How did I choose Mexico?
Everyone has a story. This is mine.
It was January in Wisconsin. One blizzard had just dropped a ton of snow, and another storm was right behind it. With nothing else to do but wait it out, I went online, checked emails and found one from friends who recently retired to Huatulco, Mexico. I saw pictures of their new home, their tropical garden and a Pacific Ocean view. My view was a white frozen landscape and subzero temperatures.
No surprise that I started to research moving to Mexico.
I looked specifically at Huatulco knowing I already had a connection there, but other parts of Mexico were interesting too. According to the Internations annual expat research survey, Mexico overall has ranked in the top three countries for expats for years. According to this survey “respondents in Mexico are the happiest worldwide — it’s easy to make friends and the cost of living is low.”
Understandably, weather was at the top of my list.
Across the country, Mexico has several climates. Huatulco’s coastal location is consistently warm…. about 85F, 31C year-round. There is some rain during the summer months but only 30 days of possible evening showers with a few hard rains tossed in. Humidity comes with the rain but so do the tropical flowers and cool evenings.
As a retired person on a limited income, my next concern was cost of living.
This always depends on your individual priorities and lifestyle, but you can roughly estimate that the dollar value is about twice what it is in the United States ($20 pesos = $1 usd) and slightly less in Canada ($16 pesos = $1 cdn). It has remained consistent over the past years. That meant my retirement income would double … I liked that.
Whether you are looking to rent or to purchase a property, costs are significantly less. The local economy is growing so the housing market is very good. Taxes, maintenance and labor costs are surprisingly reasonable.
I had heard horrible stories about safety in Mexico.
My research revealed that there are areas of Mexico where you need to be especially cautious, but I was thrilled to learn that Huatulco is one of the very safest areas in the entire country. The other safest area is Merida on the Yucatan Peninsula. As a single person who likes to walk, this was a very important piece of the puzzle for me. It is good to remember that politics and drugs are the main causes of violence in Mexico, so avoiding them is wise.
Although I was covered by Medicare in the United States, I had concerns about healthcare.
There are insurance policies available, but I learned that the medical facilities, clinics and laboratories are modern and medical staff do home visits. Costs are far less than you might expect and easily covered out-of-pocket. Prescription prices are a fraction of what we pay in the north and most medicines are available over the counter at farmacias.
Covid has changed things worldwide. In many parts of Mexico, it has taken a heavy toll but in the Huatulco area there has been good social communication and the local population has respected quarantine regulations. Some visitors have not but overall, our area has come thru the pandemic better than most.
The infrastructure of Huatulco has been improved by the government beginning in 1982 when it was decided to create an eco-tourism area from a small fishing village. While maintaining the small village flavor and huge green zones, there are good highways, internet, clean water, schools, and much more. Cruise ships from all over the world arrive regularly in Santa Cruz Bay. Tourism is an important part of the economy in Huatulco.
As far as transportation options, people own a private car, rent a car or use the taxi system. There are taxis all over town and the cost is 35 pesos unless you head to an outer area. Even then, the cost to hire a taxi for a day trip is far less than you can imagine. For a few hundred pesos, I take a taxi to the Monday Pochutla outdoor market – about 40 minutes up the coast. My driver will stay with me in case I need help and take me back to my home.
Huatulco has a beautiful international airport (HUX) with convenient flights from Canada and several areas of the US. I flew out of Chicago with a change of planes in Mexico City.
Quality of Life
Basically, all the choices boil down to wanting a better quality of life and that is determined by very personal needs.
Daily life here is slower and more relaxed than you are probably used to. It took me a year or a bit more to finally put my watch away!
As stated above, when your money stretches further it allows you to enjoy more opportunities:
- Food– fresh, preservative free, organic food is available at the stores, open air markets, and in many great restaurants. What you eat is as important to improving life as the ocean, weather and relaxed pace.
- Culture– the culture here is friendly and family oriented. Most people speak some English, but it is fun to learn Spanish and the local people are helpful. The Mexican people are colorful and happy …. you can easily be ‘adopted’ and become part of their celebrations.
- Social life– there is a very active expat community and many opportunities to meet new people. Whether you volunteer to help a community effort or join a beach club, you will find new friends. Rotary is active here and there are other organizations.
- Expat sites to join for more information– new ones crop up on Facebook all the time but here are the main ones:
– “Huatulco – What’s Up – Happening Community News”
– “Bahias de Huatulco Expats”
– “HUATULCO GRINGOS! Visiting or Living in Huatulco”
- Work– With a growing economy, you will find growing opportunities. There is a good WiFi system in Huatulco, and it is getting better every year. Many expats work online or find employment in the community. Not all expats are retired. I have met many younger people who bring their families here for a better relaxed work/lifestyle.
Eventually I investigated the moving costs, visa requirements, and other practical aspects. The curiosity that began as a means to get through the blizzard, became a way for me to escape the harsh northern conditions that made my retired life harder than I had expected.
I decided to move to Huatulco for one year to see how I liked it.
Seven years later I am still here and staying!
As an additional note: I spent several months in a US hospital this past year. I considered that perhaps I should stay in the US for further medical care. But … I learned the cost of living in the US had skyrocketed and the medical care I needed was available in Huatulco for far less than my insurance copay. Prescription medicines are a fraction of the cost too!! A doctor and nurse come to my Huatulco home regularly. Huatulco continues to get more diagnostic equipment, new clinics, and specialist doctors
And …. I missed Mexico’s colorful culture, warm, friendly people, the roosters and the ever-present music.
Everyone has different needs and ideas for their time before or after retirement. My advice is to make your list, ask some questions, do some research and I know you will be surprised to learn how easy it is to move to Mexico to improve YOUR quality of life!