You likely hear myths about retiring or living in Mexico when you talk about the country to others. See if you recognize hearing any of these ideas from past conversations.
1. Mexico a very religious and conservative a country to retire to.
False. Mexico is young. One third is between the age of 12 and 29. Things are changing accordingly. It's not the same country as it was even a decade ago.
While still more religious and conservative than the U.S., don't make false assumptions. I notice very little difference between myself and my Mexican peers in these areas.
Even though a Catholic country, the divorce rate is between 20-29% overall, and higher in couples forming after 1967. Same sex marriage is legal in many parts of Mexico, including Mexico City. I would say that Mexicans have more respect for religion before I would classify the whole country as very religious.
2. Mexico is a dangerous country.
False. Or maybe I should say no more dangerous than ours. Plenty of statistics support that if you eliminate the half-dozen or so “hot spots” of drug-related violence, Mexico is safer. Don't read the headlines. Read expat forums and reports from people who live there.
3 If you moved to Mexico, you would have to change your diet and learn to cook “Mexican” food.
False. Especially with the advent of Pinterest and hundreds of cooking sites, you can easily put together meals just like home. (Check out Ventanas Mexico’s board “Recipes That Translate” for my personal collection).
You might have to substitute and modify sometimes, but you can plan similar meals to what you enjoy now. In a few months, I will be releasing a cookbook with Fabiola Rodrigues Licuna of Mexico-friendly American recipes.
4. If you move to Mexico, you will often get sick from contaminated food.
False. Another interesting fact is that younger people are more likely to be visited by Montezuma’s Revenge than older people. Often defined as a “traveler's” disease younger people get sick more often because they are more adventurous.
Everyone is advised to take the precaution of soaking vegetables in water with a few drops of Microdyn (or a liter of water with a few drops of Clorox). I must confess that I don’t do it (I'm just lazy).
The caveat to that shocking confession is that I buy all my food at Walmart, not open markets. I usually cook my own meals. I've living in Mexico most of the year for four years. As of July 2018, I have never been sick.
Even Mexicans don't drink the water. You do need to be very careful in that regard, remembering to also use bottled water for ice and brushing your teeth.
With a little bit of common sense, you should not have a problem. My single friends in the United States get sick just as frequently as my expat friends do. There's no way of knowing if it was a restaurant, or just something you picked up from a doorknob.
5. You can’t buy coastal property in Mexico
View from last years aparment
False. Foreign individuals or companies can have 100% control of a property in a restricted zone through a real estate bank trust, known as a fideicomiso.
The bank serves as the trustee and acts as on behalf of the investor in transactions involving the property. The investor is the legal beneficiary of the trust. The bank holds the title and the investor retains the right to control the use of the property.
Trusts are established initially for 50 years and can be renewed.
Anecdotally, when I lived in a 80-unit condominium complex on a beach and almost all the owners are Canadian and American.
6. You don’t need to speak any Spanish in Mexico as most people speak at least some English.
False. Many Mexicans speak enough English to get them by in their jobs, but outside that limited range of topics, you will need to resort to pantomime and facial expressions if you don't speak the language (I jest, but you do need some Spanish). Check out our Interactive Guide to Learning Spanish Free Online for the most painless ways of learning the language.
Even if you live in expat havens like Lake Chapala or San Miguel de Allende, you will need some Spanish to navigate within the Mexican culture at times.
The difference between our country and Mexico is in how little Spanish you need to make Mexican friends. I ask you, how many friends do you have in the U.S. who speak very little English?
In Mexico, expats with barely passable Spanish can have Mexican friends. That says worlds about how much friendlier and more open Mexicans are.
7. You are too old to learn a second language.
Au contraire. Studies on brain plasticity indicates that older adults not only can learn a second language, but in experiments when factors of time are controlled, adults actually learn faster than children.
Children have fluidity in expressing their world of balls and cats, but can they explain global warming or how Americans feel about their guns in English like you could after a year or two of practice?
Denver Spanish practice group
8. If I run out of savings, I can always move to Mexico and live off my Social Security.
Immigration regulations issued in 2012 changed the income requirements for the Residente Temporal and Residente Permanente to approximately $1,890 (U.S.) a month for singles and $2,835 for couples based on an exchange rate of 13 pesos to the dollar*.
The highest Social Security payout at age 62 is $2,025 and the average pay-out is approximately $1,290 at age 66. The time to make your plan is now if you plan on living in Mexico legally (many don't).
"How foreigners can purchase property in restricted areas" by MexConnect
"Divorce rates around the world" by Business Insider
Next up: Learn a second language, or any challenging material, with these tips.
Most recent: You will find common ground in music in Mexico, with live bands and orchestras playing your favorites.
About the author:
Kerry Baker is a partner with Ventanas Mexico which provides insight and resources to those considering expat life in Mexico.
She is also author of the "Interactive Guide to Learning Spanish Free Online," a curation of the best Spanish language tools on the web.
The difference between the experience of an expat who speaks Spanish and one who doesn't is night and day. Get started today with lesson plans that are different every day.
"If Only I Had a Place" is a guide for the aspiring expat on how to rent in Mexico, luxuriously and economically. Includes a listing of rental concierges in the most popular expat destinations.