Mexico has become one of the most popular international retirement spots. It’s estimated that 1-million Americans have settled south of the border while hundreds of thousands of snowbirds fly in for the harsh winter months. The reasons are easy to understand.
Tim Leffel, travel writer, author of 4th edition of World’s Cheapest Destinations, lauds Mexico as a land of many desirable climes for northerners tired of long winters.
“There’s hot and sunny beach weather in Cabo San Lucas, La Paz and Puerto Vallarta, explained Leffel. “Or there’s year-round, high altitude, pleasant climate – San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato or San Cristobal de las Casas – eternal spring weather.”
Mexico offers a better lifestyle for a lot less money compared to Florida or Phoenix or Taos. In Mexico, retirees can enjoy a similar or better climate, a bigger house, and similar amenities at one-half the price.
“Labor is less expensive. Domestic help is available for substantially less. Americans with average savings can live like wealthy people," Leffel said.
3. Generous tourist visas for snowbirds
Older people can escape the cold winters and head back home in the spring. The Mexican government extends a 180-day tourist visa making Mexico a prime target for snowbirds.
4. Quality health plan
Legal residents can access the Mexican health care system including public clinics and hospitals. Private health care plans are widely available at a fraction of US expenses for private hospitals and clinics.
International travel insurance is widely employed to cover Mexican private health care which can be combined with paying out of pocket. "Or just pay out of pocket because it’s inexpensive, even at a private clinic," said Leffel.
Santiago Hernandez MD, runs ChapalaMed with offices in Chapala and in the nearby cosmopolitan center of Guadalajara. He services the growing ex-pat population.
"I charge one-third of US family doctor's fees,” said Dr. Hernandez. The Mexican-born doctor has resided in the USA for most of his life. He worked in a family medicine practice for two years in Franklin Park, IL and another two years in Aurora, IL, before returning to his homeland.
Guadalajara’s Metropolitan Area possesses a 4-million plus population and has become a transplanted high-tech hot spot for a growing number of US companies – HP, Dell, IBM, Kodak, Siemens, Intel, etc. “They're full-time, foreign workers, in their mid-40s to mid-50s," said Hernandez. “Many are have double income no kids. One spouse teaches on the side.”
Retirees have to be willing to adjust and have liberal attitudes. Candidates for Mexican retirement can expect lives that are not clock-driven; Mexicans aren’t a rushed people. They spend more time in conversation. “People are more interested in face-to-face relationships and relaxation than the back-home work ethic,” said Leffel.
Despite reports of crime in Mexico, insiders report that it’s very safe. Parts of Mexico are dangerous, Leffel warns, especially near the US border where drug trade conduits exist. But spots where groups of retirees live are always safe.
Leffel described the Yucatan as safer than most US cities. “If you’re away from drug dealing zones, there’s no problem in terms of getting caught in the cross-fire.”
There could be more than seven reasons for a Mexican retirement. Time to take the plunge if you're willing.