Cost of living -

7 Things to know and do before moving from the U.S. to Mexico

According to the Government of Mexico, the number of Americans who applied for or renewed residency visas increased by 70% from 2019 to 2022. This trend attests to Mexico being one of the preferred destinations for Americans to move to, partly due to its great climate, low cost of living, and numerous beautiful locations to visit. The appeal of Mexican cuisine, with its global recognition, may also be another contributing factor.

Since the country is rather affordable, a lot of Americans look to move there to get a different taste of life. In this article, we will provide you with an A-Z guide for moving from US to Mexico.

Moving to Mexico: Everything to know and do

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1. First steps before moving to Mexico

Visa requirements

Contact the Internal Revenue Service

First things first, if you’ve decided to move to Mexico, it’s important to inform the relevant authorities. You will need to notify the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) about your departure, and based on that, the IRS will determine your residency status. The required documents can all be found on the website of the consular section of the Mexican embassy in the USA.

Once you’ve identified the method you’d like to apply through, fill out the necessary forms for your application. It’s essential to follow each step of the application process diligently because they can be quite stringent. This process will help you determine whether you should be subject to taxation or not.

Get a visa

Next, you need to organize your personal affairs and apply for a visa. Although the visa policy may seem stringent, approaching the matter legally and systematically will help the process. In Mexico, you can apply for either a Temporary Resident Visa or a Permanent Resident Visa. You are not required to have a Temporary Resident Visa before applying for a Permanent Resident Visa.

Having a Permanent Resident Visa allows you to:

  • Enter and exit Mexico without any issues.
  • Automatically work in Mexico.

Having a Temporary Resident Visa allows you to:

  • Test if Mexico is the right place for you for a year.
  • Renew your visa for an additional 3 years if you choose to stay beyond the initial year.

This way, you can select the visa that suits your plans and needs in Mexico.

Organize Documents

Ensure that you have all your documentation in order and collected. Additionally, you will need to demonstrate that you have the financial means to support yourself in Mexico for the next 6 months. When applying for a visa, you will be required to present your visa application, a valid passport, a copy of the main page of your passport, and one color passport-size picture. Furthermore, many documents issued in the US that you plan to use in Mexico should be legalized by the Embassy of Mexico.

Finding a job 

If you have secured a job before arriving in Mexico, you can contact your employer to inform them of your arrival. They will guide you through the next necessary steps. Another option is to consider freelancing if your work can be done remotely while living in Mexico.

Finding a job as a foreigner can be a rewarding experience, but it requires careful planning and research. First, you need to obtain a work visa. After that, you can apply for jobs through online job search platforms like LinkedIn, Indeed, Glassdoor, and Computrabajo. You can also seek assistance from recruitment agencies or expand your network. Don’t forget that learning Spanish can significantly enhance your job prospects.

Getting there 

When planning a move to Mexico, you have two primary transportation options: air and land. Flying is the most common and convenient choice, with major international airports like Mexico City, Cancun, and Guadalajara. Typically, flying from the US to Mexico can take a few hours. Alternatively, you can travel by land, either using an international moving company or driving yourself. But it involves considerations such as distance, border crossings, and necessary documentation, which can extend the travel time significantly.

What should I look for in an International Moving Company?

And since you are moving with most of your personal belongings (besides the ones you have sold or decided not to take with you). You will definitely be needing to contact an international moving company, especially if you are moving with your family. But be mindful when opting for an international moving company, because there are a few key factors to account for before settling on one. This includes:

  • Making sure that the company is licensed/certified and has a professional history. Look for reviews online.
  • Also, ask them about damage insurance beforehand. You don’t want a number of your personal belongings returned to you cracked or broken, with the movers claiming no responsibility for it.
  • Make sure they are known for providing fast and dependable service, so you will be receiving your belongings on time.
  • Determine their mode of transportation. When moving from US to Mexico, it is best to have your belongings sent by air, as it is cheaper and quicker.

Car shipping to Mexico?

Having your car shipped to Mexico is a viable option, as you can find spare parts for it with little to no difficulty. Since Mexico is close to the US, you can have spare parts delivered (if needed) across the border. But you do need a customs agent to facilitate importing your car to Mexico, for which you will have to pay all fees and taxes. A cheaper alternative is to sell your car and use the money to buy a car from Mexico. You can find one at a much more affordable price.

Must dos before your arrival 

Moving to Mexico can be both exciting and challenging. Being aware of these things beforehand will better prepare you for your new life

  • Conduct research to select the ideal Mexican cities for your expat lifestyle. Consider cities like Merida, Querétaro, CDMX, Cancun, and Monterrey to meet your needs.
  • Notify the IRS about your departure to determine your residency status.
  • Organize your documents for visa application. You’ll need to demonstrate your financial capability for a six-month stay in Mexico.
  • Secure the right visa for living in Mexico, whether temporary or permanent, based on your situation.
  • Arrange your housing in advance to avoid last-minute stress. Research neighborhoods and housing options to suit your needs.
  • Consider learning basic Spanish or taking language courses to help daily communication and integration.

2. Upon your arrival in Mexico

Must dos right upon your arrival

  • Contact your Employer: Inform your employer of your arrival and receive guidance on necessary next steps.
  • Get your CURP Card: Obtain a CURP card from INM, serving as your Mexican identification, similar to a Social Security Number, required for various government services.
  • Get Driving License: Consider obtaining a Mexican driver’s license to simplify driving in Mexico; visit SEMOV offices with specific documentation.
  • Identify Healthcare Providers: Explore healthcare options, including government programs like the IMMS and private providers, for your medical needs in Mexico.
  • Find a School: Locate a nearby private school for your children due to potential limitations in Mexico’s public school education system.

Healthcare

Expats can get healthcare under the IMMS programs which are offered by the government in the form of public healthcare. But there are a number of private healthcare providers which American expats usually opt for.

Setting up your cell phone 

In Mexico, several companies offer mobile phone services, with the three largest operators being Telcel, Movistar, and AT&T. If you’re unsure which one to choose, you can begin by identifying the one that best suits your basic needs, whether it’s for internet, messaging, or calls.

Telcel is renowned for offering the most cost-effective phone plans in Mexico and holds a 60% market share, making it the leader in the mobile phone market.

Getting a driver’s license 

Your foreign US driver’s license will be accepted in Mexico. But it is recommended to get a Mexican driver’s license in order to ease the process of driving around Mexico. To apply, you need to go to one of 14 SEMOV offices with your valid passport, CURP, visa card, valid driver’s license, proof of address and documentation with your blood type as it may be asked. The license is not that expensive and will be valid for 4 years. 

Setting up a bank account 

Upon arriving in Mexico, it’s important to prioritize setting up a bank account to address your security and financial needs. You have various options, including major mexican banks like BBVA, Santander, Banorte, Banamex, Banco Inbursa, Scotiabank, and HSBC, which have branches across the cities for your convenience.

Additionally, some banks may allow you to open an account online before your arrival in Mexico.

Get your CURP Card

It is the easiest step of your immigration process and serves to help the authorities identify you. You can contact the Instituto Nacional de Migracion (INM) to help you get your CURP card, which stand for Clave Única de Registro de Población in Spanish. This is Mexico’s version of a Social Security Number. You will also need it for civil registry and a number of other government services.

3. Best places to live in Mexico

Best places to live in Mexico

Mexico is a sensational country featuring natural beauty and welcoming people. In addition to its captivating landscapes and beautiful beaches, there are regions that provide an exceptional quality of life, ensuring your security and happiness. Here’s a list of the best places to call home in Mexico:

Cities

Characteristics 

Merida, Yucatán

One of Mexico and Latin America’s safest cities, close to beautiful beaches in Cancun.

San Pedro Garza Garcia, Nuevo León

A secure city in Monterrey’s metropolitan area, offering modern amenities and a variety of dining, culture, and parks.

Saltillo, Coahuila

Known for economic growth and rich cultural traditions, with a mild climate and low crime rates.

Monterrey, Nuevo León

Dynamic blend of economic opportunity, rich culture, and vibrant lifestyle.

La Paz, Baja California Sur

A coastal gem with numerous recreational opportunities, including its white sandy beaches, enjoying a year-round warm climate with an average of 30 °C.

Setting up home services 

To set up your home services in Mexico, here’s what you need to know:

  • Electricity: Contact CEF, the state-owned electricity supplier. Ensure your house is within 35 meters of an electrical post.
  • Gas: Private companies manage gas supply. Reach out to your supplier or flag down roaming gas trucks.
  • Water: Water services vary between government and private companies. In remote areas, there are wells and rainwater units. Consider hiring a private water supplier for drinking water.
  • Television: Mexico uses the ATSC TV standard, which isn’t compatible with DVB-T, ISDB-T, or DTMB. Ensure your TV matches the system.
  • Internet: Mexico has a wide range of service providers offering bundled packages, including landline, internet, TV, and mobile services. Main providers include Telmex, Movistar, At&T, Maxcom, and IZZI.

Should you rent or buy?

Mexico boasts a significantly lower cost of living compared to the US, making it an appealing choice. Whether you’re looking at groceries, housing, transportation, leisure, personal care, or clothing, Mexico offers substantial savings.

Thanks to Mexico’s favorable cost of living, finding an apartment or a home, whether for renting or buying, is a straightforward process. You can easily begin by contacting a local real estate agent in the areas mentioned earlier. According to Numbeo, rent prices in the US are 253.4% higher than in Mexico.

Discovering your new place to live is a breeze, whether through word of mouth, newspaper listings, or online resources.

4. Cost of living in Mexico

Category

Monthly cost

1 bed apt rent outside city center

$462.67

Groceries

Numbeo’s grocery list ($56.89 multiplied by 4)

$227.56

Utilities

Electricity, heating, cooling, water, garbage

$81.82

Internet with 60 Mbps

$38.87

Transit pass

$27.02

Entertainment 

Meal, taxi, movie

$39.78

Gym membership 

$44.43

Total

$922.15

Numbeo (Sept 2023)

What are the benefits of living in Mexico?

Becoming a permanent resident not only provides you with the freedom to come and go from Mexico as you please and the opportunity to seek employment. But it can also enhance your quality of life by affording you a more affordable cost of living.

However, it’s important to remember that you are entering a new country with distinct culture and traditions. So remain open to this new experience and embrace the peace of mind it can offer while living in one of the beautiful Mexican cities.

Where can you do the groceries in Mexico?

You’ll have no trouble finding groceries in Mexico, with major American supermarkets like Walmart readily available. Additionally, you’ll discover numerous small neighborhood shops, local vendors, and markets where you can conveniently purchase your groceries.

What to expect from your new life in Mexico?

Living in Mexico won’t be the same as in the United States, but it promises to be an unforgettable experience. Mexico offers a diverse and rich culture, stunning natural beauty, delicious cuisine, and welcoming locals. It’s undoubtedly a worthwhile place to call home, and if you choose one of the locations mentioned earlier, it may feel like living in paradise.

5. The weather in Mexico

In Mexico, the climate varies significantly, and there are seven major climate types identified, with the warm and dry climates being the most extensive and the temperate and cold climates being less common. So you can mainly enjoy warm and sunny conditions the whole year in coastal areas, even in the winter months in places such as Cancun, Puerto Vallarta, Acapulco, and Playa del Carmen.

6. What to do as a local in Mexico

As a local in Mexico, a world of experiences awaits you. Indulge in the diverse culinary delights, such as mole, pozole, or street tacos. Don’t forget to savor the vibrant street food scene. Immerse yourself in the lively festivals and celebrations, such as Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) in October.

Explore historical treasures like Chichen Itza and Teotihuacan, and embrace outdoor adventures like surfing and snorkeling while enjoying stunning landscapes. Experiencing the local way of life and participating in these activities will allow you to fully immerse yourself in Mexico’s rich culture.

7. Fun facts about Mexico

  • Mexico is believed to be the birthplace of chocolate. The ancient Mayans and Aztecs made a beverage from cacao beans, that led to the creation of the beloved chocolate!
  • Boasts the second-highest number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the world.
  • Home to the world’s smallest volcano, Cuexcomate, located in the city of Puebla.
  • Home to the world’s largest underwater museum, Museo Subacuático de Arte (MUSA), located off the coast of Cancún and Isla Mujeres.

Conclusion

Moving to Mexico is a fantastic opportunity to explore its diverse culture, history, and beautiful beaches and landscapes. Mexico offers both the excitement of city life and the peacefulness of nature.

To make your move smooth, stress-free, and enjoyable, be sure to research in advance a reliable international moving company. They’ll be a key part of your journey to Mexico!

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Selina Cifelli

The author

Selina is a motivated marketing intern with a keen interest in developing engaging content related to moving experiences and city life. With a passion for fashion and traveling, she brings a fresh perspective to our readers. Her talent for crafting innovative written material effectively positions MovingWaldo as a trusted resource for hassle-free and efficient moves.

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