For many, moving to Mexico can seem intimidating. But despite new reports about drug-related crime and drug cartels at war with each other, there are those who still choose to live there for the purposes of either work or retirement. Living in Mexico does have its advantages, such as a lower cost of living; however, one should certainly not ignore the matter of security. It is also important to realize that while there are dangers in some regions, such as the border towns, the entire country cannot be deemed to be unsafe.
The US State Department states that each year millions of US citizens safely visit Mexico for tourism, business or study, and this is in addition to about one million US citizens already residing in the country.The Mexican government takes measures to protect visitors, and in most reports of violence and crime, the victims are found to be Mexican citizens with criminal links. However, the Department goes on to caution that “the security situation does pose serious risks for US citizens as well.”
Expats who have been living in Mexico also have similar advice to give. They recommend reading the latest travel warnings before visiting or moving to Mexico, and also talking with other expats who live in the areas you are interested in. Most maintain that while some places are quite safe, there are others that pose a serious danger and foreigners are quickly moving away from the latter.
Expats who have already made their home in Mexico cite the many benefits of living there:
A colorful culture
The country has a unique, vibrant culture that has much to offer. It is a large and varied country where you can find everything from mountain resorts to quiet beach towns to swanky spas.
Low cost of living
The cost of living is only about half of what it is in the US or Canada, but with all the same conveniences. Mexico is well equipped today, with modern airports, highways, satellite television and Internet services. The Mexican economy is listed among the top world economies, even in times of global recession. Since the peso to dollar value is high, you can save money on everything from real estate to food. Foreigners can even legally own property in Mexico, and real estate taxes are low.
A retirement haven
Mexico being only a short plane ride away serves as a close retirement haven to the US. It is convenient to get back home in order to visit family or take care of business matters. One can also drive to and from Mexico. Another important advantage is that foreigners aged 60 or above and holding a valid Mexican resident visa can avail of the Personas Adultas Mayores, a federal program that provides many helpful discounts on things such as travel, property taxes, water bills, hospitals, pharmacies and even some movie theatres and restaurants. The discounts can be anywhere between 5% and 50% off the full price. Some popular Mexican destinations for living and retiring include Lake Chapala in Jalisco, San Miguel de Allende in Guanajuato, Riviera Maya in Quintana Roo, and La Paz in Baja California, amongst others.
Good health care
Mexico offers excellent health care services. Hospitals are modern and well equipped, and many doctors have been trained in the US or Europe and are fluent in English. Health insurance is also cheaper, and you can undergo common medical procedures for a much lower cost as compared to the US.
Convenient for foreigners
A simple tourist visa to Mexico allows you to stay for up to six months at a time – this is twice as long as you get in many other countries. The government also makes it quite convenient for foreigners to obtain a resident visa, which is valid for up to four years and doesn’t require annual renewal. Following this, it is quite easy to get a permanent visa.
The mainstream media coverage of Mexico has indeed kept many tourists and potential residents away. There are also some who have lived in Mexico for a while and then left the country due to concerns about the stark realities of drug-related violence. But many others have made their homes in areas where the crime rate is not a concern and the quality of life is good, and continue to live there very happily.