About Mexico

The climate in Mexico: Something for Everyone

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Thanks to its geographical location with the Tropic of Cancer running right through the middle, Mexico offers a wide range of climates. Add to that its varied terrain including mountains, deserts, jungles, and everything in between, and you have a country with every type of climate you could ever want.

Much of northern Mexico, the region directly south of the United States, has a dry desert climate with hot summers and chilly winters. But, the northern part of the Baja Peninsula along the Pacific Coast enjoys near-perfect weather similar to that of San Diego, California. The great climate is one of the main reasons why Rosarito and Ensenada on the Pacific Coast, less than an hour from the US border, has been so popular among expats.

Central Mexico brings a temperate climate. The mountainous interior is home to numerous Spanish-colonial cities, most of which sit at elevations between 3,000 and 7,000 feet. For much of the year, temperatures here range from the high 60’s to the low to mid 80’s Fahrenheit. Even in the winter the temperatures rarely drop to freezing and the humidity is low. You usually never need more than a light jacket here.

Along most of Mexico’s coasts, as well as in far-southern Mexico, the weather is semi-tropical: humid and hot. May to October is the rainy season in these areas with hot, sometimes cloudy days punctuated by brief but intense rainstorms. It seldom rains steadily all day. Winter is the dry season with lower humidity, lower temperatures, and sunny days. Along the central Pacific coast, in Puerto Vallarta (pictured) for instance, you can expect average temperatures from the low 70’s in winter to the low 80’s Fahrenheit in summer. In the Yucatán, average temperatures can run 10 or more degrees hotter.

Mexico lies in a hurricane zone. The hurricane and tropical storm season runs from June to December. The Caribbean coast of Mexico is the most hurricane-prone area followed by the Pacific coast the the Gulf coast respectively. —Glynna Prentice

**Taken from Living International. All credits for the article belong to them**

Mexico shares a border of over 2,000 miles with the United States. To this day, many people have strikingly outdated conceptions of Mexico. Since the passing of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), Mexico has been, and continues to be, a major contributor in the western hemisphere and world politics and economics. Currently, Mexico has a pro-environmental approach to attract capital. New legal reforms make the country one of the main Latin American markets that grab the attention of international investors.

With a fast-growing economy, Mexican real estate is considered one of the most attractive opportunities for investments and new developments in sectors such as residential, hotel, industrial, and office.

The peso has been buoyed in part by the significant foreign investments in Mexico and also by recent capital flight from Argentina. A strong local currency bodes well if you’re considering to invest in Mexico. You won’t have to contend with the wild swings in property pricing that you might find elsewhere.

Today, Mexico is largely first-world with excellent highways, sleek airports, high-speed telecommunications, as well as first-run films in English with Spanish subtitles and television shows. You’ll find shopping malls and supermarkets that carry many familiar products from home.

There are many benefits to purchasing real estate in Mexico. First of all, the property taxes here are minuscule compared to that of the US and Canada. Usually, property taxes cost just a few hundred dollars each year. It is very easy to be exempted from paying capital gains tax; you just have to prove that you have resided on the property for at least six months. The appreciation in many areas, especially on the coasts, can be very high with 50% or more per annum being a realistic number. Above all, buying Mexican real estate is safe and easy. More and more financing sources are becoming available to US and Canadian residents through both US and Mexican banks.

Mexico is full of overlooked retirement havens where one can retire in luxury without spending a fortune. Mexico’s lower cost of living means that a comfortable, fulfilling life will likely cost you a fraction of what you pay back home. From real estate to groceries and entertainment to healthcare, life in Mexico simply costs less. Here you can still find beautiful homes for under $150,000 USD and pay pennies to the dollar for fresh fruits, vegetables, and meats. As for healthcare, across the board, healthcare in Mexico costs a quarter to a half of what you would pay in the US, and you will receive treatment from well-trained medical professionals in first-class hospitals and clinics.

You will also enjoy a slower, more relaxed pace of life here where children still play in the streets and neighbors still know each other. You’ll find a rich, strong local culture with traditional markets, colorful indigenous dress, ancient ruins of great civilizations, and regional music, dance, and customs. You’ll find plenty of things to do and see in Mexico. The Mexican people are some of the friendliest folks around, and they will be happy to share all of this with you!

Thanks to Mexico’s large size and varied geography, you will be able to find whichever climate and lifestyle you desire. Do you like the beach? Mexico has nearly 6,000 miles of coastline, most of which is white-sand beach. Do you prefer mountain vistas and temperate weather? Mexico’s colonial highlands could be perfect for you. Charming Spanish-colonial cities like San Miguel de Allende, Querétaro, and a host of others offer sophisticated living amidst gorgeous, centuries-old architecture. You can even head south to colonial gems such as Oaxaca with its superb traditional cooking and to San Cristóbal de las Casas, a temperate weather city high above the jungles of Chiapas.

Whichever lifestyle you seek, you are likely to find it in Mexico. No wonder more US expats live in Mexico than in any other country in the world!

  • Location: North America, bordering the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico, between Belize and the U.S. and bordering the North Pacific Ocean, between Guatemala and the U.S.
  • Area: 758,449 square miles (1,964,375 square kilometers). Slightly less than three times the size of Texas.
  • Population: 116,220,947 (July 2013 est.)
  • Capital: Mexico City
  • Climate: Varies from tropical to desert.
  • Telephone system: An adequate telephone service for business and government; improving quality and increasing mobile cellular availability, with mobile subscribers far outnumbering fixed-line subscribers.

Communications

International country code: +52
Cellphone users: 78 million (2012)
Internet users: 2 million (2009)
Internet country code: .mx

History

Mexico is the site of several advanced Amerindian civilizations including Olmec, Toltec, Teotihuacan, Zapotec, Maya, and Aztec. Mexico was conquered and colonized by Spain the early 16th century. Mexico achieved its independence early in the 19th century after being administered as the Viceroyalty of New Spain for three centuries.

The global financial crisis beginning in late 2008 caused a massive economic downturn the following year. However, growth quickly returned in 2010. Ongoing economic and social concerns include low wages, underemployment, inequitable income distribution, and few advancement opportunities for the largely indigenous population in the impoverished southern states. The elections held in 2000 mark the first time since the 1910 Mexican Revolution that an opposition candidate, Vicente Fox of the National Action Party (PAN), defeated the government party, the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI). He was succeeded in 2006 by another PAN candidate Felipe Calderon, but PRI regained presidency in 2012.

Economy


Mexico has a free market economy in the trillion dollar class. It contains a mixture of modern and outmoded industry and agriculture increasingly dominated by the private sector. Recent administrations have expanded competition in seaports, railroads, telecommunications, electricity generation, natural gas distribution, and airports. Per capita income is roughly one-third of that of the US. However, income distribution remains highly unequal.

Since the implementation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 1994, Mexico’s share of US imports has increased from 7% to 12% and its share of Canadian imports has doubled to 5.5%. Mexico has free trade agreements with over 50 countries including Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, the European Free Trade Area, and Japan, putting more that 90% of trade under free trade agreements. In 2012, Mexico formally joined the Trans-Pacific Partnership and in July of the same year it joined the Pacific Alliance with Peru, Colombia, and Chile.

In 2009, Mexico’s GDP plunged 6.2% as world demand for exports dropped, asset prices tumbled, and remittances and investments were declined. GDP posted positive growth of 5.6% in 2010 with exports, particularly to the US, leading the way. Growth slowed to 3.9% in 2011 and slightly recovered to 4% in 2012.

Mexico’s new PRI government led by President Enrique Pena Nieto has said that it will prioritize structural economic reforms and competitiveness. The new president has signed the Pact for Mexico, an agreement that lists 95 priority commitments, along with the leaders of the country’s three main political parties.

Labor force: 50.64 million (2012 est.)

Labor force by occupation:
Agriculture: 13.7%
Industry: 23.4%
Services: 62.9% (2005 est.)

Exports: $371.4 billion (2012 est.)

Export commodities: Manufactured goods, oil and oil products, silver, fruits, vegetables, coffee, and cotton.

Imports: $371.2 billion (2012 est.)

Import commodities: Metalworking machines, steel mill products, agricultural machinery, electrical equipment, car parts for assembly, repair parts for motor vehicles, aircraft, and aircraft parts.

Buying Real Estate in Oaxaca

During the past few decades, Oaxaca has been a popular area for expats since it is a state which offers excellent investment opportunities. The culture, culinary experience, and multicultural environment gives expats an exceptional opportunity to have everything they want. Life is easy and relaxed and property is inexpensive. Although life is still laid-back, property prices have risen due to high demand, especially in the most favored locations such as Oaxaca de Juárez, San Felipe del Agua, Jalatlaco, San Agustín Etla, Puerto Escondido, and Huatulco.

Properties range from single family or multi-family homes to flats or condos. Rental options are available as well. If you’re interested in home values, keep in mind that values may vary due to location and property type.

Buying restrictions

Foreigners can legally own property in Mexico and the Mexican legal system protects the rights of foreign property owners. That means that you can enjoy owning the kinds of property in Mexico that may be priced over your budget in the US, including beachfront property. Mexico’s Foreign Investment Act allows foreigners to own beachfront property. This act was passed in 1994 along with the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Renting in Mexico

At SILMEXICO INVESTMENT PROPERTIES we always recommend that you rent before you bue. Before you invest money on a house or condo in a new place, it’s always best to stay for a while and try it out to see if the property suits your needs and meets your expectations. Start your search for a rental on the internet. You’ll find plenty of websites out there, but most promote short-term vacation rentals, and in touristy locations, the prices can be high. Real estate agents in Mexico often offer rental properties. The classified section of online local newspapers is also a good source, especially to get a feel for the prices in the area.

The classified section of online local newspapers is also a good source (especially to get a feel for prices).

Medical care

Healthcare in Mexico is first-rate. Private clinics and hospitals are staffed with expert physicians, many of whom were trained in the US, Europe, or in Mexico’s own world-renowned teaching hospitals. Medical care and prescription drugs will cost you only a fraction of what you would pay in the US.

Every midsize to large city in Mexico has at least one first-rate hospital. A big plus is that the cost of healthcare is generally a half of what you might expect to pay in the US. The same goes for prescription drugs. On average, prescription drugs manufactured in Mexico cost about 50% less than the same drugs cost in the US. Of course the costs of medical care will vary by physician, hospital and condition. An office visit with a doctor, specialists included, will cost on average 350 to 500 pesos (about $28 to $40 USD). A house call, which doctors in Mexico still do, will cost about the same. Lab tests will cost about a third of what they cost in the USA. A CAT scan often costs about 25% of US prices. An overnight stay in a private hospital room generally costs about $80 to $100. A visit to the dentist for a teeth cleaning costs around 300 to 500 pesos ($24 to $40 USD).

Rates for private medical insurance coverage vary just as they do in other countries depending on your age, pre-existing conditions, the deductible you choose, and so on. To give you a general guideline, you can expect to pay between $800 and $3,500 a year for your premium.

Mexico’s national healthcare system, IMSS (Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social or Mexican Social Security Institute), is the medical system for all tax-paying Mexicans in the private sector. In the past, expats with a valid residence visa could sign up for IMSS. A couple could get health insurance coverage, including prescription medicines, through IMSS for $300 each per year. However, due to a new visa system, it is unclear whether all expats with residence visas will continue to have this privilege. IMSS access may depend on the IMSS branch and the local immigration office.

VISA requirements

While Mexico does not market a full-blown program designed to entice foreign retirees to its shores, this country is nevertheless a friendly haven for retirees and others from the U.S., Canada, and beyond.

Tourist Permit: The first time you come to Mexico, you will no doubt do so on a Tourist Permit. If you are from the U.S., Canada, and most European countries, you do not need to get a visa beforehand. You will be given the Forma Migratoria Múltiple (the Multiple Migration Form, or FMM) on your flight into the country or at the border when you cross by car or truck. Your Tourist Permit allows you to remain in Mexico for up to six months (180 days) without working.

Temporary resident visa: Basically, the temporary resident visa (residente temporal) is designed for those who wish to live at least part-time in Mexico, but do not necessarily intend to make it their permanent home.

You must show that you have a monthly income of approximately $2,000 minimum, plus $500 for each dependent.
You can get temporary resident visas that are valid for one, two, three, or four years, with the processing fee increasing for each additional year. If you get a multi-year visa, you no longer need to show proof of residence and income after the first year. Current fees range from about $250 for a one-year visa up to about $563 for a four-year visa.

You must now begin the application process for a temporary resident visa at the Mexican consulate nearest to you in your home country.

Permanent-resident visa: According to the latest legislation, a foreigner holding a temporary resident visa can change to permanent resident status through one of the following avenues:

  • Accumulate sufficient points under a “point system.”
  • Be a pensioner or retiree who receives sufficient funds from outside Mexico to support him or herself.
  • Have held a temporary resident visa for four years.

The permanent visa is open-ended, requires no renewal, and sets no limit on the amount of time you can spend outside Mexico.

You must show that you have:

  • Investments or bank accounts with an average monthly balance during the last 12 months of 25,000 times the daily general wage in Mexico City. (For 2013, this is about $129,500.)
  • Monthly net income or pension (that is, net of taxes and any other deductions) equal to 500 times the daily general wage in Mexico City. (In 2013, this comes to about $2,590.) You must show statements for the last six months.

Getting a Work Visa

Business executives who need to come to Mexico short-term on business now simply do so on a visitor visa without permission to engage in lucrative activity. Examples include executives whose companies have Mexican affiliates that they must visit, or executives who work abroad for a Mexican company and who must come to Mexico on business. This visa is valid for 180 days.

  • If you have a formal offer of a job from a company in Mexico, there is the visitor visa with permission to engage in lucrative activity. Either you or the company will have to apply for this visa for you.

Embassies

  • Mexican Embassy in the U.S., 1911 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W., Washington, D.C., 20006; tel. (202) 728-1600; website: http://embamex.sre.gob.mx/eua/
  • Canadian Embassy in Mexico, Schiller 529, Col. Bosque de Chapultepec (Polanco)
    Del. Miguel Hidalgo 11580,
    Mexico City, tel. +52 (55) 5724-7900 (reception) or +52 (55) 5724-7900 (consular services); e-mail: mxico@international.gc.ca; website: www.canada.org.mx.
  • Mexican Embassy in Canada, 45 O’Connor St. Suite 1000, Ottawa, Ont. K1P 1A4; tel. (613) 233-8988; website: sre.gob.mx/canada.

Consulates in Oaxaca

Canada Dr. Liceaga No. 219 Desp. 8
France Portal de Juarez
Esq. Guerrero No. 107
Italy M. Alcala No. 400
Germany & Alcala Esq. Allende
Spain Calz. Porfirio Diaz No. 304
U.S.A. M. Alcala No. 204

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Cost of living in Mexico

Everyone seems to agree: the quality of your life improves in Mexico. Things take longer, so you’ll need to learn to slow down. Goods and services cost less, so you can afford the kinds of luxuries only the very wealthy enjoy up north—like a maid, a cook, and a gardener. And in Mexico you have the good fortune of giving up very little when you make your move. You’re heading to a near neighbor where you can get Internet, cable TV, and all the other comforts you’re used to.

Sample monthly budget for two people:

Housing (rental of a two-bedroom home) $900
Utilities (electricity, gas, water, phone, cableTV, Internet) $200
Groceries $400
Entertainment (dining out and other activities) $250
Health care (two people on IMSS insurance, plus $70 per month for incidentals) $112
Household help:
  • Maid: Three times a week
$190
  • Gardener: Three times a week
$100
Incidentals $150
Monthly total  $2,190

Everyone’s lifestyle requirements are different. You could live on less. It’s possible to rent a place for $400 a month (or even less). If you don’t need a cable TV or Internet, you can save on those expenses.

Shopping

Most of the tourist areas, have excellent shopping, and believe it or not, Wal-Mart is the biggest retailer in Mexico. There are other department stores and major retailers in Mexico, both American and Mexican owned.

Prices vary depending on your life style. Fresh produce, meat, poultry and fish are relatively inexpensive, and if you adopt a Mexican approach to eating, the cost of living will be low. American canned goods, toiletries, supplements, etc., can be more expensive than in the USA. Pharmaceuticals vary widely in price. Some border areas sell prescription drugs at discount prices, but some other areas the costs are similar to the USA.

Shopping in Oaxaca

You’ll find everything you’d expect to find in any major tourism destination. The town has many stores full of clothing, crafts, and pharmacies, just about anything you are looking for on your trip. Oaxaca is a shopper’s paradise, especially if you are interested in the arts & crafts of the region (some of Mexico’s finest), meeting actual artisans or visiting traditional markets which have been in existence for hundreds of years.

Marketing is an age-old tradition in Oaxaca, and an experience that is not to be missed. Forget about the mall. This is where shopping is really at!

Oaxaca’s center has 3 main markets, and within a 30 mile radius of Oaxaca City are many villages which specialize in a particular art tradition. Oaxaca’s center is full of shops which carry a good selection of these crafts, however there’s nothing like going directly to the source. Often you will be invited to visit the homes of the artisans for a first-hand look at their craft, and in many cases craftsmen/women will be more than happy to make something according to your own specifications or designs.

Services

Public and private services of all types vary widely. Most water, electrical, and telephone services are not to US or Canadian standards, but in some areas they are. The prices might not seem too bad to Americans, but they are onerous for Mexicans. Roads and highways vary widely too. Many good privately owned toll highways join the major cities, and they are very good. Lots of other Mexican highways are good too, but many of the secondary roads are not to US or Canadian standards.

Taxes

As an expat in Mexico, the taxes you’ll pay depend in part on your situation. If you own property in Mexico you’ll have real estate taxes. If you rent out that property or own a business, have a job, or have interest-bear­ing bank accounts, you’ll owe income tax. Even if you have none of these, you’ll still pay sales tax at shops and value-added tax when you eat out at restaurants.

It’s a good idea to meet with an international tax specialist before you move to Mexico; he or she can advise you on how to best minimize your tax obligations, especially if you have significant assets in both Mexico and your home country. If you do business in Mexico, you’ll also want a good tax advi­sor there.

Income tax:   
You will owe income tax in Mexico if you hold a job, run a business, rent out a property you own, or hold an interest-bearing bank account or security in Mexico. In most cases you will need to file a Mexican tax return.

Property taxes:         
There are three types of tax that you’ll have for residential property over the years that you own it:

  1. A 2% acquisition tax when you buy the property
    2. Annual property taxes (known as predial)
    3. Capital gains tax when you sell the property

Value-added tax: In Mexico a value-added tax is applied to most goods and services. This tax is 16% in most of the country and 11% in border areas.

Moving to Oaxaca

Moving your household goods: Think carefully about whether you really want to move your household goods to Oaxaca. You can generally buy everything you’ll need in Oaxaca and save yourself time and possibly money. What’s more, if you’ll be living at the beach, you’ll most likely want a different type of furniture than what you have in your current home. SILMEXICO transition and relocation helps you to move.

Moving your children to Oaxaca: Oaxaca loves its children, and you’ll find that your children will be made to feel very welcome in Mexico’s hotels, restaurants, and attractions. Mexico is full of bright colors, lively fiestas and friendly people. The new sounds and sights your children will encounter in Mexico will provide a great experience. Besides the sea and sand of the coastal areas, archaeological sites provide pyramids to climb, tunnels to explore, and wide open spaces to roam.

There are many excellent schools in Mexico for children, both private and public. The International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO) is one that has been recommended to us. For more information on IBO programs and locations, go to www.ibo.org.

Moving with your pets: It is easy to take your pets to Mexico, there is no quarantine requirement. Officially, within 10 days of your departure to Mexico if you’re driving (or as little as five days if you’re flying check with your airline for the latest time limit), take your pet to your local veterinarian and get an inter-state health certificate confirming that your pet is healthy and up to date with its vaccinations and immunizations. Keep this certificate handy when you go through Mexican Customs.

Firearms

There are severe penalties for possessing firearms in Mexico. Contact your nearest Mexican consulate in the U.S. before attempting to import weapons into Mexico or purchase any while in Mexico.  Failure to do so will result in stiff fines and/or jail time.

How to get to Mexico

You can drive to and through Mexico, and you can also fly on several airlines that have routes from within the United States and Canada. For all your travel needs (including flight assistance and insurance).

Is Mexico Safe?

In the last three years, most of the worldwide news reports on Mexico have ranged from bad to appalling. Reports of thousands killed in Mexico’s war against the drug cartels have caused many tourists and prospective retirees to avoid Mexico.

For the most part, however, these casualties continue to occur where crime has always been frequent—along the U.S./Mexico border and in a few other pockets, such as parts of Sinaloa and Durango states, that have a strong cartel presence.

The rest of the country remains relatively untouched by drug violence. It’s unlikely that you will see, much less be affected by, drug crime unless you’re involved in the production, sale, or purchase of illegal drugs.

The incidence of non-drug crime in Mexico is very low, and generally consists of petty crimes of opportunity, such as pickpocketing.

In most of Mexico, including vast parts of the colonial highlands and the Yucatán Peninsula, you are much safer than in U.S. cities of comparable size.