people.

Jason Miller, national head of wealth planning at BMO Wealth Management, says they weren’t surprised by the results.

“Unfortunately, the results bear out what we see in practice,” he says. “I don’t know that there were any surprises.”

And why don’t small business owners save?

“We have tremendous respect for small business owners,” he says. “They drive our economic activity. But starting and running a small business ins challenging, especially through economic cycles. They become very focused on running their business, and lots of times that requires any profit made in the business to be re-invested to make it grow.  Unfortunately, sometimes personal retirement planning is not done along side of that.”

His tips to help small business owners better plan for retirement:

“To the extent possible, be mindful of the idea that along with building a successful business, they should have a focus on accumulating  wealth outside of the business. And for those nearing an exit, they should be putting together a thoughtful succession and considering the post-sale effect. They should consider the  personal implications for the remainder of their retirement .

“Preparation and pre-planing is key,” he says. “It’s easy for momentum to take over. Slow down, step aside and put together a plan for contingency and business succession.”