Moving to another country should never be taken lightly. We didn’t move to Mexico on a whim. We carefully considered our options and the process of moving our household items and a dog across the border. Many people have asked us about our move to Mexico.
- Why did we choose Mexico?
- Why did we choose Queretaro?
- What was the hardest thing about moving here?
- What do we miss back in the USA?
- What was our process in moving to Mexico?
These are great questions that can’t be answered in just one short sentence. There is no Happy Mexican Life formula we can share. It’s different for everyone. What we can tell you is that we did a lot of research before setting a move date and had everything situated before we left so that our arrival was smooth.
How did we do that?
We decided to put together a checklist of 11 things you need to do for anyone thinking about moving to Mexico. This checklist can be for any country really. This list is geared towards those with life experience to retirement age, in other words, those people that have “stuff”. A 20-something year old might not have a house or even started a job yet, but there is still valuable information for those that can live out of a backpack.
1- Research where you want to live in Mexico.
Mexico is perfect for just about anyone because of its many different ecosystems and climates. Do you want to live on a beach near the jungle or a beach near the desert? Do you prefer mountains with low humidity or snow in the winter? Do you want big city conveniences or small-town charm? Narrowing down the area you want to live and what conveniences you will need in Mexico is vital.
Read our post How to Choose the Perfect Country For You to help narrow down your wants in a location.
SUBSCRIBE TO INTERNATIONAL LIVING
Our research on finding the best place to live started with a subscription to International Living. This magazine and website prints real stories from real people living in other countries around the world. From big cities to small villages, it’s been a wonderful resource for us in evaluating cost of living, finding the ideal weather and being centrally located to several towns and countries for travel. Writers for International Living go more in-depth on topics such as taxes, banking overseas, health insurance and real estate. If you don’t know where you should start, check out International Living for their subscription and bonus offers.
2- Visit the Location.
Blogs and Google Earth can only give you an overview and someone else’s opinion about a place. You learn so much about a location when you can be immersed in it. I know someone who’s lived in Vietnam for over 13 years, but I know it’s not a place that I would enjoy long term. I was missing cheese after 4 days! Take a trip to discover if the location feels right.
3- Find Out the Residential Visa Requirements.
Mexico makes it easy for people to “try out” the expat life with a 18- day tourist visa. Most countries only give you a 90-day visa to visit. Some people have lived half the year in Mexico and half the year back home for years on a tourist visa. For those that plan to be here longer, visit your nearest Mexican Consulate and learn about the requirements to getting a temporary visa (good for 1-4 years) or a permanent visa (good for life). Do not make an appointment to get your pre-visa until you know when you plan to move (See Tip #4)
The visa process can depend on many different factors. Read about Our Visa Process to Live in Mexico.
4- Set a Move Date.
This “life deadline” will get your butt in gear to prepare for your move. Once you have a date, get an appointment at the Mexican Consulate to get the paperwork completed for your pre-visa. The pre-visa in your passport is good for 6 months from the date of issue. You will need to enter Mexico and complete the process of the temporary or permanent visa within that time frame. This move date will also help you prepare for the rest of the topics on this list.
5- Prepare Your House For The Real Estate Market Or Keep It As A Rental Income.
If you are renting right now, then the decision is easy to leave at the end of the lease. If you own a house near family or a good tourist location, it might be better to keep it as rental income. For us, the decision to sell our house was easy. We needed the money from the sale of the house to qualify for permanent residency. Unfortunately, we were not able to sell our house before we moved, so we could only qualify for temporary visa residency.
TIP: Put your house on the market as soon as you know you have a move date.
Not sure if you should sell or keep your house as rental income? We weigh the pros and cons for you in our post Should You Sell Your House Before Moving Abroad?
6- Decide What You Are Bringing To Mexico.
Shipping your home items can take a few weeks to 6 months. During that time, you might not miss half of what you packed. I know I didn’t. The easiest way to move is to pack a few bags and go, but there are sentimental items you might want to bring, or good quality kitchen items that have lasted through the years. You can find almost everything in Mexico, but on our scouting trips we discovered the same kitchen items Tom already owned were way more expensive here. Hence the need to pack 42 boxes of kitchen items.
Read about our packing story in our post How to Ship Your Belongings Overseas and decide what’s important to bring with you.
7- Work Related
You may be ending a job somewhere, so you will need to give them notice. Or you may be looking for work before you go. This is the time to transfer your skills to the internet so that you can work from anywhere. Marketing, IT, writing and teaching English online are all jobs in high demand. Having supplemental income before you move will make the transition to your new life easier.
8- Check and Reserve Transportation
The quickest way to get to your location in Mexico is to fly. For humans, that’s easy. But if you are bringing pets, you need to check the temperature and breed requirements for flying on the airlines. We flew from Florida to Dallas to Queretaro on American with Hayley after researching several airlines.
What About Driving to Mexico?
Driving is also an option, but again, research the checkpoint websites and find out the requirements of bringing pets and cars into the country. You can get a temporary sticker and pay a fee that allows your car into Mexico, but as soon as you get your visa, that sticker is invalid. Also, you will pay heavy fines for bringing a car into Mexico that’s younger than 10 years old. So that Prius you just bought? Yep, sell it.
***With travel being restricted right now because of the coronavirus, please check the travel advisory boards frequently. Moving to Mexico is not considered “essential travel”.***
9- Learn the Language
Taking language classes or at least practicing with language apps can be very helpful. Knowing the language is necessary and also respectful. You won’t learn everything you need to know before you go, but if you can ask directions and order a pizza in Spanish, that will counterbalance the frustration of dealing with customer service when you have internet issues.
10- Get Money
Before you leave, set up your financials so that you can access them in Mexico. Call your credit card companies and let them know you will be using their card in Mexico. Some people put money into a Charles Schwab account because the service fees are less when you withdraw money.
No matter what bank or financial institution you go with, bring cash with you. Mexico prefers to deal in cash, and it will be easier to exchange money this way. You are allowed to bring $10,000 US dollars into Mexico without claiming it in customs. This is what we did until we could set up a Mexican bank account to transfer money down.
11- Set Up Your Arrival
Before you leave, make sure you have everything ready for where you are going. Will you stay in a hotel or Airbnb? How will you get there (from the airport or are you driving)? Are there food places nearby (restaurants, markets)?
Join Mexico Expat Facebook groups to learn more about your new Mexican location and find a realtor. Joining these Facebook groups can also help you meet friends and get a better idea on different neighborhoods. Some people on there are very helpful. Others are just morons that never adapted and want their American life here in Mexico.
Finding a Realtor
The Mexico Expat Facebook groups are also helpful when it comes to finding a realtor. Many people in these groups can recommend a certain realtor who helped them and walked them through the process of renting or buying a home. Even before you move, have the realtor send you house listings and neighborhood descriptions. Contact them about two weeks before you leave and set an appointment date for house visits. Open houses are not a common thing in Mexico. Your realtor will need time to set up appointments.
Read more about our House Hunting Fun in Queretaro
Organizing your leaving strategy can make the transition to your new life much easier. The less loose ends you have in your old country means you can focus more on your new home in Mexico. If you have a question that we did not answer, please leave a comment so we can make this post better.
What’s your new life in Mexico going to be like? Read our post: Our First 100 Days Living in Mexico