I've had time to let all that has happened since I began the process to get a new visa roll around in my head. I've thought and thought about what possessed the officials in the Mexican government to make the choice to raise the requirements for residency so drastically. It didn't make sense to begin with, but, after much ruminating, here are a few of my thoughts. Whether they are valid or not, remains to be seen.
Since I first came to Mexico forty years ago, it has always been apparent to me that most Mexicans believe that we ex-pats are wealthy. To some extent, that is justified. In 1972 I don't know what the average annual income was but I know about 15 years ago, it was $2500 US per year! Then as the emerging middle class began to happen, in great part because of NAFTA, the most recent figure I have seen for average annual income is $11,000 US per year. With our annual incomes, even after retirement, in most instances is higher then that.
Mexican politicans are fully aware of the number of "baby boomers" that are now retiring on a daily basis. The numbers excite the real estate industry, but, possibly not the government.
You see, in Mexico, at the present time, I, as a temporary resident, can sign up for a card that gives me discounts on meds, my water bill, entrance to museums and parks, 1/2 price bus and airfare tickets. It is for older folks. You don't have to prove anything other then residency. Add to that that one can sign up for IMSS, the medical healthcare program and Seguro Popular which is for the poorest of the poor for emergency room and other medical services without having to pay. IMSS has more stipulations but still only costs about $300 a year.
My wonder is if possibly the officials have concern that people without adequate income would cause their systems to fall apart. Just a thought.
Of course all they would have to do is not make those services available to ex-pats.
The other interesting thing that is coming out of the new immigration laws is the need to prove that the value of your home here in Mexico is at or above $195,000US, I believe from what I've read. Most people here, when buying a house, have a very low valuation on their property. A friend has a 5000 sq ft house here, but due to the valuation, pays $ 105 US per year in taxes. Now, if people have to put the real value on the house, it is a backhanded way to raise the property values and the taxes.
It has all caused a HUGE stir. Whereas in the past, conversations were about who bought a house, who is looking for furnishings, where someone is going on a trip. Now the conversation is on the subject of whether people are going to be able to stay in Mexico.
Because renting is so much cheaper in Mexico then paying full price in cash for a house, many people in San Miguel rent. I am one of them. I never could figure out how having a dead asset was an advantage. You can't borrow against the property and in many, many instances people here who did buy and wanted to leave could not sell their property for what they paid for it. That continues to happen to this day.
It remains to be seen what the outcome will be. Thank goodness I don't have to prove income now for another four years. Hopefully all of these issues will have been resolved. That is, IF I'm still alive and in Mexico!