EXPATRIATES IN CABO
Each year more people from the United States and Canada are discovering the joy of visiting Cabo San Lucas, Mexico for their vacation getaways. And each year a larger percentage of these happy campers decide to make Mexico their permanent home base. Carlos Fiesta calls this the 'one-way-ticket syndrome'. And it's getting more popular every year.
The number of US citizens that now live in Mexico has grown from 200,000 in the mid 1990's to over 600,000 today, and shows no sign of slowing down. These folks are departing their home stomping grounds from all parts of North America and are setting up new homes on the Baja Peninsula, mainland Mexico and the Yucatan Peninsula. A growing number of retiring Yuppies seem determined to keep the ex-pat numbers on the increase in Mexico for years to come.
Say what you want about this frisky group of adventurers who pull up stakes from their long established homes and say adios to friends and family, it takes guts and a keen sence of independence to move to a foreign land. But the advantages for many seem to outweigh the disadvantages.
The advantages of moving to Mexico are many, and each person who does so has their own specific reasons for making the move south. For some it is the lure of a warmer climate that pulls them south. They have just had enough of the rain/snow/cold at home and just aren't going to take it any more.
For others the reasons for slipping south of the border are mostly economic. Living in Mexico, even though the costs have risen over the years, is still significantly less expensive than living in most parts of the United States and Canada. Housing, transportation, basic medical needs and more are quite a bit less expensive in Mexico, and without taking a big hit on the quality of life. And for some of those who make the move the quality of life actually takes a big jump up.
Some of these folks who move to Mexico are happy enough at home but just feel the need for a change of scenery and culture. We are after all, human beings with free wills, not trees stuck in the ground, and we have the abilty to pick and choose where we want to live. Why not try something different for a year or a decade? Indeed,...why not? Besides, Mexico is a less intense environment than most places in the States.
Some of the disadvantages of living in Mexico are not all that bad. Medical attention can be good, but maybe not as good as the excellent hospitals back home. And many of the small things that might frustrate you as a visitor in Mexico will now be a part of your every day life. Like slower service at restaurants or fewer choices of certain staples that you take for granted back at home (although the new Costco in Cabo has made things much easier for residents). A significant lack of In-and-Out Burger stands and Krispy Kreme donut shops might be a hardship for others.
There are varying degrees of playing house for those who love Mexico. Some just spend several weeks or months each year in their Mexico getaway, and continue to maintain a residence back home as a main back-up. Others spend larger amounts of time in Mexico, like six to twelve months at a time, and then go home once or twice a year to catch up on families, funerals and financials (the three F's). And then there are those who really do purchase a one way ticket to Mexico and rarely, if ever, head north again.
Mexican law allows visitors the right to enter and stay in the country for a period up to 180 days with nothing more than a Passport and a $20 Tourist Card. This is the exact same documentation you need to spend a weekend fishing in Cabo, or a few days snorkeling in Cancun. So the legal part of moving to Mexico is rather simple, as long as you come home to check your mail every six months. Which is what many ex-pats do just to keep tabs on things back home.
Those who want to get even more involved in Mexico obtain documentation called an FM-3. This puts you a step above a tourist, and one step closer to becoming a Mexican citizen, for those that want to take that step. It is an interesting fact that becoming a Mexican citizen does not require giving up one's US citizenship.
Popular locations for ex-pats in Mexico include Lake Chapala and Ajijic near Guadalajara, San Miguel de Allende, the Baja Peninsula and Los Cabos, and that stretch of heaven south of Cancun known as the Mayan Riviera. There are many other places in Mexico that Gringos call home, as well. Some people just stay on their boats and cruise the Mexican coast all year!
Society has changed over the last few decades. We are no longer expected to live, work and die in the same city we were born in. It's a big world out there and it can be fun to explore some of the options available to us. One of those options is to "Feel the Warmth of Mexico".
Carlos Fiesta's Hot Tip
Thinking about hanging your hat south of the border? Put your dreams on hold long enough to do your homework. Get on the Internet, go to the library and read up as much as you can on the Mexican destinations that sound interesting to you. Then plan a short 'site inspection' trip to really get the feel of that special place you want to live. If you really have a good time, plan your next trip...and bring your checkbook.
And by the way...if you are planning on moving to Mexico make sure you like Mexicans....they are everywhere down there! Fortunately they are some of the most gracious and hospitable people on the planet.