The Ultimate Guide to Driving in Mexico: Getting a Vehicle in Mexico + Driving Safety +

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By Emma | Always a Gringa
Whenever friends, family, or my students discover that I have a vehicle here in SLP they immediately ask “How do you like driving in Mexico?” some with a small smirk stretching across their face (often locals) others (foreigners) paralyzed in fear at the thought of driving anywhere besides their home country.
Granted it can be intimidating when you start driving in a new place prior to factoring in the differences of driving in a new country. Learning to drive abroad always comes with its challenges, whether it is adapting to navigating on the opposite side of the street, a different mode of transportation, or just learning which rules go and which ones don’t.

Driving in Mexico has hands down been one of the most frustrating things for me as an expat. I don’t know exactly why it made the top of the list maybe it was the traffic, topes, potholes, or the first time someone cut me off when they made a left turn from the far right lane.

But don’t fret! I am going to provide you with the must-knows to safety in the magical land south of the border, whether you are moving to Mexico, driving to Mexico, or just renting a car in Mexico all the need to know to get you driving around Mexico in road trip fashion is below.

Getting a Vehicle

You have a few different options here: you can either rent a car, buy a car in Mexico, or drive your own car to Mexico from the USA. Renting a car in Mexico can be quite pricey – especially if you don’t have your own insurance already (typically covered through a credit card).
 Renting a Car in Mexico 

Renting a car can be quite expensive and Mexico and it is pretty much always more expensive than what they quote you for. I still believe it is better than having to take buses which doesn’t allow you much flexibility. Also be sure to check if your credit card includes rental car insurance as this will take your price down drastically. Some available car rental companies are:

  • Hertz Rental
  • Avis Rental 
  • Cancun Area
    • Avant Car Rental
    • Thrifty Rental 

A friend of mine took a road trip through Central Mexico and she rented a VW Bento for 8 days at the cost of 7600 pesos or 410 USD. She was originally quoted 6300 pesos. This price included insurance, which is mandatory for most areas in Mexico.

Buying a Car in Mexico

Depending on how long you plan on staying in Mexico you could always purchase a cheap car and use that for travel – but that can become quite complicated. (post coming soon)

Driving A Car to Mexico

  • If you live in the US close to Mexico you might want to drive your car over the border for your vacation. If you would like to do this you must get your Temporary Import Permit (TIP)  at the border (different rules for Sonora & Baja). If you are visiting Mexico on a tourist permit, you can import your foreign-plated vehicle to Mexico, but you must export it again before the permit expires. FMM permits last for a maximum of 180 days (6 months) and cannot be renewed or extended beyond this time period.
  •  If you plan to drive south of the border zone or outside of the Sonora permit free area or outside Baja, you must obtain a “Temporary Import Permit” online at the border, or from certain Mexican consulates.  Banjercito – Mexico’s Banco Nacional del Ejército Fuerza Aérea y Armada, is the government authority who issues vehicle permits.
  • There is a “Free Zone” within 22 miles of the US/Mexico border. So if you are driving over for a quick trip you do not need to apply for and obtain a temporary import permit for your vehicle.

Insurance for Driving in Mexico

In order to bring your auto, RV, or motorcycle into Mexico you must purchase car insurance.  Your domestic auto insurance will not be honored in Mexico.  Remember to buy Mexican insurance before your trip online. It is easier to buy Mexican insurance online than at the border.

You must keep your vehicle legal while in Mexico in order for your Mexican insurance to pay a claim.  If your immigration status changes, you must notify Aduana.

For US Plated Vehicles 

  • Progressive Auto Insurance
  • Esurance

For Mexican Plated Vehicles 

  • HDI Seguros Mexico
  • AXA Seguros
  • GNP Seguros
For Rental Car Insurance just purchase it through your rental agency.

Getting Around in Mexico

Driver’s License
The funny thing about getting a Mexican driver’s license is that many Mexicans don’t have one or don’t even know how to get one. I tried to find out how I could get one so that I could drive my husband’s company car – a requirement from his company, but I was in shock that many people didn’t know how or weren’t sure of the requirements. I did discover it is much easier to get one in more touristy areas like Cancun or Puerto Vallarta, but here in San Luis Potosí, I was told the requirements included taking a driving course in Spanish and taking a blood test – no manches.

Directions
Google maps and iPhone maps work decently until you are in newer construction areas that haven’t made the map yet. The nice thing about Google Maps is that you can download an area on the map to use when you don’t have a lot of spare data to use. Sometimes google maps don’t work great for specific addresses, but I typically will have someone send me a location pin through WhatsApp. That way I am guaranteed to have the exact location and Google Maps typically can’t mess that shizz up. I’ve also been told Waze works pretty well in most areas around Mexico too – it also has really live traffic notifications.

Fueling Up for Gas
Pretty much like the USA, but you NEVER pump your own gas. You will pull up and request your preferences, Verde/Rojo lleno por favor or tell them the amount you would like.  They will ask you if you are paying with Tarjeta (card) or effectivo (cash). Paying in cash is easiest, but if you pay with a card you might have to get out of the car to punch in your numbers or possibly guess the amount you will pay prior to paying. Sometimes foreign cards won’t work if you are in a more rural area. They will also likely ask if you want them to clean your windshield or check your oil. Always tip the attendant because that’s just what you do here. So be nice. Three to five pesos is sufficient – more if they clean your window or check your oil.

Toll Roads
Tolls can get expensive, but honestly, there is nothing better than driving through the mountains on roads so smooth you daydream of rollerblading on them – is this just me? Always carry small cash for the tolls in the car. Fortunately, I’ve always had cash on these toll roads and haven’t had to deal with what the policy is if you don’t have any cash- but if they are anything like the US they get are way more expensive when they finally find their way to you in the mail. If you plan on doing any type of road trip or long distance driving you will definitely encounter toll roads. I’ve driven on multiple toll roads on my trips to Sayulita, Michoacán, and my Road Trip through Central Mexico.


Driving Laws in Mexico

If you are familiar with driving in the USA all the laws are pretty similar. However, a lot of people don’t follow the laws here, which means it could be unsafe if choose to. So as a rule of thumb I would trust your instinct first when it comes to driving. Be a polite defensive driver and don’t expect that someone will do what they are supposed to. I’ve had quite a few friends who have been the victim of a hit and run when the other driver was at fault.
When it comes to speed limits within a city I would advise you to stick with the flow of traffic. Often traffic speeds are not posted and it is just safer to follow the speed everyone else is driving – unless you want to chance getting rear-ended.
Mexico Traffic and Driving

Passing 

People are much more congenial about passing in Mexico. When someone knows that you likely want to pass them they don’t punch the breaks or even speed up, they will slowly merge onto the side of the road so you have room to pass, almost like they create this imaginary third lane. Due to this, people often feel comfortable passing while there is a car in the other lane. People just move out of the way and they aren’t pissed about it.  Sometimes the car in front of you will put on their blinker or hazards, letting you know it is okay for you to pass them.
 No Passing Sign_Guide to Driving in Mexico

 

Stop Signs
Stop signs act more as yield signs in Mexico and honestly I now rarely execute a complete stop. This is more for safety purposes because no one expects you to fully stop and if you do you have a high chance of getting rear-ended. There are so many car accidents in Mexico, I’d rather play safe than legal. You would be shocked at the number of neck braces that I see here. Even tried my friend’s on, you can never be too careful.

Stop Lights
I’ve seen many drivers and even busses make a complete stop at the light, look both ways and then drive right through the intersection if they think the coast is clear. I have not gotten this ballsy yet and have decided that this is where my flexibility ends. However, I will drive through a non-working stop light-because ain’t nobody got time for that.

Glorietas
The glorietas in Mexico range in magnitude: from the typical turn circle to the monstrous GLORIETA. Forget what I said earlier about the people of Mexico being congenial drivers – when it comes to glorietas it is every (wo)man for herself. Some glorietas have traffic lights mid-circle and others are so big and chaotic that they hire a police escort to guide cars through – you would think that the presence of a police officer would help curb aggressive cut-offs, but it definitely doesn’t.

The only accident I’ve been in (the USA or Mexico) happened to be in this dreaded Glorieta. (pictured below)
Here is a diagram of the rules about how to drive through a Glorieta, but honestly once you get in there these guidelines really go out the window. If you aren’t assertive you will definitely get pushed out of a lane (no lanes, this diagram is a lie) and will likely miss your exit which you will then have to suffer another journey around the chaotic circle.
glorietta guide

Safety While Driving in Mexico

Topes = road bumps from hell.
Like glorietas, they range in size from small tender bumps to a rollercoaster-like jump that will send any unbuckled passenger flying into the air. They often come unmarked as well, so always beware of possible topes when you start to approach a city or town. They will be lurking….
Topes_MexicoDrivingGuide
They also have reverse topes (no idea of their actual name, so someone please tell me). These are just as terrifying as they sound. They are basically a long big intended hole that stretches the width of the road. These are rarer (fortunately) and I have – gratefully – never hit one of these unexpectedly.

Potholes
These are not your Cali potholes and Michigan potholes don’t even measure up – which is terrifying if you’ve ever experienced a spring in the Midwest. These are deep, all consumable potholes. Locals will often insert whole construction cones inside of these potholes as a warning to unsuspecting drivers- do not hit these by accident and definitely not on purpose. Take extra care after a rain as these potholes are extremely hard to notice when they fill up with rain.

Death Trap U-Turns

These are located all over Mexico and are extremely dangerous. They are often located on main roads or highways. The most important thing is to be patient and to take your time. Vehicles are coming at high speeds and you want to have the most time possible to turn and speed up. Also, be very careful when approaching cars that are utilizing these U-Turns (especially during early or late hours). Cars and Semis will turn when it is not safe and may turn into your lane.

A lot of truck companies don’t restrict their drivers’ hours and many will be under the influence of inadequate amounts of sleep or drugs that will help them stay awake. I have a friend who was hit by a semi truck driver early one morning at one of these U-Turns and he didn’t even stop, just kept on driving even though her car was smashed and she required to go the hospital.

Animals in the Road

It is very common also to see street dogs crossing the road and horses or cows in more rural areas. Just be careful, pay attention, and be patient.

Horses in the Road when driving in Mexico

Random Construction
Construction can happen on any road at any time – even if you thought it was a perfectly beautiful road. Mexican construction crews aren’t always on top of their signage so it is always important to take precautions when driving day and night. One night when I was driving home from work my lane suddenly ended and was replaced by a whole filled with broken up concrete and gravel. The only reason I noticed it was due to two small cones that were just chilling on top of the broken up concrete. No warning signs, lights, anything.

Random Construction in SLP, Mexico
However, often on toll roads, the construction crews are really on top of their game. Typically there will be a man waving a flag, a shirt, or a sign to alert you of the approaching construction. Often you will just have to sit for a few minutes as they alternate the lanes of traffic
 Construction in Mexico

Driving at night 

I would advise against driving in Mexico at night (see potholes above), especially any long distances. The roads can be sketchy (we’ve been over this). Also, if you are driving at night on long stretches of road you are more likely to run into roadblocks or cartel activity. Like my momma said nothing good happens after 12 o’clock.
Also, drunk driving is quite bad in Mexico and not heavily patrolled. Many bars stay open late into the night, not closing until 4 a.m. sometimes even 6 a.m. The last two times my husband and I were driving to the airport at 4 a.m. we saw two different drunk driving accidents. Fortunately, they hadn’t hit another car but had slammed head-on into the railing. Can you imagine if another car would have been there? Locals know to stay off the road at that time for safety purposes.
Poor Weather 
In the event of rainy or the rarer snowy weather take extra precautions. It is just like the USA with bad weather – people forget how to drive and even more so when you don’t typically get that much rain or snow. Many cities also have old drainage systems and water can often cover a large portion of the road and fill potholes. Drive slow and be patient.

 

Accidents in San Luis Potosí, Mexico

 

Using your hazards

Mexicans truly take advantage of their hazards and I have really taken a liking to this. I’m bringing it to the US ya’ll. If you’re driving in Mexico on the main road/highway and there is a traffic jam ahead everyone will turn on their hazards as a way to warn their fellow drivers behind them that they need to slow down. This is a way to avoid more accidents.

They also use it to alert general driving conditions and car accidents. If you see a car with their hazards on in front of you or passing you – I would advise that you slow down, they are just helping you out.

 

Vendors and Begging
The wonderful thing about driving in Mexico is that you don’t even need to go to the store if you want to buy something. Depending on the city you are in you can purchase mirrors, mops, clothing, churros, fruit, kids toys, nuts, handmade goods, and candies while you are waiting at the red light. You can even get your front and back window washed. It is worth 10 pesos to just to see the guy work so fast to complete it in the time that you are at the light. Bobby and I will watch in suspense “is he going to make it?” “No, way he is not going to make in time, the lights green already” spoiler alert… he always makes it.

Also, I’ve bought churros before while I was stuck in traffic which magically resolves road rage in one sugary bite.
car wash at the stoplight
There are more than just vendors through- a lot of immigrants from Central America travel through Mexico and will ask for money. They often will show you their passport in an effort to show they are legit. It is nice to give some money to those travelers since often they are escaping very dangerous situations and the road through Mexico is extremely dangerous – many people being murdered or being trafficked.

Parking / Estacionamiento

Depending on where you are driving in Mexico you can typically find these three different options for parking.

 

Parking on the street
This is the most common option in most cities, however, there are some unwritten rules you must follow. Almost all of the side of the road is fair game as long as you are on the correct side of the road, you parallel park, and you don’t block anyone’s door/drive. Also, some locals get a little angry with people parking in front of their house because this is often their only spot to park too. They retaliate by putting large rocks, chairs, or other objects in the way so you won’t park there. So avoid those spots as well.

 

Parking in a lot
If you are parking in a lot, you will typically be required to drive through the ticket booth, collect a ticket and pay it before you leave. You cannot, however, pay when you are leaving the lot, you must take your ticket into wherever you are going and then pay INSIDE or at a booth in the lot before you get in your car. You then will need to insert the paid ticket into the ticket booth when you leave. The price is typically around 10 pesos for 3 hours.

 

Valet Parking
Valet parking is everywhere! Shopping centers to fast food restaurants provide valet parking and it is relatively cheap as well, running anywhere from 20 to 50 pesos ($1.50 – $3.00). I don’t think I’ve ever had my car parked by valet before coming to Mexico and now I do it all the time because a girl likes to feel fancy (on a budget).

estacionamiento parking


Tickets/Bribes 

Traffic Tickets and Bribes
I’ve mentioned earlier that you can’t expect to break the rules and get away with it. Many cities use video cameras on the road to employ automated ticketing. If you get too many of these while driving in Mexico you will most likely get your front license plate taken until you pay the tickets.

As for regular old-fashioned tickets – these are less common. If you do get pulled over – the police officer will often expect a bribe. This comes from countless first-hand experiences of locals and gringas alike. Obviously, not every city is the same, but it is always good to expect it so you are prepared. If you’re a gringa/o you can expect to pay anywhere from 600-1000 pesos. If you don’t speak Spanish or pretend you don’t you can often get away with no ticket or bribe – depending on the police officer.

Parking Tickets
If you do get a parking ticket while driving in Mexico they will likely take your license plate and hold it until you pay. This happened to us when visiting San Miguel de Allende after we accidentally parked in front of a loading zone. We were able to quickly find the police station that was referenced on our ticket in order to pay and retrieve our license plate. This ticket ran us 161 pesos – roughly 8 USD.

Putting License on after parking ticket

Car Accidents 

I recently got into my first ever car accident driving in Mexico. I was at the treacherous Glorietta (see below) and rear-ended the car in front of me. During the 10 minutes that we were sitting there, there were two other car accidents that happened on either side of me. Car accidents are so prevalent in Mexican cities and especially in San Luis Potosí because of how fast the city has been growing and the roads were just not constructed for such a large population.
If you do get in a car accident while driving in Mexico quickly call your car insurance company and they will likely have somewhere there in 15-20 minutes. How it works is both parties call their car insurance companies and they then will both show up on the scene and will fill out the paperwork. My insurance officer took photos, a photo of my license and my insurance information and that was that. It was surprisingly quick and convenient and didn’t involve any police officers.
I personally didn’t do enough damage to my car to need it to get fixed in the shop. If you do need to get your car fixed the insurance company will do it through the shop of their choice which can often take a long time. Some of my friends had their car fixed anywhere from 3 weeks to 3 months.
Glorietta in San Luis Potosí

Things to Keep in Your Car While Driving in Mexico

All Important Paperwork- You should have all important paperwork including your insurance information and proof of ownership

Identification – Your country’s Drivers License or your passport

Cash – for tolls, bribes, and snacks!

Snacks – If you are on a road trip I would definitely recommend packing an arsenal of snacks – a girl gets hangry. Driving in Mexico for long distances usually means toll roads and those are food deserts people! Unless you just want to eat some Takis or twinkies from an Oxxo – head to the market prior to your trip and pick up some fresh fruit and veggies!

A Go-Girl – Those toll roads are long and honestly I’ve stopped quite a few times to take a leak on the side of the road without a go-girl (someone stole mine coming back from China. Gross right?) and I just know it would be 50x more pleasant with a go-girl in hand.

Toilet Paper – See above

First Aid- Who knows what is going to happen when you are on the road in Mexico – just kidding – I’ve never used mine. Just better to be safe than sorry. Be prepared!

Spare Tire – For all of those road hazards, the question isn’t if it will happen, the question is when. Also, in Mexico, they have a special security lugnut that comes with the car that will lock the tire. You will need the security lug nut adapter to take off the one security lugnut to take off your tire – it is typically stored in the dash compartment. The security lug nut adapter is specialized for your car. If you don’t have this security adapter you will likely have to take your car to a shop or get it towed.

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10 Tips for Anyone Thinking of Retiring in Mexico

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Q-Roo Paul | Two Expats Mexico

Since starting this blog almost two years ago, my wife and I have literally received thousands of emails from readers asking for our advice about retiring in Mexico. I lost count somewhere around the 10,000 mark.

Whenever a reader asks me for tips or general advice, I share the following 10 tips with them. I figured I would post them here in the hopes that it will cut down on the number of emails we receive.

1. Downsize

By the time you’re ready to retire, chances are that you’ve accumulated a lot of stuff. Well, it’s time to start getting rid of it in preparation for your new life south of the border. Holding on to all those things will only complicate the process of moving and cost you more money in the long run (e.g. moving costs, storage fees).

2. Get a temporary or permanent resident card

Life is just much easier when you have a temporary or permanent resident card. You can open bank accounts, register a vehicle, participate in the public healthcare system and the list goes on and on.

3. Leave your car behind

This applies to anyone thinking of permanently moving to Mexico and who doesn’t live 25 km from the U.S. border, designated parts of Sonora or in the Baja Peninsula. The requirements to import a vehicle are far more lax in those areas.

4. Leave your furniture behind

They sell furniture in Mexico and it’s actually quite affordable to have custom pieces made. International moving and shipping services are expensive and sometimes things end up missing or damaged along the way.

5. Start learning Spanish now

Learning a language takes time and effort. It’s not going to magically happen overnight, so you might as well start working on it now. The more you know when you arrive, the easier it will be for you to communicate and get things done in Mexico.

There are several free resources available online to help you learn Spanish. We even have free video lessons on our site complete with practice exercises.

6. Get a Mexican cell phone number

This will make it much easier to get things done and get callbacks from businesses (they won’t call your foreign number). Also, many banks require a Mexican cell phone number in order to do online banking due to certain security protocols.

7. Download Whatsapp

This is a the free app that is used by almost everyone in Mexico to call and text.

8. Open a Mexican bank account

There are numerous benefits to opening a bank account in your new country.

9. Get healthcare coverage

Mexico has both a private and a public healthcare system. It’s important to research your options before moving down and to get some type of health coverage as soon as possible.

To learn all about your healthcare options, we recommend buying Monica Rix Paxson’s ebook on the subject.

10. Hire people (when necessary) to get things done

There is a huge learning curve involved when you move to another country and you will find that even the simplest of tasks (like getting the electric bill put in your name) can turn out to be more complicated than you anticipated.

If you move to a large, friendly expat community like the one where we live, then it’s not a problem because everyone helps each other.

If not, you might want to consider hiring people to assist with tasks such as: registering your car, completing the second part of the resident card process, and putting utilities in your name. People who offer these types of services are often referred to as gestores.

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14 incredible places in Mexico you’ve probably never heard of

By Pedro Barruecos | Matador Network

MEXICO IS SO MUCH MORE than mariachis and tequila, Spring Break, guacamole, and tacos. Covering over 760,000 square miles, this is a country with an incredible diversity of cultures, languages, and terrain. From rainforests to driest deserts, sea to sierra, the following spots are just glimpses of what makes Mexico amazing.

1. Las Pozas, Xilitla, San Luis Potosí

Photo: Rod Waddington

Back in the ‘40s, Xilitla’s green hills and springs inspired English artist Edward James to create a Gaudí-style garden in the subtropical rainforest. This is an incredible place — an 80-acre paradise filled with waterfalls and pools where surrealist concrete sculptures rise toward the sky. Taking over three decades to create, Las Pozas was James’ interpretation of the Garden of Eden.

2. Altar Desert, Sonora

Photo: Gcorpart

On the border with Arizona, El Pinacate y Gran Desierto de Altar Biosphere Reserve is a 2,750-square-mile UNESCO World Heritage Site and habitat for more than 540 species of plants and 300 kinds of fauna, including threatened endemic species — Sonoran pronghorns, bighorn sheep, gila monsters, and desert tortoises can all be seen here.

3. Isthmus of Tehuantepec, Oaxaca

Photo: bordenphoto

The Isthmus of Tehuantepec is the narrowest strip of land in Mexico, separating the Pacific and Atlantic by just 130 miles. The indigenous Zapotec culture is strong in this region, especially to the south. Historically a matriarchal society, the women are generally the traders here, and it’s the mother who gives away her child on her wedding day. Frida Kahlo helped make the local Tehuana dress famous — the artist, who had indigenous Mexican heritage on her mother’s side, favored this traditional attire throughout her adult life.

4. Parícutin, Michoacán

Photo: Tomasz Pik

Every year, thousands of visitors climb the 9,100ft Parícutin volcano, which sprouted alarmingly from the middle of a farmer’s cornfield back in 1943. The phenomenon was short-lived, burning out after just nine years. It left its mark, though — you can explore the lava-covered ruins of San Juan Parangaricutiro Church, half-buried by Parícutin’s eruptions.

5. Cave of the Swallows, San Luis Potosí

Photo: CZinATL

With a 1,092ft drop from its tallest side, the Cave of the Swallows (Sótano de las Golondrinas) is the largest known cave shaft in the world (the Chrysler Building would fit inside). Near the town of Aquisimón, the Cave of the Swallows’ name comes from the thousands of birds — mostly swifts and parakeets — that circle the pit’s mouth and dive bomb its depths come dawn and dusk.

6. Cuetzalán, Puebla

Photo: Soy Poblana

Surrounded by waterfalls, caves, jungle, and coffee plantations, Cuetzalán is a town in Puebla’s Sierra Norte region. The Cascada de las Brisas waterfall is the main natural attraction, and the town itself is a pueblo mágico where you’ll find handicraft markets from one of the richest indigenous regions in the country, as well as incredible bars, restaurants, and nightlife.

7. Hierve el Agua, Oaxaca

Photo: Rsamardich

About 50 miles from the city of Oaxaca, Hierve el Agua is made up of two waterfall-like rock formations that rise 150 feet from the valley floor. These petrified waterfalls are formed by the flow of water saturated with calcium carbonate and other minerals. The pools that feed the formations are good for bathing, and archaeologists believe they were part of a complex Zapotec irrigation system up to 2,500 years old.

8. Real de Catorce, San Luis Potosí

Photo: fourTwentyTwo

Once a thriving silver mining settlement, these days Real de Catorce is a ghost town home to fewer than 1,000 people. Still, it’s a place of pilgrimage for many: Every spring, the Huichol (pronounced wee-tchol) people walk through the desert from the states of Nayarit, Durango, Jalisco, and Zacatecas to perform spiritual rites in this valley, and thousands of Catholics arrive in early October for the St. Francis of Assisi celebrations.

9. Huejotzingo, Puebla

Photo: Thelmadatter

A 30-minute drive from the city of Puebla, Huejotzingo is famous for its apple cider, fruit preserves, and its annual carnivalwhere local actors reenact local historical events like the Battle of Puebla (Cinco de Mayo). If you’re into art, culture, and architecture, it’s worth visiting the Franciscan monastery of San Miguel Arcángel, founded in 1525 and featuring well-preserved frescoes and cloisters.

10. Yaxchilán, Chiapas

Photo: Waywuwei

If you want to play at being Indiana Jones, Yaxchilán is the place to do it. You’ll find it in the Lacandon Rainforest, and to reach the Mayan site necessitates an hour’s boat trip on the Usumacinta River. Bring a flashlight to really explore those millennia-old nooks and crannies and the ruins’ ornamental facades.

11. UNAM campus, Mexico City

Photo: Eneas De Troya

The campus of Mexico City’s National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) might not seem to fit with the rest of the spots on this list, but a visit is well worth it. There’s the incredible mural by Juan O’Gorman in the main library, the University Cultural Centre and its many museums…UNAM’s even a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site because of its urban architectural design, with the buildings covered in artwork from renowned Mexican artists like Diego Rivera, David Alfaro Siqueiros, and José Chávez Morado.

12. The Coffee Route, Chiapas

Photo: Eduardo Robles Pacheco

Mexico produces some of the best coffee in the world, and those beans taste even better when you’re standing in the very soil where they’re grown. Traveling Chiapas’ Coffee Route means you get to do just that. Hiking, cycling, horseback riding, or driving between the estates of Irlanda, Argovia, Hamburgo, and La Chiripa can be as relaxing or daredevil as you like — spend days hanging out at Hamburgo’s spa, or within the cloud forest surrounding Chiripa, learning about all the preservation efforts for the local flora and fauna. Tapachula, seen above, is the largest city in this far southwestern corner of the country.

13. Zacatecas, Zacatecas

Photo: Anthony Devencenzi

The capital of the state of the same name, Zacatecas is one of ten World Heritage Cities dotted around the country. With a nickname like “city with the face of pink stone and heart of silver,” you’d be right in thinking this is a place with a strong silver mining tradition. And there’s a lot to see here. First up is the 16th-century cathedral — it’s said to be one of the most outstanding examples of Baroque art in Mexico. Then there’s the State Government Palace and the State Congress, Cerro de la Bufa — home to El Edén mine — Palacio de la Mala Noche, and museums like Toma de Zacatecas, Pedro Coronel, the Manuel Felguerez, and the Zacatecano.

14. Copper Canyon, Chihuahua and Sinaloa

Photo courtesy of Chihuahua Tourism Board

Larger and deeper than the Grand Canyon, Copper Canyon runs from the northern state of Chihuahua to the shores of Sinaloa, and offers some of the most exciting adventures in Mexico. There’s hiking, cycling, and horseback riding trails up in the Tarahumara Mountains, but the coolest way to discover the canyon is on the “Chepe” train (Chihuahua al Pacífico). Running for 405 miles through Copper Canyon National Park, the views from the train window are unreal.

Original Source: https://bit.ly/2EsPQB4

Bacalar: The Must-See Pueblo Magico of Quintana Roo

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By Thomas Lloyd | top Mexico Real Estate 

We are certain that the golden years are meant to be enjoyed relaxing. That is why when retiring to the gorgeous beach town of Playa del Carmen, taking day trips to visit other areas of the Riviera Maya is a must. Bacalar, for example, is a great place to start.

Four open cenotes form the seven-color lagoon of Bacalar. These are waterholes that join the sea through mangroves. You could stand at the edge of the lagoon and actually count the seven different shades of blue the lagoon has. It stays true to its name. This Pueblo Magico is just a 3-hour drive south of Playa del Carmen. That’s why it is perfect for a one-day trip getaway. However, if you’re not too keen on driving back, there are plenty of options for accommodation by the lagoon that are magical to say the least.

In fact, we highly recommend you stay overnight on a weekend. The lagoon is at its most beautiful during and after the sun sets. The light of the sun going down highlights the seven shades of the lagoon, making it a sight to behold. Don’t forget to pack your camera to capture this amazing moment.

If you plan on doing an overnight trip, take your time stopping by some of the towns along the way to see the best of the Yucatan Peninsula. We highly recommend you stop for breakfast at the market in Felipe Carrillo Puerto. Once at the lagoon, and depending on whether you stay overnight or not, you can rent a kayak or a paddleboard to enjoy the lagoon from within. It’s a great way to explore the lagoon. There are also catamaran and boat rides that can take you around the lagoon for approximately 500 Mexican pesos.

Bacalar is also home to the Cenote Azul–one of the deepest cenotes in the area. It has an approximate diameter of 200 meters and 90 meters of depth. It is pitch black but makes for a great swimming experience. Visitors can spot the cenote all the way from the highway, as well as its surrounding lush Mayan jungle.

The waters in Bacalar are translucent and very blue. They are best enjoyed from a lagoon-edge swing or from the pier. There are plenty of places to rent a paddleboard or kayaks, although it is best to go in the morning when the waters are truly calm.

Pubelo Magico is a correct description of this gorgeous little town just 30 minutes from the city of Chetumal. Bacalar is a great place for snorkeling and exploring shades of blue you’ve only dreamed of before. And the culinary experience doesn’t hurt, either. While there, also take a tour of the Fuerte de San Felipe, an old fort built to keep pirates away from the town.

Bacalar is just a car ride away from some of the most sought-after retirement spots in Latin America. Tulum and Playa del Carmen are perfect for anyone planning to enjoy their golden years under the sun with a margarita or beer in hand.

Original Source: https://bit.ly/2Iv6fer

Are You Ready For Retirement? Here’s How To Know.

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By Elliot Bullman | Mexico News

Some people retire too soon. Others wait too late.

As I’m nearing the end of the back-half of my career, I’m looking forward to the day I can say to my employer, “Peace out!”

Please, don’t misunderstand me. I love my job and the work that I do. I’m just eager for a time when I’m the master of my schedule.

But how do you know when it’s the right time to retire?

Kiplinger’s Janet Bodnar asked the magazine’s readers: How did you make the decision to retire, and what advice would you give?

“As you would expect, finances were a major factor — but far from the only factor,” Bodnar wrote.

I like what one reader, Del Richter, wrote. “One piece of advice I’ve always remembered is that you will know when to retire when you have enough — and when you have had enough.”

I’m going to definitely remember that myself.

Of course, the chief concern should be making sure you’re financially ready. I’ve worked with so many people who had had enough but didn’t have enough money to live on without working. They had retired but found they had to find a job to make ends meet.

“At some point, we’ve all considered what it would feel like to retire early,” writes Katie Brockman for Motley Fool. “When the alarm goes off early Monday morning and it takes every ounce of strength you have to roll out of bed, you’re probably wishing you could just hurry up and retire already. But retiring early can have major consequences, and most people underestimate how much they’ll actually need to live comfortably.”

But Brockman says you’re not ready if you don’t have a clear monthly financial plan.

“You can’t know how much money you’ll need during retirement if you haven’t created a monthly budget,” she writes. “Make sure you have at least a rough estimate of how much money you’ll need each month to cover necessities, as well as the amount you’ll want to spend each month for other expenses — then add a buffer, just to be safe.”

Answering the question of when it’s time to retire is about more than having enough money.

Resultado de imagen para Are you ready for retirement? Here’s how to know.

“It’s one thing to be financially prepared for retirement, but don’t discount the mental upheaval that might ensue once you leave your career behind you,” wrote Maurie Backman for Motley Fool. “Though many seniors look forward to the downtime they’ve been missing during their working years, you may come to find that your newly unstructured existence throws you for an emotional loop.”

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Filing Taxes as an American Living in Mexico – US Expat Taxes Explained

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By Greenback

You are going to be required to file US expat taxes no matter in which country you live, but how will they be affected if you’ve chosen to live in Mexico?  With the familiar language, proximity to the US, warm weather, and beautiful geography, Mexico is one of the most popular destinations for American expatriates.  It is essential to understand how your US tax return will be affected by your move to Mexico, and what US taxes you will be required to pay. On top of your obligation to file and pay US taxes, Mexico has taxes of its own.

If you are a citizen or permanent resident of the United States, you are obligated to file US taxes with the US Federal Government each year, no matter the country in which you reside. In addition to the regular income tax return, you may also be required to file an informational return on your assets held in foreign bank accounts, called Foreign Bank Account Reporting (FBAR) via FinCEN Form 114.

While the US is one of only two governments (Eritrea is the other) that tax the worldwide income of their citizens and permanent residents who reside overseas, it does have special provisions to help protect them from double taxation including:

  • The Foreign Earned Income Exclusion allows you to decrease your taxable income on 2017 US expat taxes by the first $102,100 earned as a result of your labor ($104,100 in 2018) while a resident of a foreign country,
  • A foreign tax credit that could lower your tax bill on your remaining income by certain amounts paid to a foreign government, and
  • A Foreign Housing Exclusion that allows an additional exclusion from income for certain amounts paid for household expenses that occur as a consequence of living abroad.

With proper planning and quality tax preparation, you should be able to take advantage of these and other strategies to minimize or even eliminate your US taxes.  Please note that even if you do not believe that you owe any US income taxes, you will most likely still be required to file a return. To learn about all the ways to save on your US taxes, check out our tax guide for Americans working overseas.

Mexico Income Tax Rates

For the 2017 tax year, the national income rates for non-resident expats from Servicio de Administración Tributaria are as follows:

Earnings in Pesos (Mex$) Rate Applicable to Income Level (%)
0-125,900.00 Exempt
125,900 – 1,000,000 15%
1,000,001 and above 30%

Note that expatriates are also going to be responsible for local taxes to each state. These rates are different in each state and generally range from 1% to 3%.

Who is a Mexico Tax Resident?

You are considered a Mexican resident if you have established your permanent home there.  In the case of an expat who has a permanent residence in another country, your residence status is determined by the location of your “center of vital interests.” The “center of vital interests” is considered to be in Mexico when the following is true:

  • More than 50% of worldwide income throughout the calendar year is earned in Mexico
  • When the core of an individual’s professional activities is located in Mexico

US – Mexico Tax Treaty

The US  Mexico Tax Treaty is useful for defining the terms for situations when it is unclear to which country taxes should be paid.  The country that receives the tax payment is usually determined by the taxpayer’s resident status for each country. It is in place to help relieve double taxation of dual citizens, while also being available to explain any tax matters that may be unclear.

Mexico Tax Due Date

The tax year in Mexico is, like the US, from January 1st to December 31st. Tax returns need to be filed with the Servicio de Administración Tributaria April 30th of the following tax year, as no extensions are available.

Employers are required to withhold tax on compensation paid to their employees on a monthly basis.  These payments should be made on or before the 17th of the following month.  For Mexican non-residents, it is recommended to pay 15 days after the receipt of income in Mexico.

In addition to the monthly reports, expatriates and Mexican nationals are required to file an annual tax return.

Social Security in Mexico

Social Security taxes are paid by Mexican employers who have employees on the payroll in Mexico.  The responsibility to pay these taxes falls on the employer.  If an expatriate is in Mexico with a foreign company and there is no relationship with a Mexican company, it is advised that you get in touch with a Mexico tax expert to go over the details of the arrangement and determine where Social Security taxes need to be paid.

Is Foreign Income Taxed Within Mexico?

If you are considered a resident of Mexico, you are going to be taxed on your worldwide income, regardless of your nationality or where the income was earned.  Non-residents, including Mexican nationals who have residency for tax purposes in a foreign country, are only taxed on their income that is Mexico-sourced.  Note that the source of the income is considered to be in Mexico when the service is provided in Mexican territory, regardless of where the agreement is negotiated or where the payment was made.

Taxes in Mexico

In addition to income tax on salaries paid, there are other forms of income that are taxed in Mexico.

Non-cash compensation is considered taxable, including benefits or taxes paid on your behalf by your employer.  There are no exceptions for foreign nationals.

Any capital gains are also going to be subject to capital gains taxes, including the selling of shares, property, securities, or other assets.  Currently, the rate is 25% on the gross amount of the transaction or 30% of the total capital gain. For expatriates, the capital gains tax will depend on the tax cost basis, the type of asset to be liquidated, the sale price, and other factors.  In the event of a significant capital gain, we recommend talking to a Mexican tax advisor.  For real estate, you will also be required to pay 2-5% of the total transaction in local taxes.  If you are a resident, capital gains apply to worldwide income.  Otherwise, you will only be taxed on income earned from property in Mexico.

Mexico does not currently have estate or inheritance taxes in place.  There is a gift tax on real estate, which is payable by the recipient; however, if you are gifting the property to your spouse or family members, this amount is not taxable.

Saving on US Expat Taxes

With the many various forms of taxation that are applied to foreign nationals working and residing in Mexico, applying all of the exclusions, deductions, and credits available to you will help you save on your US taxes.  Mexico is a relatively appealing country for expatriate taxation, but understanding when and how you will be taxed is important to staying compliant with the Mexican authorities.

Original source: https://bit.ly/2vJW3IK

Top 3 Neighborhoods to Retire in Playa del Carmen

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By Thomas Lloyd | Top Mexico Real Estate

You are coming up on those well-deserved golden years and have decided to retire to the beautiful beach town of Playa del Carmen. That’s an excellent decision. Retirement south of the border isn’t only more affordable, but also gives you a higher quality of life. Strolls down the beach, delicious lunches and dinners, the ability to travel to amazing destinations that are just a car ride away. Thus, Playa del Carmen is definitely the perfect place to retire to.

But, given that there are so many neighborhoods in the area, it feels almost impossible to pick the right one. We have been helping clients find their perfect home in Playa del Carmen for over a decade, and we’ve certainly picked up insider knowledge of which neighborhoods consistently attract buyers. Property in these three best-selling areas might have a more significant initial cost, but the value of your property will increase at a faster rate. And if you’re a snowbird retiree, you can always benefit from renting out your property when you’re up north.

We have chosen these three neighborhoods as the best ones to retire to in Playa del Carmen.

RETIRE TO A PRIVATE BEACH ENCLAVE

Playacar Entrance

One of the most popular areas in Playa del Carmen, and where many expats live, is Playacar. This beautiful gated community has a professional golf course, access to the beach, and plenty of commercial zones. There is really no reason to leave the area. The subdivision is safe and walkable. The best part is that its main entrance leads into the world-famous Fifth Avenue. There, you will find an array of amazing restaurants, shops, bars, and much more.

THE REAL ESTATE ENGINE OF THE CITY

Fifth Avenue

Little Italy is the beating heart of Playa del Carmen. And it is one of the best-selling neighborhoods in the city. It is an ideal place for walking around everywhere, especially since it is lined with mature trees offering a breezy shade. Those looking to make the most of the city should consider this area. It is near the beach and surrounds Fifth Avenue. Besides, who would refuse living in an area lined with Italian restaurants?

EL CENTRO OF PLAYA DEL CARMEN

Playa del Carmen View

The Downtown area of Playa del Carmen is one of the most popular ones, as it is close to everything. From supermarkets to medical centers, to the most visited touristic areas, you will find it all here. It is a great compromise between convenience and affordability. Downtown is an exciting location to explore Mexican culture and mingle with the locals and there are plenty of excellent available properties around.

Keep in mind that there is no such thing as the perfect area to live in. Therefore, options depend on your budget, lifestyle and wish list. Visiting the neighborhoods at different times and talking to local expats is a great way to learn about the pros and cons of each neighborhood. Above all, you need the find the right fit for YOU.

You can also get in touch with our Buyers’ Representatives to learn about available real estate options in Playa del Carmen and for further information on each neighborhood.

Original Source: https://bit.ly/2KPYlK9