Best Countries to Retire and Planning for Retirement Abroad

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If you’re hoping to stretch your retirement dollars further, a move abroad may be the answer. Living in a foreign land offers a chance to see more of the world and can offer a lower cost of living.

But which are the best countries for retirees? International Living’s Annual Global Retirement Index highlights the best countries for retirees each year, and this year’s top 10 list features eight Spanish-speaking countries, seven of them in Central and South America (the other is Spain itself). If you’re planning a foreign retirement, it may make sense to add learning Spanish to your to-do list.

Best Countries for Retirees in 2019

To determine which countries are the best for retirees, International Living uses a scoring system that measures a variety of factors, including:

  • of buying and owning property and the value of property investments
  • cost of renting
  • benefits and discounts on things such as health care and entertainment
  • visa and residency requirements
  • cost of living
  • fitting in and how easy it is to make friends
  • entertainment and amenities
  • healthy living
  • development and infrastructure
  • climate
  • stability of the country’s political situation

The countries with the highest cumulative average score across all those categories ranked in the top 10, and here they are:

1. Panama

Between majestic mountains and bustling beaches, Panama offers the best of both worlds for retirees. Locals have a reputation for being welcoming and friendly, and from a cost-of-living perspective, it’s highly affordable. Virtually everything is less expensive compared to the U.S., including groceries, restaurants, and rents, which are approximately 46% lower. Expats who get a retirement visa enjoy numerous benefits, including deep discounts on entertainment, airfare, local transportation, and hotel stays, as well as a one-time duty-tax exemption for household goods up to a total of $10,000 and a 100% duty exemption on the purchase or importation of a vehicle every two years.

2. Costa Rica

Costa Rica is an ideal choice if you value a healthy, active lifestyle. It earned the highest scores in the health care, amenities and healthy living categories, and there’s no shortage of things to do and see. The cost of living makes Costa Rica highly affordable, even on the smallest retirement budget. Consumer prices are 24% lower than the U.S. on average, with rent prices averaging 54% lower. If you’d prefer to buy, you can find homes as low as $50,000, with property tax rates that are a fraction of what you’d pay in the U.S.

3. Mexico

Mexico combines modern amenities with a rustic feel, and it’s well suited to retirees who prefer a balmy climate and close proximity to the U.S. It earned its highest ratings on International Living’s list for both entertainment and amenities and the ease of establishing residency. Retirees can get a temporary resident visa, which is good for up to four years, by meeting minimum monthly income or asset requirements or by owning property in Mexico. If you plan to stay long term, you can apply for a permanent resident visa, which has higher income and asset requirements. Note that five states in Mexico have been singled out for U.S. State Dept. travel warnings, so be careful where in Mexico you choose to relocate.

4. Ecuador

Ecuador has something for everyone, whether you prefer the beach to the mountains or the country to the city. It earned its highest score for its climate, which boasts an average annual temperature of 67 degrees. Housing is a bargain, with rental prices notching 70% lower compared to the U.S. Overall, consumer prices, excluding rent, are around 40% lower, allowing you to squeeze more value out of your retirement dollars. Like Panama, Ecuador extends a long list of money-saving benefits to expats, including discounts on your electric and water bills, discounts on entertainment and public transportation, and reductions of certain taxes.

5. Malaysia

Malaysia is one of three countries included in the top 10 that’s not in South or Central America. Aside from the beautiful landscape, expats are attracted to this Asian locale because of the low cost of living and abundance of amenities. Consumer prices, including rent, are nearly 50% lower than in the U.S., with a one-bedroom apartment renting for less than $400 a month. There are hundreds of islands to visit, and the low cost and wide variety of restaurants make it a foodie’s paradise.

The top 10 list of the best countries to retire to features eight Spanish-speaking countries, seven of which are in Central and South America

Rounding Out the Top 10

The remaining countries in the top 10 all offer a combination of low costs, great amenities, and good weather. All but one are Spanish speaking, and two require a European move. In descending order, they are Colombia, Portugal, Peru, Nicaragua, Thailand, and Spain.

Some More Popular Places to Retire

In addition to International Living‘s list, there are lots of sources advising retirees where they should go if they decide to relocate abroad. But where are retirees actually flocking, based on where they collect their Social Security checks? The answers just might surprise you. Here, in order of popularity, are the five countries that are seeing the biggest influx of Social Security recipients who prefer retirement on foreign shores.

  • Canada
  • Japan
  • Mexico
  • Germany
  • United Kingdom

We’ve already discussed Mexico’s advantages. As for the others: while life in capitals like Tokyo or London can be quite pricey, housing and other fundamental aspects of the cost-of-living in smaller towns and in the countryside is often lower than in the U.S. – especially when you factor in the universal healthcare many of these countries offer. Familiarity also explains the popularity of some countries: large numbers of U.S. military personnel are stationed in several of these lands, and many often have a desire to “stay on” after their active service has ended.

How to Plan Your Retirement Abroad

1. Check Visa and Residency Requirements

Immigration and residency laws vary from country to country. You can review the Department of State’s country-specific information to find out if you’ll need a visa to enter and reside in the country to which you’re hoping to move. Other useful information is listed on the website as well, including passport validity, recommended and required vaccinations, and currency restrictions for entry and exit.

2. Research Safety and Political Stability

The U.S. State Department website provides up-to-date information about how safe and stable various countries are. At times, there will be travel warnings and alerts about specific locations – or, rarely, the U.S. may restrict citizens from traveling to or within certain countries. The information is updated regularly, as needed.

As a foreign national, you may encounter travel restrictions in certain countries. Remember that while in a foreign country, you are subject to its laws.

3. Determine Rules of Foreign Ownership

Many countries have rules and regulations as to who is permitted to own property, and how the property can be used (some countries restrict foreign ownership altogether). Before you decide on moving to a country, investigate its restrictions in detail and make sure they work with your finances and plans. Your best information source is a local real estate agent. You can find such agents through the International Consortium of Real Estate Associations (ICREA).

Even if a country does not restrict who buys real estate, it may control what happens when non-citizens sell the property. Foreigners are permitted to buy property in Malaysia, for example, but if the property is sold, the proceeds have to be kept in a Malaysian bank account.

Also, be sure that your property rights are protected. In the U.S., homebuyers generally receive a clear title to property when they buy it. Rules may be less clear in other countries. Be sure you hire a qualified real estate agent and a local attorney to ensure that you know what you’ve purchased and that all paperwork is handled according to local requirements.

4. Visit Before Moving, Rent Before Buying

Living in a country is very different from being a tourist. Try to stay in neighborhoods and areas you are considering to see what it’s like to live as a local. And visit in more than one season. In fact, try to visit once during the least-pleasant weather your prospective home endures – hot, dry desert winds; monsoon rains; dreary winter days when there’s no sun for weeks. You won’t always be able to escape once you’re actually living there. Also, see whether there is a local American or international association or club you can join to learn more about living in that country or region.

Once you move, start the transition by renting first to make sure the locale is compatible with your vision for retirement. If it works out, let the house-hunting begin.

5. Consider an All-Cash Purchase

Locating a U.S.-based bank or another lender that will fund a mortgage for an overseas property is exceedingly difficult. Some local banks abroad do make loans to foreigners, but you could be asked for a massive down payment.

Try to find a property you can afford to buy outright, for cash. You’ll have more negotiating power, a less complicated transaction and, in many cases, you may end up with a better deal.

6. Organize Your Assets (and Taxes)

You may be retiring abroad, but your assets don’t have to move with you. Stocks, bonds, annuities, IRAs and the like can remain in the U.S. where the economy and political situation are known factors.

Unless you renounce your U.S. citizenship (thereby giving up Social Security), you will be subject to the same income tax requirements as if you lived back home. You will still have to file an income tax return with the IRS and will have to declare any money withdrawn from your retirement accounts. Be sure to consult with a tax attorney or tax advisor before you move, and plan on keeping in touch while abroad to make sure you are in compliance with tax laws at home and abroad. If you decide to move your assets abroad, work with your accountant or attorney to find out if and how they will be taxed.

To cover day-to-day expenses, you can open a local bank account to accept regular transfers from your U.S. account and pay bills.

Online banking and brokerage accounts make it easier than ever to manage money while abroad, but be aware there are restrictions on transfers to certain countries. If your Social Security check is mailed abroad, keep in mind that the local bank may hold the check for up to four weeks before it’s cleared.

Major credit cards (Visa, MasterCard, and American Express) are accepted in locations around the world and provide another option for covering daily living expenses and purchases. Contact your credit card company about an auto-pay option.

7. Settle Your Healthcare

Most U.S. health insurance policies will not cover you while living abroad. And even though Social Security will follow you as you travel, Medicare coverage does not extend outside of the U.S. Depending on your retirement destination, you may find that healthcare is so affordable that you don’t need insurance. If the country offers subsidized care for citizens, for example, make sure foreign residents have access to the same care and costs. If not, find out what coverage you will have as a visitor and plan accordingly. Depending on where you plan to live, you may find American or international companies that sell health insurance to Americans living abroad.

In some countries, healthcare may be affordable but not up to the standards you are used to. If that’s the case, your plan could include adding X amount of dollars to your annual budget for health-related travel and care – either back to the U.S. or to a larger city abroad than where you’re living.

If you are currently under the care of a physician at home, ask if he or she can recommend a colleague in your new destination. Having this connection can make it much easier to deal with existing medical conditions and ensure you receive the appropriate care.

8. Get a Driver’s License

Depending on where you go, your new country may not recognize your U.S. driver’s license. Many countries will accept an International Driver’s Permit (IDP)issued by the American Automobile Association or the National Automobile Club. These permits, which usually have to be accompanied by a regular driver’s license, typically expire in a year. If you plan on driving abroad, you need to get a local driver’s license as soon as you can.

9. Think About Working During Retirement

For some, retirement doesn’t mean not working. Many retirees enjoy volunteer opportunities and part-time jobs. Others are more entrepreneurial, interested in starting a business abroad.

If you plan on working, check ahead of time to make sure the country has no restrictions that could prevent you from either finding a job or starting your own business.

10. Plan to Stay Connected

Many people – whether or not they’re retired – find the most difficult part of living abroad is missing friends and family. Have a plan in place to keep in touch with the people you care about. Modern technology – smartphones and online video-conferencing software (such as Skype) make it easy to stay in touch virtually – but having a strong, reliable connection is crucial. Having a connection where you live is preferable, but if that’s not an option, nowadays you can access the Internet in most public libraries and cafés.

You also need an emergency plan: Leave your contact information and a copy of your passport with family, and carry contact information for your family back home with you when you travel. Also, know how to reach the closest U.S. embassy or consulate and give that information to your friends and family.

Citizen or Resident?

Almost any country that you would want to live in welcomes American retirees, as long as they can prove that they have a certain minimum income from some combination of Social Security, a pension and investment income. It varies, and, reasonably enough, countries with a higher cost of living require a higher income.

Generally, there’s a three-stage process, from tourist to resident to citizen, though the wait time and red tape differ in every country. The U.S. State Department keeps track of the specifics regarding short-term visits. The website of each nation’s U.S. consulate is the best source for facts on residency and citizenship requirements.

Here’s how it works for most countries:

  • An American with just a passport typically can stay in a foreign country for up to 90 days. Some expats residing in Canada or Mexico stay on for years, taking a bus across the border and back again every three months to restart the clock.
  • Long-term stays generally require a residency visa, which may need to be renewed yearly for several years before permanent residency can be applied for and awarded.
  • A citizenship application, in most countries, requires a longer period of residency, varying from as little as two years to as long as 10 years. Some have fast-track programs that cut the wait for people who make a substantial investment in the country.

All of the above is relatively straightforward in most countries for retirees, assuming they don’t want to take a job and can prove they have a steady income. “Relatively” meaning that some countries make it tougher than others, with onerous requirements and plenty of paperwork.

And that raises the question of whether you want to be a permanent resident or a citizen of your adopted country. The benefits and drawbacks vary for each country. Note that citizenship in any European country gains you certain rights as a citizen of a European Union member nation.

The more common choice for a retiree expat is between permanent residency and dual citizenship. Remember that neither dual citizenship nor residency gets you out of filing a U.S. tax return every year. It is both unusual and burdensome, but Americans have to pay income taxes wherever they live, and they owe it no matter where their income was earned. You may also have to file an income tax return in your country of residence, although most deduct the amount American residents pay to the U.S.

In case you’re wondering, you can relinquish your U.S. citizenship – and with them, your U.S. tax bill – but that step is irrevocable and uncommon. In 2017, 5,133 people did so. This number is slightly lower than the all-time record of 5,411 the previous year. According to Forbes.com, some were very wealthy Americans who found they could no longer hide assets in foreign bank accounts. Since a new U.S. law requires those deposits to be reported to the IRS, the banks either do so or flatly refuse to do business with Americans. For the rest, the sheer aggravation of filing in two countries every year was a likely factor in their renunciation of U.S. citizenship.

 

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Your Mexican retirement dream awaits: Things to consider before making the move

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Jonathan Breeze | Travel Daily News

With its close proximity to the U.S. and gorgeous year-round weather, Mexico is a premier location for those looking to retire. Mexico is currently home to over a million Americans and half a million Canadians, many of whom are retirees. With the baby boomer generation soon reaching the point of retirement, it makes sense to look at their neighbor down south for a place to hang up their hats and enjoy a less stressful lifestyle.

In Western media, Mexico is typically in the news for all the wrong reasons: from drug violence to border control. However, this has not deterred retirees from choosing Mexico as their final destination. With its gorgeous landscape, rich culture, and deep history, retiring in Mexico is a dream destination for many approaching retirement. But there are a few things that you should consider before you head south of the border.

Keep Your Wits About You
Let’s begin with the elephant in the room: How safe is Mexico? Unfortunately, 2018 marked the most violent year in Mexican history, with an astonishing 33 percent increase from 2017 (the previous record). With most of the established cartels disbanding in recent years, violent turf wars between the fractured crews has been a root cause in the increase in violence. To add further insult to injury, most of the crime remains unpunished as killers regularly face impunity from the law.

Of course, much of this violence is directed towards other rival gangs, but innocent people regularly find themselves in the crosshairs of violence – including foreigners. Astonishingly, more Americans are killed in Mexico than in every other foreign country combined. Of course, the caveat is that 31 million Americans choose Mexico as their holiday destination each year (compared to 49 million visiting the rest of the world), but regardless, the number is striking.

Fortunately, there is some good news for those wanting to move to Mexico. Most of the violence is concentrated in five states: Sinaloa, Colima, Michoacan, Guerrero and Tamaulipas, with the US State Department advising citizens not to travel to those areas under any circumstances. Fortunately for potential retirees, many of the most desirable sites in Mexico are located outside these dangerous states. Puerto Vallarta, Tulum, Mexico City, and the entire Southern region are considered safe.

In fact, many American cities are even more dangerous than their Mexican counterparts. For example, New OrleansSt. Louis, and Baltimore each have a higher crime rate than Mexico City. The fact of the matter is that if you keep your wits about you and don’t travel to dangerous areas, you probably won’t experience the slightest whiff of violence. The most important thing is to be wary and stay out of known bad areas – which is similar advice I would give to travelers in almost any city around the globe.

Live a Comfortable Life at a Comfortable Price
So now that we got that ugliness out of the way, let’s talk about your wallet. How much is it going to set you back to pack up and move to Mexico?

Fortunately, it’s very cheap to retire in Mexico compared to other countries around the world. For example, a couple can expect to live comfortably in Mexico for less than $3,000 a month. This cost includes amenities such as health-care, a two bedroom house, utilities, and groceries. For those looking to buy a house, excellent options are available for under $150,000. Of course this price can vary dramatically according to each individual person’s preferences, but compared to the United States it’s a world apart.

Of course, when traveling to a new country, obtainment of the proper visa can be a hassle. Fortunately, in Mexico it’s fairly easy to get a short-term residency visa. All you need to do is prove that you can sustain yourself in Mexico. You can do this a variety of ways: 1) show that you have at least $1,553 monthly income for 6 months; 2) show an annual bank balance of $25,880; or 3) show that you own a property in Mexico valuing at least $207,046.

Providing Whatever Retirement You Desire
Of course, before you establish yourself in Mexico, you have to consider how your daily life is going to be once you are there. Do you like to experience culture? Would you simply enjoy isolating yourself on a secluded beach? And how important are Western amenities to you?

Fortunately, Mexican life allows for flexibility to attune to your tastes. For those looking to experience rich Mexican culture, tours of the ancient Aztec and Mayan ruins or salsa lessons await you. If you want to relax on a beach, Mexico has some of the finest in the world. And if you want hometown comfort, Mexico has a massive expat community with all of your favorite restaurants and brands available throughout the country.

Unfortunately, it is sometimes a challenge to access all of what Mexico has to offer. While the main highways remain top of the line, in rural areas they can be very run-down and mismanaged. Plus, sometimes people forget: Mexico is a huge country. It can take some time to get from place to place. But if you’re willing to be patient or simply book a flight, it can be a lot more accessible.

Mexico can be a great place to kickstart the next phase of your life. When you take into account the benefits, they greatly outweigh the negatives. If keep your wits about you and don’t get into any sticky situations, Mexico can make your retirement a dream.

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More Boomers deciding to retire and move to Mexico

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By Getta Gibson | Az Family

Maybe you are one of thousands of Americans retiring and considering moving to Mexico.

A new survey done by Expats in Mexico reveals more than 80 percent of baby boomers say they will retire in Mexico. Half say they will make the move in the next two years.

The Mexican government reports more than 1.2 million people from different countries were living in Mexico through 2017.

Steve Schwab is the co-founder of Casago, a property management and vacation rental company with 2,300 properties in the U.S. and Mexico.

He says make sure you have a solid plan to make the move before jumping in.

“We’ve had a lot of boomers who bought in the early 2000s, late 1990s and now that they have gone into retirement, in the golden years, they are actually moving into these properties and moving into Mexico. If you are thinking about moving into Mexico there are a couple of things you should look out for. Try it before you buy it. Make sure the city you are choosing has good accessibility to come back. A lot of people might move to a city that it is difficult to go back and forth to. Make sure that the healthcare fits your needs,” says Schwab.

Most retirees who relocate to Mexico are from the U.S. and Canada.

The cost of living and great weather year-round are two of the main reasons why they choose to retire there.

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Time Limits on Mexico Visitor and Residency Visas

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By Mexperience

We often get asked questions about how long people can remain in Mexico under the auspice of visitor and residency visas.

This article answers common questions about time limits and exit/entry rules for Mexico visitor and residency visas and explains how long you must reside in Mexico to qualify for citizenship.

Time limits when you are in Mexico using a Visitor Visa (FMM)

What is it? Mexico’s visitor visa allows entry into the country for leisure or business visits not exceeding 180 days.

How long is it valid? The visitor visa is valid for a maximum of 180 days from the date you enter Mexico. It cannot be extended beyond 180 days.

Renewals: The visitor visa cannot be renewed; and you must leave Mexico by the date it expires.  If you over-stay your visitor visa you will face delays and fines when you try to leave the country.

Leaving and re-entering Mexico: You must leave by the expiry date, but there is no time limit on how long you must remain outside of Mexico before you can return using a new visitor visa.  Every time you re-enter Mexico, the 180-day allowance is ‘reset.’  Some foreigners have been using this feature to remain in Mexico over longer periods; however, with today’s computerized systems, immigration officials at ports of entry have ready-access to your movements through Mexico and ‘perpetual visitors’ may now have their intentions questioned at the port of entry.  If you intend to stay in Mexico longer term we recommend you apply for a Mexican residency permit.

Time limits when you are in Mexico using a Residente Temporalvisa

What is it? Mexico’s Residente Temporal visa enables foreigners to remain in Mexico beyond the 180-day time limit imposed with the visitor visa and also gives them access to certain residency privileges; for example, opening a bank account here which you cannot do as a visitor.

How long it is valid? When you are granted a Residente Temporal visa, it’s valid from 1 year to 4 years.  Your first temporary residency card is always issued for only one yearand must be renewed within the 30-day window before its expiry date. At the end of the first year, you can renew your temporary residency for a further 1, 2 or 3 years. When you renew for 3 years you won’t have to return to the immigration office to renew it until it fully expires at the end of year 4; however, you must inform the immigration office of certain changes in your personal circumstances (see below).

Leaving and re-entering Mexico: While your Residente Temporal card is valid, you may leave and re-enter Mexico as often as you wish.  You must attend the immigration kiosk at the port of departure to have a Forma Migratoria Multiple (FMM) card stamped and re-present that same stamped card when you return—if you have residency status do not re-enter Mexico as a visitor or your immigration status will become ‘irregular’ and your residency status will be put at risk.  See Procedures for entering and leaving Mexico for further details.

Renewals: Temporary residency card renewals must be undertaken in Mexico, and you cannot leave the country while the renewal process is in train.  In exceptional circumstances, you can apply for a temporary exit and re-entry permit while your residency card renewal is being processed; the covering letter submitted with your request must state the exceptional nature of your circumstances.

Change in Circumstances: When you are living in Mexico under the auspice of Residente Temporal you must report certain changes in your personal circumstances to the immigration office — e.g. change of your residential address, change of marital status, or change of employment status or employer — and these changes must be reported in Mexico.

Time outside of Mexico: When you are living in Mexico under the auspice of Residente Temporal, there is no time limit to how long you can remain outside of the country, but renewals and reporting changes in certain personal circumstances

What happens afterwards? After 4 consecutive years under the auspice of a Residente Temporal visa in Mexico, you cannot renew or extend your stay as a temporary resident: you must apply to exchange your temporary residency status for permanent residency status or leave the country.

Time limits when you are in Mexico using a Residente Permanente visa

What is it? Permanent residency gives a foreigner leave to remain in Mexico indefinitely, and gives certain residency privileges; for example, opening a bank account here which you cannot do as a visitor.

How long it is valid? When you are granted a Residente Permanente visa — whether you apply straight away and are granted permanent residency, or eventually obtain permanent residency after four consecutive years of living under the auspice of a temporary residence permit in Mexico — you are issued with a permanent residency card that carries no expiry date.  Permanent residency never expires (but can be surrendered, or withdrawn by the Secretaría de Gobernación, at any time).

Leaving and re-entering Mexico: When you have permanent residency status in Mexico, you may leave and re-enter the country as often as you wish.  You must attend the immigration kiosk at the port of departure to have a Forma Migratoria Multiple (FMM) card stamped and re-present that same stamped card when you return—if you have residency status do not re-enter Mexico as a visitor or your immigration status will become ‘irregular’ and your residency status will be put at risk.

Change in Circumstances: When you are living in Mexico under the auspice of Residente Permanente you must report certain changes in your personal circumstances to the immigration office — e.g. change of your residential address, change of marital status, or change of employment status or employer — and these changes must be reported in Mexico.

Time outside of Mexico: Under current rules, when you have permanent residency status in Mexico, your Residente Permanente card does not require renewal and there is no time limit to how long you can remain outside of the country, but reporting changes in certain personal circumstances (see above) must be undertaken in Mexico.

Time Qualification for Mexican citizenship

If you intend to apply for Mexican citizenship as part of your lifestyle planning, you must prove five consecutive years with either temporary residency or permanent residency, and you cannot have been physically present outside of Mexico for more than 180 days during the last two years prior to the application date.  If you are married to a Mexican national, the qualification period may reduce to two years.

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A Mexican Adventure From $1,500 a Month

By Donald Murray | International Living

After years spent searching for her perfect overseas retirement destination—a quest that had her visiting Ecuador, Belize, and Mexico—CheryLynn Ferrari, 63, found exactly what she was looking for.

“Now I live in San Nicolás de Ibarra, a small town near Lake Chapala, in Mexico. The people here are amazing. I wanted to lower my expenses and improve my lifestyle. And U.S. politics had become unbearable. I have been reading International Livingfor a long time. In fact, I first read about the Lake Chapala area in the magazine about a decade ago, I think,” says CheryLynn. “It was time to do it.”

After visiting the area and getting to know the people in the Chapala and Ajijic communities, she was convinced she had found her new home. Just as CheryLynn was about to return to Florida from her visit, she saw a note on a local bulletin board, advertising a house for rent. It sounded perfect, but she didn’t have time to see it before she left.

“When I returned to Florida, I contacted the owner and asked one of my newly found friends in Mexico to take a look at the place for me,” CheryLynn says.

It all looked good, so she sent a deposit via email. (It’s a fairly common way of engaging a rental. It’s also common for veteran expats to help new arrivals.)

CheryLynn quickly began unhitching from her Florida life. She obtained her Mexican residence visa, sold most of her possessions, loaded her van with her most important stuff, and drove to her new home in Mexico.

“I know that friends and family back in Florida worry about me. But the truth is, I couldn’t feel safer. All of us here chuckle at the notion of any serious crime in our area,” says CheryLynn. “We all watch out for each other. Life here is actually quite wonderful, but I still have a few challenges. The primary one is learning Spanish. I am improving, but it can be frustrating. Fortunately, the locals are quite patient,” she says.

“It’s a gradual process, but worth it. My expenses come to between $1,500 and $1,800 a month. Medical care is ridiculously cheap, and the quality is excellent. Doctors even make house calls.”

The small towns of Ajijic and Chapala are nearby and have a number of doctor’s offices, as well as at least four clinics. CheryLynn says that a normal visit to the doctor will cost between $20 and $50, depending on the specialty. Dental care is also very professional and inexpensive. Fillings, for example, may cost as little as $30.

CheryLynn says there are more fun things to do than she can possibly get to in any given week. In fact, she says she has to schedule days to stay home and relax.

“I’ve never been this busy in my life, and I love it,” says CheryLynn. “Many days include invites from friends to shop, see a movie, dine out, or plan a trip to another town for something special. I also volunteer at local critter shelters, where I take photos of the fur-babies to promote adoptions. Each day brings new surprises and adventures.”

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Trump Says the U.S. Is ‘Full.’ Much of the Nation Has the Opposite Problem

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By  Neil Irwin and Emily Badger | The New York Times

President Trump has adopted a blunt new message in recent days for migrants seeking refuge in the United States: “Our country is full.”

To the degree the president is addressing something broader than the recent strains on the asylum-seeking process, the line suggests the nation can’t accommodate higher immigration levels because it is already bursting at the seams. But it runs counter to the consensus among demographers and economists.

They see ample evidence of a country that is not remotely “full” — but one where an aging population and declining birthrates among the native-born population are creating underpopulated cities and towns, vacant housing and troubled public finances.

Local officials in many of those places view a shrinking population and work force as an existential problem with few obvious solutions.

“I believe our biggest threat is our declining labor force,” said Gov. Phil Scott of Vermont, a Republican, in his annual budget address this year. “It’s the root of every problem we face.

“This makes it incredibly difficult for businesses to recruit new employees and expand, harder for communities to grow and leaves fewer of us to cover the cost of state government.”

Or if you look at a city like Detroit, “many of the city’s problems would become less difficult if its population would start growing,” said Edward Glaeser, a Harvard economist. “All sorts of things like the hangover pension liability become much more solvable if you’re actually looking at new people coming in.”

A road less traveled in Rutland, Vt., last spring. Vermont’s governor has described the state’s shrinking labor force as “at the root of every problem we face.”CreditCaleb Kenna for The New York Times
A road less traveled in Rutland, Vt., last spring. Vermont’s governor has described the state’s shrinking labor force as “at the root of every problem we face.” CreditCaleb Kenna for The New York Times

This consensus is visible in official government projections. The Congressional Budget Office foresees the American labor force rising by only 0.5 percent a year over the coming decade, about one-third as fast as from 1950 to 2007. That is a crucial reason that economic growth is forecast to remain well below its late 20th-century levels.

And that, in turn, is reflected in the national fiscal outlook. There are now 2.8 workers for every recipient of Social Security benefits, a rate on track to fall to 2.2 by 2035, according to the program’s trustees. Many state pension plans face even greater demography-induced strains.

In smaller cities and rural areas, demographic decline is a fundamental fact of life. A recent study by the Economic Innovation Group found that 80 percent of American counties, with a combined population of 149 million, saw a decline in their number of prime working-age adults from 2007 to 2017.

Population growth in the United States has now hit its lowest level since 1937, partly because of a record-low fertility rate — the number of children born per woman. The United States increasingly has population growth rates similar to slow-growing Japan and Western Europe, with immigration partly offsetting that shift.

The Trump administration has portrayed the surge of asylum seekers at the southern border as a crisis, and applied aggressive tactics to deport undocumented immigrants already in the United States. But it has also announced plans to issue up to 30,000 additional H-2B visas for temporary workers.

“That immigrants keep showing up here is a testament to our freedom and the economic opportunity here,” said Matthew Kahn, an economist at the University of Southern California. If immigrants weren’t trying to come — if they believed the United States to be full — that would be a problem, Mr. Kahn said.

A particular fear, said John Lettieri, president of the Economic Innovation Group, is that declining population, falling home prices and weak public finances will create a vicious cycle that the places losing population could find hard to escape.

He proposes a program of “heartland visas,” in which skilled immigrants could obtain work visas to the United States on the condition they live in one of the counties facing demographic decline — with troubled counties themselves deciding whether to participate.

Although some of the areas with declining demographics are hostile to immigration, others, cities as varied as Baltimore, Indianapolis and Fargo, N.D., have embraced the strategy of encouraging it.

“One of the key solutions is to welcome immigrants into these communities,” said Brooks Rainwater, director of the National League of Cities’ Center for City Solutions.

Many parts of the country that are growing in population and that are more economically dynamic have depended on the arrival of immigrants for that success.

Sun Belt metros like Dallas and Phoenix have been built on the logic of rapid expansion — of quickly built homes, of poached employers, of new highways paved to ever-newer subdivisions. Their economic development strategy is growth. Their chief input is people — the more, the better.

“Growth cities need immigrants to continue their growth,” said Joel Kotkin, executive director of the Houston-based Center for Opportunity Urbanism, which promotes policies to help cities grow. “The older historically declining cities need immigrants to reinvigorate their economies. And the expensive cities need them because, frankly, white people, African-Americans and middle-class people are leaving for more affordable areas.”

As many industrial cities have lost population since the mid-20th century, Americans have built whole new metropolises on land that was virtually empty then. The Las Vegas metropolitan area, with more than two million people today, had barely 50,000 in 1950.

Still, only about 3 percent of the country’s land is urbanized.

America’s metropolitan areas remain among the least dense in the world, said Sonia Hirt, a professor of landscape architecture and planning at the University of Georgia. Nationwide, the United States has less than one-third of the population density of the European Union, and a quarter of the density of China.

“Factually speaking, the country is not actually full — that’s impossible,” Ms. Hirt said. “The real question is, if you continue on the current path of immigration, does this bring more benefits than it brings costs?”

Economists, too, argue that countries, or even cities, can’t really fill up. Rather, communities choose not to make the political choices necessary to accommodate more people. At the local level, that means neighbors may be unwilling to allow taller buildings or to invest in more schools or improved infrastructure. At the national level, it means that politicians may be unwilling to take up immigration reform, or to address workers who fear unemployment. The president’s comments echo such local fights.

“We’re full” has often been a motto for people to keep out poorer renters, minority households or apartment buildings, among both conservatives and liberals. The claim can be a way of disguising exclusion as practicality. It’s not that we’re unwelcoming; it’s just that we’re full.

When it comes to the economy, at least, the country looks more like one that is too empty than too full.

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Retire in Mexico–Guanajuato, Queretaro, or Oaxaca?

Resultado de imagen para oaxaca

By Dan | Vagabond Buddha

I recently completed a tour of Mexico. On the tour, we visited the top 20 places Americans retire in Mexico. I am not just an author. I went to these places.

The goal of the tour was to find the best place to retire in Mexico. There are some really amazing places in Mexico, so it is not that easy to pick where to retire.

In fact, I wrote three different blog posts ranking the best places to retire in Mexico. I ranked the best places based upon the personality of the person retiring–we are not all alike.

Since I am a cultural explorer, I found myself most attracted to the colonial-era cities in the Mountains of Mexico. Towns were built in the mountains during the colonial period. Airconditioning had not been invented yet, so very few large cities developed at sea level during the colonial period. It was just too hot in Mexico.

You see, these Cities like Guanajuato, Queretaro, and Oaxaca were the most interesting to me. They were rich in culture because their city centers were built all the way back in the 1500s. Additionally, all three have rich pre-hispanic culture and their colonial-era centers have been protected and restored.

Why Not Chapala-Ajijic or San Miguel de Allende?

I have received emails from people asking me why San Miguel and Chapala-Ajijic are not in my top three places to live in Mexico.  Many Americans will want to move to those two areas of Mexico because of the high concentration of expats.  The language and cultural differences will be reduced?

I agree that both of these expat heavens are very charming places in Mexico, but they didn’t feel ‘Mexican’ enough for me. I grew up in California in the central valley with many Mexican-American friends. I love the Mexican-American culture in California.  So I can see why many people are drawn to integrated cultures.

But now, I wanted a mostly Mexican experience in Mexico. Whereas, Chapala-Ajijic and San Miguel de Allende felt like Mexican communities with integrating Americans and Canadians.

Places like Guanajuato, Queretaro, and Oaxaca, felt more like Mexican-centric cultures catering to Mexicans. You get more of a Mexican experience than an integration experience. I felt immersed in a new culture rather than visiting a culture that was primarily adapting to me. I felt like I was in Mexico when I was visiting Guanajuato, Queretaro, and Oaxaca.

And a year later, these three still stick out in my mind as my favorites. All three are so charming, they stick out in my memory.

Why did I drop Merida from Top?

If you read my original post for the top places to retire in Mexico for cultural explorers, you know that Merida was my number 1 pick just 6 months ago. So what happened? That can best be explained with the following table of average highs for the day for the year.

City Dec/Jan Feb/Mar Apr/May Jun/Jul Aug/Sep Oct/Nov
Merida 87F/30C 90F/33C 97F/36C 95F/35C 94F/34C 89F/32C
Oaxaca 81F/27C 88F/30C 91F/33C 84F/29C 83F/28C 81F/27C
Guanajuato 72F/22C 77F/26C 86F/30C 82F/27C 80F/26C 72F23C
Queretaro 74F/23C 79F/27C 86F/30C 82F/28C 79F/26C 78F/25C

In a word, Merida will be too hot for much of the year for many people, especially those approaching retirement. Why would Merida be so much hotter than the other three places? Because Merida is at sea level.

We just happened to be in Merida (in October) when the weather was near perfect. I was aware that it would get hotter, but that fact has become more real for me watching temperatures after leaving Merida.  It is 102F today in Merida and only 85F in Oaxaca.

Guanajuato, Oaxaca, and Queretaro are all one mile or more above sea level.  The air is cooler year round. Guanajuato is 6600 feet/2000 meters above sea level. Oaxaca is 5102 feet/1555 meters above sea level. Queretaro is 5970 feet/1820 meters above sea level.

You will have to decide for yourself based upon the above numbers, but Oaxaca just seems closer to my ideal temperatures throughout the year.

Why Guanajuato, Queretaro, and Oaxaca?

It has been almost a year since our Mexico tour. And these three–still–stick out in my mind as favorites. Why do these three remain as my top three after a year? Also, how do I rank these top three and why?

Oaxaca is My Number 1 Favorite Place to Retire In Mexico Now!

Oaxaca is my number one place for me to retire in Mexico. Here are the reasons why I love it so much:

  1. Weather: Oaxaca is my favorite weather in Mexico.
  2. Indigenous Culture: Oaxaca has a large indigenous population that still lives its culture of food, clothing, music, and art.
  3. Surrounding Mountains: Oaxaca is surrounded by beautiful mountains that are very green and beautiful.
  4. Cost of Living: Oaxaca ($20 to $35 day) has a slightly lower cost of living than Queretaro or Guanajuato.
  5. Markets: The markets were some of the cleanest and most beautiful we have seen in Mexico.
  6. Feeling: I just had a really good feeling about the place and people of Oaxaca. It just felt more like home to me for some reason.

Guanajuato is My Number 2 Favorite Place to Retire In Mexico Now!

  1. University Town: I have always loved university towns and Guanajuato is a university town. It just feels intellectually expansive. The town is teaming with young culturally aware people from all over the world.
  2. Cervantes Festival: The international festival honoring author Miguel Cervantes (Don Quijote) has opened the minds in this town and drawn international sophisticated tourists. Even the Queen of England and the Beatles have attended the festival.
  3. Rolling Hills: The city was built in rolling hills which created a natural network of human only walkable trails around the city which is like a charming European Village.
  4. Historical Wealth: The nearby Valencia silver mine produced two-thirds of the world’s silver for more than 200 years. The great wealth flowing through this town back to Madrid helped build some of the most interesting architecture in Mexico.

Queretaro is My Number 3 Favorite Place to Retire In Mexico Now!

  1. Queretaro is the silicone valley of Mexico.
  2. Queretaro feels more cosmopolitan than any other city in Mexico except Mexico City. But it still has the walkable colonial-era center so it remains just as charming in that regard. It also has the most interesting and diverse nightlife of the three.
  3. Queretaro has the second highest per capita income in Mexico ($20k USD) and also has the second highest wine production in Mexico.
  4. Many international companies in the technical economy have decided to make Queretaro home in Mexico. So there is a large international influence.
  5. Queretaro has a larger economically prosperous population chasing international goods and services so you are likely to feel more connected to the world living here.
  6. Queretaro is larger and slightly more spread out than Guanajuato or Oaxaca (but still walkable) so you are more likely to find a diverse set of interests here.

Final Thoughts and Next Steps

  1. Picking where to retire internationally in the world is not that easy.
  2. It seems to be mostly about how you feel when you are there.
  3. The data helps narrow your search, but you have to go see for yourself.
  4. If you decide to tour Mexico to pick your favorite, here is my suggested touring route.
  5. Are you sure you want to settle in one place? I have been traveling the world since 2007. That has been a total blast.
  6. Here are my favorite places in the world to visit and live cheap in paradise.
  7. Here is my most recent retire early low cost living world tour.

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