The winner of the International Living 2017 Global Retirement Index has been a constant presence in the Index. For the past 14 years, it has consistently ranked in the top 10 retirement destinations on the planet. And this year—for the fifth time—it takes the top spot once again.
This country has always offered arguably the easiest transition to expat life around: Low cost, conveniently close, friendly locals, and plenty of expats—it offers an appealing balance of exotic foreign culture and familiar First World lifestyle.
And, there’s a reason over 1 million Americans call this number one retirement haven home.
That country is Mexico.
The cost of living is great—expats report living well for as little as $1,200 a month. And with favourable dollar-peso exchange rates, right now your dollars buy nearly 50% more than they did just a few short years ago.
Chicago native Steve Garcia, 67, has lived in the highland city of Guanajuato for four years. “I live well here on Social Security. My expenses are $1,200 a month, including rent. I have a two-bedroom house with a terraced garden,” says Steve.
“We spend significantly less than back home, about 50% less,” says Toronto native David Smolyn, who spends six months of the year in Mexico with his partner Randy Hodgson. “And here we eat a meal out at least once a day, often twice.”
You’ll also find outstanding value when renting here, and we always recommend that you “try before you buy.” Expat Mike Hord, 60, lives in a one-bedroom, ocean-view apartment in the Pacific coast resort town of Puerto Vallarta. It costs him just under $500 a month.
If you have money to buy, then Mexico is also a great place to look. Buying here is not only affordable, it’s easy. There are no restrictions on foreigners buying. Figure a stunning lake-view home with two bedrooms and 2,000 feet of living space in an expat favorite for only $182,000.
Your dollars also go even further when it comes to healthcare. Private healthcare costs 25% to 50% of U.S. prices pretty much across the board—for doctor’s visits, hospital stays, surgeries, medical devices, lab tests, and more.
More Americans want Mexican real estate
Data released by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) shows that 13% of prospective buyers of properties outside the United States wanted to buy in Mexico, the newspaper El Financiero reported yesterday.
In 2015 that figure was just 4%.Florida realtor Margarita Sanclemente said buyers want to spend their winters in locations with a better climate, such as the Riviera Maya. Buying a beach house in Florida is much more costly, particularly in terms of taxes and maintenance, than it is in Mexico, said the CEO of Sanclemente Group.
The NAR data showed that 87% of U.S. citizens look for property abroad for use as a vacation home and as a rental.
Sanclemente said the annual cost of maintaining a property in the U.S. is 1.8% of the property’s value. In Mexico the figure is just 0.2%, she said.
The areas in which Americans are most interested, such as the Riviera Maya and San Miguel de Allende, the realtor said, are beginning to price properties in American dollars, meaning greater profits for developers and realtors in light of the peso’s decline in value.
Retiring to Mexico
Mexico is also an easy place to settle into. English is widely spoken in popular expat spots. This makes it easy for you to fit right in. Rip Rupinski lives in one of those expats hotspots, Puerto Vallarta, and he says, “I made more friends here in a year-and-a-half than I did in Stockton, California, in 10 years. The expat community here is so connected.”
Add to that the good-quality, cheap internet, the ease of getting around (everything is accessible by bus or taxi), and the warm-hearted and hospitable locals.
Mexico also has a diverse selection of climates. It’s a big country with mountains, jungles, deserts, and thousands of miles of coastline. So picking your perfect climate is part of the fun. “In Seattle, I had constant back pain,” says Denis Asahara of his life before moving to the Pacific coast. “The cold, humid weather made it worse. Here, in much warmer weather, 90% of my pain is gone. Also, the nearly constant sunshine means I’m almost unlimited in my choices of things to do.”
So whatever it is you’re looking for in a retirement destination, Mexico, our top pick for 2017 has it all.