Tag Archives: Moving to Mexico

The MEXODUS – The New Norm – North American Retirees Moving to Mexico

 

Mexodus

 

Needless to say, the social and political rancor in North America has reached new heights (or lows). In the U.S. political sphere, the November 2018 mid-term elections resulted in the Democratic Party  wresting control of the U.S. House of Representatives. The U.S. President’s approval ratings hover around 38%. The issue of U.S. immigration reform remains paralyzed amidst political acrimony. Yet, the U.S. President remains adamant about his desire to obtain billions of dollars to build a border wall to keep prospective immigrants out of the U.S. Yet, there’s a new norm that has developed.

Obscured by all of the above, is the steady flow North Americans  headed south – to Mexico. Frankly, it’s an exodus; a MEXODUS. According to CBS News, the number of Americans retiring outside the United States is growing exponentially. Between 2010 and 2015 the number grew 17 percent. The figure is expected to rise during the next 10 years as boomer retirement continues.[1] According to several sources, Mexico is now considered the preferred retirement home for an estimated 1-2 million American retirees – more than any other country.[2] From the present through 2030, an estimated 10,000 Baby Boomers will achieve retirement age each day.[3]

“Where should I retire?” It ‘s a common question in North America as Baby Boomers contemplate how and where they might spend the remainder of this life.  For tens of thousands, this question includes destinations outside the U.S. or Canada. Oftentimes, this process involves mulling over Mexico. Every January, the publication International Living, provides retirees with suggestions using their Annual Global Retirement Index. In 2018, Mexico was ranked as the 2nd Best Place to retire by IL[4]. Estimates vary, but it’s safe to conclude that a few million Americans and Canadians now reside primarily in Mexico. That’s a lot of Gringos who have made the leap.

I recently completed 2 two week visits to the Guadalajara and Lake Chapala areas in central Mexico in August and October/November 2018. The purpose of these trips was to examine the possibility for retirement in this locale; already home to thousands of expat retirees/resident tourists from the U.S., Canada, Europe and the U.K. What motivated my wife and I to invest in considering Mexico? We had several. We’re not alone. During these recent exploratory visits, we had the opportunity to speak with dozens upon dozens of North American baby boomers in Mexico. Some were already residing there. Others were exploring the possibilities as we were.  Our question was: “What inspires retiring North American baby boomers to consider Mexico as their retirement home?” Here’s what they told us:

  1. Reduce My Cost of Living – As study after study indicates, North American Baby Boomers are ill prepared financially for retirement. This “lack of financial preparedness” has become the primary cause of anxiety among Boomers.[5] According to International Living, you can live on U.S. $1,865 per month in Mexico including rent, utilities, groceries, entertainment, healthcare, household help and incidentals. For a couple, the figure moves to an estimated $2,500 per month.[6] Again, costs are relative. Want to live in a tourist area near a Mexican beach on the sea? Your costs will be significantly higher. The same is true for areas in Mexico where North American retirees are already well established like the Lake Chapala/Ajijic area and San Miguel Allende. The current peso to the dollar foreign exchange reality makes reducing the cost of living even more practical (currently 20.5 pesos to one U.S. dollar in early December 2018).
  2. A Better Climate – For many, the motivation to move toward a better climate and retire the snow shovel, winter clothing, umbrella, and avoid sleet, ice, humidity, excessive heat, and the like was a common reply. Of course, Mexico is a massive geographic area. However, the variety of improved climate choices within the country make it attractive to retiring baby boomers
  3. More Affordable Healthcare – Mexico, particularly when compared to the U.S. has a vastly more affordable healthcare environment.[7] Of course, this depends upon one’s current medical requirements and those that may arise in the future. No, Medicare is not valid for medical treatment outside the U.S. Thus, you must rely on cash and qualifying for available Mexican healthcare coverage for those who hold both temporary and permanent visas. Of course, for treatment requiring Medicare coverage, you can return to the U.S. for the same.
  4. A Cultural Adventure – A common response was the desire for a cultural adventure. Mexico’s proximity to Canada and the U.S. provides just that. From food, to landscapes to architecture, language, the arts and the people – Mexico possesses what North American retirees seeking new cultural experiences are after.

Baby Boomers have been characterized as those who “make smart decisions based on available resources.” They are independent and “make up their own minds and determine what is most valuable or significant.”[8] Moving to Mexico for retirement appears to have become the new norm for North American boomers. There is no wall that can prevent the flow of North American retirees relocating to Mexico – along with their substantial economic contributions to the Mexican economy. Perhaps you and those you know might join the MEXODUS?

About The Author: Bill Dahl is a journalist who recently spent 4 weeks in the Guadalajara/Chapala region of central Mexico examining the possibilities for retirement, the culture, and the socio-economic environment.

NOTES

[1] https://www.cbsnews.com/news/more-americans-are-retiring-outside-the-u-s/ – December 27, 2016

[2] https://money.usnews.com/money/blogs/on-retirement/articles/2017-10-24/8-reasons-mexico-is-americas-favorite-place-to-retire-abroad – October 24, 2017 by Kathleen Peddicord

[3] https://www.seniorliving.org/guides/baby-boomers/

[4] https://internationalliving.com/the-best-places-to-retire/ Prentice, Glynna – Mexico Editor September 2018 – The World’s Best Places to Retire in 2018.

[5] Lloyd, Alycynna – Lack of Retirement Savings Haunts Baby Boomers, REWIRED, August 31, 2018 – https://www.housingwire.com/blogs/1-rewired/post/46700-lack-of-retirement-savings-haunts-baby-boomers

[6] How Much Does It Cost to Live in Mexico?https://internationalliving.com/countries/mexico/cost-of-living-in-mexico/

[7] Mexican Healthcare is Affordable and Excellenthttps://internationalliving.com/countries/mexico/health-care/

[8] Abramson, Alexis Ph.D. –  10 Important Baby Boomer Characteristics and Statistics, July 2018. https://www.alexisabramson.com/baby-boomers-characteristics-statistics/

Mexiconsiderations Part II – Guidance for North American Boomers Contemplating Retirement in Mexico

About The Author:

Bill Dahl is an investigative journalist who recently completed 4 weeks in the Guadalajara/Chapala region of central Mexico examining the retirement possibilities. He resides in the central Oregon.

I recently completed 2 two week visits to the Guadalajara and Lake Chapala areas in central Mexico in August and October/November 2018. The purpose of these trips was to examine the possibility for retirement in this locale; already home to thousands of expat retirees/resident tourists from the U.S., Canada, Europe and the U.K.

What motivated my wife and I to invest in considering Mexico (Mexconsiderations)? We had four: A reduced cost of living, access to more affordable healthcare, a better climate (no cold and snow), and new cultural adventures. We’re not alone. According to CBS News, the number of Americans retiring outside the United States is growing exponentially. Between 2010 and 2015 the number grew 17 percent. The figure is expected to rise during the next 10 years as boomer retirement continues.[1] According to several sources, Mexico is now considered the preferred retirement home for an estimated 1-2 million American retirees – more than any other country.[2]

Charles Handy has written: “The first step is to measure whatever can be easily counted. This is OK as far as it goes. The second step is to disregard that which can’t be easily measured or to give it an arbitrary quantitative value. This is artificial and misleading. The third step is to presume that which can’t be measured easily really isn’t important. This is blindness. The fourth step is to say that which can’t be easily measured really doesn’t exist. This is suicide.[3] For our Mexiconsiderations, Handy’s quote provides a useful evaluation framework for us. Stay with me.

The First Step – Measure Whatever Can Be Easily Counted:

The weather in the Lake Chapala has been touted as the second best climate on the planet, averaging 72 degrees F year round. At 5,000 feet in elevation, humidity is minimal. During the five month rainy season (June to October) rainfall averages 30 inches annually (mostly during the evenings and at night). The Lake measures some 48 miles in length and 12 miles in width. Towns, villages and cities dot its circumference. It is surrounded by the lush Sierra Madre Mountains. A 40 minute drive from Ajijic-Chapala to the Guadalajara metropolitan area (and Guadalajara International Airport – GDL) is also a plus. Earthquakes occur in this region.[4] There are poisonous spiders too.It has been reported that the Guadalajara-Chapala region in Jalisco is the largest retirement community outside the US. [5] The cities of Chapala and Ajijic are estimated to have resident populations that total 40,000, although estimates vary.[6]

The 2n Step – Disregard That Which Can’t Be Easily Measured or Give it An Arbitrary Quantitative Value:

How many of us reside in the Lake Chapala area? Estimates range from 10,000 to 30,000 – and everywhere in between.[7] Are we able to reduce our cost of housing? Well, that depends on your ability and requirements. Buying a home or condo in this area  currently ranges in price from $200,000 to over a million U.S. dollars. Prices are on the increase. Furthermore, real estate housing sales are all cash – there are no mortgages available for foreigners. Rentals are in short supply during the high season (November – April). During my recent visits, the prices for purchasing a home and rental rates increased between August 2018 and October 2018. There also seemed to be a notable increase in the costs for services, food and dining out. Even local realtors we consulted with admit that “housing prices at Lakeside are on the rise.” Why?

Supply and demand. With an estimated 10,000 baby boomers in the U.S. reaching retirement age every day until 2030 – and – those in this cohort who have not saved/invested/planned sufficiently for the same; they must now consider reductions in their overall cost of living. [8]  Mexico appears to provide that opportunity. According to Fannie Mae, Baby Boomers in the U.S. account for forty percent of total U.S. home ownership with $13.5 trillion in home equity.

Yet, the internet is inhabited by virtually every figure you might imagine as it relates to the possibilities for reductions in your overall cost of living by moving to Mexico. The facts are that reality diverges significantly from the arbitrary quantitative values that predominate the web narrative, as this is something that is difficult to measure. Don’t fall prey to this artificial and misleading pitfall. Individual financial circumstances and requirements vary widely. Take the time to plan your financial budgetary requirements, before you explore moving to Mexico (or any other locale). Know your numbers. Be real. Budget for the unexpected (travel, healthcare surprises, etc.). Know before you go.

The Third Step is to Presume That Which Can’t Be Measured Easily Really Isn’t Important. This is Blindness

With so many American, Canadian and European retirees considering relocation to Mexico, the assumptions about the purported value of the equity in your home as relocation capital, is a source of unanticipated blindness for too many. Get this measured by a local real estate professional. Get several “market valuations” from different realtors in your local area. Consider a reasonable “time on the market” required to sell your home. Don’t forget to account for the realtor commissions and closing costs.

If you think you are simply going to move all your worldly possessions to Mexico…think again. It’s costly – very costly. So is storage in the U.S. Consider these costs. Get real numbers. In the Lake Chapala area, contact a local moving and storage company. They have web-based tools to assist you in evaluating the costs, requirements and time frames (including essential customs compliance on both sides of the border).

Bringing your car to Mexico for your retirement? “Of course we are!” Think again, this is costly, requires proper permits, insurance,  and you must either pay a substantial sum for Mexican licensing or get the car out of the country within 6 months of your initial border crossing with the vehicle. Do you have a loan on that vehicle? Are you underwater? If you are a couple, in whose name is the vehicle registered to? Only the registered owner of a vehicle can legally operate it in Mexico. Remember this in your financial and practical Mexiconsiderations.

Do you and yours qualify for a temporary and/or permanent resident visa in Mexico? What are the certifiable financial and documentary requirements the Mexican Consul in your area deems essential? What are the costs? Time frames? What are the implications if you do not qualify for anything other than a tourist visa? Have pets?What kind? Can you take them with you? What sort of documentation is required to transport them to your new residence in Mexico? Do your pets require certain vaccinations before travel? Are there veterinarians available? What do they cost?

Are you and yours “digital citizens” who enjoy hassle free internet connectivity, fast downloads and streaming video? Currently, in the Lake Chapala area, I was unable to send my wife in the U.S. a photo via cell phone or my laptop due to the archaic digital infrastructure that currently exists. (There is a plan in place to change that). How much will it cost you to get a satellite TV hook-up? Will you be able to receive all the programming you require? What are acquisition, installation and monthly costs?

Don’t fall prey to the blindness that the excitement about the prospect of retiring in Mexico may thrust upon you. Resist the presumption on matters like those addressed above whereby what can’t be measured easily really isn’t important.

The Fourth Step is to Say That Which Can’t Be Easily Measured Really Doesn’t Exist. This is Suicide

If you are a U.S. citizen contemplating retirement in Mexico, do you believe you are going to be able to somehow reduce your overall healthcare costs by getting rid of costly Medicare supplement plans? Really? What will fill those gaps? If you are required to consume prescription medications to maintain your health, are they available in Mexico? How will you get those meds refilled in Mexico?

Do you have a will? Is it valid in Mexico? What if you purchase real property in Mexico? Is that will still valid in Mexico? If you have a trust, is that trust recognized by the Mexican legal system?

What if you or your spouse experiences a disabling healthcare crisis and/or one that requires major, immediate and ongoing medical interventions? What’s your plan for these possibilities? “That’ll never happen to us.” Really? What about the unavoidable eventuality of death? What’s your plan?

Author Steven Pinker has written: “The difference between a dead body and a living one is that a dead body no longer contains the vital force we call a mind.[ix] Mexconsiderations – contemplating retirement in Mexico – requires mindful measurements – many of which have varying degrees of visibility and escape the consideration they deserve. May this brief article provide you with some helpful tools to guide you along your journey considering Mexico for your retirement years.

 

NOTES:

[1] https://www.cbsnews.com/news/more-americans-are-retiring-outside-the-u-s/ – December 27, 2016 –

[2] https://money.usnews.com/money/blogs/on-retirement/articles/2017-10-24/8-reasons-mexico-is-americas-favorite-place-to-retire-abroad – October 24, 2017 by Kathleen Peddicord

[3] Handy, Charles The Age of Paradox Harvard Business School Press © 1994 p. 221

[4] https://mexiconewsdaily.com/news/jalisco-earthquakes-felt-in-three-states/

[5] http://geo-mexico.com/?p=10612 – “Retirees and “Residential Tourism” – A Case Study of Chapala-Ajijic in Jalisco –  January 6, 2014.

[6] http://geo-mexico.com/?p=10612 – “Retirees and “Residential Tourism” – A Case Study of Chapala-Ajijic in Jalisco –  January 6, 2014.

[7] https://seniorplanet.org/aging-out-of-place-in-lake-chapala-mexico/ – April 12, 2017 by Erica Manfred.

[8] https://www.housingwire.com/blogs/1-rewired/post/46700-lack-of-retirement-savings-haunts-baby-boomers

[ix] Pinker, Steven Blank Slate – The Modern Denial of Human Nature, Penguin Books – An Imprint of Penguin Random House LLC New York, NY Copyright (c) 2002 & 2016 by Steven Pinker, p. 224.

Focus on Mexico – A Learning Adventure

 

Focus On Mexico

In October November 2018, I had the opportunity to experience the Focus on Mexico Learning Adventure in Ajijic Mexico. My wife and I had been in Ajijic in August 2018 when Focus on Mexico had their August gathering and had the opportunity to speak with FOM attendees who were participating in the August 2018 session. The unanimous opinion of those August 2018 FOM attendees was “This is a fantastic program! Do it. For sure.”

We returned to the U.S. and decided I should enroll in the October (25-November 2nd 2018) Focus on Mexico forum. I did just that.

Frankly, I had a blast at Focus on Mexico…met fantastic people…learned more than I could have imagined…and will remember the Focus on Mexico learning adventure for the rest of my life. Honestly, it was priceless for me. Here’s how I really feel about Focus on Mexico:

Focus on Mexico by Bill Dahl

 

“Don’t hesitate! Register for Focus on Mexico NOW! This is NOT a seminar. It IS a learning experience – with others like you, exploring the possibilities of relocating to Lakeside. It is also the opportunity to meet new people, begin enduring friendships, meet those in the business of serving your everyday needs (transportation, moving, customs, immigration, legal matters, fitness, pet care, financial considerations, real estate, healthcare, transportation, investment, foreign currency exchange, financial planning, etc.). Don’t worry – you wont be locked in a dark room for a week! On the contrary, FOCUS staff intentionally immerses the group in a variety of  essential forays into the surrounding communities and culture. Expect to Learn. Ask Questions. Laugh. Explore. Wander. Have Fun! Register today – and complete this learning experience! It is an essential investment that will deliver practical and tangible benefits to you and yours for years to come! You will be very glad you did. We are.”

VIDEO BELOW:

HERE is a VIDEOWith MUSIC – of my Focus on Mexico adventure…Turn your Sound On…Best on a tablet, laptop or pc monitor – some can screen to you HDTV (if you get YouTube).

Your hosts Michael Nuschke and his wife Rhonda Newcombe are AMAZING people and fantastic guides.

Michael n Rhonda by Evan Ellis-Raymer‌

 

Michael and Rhonda are assisted by a MARVELOUS woman – Anna Kabande.

 

Anna Kabande

 

I have created two photo albums from my Focus on Mexico experience. Just CLICK ON THE IMAGE BELOW – EITHER ONE:

 

OR:

 

CLICK ON THE IMAGE BELOW:

Focus On Mexico

Register NOW for an upcoming week with Focus On Mexico…You will cherish the Learning Adventure…Trust me…I am still glowing…

Focus on Mexico by Bill Dahl