Retirement in Mexico

frannybMarch 12, 2002

Who among you have experienced retirement time (all of part of the year) in Mexico? What is/was your experience; + or -? Where? And did you have a grasp of the language prior? Or learn by imersion?

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Haven't lived in Mexico but have lived in 3rd world countries about 20 years both under the US flag & foreign. Think before you leap. Personally, I wouldn't retire to anywhere that isn't under the US flag. Governments are unstable & you don't have much in the way of protection with foreign laws. What appears quaint & charming may become frustrating. You will always be an outsider. There is an undercurrent beneath the smiling faces in every 3rd world country I've lived in or visited of resentment. And what you can tolerate now might be entirely different 10-15 years from now.

I'm sure lots of people love living in Mexico & a lot can depend on your finances. If you can travel back & forth that can make a difference. Hope somebody here knows more about the specifics of Mexico.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2002 at 9:12AM
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Here's a website with lots of information.

Here is a link that might be useful: Mexico

    Bookmark   March 15, 2002 at 1:27AM
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My brother and sister in law lived in Mexico about six months out of the year and loved it...they didn't speak much Spanish when they went but learned enough to get by. However, my brother had a massive stroke last year and it was a real problem getting him home. His Mexican doc made a house call and called the ambulance which came to take him back to the US. It broke down about 10 miles away from their home and had to wait for a replacement ambulance then had to change to another ambulance at the border. I am sure that the time delay getting him to a hospital was part of the reason he is still in such bad shape. (They lived in San Felipe, Baja)

    Bookmark   March 16, 2002 at 1:56PM
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If you're thinking about Mexico, do yourself a favor and check out Costa Rica. It has all the good things Mexico has without the political unrest, without corrupt police, etc. It has been called the Switzerland of Central America, due to its policies with other governments.

There are two English newspapers and a relatively large American community.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2002 at 6:06AM
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Canadian Moneysaver magazine has held seminars in a location in (I think, northern) Mexico. Considering possibly living there, I think.

Apparently some of the subscribers lived there for some time and loved it.

Sorry that I can't be more precise, but I didn't plan to go so didn't pay much attention.

I haven't checked it, but you may be able to find more information if you visit their website . About a year ago, I think.

They are a non-slick magazine, with no advertisers, so are totally subscriber driven.

Subscribers asked for seminars with the writers, so they hold them annually in various cities in Canada.

They also asked that subscribers in various areas get together, so subscribers in about 40 locations in Canada can call a local number for information. Our city of 350,000 has about 15 - 20 meet monthly: meeting is this Wed. night. In about three years, I've learned a lot about investing - from various viewpoints.

While this is a bit of a delicate subject, I think that Canadians generally get a better reception in a number of countries that do U.S. people.

Many U.S. backpackers in Europe have been reported to wear Canadian flag pins.

Good wishes to all.

joyful guy/Ed

    Bookmark   February 25, 2003 at 2:02AM
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Whether he is "real' for not he is giving some wrong information. You do not own these condos even with so call papers in hand. We looked at this area a few years ago and the friend of my husband really wanted to buy one and share,and I refused and boy did he get angry. Papers from a bank etc mean nothing except to local people. As to the internet, anyone, person or business can post on the internet true or not!
Remember your medicare is not accepted there. Buyer beware. New government--new rules and yes they can and will take the property anytime they wish.

    Bookmark   January 2, 2008 at 3:38PM
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I was told by a native of Mexico, do not go even on a vacation without a tour group unless you can pass for a Mexican. It's very dangerous. I am sure there are places where the ultra rich live that is safe. I read that you can't take anything with you when you move except suitcases. The same when you decide to move back to the States.

    Bookmark   January 6, 2008 at 7:55PM
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No way would I retire to Mexico and leave the United States of Ameirica land of my brth JMHO

    Bookmark   January 6, 2008 at 8:06PM
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Tourists shun crime-hit Mexico beaches

Jan 5, 2008

Assaults on American tourists have brought hard times to hotels and restaurants that dot Mexican beaches just south of the border from San Diego.

Surfers and kayakers are frightened to hit the waters of the northern stretch of Mexico's Baja California peninsula, long popular as a weekend destination for U.S. tourists. Weddings have been canceled. Lobster joints a few steps from the Pacific were almost empty on the usually busy New Year's weekend.

Americans have long tolerated shakedowns by police who boost salaries by pulling over motorists for alleged traffic violations, and tourists know parts of Baja are a hotbed of drug-related violence. But a handful of attacks since summer by masked, armed bandits �" some of whom used flashing lights to appear like police �" marks a new extreme that has spooked even longtime visitors.

Lori Hoffman, a San Diego-area emergency room nurse, said she was sexually assaulted Oct. 23 by two masked men in front of her boyfriend, San Diego Surfing Academy owner Pat Weber, who was forced to kneel at gunpoint for 45 minutes. They were at a campground with about 30 tents, some 200 miles south of the border.

The men shot out windows of the couple's trailer and forced their way inside, ransacked the cupboards and left with about $7,000 worth of gear, including computers, video equipment and a guitar.

Weber, who has taught dozens of students in Mexico over the last 10 years, plans to surf in Costa Rica or New Zealand. "No more Mexico," said Hoffman, who reported the attack to Mexican police. No arrests have been made.

The Baja California peninsula is known worldwide for clean and sparsely populated beaches, lobster and margaritas and blue waters visited by whales and dolphins. Surfers love the waves; fishermen catch tuna, yellowtail and marlin. Food and hotels are cheap.

News of harrowing assaults on American tourists has begun to overshadow that appeal in the northern part of the peninsula, home to drug gangs and the seedy border city of Tijuana. The comparatively isolated southern tip, with its tony Los Cabos resort, remains safer and is still popular with Hollywood celebrities, anglers and other foreign tourists.

Local media and surfing Web sites that trumpeted Baja in the past have reported several frightening crimes that U.S. and Mexican officials consider credible. Longtime visitors are particularly wary of a toll road near the border that runs through Playas de Rosarito �" Rosarito Beach.

In late November, as they returned from the Baja 1000 off-road race, a San Diego-area family was pulled over on the toll road by a car with flashing lights. Heavily armed men held the family hostage for two hours. They eventually released them but stole the family's truck.

Before dawn on Aug. 31, three surfers were carjacked on the same stretch of highway. Gunmen pulled them over in a car with flashing lights, forced them out of their vehicles and ordered one to kneel. They took the trucks and left the surfers.

Aqua Adventures of San Diego scrapped its annual three-day kayak trip to scout for whales in January, ending a run of about 10 years. Customers had already been complaining about longer waits to return to the U.S.; crime gave them another reason to stay away.

"People are just saying, 'No way.' They don't want to deal with the risk," said owner Jen Kleck, who has sponsored trips to Baja about five times a year but hasn't been since July.

Charles Smith, spokesman for the U.S. consulate in Tijuana, said the U.S. government has not found a widespread increase in attacks against Americans, but he acknowledged many crimes go unreported. The State Department has long warned motorists on Mexico's border to watch for people following them, though no new warnings have been issued.

Mexican officials acknowledge crime has threatened a lifeblood of Baja's economy. In Playas de Rosarito, a city of 130,000, police were forced to surrender their weapons last month for testing to determine links to any crimes. Heavily armed men have patrolled City Hall since a failed assassination attempt on the new police chief left one officer dead. On Thursday the bullet-riddled bodies of a Tijuana police official and another man were found dumped near the beach.

"We cannot minimize what's happening to public safety," said Oscar Escobedo Carignan, Baja's new secretary of tourism. "We're going to impose order ... We're indignant about what's happening."

Tourist visits to Baja totaled about 18 million in 2007, down from 21 million the previous year, Escobedo said. Hotel occupancy dropped about 5 percentage points to 53 percent.

Hugo Torres, owner of the storied Rosarito Beach Hotel and the city's new mayor, estimates the number of visitors to Rosarito Beach since summer is down 30 percent.

In the city's Puerto Nuevo tourist enclave, which offers $20 lobster dinners and $1 margaritas, restaurant managers said sales were down as much as 80 percent from last year. One Saturday afternoon in October, masked bandits wielding pistols walked the streets and kidnapped two men �" an American and a Spanish citizen �" who were later released unharmed. Two people who were with them were shot and wounded.

Omar Armendariz, who manages a Puerto Nuevo lobster restaurant, is counting on the new state and city governments to make tourists feel safer. He has never seen fewer visitors in his nine years on the job.

"It's dead," he said.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2008 at 3:38PM
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I stumbled across this forum while looking for some gardening information.

I have lived in Playas de Rosarito (Rosarito Beach) in Baja California since 1986. From what I am reading, there are a lot of misconceptions regarding Mexico. Yes, there are currently problems with the "Narco Wars" and the border cities are experiencing more crime due to so many Mexican nationals being deported from the US. The "Narco Wars" are not something that Mexicans worry about in their daily life. Most of the persons getting knocked off are other bad guys. The average person is not being shot in the street. On the other hand, the US deported Mexicans, many who are criminals, are having an effect on life here along the border. We are experiencing more home burglaries; car thefts (which there were very few here until the late 90Âs); and, the occasional assault. Our police chiefs have a hard life as they are out to clean up the Narcos and the newly arrived criminals. Some of the chiefs get killed! Still, our crime rate here is well below that of San Diego, Los Angeles or any other medium to large size US city.

We, who live here full-time, adjust our life to fact that this is the third world. What does that mean? We stay away from "crazy" tourist joints; make the communities where we live "hard targets" so that the petty thieves and burglars stay away from us; and, we heed the State Department advice of not driving around in the wee hours of the morning. The majority of visitors that have problems in Mexico make their own problems. They give the cops bribes instead of paying tickets at the station; they get drunk, disorderly and set themselves up for robbery or shakedowns; they do things that people living in third world countries would never do and because of their actions, these visitors experience problems. Before traveling from the first world to the third world, people need to know the difference between these worlds. ThatÂs how one stays safe. You are familiar with the rules in the US. A lot of them work the same here. People in the US that go to bars in rowdy areas and get drunk and disorderly get into fights and are sometimes rolled! People in the US experience burglaries; narco shootouts; gang drive-bys; dead people turning up in trunks of cars and bodies buried along the highway. They have school shootouts; postal employees going berserk and lots of other things. I donÂt know about you, but I donÂt frequent rowdy areas or bars in them; I donÂt get drunk; donÂt pay bribes to corrupt cops; stay out of narco or gang areas and try not to do things that might cause me to wind up dead in a car trunk or buried in a shallow grave off the road.

The justice system here leaves a lot to be desired. Yes, the police can be corrupt. The district attorneys are mostly inept. On the other hand, if you get into difficulty on the street, people will respond to your cry for help. They donÂt just look out the window, they turn out in force! There are trade-offs. You make them every day in the states. We make them here in Mexico. Drive-by narco shootings affect us just about as much as drive-by shootings affect you in your cities. Burglaries and assaults bother us more than they bother most medium and big city dwellers in the states. We haven't been used to them. Prior to the past 7 years, most burglaries in my community were those that happened to unoccupied "weekender" houses that tend to be grouped together by the beach. Oddly, these folks never seem to put alarms into their houses.

The pluses to living and/or retiring in Mexico are:

1. The tight knit communities; Mexican, American or mixed, you get to choose.

2. The slower pace of life in the majority of the country. Compared to most areas of Mexico, cities in the states are like clocks with their spring wound too tight.

3. Lower cost of living, although, the border cities are experiencing an upward push in prices.

4. Magnificent places to visit throughout the whole country.

5. If you live in the northern border region of Mexico, you can drive over the border and you have access to everything American..

6. Most areas in Mexico are a gardenerÂs dream!

7. The Mexicans are friendly, gracious and have big hearts so long as you arenÂt an "ugly American" type of person.

My point is that Mexico is by far a safer place for most people coming from any medium or large US city. Look at the Los Angeles newspapers; then look at the Tijuana newspapers; you will find that you are by far safer in Tijuana than L.A. DonÂt get caught up in the hype about Mexico that is printed in the US newspapers. I read US newspapers; watch US satellite TV; and, if I were to believe all the hype in the news about the US, I would be scared to death to set foot there. Read your newspapers and look at what you see from the viewpoint of a foreigner that might want to retire in the US. It would be scary, wouldnÂt it? I would be afraid to put my grandkid in school as he could be blown away by another student with an AK-47, a scenario that you wouldnÂt see here.

If you are looking to retire down here, be discerning! DonÂt leave your brain at the border as many do. DonÂt flash your money; be overbearing; or, put people down because they donÂt have your financial wherewithal or education. Take the time to see how things are done down here. DonÂt believe what other "retirees" tell you about visas, bank trusts, rules, law and customs or confiscation of property. Most of them donÂt know much about any of that. If you rely on them and donÂt do your homework, you wonÂt find out that they donÂt know what they are talking about until it is too late to keep you out of problems you shouldnÂt be in to begin with. One case in point is Punta Banda in Ensenada, Baja California. The Americans blame everything regarding this problem on corrupt Mexicans. The problem was with the Americans. If they had done a little investigation, they would have easily found out that the land was in litigation. I donÂt know about you, but I wouldnÂt buy land in any country that was in litigation. See what I mean about some people leaving their brains at the border.

I have lived outside the US for most of my 56 years. During that time I have lived in several countries. You can live well and be happy in most any country. Some are more difficult than others. Mexico is one of the easiest places in the world for Americans and Canadians to live in. Come down; check it out and enjoy.

Now, back to gardening!

    Bookmark   April 10, 2008 at 12:21PM
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Just poking my head in to add my two cents (nowhere near retirement myself, but I always read this forum occasionally to see what the future will bring). My DH's father and stepmom have retired to Mexico, to a place called Chapala, which is about 30 miles outside of Guadalajara.

There's a large American retirement community there, so plenty of other people in similar circumstances. From all accounts, DH's dad and stepmom are quite happy, although it has required some adjustment. When first moving there, they soaked their vegetables in colloidal silver to get rid of any amoebas, and washed their dishes with bleach, to ensure that they didn't get diarrhea, etc. (I don't know if they continue to do this -- I just remember them reporting doing that in an email a couple of years ago when they first moved there). They don't have instant and easy internet access like here at home, and have to walk to an internet cafe (they chose to not have a car).

Here's some info from an email they sent my DH:

We r in mainstream Mx, but in local area with 10% anglo mostly US and Canadian. There are subdivisions and gated communities approaching 100% english speaking, but we bought home on dead end street 1 block behind bus terminal. So far NO cab driver has been able to find it without help. Please refer to ur map of MX
- see the big lake in middle at tail end of Sierra Madre Mtn's? That is Chapala. a bonefide Mx village. The main street has 5 mini-supers, 3 bars, 3 liquor stores, 5 furniture stores and 6 cyber-cafes.

Cost of living is big reason for emigree's. A kilo of white beans costs 9 cents and a kilo of rabbit food 50c. But Kraft mayonaise is 9 dollars the medium jar so-one must shop wisely.

One of the big downsides is that mail from the US to them is fairly unreliable. We can't really send them Christmas gifts, because the possibility of them getting stolen is too high.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2008 at 4:45PM
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I would worry about the judicial system if you were accused of something.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2008 at 9:50PM
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Does Medicare work in Mexico? How do Americans get health coverage in Mexico?

    Bookmark   May 14, 2008 at 7:02PM
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Medicare doesn't work in Mexico. You can get regular health insurance through an insurance agent here in Mexico. Also, once you have a visa to live here (FM-3 or FM-2, always try for a FM-2 if you are planning to be here for more than 5 years) you will become elegible for a state/federal run health care system. It will be up to you to find out the details and sign up at the proper time. Many areas have air evacuation services that you can suscribe to if you want to be evacuated to the States or Canada if you become seriously ill. If you don't have one in the area that you retire, see if there is interest in this type of service and contact one of the established air-evac companies in another part of Mexico to see how to get service in your area.

As to the judicial system, it is quite broken. It is very difficult to prosecute anyone for anything. That being said, Mexican government officials are now beginning to make changes to the system. For instance, most everything has been done by presenting written statements. There is not much oral examination of witnesses. Starting in 2009, there will be oral motions and better interrogation of witnesses. Cases that have taken 2 or more years will now be able to be completed in less than 1 year.

If you are hauled in and charged with a crime, the DA must adhere to very stringent rules of evidence in order to charge you. Many, many cases are thrown out of the courts because the DA didn't do a proper investigation. Judges in Mexico are not allowed much "discretion" and adhere to the same stringent rules and codes. Here, as in Canada and the USA, it is very important to have a good lawyer to protect your rights. I am a retired attorney from the US; have worked for companies in several foreign countries; and have had a lot of experience here in Mexico with the legal system. If you have a good attorney, it is much more difficult to be found guilty in Mexico than it is in the US or Canada. The other point that I want to make is that it is much harder to find a "good" attorney in Mexico than the USA or Canada. A lot of the legal profession here seems to have slept through most of their law school classes and many seem to have gotten their "bar card" as a prize in a cereal box. That being said, there are a few very good attorneys here and they are worth every penny they charge. Another fact to keep in mind when thinking about attorneys here in Mexico is that there is no oversight of the profession. The "Bar Associations" are not like those in the US or Canada. They are like private clubs that "talk" about changes, but have no power to make changes or to regulate attorneys. There is no "State Bar" to complain to when an attorney does something unethical. You have to sue them in court or make a criminal complaint. Most of the state laws fix penalties so that an attorney will only lose their license to practice for 2 years or less. While under suspension, most still work and use another attorney's name on the pleadings. Regulation of attorneys here is a joke. So, once again, if you are dealing with a lawyer here in Mexico, know who he is; whether honor is important to him; or, if he has had any shady dealings in the past. In fact, like finding a doctor as soon as you move to Mexico, I would also advise that you start checking out the attorneys in your area. If you ever need an attorney, you will be pressured (15 days to answer a civil complaint in many jurisdictions)and you will probably not select the attorney that you need. Also, throw out what you think are the "rules" of evidence and your idea of persons that are competent witnesses. Most jurisdictions do not let anyone working for you give testimony. Also, a husband or wife testifying for a spouse has little or no value in court. Things are different here because of the cultural history. In the history of Mexico, employees and workers "always" testified in favor of their "patron" because if they didn't, they would have no future work and might wind up dead. Hence, their testimony has no value.

Read about the legal system; the insurance system (Coverage is different. Make sure you know what is insured!); and, learn how things work here. Don't believe what you hear from other retirees as most don't know what they are talking about. Find out for yourself. Yes, it is more difficult that way, but you will find that you are better off for your effort.

As I said in a former post, learn the ways and flow of things here and you will have a great retirement here in Mexico.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2008 at 2:17PM
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You can move your whole household to Mexico like any where else and move it back also. There are moving companies who do everything for you.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2009 at 10:30PM
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I have considered retirement Mexico, because I have family in Torreon and Ciudad Juarez. With all the violence lately, I'm thinking of going further south or staying here in USA. I've looked at Belize and South America and I'm always watching House Hunters International when they have Latin America episodes.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2011 at 11:57AM
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It would be nice, but I myself do not know too much about the details. I have considered this option, and I suppose it's time to really give it a long look.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2011 at 6:23PM
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I don't think you will ever find a place safer than here, cheaper but not safer. I know enough Mexicans to know that before this violence started it was still a dangerous place to live. I was told anyone who drives through their country had better be able pass for Mexican.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2011 at 5:36PM
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