Living in Mexico
In Mexico, there are many “snowbirds,” that is, those people who wish to spend their winter months in this country. The tips which follow are provided for those wishing to live part of the year in Mexico and for those who are considering Mexico as a permanent home.
The easiest form of entry is extended to those wishing to stay for six or fewer months. A tourist card gives that right. The usual issue is for thirty days. If you want to stay longer, you must request additional time from the Immigration official when you enter the country. When coming in by air, the customary time issued is up to three months. If you want to stay longer, you will need to give reasons and show proof of returning at a specified time, for example, a return airline ticket. When crossing the border by land, there is usually no problem in acquiring six months tourist stays.
If you decide to live in Mexico on a permanent basis, steps must be taken to acquire an FM-3. Going to a border-crossing point every six months to obtain a new tourist card, as was the case before NAFTA, can no longer be done. For retirees, it is remarkably simple as long as you can show proof of sufficient income from outside of Mexico. It is better to obtain this document before settling in Mexico. The nearest Mexican consulate or embassy can supply you with the necessary information. Incidentally, as of October 1995, there is no charge for Canadian retirees for this document. However, all other countries must pay the required fees. Canada is the only country that has special arrangements with Mexico to allow this. The FM-3 must be renewed annually. If you should change your address before the expiration date, you have thirty days in which to notify the immigration authorities in your area. Otherwise, you will be fined. Check all papers – including the tourist cards – thoroughly at the time that you receive them. If there are any mistakes, for example, wrong date, wrong or incorrectly spelled name, they must be corrected at that time or you will be fined later when you try to correct their mistake. Always be patient and do not argue regardless of what they ask you. They weed out people in this manner.
The next tip regards the locating of a place to live. If you know someone whom you trust in the area, work with that person. If not, you will probably need a real estate agent. In Mexico, one does not need a licence in order to function in the real estate business. Needless to say, the possibilities are as endless as the sands on the beautiful beaches – and as entrapping. There is an organization in Mexico which governs ethical standards of real estate agents. It is AMPI, the Mexican Association of Real Estate Professionals. Look for their symbol or ask a real estate agent if he is a member. If you do not find a member, it would be wise to keep looking.
On a tourist card, a foreigner has no rights. Keep this in mind when you rent, buy, or invest. A contract is only as good as the paper on which it is written. This is another reason to deal only with a reputable real estate agent. Foreigners, whether they have an FM-3 or not, cannot own land within fifty kilometers of a beach front or international border. There are ways to invest in land, but they will need the help of a lawyer. It is always advisable to tour areas of personal interest and thoroughly investigate possibilities before arriving for an extended stay. It is worth the extra expense. You will not save anything if you are caught unexpectedly in a situation.
Coastal areas cater to the foreigner, complete with facilities for golfing, fishing, tennis, cable TV, and other amenities. You can expect to pay more to live there. Even so, it is still cheaper to live in Mexico than in Canada or the U. S. The extremes are endless.
A good book in which to invest which supplies basic information for the tourist, whether for a few days or for an extended period, is called Travelers Guide to Mexico. It is published annually with new information for all areas of Mexico. The address is P. O. Box 6-1007, Mexico D.F. 06600. The softcover costs US$20, plus US$6, for airmail. It can be sent to Canada as well at the same price, but be sure that you remit in U. S. funds. The book has excellent write-ups, tips, area information, and photos. Our 1994 issue has 424 pages.
Mexico has so much to offer. Whatever a person is looking for in a temporary or permanent home can be found in Mexico. Since this caters to individual tastes, giving specific information is almost impossible. Therefore, the best tip which we can give is to read as much as you can on Mexico. Libraries and book stores usually stock a wealth of information for the traveler. After you have read, decide what area appeals to your taste and go for a visit. While there, you will have a focus beyond resting and basking in the culture. Doing your homework will assure a pleasant and satisfying stay in your home away from home.
(This page was updated inOctober 2012.)