There are many reasons why you might choose a Mexico retirement over other options, whether compared to the U.S. or other countries. We have compiled the top 10 reasons why other retirees have chosen Mexico. This list is based on a survey of some real estate brokers from various parts of Mexico, whose sources are retirees they have worked with, as well as their personal experience.
1. Weather, Nature and Beaches
The weather varies from region to region in Mexico. It’s a large country, and retirees can choose slightly warmer or slightly cooler locations, but one point true for all the favorite retirement locations on the beachfront; the weather is warm all year round. Most areas have a rainy season, but it is definitely not cold, and it’s rare that the sun is hidden for more than a day. This “near-perfect climate” is ideal for enjoying the beach, outdoor activities or even keeping a garden.
“This is a major benefit,” points out Rebecca Loto of Costa Maya, a few hours south of Cancun. “You can wear your summer clothes all year long!”
Michael Green of Puerto Vallarta describes weather from October to June as “warm, sunny days, cool evenings, and a gentle breeze. A running joke I have with my friends,” he continues, “is whether it could be more perfect if it were one degree cooler or one degree warmer! We have still not reached a consensus.”
Closely tied into this point is the beautiful natural surroundings. Places like Mazatlan or Puerto Vallarta on the Pacific Coast enjoy miraculous sunsets, emerald green jungle hillsides, and gorgeous tropical gardens. Over on the Yucatan Peninsula, whether in the newer area of Costa Maya or more established favorites like Playa del Carmen, Cancun or Merida, residents enjoy being close to the area’s cenotes – cool, refreshing natural pools at the entrances to the area’s extensive underground cave system.
In any of these areas retirees enjoy crystal blue skies, clear ocean water and, perhaps most importantly, miles and miles of sandy beaches.
In addition to warm days in the sun, there is something hypnotic about living by the sea … about the balmy tropical breezes, which many believe are very therapeutic. Along with the clean air and sunshine, it gives you a sense of well-being!
In Mexico, retirees have access to affordable, high-quality healthcare. Both points – affordable and high-quality – are important. A visit to the doctor is approximately $25 USD and here the doctors actually take time to sit down and talk to you about your health. Hospitals, doctors, clinics, nurses, drugs and just about anything else related to health-care is more accessible and less expensive than in the U.S. And compared to Canada? Drugs and out-of-pocket expenses are still much more affordable in Mexico, and best of all, no waiting lines.
Official estimates state that on average the cost of healthcare is between 50% and 70% cheaper, and that insurance is about one third or even less; full coverage health care for a family – a couple with two children – less than $1500 USD per year.
The quality of healthcare is equally as important; there are great hospitals in most of Mexico’s retirement locations. Many modern, private hospitals have English-speaking doctors. The World Health Organization ranked the quality of private hospitals in Mexico on par with those in the U.S.
Besides great healthcare at accessible prices, North Americans living in Mexico lead a much healthier lifestyle here; fresh fish, fruit and vegetables are always available, again at lower prices. Depending on which location a retiree chooses, healthy food may just be the most available option. In Costa Maya, for example, there is less fast food and ready-made food available and as a result the diet is much healthier, and people “get back to basics” with food selections. Of course, in more developed areas fast food choices are definitely available, but as mentioned above, the availability of good fresh fruit and vegetables at low prices leads most people to take on a healthier diet – sometimes without even thinking about it.
In a small town like Mahahual on Costa Maya, you have to visit maybe 2 or 3 “mini-supers,” little supermarkets, to complete your entire shopping list. On such a shopping trip, you stop along the way for a cold drink at one of the local bars, where you can catch up on the local news and refresh yourself before continuing on your way. The pace is much slower, and this alone allows you to relax and enjoy your surroundings with the other the people.
While Costa Maya is still much undiscovered and somewhat isolated, relaxation is likewise a defining feature of day to day life in many more established regions. As Jim Hopkins of Mazatlan puts it, in Mexico people enjoy a “simpler, more care-free lifestyle.”
For Americans or Canadians coming to Mexico it’s a change of pace. Life moves slower here. Family is important. The elderly are cherished. Children are loved. The “little things in life” matter. Streets are closed off to host neighborhood block parties.
“It is hard to explain,” ponders Mike Green, “but it feels like my hometown did thirty years ago.”
Rebecca Loto’s explanations is that “it’s simply too hot to rush around like you did in your colder home town. Although this slow pace may be irritating at times, the Mexican people aren’t trying to be slow just to annoy you, that is simply their culture. They treat everyone the same.”
As a result of being relaxed, Mexican lifestyle is also more romantic. The men are charming and handsome, the women are beautiful. The weather is sultry, the scenery alluring. Clothing is used for modesty, not warmth. Couples stroll hand in hand barefoot on sandy beaches during the day and are serenaded by traveling minstrels under starry skies at night.
4. Affordable Property
While all of this about lifestyle sounds great, it’s also important that life in Mexico is affordable. One of the first ways that expats in Mexico see their savings is in their real estate purchase.
Regardless of the property style or area of Mexico retirees choose, they will see considerable savings compared to similar properties in places like the U.S. More established areas such as Playa del Carmen, Puerto Vallarta or Mazatlan have very well priced properties that offer a luxury lifestyle on the beach. They also offer full services and infrastructure similar to what buyers would be used to from the U.S. or Canada, such as golf courses, marinas, shopping malls, medical services, highly developed road systems (Mexico ranked #1 in the world for 2009 in new highway projects,) to name only a few. Properties in these areas have excellent potential to be rented out for those who are planning ahead for retirement, and could benefit from an income on their property in the mean time.
In up-and-coming tourist areas, such as Costa Maya on the Caribbean coast of the Yucatan Peninsula, or Campeche on the peninsula’s west shore, buyers can often find even cheaper prices for virgin beachfront. The advantage? Prices are lower, and the established tourism and real estate reputation of nearby areas, as well as recent investment into new development and tourism infrastructure (Mahahual’s boardwalk area in Costa Maya, or Campeche’s restored colonial city center, for example) point to a promising future in terms of services; Mexico’s track record is so strong that buyers can be confident that the area’s will grow. The disadvantage? Not all of the services are available yet, and buyers will have to wait for them to arrive. Again, retirees-to-be can buy land and take the years between to build a home, etc.
So, which is better, well priced properties in established areas with all services already in place, and opportunities for income or even less expensive properties in less developed areas that show good potential for the future? The choice is yours, and it depends on your needs and retirement lifestyle. One of the great things about buying real estate in Mexico is that it includes both options, and in both cases retirees enjoy the point that differentiates Mexico from other destinations: the balance of comfort, relaxation, convenience, safety and accessible prices in a way that can be found in few other places in the world.
5. Cost of Living
Hand in hand with the low cost of real estate is the low cost of living. In terms of tropical climates with beaches, Mexico is less expensive than other options close to home, like Hawaii or Florida. Just about everything is cheaper than in the U.S. or Canada.
Labor costs are also less expensive, meaning that retirees can have the convenience of hiring help, such as a maid or a gardener, paying them a competitive wage, without making a significant impact on the budget.
Whether it is playing tennis, golfing, fishing, swimming, strolling the boardwalk, browsing world class art galleries and shops, meeting new friends, learning a new language, volunteering for numerous charities or dining in gourmet restaurants, there is something for everyone.
“You can expand your horizons and find your passion,” observes Michael Green.
Mexico’s year-round warm climate allows for outdoor sports and exercise during all seasons. The beachfront destinations offer diving, snorkeling, kayaking, fishing, boating and much more.
The Caribbean coast, which includes Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Tulum and Costa Maya, is home to the second largest barrier coral reef in the world, which offers fantastic opportunities for water lovers. Divers and snorkelers can enjoy the reef and its beautiful tropical fish, while others can go deep sea fishing and kayaking.
These destinations, along with Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan and many other locations on the Pacific coast, host several deep sea fishing tournaments every summer with competitors coming from all over Mexico and beyond to take part.
7. The People
In Mexico the people are warm, inviting and constantly smiling. They eagerly embrace foreigners and are incredibly good-natured. Mexicans live for the “moment”, they do not dwell in the past or fret about the future. In many communities time schedules are basically non-existent and everyone readily takes time to visit – whether it’s a formal visit or just a drop-in, you are always received with open arms. As a foreigner, you will find that you have much to learn from Mexicans with their wonderful family and lifestyle values.
“There is a great feeling of community here, maybe because the town is so small still,” observes Rebecca Loto about Costa Maya. “If there is a new face then people approach to find out where you are from and how you are enjoying your stay here.”
However, even larger communities such as Puerto Vallarta, which have been home to expats for many decades now, you will find this to be true.
“I have made many great friendships here in Puerto Vallarta,” says Michael Green, “and for this I am very grateful.”
The large ex-pat communities also provide a group of people with which you will easily relate; they too chose Mexico for a warmer climate, a warmer culture and a laid-back lifestyle.
Whether it’s the beautiful colonial cities, such as Merida or Mazatlan, the ruins of the ancient Mayan civilization or the local handicrafts and artwork to be found for sale, retirees will enjoy close contact with a rich cultural heritage.
Jim Hopkins names the “ability to experience different cultures and lifestyles” as a key motivation to retire in Mexico. While the culture varies considerably from place to place, in each location you will find a variety that makes retirement a real experience.
Another part of Mexico’s culture which many expats fall in love with is the food.
“Yucatecan cuisine is fabulous and addictive,” says Mitch Keenan. Excellent food can be found in a variety of styles and traditions throughout Mexico. Most locations offer a variety of food styles from other parts of the country as well, in addition to many international options.
9. Transportation to and from the U.S.
All Mexican retirement destinations have close access to at least one international airport, with direct flights to most major North American cities, so traveling to and from the U.S. or Canada is easy and relatively cheap ($400 on average for a return flight, varying depending on distance and time of year, of course). This means that you can go back and visit family and friends and they can come and visit you in your beachfront home. You’ll find that once you own some property on the Mexican beachfront, you’ll become extremely popular with friends, and your family may visit even more often!
Despite a rather negative media representation which focuses on drug related violence, Mexico is actually a top choice when it comes to safety. The conflicts which make the headlines are mostly limited to the U.S. border area; the majority of the country is virtually unaffected, and news of these unfortunate events is as distant to these areas as it is to the U.S., and in some cases, even more so.
“In Yucatan violent crime is almost unheard of,” points out Mitch Keenan. “In Merida, the citizens walk the streets at any time of day or night safely and confidently.”
Statistics back this feeling of comfort; in most parts of Mexico, violent crime is significantly lower than in large U.S. cities.
About the Author: Thomas Lloyd, Founder and President of TOPMexicoRealestate.com
Originally from Indiana, and a graduate of Purdue University in the Krannert School of Management, he holds a degree in management with a speciality in finances. Lloyd has several diplomas and certifications in Mexico Real Estate topics and is one of only a few professionals to hold Mexico’s new degree in real estate. This degree is accompanied by a Professional Identification Number, “cedula profesional,” which is issued for trained professionals such as those in the medical field, or in law. He has over 15 years of direct experience in Mexico’s business culture.