A Thriving Business and Low-Stress Lifestyle in Mexico’s Colonial Highlands

Ret 3 (1)

By Jason Holland | International Living

For Patrice Wynne, the arts-rich, colonial town of San Miguel de Allende was the only option when she moved overseas.

“There’s no other place that’s even close for me,” says Patrice. “The people, both Mexicans and expats, are so kind, so caring, so decent, so noble. The city’s colonial beauty is staggering any time of the day or night. I never tire of looking out windows or walking along its streets, even after 16 years.”

Today, Patrice owns Abrazos San Miguel, a fair-trade business that creates housewares and clothing using vibrantly colored patterns inspired by Mexican art, culture, and folklore. You’ll find her products on sale all over Mexico, and in Germany, France, Sweden, the United States, and beyond.

“When I moved to Mexico, I was only 50 years old. I had to find work that would sustain me economically and creatively,” says Patrice, who originally considered opening a tour business. But then Patrice met a family—her neighbors—who were sewing out of their home. The children needed scholarship money and their mother was a great seamstress…and Patrice had a background in business and textiles.

“My mother and grandmother were seamstresses and had a flair for dressing originally in handmade clothes. Even though we weren’t wealthy, we had style,” explains Patrice.

By 2004, Patrice had a line of aprons and was selling at local artisan markets. At first she ran the business out of her home, but the business grew and in 2010, she opened her shop in the heart of San Miguel’s centro historico. The rent for her store, in one of the most popular tourist districts in Mexico, is a fraction of what she would pay in the U.S. and her utility bills are low because the temperate year-round climate means there’s no need for heat or air conditioning.

Patrice works hard but also has plenty of time for fun. She knows a lot of people around town. The local expat population in San Miguel, which numbers roughly 7,000, is active socially. There’s no shortage of concerts, book clubs, theater events, parties, tennis and golf games, cultural events, and more…but Patrice prefers a quieter life.

“My greatest pleasure is being with my partner, Ernesto—whatever we are doing, but mostly when we are traveling around Mexico. San Miguel has anything that you could enjoy doing in abundance…so spending time at home takes some effort but we make an effort to do it frequently,” says Patrice. “But for us, reading a great book in the evening with our dog and drinking a glass of tequila on the rooftop while watching the birds in the sky is as good as life gets.”

This laidback quality of life is why she came to Mexico. And although she works hard to grow her business, that’s not her primary goal. She says that, after regularly working 16-hour days when she owned her bookstore, she’s ready to take a step back and put quality of life ahead of business growth. At her store, Patrice has a trusted staff she has trained—interacting with customers and minding the shop—leaving her focused on finding wholesale deals and free to enjoy her personal time.

“In that sense, I have become more Mexican, absorbing the lessons of living here: family, friends, and fiestas are much more important in life than growth percentage,” says Patrice. “And part of my fair-trade business model is to give enough work for the seamstresses and employees to thrive, but not to create stressful environments that will affect their health and family life. Everyone is happier that way in a Mexican business.”


Why more retired expats are moving to Mexico

ret 2 (1)

By cashkows.com

When expats approach retirement age, one of the first things they consider is retiring in a country where they can affordably enjoy a high standard of living. A country that is becoming increasingly popular with the more mature expat age group is Mexico.

Laid-back lifestyle

Mexico ticks the box for ‘low cost of living’ and it has the added bonuses of having a warm climate and a laid-back lifestyle. Hará mañana (will do tomorrow) is a popular expression and attitude in Mexico, which is ideally suited to lazy days lying next to tranquil waters.

Lake Chapala, Mexico’s largest inland lake is an ideal place to do exactly that. Just 40 minutes away from Guadalajara, Mexico’s second largest city, it is home to over 40 000 expats, in particular, American and Canadian retirees. The lake sits 1,584 metres above seal level and the area benefits from warm temperatures ranging from 30C in the hottest month to 24C in winter!

Low cost of living

Compared to America, the cost of living in Mexico is very affordable and expats retiring here say they don’t have to ‘count their pennies’. Accommodation is generally the most expensive things for retiring expats to deal with, but whether renting or purchasing, good value can be found, especially in the more rural areas. When it comes to getting around, most expats tend to have their own cars. However if you decide to rely on public transport, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to discover that there is an extensive public transport system serviced by reliable and affordable buses.

Health care and insurance

Expats who are approaching retirement age or are retired are naturally concerned about the healthcare system in the country they are moving to. As Mexico is a developing country, there do tend to be healthcare issues in the state hospitals, however private healthcare in Mexico is very good and very affordable and attracts many Americans who prefer to have their procedures done in Mexico, rather than navigate the costs of private healthcare back in the USA. If you are retired and decide not to take out private healthcare insurance, you can request to join the public sector national healthcare programme. As a retired expat, your coverage will not be automatic and you need to be aware that while some hospitals and clinics are excellent, as you move out to the more rural areas, you can expect less consistent levels of care. If you are retiring in Mexico, it is recommended that you have the following vaccinations as a precaution:

  • Hepatitis A
  • Hepatitis B
  • Typhoid
  • Rabies

Take your retirement money with to Mexico

If you are planning on immigrating permanently to Mexico or another country, you might consider the advantages of closing your retirement annuities and taking the money you have accrued with you.

With so many expats retiring overseas, one of our top services is retirement annuity transfers. With this service, we assist South Africans living overseas turn their retirement annuity policies into cash and we then transfer the funds to their new home. The good news is that this can happen even before you turn 55 and the funds can be used for any purpose – whether you want to purchase a new home or save a nest egg for later use.

If you’re planning on immigrating to Mexico and need advice on your financial migration, contact us today. We’re here to help put you on the path to financial freedom in your new home.



A Little Expat Living… Cost of Living in a Mexican Beach Town (2017)

Ret 1 (1)

By Shannon O’Donnelle | a little adrift

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:

VIDEO https://youtu.be/Yfs6UYdp3s8

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.


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 (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

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

  • Consider a 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.
  • Read The 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 Lifeis 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: This is well-priced and unique to expats and retirees filing abroad. It gives a granular look at forms, terms, and sorting out exactly how to file — good for those with complicated tax situations. More recently released, U.S. Taxes for Worldly Americans goes broader and is aimed at younger expats and digital nomads still working and handling how to earn income overseas, pay taxes, and live a nomadic life. It doesn’t explain the terms or niche situations/forms as well as the other book, but instead acts as a guide for younger travelers. Depending on your situation, pick up a copy of one of these guides before you leave so that you will have a tax system in place that maximizes the opportunities to easily file.
  • You’ll also want property insurance once you’re living overseas — I’ve used Clements 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.

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 Notes and 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 wrote a 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!

Cost of Living Comparison

Still researching the right spot to live? Our Cost of Living Guides share extensive resources or all the major expat spots around the world. These guides include thorough breakdowns of the culture, quality of life, vibe, and — importantly — budget breakdowns so you can better plan which spot in the world best meets your needs.



10 Best Places to Retire in Baja Mexico


By Alexandria I. | Insider Monkey

If you’re on the verge of retirement and you love the beach, look no further than 10 best places to retire to in Baja Mexico. Deciding on a place to retire is no piece of cake. There’s a whole world out there, so where on earth do you spend your latter days and your long saved for retirement money?

But if you’re leaning towards a more tropical haven like Mexico, you’ve come to the right place. We focused on the Baja Peninsula, or the small tail of land south of California and west of central Mexico. This location is most formally referred to as Baja California Sur, though it is a Mexican state. To give you the best towns to retire to, we used a ranking scale including variables like small town life, healthcare availability, weather, crime rates, cost of living and shopping.

Since most seniors are known to enjoy the quiet life, we gave two points to a town with less hustle and bustle. Towns with only a small element of city life received a score of one, and towns with a heavy city atmosphere got a zero.

Healthcare is another important factor when considering a place to retire. Towns with a hospital and ambulance got a two, while towns with only small clinics received one point. Towns with no medical facilities got zero points.

Weather can also heavily affect the quality of life, so we gave more points to towns with cooler temperature averages (since the blazing Mexican sun beating down daily is probably not every senior’s idea of a good time). Towns with a yearly average temperature of 80° Fahrenheit or below received two points, towns with average temperatures between 80°F and 90°F received a one, and towns with averages above 90°F (pity the residents) received zero points.

No one wants to accidentally retire to a crime-infested town either, so those towns with very low crime rates were rated at two, and those with just a low crime rate received a one. Everything crime-ridden got a zero. And though there is one town on this list with a score of zero for crime, if you think the good outweighs the bad (and you have a black belt) feel free to give that one a try.

Even though retirees have been saving practically all their lives for this moment, the idea is not to blow all the money in the first five years, so cost of living is also an important retirement location factor. Towns with a high cost of living got a zero, low cost of living locations received a one, and great cost of living a two.

Lastly, shopping. Since some retirees may prefer an abundance of store options (or at least not to have an hour commute to Walmart), we considered this important too. Towns with great shopping got a two, towns with basically only grocery stores and tourist shops got a one, and towns where you have to grow your own food got a zero.

We added up all the scores for each town, with a highest possible score of 12 points. And if you’re curious, most of the information for this article came from Mexico On My Mind and Expat Exchange.

So here goes! 10 best places to retire to in Baja Mexico.

  1. Ensenada, Baja Mexico

–        Quiet, small town vibe- 1/2

–        Good healthcare- 1/2

–        Weather-  2/2

–        Crime- 1/2

–        Cost of living- 0/2

–        Shopping- 2/2

–        Total: 7/12

This location is considered a relatively big city in Baja, however, there is a quaint town nestled inside it called Punta Banda which “has a gorgeous, peaceful 6-mile long beach where you can rent homes right on the beach which is not over ran by tourists.” This may be just the place to retire.


  1. La Paz, Baja Mexico

–        Quiet, small town vibe- 0/2

–        Good healthcare- 2/2

–        Weather- 1/2

–        Crime- 1/2

–        Cost of living- 1/2

–        Shopping- 2/2

–        Total: 7/12

The capital and big city of Baja, this one’s actually the fourth largest metropolitan city in all Mexico. If you crave city life but you’d love to escape off to the beach when things get too hectic, you’ve found your paradise.


  1. Tecate, Baja Mexico

–        Quiet, small town vibe- 2/2

–        Good healthcare- 2/2

–        Weather- 2/2

–        Crime- 0/2

–        Cost of living- 0/2

–        Shopping- 2/2

–        Total: 8/12

If you’re only in it for the beer (who considering retirement in Mexico isn’t?), this is just the place, because Tecate beer is one of the most popular in the country (may or may not be related to the high crime rate?) This small city is also within close proximity to the United States, so you won’t feel completely isolated.


  1. Todos Santos, Baja Mexico

–        Quiet, small town vibe- 2/2

–        Good healthcare- 0/2

–        Weather- 2/2

–        Crime- 2/2

–        Cost of living- 1/2

–        Shopping- 1/2

–        Total: 8/12

This country-village-like town lies an hour away from two large cities both to the south and the north. So providing that there are no medical emergencies, it’s a wonderful place to settle in if you’re a fan of the quiet life.

Todos santos

  1. Mulegé, Baja Mexico

–        Quiet, small town vibe- 2/2

–        Good healthcare- 2/2

–        Weather- 2/2

–        Crime- 2/2

–        Cost of living- 1/2

–        Shopping- 0/2

–        Total: 9/12

Vacationers call this an oasis town, and what better place to wind down after all your hard-working years? It’s right near the Rio de Santa Rosalia, too. Proximity to both a beautiful river and the ocean? What more could a person need?


  1. Rosarito, Baja Mexico

–        Quiet, small town vibe- 2/2

–        Good healthcare- 2/2

–        Weather- 2/2

–        Crime- 1/2

–        Cost of living- 0/2

–        Shopping- 2/2

–        Total: 9/12

The fifth on our list of best places to retire to in Baja Mexico is considered a resort town, which accounts for the expensive living. But it’s only 10 miles from the US border, and goodness, if you’ve been saving for retirement all your life, you deserve a little luxury, right?


  1. Los Barriles, Baja Mexico

–        Quiet, small town vibe- 2/2

–        Good healthcare-  2/2

–        Weather-  1/2

–        Crime- 2/2

–        Cost of living- 2/2

–        Shopping- 1/2

–        Total: 10/12

Another quaint small town, Los Barriles is hardly the shopper’s dream. But we all know retirement is all about laying in a hammock and gazing at the shoreline, anyways. There won’t be much time left for shopping.

Los barriles

  1. Los Cabos, Baja Mexico                                                             

–        Quiet, small town vibe- 0/2

–        Good healthcare- 2/2

–        Weather- average temp 80s- 2/2

–        Crime- 2/2

–        Cost of living- 2/2

–        Shopping- 2/2

–        Total: 10/12

Every traveler who’s ever ventured to Baja has probably been to this popular tourist destination. It’s sometimes referred to as Cabo and has a population of over 280,000. And if you’re too lazy to learn Spanish, this may be just the place for you because of all the diversity around. You’ll be able to get by just fine on the minimal Spanish you remember from high school over thirty years ago. Knew that class was going to pay off someday.

los cabos

  1. San Felipe, Baja Mexico

–        Quiet, small town vibe- 2/2

–        Good healthcare- 2/2

–        Weather- 2/2

–        Crime- 1/2

–        Cost of living- 1/2

–        Shopping- 2/2

–        Total: 10/12

Nestled on the bay of the Sea of Cortez, this small town has a motto of “No Bad Days.” Sounds like just the right kind of place. Check out the town website for upcoming events!

San felipe.jpg

  1. Loreto, Baja Mexico

–        Quiet, small town vibe- 2/2

–        Good healthcare- 2/2

–        Weather- 2/2

–        Crime- 2/2

–        Cost of living- 1/2

–        Shopping- 1/2

–        Total: 10/12

The last on our list of best places to retire to in Baja Mexico houses a national park containing tropical wonders of nature and a few beautiful colonial buildings. Better yet, there are mountain ranges involved.




How Much Money Do I Need to Retire in Mexico?

art 2 R

By Cabo Cribs

Although the Mexican border has been taking heat for the large migration of undocumented immigrants entering the United States, there has been a large migration of Americans relocating and retiring in Mexico. The reason for this being the better weather, new experiences, and relaxed lifestyles that they will find as they head south into Mexican territory. These expats also enjoy access to affordable and quality healthcare and a lower cost of living. Mexico is a popular destination because it offers all this – plus its close proximity to the US makes it easily accessible and cheap to travel between to visit family and friends.

One of the first things to consider when deciding to live abroad is the cost of living in that country. Below, we take a quick look at how much money you might possibly need to retire comfortably in Mexico.

Lifestyle Determines the Amount of Money You Will Need

No matter where you retire, the way you retire greatly affects the amount of money you will need to do it. It is completely possible to retire on a fraction of a salary of what you would receive in the United States in Mexico. For instance, if you are willing to live modestly in a small apartment, eat at home, and sacrifice some of the comforts you may be used to back home you could save tons of money. Contrastingly, you could easily spend $15,000+ a month living in an exclusive beachside community while participating in expensive leisure activities, fine dining, and travel.

Most people who retire abroad fall somewhere in the middle between lavish living and budget consciousness. In order to achieve this in Mexico, a retired couple might be looking at the following monthly costs. Keep in mind that this level of budget in Mexico permits renting a house with three-times-a-week maid service and a weekly gardener:

These numbers are based on estimates on the website http://www.internationalliving.com.

For about $2,175 a month, or about $26,100 per year, a couple could retire comfortably in Mexico. With the peso hitting record lows, Americans can take advantage and stretch their retirement budget even further. Take for instance that the average monthly benefit for retired workers is $1,341. For a couple receiving that amount, this adds up to $32,184 each year – just enough to cover this budget.

Of course, retirement costs vary depending on each person, and your costs could be lower or higher than the estimates stated depending on your situation and lifestyle choices. Also remember these estimates don’t include expenses such as traveling to/from your retirement destination, moving costs, taxes, or emergencies.

More Ways to Save

Another way to save is through Mexico’s retirement benefits program. You are eligible for the Mexico’s Personas Adultas Mayores benefits program if you are 60 or older and have a Mexico resident visa. This program provides discounts of 10% to 50% off full price for a variety of services, including healthcare, cultural activities, transportation, and hotels.

Another important way to control costs is to shop at the local food market and learn where you can buy things at the “local” rate instead of the “tourist” rate. It is easy to forget that you’re not vacationing and you can easily burn a hole through your retirement funds if you are not careful.

Wrapping it Up in Mexico

Retiring in Mexico is a good option for those looking to adventure through new experiences and cultures, wanting access to affordable healthcare, or looking for a lower cost of living. Life outside the U.S. can create a culture shock so it is helpful to have an open mind and be adaptable to fully enjoy and appreciate the experience.

Also, visas, residency requirements, and taxes can be complicated as an expatriate so it makes sense to work with a qualified attorney and/or tax specialist when making plans to retire outside the United States.

Otherwise, we hope this has been informative enough for you to make the plunge into the crystal clear waters of Mexico!



5 awesome affordable places to retire in Mexico

Art 1 R

By Phillippe Diederich

If you want to retire in Mexico, know it is an awesome and affordable place to do so. Financial advisors claim you need over a million dollars in a retirement savings in order to live well once you stop working. I don’t know about you, but I am a long, long way from that number and retirement age is getting closer and closer. One option I’ve been looking at is retiring abroad. Since I speak Spanish, Mexico seems like the perfect place for me. You’ve probably heard about San Miguel de Allende, that Mexican colonial city in the state of Guanajuato with the cobblestone streets and sixteenth and seventeenth century churches and architecture. San Miguel was invaded by ‘gringos’ who came in droves to retire in this quaint, affordable hamlet, building up the town and causing real estate prices to skyrocket. Indeed, San Miguel is an awesome town, but it’s busy and also expensive. So is Lake Chapala in the state of Jalisco, where another colony of North Americans live in blissful retirement around the beautiful lake.

While the dollar is still strong against the Mexican peso, prices for real estate in choice areas like Lake Chapala, Puerto Vallarta, San Miguel de Allende and Cabo San Lucas, are now quite even with prices in some popular retirement towns across the U.S.

But if you think you’re too late to buy inexpensive real estate in Mexico, think again. It’s a big country with a number of fantastic towns and cities set around lakes, mountains and the ocean. Here are five awesome places to retire in Mexico that are still affordable for those with a modest retirement income.

Sayulita: Located on the pacific coast in the state of Nayarit, Sayulita is an up and coming beach heaven for foreigners and Mexicans who want something a little off-beat. Just 25 miles north from Puerto Vallarta, Sayulita was once a fishing village and a surfer’s paradise. Now it’s the ‘it’ beach town in Mexico. While the town is tiny, with the beach on one side and mountains on the other, there are plenty of small hotels, villas and hip restaurants and shops. Real estate is still affordable, although quickly climbing. If a funky beach town is your thing, you’ll soon call Sayulita home.

Merida: The state capital of Yucatan, Merida is considered one of the safest cities in Mexico. It has a beautiful colonial center with amazing architecture from the 19th century. Rich with Mayan and Mexican culture, Merida has attracted many foreigners who are rebuilding the old mansions and nearby sisal plantations. With a warm tropical climate and a trove of boutique hotels and new restaurants, Merida is a great place to retire if you’re looking for the amenities of a city, but want to be only close to the coast. And best of all, there are plenty of real estate options to accommodate varying budgets.

Puebla: A short drive from Mexico City, Puebla is Mexico’s fourth largest city, and a colonial jewel. Puebla is on the other side of the famous Popocatepetl volcano from Mexico City and the sight of the battle where the Cinco de Mayo holiday was named after. Puebla offers everything a large city could offer, including its famous food, “mole poblano” and “talavera” tiles and ceramics. Convenient, pretty and safe, Puebla offers multiple real estate options for retirees.

Mineral de Pozos: If what you are looking for is a quiet little town, check out Mineral de Pozos, in the state of Guanajuato. Pozos is a former silver mining town that became a ghost town – until recently. Now, small butique hotels and restaurants are opening up. Most of the buildings are from the 19th century when the town was booming. Pozos is currently experiencing a small resurgence with businesses catering to tourists and visitors from nearby San Miguel Allende.

 Patzcuaro: This town on lake Patzcuaro in the state of Michoacan dates back to the days before the Spaniards arrived in Mexico. The lake and its surrounding little colonial towns are beautiful and quaint, with cobblestone streets and red tile roofs. The area has been popular with Mexicans and foreigners for years, so there are plenty of amenities. Real estate can be expensive, but because the area is so large you can still find deals if you take your time and look for the right place. Patzcuaro and Michoacan are rich with history and crafts. Being in Patzcuaro is being in the heart of Mexico.







Ret 3

By Mexico Editor | Escape Artist

If you are considering retiring in Mexico, you are in the company of an estimated one million Canadians and Americans who have already made the move.

Mexico has so much to offer in terms of lifestyle options and practicalities that are appealing to retirees.

One of the biggest factors for many North Americans who make the decision to retire to Mexico is the geographical location. Being just a short flight away from home is very important to many people who want to retire abroad, but also want to maintain the ability to visit with friends and family on a regular basis, or host them in their new retirement location.

A very close second, is that retirement in Mexico is very affordable, which helps a fixed income to go much further. Everything from food to utilities, healthcare to leisure activities costs so much less in Mexico than it does in the US, Canada or Europe.

Lower prices do not necessarily mean inferior products or services. In fact, the food in Mexico is wonderful. Shopping at the local markets for fish, meat, fruit and vegetables not only results in getting great value for money, it also provides the opportunity to integrate with the locals.

The cost of utilities, property taxes and maintenance costs will generally be lower in Mexico in comparison to those in Europe, Canada or the US. If your retirement income is in a currency from one of these regions, you will also benefit from favorable exchange rates helping to make your money buy you a better retirement lifestyle.

Understandably, of concern to people of retirement age is the availability, quality and affordability of healthcare. One important thing to remember is that any healthcare insurance that’s valid in your home nation stops at the border. Reasonably priced insurance plans are available to cover expats who retire in Mexico.

Healthcare is widely reported to be of a high standard in Mexico including doctors, dentists, hospitals and other specialist medical services. The level of care will vary according to the retirement location chosen with bigger towns and cities being superior to the more rural or remote locations.

From a lifestyle point of view, the laid-back vibe of the warm and welcoming native population makes for stress free living. This doesn’t mean that your retirement in Mexico has to be sedentary, unless you want it to be.

The wide range of climates and topography is very conducive to an active, outdoor lifestyle. From the warm and humid ocean-front locations to the contrasting desert regions or the all year-round spring temperatures there is a retirement destination in Mexico to suit everyone.

From bustling cities to coastal towns and highland locations, retirement in Mexico can be as laid-back or as active as you choose, or a combination of both.

An established retired expat population in Mexico provides opportunities to blend in with your own culture where you can join in with familiar activities making the transition to a new life abroad easier. On the other hand, retirement in Mexico presents a wealth of rich cultural diversity to explore to enhance your experience of living in this wonderful country.

Less well-developed countries are often reported as suffering the inconveniences associated with having poor infrastructure. While this may be true for rural or remote locations within Mexico, the bigger towns, cities and popular locations have infrastructure that’s equal to the standard in the countries from where expats originate.

Every now and again, the news channels churn out scenes from Mexico City showing violent crime carried out by gangs of drug dealers wielding knives and guns. These reports make it appear that retirement to Mexico will be dangerous. In actual fact, Mexico has strict firearm and lethal knife laws and is statistically safer than many cities in the US. Away from the inner city area, violent crime in Mexico is rare.

In conclusion, retiring in Mexico is a great choice because the pace of life is ideal, the cost of living is very affordable, health care is good and easily accessible and for Americans and Canadians, you are just a few hours flight away from home.

Mexico is a beautiful and safe country with amazing weather, great food, wonderful cultural diversity and a warm and welcoming native population. Retirement in Mexico is waiting for you.