For many Americans, one of the more common destinations to become an expat is Mexico. Mexico has a lot to offer, while the cheaper cost of living is a main draw, there are plenty of reasons why any American looking for an interesting or exotic place to live should consider Mexico.
Mexico truly has it all, whether you are looking for beautiful beaches, large modern cities, small quaint villages or even a tropical climate. While Mexicans do try to make it to America for many of its financial benefits, those with a stable income or some savings can enjoy the slower pace of life and the warmth of family and community as an expat in Mexico. It should be noted that 25% of all American expats choose Mexico as their destination, making up over 1% of Mexico’s population.
The Climate in Mexico is extremely varied. Mexico is a fairly large country and has many different regions. For instance, Mexico is known for its deserts, beach communities, tropical rain forests and flat plains.
For the most part, Mexico’s beach resorts are warm and humid throughout the year. Places such as Cancun and Cozumel are wonderful for those seeking touristy types of climates with mainly year round sun and warm temperatures. Within the Yucatan, the region is fairly wet and tropical, with rain occurring almost daily.
Cities in the central plateau are very comfortable and have mild temperatures throughout the year. These areas are not too hot and not too cold. Because Mexico doesn’t have a seasonal climate, expect a rainy season in many of the regions (especially the Pacific coastal communities) during the summer months of June all the way to September. If you are interested in staying in the central highlands, expect dry weather year round.
The Government of Mexico is similar to the American system of government. There is an executive branch, a bicameral legislative branch and judicial branch of government. The economy of Mexico is rated 13th in the entire world and the government is extremely free with trade laws and restrictions. While the United States is their largest trade partner, Mexico also trades with many other countries throughout Latin, South America and the rest of the world.
While corruption is rampant in many parts, you will find that most Mexicans are extremely honest and very accommodating to American expats. If you would like to cut down on possible corruption it is extremely important to learn the Spanish language and local customs. The longer you are in Mexico, the more you will know how to go about getting things done.
It should be noted that many large multi national corporations can be found in Mexico, these businesses usually move many of their manufacturing or business facilities to Mexico to save on labor, taxes, etc. For those that work for a large multi national in Mexico or do business, business relationships will be extremely similar as if you were in the United States. For more information about becoming an American expat in Mexico, refer to the Mexican Embassy in Washington D.C.
You can also visit the United States Embassy in Washington D.C..
Mexico has a moderate tax rate; however the good news is that taxes are on the decline. Individual income tax rates rise to 28%. Corporate tax rates are the same and top out at 28% as well. Besides income tax, there are a few other taxes that you should be aware of including VAT (value added tax), property tax and a vehicle tax.
Information on tax laws in Mexico can be found Index of Economic Freedom: Mexico.
Medical care in Mexico can vary by region. Some areas may have very modern facilities, especially in large cities and touristy areas such as Mexico City, Monterey and Cancun. However, once you venture to remote places, expect to smaller hospitals or clinics with extremely limited facilities.
If you are working for a company in Mexico, chances are you will be located either near the border or in a large city. Most businesses provide extremely affordable health care to their workers. For instance, the cost for a year of health care can be only a couple of hundred US dollars.
Many clinics and doctor’s offices usually charge a low fee for medicine and care. Expect a visit to a doctor or clinic to cost less than $30. Pharmacies are located throughout Mexico and for the most part they do not require any special prescriptions. In fact many senior citizens that live in the United States regularly take trips into Mexico to take advantage of the lower costs of pharmaceutical drugs. Pharmaceutical drugs are usually ? the cost of the same drugs in the states.
It is important to note that for the most part, an American can purchase real estate throughout Mexico. However for those looking to purchase an affordable beach house, you should know that according to Mexican law, expats can not own property directly in certain property zones. If you are interested in an affordable beach house, your best bet is to lease it for the long term.
Buying property is relatively safe and for the most part, contracts are upheld by the court system. Disputes over property while uncommon should be averted due to the fact that in certain cases, corruption or influence can occur.
For those looking to rent, you will find extremely affordable places to live. Obviously the more touristy the area, the more expensive the property will be. Expect to pay 30% to 50% of what you are accustomed to in moderate markets in the US. This is for apartments that are extremely similar in quality and amenities. If you want to live in a small village or remote area, rent is extremely low, possibly less than 10% of what is found in the states.
Shopping in Mexico is a mixed blessing. While there are many luxury shops in the main cities and near the borders, there are also many street vendors that make it difficult for many to enjoy a quiet walk. In Mexico there is a large disparity between rich and poor and while poverty has been reduced in many areas, there are always many street vendors and beggars constantly hocking their wares or asking for money.
In addition, be aware of the products you buy, counterfeit merchandise is very common, especially in the tourist parts of Mexico. If you are buying brand name goods, make sure that the quality and product are legitimate.
For expats living in Mexico, expect to pay more for certain items than native Mexicans. This for many expats is just a fact of life. If purchasing products from small markets or individuals on the street make sure you haggle with them, never pay full price. However even paying full price many items in Mexico are much more affordable than the United States.
Cost of Living
The cost of living in Mexico is extremely affordable and for many expats this is the driving force in settling down in this beautiful country. Affordable housing, medical care, labor and food are all very low. Products that are sold in the United States are sometimes 30% to 75% more. If you are looking for a place that offers low cost living that is near America, Mexico is definitely it. You can easily maintain your lifestyle for 30% less than in the states and for most people looking to live comfortably, a monthly income from $1200 to $2000 for two people is more than enough. If you choose, you can live for far less. However, for those looking for the same quality of life as in the states, a more affordable cost of living might not be worth less infrastructure and services. For many US expats that choose Mexico as their host country to live in, they are back to the United States within a few months or a couple of years.
Extradition from Mexico
The Extradition treaty between Mexico and the United States of America was signed on May 4, 1978
The Mexico Protocol was signed on November 13, 1997