Monday, October 07, 2013

The "realities" of Moving to Mexico!

I'm going to be very honest in this blog.  Mexico is not for everyone.

It is not "perfect" but it is a stress free existence, in many ways.  That may seem like a contradiction in terms but as I lay out some of the issues that you need to think about before making the move, I think you'll understand.

It's about attitude.

You are NOT just crossing a border and restarting your former life.  When you cross that border, you are in another country which is FAR different from the USA.  If you are not interested in learning about the culture, the customs, the people and the country but are only moving here because it is less expensive then your country, I doubt that you will be satisfied.

For instance, in your country you know the "lay of the land".  You know where to go to get a drivers license, to pay a bill, to get the street lights fixed, to get a telephone or internet service.  It's a whole new ballgame which can be energizing and exciting or it can be a drag.  Sometimes it IS a drag.
Like when you have no internet for a couple of months............or no phone service.

This post is not to dissuade you.  It is to give you information to help in your decision making.

First of all firsts, you must have a monthly income of $2400 USD per person to get an immigrante visa.  I was told last year that if you owned property that it would be half of that, but that has been refuted by those who deal with INM (immigration) on a daily basis. 

That is a big hurdle for those who are existing on only social security without investments or other sources of income.  There has been a steady stream of people leaving San Miguel in the last year since that law went into effect.

In the past, one could enter on a tourist visa and then change over to Immigrante Visa (formerly the FM-3) but now one must leave the country and go to a Mexican Consulate office to get the Immigrante visa or the Permanent Visa.  The Permanent Visa is a new thing. It was formerly an FM-2 which no longer exists.  One can get the permanent visa now at the Consulate without having to fulfill the four year requirement from the previous law.  The advantage is it's a one time deal and you don't have to reapply again - ever.  The disadvantage is that you cannot bring a US plated car into Mexico but rather must buy a car in Mexico.....or do without a car. The bus service in Mexico locally and nationally is far superior to the USA.  An inexpensive way to get around.  Taxis also are plentiful and inexpensive.

You can have your US plated car nationalized at the border.  If you do so, be sure it is a reputable firm.  IF your VIN # begins with a J indicating your car was made in Japan, it cannot be nationalized - which is my dilemma.  To get the Vehicle Import Permit, one must have a credit card to charge the deposit for the permit charge to.  It can range from $200 to $500 USD.  You must have your Title and/or Registration papers to get that sticker.  And, have the new visa to show.

The visa that you get at the consulate in the USA or Canada or wherever is the first step. I suggest you go there to find out what that particular consulate requires.  Each one is not the same!

 When you go to the border (if driving), you have your passport stamped and get a temporary document that must be exchanged at the immigration office in the town you are moving to within 30 days.  IF you don't do this within 30 days, you must go back and start over.  AND, if you drove in, your car permit is now expired and your car is in the country illegally..............NOT something you want to have happen.

So, you get to the town of choice, who hopefully has an immigration office or you go to where there is one, maybe 30 miles away and begin the process to get the "official" visa.  It will take from two to six weeks.  During that time, it is wise not to travel as one does not have anything to show that you are in the country legally.

So now you have a visa.  You're in the country legally as well as your car.  Congratulations.

I was told by someone that the first thing someone should do is find a handyman and maid, especially since I was a single woman living in Mexico.  I did just that.  It was a great suggestion.

Josefina and Javier have known where to go, if I didn't, or who to talk to, if I didn't, to get something done.  They have been invaluable in many big and little ways.

The next most important thing, if you don't already speak Spanish, is to sign up for Spanish classes.  Go to  to see his courses.  They are taught for those over 40, as we learn differently after that age.

There is a wonderful man who has written tons of good information on his website about moving to Mexico, moving furnishings to Mexico, car information etc.  Some of it might no longer be current but I think for informational purposes it would be good for you to go there to read all that he has written.
The site is 

More tomorrow.

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calypso said...

I do not have the exact figure - but if you have about $140,000.00 USD in the bank you will not need to meet the income requirement - however you must maintain that level from year to year (currently).

As you suggest the acceptance of property ownership as a reducer of income requirement seems to vary with no predictability.

Peter Kouwenhoven said...


Is that money to be a Mexican bank? Or can it be in a US or Canadian bank?

Shannon said...

Good information Barbara. I know a lot of people who are not happy in Mexico because their expectations when moving here were unrealistic. They then try to get Mexico and Mexicans to adjust to their standards and are surprised when they find themselves beating their heads against a wall.

Babs said...

Peter it can be either. You must have an active Mexican bank account which has been active for the six months prior to applying for the visa.
Most people have money of that much in US banks or investment accts. as there is no protection over Mexican banks as there is in the USA with FDIC.

Babs said...

Ahh so true Shannon. I remember about 30 years ago meeting a man in Guadalajara that had moved to Mexico so he could show the Mexicans how to run a furniture factory! He was going to change this and that to make it more efficient. It was ridiculous and offensive to me......
It happens all the time however.

Dean Wylo said...

I've read Rolly's site for years and it is a great source, no doubt about it. But you are as well - this is good stuff. For those of us still in the planning stage of our move there's no such thing as too much information, and many seemingly small questions are huge to us.

A couple more to address when you can, if I it true if you are there as a tourist and it's time for your visa to expire you can just go across the border, turn around and cross back into Mexico? Or just cross and spend the night and come right back?

And if the income requirement isn't met for Immigrante, is it possible to live there anyway just by crossing the border and coming back as needed?

We are SO excited and thankful you're doing this!!!! Thank you again!

Dean and Barbara

alcuban said...

We have to nationalize our Nissan truck within the next year and I dread the process even though, miraculously, the truck was built in Tennessee. Still, I have talked to people who have actually nationalized their vehicle and it's a really convoluted process, almost as if the Mexican government were trying to dissuade you from doing it. As for our VW Passat we had to sell it, almost give it away, in San Antonio because it was made in Germany. Stew says it's a good thing we're retired so we have enough time to deal with all these transactions.


Babs said...

Al, people who have worked with Silvia Cadena's contacts at the border say it has gone very smoothly.

I'm staying on my immigrante visa for three more years til I have to go permanent and then giving my 98 Nissan Pathfinder to a grandchild or something. Then I'll be afoot or ataxi or whatever..........oh well.

Yes, it is a good thing we're retired to handle all this stuff. I'm getting ready to renew visa. I"M dreading THAT!

Rebecca Woodland said...

Hi Babs, if my husband and I have a combined monthly income of $5,000 does it matter if my portion of that income is only $2000? Aloha, Rebecca

Rebecca Woodland said...

Hi Babs, if my husband and I have a combined monthly income of $5,000 does it matter if my portion of that income is only $2000? Aloha, Rebecca

Babs said...

Rebecca, I don't truly know the answer to that. But, if I were you, I would have your husband deposit in your account $400 a month for six months so it shows up on your bank statements that you present as verification. Then you both meet the requirements.........understand?

Hope this helps.