Written by Joy Hepp, Mexico expert for Fromer’s Guides
So, you’ve worked hard and you’re ready to make your dream of retiring in Mexico a reality. Where do you start? As a travel writer with experience venturing through all of Mexico’s diverse regions, I’m often approached by friends of friends or even complete strangers with questions about retiring in Mexico.
The answer is, it depends. Will you be living on a shoestring budget? Are you willing to go off the beaten path? Do you want to be close to a McDonalds just in case you get a hankering for a burger and fries? So, I’ve divided my advice into three categories that I hope will narrow down some choices for you when evaluating the cost of living. Everyone has their own version of the Mexico dream. Which one will yours be?
While Cancun and Playa del Carmen might be out of your range, the rest of southern Mexico provides some of the country’s greatest bargains and rich cultural surroundings. San Cristobal de las Casas in Chiapas and Oaxaca City have museums, art and theater events and unique Mayan cuisine. If you’re more of a fan of the beach, Oaxaca has some amazingly affordable beach communities like Mazunte and Puerto Escondido. The classic way for a backpacker to make a little extra cash on the road is to teach English. While it’s easier to arrange this ahead of time, eager instructors are often able to arrange work with local schools once they arrive. However, the advantage of working in advance is that many schools will be able to help arrange cheap lodging or homestays. This region of Mexico is unique because not only will you be exposed to Spanish, but you will also interact with people speaking a wide range of indigenous dialects like Yucatec Mayan and Mixteco.
The Fixer Upper
If you’re of moderate means still want to get your money’s worth Mexico’s lesser populated colonial cities offer the best all around value. Places like Merida, in the heart of the Yucatan peninsula Guanajuato in central Mexico and the artist enclave San Miguel de Allende have gorgeous architecture and many fixer-upper properties that are popular with expats. Many American inhabitants live off pensions or work part time via the internet as editors, consultants, freelance writers or legal professionals. The expats in these communities are adventurous and enthusiastic about exploring everything Mexico has to offer.
The High Roller
Communities like Lake Chapala near Guadalajara, Puerto Vallarta in Jalisco, Playa del Carmen near Cancun and even San Jose del Cabo offer just about all of the conveniences you might need and are within easy reach of an international airport. These cities have long histories with international real estate and there are plenty of professionals who can ease you through the process of finding your dream home. If you get the itch to return to the business world, you’ll be close to international corporations and hotel chains, or perhaps you can try your hand at real estate. The best part of living in these cities is that since they are also popular with international tourists who will bring the world to your doorstep.
If you are interested in maintaining your assets in the United States while you are living abroad, it is a good idea to speak with a professional California fiduciary regarding setting up a trust and /or estate. Being smart about your money now could mean living a relaxing and full life abroad.