10 Retirement Destinations in México


Surely you have imagined spending your retirement living in a place where you will be able to be in touch with nature, enjoying your favorite pastimes, in a community where you can greet your neighbors in the street, having them answer with a smile. A place near the ocean, in the middle of a forest, o in a picturesque colonial town, where, despite the tranquility, you will receive the best medical care and the services to which you are accustomed. This place does not only exist in your dreams, it is a real place that exists in Mexico.

Mexican destinations such Puerto Vallarta, the Riviera Maya, Cabo San Lucas, Rosarito, La Paz, among many others, are favored by Mexican and foreign citizens over 50 years old, who come to these communities to settle down permanently. A survey conducted in 2009 by the International Community Foundation, an organization seeking to improve the health, education and the environment for the sake of local organizations in Mexico and Latin America, and which promotes building sustainable.

Things to do

Retirement Destinations: Puerto Vallarta

Puerto Vallarta

In recent years, Puerto Vallarta has experienced a boom, due to its growth in the housing construction industry. Punta Mita is located near Puerto Vallarta; this a very attractive destination for Baby Boomers who are developing retirement homes along the entire Pacific Coast. Puerto Vallarta is one of the fastest growing cities in Mexico. It has an unprecedented proliferation of foreign retirees and expatriates because it is a colonial city which blends perfectly with a beach destination. The city lies on the same latitude as Hawaii, therefore having a perfect climate with an average temperature of 71ºF and very little rain.

Retirement Destinations: Cancun


The mysticism of the Maya culture and its natural beauty make Cancun, Quintana Roo, the perfect retirement destination for those who want to live by the sea. Located to the northeast of Quintana Roo, about 1,056 miles from Mexico City, this destination stopped being a plain fishermen island surrounded by virgin forests and uninhabited beaches, to become the most internationally renowned Mexican tourist center. Currently, this destination is home to the world’s major hotel chains, the best restaurants and first class tourist services. Cancun, one of the favorite beach destinations in the world, is the dream home for living out your retirement in complete harmony with nature.

Retirement Destinations: Lake Chapala


Lake Chapala and its surroundings is one of the most charming places in the world to spend a great retirement. A place where natural beauty, tranquility and beautiful weather all year round, are just some of the attractions. This destination in the state of Jalisco is the largest water reservoir in Mexico and provides for the drinking needs for much of the city of Guadalajara. Here, a variety of cultures and nationalities come together, resulting in an exotic blend that coexists in a typically Mexican environment. Chapala is located just one hour from Guadalajara, the second largest city in Mexico, which offers modern airports and roads for your use.

Retirement Destinations: Los Cabos

Los Cabos

Consisting of the towns of Cabo San Lucas and San José del Cabo, in Baja California Sur, this destination has an important influence of American culture, so that, except for its natural beauty and the warmth of its people, it might seem an American beach destination. The weather is divine, about 78ºF on average, representing one of the main attractions for retirees. Los Cabos are spread across 17,400 square miles; it should be noted that Baja California Sur is the state with the lowest population density, with an average of only eight people per square mile.

Retirement Destinations: Merida


The city of Merida, Yucatan, known as the “white city”, is famous for its rich Mayan history and for being home to some of the most important archaeological sites in Mexico. It is a great center of activities and is very well connected by road and air to other places in the region and the country. It offers all the amenities of a big city, together with the rich history and culture of colonial Mexico. It is a cosmopolitan and picturesque city, with a strong Mayan influence; it serves as a starting point to visit the archaeological sites of Chichen Itza and Uxmal.

Retirement Destinations: Playa del Carmen

Riviera Maya

Playa del Carmen is located on the Yucatan peninsula, in the state of Quintana Roo. Regarded as the second most important tourist destination in Mexico after Cancun, Playa (as it is commonly known) was once a small fishing village, and today has become one of the fastest growing cities in all of Mexico. Unlike other destinations in the Riviera Maya, the city has always been quite and authentically Mexican, without an over proliferation of night clubs or big shopping malls. As the center of the Riviera Maya, Playa del Carmen is the favorite place for visitors and many expatriates.

Retirement Destinations: Riviera Nayarit

Riviera Nayarit

Mexico’s most promising tourist destination is called Riviera Nayarit. It is a tropical paradise with a coastline that stretches over more than 1,988 miles of blue skies, green mountains covered by thick vegetation, and endless beaches for your enjoyment. Its warm climate has become refuge to hundreds of foreigners who come to this place fleeing from the cold, and who decide to stay and live out their retirement. Its enviable humid climate averages 77ºF almost all year round, endowing the fertile soil of the Riviera Nayarit with the most exotic vegetation.

Retirement Destinations: Rosarito


Due to its proximity to the northern border, Rosarito is one of the most popular retirement places among American citizens. This beach destination is in the Tijuana-Ensenada Tourist Corridor, which is home to many real estate developments which have turned this place into an ideal place for relaxation and comfort. Its natural attractions and the beauty of its beaches have been the setting for many important movies such as Titanic, Pearl Harbor or Pirates of the Caribbean. Rosarito is famous for its delicious lobster and is home to thousands of foreigners who come to settle down here.

Retirement Destinations: San Miguel de Allende

San Miguel de Allende

San Miguel de Allende is a perfect place to live deep within the art and the culture which are abundant throughout its streets and squares. In this picturesque town in the State of Guanajuato, colonial Mexico is still alive, and there is a bohemian and artistic environment unparalleled in very few places in the country. The natural surroundings, the tranquility and the safety it provides its inhabitants is one of the main attractions for those who are not looking for a sun and ocean destination, but rather a true retirement community.

Retirement Destinations: Todos Santos

Los Cabos

Todos Santos is a very popular destination among retirees, because of its relaxed lifestyle, full of ecological tourist activities and water sports. This is the more bohemian and cultural side of Baja California Sur, very different from San Jose del Cabo and Cabo San Lucas, which are primarily vacation destinations and with a hectic pace, full of tourists for most of the year. Baja California has much to offer in addition to its beaches. It has beautiful vineyard areas and tons of delicious fresh seafood, to which you will have to get used, as well as fresh fish, oysters and clams.


Where the Expats Live in Mexico

By:Living in PlayaReal Estate / everythingplayadelcarmen.com

Mexico attracts thousands of foreigners each year to move and  explore the country. We wanted to examine where these foreigners or (expats) are moving to. We focused on the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico.  Maybe the map and article will help you in your search if you are looking to relocate.

Moving to the Yucatan and Riviera Maya

There are three states that make up the Yucatan Peninsula, Campeche, Yucatan and Quintana Roo. Most expats live in Yucatan and Quintana Roo States. Campeche is by far the distant third in foreigner population. This is because of it’s more remote location from a large airport and not as many desirable places to live in the State by expat standards…


Read the full article here : http://everythingplayadelcarmen.com/where-the-expats-live-in-mexico/

Retirement in México Why, Where, and How North Americans Relocate

By: Habeeb Salloum|www.transitionsabroad.com

Retirement in Mexico: A typical Yucatan beach is one of many locations expatriates choose.

Some resident travelers head for the hot coastal zones; others prefer the temperate zones, 3,000 to 6,000 feet above sea level.During the cold winter months over 1 million North Americans bask in the tropical warmth of Mexico. Some return each spring, while others are year-round residents.

For those seeking spring-like weather all year long, Cuernavaca and Guadalajara and the nearby lakeside towns of Chapala and Ajijic are the preferred locations. Guadalajara, along with Chapala and Ajijic, is home to 50,000 North American expatriates, the largest colony of retired Canadians and Americans in Mexico. Many more snowbirds travel to the area to spend the winter months. Both towns maintain a small-town and relaxed atmosphere. Ajijic, one of the most picturesque towns in Mexico, offers cobblestone streets, gourmet dining, and excellent shopping.

The nearness to the large and livable city has advantages for retirees, some of whom prefer to live in the city itself, a metropolis filled with Mexican cowboys, tree-lined boulevards, fountains, parks, and plazas.

Other cities becoming more popular for North Americans are San Miguel de Allende, Morelia, and Oaxaca. San Miguel de Allende, declared a national monument in the 1920s, is a legendary town of artisans and poets. It is filled with colonial mansions, terraced cobblestone streets, and flower-filled patios. Its North American expatriate colony of 10,000 organizes plays and lectures and even publishes a newspaper in English. It is said to be the perfect town for English-speaking retirees in Mexico who are looking for ties with North American social groups.

Morelia is the capital and the cultural and political center of Michoacan, a state renowned for its natural beauty. Its friendly inhabitants, along with its Spanish colonial and indigenous heritage, make it ideal for someone interested in Mexican culture. It is home to dozens of artists, poets, and writers and a small community of Canadians and Americans. Retirees come to Morelia because of its low real estate prices as well as the ample opportunities of interaction with the local inhabitants.

Oaxaca, located on a 5,000-foot-high plateau, though not as yet the most popular destination for North Americans, entices by its climate, cuisine, handicrafts, and history. Its downtown streets are lined with impressive Baroque colonial architecture. The city’s pace is relaxed and the people are friendly. Oaxaca is becoming another important Mexican destination for North American retirees.

Information on Retirement in México

1. Depending on the retiree’s plans for staying in Mexico, there are different visa procedures. For someone looking to stay in Mexico for a short period, a tourist visa (FM-T) is easy to obtain. It is valid for up to six months but does not grant work status.

2. Rentista or Residente Temporal is a non-working visa available to those wishing to stay longer than 6 months and less than 4 years who can prove sufficient income. See the rentista visa section of the Mexican consular services website for all requirements. Mexperience has a good detailed explanation of the various visa options, including the Residente Permanente option for those who plan to move long-term or permanently.

3. Owning or renting a home in Mexico is relatively easy. Foreigners can buy directly in any area that is not near the coast or the border. If the property is within 60 miles of the border or 30 miles of the coast, non-Mexicans are required to purchase through a fideicomiso (beneficial trust).

4. Medical benefits stop at the border, so it is advised that Canadian and American retirees in Mexico buy health insurance. In general, the quality of healthcare in Mexico is very good. Hospitals, both private and public, are usually easily accessible and well equipped.

5. Generally speaking, there is no need to have a car in Mexico; public transportation is affordable and reliable.

For more information, contact the Mexican Tourism Board at www.visitmexico.com. See our section on Living in Mexico: Expatriate Resources for more information.




Evelyn Walker|AccessLakeChapala.com

 Daily Living in Lake Chapala Mexico

The Access Lake Chapala team and I want to share with you experiences of daily living and a taste of retirement near the largest lake in Mexico, Lake Chapala and its surrounding towns, Ajijic, San Antonio Tlayacapan, San Juan Cosala, La Floresta and Jocotepec. This is one of the most unique areas in the world because it has such a large population of Mexicans, Canadians and Americans. It is three worlds in one. You can combine these three into many interesting realities.

Are there activities, events or social groups in the area?

If you are an outgoing, social person, you could have your daily calendar packed to the minute with things to do. I have heard that about many people when they first started living here. They got so caught up in groups, clubs, and other social functions that for months they spent no time at home. This realization always came to them as a surprise. Maybe they had neglected their beautiful vines in their backyards until they were overgrowing everything else. Or the papayas from their trees were falling on the ground and rotting. That was the time when they had to take a serious look at their packed social calendars and start marking off a few things.

Here is an example of a few popular social groups and clubs:

  • Lake Chapala Society
  • The American Legion
  • Bridge Club
  • German Club
  • The Canadian Club

Read more about the Expat Community in Lake Chapala and Ajijic here

When I first came here three years ago, I was the same way. I had all these plans of the groups I was going to join and performances I wanted to see but I ended up going in the opposite direction. I didn’t join any groups. I didn’t go many performances. I just spent my time without any structure except what occurred at the moment. Never in my life had I been able to live from day to day with no responsibilities pressing down on me. It was so freeing.

I took up photography. I spent my time walking around the village, taking photographs, listening to the strolling musicians and eating out with friends. There are ninety restaurants listed in the telephone book here and at least that many more that aren’t listed; little fast food places on the street where you can by tacos, roasted chicken, tamales, homemade ice cream, or other delicious desserts.

My moment of reckoning was not an overgrown yard, (I have a gardener) but the scale in a friend’s bathroom. It was when I stepped on the scale for the first time since arriving here and I saw an extra ten pounds register on it. I had to cut back on eating out all the time. I had to pass up those delicious desserts.

15 reasons to live in the area:

  1. International Airport 45 minutes away
  2. Great inexpensive medical & dental care
  3. 2nd best climate in the world!!!!
  4. Wonderful Mexican culture
  5. Fruits and Veggies fresh everyday at markets
  6. Very low cost of living
  7. Traditional fiestas and carnivals
  8. Inexpensive gardeners and house keeping
  9. International community
  10. Learning Spanish not obligatory
  11. Great restaurants
  12. Many local & expat friends
  13. Taxes…
  14. Only a 3 month rainy season
  15. Many activities and events

Great Restaurants and Traditional Mariachi Music

It takes everyone awhile to get things in balance. It is easy to go to extremes because there is so much to do, see, eat, and hear. It is a feast for all the senses. I remember two nine-hour days that a friend and I spent listening to live music at various restaurants in town. I love the Mariachi music. For me, the Mariachis are the essence of the romance of Mexico.

What could be nicer than sitting at an outdoor restaurant, eating good food, watching the sunset over the lake and listening to romantic guitar music?

I love all the sounds, smells and colors of this lakeside area. The buildings are brightly painted and beautiful murals are on many of the walls.

See our complete restaurant guide to Ajijic here

The Lake Chapala Society

Although my routines have changed several times since I started living here, I still like to go to the Lake Chapala Society in the mornings. I like meeting with friends, having coffee and breakfast at the outdoor café there and walking in the gardens. I get new books several times a month in the library and sometimes I rent videos in their video library. I always take my dog so he can meet up with all his friends. Dogs need friends too.

Mid afternoon, I walk back to my casita by the lake and snooze in my garden. Sometimes friends stop by to visit or take me on an outing. I am always up for a walk on the malecon or a trip to Chapala malecon.

Sit back, relax and watch the Sunset

I usually eat my last meal in the late afternoon. This is the Mexican way of eating and it feels healthier than a big meal at night. Sometimes I just mix up a smoothie in my blender. There are many interesting and delicious fruits available here. My favorite smoothie is a mixture of raspberries, strawberries, blackberries, bananas, fresh yoghurt, milk and honey.

After I eat my last meal of the day, I walk to the lake to sit and watch the water as it laps on the shore and the various birds fly low overhead. This is a perfect time for taking photos. I have hundreds of pictures of birds and sunsets. I never tire of them. My dog loves the beach too. He can sit on my lap there for hours and be happy.

In the early evening, I might walk to one of the local restaurants for a glass of wine and more visiting with friends. Maybe I will take in a performance.

I always like to get back to the lake to watch the sunset. That is my favorite performance. No one can outdo nature. And it is free.

It is easy to keep in touch with Family

I go back to my casita and send e-mails to friends or call them on Skype. It is easy to keep in touch with my family in the States because the communication system here is excellent. I can even get Netflix for movies.

If it is in the winter and a little chilly in the evening, I build a fire in my fireplace. I like the simple life, close to nature—earth, air, fire, and water. I love to have a fire crackling in my room when I go to sleep. It feels like I have company in room, another life form. I bought a cord of Manzanita wood and it gives off a good smell. Sometimes I light candles and just use the candlelight and firelight. I put on my favorite music while I drift off to sleep.

Lake Chapala has the 2nd Best Climate in the World!

As I said at the beginning of this article, you have many different lifestyle choices here. You can combine them to fit your heart’s desire. Ajijic and Lake Chapala Mexico is considered to have the 2nd best climate in the world. You can pretty much count on sunshine every day. If you are an outdoor person, there are many trails up the mountain to explore, day trips around the lake or boating on the lake, tennis, golfing, kayaking, swimming, or just walking in the park. We are nestled in between the mountains and the lake. It is all here to enjoy.

If you prefer to sleep in a hammock all-day and go out at night, there is always a place to socialize. There are restaurants and bars with live music, symphonies, chamber music, jazz performances and dance classes.

Mexico’s second largest city only 45 minutes away.

Guadalajara is just forty-five minutes away by bus if you prefer the nightlife of a big city. For less than eight dollars, you can go round trip on a comfortable bus into the heart of Guadalajara and back. Or you may prefer to go into Guadalajara for an afternoon of shopping in their unique stores. There are also many museums, art galleries, and beautiful churches to explore.

How about a tour bus of the Guadalajara area for ten dollars? Or would you rather take a horse and buggy ride around the main plaza. Guadalajara is Mexico’s second largest city. It is vibrant and one of the most beautiful cities in the world.

Be back in the States or Canada within a few hours!

I prefer the small towns around the lake, but to each his own. I am glad to be able to get into Guadalajara quickly. I appreciate the international airport which is a 20 minute drive from Lake Chapala. I can be in the States within a few hours and visit with my grown son and his wife in Portland, Oregon.

It is all waiting for you to discover, whether you are looking for a simple life on a limited budget or you want to spend with no limits. There are mansions here and high class, expensive restaurants to suit your heart’s desires. Again, it is a matter of your preferences and your budget.

Can I afford to live in Mexico?

The average salary for a Mexican here is 700 to 800 pesos a week. That is for five days of working four hours a day. It comes to around four to five dollars an hour. That gives you an idea of the low end of the cost of living. But you can spend as much as you want here. There are many extremely wealthy people living in this area. Think about it. They can afford to live anywhere in the world and they have chosen Lake Chapala Mexico. Many of these wealthy people are world travelers and they know what it is like to live in other countries. They prefer to be here.

On the other end of the scale, would you like to go out to at a fine restaurant with live guitar music for less than twenty dollars?

How about an afternoon boat trip on the lake for less than thirty dollars?

Or would you prefer to see a first run movie in a nice movie theater for less three dollars a ticket?

How about a filet mignon steak dinner for under five dollars?

Living in the Lake Chapala Area is magical

You have so many choices. Do you want to learn Spanish and socialize with the Mexicans? I have been invited to many of their parties and events. They are friendly and open to the foreigners here. The choices are yours. You can mix and match all the available options here to create the perfect lifestyle for yourself.

Many people come here in the anticipation of when they can no longer care for themselves. The average wage for a maid or caregiver here is less than five dollars an hour. There are beautiful board and care homes with 24-hour help for less than 1400 dollars a month.

Healthcare is Excellent and Inexpensive

Doctor visits can be as low as fifteen dollars. For less than four hundred dollars a year you can be fully covered with the Mexican Health Insurance.

Or if you prefer, you can use private hospitals in Guadalajara that are like luxury hotels. Operations there can be less than the cost of the co-pay in the States. I had knee surgery in a beautiful hospital in Guadalajara for 2000 dollars. My friend had the same surgery in the States and it cost 45000 dollars. I had excellent care. The doctor met me out in front of the hospital and stayed with me after the surgery. He spoke excellent English. My knee is back to normal now. It was the best two thousand dollars I have ever spent.

Many people come here for cosmetic surgery. My friend needs dental work done and for the cost of the dental work in the States, she can come here and have a two-week vacation plus have excellent dental care.

Life is good here at the Lake Chapala.

I have never felt unsafe. I love the people, the weather and all the social activities. I would not want to live anywhere else in the world. I hope you will give this area a chance. You will not be disappointed. In the future, I will write more specifically about the various things I have touched on in this article.



By: Shannon O’Donnell| alittleadrift.com

Two years ago, I lived in Chiang Mai, Thailand for five months after having traveled steadily for two years. It was the first time I stayed put in one spot and became a semi-expat. As the months passed, I was so surprised by how affordable living there was that I shared a cost of living post … mostly for the readers in the A Little Adrift community who had written me over the years wondering how they could afford to also live abroad. Long story short, that post went viral and has had half a million visitors intrigued by the $485 baseline costs to live in Thailand.

Clearly the financials are interesting. So, with that in mind, I thought I’d share a similar post outlining my recent semi-expat stint in a tiny beach town in Mexico earlier this year — this time with a bonus five-minute video, covering everything the post below does if you’re keen on video rather than text! Baseline (and total) costs to live in Mexico came in under $745 every month. I’ve also lived in Oaxaca too, and it’s even more affordable.

This post was last updated in early 2017 with new information. This video shares the costs, style of living, quality of life, and other details about living as an expat in Mexico:

If you’re a reading person instead, below are the details covered in the video.

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 living in a beach town on the west coast of Mexico. Living in Mexico is ideal for budget-conscious expats, retirees, and travelers. Those living in nearby Costa Rica or Panama tend to have higher monthly averages, so I found my Mexico living situation ideal. Mexico also has a very generous visa policy — six months on arrival for Americans, which helps keep total living costs low.

The chart shows the basics you’ll need to cover when living in most parts of Mexico. Puerto Vallarta and surrounding communities are generally pricier than spots in Oaxaca, and perhaps on par for places like San Miguel de Allende. Not included in this breakdown of costs: 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 never withdrew more than USD $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 as well. I also spent less than that easily when I lived in Oaxaca, which is an inland city and far cheaper than the coastal towns, so your money will go further. I share more Mexico resources at the end).

Rent & Internet $375
Electricity & Water $0
Food $300
Transportation $20
Entertainment $50
      Total $745

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. For those considering moving overseas without the chance for a retirement visa, the visa policy in Mexico is a very big boon. 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 18 pesos to 1 US dollar as a guide to the food and transport costs I mention (check that exchange rate here).

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.

Sunset is a nightly ritual and a great way to meet the other expats and locals in town as everyone takes to the shores every single night for what have to be some of the prettiest sunsets I’ve ever seen.

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 (a tour is shown in the video above).

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), then apartment 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 lucky 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 a lot of coffee, so although I made my own pot each day, the food budget included many espressos each week. My food budget was pretty generous so if you cook at home, even cooking meat I think you could get by on 1000 pesos each week. I often bought organic veggies (expensive) at the Friday market in Sayulita, so the food budget is generous for a range of eating styles.

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 driveable, 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.

Nightlife in San Pancho

Dos Bertos y Las Musas play every Friday at Darjeeling during the high season in San Pancho, Mexico.

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 different on the ground.

The short of it all is that Mexico proved more expensive at daily living than Thailand, but still at least half the rent I paid living in Los Angeles in my pre-travel days. And the flights to Mexico are far cheaper for North Americans. Although it wasn’t as cheap, I have continued to make Mexico a regular stop on my travels in the years since i lived in San Pancho. The plane flights are affordable, I speak the language, and I enjoy the culture. It’s a privilege to even have this ability, and I appreciate that Mexico has a lot to offer American expats. And likewise, many of these towns appreciate the influx of money and added services that come with expats moving to town.

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 return to Mexico soon. 🙂

Relevant Links and Resources for Moving to Mexico

  • Considera good travel insurance policy like World Nomads to cover you while you’re either in transit visiting your future homes, or their insurance policies (coupled with Clements for personal belongings) work really well as long-term expat insurance too. I have used them both in tandem since 2008.
  • ReadThe People’s Guide to Mexico: Even if you’re a veteran Mexico traveler, this is hands-down the best guidebook you should use to understand the various regions, the cultural quirks, and all the reasons Mexico is a fantastic place to travel and live. It comes highly recommended by me, and by heaps of Amazon reviewers too.
  • A Better Life for Half the Price: A Mexican expat breaks down all the major expat spots in the world with costs, quality of living, and resources. I learned heaps and found a couple countries I hadn’t previously considered. It’s worth buying if you’re still searching out which country is best for the life you want to live.
  • Getting Out: Your Guide to Leaving America: There are a lot of these general guides. The book above,Better Life is about where is a good culture fit, whereas this is the better of the lot of “move overseas” books that covers the practicalities and very hands-on information you need as someone considering living anywhere outside the U.S. If you’re new all the researching, this can kick-start your process. And if you are laser focused on the retirement topic, versus moving overseas at a different state in life, this retirement guide has great advice.
  • The Tax Book for U.S.  Expats: It’s well-priced and a good kick-start to understanding unique to expats filing abroad. It’s worth picking up a copy even before you leave so that you can have a system in place.
  • You’ll also want property insurance once you’re living overseas — I’ve usedClements for many years now.
  • Check out a Facebook group called “On the Road in Mexico” is a good place to ask questions of other expats.
  • And dig through the two solid Mexico expat forumshere and here.

Other Mexico Cost of Living Posts

  • Couples apartment in San Pancho: A look at another rental property in town.
  • Couples full budget in San Pancho: My friends break down their joint expenses renting a small house in town.
  • Couples budget in Sayulita: A thorough breakdown of how much a apartment and life will cost in Sayulita, which is the larger town 20 minutes from San Pancho.
  • Two solo budgets in Playa del Carmen: Nomadic Notesand Wandering Earl break down costs on an east coast beach.
  • Couples budget for Play del Carmen: Simon and Erin live a bit more mid-range budget.
  • Family budget in Lake Chapala: While the site is no longer active, this archived version shares a family of three’s budget in the interior.
  • Thailand cost of living post: I reference this throughout and thought I’d provide a handy link if you’re keen to compare living costs.
  • Oaxaca City, Mexico. I haven’t written up this as a full detailed budget post, but I lived in Oaxaca for six months in 2016. The pace of life is different inland, and the city is at altitude (about the same as Denver). There is also a large expat community of snowbirds. There is a rich cultural and food history. I wrotea detailed guide to visiting Oaxaca. Budget-wise, my rent was half of rent in San Pacho and for more space. If you’re looking at long-term rentals (not the three-month apartment rentals that are quickly filled in winters by snowbirds), you can find a two-bedroom on the edge of Oaxaca Centro for less than USD $300. Food is affordable and the city has some of the most famous restaurants in the country.

San Pancho Travel and Visit Specifics

Airport to SP: Cheapest is the bus, by far. Taxis are going to run you a fair bit more. The bus makes a number of stops, but it’s not so bad. I had a friend who luckily was able to pick me up my first day, but after that I frequently made the trek into Puerta Vallarta via bus. Where ever you book for accommodation will also be able to arrange a taxi pick-up (sometimes for less than the going rate if you hail one) if you reach out beforehand. If you are already in the area, the bus is straightforward and takes 45 minutes to an hour from downtown PV.

Finding Accommodation: There are three tiers, the Hostel San Pancho if you don’t mind a shared-dorm; this is the most affordable option in town. Above the hostel is an affordable, very nice guesthouse called Refugio de Sol. Or Roberto’s Bungalows is boutique and just great — Earl and his wife run this place and they are simply fantastic and well linked into the expat community.

If you’re in Sayulita, my friends rented a nice place from Villas Vista Suites for three months— I would start there for online hunting. If you’re using Sayulita as your base, consider the Aurinko Bungalows or Hotel Diamante as a midrange option and then daytrip over to San Pancho. These all come recommended, and if you plan to move to the area they are a good base. From each you can rent a bicycle for the day or walk around town and you will see many signs for rent. You can also talk with local expats and ask around. With average Spanish, you will have no problem finding something in just a few days, especially if it’s low season (get there before November). If you don’t speak Spanish, or you came in high season, pop into the real estate agencies. They handle rentals too and are fantastic resources on any city mentioned. For a midrange hotel in Puerto Vallarta, look at Hotel Mercurio.

Working: There are some places that hire expats, though it’s under the table. To get these gigs you will definitely need to be in town and getting to know the people, places, and other expats. I know for sure that some friends worked at the mid-range and high end restaurants in SP or Sayulita. A few expats also taught English for a small stipend at Entre Amigos, the community center.

Other: For work and living, it really will be so much easier on the ground. It’s a very small town and the expat community is super supportive. It’s a cinch to get the lay of the land once you arrive. Places like Darjeeling have fantastic tea and food, and then live music throughout the week. SP is more low-key than Sayulita, but there is usually something to do 2-5 nights a week depending on the season, and then you can always go to Sayulita if you need more of a vibe sometimes.

Deciding Where to Live

In response to numerous emails asking about the differences between the handful of towns north of Puerto Vallarta, here’s a Cliff’s Notes summary of the differences in case you’re sussing out which is better for you. All three would have similar costs of living.  And then I include a couple other towns and thoughts in case you’re looking at other Mexican towns:

Bucerias: Sprawling, no defined downtown area, neighborhoods stacked behind a big road and a beach. Very close to the PV, several big resorts. Less heavy with expats than any other surrounding town. No defined personality.

Sayulita: Very small, beach is very crowded with surfers because the water is good for swimming, entirely walk-able within the town. Lots of restaurants, shops, a language school, etc. Touristy but a very clear personality with organic markets, yoga shops, surfers, etc. More of a nightlife than San Pancho (a later nightlife I should say).

San Pancho: Tiny, one main road, a handful of options for restaurants. One, sometimes two, coffee shops. Beach is gorgeous but not very safe for kids swimming (though some do) because of strong waves/undertow. Tight-knit group of expats, can’t leave home without seeing someone you know. Local kids have free reign of the whole town. Lots of musicians and something going on each night of the week in high season at one of the pubs/bars.

Guanajuato/San Miguel: In the interior, these two towns just exude pretty colonial charm. San Miguel del Allende is smaller and more popular with expats, while Guanajuato is a decent sized city with a great vibe, an affordable cost of living, and a decent-but-not-overwhelming expat community.

Oaxaca: I lived here for six months and found it is one of the most affordable expat cities in Mexico. The community is different than what you find in San Miguel or PV, it seems there are more opportunities to integrate into Mexican life. This is the food heart of Mexico, there are many indigenous cultures in and around the city, and the only real drawback is the political nature of the city — there are a lot of strikes and protests from the teachers unions and other groups.

Yucatan: Hugely popular with expats (and spring breakers), a bit pricier than the west coast, gorgeous beaches and diving. Very touristy region in general but convenient and safe.

Happy travels!



By: Christian Reeves| escapeartist.com

Mexico is already the most popular country for American and Canadian expats. Estimates put the number of expats in Mexico at well over 1 million and increasing every year. Since Trump took office, the peso has been crushed and Mexico is now very cheap for us gringos. Here’s why you should move to Mexico in 2017.

I expect the number of applications from the U.S. and Canada for residency in Mexico to significantly increase in the next two or three years… during the Trump years. Not because of the hype and hyperbole around those who want to get out of the U.S., but rather value seekers moving to a low cost country.

When I began exploring Mexico in 2000, one U.S. dollar was around ten pesos. It sat there until 2008 when it went to around 12 pesos to the dollar. As of this writing, a dollar is worth 22 pesos. This makes life very cheap in Mexico for U.S. expats and gives you a quality of life you could never afford in the States. The threat of Trump has crushed the peso. Mexico’s loss is your gain and why you should move to Mexico in 2017.

Lower costs and a higher quality of life for those moving to Mexico are especially attractive in the middle and southern regions of the country. Focus on cities Leon, Guanajuato, Mexico City and Guadalajara. The further north you go, the more good are imported from the United States, pushing up prices.

A strong dollar has the opposite effect on countries who use the dollar or peg their currency to the USD. While costs are falling throughout Latin America for Americans (and Canadians to a lesser extent) expats, residents of Panama, Ecuador and El Salvador are paying in U.S. dollars and see no benefit. Likewise, much of the Caribbean is pegged to the dollar and having a tough time.

Note that I’m not necessarily advocating you move to Mexico for the long term, or buy a home there. If you pay cash, real estate in Mexico is cheap. If you need a mortgage to afford property in Mexico, don’t do it. The weak peso is pushing up interest rates and might cause real problems in the next year or two.

I’m focused on the short term benefits of moving to Mexico during the Trump years.

Let’s look at the business reasons for moving to Mexico in 2017. Then I’ll talk about the quality of life benefits.

My two top picks as the best cities for expats are Guanajuato, Mexico and Panama City, Panama. Guanajuato being the best for retirees and those with portable businesses and Panama being the best for traditional businesses with employees. For more on this, see The World’s Best City for Expats. More on Guanajuato later.

The reason for choosing Panama for business is simple – taxation. If you operate a business with employees in Mexico, you will pay tax to Mexico on your worldwide income. Also, if you are a tax resident of Mexico, you’ll pay Mexican tax on your worldwide income. For more, take a read through Taxation of Expats in Mexico.

But there are legal ways to manage your worldwide tax exposure. For example, operating through an offshore corporation in Panama while living in Mexico, running an online business with no employees in Mexico, or being a perpetual traveler (good for Americans, not so much for Canadians).

Pro Tip for Americans: You always need to have legal residency somewhere, be it in Mexico where you spend your time or Panama where you have your corporation and banking. Foreign residency will help you qualify for the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion. If not in Mexico, then consider Panama residency through investment.

All of this means that you can move to Mexico, increase your quality of life, and lower your costs by 50% to 70% compared to the United States. I don’t know how long this currency arbitrage will last, but I do know that moving to Mexico for the next few years is a great opportunity for those earning  in dollars.

Of course, moving to Mexico is not all about saving money. Finding a great value and improving your quality of life in the process are both important. Here are the other reasons to move to Mexico in 2017.

Mexico is close the to the United States, allowing you easy access for meetings and family visits. I live in San Diego, which is a 30 drive from the border and 1 hour from Rosarito. I can fly to most major cities in Mexico in a few hours. If you live on the East Coast of the U.S., Mexico City and Guadalajara are even closer.

And there are some good business opportunities and resources for expats in Mexico. For example, a number of outsourcing firms have set up in Tijuana and other border towns. They call this nearshoring (rather than offshoring) because of the efficiencies realized when dealing with someone nearby. Executives often schedule meetings in the United States and can be in California in about an hour considering the border wait time.

Now for a little on the quality of life benefits of moving to Mexico in 2017.

Being from southern California, I know beautiful beaches. I can tell you from experience that the northern baja areas of Mexico, from Rosarito down, are beautiful. Parts of Rosarito remind me of La Jolla (an amazing city in San Diego), but at a fraction of the price. A small home in La Jolla will cost well over $2 million, where the same in Rosarito might be for rent at $1,500 a month. You can find beachfront or beach adjacent for as little as $500 a month.

And Mexico has some great historic cities. My favorite is the state of Guanajuato, which is a 5 hour drive north of Mexico City, so mas or menos in the center of the country. I suggest you start exploring this region in the capital of Leon, which has 1.5 million residents and great weather. Leon was founded in 1530 and has architecture dating back to the 13th century.

If Leon is to hip and modern, drive an hour to the towns of Guanajuato and San Miguel de Allende. Both are oozing with history and paved in cobblestone. Because there’s no airport, they haven’t had the rush of tourists like Leon and remain true expat paradises.

I’ll close by mentioning that healthcare is quite good in medium to large cities in Mexico. If you’re a retired expat looking to cut healthcare costs, look to southern cities in Mexico where private hospitals are cheap and often staff U.S. trained doctors.

Which is another reason I suggest the Guanajuato region of Mexico. You can live in a historic town such as San Miguel de Allende and be about one hour from good medical care in Leon.

The best two private hospitals in Leon are Hospital Angeles (my personal choice) and the Hospital Aranda de La Parra. Both have a full staff with the with good doctors and modern equipment.

I hope you’ve found this article on why you should move to Mexico in 2017 to be helpful. For more on how to structure an international business or create an asset protection trust in preparation for the move, please contact me at info@premieroffshore.com or call us at (619) 550-2743. We will be happy to help you plan your adventure.




By: Michelle Singletary

Have we — those of us trying to get people to save for retirement — become like Freddy Krueger in Wes Craven’s “A Nightmare on Elm Street” movies?

Krueger killed people in their dreams. We may be killing people’s dreams of being able to ever have enough money for retirement.


Are we scaring people not toward saving, but away from it with terrifying proclamations that if they haven’t amassed, say, $1 million or $2 million or even $3 million by the time they want to retire, they won’t be able to survive?

If we frighten folks too much, many may just throw up their hands and stop saving and investing, believing that they will never be able to save enough, so why even try?

That was the general sentiment from some of my Twitter followers after I passed along a story by my colleague Jonnelle Marte: Millennials may need to double how much they save for retirement

Marte wrote an interesting story about investment professionals projecting that lower market returns in the years to come might mean people won’t have enough for retirement. And they think millennials will have an even harder path to saving enough.

“While it’s impossible to predict exactly what the stock market will do, investing pros over the past several months have been reducing their expectations for what they think the stock market will return, not only in the next year, but potentially over the next couple of decades,” Marte wrote. “If those gloomier outlooks hold true, workers saving for retirement today may not get as much from their portfolios in the long term as previous generations did. Advisers say that millennials, who are decades away from retirement, will need to save more — in some cases twice as much as they were saving before — to make up the difference.”

In response to my posting, Micah Hauptman, a financial services counsel at Consumer Federation of America expressing his personal opinion, wrote “These predictions are so speculative, they’re almost worthless. Let’s not scare people based on such weak evidence.”

He also made a good follow-up point: “Also, early years of savings are much more dependent on contributions and not rate of return.”

“We don’t know what market returns are going to be tomorrow, much less for the next 10, 20, 30, or 40 years,” Hauptman said. “I think people should have reasonable expectations and save as much as they can.”

I agree. So here are some stories that may offer you some retirement saving relief:

— Do you really need to save $1 million to retire?
“That’s only true, though, if your only retirement income is money from savings and investments,” writes David Slade for the Post and Courier. “About one out of five workers still have pension plans.”

And don’t forget many people will be receiving Social Security, he also points out.


I was the guest on a radio program recently, and several callers announced that they were ready to retire.

Two callers in particular were very confident that they had saved enough to stop working. One woman was in her mid-50s.

“How much do you have saved,” I asked.

She had about $100,000.

I took a long breath. I don’t believe that woman, based on other things she said, will be able to stretch that money for what could be decades in retirement.

So on one hand, we do have to be careful about alarming people. But folks also have to be realistic about how much it takes to live in retirement.