Retire in Mexico or Centeral America

Old Feb 23rd, 2015, 01:14 PM
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Retire in Mexico or Centeral America

Just thinking about it. Can you really live comfortable off of $1,000.00 a month?
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Old Feb 23rd, 2015, 01:19 PM
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Depends on your definition of comfort, clearly. $1000/month would be an unimaginable dream for many there.
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Old Feb 23rd, 2015, 01:45 PM
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Depends where. And what lifestyle you have in mind.

I plan to retire part-time in Puerto Vallarta (I visit there every year) and would need more than that amount to get by in PV.

But agreeing with the post above, certainly plenty of Mexican people live on nowhere near that much.

Do you want a modern condo in the city? do you want a shack on a beach? do you want a villa in the hills? will you need to pay for health insurance and health care from that amount?
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Old Feb 23rd, 2015, 02:43 PM
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No you can not!
But for 2 to 4 hundred more a month you can.
Here in Guanajuato I pay 3,500 a month including WiFi for a spacious 3 room apartment with bath, & balcony w.great views, a fully equipped kitchen including oven, microwave, full sized fridge & a washer & dryer in the best area of town. In fact the Governor lives just a block down the street. My utilities run another 500 pesos or so. That makes about $265 a month US total.
Groceries are as much or more as the US but you can eat out in bargain places for less. I go to about 2 higher end restaurants a week. One thing I do not drink alcohol so save lots there.
I attend ballet, concerts, plays etc weekly. I can get by for about $1,200 US saving another $1200 from my pension/SS for emergencies & travel
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Old Feb 23rd, 2015, 02:48 PM
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Suze. As a resident you are eligible for free or almost free health care.Far more civilized than the US.
You need around a $2,000 a month income or other assets to qualify for permanent status. Also bus travel is 1/2 price for us old farts.
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Old Feb 23rd, 2015, 03:24 PM
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Free health care in Mexico, just for moving there and living full time?
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Old Feb 23rd, 2015, 05:17 PM
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Stewbear, that sounds great. I imagine living could be done more cheaply in a village, or in Oaxaca or Chiapas?

I, too, would like to hear more about health care. If this is the public Mexican system that you can access, I presume it would be best to know Spanish well, to say the least.
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Old Feb 23rd, 2015, 06:58 PM
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I can't address the visa/paper work bits since for now we're only extending our visits in Guatemala with the home we are building on Lake Atitlán. You could certainly live in that area for $1000/month.
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Old Feb 24th, 2015, 05:37 AM
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Oaxaca as a major tourist destination is much more expensive. A is San Miguel, Puerto Vallarta, Guadalajara Etc.
Trust me you do Not want to settle in a small village. Few services & nothing to do.
No medical, no movies, poor internet etc.
I only spend 3 to 4 months a year in Mexico but Guanajuato is my first choice with good facilities, a English Language free Library, movie theaters, lots of distractions but still relatively inexpensive housing, restaurants, entertainment etc.
If you must be on the ocean my first (Only?) choice would be Zihuatanejo. I could get by there on $1,200 a month with decent apartments in the $300 to $400 US range in a Good middle class area NOT on the beach. From what I have observed liquor/beer is high as it normally is in any tourist town so keep that in mind. You can get great meals there for as little as $4 dollars & lots under $10. You can also spend a $100 a plate if you wish.
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Old Feb 24th, 2015, 05:41 AM
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PS Yes Suze. All you need is permanent status to qualify for medical to. My amigo Bill here in Guanajuato pays less than $100 a month for himself,wife & 2 small kids.
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Old Feb 24th, 2015, 12:10 PM
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When you say "permanent status", do you mean becoming a Mexican citizen? Or proof permanent residency in the country? In all the talk about retiring to Mexico from the US this is the first I've heard of "nearly free" health care... so this is a big one!
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Old Feb 24th, 2015, 12:34 PM
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Suze, I took a quick look and found this about public health care for expats. I'm interested, although 60 is a while off:

http://www.tomzap.com/retireafford.html
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Old Feb 24th, 2015, 03:04 PM
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For good, boots on the ground pretty much up to date info on Mexican living, see www.rollybrook.com.
Saying that it is much more expensive to live in San Miguel (or Oaxaca,for that matter) is a myth that is simply not true, unless you want to/have to live in or near centro. But @ $1,000 a month, that's not what the OP and Will are looking for anyway. We have friends that recently moved here from Apatzingan (cheap, but dangerous) and Dolores Hidalgo. The former rents a brand new, never been lived in house, 3br 2 bath w/parking for 4,000 pesos. Local cable TV with internet is only an additional $20 US. The latter rents a new INFONAVIT type 3br home for $2,000 pesos, and neither are in neighborhoods with roof dogs. While it is true that certain grocery products are more expensive (maybe peanut butter and packaged cereals and such), other things are not. A kilo (2.2 lbs) of tomatoes, broccoli, etc. is under a dollar. We buy organic beef, a kilo of filet mignon, t-bone, etc., for 120 pesos, or $8 US at the current exchange rate. An arpilla (20-30 lb bag) of oranges or jicama is $50 pesos. Bakery bread is so cheap as to be almost free. Shaving cream, on the other hand, is about 5 times that of the US. Speaking of Dolores H, rents there are even less, as are rents in places such as San Jose Iturbide and Comonfort, all fairly close (within a 1/2 hour-1 hour) to areas such as Queretaro, San Miguel, etc., have pleasant colonial centers, and are by no means remote villages.
Currently, you need around $1,600 of income to qualify for Residente Temporal with which after 4 years you can become permanent. I believe that if you have $2500 of US income you can qualify for permanent from the get-go.
The aforementioned insurance is not necessarily free, you have to qualify. Most expats I know have catastrophic policies, and use IMSS and Seguro Popular as back ups. Some Mexican hospitals can be down right 3rd world, but that's the exception in the bigger cities. I recently paid $800 out of pocket for a procedure in Queretaro in a first rate hospital that would have been 3-4 times that in the states. Compare that to Bolivia (not CA, I know) where a friend had a benign tumor removed and his wife had to go buy the surgical supplies before they'd operate.
And to both the OP and Will, you have to figure in the weather wherever you may want to go. A pleasant beach area in February can be downright brutal in the summer, likewise those cooler summers in the mountains of Mexico or CA can get pretty cold in homes without heat in the winter. You also have figure on how you'd handle the culture change. It's one thing to be on vacation, but quite another to live in a foreign country full time. Can you handle the bureaucracy, trash, poverty, crime, learning a new language, etc? It's romantic to think you'll live like a local and eschew all things American, but there are times when it's pretty darn handy to have a Walmart nearby.
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Old Feb 24th, 2015, 03:08 PM
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Suze, residente permanente give you pretty much all the rights of a national, except voting and owning beach front property without a trust, nor are you a citizen. You just don't ever have to renew your visa again.
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Old Feb 24th, 2015, 04:20 PM
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True, although Mexico does have Walmarts . Of course I know what you mean.
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Old Feb 24th, 2015, 04:57 PM
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Thank you baldone, incredibly helpful and interesting explanation.
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Old Feb 25th, 2015, 07:18 AM
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Suze the official amount needed for permanent status is $2,000 US per month UNLESS you can show other assets,
My dear friend Tess only has $1,400 a month income but as she has substantial sums in her bank account due to sale of US property she was granted permanent status this past Fall.
Also Dolores Hidalgo is indeed a fine city but not a village. I often spend a day there including this past Monday.
One of the nicest plazas in Mexico,
It also has a large commercial district, a thriving ceramic/pottery Industry including a large facility run by a dear friend of mine who has a townhouse next to mine in Zihuatanejo.
It's a great hours ride from Guanajuato through lovely countryside.
When I speak of true villages I think of the many, many small hamlets of a few hundred people or less with possibly a couple of Tiendas & a church but not much else.
As far as Groceries I find the beef over all tough & with no marbling but I suppose some would like it. I never buy produce at the box stores as it is far better at the local markets.
Over all groceries run at least 30% higher than what I pay in California.
Not sure why Baldone failed to write much about his city of San Miguel but I guess even he realizes must of us come to Mexico for a Mexican experience not one in "Gringoland"!
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Old Feb 25th, 2015, 02:57 PM
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The income requirement is, and always has been, based on pesos, not dollars, so as the exchange rate fluctuates, so does the dollar amount needed for either the RT or RP. As near as 7 months ago, the exchange rate was below 13, now it hovers around 15. For 2015 the official Mexican minimum wage is 70.10 pesos a day, (in the federal district, but that can vary by region) and the basic formula, without property, investments, or cash in the bank, is 300 x 70.10, or about @ $1600 US @ 13x1, or $1400 @ 15x1. So, to say the "official" dollar amount is "X" is inaccurate. Who knows, when Suze, Will, or the OP retire, the exchange rate could be 18, it could be 11. As well, the official minimum wage changes, albeit not much, each year. So, $1600 of income is a good, conservative rule of thumb, (without detailing all of the various formulas) for now. And of course any and all Mexican laws, including immigration, are subject to change and the whims of local interpretation(s). More later. Time for a Negra.
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Old Feb 26th, 2015, 03:00 PM
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As far as health care goes, whether one relies only on IMSS or Seguro Popular, I guess, just kinda depends. I'll give my own personal experiences and that of a Mexican friend who used, what I'll refer to as "public" health care.
I had squamous cell cancer above my eye, and chose to have it removed by my dermatologist, and she also called in a plastic surgeon from Celaya to finish the surgery so as not to leave me with a perpetually raised eyebrow as if I were some freakish Mr. Spock imitator. In the public system, you don't get the plastic surgeon. Out of pocket cost was under $1000 US, which I paid through my HSA.
My wife and I both had a diagnostic procedure done at a hospital in Dolores, which was one step above the public hospital. It was not pleasant. After prep, we were escorted to the public lobby in our gowns, the ones where your arse is exposed. She waited for a half hour, I for an hour. I'm a little more tolerant of such indignities, but for her, it was pretty embar-ass-ing. We both used the public restroom, where after washing up, dried our hands on the community towel. No paper, no air drier. Nasty. And this was in a hospital. Speaking of the prep, we were first taken to a room where they had us first sit on an unmade bed where the sheets hadn't been changed from the last patient before they eventually moved us to another room. After all that, the diagnosis was wrong anyway, as was discovered by the Queretaro doctor.
Now, our friend. While working by an empty swimming pool, he fell in, suffering a nasty compound fracture. The IMSS doctors told him they could save his leg, but it would cost him 10,000 pesos that he didn't have, otherwise they'd have to amputate. So, they cut off his leg below the knee. At no cost. I forgot to ask if IMSS paid for his prosthesis. Being Mexico, they probably did for more $$ than saving it would have cost.
Does that mean you shouldn't rely on public health care only? Not necessarily, but each one has to assess what his or her tolerance is for such things because they can and do happen. I think that overall, medical care in Mexico can be as good or better than that in the US, and certainly cheaper, and certainly different, but you need to get good referrals and be picky. And, yes speaking Spanish helps a bunch, without that or a good translator, otherwise a routine tonsillectomy might become a vasectomy. My wife pays $50 US equivalent for her annual mammogram; not long ago she had to have some blood work done, and she was too sick to go to the clinic, so a tech came in a cab to our house, and the lab and the visit was about $20 US.
As for us, we buy a major medical, high deductible ex-pat plan where we can go anywhere in Mexico, and anywhere in-network in the states; it costs about $220 US a month, I'm 60, she's 63. Others we know simply self-insure, still others on Medicare make an annual or bi-annual trip to maybe San Diego or Houston and get all their routine stuff done all at one time. And there are those that do a combination of all of the above.
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Old Feb 26th, 2015, 03:48 PM
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I didn't ask the question, but I can't tell you how helpful this detailed information is to me. thankyouthankyou for taking the time to write up your experiences and observations for us.
sincerely, suze
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