How Do I Move to Mexico? Understanding The Basics
Mexico is rich in cultural history, and it’s a beautiful place to live. Today, it has a high level of development, and all of the amenities you could expect in your home country, whether you live in America or elsewhere in the English-speaking world.
In addition, money from other countries goes a long way down South. Currencies like the Euro and US Dollar are strong compared to the Mexican Peso, which means that your money can go further in the country. If you’re interested in moving to Mexico, we’re here with a step-by-step guide to help you understand the basics.
NOTE: This is not legal advice. Moving to any foreign country is a complicated process, as is outlined in the content here. Consult with local officials and all required legal professionals before attempting to obtain residence or move to any foreign country.
- Get Your Legal Requirements and Documents In Line
The visa requirements for Mexico may vary based on your country. American citizens can either apply for a temporary or permanent residence visa, depending on how long you plan to stay in Mexico.
Temporary Residence Visa
If you’ll be living in the country at least 180 days, but less than 4 years – then a temporary residence visa is appropriate. To obtain this, you must have a completed visa application, proof of having paid the visa processing fees, your passport and a photograph. If you aren’t a citizen in the country where you applied for the visa, then documentation showing you were in that nation legally is also required.
You also must provide paperwork demonstrating that your finances meet the economic solvency requirements. This includes both the average balance of your bank account over the last 12 months, and your average income over the last six months (1). The minimum amounts required by customs vary depending on the source you consult. In addition, much higher thresholds seem to be enforced, if you’re applying for temporary residency and don’t have any family within Mexico.
For example, one source states that your monthly balance must average more than $103,616 USD for the last year. You also must have a monthly income of more than $2,072 USD for the last six months. Yet, the same source guides that if you enter under the Family Unity program (for applicants that have a qualifying relative within Mexico), the requirements are far more lenient – with an average balance of just $1,554 USD or monthly income higher than $520 needed (2).
However, other sources list a monthly income of only $1,220 USD for working adults (for U.S. citizens), even if you don’t have family within Mexico. Or, you may have an investment account instead, with a minimum monthly balance of $20,200 (3). Yet, according to Mexican customs itself, U.S. citizens living off their investments, only need monthly income of $1,150 (plus $550 for their spouse and each dependant child) (4).
-Requirements May Vary By Country
Finally, the amounts may also differ depending upon your country of citizenship. As a case in point, citizens of Trinidad and Tobago must have monthly income of $2,000 USD (5). In contrast, Canadians only need an average income of $1,704.46 Canadian dollars (which equates to just $1,318.35 USD) (6).
With such varying amounts, sources that disagree and the fact that these figures are subject to change – it is strongly recommended that you contact Mexican customs directly. They will be able to confirm the limits which will apply in your specific situation.
Permanent Residence Visa
If you’ll be residing in Mexico for more than 4 years, then you should apply for a permanent residence visa instead. All of the same paperwork necessary for a temporary residence visa is again needed, along with a few additional requirements. You either must demonstrate that you’re a retiree or receive a pension – or that you have family within Mexico (7).
These family members can either be Mexican citizens or permanent residents themselves. It appears that only family which is one or two tiers removed from you is permitted, such as your parent, child, grandparent or grandchild. However, there are additional regulations if your relative is a spouse or sibling – so consult with customs to learn more (8).
You’re also eligible to apply for permanent residency, if you’ve held temporary residency for the last four years (9).
- Understand Cost Of Living And How Far Your Money Will Go
If you’re moving from a developed country in America or Europe, your money will likely go a long way, but you may make quite a bit less money while working in Mexico. Most Mexican workers make less than $10,000 USD per year. However, if you are working for a multinational or a highly competitive company, your compensation may be comparable to your old salary.
Here are a few basic costs of living in Mexico. Note that these may fluctuate based on where you live, and future economic conditions.
- Basic meal – About $5 (90 MXN)
- 1 gallon of gasoline – About $2.60 (50 MXN)
- Monthly transit pass – $15 USD (300 MXN)
- Rent (Mexico City, 1 bedroom, outlying neighborhood) – $300 USD, (5,650 MXN)
As you can see, you’ll likely be paying much less, even in large urban areas, compared to other developed countries.
- Set Up Your Finances (And Taxes) In Mexico
You’ll need a Mexican bank account, and to convert your currency into Pesos. You should be able to do this at any large Mexican bank, and you can even open accounts online, in some case.
It’s usually a good idea to keep your bank account in your home country open, as well. You will also want to make sure that you understand the taxation laws in Mexico, and how they relate to those in your home country. Get a lawyer or a tax attorney to help you do this.
- Find Employment In Mexico
This step will already be taken care of if you’re self-employed and moving to Mexico, or if you’re an investor, businessperson, a student, or already have a job lined up.
If you are bilingual, you should have no trouble finding jobs at companies in Mexico, particularly if you have a college education and are working in a desirable field.
However, if you do not speak any Spanish, this may be a bit more difficult – but not impossible. You may be able to work at a company that is international, or primarily works with American, Canadian, or other English-speaking countries.
- Get A Place To Live In many places like Mexico City, you can find apartments on websites like Craigslist and other major American sites.
Do some browsing and find an apartment that’s perfect for you. Living in a bigger city is usually a good idea, as more people will speak English and there will be more amenities, making it worth the extra price.
- Find Health Insurance
Mexico has a private health insurance system, so you will want to make sure you get a policy to avoid huge medical bills if you get sick, or in a serious accident. You may be enrolled automatically if you work with a Mexican company, but those who are self-employed, retired, or investors should explore their options. Yearly fees are typically around $400-$1,700, so it’s quite affordable.
- Learn The Language (If You Haven’t Already)
In a larger city like Mexico City, you could get away without speaking Spanish, especially if you work in an English-speaking office. But we don’t recommend this! Learning Spanish will help you acclimate, and make the most of your new life in Mexico.
- Move Into Your New Place
Generally, you can move used personal household goods like appliances, furniture, personal effects, and so on, without having to pay duty taxes or any other fees in Mexico. So hire a specialized moving company, pack up your stuff, and get ready for the big move!
Connect With Other Expats And Locals And Start Your New Life
Once you’ve moved in, start connecting with expats, coworkers and colleagues, neighbors and more! You’re finally ready to start your new life in Mexico, so connect with your community and the local culture.
-Based on the exchange rate at the time of writing (October 2018). Exchange rate information found at: