International people retire to Mexico

by Mark Benson on March 9, 2012

Expats mainly choose to move to Mexico for retirement or the cost of living

Over the last few years a number of prominent expat destinations have emerged from the shadows and Mexico is one which has attracted significant interest. Curious about the reasons for people to move to Mexico, Expat Forum ran a poll sponsored by Barclays Wealth International to find out the common reasons why people move to Mexico.

Main findings – or reasons, in this case- were Retirement (27.27%) in a first place, closely followed by Cost of living (24.24%). Nearly ten percentage points below we find Travel the world (12.12%), Standard of living (9.09%) and Weather (6.06%).

For many years now South America has been one of the up-and-coming retirement hotspots for European expats and many others from around the world. It is an area of the world which offers an enormous divergence in value for money, standard of living, property prices and climate. The country has a very chequered history to say the least and has, like many other South American countries, been on the verge of economic collapse on a number of occasions. However, this is most certainly behind the country and Mexico is now moving onwards and upwards and attracting more and more attention from the expats market.

The online poll attracted over 27% of the votes in relation to retirement as a reason for moving to Mexico which is significant. It will be interesting to see how countries such as Mexico cope with the ongoing worldwide economic turmoil and whether they actually emerge from this situation stronger or weaker on the financial front. On a personal basis, never is too soon to start planning for retirement, and you will find that an effective financial review made on time (the sooner, the merrier) will save you up a great deal of good sleep in the coming years, when you just have to worry about how and when to enjoy your savings.

In years gone by inflation and the cost of living were literally out of control in many countries in South America. Mexico was one of these which suffered because of a very unsuccessful economic programme by the authorities which effectively lacked investment for the long-term benefit of the economy. However, since the Mexican economy has stabilised and started to move ahead we have seen the cost of living, predominantly via the inflation rate, becoming more controlled and more acceptable. The currency risks of years gone by have also diminished due to better economic planning by the authorities and indeed we have seen the beginning of significant investment programmes by not only the local authorities but international companies. Anyhow, the best prepared you are to manage risks, the less affected you might be if the economy shatters again.

The Mexican economy is still very heavily tied to the US economy but this influence has been reduced over the years. Mexico is now a prominent figure in the South American economy and as such hopefully the cost of living in the region is now more under control than ever before. It is the stability which a controlled cost of living brings which has allowed people to actually plan ahead for a future in the country.

What seems clear is that even with the above mentioned scenario, Cost of living wasa powerful reason for the 24.24% of voters in our poll to move to Mexico.

Travel the world (12.12%)

There are few areas of the world which can offer the massive variation in climate, fauna, wildlife and cost of living on offer in Mexico. This is a country which has for many years attracted explorers and tourists but whether due to the ongoing influence of the Internet and/or low-cost travel there is no doubt that more travellers, those looking to experience new climates and new countries, are being pulled towards areas such as Mexico like a magnet. It is now evident that travelling the world is something which more and more people are now looking to do and indeed, as suggested above, it may well be the influence of the Internet which has led to this sudden increase.

In years gone by it was very difficult to know exactly what you were letting yourself in for when visiting a new country but with the Internet and a whole host of travel guides now available it is not difficult to plan your route with precision. To be forewarned is to be forearmed, something which should be very much at the forefront of the mind of those looking to travel the world.

Standard of living (9.09%)

The standard of living in Mexico was an answer given by over 9% of those who took part in our online poll as a reason for moving to the country. In many ways this is a stark reflection of the current standard of living available across many, if not all, parts of Mexico when compared to the problems of years gone by. However, make no mistake that poverty and employment are still major problems in Mexico but on the flip side there is no doubt that great progress has been made and more and more people are now experiencing a better standard of living in Mexico than ever before.

Depending upon where you are coming from the standard of living in Mexico may be higher than you are used to or indeed you may perceive it better value for money. Either way, unless there is some benefit compared to your former homeland you really do need to think carefully before finalising your move. There are high hopes for the Mexican economy and there are high hopes that the standard of living will continue to improve but with the worldwide economic turmoil now ripping at the hearts of government budgets it may be a tricky road in the short to medium term. In order to get a better understanding of the local idiosyncrasy, you can take a look at the guide to banking in Mexico, where experts from Barclays Wealth & Investments have put their knowledge to answer all your questions on how to open a bank account, manage your savings or looking to safely invest offshore.

Weather (6.06%)

It will come as no surprise to learn that the weather is for some people a major reason for moving to Mexico although again it would depend on which area of the world you are moving from. As we touched on above, Mexico offers a massive variation in climate, weather patterns, fauna and wildlife and it is not difficult to see why these attractions are catching the eye of many expats. In some ways the country has been long forgotten by expats because of its very chequered past but it is an area of the world which has so much to offer and for many people will be a form of Aladdin’s Cave.

The increase in tourism numbers with regards to Mexico is also linked directly to the weather and the laid-back culture of many tourists destinations. Can you imagine sitting back, enjoying the sun and relaxing in Mexico?

Employment (6.06%)

The employment market in Mexico has improved dramatically over the last 20 years after a period of underinvestment by the authorities and a lack of outside investment. For many years the economy was directly linked to the US and was in many ways at the beck and call of the US authorities and major US companies. However, since the re-emergence of a palatable government in Mexico as well as a sensible economic plan for the future we have seen companies outside of America looking to invest in the region. It is also worth noting that the ever growing tourist industry is now employing more and more people in Mexico and indeed attracting more and more visitors. As a consequence, we have seen a significant increase in employment opportunities within Mexico although there are still various volatile periods which can cause alarm.

Only a few years ago many people would have scoffed at the idea of high-tech businesses operating from Mexico but this is most certainly the case after major investment from overseas companies and investors. As long as the authorities keep a tight control of the Mexican budget and continue to plan for the future, despite short-term quirks such as the worldwide economic turmoil, the employment market in Mexico should not return to the dark days of years gone by.

Interestingly despite the fact that the Mexican authorities have been very open in their quest to attract overseas investors and overseas visitors to the region, the issue of taxation was not put forward by anybody as a reason for moving to Mexico. Perhaps this particular aspect of life in Mexico is overshadowed by others?

In the same vein and despite having a reputation of high crime the Mexico we see today is very different to that of 20 years ago. However, this ongoing change in appearance does not appear to have registered with expats as again nobody mentioned crime rates as a reason for moving to Mexico.

Despite the fact that romance has been a fairly popular reason with regards to other countries it would appear that few people move to Mexico for romance. Hopefully love is not dead!

Other reasons (15.15%)

Interestingly some other reasons have been put forward with regards to reasons to move to Mexico which include the US authorities and new adventures. The very close historical link between Mexico and the US employment market is there for all to see and perhaps an ongoing clampdown by the US authorities is beginning to have an impact?


Mexico was for many years grouped together with a number of “basket case” South American economies which were written off by many expats, investors and companies. However, over the last 20 years or so we have seen a major change in the political scene in Mexico, which is now calmer, as well as a viable economic investment programme for the future. It is no coincidence that the ongoing improvement in the underlying Mexican economy has happened at a time when Mexico is now more prominent on the world stage than ever before.

While there is no doubt that the historical ties with the US were mutually beneficial it seems that in many ways the Mexican economy and the Mexican employment market have outgrown total dependence on the US.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

TDC March 14, 2012 at 1:36 am

Please note that Mexico is NOT in South America. This is inaccurate:

For many years now South America has been one of the up-and-coming retirement hotspots for European expats and many others from around the world. It is an area of the world which offers an enormous divergence in value for money, standard of living, property prices and climate. The country has a very chequered history to say the least and has, like many other South American countries, been on the verge of economic collapse on a number of occasions.


dan james May 26, 2013 at 4:22 pm

The economy of Mexico is now growing twice as fast as those of Canada and the US, and is forecast to continue to grow at an accelerated rate through the next few years


Colin April 7, 2016 at 4:03 am

Why has the Mex pesos lost so much value against the US dollar if the economy in Mexico is so vibrant


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