Using International Money Transfers in Mexico

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By Robert Nelson | Expats in Mexico

At some point in your expat life in Mexico you may need to send money home or ask for money to be sent to you. How do you do it? Using international money transfers in Mexico is getting a lot easier and less expensive these days through a proliferation of online services that now compete with banks and other traditional financial institutions.

To get a better understanding of how these digital online services work, we spoke with François Briod, the Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of  Monito, a comparison website for money transfer services.

“The International money transfer industry is big business,” Briod said. “We estimate that about US$1 trillion is sent each year by individuals, and more than 20 times that amount for business. About US$30 billion is sent to Mexico annually and US$3 billion is sent from Mexico to other countries.”

Briod started Monito four years ago after several years of experiencing frustration sending money to Africa from Lausanne, Switzerland, the company’s headquarters. His company provides in-depth reviews of digital money transfer companies, scrutinizes their reputations and rates them on a scale of 1 – 10 before including them in their comparative recommendations. After listing the best options, Monito provides a brief analysis of them based on your specific needs and cost.

For example, I wanted to know the best option for sending US$1,000 from the United States to Mexico. Monito turned up 15 different money transfer options and showed me the least expensive service while recommending several alternative options. InstaReM was shown as my number one option. It was the least expensive of all 15 displayed, had zero transfer fees and a very competitive dollar to peso exchange rate. The total cost of using InstaReM, according to Monito, was US$0.53.

“These new digital online services send money more conveniently and cheaper than traditional ways like banks or agent-based services,” he said. “The least expensive way to send US$1,000 from the U.S. to Mexico could easily cost under US$1. If you used a bank wire transfer, the cost would be many times higher because of their fee structure.”

International banking
Credit: Richterfoto | Thinkstock

Traditional bank-to-bank money transfers are called bank wire transfers. A wire transfer moves money from one bank or credit union to another using financial networks like SWIFT (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication). The SWIFT network includes more than 10,000 banks and financial institutions in more than 200 countries.

Using bank wire transfers require you to provide your bank account information to a person or business, whether you are sending or receiving money, and provide additional information based on the amount of money you are wiring. Transaction time is usually one business day, but could be longer. Fees vary but using a bank is substantially more expensive than one of the new digital online money transfer services. It usually costs more than US$30 to send a wire transfer and about US$10 to receive one. If you use a credit card, you will pay cash advance fees at a higher interest rate and pay fees on the transfer. Currency exchange rates are also higher through banks.

Briod said that banks make most of their money by giving you an exchange rate that is worse than the markets or published exchange rates.

“To send US$100 from the United States to Mexico, for instance, could be less than US$1 by using the cheapest digital money transfer option,” he said. “In addition to the flat fee charged by banks, they make quite a lot of money by giving you a much worse exchange rate.”

A traditional retail money transfer service like Western Union can also be used to wire money. Senders can walk into a retail location with cash, send money to the recipient and the recipient can walk out of a retail location in another country in less than an hour with his/her money. If you transfer funds from your bank account, it will take longer. Use a credit card, and you will pay extra fees. You can also use Western Union online.

“The industry has been waking up in the last five years, and it’s now a really changed game,” Briod said. “The savings are huge. We calculated globally from the information we have today on Monito that consumers sending money abroad could save US$28 billion in fees if they used these digital money transfers.”

Moving billions of dollars around the world digitally may give pause to some who worry about the safety of their money, but Briod told us that the industry generally is well-regulated.

Pesos
Credit: Iodrakon | Thinkstock

“It’s been more and more regulated due to money laundering and financing laws,” he said. “Every financial service has to know with whom it is dealing and review the names across the database of jurisdiction of people it can do business with. Money transfer services are usually regulated as money transmitters, so they are not as regulated as the banks, but they are already quite strictly regulated by the country where the money is being sent. A money transfer operator like Western Union will have maybe 60 to 100 different licenses and different authorizations, for example. Compliance is a big part of the business.”

Are there any restrictions on transferring money? Briod said it depends on the amount you want to transfer. Larger amounts require more compliance documents because of money laundering concerns. If you are sending amounts under US$100, he said, it is as easy as buying a pair of shoes online. If you want to send millions, you will need to prove your identity, show how you got the money and explain why you are transferring the money. Restrictions and enforcement of money transfers are mainly the responsibility of individual countries.

We asked Briod what expats need to keep in mind if they plan to transfer money from Mexico to another country.

“I think the biggest factor is the exchange rate,” he said. “Convert money at the right time to save money. I receive an email every afternoon with the daily rates, so I am constantly watching them and know when to make the transfer.”

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Some Americans Choosing Mexico To Maximize Their Retirement Savings

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Many Americans are in Mexico to enjoy their retirement in locations with nice weather and a lower cost of living.

While it’s hard to verify exact numbers, there are currently about one million Americans living in Mexico.

Many Americans choose to retire in US states with lower costs of living and more agreeable weather. Typically, this means moving from places like New York and California to states like Florida and Arizona. Recent years have also seen more Americans looking abroad for their retirement, and the reasons are as clear as daylight, literally. Apart from getting more warmth and sunlight, Americans who are going into retirement often choose Mexico for financial reasons as well. Americans retiring in Mexico can receive healthcare for a fraction of the cost of American healthcare, as well as the cost of everyday expenses such as rent and food. For most retirees, income takes a back seat to how far their savings will take them, so choosing a location based on the cost of living effectively means choosing a better lifestyle.

Fortunately for a great many Americans, Mexico is a great option for retirement. For many Americans, retirement in Mexico means being just a few hours’ drive from the California border, making the retirement experience new, but not too distant. The other thing to keep in mind is that Mexico is a big country, and there are a few places that stand out as great retirement destinations.

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Is Mexico’s Bay of Banderas the New Florida for Snowbirds?

By Jill Wykes – Snowbirdadvisor.ca

You may think you’ve never heard of the Bay of Banderas – but you’ve likely heard of Puerto Vallarta…which is located in the center of the Bay on the Pacific west coast of Mexico.

Canadians, and especially snowbirds, are discovering the entire region around Puerto Vallarta. It has much to offer, from fishing villages to 4 and 5 star resorts, golf courses, condos, villas and apartments all along the expansive beach.

And the Puerto Vallarta international airport makes it easy to get there and home, with connections to most parts of Canada in the winter months.

No wonder Canadian snowbirds are settling here in ever increasing numbers each winter.

Here’s a brief overview of the region:

Puerto Vallarta

Puerto Vallarta is no longer the sleepy fishing village discovered during the filming of The Night of the Iguana. Today it is one of Mexico’s premier resort areas – a large town with designer and local shops, boutiques, galleries, restaurants and bars. Visitors and locals like to walk the famous Malecon – a long promenade along ocean front.

The town has expanded both to the north and south with many deluxe and moderate resort hotels, as well as reasonably priced rental apartments to suit all budgets. There are deluxe condo developments where some Canadians have invested and you can also find a lot of condo rentals. They are not cheap – expect to pay similar prices to Florida waterfront rentals – but the cost of living is much cheaper once you are here.

Snowbirds also appreciate the wide range of activities, including championship golf courses, watersports, sailing, tennis, fishing, beach walking and swimming. And the area is very LGBTQ friendly.

 

Nuevo Vallarta

Nuevo Vallarta is just north of Puerto Vallarta and is a man-made area of hotels and resorts built along the beautiful beaches. It is known for its golf courses, marina and long, wide sandy beaches. There are a few villages nearby including Sayulita, a mecca for surfers.

Nuevo Vallarta is very close to the Puerto Vallarta International Airport and the area holds the 2018 Earth Check Silver Certification.

There are lots of activities including beach sports, golf, scuba diving, surfing, yoga classes, gyms and tennis. You’ll also find some world-class resort spas offering various treatments.

Two golf courses of note in the area are the challenging El Tigre golf course and the Jack Nicklaus Vidanta golf course.

 

Bucerias

Further north along the Bay of Banderas you’ll find Bucerias, a sizeable resort town and former fishing village that is home to many Canadian Snowbirds in the winter. Bucerias is a seaside town with cobblestone streets and a main square – perfect for strolling and exploring.

There are lots of restaurants, shops and services here. Bucerias has 5 miles of wide Pacific beaches to the north and south along its shores.

Canadians have been coming here since the 80s, and today they make up most of the seasonal snowbird contingent where they rent in the low rise condos.

 

Punta Mita

Punta Mita sits at the top of Banderas Bay and juts into the Pacific. The area is a gated, private zone with some very exclusive, deluxe hotels including the Four Seasons, the St. Regis and Casa Aramara Punta Mita – along with some private homes.

Punta Mita is surrounded on three sides by a rugged coastline and many beaches and coves. But just outside Punta Mita there are more moderately priced hotels and condo rentals available at the northern end of Banderas Bay. This area is more isolated and about an hour’s drive from Puerto Vallarta’s centre.

 

Mismaloya    

Mismaloya is actually where much of the Night of the Iguana was filmed. It is a beautiful cove surrounded by tropical vegetation. The former fishing village is popular with visitors who flock to its beautiful beach, al fresco restaurants and fresh seafood spots.

Snowbirds will find apartments, condos and houses to rent here.

Local activities include the nearby marine reserve Los Arcos National Park – a great spot to snorkel and dive where you can see manta rays and turtles. The Vallarta Zoo is also located nearby.

 

Boca de Tomatlan

Another little jewel along this coast is Boca de Tomatlan – or Boca to those in the know – located 10 miles south of Puerto Vallarta. Accessible by car, bus or water taxi, Boca is in a deep inlet near the Vallarta Botanical Gardens.

There are a few accommodation options here including B&B’s, villas and apartments.

 

Yelapa

This article wouldn’t be complete without mentioning Yelapa – a beach town on an unspoiled cover at the very southern part of the Bay of Banderas. The easiest way to get to Yelapa is by boat. You can find rooms to rent here and there’s always fresh seafood on the menus of the local eateries.

A visit to Yelapa is like going back in time – allowing you to see what this area was like before it became a major tourism destination.

 

The original version of this article appeared here on Snowbird Advisor

Immigrants play big role in caring for elderly and disabled in U.S

Even as a shortage of U.S. workers who care for the elderly and disabled grows, proposed limits on immigration may worsen the situation, researchers say.

As of 2017, immigrants accounted for more than 18% of U.S. healthcare workers, researchers report in the journal Health Affairs. In nursing homes, nearly one in four workers who directly care for patients are immigrants, as are nearly one in three housekeeping and maintenance workers.

“We rely heavily on immigrants to care for the elderly and disabled, particularly in their everyday care,” said the study’s lead author, Dr. Leah Zallman, an assistant professor of medicine at the Harvard Medical School and director of research for the Institute for Community Health at the Cambridge Health Alliance. “Therefore, any policies trying to reduce immigration are likely to make what is already a workforce shortage worse.”

Currently, Zallman said, “there are not enough people willing to do these jobs and we are going to need a lot more people in the future. This is an industry that needs people round the clock. And immigrants disproportionately take the night shifts. They are really filling the gaps.”

The issue becomes increasingly important as the elderly population grows, with experts predicting it will double by 2050, Zallman and her colleagues noted.

To take a closer look at the role of immigrants in healthcare, the researchers turned to the Annual Social and Economic Supplement of the 2018 Current Population Survey, a nationally representative survey conducted by the Census Bureau and the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which collected data on 180,084 people in March of 2017.

Compared to U.S born healthcare workers immigrant workers were older; 51.6% were older than 44, compared to 43.8% of U.S. born healthcare workers. Immigrant workers were also more likely to have completed a four year college degree and more likely to be Hispanic, non-Hispanic Asian or non-Hispanic Black.

Nearly one in three immigrant healthcare workers – 30.4% – were employed in long term care settings, compared to 22% of U.S. born workers. Overall, 1 million workers, or 23.5%, in the formal and non-formal long term care sector were immigrants.

Among unauthorized immigrant healthcare workers, 43.2% were employed in these types of settings.

Immigrant workers were also more likely than those born in the U.S. to be employed with home health agencies (13.1% versus 7.9%) – and in the non-formal sector (6.8% versus 4.6%).

The new study is “very important and timely,” said Dr. Albert Wu, an internist and professor of health policy and management at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health. “I hope it will encourage us to be more thoughtful about political decisions as they have an impact on all of us. The current proposal to restrict immigration to more skilled or professional applicants runs directly counter to the need for this category of worker.”

Those proposals are coming at a time when the U.S. birthrate is falling, Wu said. “Looking 10 years ahead, there’s a huge projected shortfall in people who do hands-on face-to-face caregiving for older and disabled adults.”

That’s exactly what’s already happening in Japan, said Dr. John W. Rowe, a professor in the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University. “Immigration has been limited by Japan’s preference for an ethnically homogeneous society,” Rowe said in an email. “With the rapid aging of the Japanese, who have the longest life expectancy in the world, this shrinking population has yielded major shortages in the elder care workforce and in manufacturing.”

In response, “the Japanese government in December 2018 relaxed the long-standing immigration restriction and established a program of five-year visas for several hundred thousand workers, Rowe said. “This was seen as a major social change in traditionally xenophobic Japan.”

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Real Estate Opportunities in Tulúm, Mexico

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By Margaret Summerfield | International Living

The road is a little rutted track that winds its way through a screen of trees. A curious iguana watches our progress from his jungle hideout. We haven’t seen another soul for the last 20 minutes.

When we get to the beach, it’s serene. We have it all to ourselves. It’s gorgeous, with lofty palm trees overhead, baby-soft cool sand under our feet and neon-blue Caribbean Sea all the way to the horizon.

This is the Sian Ka’an biosphere. It covers 1.3 million acres of beach, mangrove, jungle and reef. It’s home to jaguars, shy tapirs and friendly manatees.

In Mayan, Sian Ka’an means “where the sky is born.” This is also where development ends. The biosphere is protected—a natural barrier to the fast-paced growth that is barreling down this coast.

That barrier supercharges the gains you can make buying the right real estate in this area.

The Sian Ka’an biosphere borders the edge of Tulum. This little town is being transformed from a rustic outpost to a boutique, eco-chic destination. It’s seen a phenomenal pace of growth over the last decade.

In 2007, when I first visited, there were some nice spots to eat on the beach side of Tulum. And some upscale (read expensive) hotels. But downtown was a different story. There was one decent café, one supermarket, an ATM (no bank) and only cheap hostel-level accommodation. Unsurprisingly, Tulum town was a backpacker magnet in 2007.

Today, downtown has had a radical face-lift. So much so, that the original backpackers would not believe their eyes. There’s a new gourmet supermarket, proper banks, fancy restaurants serving steak and pasta and organic salads. There are bakeries and ice cream stores. A bunch of little boutique hotels has popped up around town. The backpackers are now joined by middle-class and affluent travelers.

And everywhere you look, you can see construction. Tulum is a boom town. But fringed by the Caribbean Sea on one side and the protected Sian Ka’an biosphere on another, Tulum can’t sprawl. It’s the last stop on the Riviera Maya…and it’s the end of the line for development.

With all this growth, you can make serious money in Tulum, but only on the right real estate buy…

Tulum’s got a unique vibe. It’s a mix of natural beauty, yoga and wellness, finding yourself and escaping the rat race. It’s about getting on a bike to go downtown for your morning coffee…floating along the underground rivers with their cool, fresh, water… swinging in a hammock under the stars.

It attracts Hollywood movie stars, New York’s fashion set, Instagram stars and Grammy-winning artists. And, it attracts “ordinary” folks looking for the perfect Caribbean vacation.

When it comes to a place to stay, you can spend more than a thousand dollars a night for a hotel with no electricity or less than fifty for a “glamping” tent pitched on an organic farm. There are plenty of takers for both those options.

But many of Tulum’s visitors (like myself) want something in between…with modern-day comforts (electricity, air conditioning, internet, comfy beds). That’s why savvy folks in this area are already making $31,356…and $33,173…a year in gross rental income on their two-bed condos. And they still get to enjoy their homes (and Tulum) for as much as half the year.

Original Source

Cozumel, Mexico: Things to Do, Retiree Advice, Cost of Living & Lifestyle

Your Complete Guide to Cozumel, Mexico

If you’ve ever imagined yourself lazing on a tropical island, cold drink in hand, and wriggling your toes in the warm, clear aquamarine waters of the Caribbean Sea, the island of Cozumel in Mexicocould be perfect for you.

Just 12 miles off the coast of Playa del Carmen, along Mexico’s famed Riviera Maya, Cozumel is a well-established, world class vacation destination. Especially known for its warm, tropical water, snorkelers and scuba divers from across the globe enjoy exploring the island’s reef, teeming with aquatic life.

Average temperatures in the 80s F make for comfortable weather with breezes off the Caribbean providing some cool air during the hottest months—when temperatures can climb into the 90s F.

At 30 miles long and 10 miles wide, Cozumel is just the right size to get around on a bicycle or motor scooter, but taxis are abundant too. The island’s largest town is San Miguel. With some 100,000 permanent residents, San Miguel is a lively tourist town. With hundreds of small gift stores, restaurants, night clubs, and bars attending to millions of tourists each year, San Miguel serves its purpose flawlessly.

Tourism provides the high-octane fuel for the island’s economic engine. The bustling port in San Miguel accommodates between 4 to 5 million cruise ship passengers annually. Huge ships arrive each week (more during winter than summer), dropping their passengers into the central area of San Miguel, staying just long enough for passengers to enjoy the day, take an excursion, and rack up a few charges on their credit cards.

Cozumel also has a busy international airport and a regular ferry service from the mainland in Playa del Carmen. A small fleet of modern, fast catamaran shuttles charge $20 for a roundtrip ticket and the ride takes about 45 minutes each way.

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Retire in Cozumel

Cozumel
©iStock.com/Aneese

Those wanting to enjoy an active, lifestyle while also appreciating the pleasures of island life may wish to consider Cozumel for their retirement home. In addition to unlimited water-born recreational opportunities such as boating, fishing, swimming, snorkeling, scuba diving, sailing, and kayaking, Cozumel also provides modern infrastructure with a stable electrical grid and high-speed internet.

Warm, tropical weather throughout the year is a draw for many people and Cozumel offers that in ample supply. This is an area subject to hurricanes, however, and Cozumel took a couple of heavy hits in 2005 from hurricanes Emily and Wilma. And while they don’t happen often, residents pay close attention to the weather during hurricane season.

Shopping opportunities are abundant with modern grocery stores offering a large variety of goods. Residents can enjoy the benefits of a thriving tourist community with ample selections of restaurants serving all kinds of food from around the world. You can even catch a movie at a local theater, if you wish. As with all islands, prices for goods and services are higher than those on the mainland by some 20% to 30% on average.

Medical care on the island is provided by three hospitals and a number of clinics for routine care. And of course, the mainland is only 12 miles away, so access to larger hospitals in Playa del Carmen and Cancún is readily available, as well.

Lifestyle in Cozumel

Cozumel
©iStock.com/mikolajn

Cozumel is a great choice for expats looking for island-life. It’s large enough to offer many conveniences without going to the mainland, but its proximity also allows residents to quickly catch a ferry and spend some time in Playa del Carmen, Cancún, or even to explore the historic Yucatán Peninsula.

Permanent residents on Cozumel can choose to live in San Miguel or several smaller communities on the island. Las Fincas, Kilómetro Cuatro y Medio, La Estrella, San Lorenzo, La Esperanza, and Huerto Familiar are all smaller villages primarily occupied by locals of Maya and Mexican ancestry.

Cozumel’s primary draw is the surrounding, clear Caribbean water and the easy access to shallow reefs for divers and snorkelers. The island offers a choice of many beaches. Some are rocky limestone, perfect for snorkelers, while others are covered in powdery white sand and are just right for lounging and reading a book.

Hundreds of dive boat operators compete for business in the harbor while several private access points along the shore permit divers and snorkelers to enter for a small fee. Public beaches, of course, have no fees.

If you’re looking to get away from the water, plan a trip to the El Museo de la Isla de Cozumel (The Museum of the Island of Cozumel). It provides an insight into the history of the island and its ancient Maya inhabitants.

Afternoons allow time for catching a movie at the modern theater or even visiting the local library. The very active night scene offers live music and dancing in clubs and bars, as well as free performances in the central park.

Spanish is the official language; however, many restaurant and tour employees speak some English.

Cost of Living in Cozumel

Cozumel
©iStock.com/YinYang

Cozumel offers good value for dollars spent, even when it comes to housing. However, it can be hard to find an apartment as the market is geared toward short-term vacation stays. You will most likely have to rent a place, short term, while you search for a long-term rental. Also, most long-term rental properties come unfurnished. Those advertised as “furnished” may be sparsely furnished, at best.

With limited land available, condos are the most popular housing option on Cozumel and good deals can be found in the range of $150,000 for one-bedroom units. Two-bedroom units can run upwards of $180,000.

Here are some examples of regular monthly expenses for a couple living in Cozumel:

Expense U.S. $
Rent – one-bedroom condo $450 to $700
Rent – two-bedroom condo $500 to $800
Internet $20
Utilities $70
Lunch for two $10
Dinner for two – mid-range restaurant $25
Dinner for two – upscale restaurant $65

Original source

The Best Places for North Americans to Retire in Mexico

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By Kathleen Peddicord | US News & World Report

More Americans have retired abroad in Mexico than any other country. The low cost of living, sunshine, accessibility, established expat communities and diversity of lifestyle options draw many retirees south of the border.

From relaxing beach towns to cosmopolitan cities, the challenge is deciding where to retire in Mexico. Consider these potential retirement spots in Mexico where you can seek adventure overseas, but don’t have to give up all the comforts of home.

Playa del Carmen

Playa del Carmen is a little beach town an hour south of Cancún on Mexico’s Riviera Maya. Once a sleepy fishing village, the port was inadvertently put on the map by Jacques Cousteau in 1954 when he filmed an underwater documentary on the Great Maya Reef just offshore. Today Playa is home to more than 10,000 foreigners, including young couples, families with small children and retired folks. At the center of it all is La Quinta Avenida, the pedestrian street that runs parallel to the beach. All along 5th Avenue, music rolls out of the open storefronts, including Led Zeppelin, Jimmy Buffett, salsa and Latin ballads.

Mazatlán

Mazatlán is one of the few places in the world where you can walk for miles on an uncrowded beach within the city limits. Mazatlán has beautiful beaches and a walkable colonial center that manages to be both a popular expat choice and an authentic Mexican resort town. Located midway along Mexico’s Pacific coast, Mazatlán’s historic center has undergone an impressive face lift. Mazatlán lies about 720 miles south of the Arizona border, making it a 13-hour drive down highway 15D. What a luxury to be able to throw everything you need in the car and drive to your new life overseas.

Ajijic, Lake Chapala

The Mexican government estimates that nearly 20,000 expats reside full time in the state of Jalisco. The area around Lake Chapala is home to an organized and developed expat retiree community. The Lake Chapala Society reports about 4,000 American and Canadian residents. Moving here, you could set up a lifestyle that isn’t dramatically different from the life you left behind in the U.S. You don’t have to worry about learning the local language if you don’t want to, because this is an entire community of non-locals. Retiring to Ajijic, you could make a comfortable life for yourself in a place that’s beautiful, safe, affordable and also exotic. Over the past four decades, Ajijic has attracted such a volume of foreign retirees that it’s become very friendly to foreign residents.

Puerto Vallarta

Until the 1950s, Puerto Vallarta was a small fishing village along a spectacular bay on the Pacific that was modestly popular among Mexicans as a beach resort. Then, in 1963, John Huston filmed “The Night of the Iguana” in Mismaloya, a seaside village just south of Puerto Vallarta. The film’s star, Richard Burton, was involved with actress Elizabeth Taylor at the time, and the paparazzi tracked them both. Suddenly, Puerto Vallarta was in the American newspapers. Around the same time, the Mexican government began to invest heavily in infrastructure in the area, including highways, roads and public utilities, which made Puerto Vallarta a more accessible and attractive destination. Puerto Vallarta is now one of the most sophisticated resorts in Mexico. You will find cosmopolitan cultural activities including plays, films, jazz and classical concerts, gourmet restaurants and gallery openings.

San Miguel de Allende

San Miguel de Allende is both the geographic and cultural heart of Mexico. About equidistant from Puerto Vallarta on the Pacific Ocean and Veracruz on the Gulf of Mexico, San Miguel is also just a day’s drive from the Texas border. At an altitude of 6,200 feet, it’s warm and dry during the day and cool at night. Founded by the Spanish nearly 500 years ago, San Miguel was an important town on the route for transporting Mexican silver. Wealthy businessmen and ranchers built beautiful Spanish-colonial homes on the cobblestone streets of this picturesque hillside town. This well-preserved Spanish-colonial city is now home to one of the biggest communities of foreign retirees in Mexico.

Álamos

This small colonial town of fewer than 25,000 is nestled in an inland valley surrounded on all sides by mountains and wild countryside. Álamos was founded in the late 17th century after silver was discovered in the area. The huge wealth generated by the mines allowed residents to build dozens of colonial mansions and hundreds of colonial homes throughout the downtown. The city is walkable and safe, and there are many opportunities for volunteering. The expat community is cohesive, active, welcoming and artistic. Newcomers stay in touch with each other, hang out together and support one another when they need it.

Morelia

Built in the 16th century, Morelia was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1991. When you’ve seen it, you’ll wonder what took them so long. Adding to its architectural charm, Morelia’s beautiful Spanish Renaissance buildings are all colored the region’s trademark warm pink, thanks to the locally quarried cantera stone. This is a center of music and home to the oldest music conservatory in the Americas. This picturesque town is the capital of the central Mexican state of Michoacán. Few foreign tourists visit Morelia, but Mexicans are frequent visitors. The few expats and foreign retirees who have discovered Morelia try to keep the secret to themselves. The quality of life available in this city of 600,000 is special and unique.

Tulum

Just 20 minutes south of Playa, Tulum feels a world away. This tranquil area is home to about 18,000 people. The location of important ancient sites and natural attractions, the focus in Tulum is more on preservation than development. The path of progress is rolling down this coast, just a bit more conscientiously in Tulum. Thanks to the long-standing tourism industry, English is commonly spoken. This part of Mexico is decidedly first world. The infrastructure is as good as the best of the United States. If you’re not up for immersing yourself in another culture, the Riviera Maya could make for a welcoming place to retire.

Hualtulco

Huatulco is situated on Mexico’s Pacific coast at the foothills of the Sierra Madre Mountains. It’s about an hour south of Mexico City by plane. This master-planned community has a total area of about 50,000 acres, with 90% protected for ecological conservation and the remaining 10% used for tourist and residential development. Compared with other Mexican hotspots such as Cancún and Los Cabos, Hualtulco has a more small-town feel and offers a more authentic experience. The area boasts 36 white sand beaches that span 20 miles of Mexico’s Pacific coastline. Just inland from the beach areas is La Crucecita, Huatulco’s main town, where you find grocery stores, pharmacies and restaurants. Hualtulco has been awarded the Green Globe certification as a sustainable tourist area. Much of Huatulco’s energy is wind-driven, and hotels, restaurants & nightclubs operate on renewable energy.

Durango

Durango is not an expat destination, but a large, sophisticated Mexican city with great weather and a high standard of living. Nestled in a valley high in Mexico’s western Sierra Madre range, the city’s surroundings look like what we think of as the Old West, and many Hollywood movies have been filmed in the surrounding mountains, valleys and deserts. The city boasts clean, safe streets, good infrastructure, a thriving central market and architecture reminiscent of Europe. The almost complete absence of foreigners means no tourist pricing and a low cost of living. However, you’ll find almost no expat community and few English speakers. Spanish lessons should be a priority for those planning to relocate to Durango.

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