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Mexican Retirement Gone Bad: Why This Gringo Retiree Can’t Wait to Get Back to the USA

Category: International Retirement

December 4, 2011 – Note: This profile is one of many in our “Adventurous Baby Boomer Lifestyles” series.

Stephen Anderson and his wife retired to Mexico seven years ago. Speaking to Topretirements recently by phone, Steven told us this was the biggest mistake of their lives. For the last year they have had their home on the market. They intend on returning to the USA as soon as it sells, as many of their friends have already done.

ChapalaThere are currently something like 1,000,000 expatriates that have retired to Mexico and many, many more coming. They are under the sometimes false impressions that it is far cheaper to live here; that it is nothing but beaches, mountains, and margaritas; and they can live better in Mexico than in the US or Canada. The truth is that it is not always less expensive to live here; it is also a country where crime and corruption are rampant. Indeed expatriates are not only the prey of choice, but crimes perpetrated against them are ignored by the authorities and legal system. Stephen just published a book on his adventures, “Retiring In Mexico: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly”, to help warn others about what can go wrong south of the border.

How Stephen and his wife got to Mexico
Stephen is a retired real estate developer. He and his wife had read a lot from International Living about the appeal of living abroad, and particularly a Mexican retirement. So they came for a visit and discovered so many things they liked. The weather was great, medical costs and quality very attractive, and they loved the lifestyle. It wasn’t that far from the U.S., either. So seven years ago they took the plunge, bought a home and began to remodel it. Initially the Andersons loved the lifestyle. The “Good” portion of the book covers its many attractions.

Trouble in Paradise
Things went downhill fairly quickly, though. Instead of driving into Ajijic and seeing famous Lake Chapala, they were disheartened by now seeing a Wal-Mart, were overwhelmed by all the gringos moving to Chapala, and didn’t like seeing 2 new casinos and now a large casino/hotel complex being built. Prices have escalated on everything and they discovered that the cost of real estate in their expatriate community was close to those in the US; and in fact higher than states like Florida, Arizona, and Nevada (and just like in those overbuilt states, not selling).

But the biggest factor in turning the Andersons against their new community was their continued experience with corruption and scams. They were ripped off by their builder, and then discovered that the government is not only slow, but is rigged in favor of locals who have inside contacts. In fact in Steven’s opinion, expatriates are the victims of choice in Mexico (and probably many other countries) because they have more money and less protection. As an example, he says you might order furniture and make a large deposit. Then the furniture never comes. Or you contract with a builder and he delivers supplies to your site so he can bill you, then comes back and moves them to another job.

Anderson runs through a number of examples of ripoffs so other expatriates can protect themselves. One example is realtors who say they are part of a U.S. franchise, but do not provide any of the consumer protections you might expect north of the border. Another came from a friend who paid a 10% deposit on a $140,000 home contingent on a home inspection. The friend lost his deposit when the report came in unfavorably (the contingency was met by submitting the report, but provided no recourse if it found problems).

Getting no satisfaction – but plenty of corruption
When they bought their home, the Andersons chose a US franchised real estate office. The listing and their sales agent told them the house was built by one of the best builders in the area and came with 2 phone lines and city water. Unfortunately, it did not have city water or phone lines and it took 6 months and a bribe to get them. There was no steel in the carport over the water tanks and the house structure was insufficient to support the planned second story. The Andersons went to arbitration over these issues but got no recourse. They told us of friends who were threatened by violence for taking issues to the courts, others who lost titles to their land through corruption, and much more. Dissatisfaction with Mexican authorities over poor treatment and lack of concern for expatriates has recently led to organized protests in the Lake Chapala area and has been brought to the attention of the media throughout Mexico. With all these legal woes, the Andersons are concerned about their property and rights should the unspeekable happen. Having spoken to neighbor and former San Diego probate attorney, the mexican laws are quite different than those of the US. Should one of them pass away, their legal US will, may or may not be honored and inheritance law is different in Mexico. Likely, it would be carried out in a less than fovorable way for expats.

Fed up and want to move
Stephen is a diabetic with a previous heart attack. Although he and his wife would like to move back to the good old USA, ASAP, there are 2 problems. One, with his medical history he can’t come back to the States until age 65 and he qualifies for Medicare. Two, selling their home at anywhere near what they have put into it is problematic. If the house would sell soon, they might consider moving to Texas, near the border, so they could continue to access the much lower cost of Mexican medical care and prescriptions.

Medical care – one of the bright spots
As unhappy as Stephen is with Mexican corruption and scams, he raves about the cost and quality of Mexican health care. As an example, his daughter was recently in an accident in Oregon and has no health insurance. So, he flew her to Mexico – for $1100 he covered the dorsal and lumbar MRI, the two complete exams from their family doctor ($15 each), an hour session with a physical therapist, weeks worth of medications, and the plane ticket. Most local doctors are well trained and they, and their staff, speak excellent English. The quality of care is great – in fact, doctors still make house calls. Hospitals in Guadalajara are first world class. Stephen recently paid $50 for a complete heart exam with one of the country’s leading cardiologists, including an EKG and something like a sonogram. Just this week, after taking insulin shots twice a day for the last 16 years, he no longer has to do so.

Other costs
Real estate taxes are low in Mexico. The Andersons paid $180 this year on their 6200 sf home. Sales taxes are high at 15%. Electric rates are among the highest in the world – so high that some people have written they use only 1 bulb at a time in their homes and even unplug their refrigerator at night. Stephen provides an excellent cost breakdown of their actual expenses in his book.

Best reasons to move to Mexico:
Weather (at least in the Lake Chapala area)
Lower medical costs combined with a healthier lifestyle.
Lower taxes
People can afford a maid and a gardener.

But those don’t compensate for the negatives:
Scams, ripoffs, corruption
Extreme cultural differences that most are not aware of until after they have moved.
Everyone is looking for bribes from the cops to the courts to the governmental officials.
As one person recently wrote on a popular web forum “We have $$$ signs on our heads.”

Although drug related violence has not been an issue in the Lake Chapala and Guadalajara areas in the past, it is now becoming one. Home invasions have become a bigger concern as these now often take place when people are home and are increasing in violence. Stephen has designed his home to keep intruders out: using walls, dogs, bars on all the windows, security system, motion detectors, etc. He freely admits he is never more than a few feet away from a gun at home. Both violent and non-violent crimes are on a rapid increase as the economy gets worse and emigration slows down.

Bottom line
Anderson does not want to steer people away from retiring or moving to Mexico. Rather, he simply wants to make them aware of the pitfalls lurking around the beautiful parts of the country. He believes that in order to make the right decision about where to retire, whether in Mexico or somewhere else, individuals need honest advice and facts from someone who has lived it.

About Stephen Anderson
“Retiring In Mexico: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly” is available for sale online at and other channels. His book is the first of its kind to reveal the truth about life here. He believes that after reading it many people will decide that retirement in the US is a far better and safer life.

Available on Amazon and Kindle:
(print) Retiring In Mexico: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly
(Kindle) Retiring In Mexico: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

For further reference:
More profiles in the Topretirement Adventurous Baby Boomer Lifestyle series

Taking Baby Steps to Retiring in Mexico

The Challenges of Retiring Abroad (Money/MSN)

Comments: What do you think – after reading this would you still consider a move to Mexico or other foreign country? Maybe you already live in such a place, and can share your experiences. Our aim is to provide a balanced coverage. Please do so in the Comments section below.?

Posted by John Brady on December 4th, 2011


  1. I would be very cautious about retiring to another country, especially building a new home. Having lived overseas (Europe and the Caribbean) I would be VERY CAUTIOUS about building – I have had enough trouble with builders in the US!! The author is correct when he states that the locals have the advantages in that they know the system and how to work it. Best to make some contacts in the country before handing over $$!!

    by Fionna — December 5, 2011

  2. Having lived in Jalisco for a number of years, they are right on about the situations. Sometimes I think we are bruts for punishment, in an attempt to live te paradise dream.
    It is more expensive in general to live in the cities and towns of MEXICO.
    Good Luck!

    by Tom Carlson — December 5, 2011

  3. excellent! agree 100%, please contact me.

    by susan — December 5, 2011

  4. I have been to Lake Chapala, the weather is the only thing it has going for it, but it is not spring like weather all year long as they would have you believe.

    The lake is polluted, mostly a bunch of old people claiming they can’t afford to live in the U.S. while paying 3 times the cost for a house that a local would be charged, complaining about the lack of service, security & just about everything else.

    Walk around and you will see as many scroungy old gringos & gringas as you will see in a big city Wal Mart.

    Few people are there because they actually enjoy the culture, They are either cheap, poor, or both.

    by Jim H — December 5, 2011

  5. I haven’t read this book, but it sounds as if some of it is true. I have lived in Mexico intermittently over the last 21 years and find that there is tremendous cultural difference here, particularly with respect to noise,attitude, laws, etc. However, I do have a nicer house here than I could afford in the US. Since I am disabled, I have to have a maid and a gardener and they are far less expensive here. I paid $2500 pesos (about $200 USD) for a complete cardiac exam, including the EKG, echocardiogram, stress test and the doctor’s follow-up history and physical examination with a cardiologist I had seen before. I do not know where Mr. Anderson got his exam for the price quoted. Despite the problems we have here, I do not know where else I could live for what I spend here on housing, food, household expenses, medical care, car expenses, etc.

    by Petter A. — December 5, 2011

  6. Wow, sounds like they had some bad connections in the home buying experience. Our Realtor in the Chapala area is local, she guided us to areas that she thought would appeal to us based on our wants and needs. The home we bought was new, we had it inspected by a local inspector who gave us a written and photo account of all the potential issues. Based on this the builder took care of all our issues. They we all minor anyway. The real estate trans action was seamless, the process was friendly and we remain friends with the builder who is a local Mexican man.

    Our Realtor steered us to a local contractor she has used in the past. I also got bids from two other contractors on the work I wanted done, the Realtors person was a Mexican local and his bid was the best priced and his bid was detailed to include drawings, photos and specs as needed. All his work was done in a timely manner and on or under budget, his craftsmanship was excellent. He has done a lot of add on work for us and I can’t stop singing his praises.

    As far as Walmart, I don’t go there in the States, so I don’t go there in Mexico. I worked in the casino industry in Nevada, so I don’t go to them in Mexico.

    I enjoy the casual lifestyle, the traditions of the people, the warmth of the culture. I avoid putting myself in precarious situations. I am aware of my surroundings.

    I have had medical and dental work done there and have found the doctors and dentists to be competent and pleasant. The costs are far below what I could have had done in the States with my insurance.

    My experiences have been excellent. The only people I have found to be rude or abusive have been fellow expats. I try to just blend into the life in my non-gated local neighborhood where there is no HOA or people telling what I can or can’t do. To each his own.

    by Mike — December 5, 2011

  7. It sounds to me as if poor Stephen has had a particularly rough time of it and I am sorry for him. That said, I am far more in agreement with Mike. There are many more “goods” to be had in this part of Mexico than the “bads” identified. I have found that if you do your due diligence on goods and services you can reasonably expect to get what you pay for and more. There are scams aplenty here and NOB but if you pay attention you should be able to avoid them.

    Everyone has their own reasons for making decisions in life and sometimes the decisions just don’t work out the way they were hoped to. Sorry for the author but it sounds like his decision to move to Mexico was the wrong one. Does not mean that applies to everyone.

    by John Jones — December 5, 2011

  8. 🙄 Stephen’s problems were likely brought on by his naivete about living in a foreign country like Mexico. Many people fail to consider the culture of Mexico before they move down. They come down expecting things to be like it is in the USA are are inevitably disappointed. Because it’s MEXICO, full of its own unique blessings and curses, just like the USA. My partner and I fully understood the culture of Mexico before we came and we found some beautiful little gems in there … and we have not been disappointed, we’ve had good relations with our builders, and we’ve gotten to know Mexican service people to be some of the most competent and honest anywhere in the world. Stephen should have done his homework. Failing have done that, it’s good that he’s going home.

    by Ann Porter — December 5, 2011

  9. Sorry, but this is one person’s take on life down here and it just isn’t what we are experiencing. Our home is well-built and without problems. We pay a ridiculously low bill for electricity less than $65 US for two months of electricity. We have fans, washer/dryer, refrigerator, lights, etc. All the comforts of home. The Mexicans we meet are kind, helpful, and gracious.

    Yes, there are some scams going on. Mostly driven by the poverty of the area. You might be told your windshield wipers are damaged and you need to buy new ones from the man selling them. But we have a great network to warn us of things like this. Certainly there are scams in the US — Bernie Madoff, anyone?

    The crime is an issue and most of us realize that the US policies are partially to blame. We are working with the local Mexican government and police to improve the situation in the Lake Chapala area.

    As for “kick backs”, we hear about them, so we know that there is truth to these. You might be able to reduce or eliminate a traffic ticket if you pay the traffic officer, for instance. Again, not something that you didn’t hear about in the US before.

    Are there problems with repairmen? Probably. But we haven’t found any. We can actually call and get a plumber here the same day. He and his men will fix the problem and it has never cost us more than $25.00 US for the labor and materials. We had a sky light installed in a bedroom; the masons had to cut through our roof deck. They did a great job for about $360 US; they cleaned (swept, dusted, etc.) every day. Always on time, always polite and thoughtful. I can’t speak highly enough for the repairmen who have helped us. Great people!

    This is a wonderful, emerging country that is trying to face its problems and change. You can see a burro hauling wood from the mountain being led by a man with a cell phone. It’s the US in 1950s in some ways (children in the back of pick-up trucks laughing and having a good time) and 2011 in many other ways (rent-able Christmas trees as a means of providing a “green” holiday).

    It’s sad when one person’s feelings get produced as a reality of an entire community of expats. If you’re really interested in knowing what it’s like to live here, be sure to ask a broader audience than one.

    by Carol curtis — December 5, 2011

  10. “You might be able to reduce or eliminate a traffic ticket if you pay the officer, for instance.” ARE YOU KIDDING?? For starters, this is known as Mordida which is a bribe, and is ILLEGAL and the cops know it. Second, the threat of a ticket is often based on trumped-up charges, according to your nationality and how nice a vehicle you drive. Take their photo & watch them suddenly drop all charges!

    Problems with repairmen: yeah, watch them, some have been known to help themselves to your valuables while unattended in your home. Only when you later find something precious missing, but by then too late to know who or when. “Always on time….” Oh, this is good. Time is an unknown concept here, they do things on their schedule, if at all.

    I have been royally screwed by several contractors, many of whom aren’t even contractors; there is no licensing or regulation in any industry, including real estate, so anyone can claim to be whatever they like. If you get taken, there is no recourse. The law favors nationals, not foreigners. I have been the victim of theft several times, had my vehicle vandalized as well as had my wipers torn apart by that nice man selling wipers- that is his trademark in case you aren’t aware. Naivety may be charming, but they see you coming.

    The constant barrage of noise is like living in a war zone, I and many friends spend many nights awake listening to the rockets meant to scare the bad spirits. Yup, worked for me! I feel like a zombie. This is living? If you have a problem with someone you had best keep it to yourself, they have a way of dealing with those who insult them. A neighbors gardener who routinely harrased me with vulgar, sexist comments & was warned off by a 3rd party, has tried to poison my dogs by throwing several bags of tainted food over my wall into my dog run. Thankfully they survived.

    My time here has been one long saga of endless frustration, stress and yes, disappointment. You can do all the homework possible before you come but the only way to know for sure is by living here. I find that the constant scams and ripoffs are tiring at best, and don’t wish to spend my life with ‘sucker’ branded across my forehead. As soon as I can get my property sold, I am out of here.

    by ExpatCanuck — December 5, 2011

  11. Been in Chapala eight years now and couldn’t be happier. I can verify all of the positive comments above and can equally disprove most of the negative ones. One of the things you just have to learn to put up with here is people who came down totally unprepared and now have nothing better to do than whine when things don’t meet their (delusional) expectations. They’re not going to be happy anywhere.

    One comment about scams – One would be amazed at the number of expats here who
    1. generate scams themselves, and, 2. are incredibly gullible. I’ve been the target of two cons in my eight years here, and both originated with gringos. It was delightful fun to beat them at their own little games. One got deported and the other lost their business.

    Salud, Amigos!

    by Ryan Masters — December 6, 2011

  12. One should “Remember” when looking outside the US to live….remember how much other countries Love us (Not). They love the US $$ (and even that is going downhill).
    Buyer Beware

    by Mark Crosbie — December 7, 2011

  13. Has anyone had any similar experiences living in Panama? That is another country that is touted as having a low cost of living, great medical care, etc. Just curious if that country is as corrupt as Mexico.

    by Christine — December 7, 2011

  14. I have not retired yet, but I have lived and worked in other countries (not Mexico). My observations are that one has to be careful but open to other cultural experiences. Go with the flow – roll with the punches! It would have taken us two years to get a phone in the Dominican Republic without bribes, so we went without. What I rarely see mentioned is the boredom that can eventually come with living in paradise. That is why we kept coming back to the good ole USA.

    by Larry Perryman — December 7, 2011

  15. Stephen speaks from his own experience, so it’s valid for him. Likewise, those of us who have lived here for some time may well have an entirely different experience.
    My wife and I live in San Miguel de Allende and we do find it “home”. The quality of life is special…from the lovely emphasis on family, to the vibrant cultural life (in which us gringos are graciously included). Organic markets abound, produce is excellent and at least 1/2 what it is in the States. Housing, depends, but one can find simple, modest solutions, or expansive, with prices to follow. Given the collapse of the housing market in the US, Stephen is likely spot on that he can purchase a house in the States for less than here…and likely in a quality neighborhood. It’ll have to be for cash though….. 🙂

    And sure, there’s corruption in Mexico. Sadly the “small bite” is a way of life, and has been for centuries, long before boomers started moving south. But then, let’s reflect on the US culture….are we justified in throwing stones? There’s no rampant corruption? And as another noted, take a picture and they’ll be gone in a flash….has happened once to us. Enough said on that issue.
    Being an architect who still practices, and as others have noted, Mexico hasn’t cornered the market on dishonest builders. I could fill a book on same in the US, from shoddy construction to out and out fraud. As suggested, one must put forth some effort in interviewing potential service entities, probably most importantly, getting recommendations from friends. Don’t we all do that no matter where we live? Here, the US, France, where ever?
    Health care, it’s solid here. But one needs to be alert to the cultural differences. In the US the doctor, more oft than not, is highly pro-active in diagnosis, in Mexico one needs to push for testing. But the capability/quality of the doctors, the up to date hospital facilities, certainly compete successfully with the US in the major population centers. To that end we launched a web site about a month ago for expats in Mexico to facilitate acquiring medical care. It can be a stressful experience, especially if one doesn’t speak Spanish. So the site is based on peer-to-peer doctor recommendations. It’s called http://www.GringoMD. Has the largest directory of English speaking doctors by specialty in Mexico along with over 700 hospitals/clinics. It’s our hope that it will be a real service to the expat US/Canadian folks living through-out the country.
    Stephen is one his way back t the States, but for many of us we’re dug in, loving the culture and cultural challenges presented daily.

    by Ken — December 7, 2011

  16. I agree with all of the commenters. My wife and I brought our two young childern down to live in La Paz. La Paz is a nice little city on the south end of Baja. There is very little violence here, my kids walk to town and on teh malecon at night and back home with no problems. The school are not good, even the private schools give a lousy education. My kids are back in the US attending school and that has proven to be a wise decsion. The heat and humidity is horrid for at least three months a year in La Paz, most people who can afford to leave do so. Taxes are low but service almost non-existant. Streets are full of front-end demolishing sized pot-holes. Medical services are very good. Emergency services are quick to respond. I have hired local contrators who did a great job but always with cost overuns even though I had a contract I still had to pay the overruns if I wanted the job completed. Food is expensive, part of the reason is that most goods are shipped across the Gulf via ferry. Food is cheaper on the mainland but still not much cheaper than in the US.
    I noticed that one person mentioned International Living Magazine. My complaint with IL is that they paint a smiley face on every place they recommend and it just aint so-they publiched many times about the free healthcare available to expats through the social security system here and if would be a good back up if it’s available to you but one has to meet with a Doctor who inevitably rules you out if you have ANY preexisting condition or fingers show any signs of arthritus, it’s like his job is to rule you out. I brought this to ILs attention and they ignored me. I even tried to write and article about it but they ignored me. Driving here can be frustrating but I do it-in my car and on my motorcycle but one needs an accute awareness of what is going on around him, just expect the guy in front to turn in front of you and cross two lane of traffic to get where he wants and you will do OK.
    The culture was more or less what I expected , I like it in general but as mentioned above the Mexicans have a different noise level acceptance and paties going on alnight with a band blaring is not unusual and no one seems to expect anything else as no one here starts to arrive at a party until after 10 PM. I got use to the noise but it was a pain at first.
    So this is my ‘good, bad and ugly’ I hope it helps those who are thinking about moving to Mexico, it can be fun and it can be frustrating.

    by Drex — December 7, 2011

  17. I worked in the Middle East for 12 years and thoroughly enjoyed it. I had a great social life despite the restrictions. Point being, I had a bit of seasoning as relates to living in a different culture. From the mid 80’s to last year I thought i wanted to retire in Mexico, or my second choice Ecuador. I own a house in a smallish town in Texas and actually had put it on the market a couple of years ago. Now I’m glad it didn’t sell. With all the problems in Mexico – even though they aren’t everywhere (yet) – I think I’m better off just visiting. If I wanted to, I could rent out my house and live in Mexico for awhile, but I’d still have my house to come back to. With casinos coming (or already in) to the Chapala area, besides ruining the quaintness of the area (the Walmart isn’t big enough to make a difference), I think it’s just a matter of time before the drug gangs from Guadalajara move in. The other considerations are that living in the States, even though many costs are higher, I know what my rights are; in my 66 years I’ve never paid a bribe to a policeman; I don’t have to worry about proving my income annually to renew a visa; the internet/cable tv/plumbing/a-c works 99.9% of the time; when I’m driving, all the signs are in English; and so on. I guess, basically it’s just easier living here, and knowing I’m free to visit almost any country any time I want with no or very little hassle. I own my home, and if I sold and bought in a foreign country and something went wrong, being on my own I’d never be able to recoup financially. And, with crime increasing it’s been a soul searching decision to stay put and enjoy life here and travel when I want. Clearly, this is what’s best for me, but may not be best for someone else and I wish everyone the best. Stay safe, healthy and happy.

    by Augie Snyder — December 8, 2011

  18. Thanks to Stephen for sharing this story, and to all of the commentators for adding their valuable perspectives. From Topretirements’ standpoint I am very glad we ran this article. This was the first time we ever presented the “con” side of the expat experience, which was overdue. People can do what they want, hopefully after careful deliberation after spending time on location, but I would feel bad if we had only sung the praises and someone else had a bad experience. Thanks to all!

    by John Brady — December 8, 2011

  19. […] Comments section below. To see a more negative outlook on expatriate life in Chapala, see “This Gringo Can’t Wait to Get Back to the USA” from author and Mexican resident Stephen Anderson.. See also: Retire Abroad on Social […]

    by » Taking baby steps to retire to Mexico Topretirements — December 8, 2011

  20. Much of what the author said is true. Does this mean you should not come to this area and enjoy
    living here? No. It means that you need to be cautious on more levels than are necessary in the
    United State, Canada or wherever you are from. Forget liability. If the problem is between you and a
    Mexican, the Mexican wins. Are there scams – yes, tons. Are there mordidas (bribes) – yes, and while they are illegal, they do simplify many situations. Should you stay on top of any building you contract? Absolutely! Is there good medical and dental for reasonable costs? YES! But, as in the case of any work you want done, get connected with the community and see who is recommended and who is not. If you have a problem with a house repair (I recently had a drainage problem and a gas problem) you can call a good repairman who will come quickly, do the repairs and be very reasonable in his costs. I found the electricity costs to be low compared to where we live in the U.S. I love the weather, the profuse and varied array of flowers, the lake and so many things about this area. I like to look at the lake, not to swim in it or drink its waters or eat fish from it! I choose to ignore the intrusion of new businesses that don’t interest me. Some full timers are glad, some aren’t.

    I’ve found good friends here from all over the U.S. and Canada and Mexico, lots to do, some good, honest, caring people both in the ex-pat community and in the Mexican community. My maid has been with us for five years. She is a treasure – kind, hard-working and best of all, honest. I live in a gated, guarded community which more and more seems like a good idea. There is a lot of corruption
    here, but have you looked at the U.S. lately?!

    While taxes are low, you need to be aware of the new capitol gains law if you wish to sell and that is
    supposedly based on your tax assessment and the government will take 28% of what is judged to be
    your capitol gains. It may change in 2012. I certainly hope so.

    Be circumspect. This IS a foreign country. It is not another part of the U.S. or
    Canada or wherever. Your expectations need to be realistic. I love this small village. The traffic is
    getting worse, things aren’t like I left them in the U.S. I choose to only spend 6 mos/year here, but
    that is my choice based on what is important to me. I love the six months I spend here. I am like Josephine Baker whose theme song was “My Heart Has Two Countries.” To each his own.

    by Christy — December 8, 2011

  21. […] Ultimately that’s the only way to be sure. For further reference: Don’t miss our “Retiring in Mexico: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly” article. Posted by John Brady on October 27th, 2009 Comments (9)  Email This Post […]

    by » 10 Tips to Consider Before Retiring Abroad Topretirements — December 8, 2011

  22. […] further reference: Don’t miss our “Mexican Retirement: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly” article. Posted by John Brady on November 29th, 2010 Comments (10)  Email This Post […]

    by » 11 Things You Should Know Before You Retire Overseas Topretirements — December 8, 2011

  23. LOL…if this is an ad to sell your house, I don’t think it’s going to work. I have lived in the Lake Chapala area for eight years now. I have never experienced any of the things you have, but then I don’t think everyone is out to cheat me. You get what you give. Good luck with your house…

    by Karen Brown — December 9, 2011

  24. Two points: 1) Cultural differences are critical and 2) Unrealistic expectations can be set up – and probably were by International Living. My reasons for saying this follow, for those who want the details.

    I lived in Guadalajara for three years – albeit in the late 70’s. Cultural differences are critically important. For example, there is a subtle difference in their culture between a bribe and a little something to grease the wheels. The former is illegal, the latter a way of life to be expected from their perspective. When Gringos complain about the latter, they are seen as both naive and arrogant.

    Business in Mexico and most Latin countries is based on relationships. If you take time to get to know the potential (contractors, real estate agents, etc) a bit, and then get to the know the one you think is best much better – then when you do business with them, you are likely to have a good experience. Those above who had good experiences from referrals may just think that particular Mexican is good, but it’s probably closer to the truth that because the person hired had a relationship with the person who referred them to you, they graciously extended it to the new Gringo.

    Ok, that’s my soapbox about the culture.

    I said I wouldn’t be surprised if the source of those unrealistic expectations was IL . I’d be very cautious about relying upon their information or doing business with them. I was on their mailing list and got a lot of solicitation email.  Then they pitched their annual “Come see and learn all about it” conference in South America, after numerous emails about how one could live very well, if not exactly like a king, on $1200 per month Soc Sec income. It was in the most expensive hotel available
    and the costs would quickly add up to about $3000 for the week. Given they were pitching how cheap it was to live there and how cheap land and houses were, I thought it ironic that the cost of the conference was clearly above what anyone living on $1200 a month could afford.
    That’s when I did some online research and found tons of complaints.  Among them were a number from people who had attended previous events and said the conferences were about getting people to buy land and houses while there – through IL or it’s “associates” –  as investments.  Oh yes, and at markedly higher prices than all their articles claimed were common for the area.  

    To research them I did a search for both “reviews” and “complaints” – and also searched at some of the major scam reporting sites.  I did take into account that not every complaint is legitimate.  Anyone with a bad attitude can log on and sound off.  However, the high number of complaints and the ease of finding them gave me pause.  It took me about three different unsubscribe requests over two months to finally get unsubscribed.  As I still got occasional emails from them, I finally put them on my block list.

    While trying to do some investigating of my own on various Central and South American countries via internet, I discovered that quite a number of “info” sites were actually owned by IL or their articles were heavily slanted to writers who also wrote for IL.  Ditto for real estate sales.  To me that seems like a conflict of interest.  How can a company provide an unbiased, fair evaluation of a country when they are heavily invested in selling real estate, as well as books and other info, about that country?  I’m skeptical that it’s possible.  Which leads me to lend even more credibility to the online complaints.  

    They consistently use the WHO ranking for quality of medical care.  This study done in the 90’s was flawed from the beginning and essentially meaningless. The link below is to an article in the Wall Street Journal which did a solid evaluation of that study.  In all fairness, many people still use the stats from that study as if they are an unquestionable reality about the quality of medical care in different countries. WHO admits it wishes the whole thing would just go away – but claim their only agenda was to stimulate discussion about the state of world health care, which it certainly did.

    by Sunny — December 13, 2011

  25. My husband and I moved to Costa Rica about 18 months ago. We’ve seen our share of expats who bought into the “retire for less” mantra without thinking through exactly what that would mean given their own finances. It’s one thing to be able to afford a North American-style home – especially if you’re not worried about having to sell it at some point – with all the amenities. It’s another to live in a typical house where you can’t flush used toilet paper and have no hot water to wash dishes. Security’s a problem everywhere between Colombia & North America, and we know plenty of couples who won’t even leave their house together to go to dinner – let alone take a vacation – for fear of being robbed. Living in a foreign country can be a great experience. Just be sure you know what you’re getting into before you take the plunge.

    by Sally — December 15, 2011

  26. Corruption is rampant in the USA as well. Crooked builders ripping people off, insurance salesman that lie, cell phone dealers that don’t follow the contracts. Caca pasa that said I have sued Blue Cross blue shield, GMAC Mortgage, Verizon and transunion judge just sent notice I won my case against transunion as well. Am I a magnet for crooks? Gov officials aid and abet the crooks, all my justice has come from hard work sleepless nights and small claims court. I have been to Mexico many times, spent months got home yesterday from a short 2 week visit and always wish I was there instead of here. All good? No had my window broken and car robbed in Puerto Penasco same in Ontario CA different times. Had a dentist in Algodones try to tell me I had 7 cavities and my husband had 10. I was very sad too seemed like such nice people. Can you own a gun in Mexico? I thought no? One reason I am still here

    by Delia — December 15, 2011

  27. I have been to Ajijic and Chapala. and I fine it is what I Want it to be.
    I tell People(Friend) before you go you have to Leave you American attitude at the Airport or the Boarder. 2. It’s not the US so it not going to be like the U.S., and 3 Don’t compare it to the U.S. IT’S MEXICO.
    Yes thing’s are different there. But That is why people go there. there money go farther, they have people waiting on the. Ya that make them feel good. and they feel because they are from the U.S. they should be treated like they are in the U.S.
    Hey It Mexico, It’s there Country,
    OK we are not going to get are way all the time, if you take the time and meet the people at there level, and understand that they make xxx for wages. ( I know not are fault ),
    But we are still in there Country.
    Lot of people want the Mexicans out of the U.S. and now we are moving down to where they are from and we’re still not Happy.
    Why would you move to anywhere and build a big house. that would just draw attention, the key is to blend. I would rather live like a poor man and be rich then try to live like a rich man and be robed.
    MOVE TO Germany. See how they like you there.

    by Francisco J. Guillen — December 28, 2011

  28. I’ve been traveling to Mexico from the United States since 1986; I’ve seen a change in Mexico over that period of time, from a low-key, laid-back culture lending a certain, genuine innocence that was juxtaposed with old-world charm to an environment that raises caution and heightens ones awareness of their surroundings. Today, the escalated violence throughout the country, due primarily to drug-trafficking, has infringed upon that idyllic persona and finds it ebbing in its wake.
    The posts on this site are interesting. Everyone has his/her own personal experience to share, yet there is commonality among us. What I’ve found as an American in Mexico is that we hail from fundamentally different cultures, derived from a dichotomy of mutually exclusive approaches toward life. It is true, when people have noted above in postings, that Mexicans have a relaxed attitude, or even an indifference toward others with respect toward things such as, noise, after-hours parties that go until the break of dawn – with no consideration of others who may be sleeping in the neighborhood, simple etiquette, such as, cutting in line in front of others, crossing inappropriate boundaries with a no-holds barred attitude when inquiring about personal matters, crowding against people and breaching their personal space when they are in close proximity – particularly this happens in lines, and so forth.
    When I’ve been in large groups of Mexicans, such as, places for concerts, it is more prevalent to witness a cultural divide among us. Mexico is a developing nation, and probably most, if not all, Americans traveling to Mexico are cognizant of that crucial point, because that is the pivoting point that creates the chasm. Going from a developed to a developing nation is a turn-about of several decades. A Mexican woman who has lived in the states, and from whom I took Spanish lessons two years ago told me, “One big difference you will see between Mexicans and Americans, and that you MUST watch for, is that Mexicans are always trying to get something over on you, or to feel that they got away with something. It’s the one thing about my culture that I cannot STAND. For example, you will never see Self Check-Out in the stores here in Mexico because we Mexicans KNOW we would be completely ripped-off by most of the Mexicans shopping and going through the Self Check-Out lane. It would be far more problematic here than in the states, overall, we can’t be trusted.” Maybe, maybe not, yet this woman has lived in 7 different countries over the course of the past 55 years. She may be jaded from going abroad and experiencing life in developed nations or she might be right from observations of her own.
    My advice for all of us, including myself: Wherever we go, let us be prudent, yet move forth with an open mind ready for adventure, where letting our hair down while proceeding with caution go hand-in-hand.

    by American Pie — April 19, 2012

  29. […] a foreign country has many disadvantages and challenges – it is not for everyone. See “Mexican Retirement Gone Bad” in our […]

    by » The 10 Most Frequently Asked Questions at Topretirements Topretirements — March 13, 2013

  30. The real estate taxes in Mexico only appear to be low. The new Mexican Immigration Law (2012) clearly states that all foreigners selling property must pay 25% of the total sales value in taxes. Add to that other fees and taxes, and you loose 1/3 of you investment when you sell (or your heirs inherit). Mexican only pay 4%. It’s that way with everything in Mexico, there are two prices: One for Mexicans and another for the rest of us. Importing an American car: up to $5,000 for Americans, $300 for Mexicans. Some bank have even begun charge an addition service fee of $6. on ATM withdrawals (in addition to the regular fee). By the way, they also charge tax on the amount you withdraw. OMG! How I wish someone had told me this before I retired here and bought a house. This is absolutely the biggest financial mistake of my life, and I’m too damned old to do anything about it.

    by Frank Durkin — March 23, 2013

  31. Ummm, beware of expats and their communities as they are magnets for rip off artists and swindlers. If you desire to retire in Mexico chose a city like Guanajuato as opposed to San Miguel Allende. Make sure you know someone that knows how to negotiate things and don’t buy a house without a lawyer and a notario. Under no condition should you hire someone to work for you without a contract stipulating how long he will work and make sure you make him/her sign whenever he/she receives payment. For best results renew the contract every month based on the condition that the work is being done to your satisfaction.

    For best result first come here looking for someone to help you navigate the waters, preferably a Mexican. Once you find good workers to work for you don’t
    share them with others, especially Gringos. Gringos will spoil workers as they will insist on paying them too much, and the workers begin to think that Gringos are dumb. Another thing, watch out your gift giving to Mexicans. Many of them consider you stupid if you give them a very expensive gift such as a computer. I made the mistake of adopting a family here, buying them lots of gifts and later was taken for a fool and had one of the family member stealing from me regularly while acting like my best friend.

    When dealing with Mexicans dont smile too much. Be stern, but at times friendly,and if you catch someone doing something wrong fire him immediately. Dont give second chances. If someone is working for you building something make sure to ask for the receipts associated with material purchased. Periodically send a Mexican to the place where the material was purchased to check for the actual price written on the receipt as Mexicans workers often ask for receipts that are up to 3 times higher than the price paid.

    by Peter petrovitch — March 30, 2013

  32. I’m not currently living in Mexico but have MANY MANY Mexican close friends, and I guess I don’t find Mexico and Mexicans to be nearly as dishonest as is being posted here. I have spent a lot of time in Mexico, been married to a Mexican, have many Mexicans in-laws and family. There are dishonest people everywhere, and I have found that people who do labor are just as likely to take advantage in the US as they are in Mexico. I think my experience is that you want to be careful where you choose to live, and speaking the language is a huge benefit. If you take the time and trouble to learn the language, that says a lot about your attitude toward the country you have adopted. It is always wise to exercise caution with people you hire, in Mexico as in the US. But I have found Mexican people to be much warmer than people from the US, and much more joyful and fun. We really are a stodgy bunch. When was the last time you saw a man in the US kiss another man…but that is common in Mexico, where people always greet each other with hugs and kisses. When did you see or hear of a man from the US serenading his lady love outside her window? Again, pretty common in Mexico. Another thing about Mexico is that people get healthier there…just being there. In most areas the air is fresher and cleaner, the fruits and vegetables are fresh and amazing…the pace is more heart-healthy. Medical care if affordable and good. Lots of benefits in Mexico, in my opinion.

    by Ginger — March 31, 2013

  33. Well I am soured on Mexico and Mexicans since I foolishly decided to get dental implants in Mexico and had a disaster. They luckily fixed it as best they could in USA but I was treated horribly by supposed professionals and was told by one of their employees that we are all gringos after they get our money. Charming before then. I did research but the way the site is set up, only positive glowing reviews are published the rest are censored. Ad the person they gave me to speak with was likely fake. If anyone wants their name ill be happy to tell you.

    by Nancy — April 1, 2013

  34. I felt so…so sorry to hearing that you had been scams so many times.
    Actually i have been considering to relocate to Mexico,but after i read some of your stories ,i change my mind.I am a single woman of 46 with 2 cute doggies.I think it would be more dangerous to me (single woman) to live in Mexico.

    by sally — April 1, 2013

  35. We have had a totally different experience. We are in our 60’s and building a snowbird home in Tulum as we speak. We did find a retirement community that is gated and has 24 hour control. There are many people building homes now. There is strict restrictions on how much land you clear. Everyone has a 5 acre lot and there are 220 lots. It is off the grid and now about 5 builders that are building. They are well respected honest yucatans that create works of art in their homes. Stuctural sound and all the modern conveniences including compost flush toilets that take paper.We plan to live there for 6 winter months and have connected with many neighbours that are from all over the world. This area is growing in value and in 5-10years we will have doubled our value. Very concerned about health care but see it is first class and so many hospitals and clinics to choose from. My husband had a bad spider bite and he was in the hospital, no waiting and all the meds and visit was only $100.00. Here in Canada he would wait 12 hours in emerg.
    We are careful and don’t show wealth. We respect the culture, love the people and in the coming years will learn Spanish. In this area it is quite safe and we love love the temperature, food, wildlife and birds and gardens. It is a paradise. Our home is being built for the amount we paid 12 years ago in Canada. Yes there are big bugs and lots of changes but still we could not retire here in Canada for what we have in the Yucatan.

    by april — June 12, 2013

  36. If you have a bad experience in any other foreign country, it may be because you have met a dishonest or unscrupulous person. This is not because of their race or country of origin, it is because that person is unscrupulous. They exist everywhere people; stop blaming the country.

    by Ginger — June 13, 2013

  37. April,
    Can I ask what the name of your gated community is in Tulum. I was only there to see the ruins, but i know that the beaches are beautiful and that the area is getting extremely popular and expensive.

    by Delta — June 13, 2013

  38. Hi everybody,

    I’m Mexican and I’m very sorry for those people who had been rippedoff in my country for different reasons. I’ve been working in the tourist industry for almost 10 years in Riviera Maya and I’ve met so many people not only from US or Canada but from the rest of the world (honest and dishonest). I’ve been in US and some countries in Europe as a tourist. I speak Spanish, English and French. Many people consider Mexico as the first option for retairement, that is an excellent idea, they like the weather, they like the people, they like the margaritas and tequila, etc, etc….but let me tell you something…living in Mexico, temporal or permanently, is not the same as being here just for a two week-holiday. You discover a different face of the community, a face that maybe you do not like because is ugly. I think many places in US are not nice as well. You can not change everything and have the same benefits as in US or your country, that’s why you are in México. I’m very surprise that foreigners always have seen Mexico as the backyard of US and when they live here, they do not want to see pooverty, crime, corruption…. They want the best from the best but cheap….I just want to know if Mr. Anderson speak Spanish or expect every local speak English…

    by Anita — November 8, 2013

  39. To Frank Durkin, Thank you Frank for your honesty, I completely agree. A family member purchased a lot and had a house built on Cozumel about 11 yrs ago. It was their ‘honeymoon’ phase of their relationship with Mexico. The intent was to use the place as much as they could and rent it out in high season. The first few years went along smoothly as they we employing workers and purchasing goods from the locals. Believing they had made ‘good friends’ with many of these folks. And of course the property managers have their own systems of employing many locals to ‘manage’ your property from the pool guys, lawn guys,and the daily maids for renters etc. Which ultimately would eat up most of the rental income profit, hmmm, Mexico’s method of hanging on to the Gringo’s cash. Then a break-in occurred and many expensive items where stolen. But Mexican’s attitude towards insurance is much different than in the US, so don’t look for any reimbursement there. If you were to trip and fall on an uneven sidewalk, stupid you, and it is your fault, no one sues; it is just the attitude of the locals. So even with glass shards surrounding the walls of the property, the break-ins continued. Why not with new tenants each week they had a fresh supply of expensive items brought in by the tourist who are out having a wonderful time with those ‘warm and friendly Mexicans’! So it became routine that every gate and door must be locked at all times, even when you are in the house. It felt like you were in a prison in your own house. Installing a security system was not only expensive but a waste of time as it would be disabled when the owners were not there. Neighborhood noise was ever present as the Mexican lifestyle is quite different then what one from the US would expect. Electricity costs where through the roof, when fully rented in season $500-700USD/mos. was not uncommon. And yes, special ‘foreigner’ fees at banks, and with workers/contractors etc. Even the supposed ‘speed traps’ where more like ‘tourist traps’ with the officer informing you that if you pay USD $300-500 cash now you won’t have to come back to answer for the ticket. Asked for his name and badge number and things change quickly and you might be waved on! Every US citizen I came to know over the 11 years I visited this property always raved about the great and very affordable cost of health care, until it was something specific they needed and they were off to the US with all the added expense of US housing while receiving treatments (joint replacements, heart conditions, ca etc). But the ‘divorce’ aspect of living in Mexico was trying to GET OUT! With the new tax laws and all of their additional fees, bribes etc. the true cost of getting out of this country was closer to 45% of your sales price! The governmental quagmire that occurs is phenomenal. And it can be a lengthily (in years) and very costly process of trying to sell your property. Ultimately it was the expected ‘gifts’, ‘bribes’ and lots of cash that pushed the process through their antiquated system, well at least antiquated for the foreigners. And this process was not without a few inferred threats from the immigration officers that ‘they know where you live’ in case you didn’t want to anty up the appropriate funds. It would behoove anyone thinking of retiring to Mexico to connect with someone who not only has lived there for quite some time, but more importantly has survived the selling process and the financial burden that accompanies this process. Best advise, go rent a place in Mexico for a few months each year, have fun, enjoy your margaritas, scuba diving, late night partying, then pack your bags and go home. Don’t expect Mexico to be like what you are use to in the US, Canada etc., go into any purchase with eyes wide open and a true ‘buyer beware’ attitude. There is a reason it is still a ‘developing’ country and not a ‘developed’ country. So glad my family members are finally out of there. Oh by the way, the ‘good friends’ they had, well, they never heard from them again!

    by Jane — November 9, 2013

  40. I have lived in Alamos, Sonora. I am surrounded by total beauty, a charming town and just no hassles except for loud music sometimes. Its not a trendy gringo destination and has no beaches. There are lots of small towns like Alamos in cartel free Mexico. If you can just live quietly with nature and really nice people there are options with living in Mexico. Do not let the flashy tourist websites form your opinion as to where and how to live.

    by Tom — November 15, 2013

  41. […] Guides to 50 States and Many Countries A Move to Ireland: A Texas Couple Moves to County Sligo Mexican Retirement Gone Bad Taking Baby Steps to a Mexican […]

    by » 10 Best International Places to Retire Topretirements — November 27, 2013

  42. Interesting in a peripheral way is that Mexico is a country that will begin to require a specific authorization from the US government before any US nuclear technology information can be exported to it, even for peaceful commercial uses (DOE revisions to 10 CFR Part 810, expected to become effective shortly). The romance between the US and Mexico is definitely off.

    by Te — November 28, 2013

  43. Although I tend to agree with many of the comments, both pros and cons, I think the comments about taxes when you sell your house need to be addressed because its full of inaccuracies. First of all the 25% tax is on the capital gains–in other words if your house is valued at $100,000 and you sell it for $200,000 then you will pay the taxes on the difference. If you take a loss, there’s no taxes. Unfortunately, until recently there was a practice, now illegal, of devaluing a house to keep the property taxes and closing costs down. This has come back to bite some people in the you know what.
    Second, if you have permanente residency, like we do, or you are a Mexican, you can sell a house every five years without paying taxes. We recently went through all this with our licensed and highly respected realtor. BTW, we have put our house up for sale, not because we don’t like Mexico, but because we can’t stand the constant dog barking, all night, all day. Thoughtless dog owners are driving us away from Lake Chapala.

    by Shirley — December 3, 2013

  44. Are they owned dogs or strays? If owned, all of united stated have laws against that and police called. Sounds like a much larger problem!

    by Nancy — December 4, 2013

  45. There are stories like this and stories of people’s great success in moving in Mexico Caution is required.

    My new book looks at Americans and Canadians in Mexico who’ve chosen to avoid the big expat colonies in San Miguel de Allende and Lake Chapala. What they’ve found is both diverse and surprising. The book is called Into the Heart of Mexico: Expatriates Find Themselves Off the Beaten Path. There’s a sample on my website:

    by John Scherber — January 21, 2014

  46. Been saying this for years – when living in another country (especially south America etc)and the SHTF guess who they are coming after for “stuff” and maybe in lives? GRINGO GRINGO GRINGO.

    Its bad enough in Europe but SA – I dont think so.

    Be Aware.


    by Robert — January 22, 2014

  47. I am dissapointed this site would allow an auther such as John Scherber to pitch his books for sale on
    if someone posts a “recommendation” of a book they thought useful to your readers….great!
    But come on, we all get enough sales pitches all day long without having to wade through them on Topretirements.
    What’s next…Time Share deals on Florida retirement articles? Or maybe Sunburn Protection Snake Oil to help retirement home shoppers in the heat of west Texas.
    If you open the door to Scherber…..get out of the way, the salesmen are coming!!! (as many readers go bye-bye).

    Editor’s note: Sorry you didnt like this post. We try to be very sensitive to self-promotion posts on Topretirements, of which we get many. In the end we let this one stay because in our judgement we thought that some of our members might find the subject interesting. In the end we will let our members decide if we made the right decision.

    by David Coughlin — January 22, 2014

  48. You are exactly right Robert. And SHTF will happen. God bless the good ole US of A.

    by Bubbajog — January 22, 2014

  49. I concur with Anita.
    In my 8 yrs. living in Mexico, I’ve heard all the ex-pat victim stories. Most can be attributed to the arrogant/ignorant attitudes. Do your homework, understand what you are getting into. The devil is in the details.
    There are plenty of blogs, etc. to read the “horror” stories. They can provide insight and tips for avoiding bad experiences.
    Mr. Anderson didn’t like seeing the changes in Lake Chalapa. Why do you think there’s a WalMart? It’s you, the ex-pat market and the casinos, too.
    It seems that a real estate developer like Mr. Anderson would have done more research.
    In the area where I live ex-pats have been “taken” by their compatriots. The opportunists abound in Mexico. It’s the shyster, criminal, fraudster haven. They do their research and know that legal action in Mexico is rarely successful.
    Ex-pat communities are ripe opportunities for thieves. In my area, real estate agents market the ex-pat enclave as “the most desirable area”. Many of the homes are owned by part-timers or are used as rentals. Vacant homes are targets for burglars. In those enclaves, residents hardly know their neighbors who are nationals. If you don’t speak the language, how do you get to know your neighbors. I am fluent and grateful for all the wonderful neighbors on my street. The only other English speakers on my street is a Canadian couple. We have a neighborhood watch group and we watch out for others.

    As for the higher electricity costs, it can be so for those who require air conditioning, many appliances and gadgets. Where else does the government subsidize the cost of generation? The consumer costs is based on consumption. When you exceed the maximum daily average for the consumer tier, you are penalized. You lose the government subsidy, until your usage pattern is reduced. I rarely use air conditioning. With the energy efficient mini-split systems, an area can be cooled very quickly. My cost is 1/3 or less that what I paid in the US.
    I will stay in Mexico, live out my days on a budget of far less than I could in the US.

    by Karen — February 2, 2014

  50. […] further reading: 10 Best International Places to Retire Why This Gringo Can’t Wait to Move Back to the USA (with 49 comments!) The Pros, Cons, and Considerations of an International Retirement […]

    by » The Darker Side of International Retirement – 6 Reasons Not to Do It Topretirements — February 3, 2014

  51. Useful reading. Now that ACA is law the medical costs are manageable. And I enjoy the freedom USA give me without threats of robbery and violence.

    All these negative comments have to be taken with some caution. However they make appoint. Mexico is a poor developing country. Life will e different

    by Joepah — February 5, 2014

  52. Hi there, I am in the process of retiring here in Australia, originally from Chile, after three week holiday in Mexico I decided that it could be a good place or better to retire than boring Australia
    ( expensive country)so I am planing to sell my property and move on but my advantage with respect to USA citizens is that I speak fluent Spanish and very good English also Latin musician and a Mexican daughter in-law We have more chances to survive well also I do not expect to do any business if we fit society after long renting I will buy a place to live, my only concern is now to enter my belongings, furniture etc shipping container into Mexico because the Consul here (Canberra)has given no warranty of a perfect operation or success so If any one who has similar experience PLEASE tell me how is done in Mexican Customs to enter bulky containers.
    I have studied Thailand society; done too many trips to that country and they have similar features than Mexicans in any conflict with Locals, foreigners will be the looser, boggy builders?, there are many in Australia too! when Mexican enter to USA to work the majority get job picking tomatoes or cleaning toilets. Caution is the way to go no rush to much and do not put to much on your plate no overload your backpack, move lightly and freely until is safe.
    Rene from Australia

    by Rene E Perez — March 28, 2014

  53. Hi Rene,
    If you want to ship items from where you live you need to find a Mexican Consulate in your area. You’re required to fill out a form declaring what you’re bringing with $ amount. I don’t know what your shipping cost would be from Australia, but from WA state to Manzanillo then shipped to Guadalajara, it was very expensive. Maybe it would be wiser to bring only special items. Good luck!

    by Nancy P Corona — March 29, 2014

  54. Hello Rene,
    Having watched a relative go through this dilemma I would ask if you have considered selling your large items, bringing what you can in suitcases and purchasing what else you need locally once you arrive?
    Our Mexican friends told us how non-Mexicans are charged 3 to 4 times more in fees when bringing items into the country than the Mexicans are charged. I believe you will find this to be the case in most things you do in Mexico, one price for Mexicans and another higher price for the Gringos! And as we have been told by our friends, there is never any guarantee that your items will arrive in one piece, or that they will ALL arrive! And even with items in your suitcase, if customs officials don’t like what they see in your suitcase, they just take it and you have no way to get it back. I have traveled extensively and without fail it has always been in Mexico that something is removed from my belongings . . . DARN!

    Another issue to consider is that if some or all of your items go missing, how will you recover your loss. Here in the USA, our local insurance companies would not cover items that left the country, particularly to Mexico. And attempts to obtain any sort of insurance in Mexico was futile.

    You will find that there are now many ‘large box’ stores where you can purchase all sorts of home furnishings. They may not be the quality you are use to but it will do. And there are a number of local firms that can build furniture to suit your needs and this was relatively inexpensive.

    I would think a local real estate agent may be a great source of information for you. If you know what area you are interested in I might be able to put you in touch with someone local who can assist you. Happy Trails and enjoy your new journey! 🙂

    by Jane — March 29, 2014

  55. Hi Rene,
    The Seattle Mexican Consulate insisted my home items had to be packed by a mover. The Mover, stated one price quote and then overcharged me and packed every single item with tons of paper making this move very expensive as a huge container was needed. If you’re coming from Australia, your container would arrive by sea at a Mexican port. I’m N. American and not one item was missing.As Jane mentioned, it might be better to bring less.
    I don’t know where you have decided to live, but hopefully you’ll find a town or city less populated than Guadalajara, which has a huge problem with traffic and pollution. If you have any questions I’d be happy to help you.

    by Nancy P Corona — March 30, 2014

  56. Being ex military (many years) and living in various parts of the world I constantly amazed of how naive Americans are!! Whether its Mexico, Cost Rica, Europe, or Aisa when the SHTF who do you thing their coming after for STUF?? That could be food or many other things. Just think of living here in the USA – if the government did away with the 40 million that are on food stamps what do you think is going to happen when those that are without realize that you have food, money, a home etc – much less being in a foreign country. Hey your the Gringo and your so called foreigh friends are going to changr real fast. If the SHTF its going to be bad enough here in the USA much less in some other country!! WAKE UP AMERICANS!!!

    by Robert — March 30, 2014

  57. What are your plans and preparations for when the SHTF, Robert?

    by Jeff — March 31, 2014

  58. Oh Robert, You have summed it up so perfectly! When my relatives were fortunate enough to sell their house in Cozumel,(mind you foreigners can not own land in Mexico but must go with a land lease), it was dragged out for nearly a year and many many US dollars had to be paid in “gratuities” to many people in order for them to get OUT!!! When you have an Immigration Official in Cancun reminding you that “I know where you live and I have Officials in your island neighborhood who might come visit you” because they weren’t satisfied with the bribe money/gifts etc you have already given; you continue to pay up more and more to local and govt officials, (lawyers, accountants . . .just about everyone involved with the transaction has their hand out) just so you can get out of there with your life. Believe me you don’t breath easy until those airplane wheels have left the run way!!! I have seen so many folks go to these destinations on vacation and ‘fall in love with them’ so much that they make a life decision to move/retire there. BEWARE because it is not all that it seems. MY relatives house was robbed on a regular basis because it was a vacation rental when they were not using it and the locals knew when the ‘change over’ day was and timed their entries after a new crop of foreigners arrived with all of their expensive items like cameras, cash, jewelry, darn they even stole scuba diving equipment. And that vacation feel quickly disappeared as their funds were depleted by the locals in one way or another! If you really think you must do this, put your stuff in storage where you live now, go rent a place for a year or two and then decide if this is really the life style you want. Keep in mind the saying “Buyer Beware” !!!

    by Jane — March 31, 2014

  59. For Jeff:

    I have booked a flight on “Star Trek” and am going to the furtherest part of the Universe. @nd option is to beamed up in the “rapture” which I personally believe in – of course no one know esactly when that will happen.

    May I come over ur house in the meantime?



    by Robert — March 31, 2014

  60. It is wise to have a “real” plan. I’m not “home”. P.S. America will be no safer for a variety of reasons, armed prepers, our own government?

    by Jeff — April 1, 2014

  61. 6200 square feet! 6200 square feet! Tell Me please,how many people do you know either in the US or Mexico who can afford to build, maintain, or live in a 6200 square foot home?

    To live graciously in Mexico, you need to live in harmony with your surroundings. A 6200 ft. house says “I’m bad ass and you should respect me for it”. Rent a $700/month casita in San Miguel de Allende and keep your money in the US working to build the wealth you need to feel secure.

    The reason to move to Mexico is to feel alive and to enjoy the richness of its culture and to be amazed at the beauty of its people, the history, the food.

    The locals coined a term in the early 1900s for the US soldiers in their green uniforms ” Green Go”! I say it to those who want to live luxe in an emerging economy “Gringo” go home!

    by Patty Madigan — April 4, 2014

  62. I thought I would add my 2 cents worth, even though this is an old post. As someone who lives in and owns property in Mexico, I am certainly “Qualified” to speak. There IS a organized effort by some (mainly expats who must prey on others to live here) to suppress or aggressively counter any hard facts published about life here. I am sorry to report that certainly all the bad listed here is 100% fact. You can not ever leave your home here without fear of being robbed, and as it has been stated we know many who will not leave their home as a couple to even go out to dinner. Expats are the victim of choice and what are you going to steal from a Mexican in the barrio, NOTHING ! There exists the 2 price system and as a “Gringo” you will never break from it, you will always pay more. From the market to the contractor, you will pay more. The biggest myth about Mexico is it is cheap, while NOTHING is more further from reality, nothing. If you want to live in a remote village, eat what they eat, live how they live YES you can live for next to nothing, own a home that you may have only paid in the hundreds to a few thousand US Dollars ! Mind you no TV, Internet or Running Water. Appliances and ALL electronics are MANY times more than the US. That $11.00 Wal-Mart toaster in the US, try about $50. Us here, and you will get about 6 months out of it if your lucky! A blender $100./US That “Big Screen Costco TV” $700. US PRICE IS $2,000. US here ! Mexicans have a saying “They can’t afford to live here”. Clothes, bedding, towel’s are all 3-4 times the US prices and 1/2 the quality. Tools and appliances are near “Junk” quality but at super premium prices. That mini fridge that you can get anywhere in the US from $35.-50.00 IS $200. US IN MEXICO ! Depending on city the “Gringo” price for a home is the same OR MORE than the US, while your Mexican “Neighbor” paid 1/3 to 1/6th what you did. Corruption is very rampant at all levels and a payoff to a Mexican official no matter how low, can cost you endless grief. You have no rights property or otherwise. As stated the biggest “Shocker” to most who move here is the “Noise” and the utter lack of respect for their neighbors. Mexicans party all night EVERY night! I disagree with the statement above “parties start at 10:00 pm”, while they may start then, most will not show till 11:00 or 12:00. These “Parties” ALWAYS go till at least 4:00 am, usually longer. A live band or WAY overamplified music ALWAYS accompanies such a party. Try to complain (IF you are fool enough) see what happens. The biggest kick I get is the people who always come out and say “You didn’t do your homework first” !!! Well buddy I spent HUNDREDS of hours reading about moving to Mexico and it was all sugar coated BS ! Then someone prints the cold hard facts and they are lambasted for it. MAYBE SOMEONE will read what I and others have to say, “IN doing their homework” and then make what is called a informed decision ! Remember you are moving to a country where an 8 year old girls “Birthday Party” starts at 10:00 pm ON A SCHOOL NIGHT then goes till 3:00 am !!! This IS the REAL “Culture” of Mexico, and while the “OLD” hold a super high regard and the utmost respect for “Gringo’s”, the young certainly do not. They resent you being in “their” country, they resent that you are “Rich” (In their eyes ANYONE who is white and from north of the boarder is rich) Your car can and will be “Vandalized” for no reason. You must have bars on all your windows and doors, NO this is NOT part of the quaint Spanish Culture, but cold reality. NO ONE trusts ANYONE in Mexico ! End of story. In Mexico it is not the “Scam of the Month, nor even hour, BUT THE SCAM OF THE MILLISECOND ! Every transaction you complete in Mexico is so heavily scrutinized for this very reason. Mexicans all hate and distrust the government and police. They themselves (for the most part) have NO respect for the laws and rights of others. 8 out of 10 people in Mexico PAY NO TAXES WHASTSOEVER, yet “DEMAND” massive services from the government. Mexico has NO payroll withholding tax, and is on an “Honor System” for people to report and pay, no one does. UNFORTUNATLY because of this and fear of revolt or at least losing the next election, Mexican Politicians won’t touch this issue, and the “TREND” more and more is to “Squeeze” the Gringo” for it. This year the Mexican Government for no reason increased real estate taxes thus, you got your tax notice and magically your home increased in size from last year by 100, 200 300 or even 600% in “Square Meter Size” In other words say in 2012 your home was assessed at 600 square meters, your “NEW” 2013 tax bill now has it as 1,600 SQUARE METERS !!!! Explain this ??? The government upset with the Mexican people as “SNEAKS” did this out of retaliation . For decades the Mexican people had been “Bootlegging” additions onto their homes with no “PERMISSO” (NO PERMIT) and many were paying taxes on say 100 square meters when in fact their home was now 700. The Mexican Government TRIPLED my square meters, then basically said “Sue US” and prove us wrong. NOTE this has not or would not happen in the US OR Canada ! I was forced to hire an “ARCHATECT” have my home measured and certified by this “ARCHATECT” submit it only to be turned down. The findings “Mi Casa” (My Home) was 100% correct on the “Old” bill as to square footage (Meters) It was only after COUNTLESS hours of wasted time the “Government” came and measured my home, CONFIRMENED they WERE WRONG, but have yet to make ANY correction. Such is Mexico! Yes I plan to stay here, but wake up if you plan to live here, it is not the US, and by the way “Chain” grocery store food is MORE than the US, HOME DEPOT OR COSTCO are the MOST expensive places you can shop in MEXICO, UNLIKE IN THE US !!! ANYONE who says different is a liar ! If you plan to move here or ANY foreign country check out EVERYTHING FIRST> store prices, utilities etc, etc…PS on the issue of “Casas Grande’s” why not check out some of the many “Village’s” where shacks sit next to a 3 Million US Dollar Cartel (Drug Lord )Home, now who’s the “Badass” and they will let you know it EVERY DAY !

    by Dirk — May 16, 2014

  63. All I can say to Dirk is that he should probably return to the US! I’ve been familiar with Mexico for the last 45 years…and yes Mexico isn’t in good shape. I’ve summed Mexico up like everything else…The Good,The Bad, and The Ugly. Yes, it’s dangerous, corrupt and polluted. One should live in a gated
    community and preferably in a small town. The Good… there are nice family oriented people, the weather is nice when there’s no air pollution…The Ugly, well we all know the drug cartels plus the corrupt government.
    I have family here so I’m staying, BUT I would like to live in the US 6 months out of the year…some State close to the border. I can’t decide which one. California is expensive,has fires, droughts and earthquakes. Arizona and Texas are too hot and plus drought problems and high taxes.
    I’m in my 60’s and single. Can someone recommend a nice area? Thanks!

    by N.P. — May 17, 2014

  64. To Jeff, Yes Jeff I agree it is good to have a plan. My main point was its going to be bad enough here in the US when the SHTF much less being a foreigner in another country and especially South America/Mexico.

    Sorry to hear that ur not home! Oh well, just kidding – wasn’t coming over anyhow. Trying to save money especially on SS. Got a small raise recently but that was eaten up in COL.

    As Seniors with not so deep pockets our plan for TODAY is surviving and getting through another day. We,like many others on this site, are looking for an affordable “small” 2b/2ba home (not like some on this site who want Mansions) to live out the remainder of our days here on this “penal colony called Earth”.

    You see I have a crazy theory that Earth long ago was designated a penal colony for the rest of the Universe. All the whacks,thugs,murderers,rapist, thieves,pedophiles etc were convicted and shipped here for the rest of their lives and committed to live among each other. I am not in the previous mentioned classification but being a so called “human” I too was shipped here.

    So far NE Tn seems to be the most affordable place for US to live. 2nd best may be Florida BUT Fl can really get you on RE taxes.

    Whew – feel better already,


    by Robert — May 18, 2014

  65. I will add some of The Good that exists in Mexico. Having 3 pets was very expensive living in the States. In Mexico I have a very good vet that even comes out to my home. Health insurance is less here. Unfortunately, American
    insurance companies have managed to get into the Mexican system. It never was like this…you went to the doctor and paid the doctor for this service. The food use to be healthier…still is unless you eat at
    Burger King. I think Mexico booted out MONSANTO. SO, there are NICE things about Mexico! There is no perfect place. You look for the area you think you’ll like…if it turns out it wasn’t a fit you move. If you can’t move, make lemonade out of lemons!

    by NP — May 18, 2014

  66. Paying more because your not a local happens everywhere, even here in the good ole US of A. When I lived in South Africa there were two sets of fees one for South Africans and another for “tourists,” even if you lived there. When I talk to people who moved to the southern US same kind of thing happened. So if your not a member of the ‘group’ or don’t go with local people you are an outsider. In parts of Mexico and a lot of places outside the US even the “gringo” cost of living a lot less than the US cost of living. And some of us do enjoy living like locals, if you need the things which come with a US lifestyle come back. Don’t worry about being embarrassed or ‘saving face,’ it is not worth being miserable.

    by Shumidog — May 18, 2014

  67. I take offense to those comments that label Mexico and Mexicans, based on Writer experiences. Reporting what happened to you in Mexico is fine; using those events to speak disparagingly about the country and the nationality is not fine. If you were cheated by a Mexican plumber in Mexico, fine, say that. Don’t go on to say this means Mexico is corrupt and Mexicans are thieves. Please, be factual and be kind. It isn’t necessary to discriminate.

    by Ginger — May 19, 2014

  68. Ginger has made some good points but hurt my FEELINGS with her reverse hate speak. Individuals have posted their real life experiences in dealings with locals, commercial and government entities. While I have no real or imagined rash experiences in my time in Mexico, I believe there is ample factual documented history of same/similar events over time to colaborate what has been posted here. Blessings. By the way, all my experiences in Mexico were nothing but positive from Cozumel to Mazatalan. Others have different experiences. These were their Readers Digest stories. Knowledge Ginger, helps people make informed life decisions.

    by Phil — May 21, 2014

  69. Admin note: There has been some heated discussion on this topic lately. We have deleted a couple of them that got too personal, and edited out a few comments that tended to be too attacking.

    by Admin — May 22, 2014

  70. know of that

    by Jeff L — May 22, 2014

  71. There are cultural differences? Really? Was the first clue that you moved to a country with a completely different culture?

    I’ve lived in Mexico for 9 years now–7.5 in San Miguel de Allende and the last1.5 years in coastal Nayarit, about an hour north of Puerto Vallarta. If you do your research and pick the right architect/builder, building a home is going to be an absolute joy here. Our guy in San Miguel was bilingual, honest and had a great reputation among my good friends based on work he’d done for them. The house (and the attached recording studio) was spectacular, finished almost exactly on time–extended a couple of weeks because of changes we made during the building process–and stands as a testament to Mexican craftsmanship and attention to detail.

    Even more importantly…it was a pleasure from start to finish. The workers (between 5 and 30 a day, depending on what was being done) were happy to be working for a year. Most of the surprises were pleasant, the exception being when the US economy crashed in ’08 and we had to reduce the square footage of the new place so that it fit our new net worth better. But even that process was fairly painless.

    I can tell you that converting a two car garage in the US into a recording studio was filled with missed deadlines, cost increases and no-shows. We hired someone who came recommended there too, and in the end the studio was fine. But it took literally twice as long as promised and cost maybe 35% higher than we’d budgeted for.

    Beyond all that, the people here are generally friendly and warm, especially if you make an attempt to speak their language–think about it. Don’t you get a little frustrated when you meet a Mexican resident in the US and he or she can’t speak a word of English? if you come to live in Mexico, make the investment and you will see how far it takes you.

    yes, there are corrupt cops on the highways looking for a quick bribe to get out of a bogus traffic ticket. That has happened to me about 7 times in 9 years, and I drive back and forth to the states a lot, maybe 20 times in that time period. Most of the time, I’ve been able to talk my way out of paying anything; other times, I got the ‘fine’ down to something reasonable like $200 pesos (about $16 USD). It’s a drag that it ever happens, but the worst such situation actually happened to me in Texas, outside of El Paso. A Texas Highway Patrol man pulled over a three-car caravan I was heading–driving at exactly 55 mph on cruise control–and told us we needed to stay over the weekend to go to court on Monday to pay our fines. We said that was impossible, we were on our way to CA and he produced three plain white envelopes and instructed us to simply each put $75 USD in them to ‘clear this up.’

    My point…there are people who will try to take advantage of you no matter where you are.

    in terms of crime, until 1.5 years ago, my story was pretty much unblemished. And then I left my car in a shopping center and took a cab into centro to avoid heavy traffic. Unfortunately, I dropped my keys in the cab and by the time I’d figured that out and went back to check on the car, the cabbie had obviously sold the keys to someone who had driven off with my car. Filing a report with the police wasn’t fun, especially with my mediocre Spanish. My insurance company screwed around with me a little but I just deposited the settlement check and I feel better now. 🙂

    But I’ve also had stories where cabbies/taxistas have gone way out of their way to return wallets, computers and musical instruments left in their vehicles by spaced out passengers as well, including myself.

    In terms of violence, it has remained–as far as I can tell–very demographically and geographically focused. We are not targets for cartel-type violence, and the one time I was aware of an innocent gringo getting treated in a brutal way, it turned out he had been doing quite a bit of business with drug dealers.

    And yes, when the US economy weakens, more Mexican immigrants return and get desperate for $ so there is often an uptick in petty crime, pursesnatching, things being stolen from cars left unlocked and so on. A few more home invasion-style robberies, ghastly occurrences that can and do happen in this country and other countries including my home country. i wish it wasn’t so, but as I said–almost no personal experiences with crime here beyond what I’ve related and that seems acceptable to me. Is it acceptable to have my car stolen? of course not…but is it realistic to assume that cars don’t get stolen in San Diego, my hometown, every day? Of course not.

    by Doug — May 22, 2014

  72. I bet those gringos didm´t speak spanish !

    by Oscar — May 22, 2014

  73. Phil, I apologize if my comments were offensive. I should explain that I married a Mexican man from Brownsville, TX and had a 1/2 Mexican daughter. I had many Mexican relatives until our divorce, and I still have many Mexican friends, from various parts of Mexico. At this moment I have close friends, both Mexican and non-Mexican, living in Monterrey, DF, Guadalajara, Hermosilla, Leon….all over Mexico. I see them often. I am in Mexico often. I have not been a homeowner, but have many homeowner friends. While some people on this blog have had unpleasant experiences, many have not. Mexico and Mexicans are just like ny country and any people…there are problems to deal with, and there are people who behave badly. There are also wonderful things about the country, and amazing, joyful, kind people. Foreigners visiting the US could, and have, said ‘America is corrupt’. There would be both truth and falsehood in that statement. The same is true of Mexico. I personally have had many good experiences with Mexican people and Mexico.

    I am simply requesting that everyone be kind. Blanket statements like ‘Mexicans hate gringos’ are neither true nor kind. No one here has polled every Mexican to determine what all Mexicans think or feel.

    by Ginger — May 22, 2014

  74. I lived in Mexico (San Miguel de Allende) for 2 1/2 years and loved it! But the issues mentioned above also plagued me as well as several non-violent robberies of my home and person. I wrote about my experiences in Mexico, including my reasons for leaving, in my award-winning memoir, The Church of Tango. But still I miss Mexico very much–the culture, history, people, food and spirituality.

    by Cherie Magnus — May 22, 2014

  75. I do not know much about the country of Mexico and have no friends that are of Hispanic decent but I do know this having been in the military a very long time and traveled around much of the world – including to Siberia Russia on a mission trip. That is (AGAIN) WHEN (it’s no longer an IF anymore) the SHTF you as an American living in a foreign country are going to experience some very very dangerous situations and may even be seriously harmed and or could be killed. Ignoring facts does not make them go away I.e., Google who commits most of the crime in the US considering we have approximately 320 million – does that mean that everyone is that particular race of people is Bad – of course not BUT it does give you and indication ans what going on in communities and cities around the US. Sorry – facts are facts.

    Viva the USA – may not be the best but certainly the best in this current world.


    by Robert — May 23, 2014

  76. After having traveled through more than 40 countries from 1966 to the middle of 2013, I can assure you that in the vast majority of contacts there is never a problem….if you do your part. A country’s history and its culture are intertwined, and if you are ignorant of it, or disregard it, YOU are the problem. You come across as disinterested, care less, and in the worst case, condescending. I only had 3 serious instances, held at gunpoint and robbed in Singapore, same thing in Detroit, and a local misunderstanding is Hazard county Ky. When the SHTF, The economy collapses, even your neighbors will be your worst enemy when it comes to survival. I will be in another country that will suffer the least, if any economic disaster. History reveals the wisdom of this, get out of the way. How many Europeans imigrated to South and Central America prior to the SHTF there. have viable passports, and currencey acceptable in your destination. It’s your attitude, not your nationality, race, gender, etc that will have the greatest effect on your relationships.Sure, these things have an effect, but nothing like an arrogant ignoramus, especially one with a condescending attitude. I have seen it happen more time than I care to count.

    by Jeff L — May 23, 2014

  77. Being Mexican-American, we are used to being paid lower wages in menial jobs, so we are not surprised when gringos move to Mexico for the same bargains. I’m sure love of the culture comes into the decision-making process well after the cost-factors. After all, if they love the culture so much, why are these ex-pats not flocking to East L.A.? If they have to pay bribes, maybe it is to make up for the poverty that some of the locals live in. Also, if the ex-pats love these people so much, why do they not socialize with them, i.e. have lunch or dinner with them? How about inviting them to a garden party, etc. How about cooking for them or going to work in their gardens? Be honest about why they live there.

    by Norma R — May 23, 2014

  78. 6200 SF is absurd – that’s why he can’t sell it (IMO). But I’ll tell you, places like Ajijic and San Miguel are built on the care and exploitation of gringos. There is no Mexican middle class in either town to speak of, it’s all the service industry and “the help”. If you want to experience Mexico, go somewhere that has less than 1% gringos. We visited Ajijic when looking for a place to live and ran for our lives – never in a million years, it was like Arizona. Gated communities and guys in white golf shoes everywhere. San Miguel isn’t quite as bad on first blush, likely because a great deal of the gringos are obscenely wealthy. But it’s about the care and exploitation of gringos. Try a town with fewer gringos proportionately (like DF or Cuernvavaca) and you’ll find the real Mexico. Of course, you’ll have to learn Spanish, so that probably eliminates 98% of you.

    by Beverley Wood — May 23, 2014

  79. A One Eyed person is King in the Land of the Blind.

    by Robert — May 24, 2014

  80. Robert…this thread is not a competition between the US and Mexico. Your repeated comments about the superiority of the Us are not helpful, and your condescending and superior tone is quite insulting.

    by Ginger — May 24, 2014

  81. Robert…crime statistics in the US are very complex. As a former employee of the SF Sheriff department, and with a criminal justice education, I can tell you don’t know much about what you are saying. The largest number of crimes are committed by white people in the U.s; however, they are not always prosecuted to the same extent. White peopke commit more bank robberies, fraud, domestic violence, white collar crime…so many areas if crime you probably haven’t even considered. Here is a link to a starting place for you so you can have some actual data behind your arguments:

    by Ginger — May 24, 2014

  82. Editor: I know you have moderators; you edited my last post, but you apparently think these racist remarks…’google who commits the most crime in the U.S bla bla bla’ are ok. They are not OK, unless it is your intent for this blog to be a source of untrue, misleading racial slurs.

    by Ginger — May 24, 2014

  83. Ginger – ur funny. I suggest you move to Mexico. Hasta la vista.
    Racist? – who me? Don’t think so But who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men/women? The shadow knows.

    by Robert — May 24, 2014

  84. Actually I am an Irishman. My family comes from County Clare, Ireland.

    Does that make me a Gringo? Are Irishmen Gringo’s? If so this Irishman/Gringo is LMAO.

    by Robert — May 24, 2014

  85. Ginger, google prison population percentages against general population numbers. We need to find a center ground, propaganda is at best a hindrance. I sincerely doubt our penal system, FBI, and and state prison population stastistics and ALL false even if they all don’t agree, but close enough to give a good general idea. The rest is political, and politicians…..well!

    by Jeff L — May 24, 2014

  86. As a property owner in Mexico, I am sorry to hear of Stephen Anderson’s predicament, however I would go out on a limb here and state that his experience is most probably not typical of CDN and USA expats. I personally know several people in Gaudalajara, San Miguel d A., and Barra de Navidad / Manzanillo area. Of all the people I know few have had issues. It is important as we talk about Mexico that all of us that come from the north, think that our own countries are squeaky clean, and how do we appear to the Mexicans that have lived north of their border in our countries?

    I will also state that if Mr. Anderson was truly passionate about his experience in Mexico, then he might inform the US Foreign Affair of his experience warning fellow Americans of the “Dangers of Mexico” rather than writing a book and putting it for sale on Amazon for $17.95. So, again I ask what is the motivation. Mexico has a growing economy and a growing middle class. Do they have a drug problem, sure, do violent crimes take place, Sure. Now lets look at the US and Canada under the same microscope. Do we have a drug problem, sure, do we have violence, sure. Do we unscrupulous builders and conmen, Sure. Does violence exist in our back yard, You bet ! If you are going to go to Mexico, don’t bring an expensive car, don’t build a monster home. If you want to live in Mexico then blend in. Build a nice but simple home, drive an appropriate vehicle and learn the language, because if you stick out in any neighborhood, whether it be in Mexico the US, or Canada, you will be a target. I have have been in a position to observe Gringos and some have embraced the life, given back to the adoptive community and have flourished and been accepted. It is important that going to Mexico or any other foreign country it is very important to be well informed of Customs and Culture and do a lot research before taking the plunge.

    by Peter D — May 24, 2014

  87. Jeff L. You are absolutely correct. You compare percentages to the population of each individual race of people imprisoned or ones committing crimes or whatever comparison one wishes to evaluate. I.e, purchases Volvo’s etc.

    Is saying that you have (example) 280 million Caucasians, 50 million blacks, 20 million Hispanics and 10 million Asians in a country racist???? Duh!!

    Like it or not there will ALWAYS be some sort of racism in the world (has been since the recording of time)and it is experienced in every country.

    I doubt very seriously if there is a person on this planet that is a true 100 % non racist.

    Lets all get back to retirement and I choose to remain in the US. If anyone else chooses to relocate to another country so be it. My point has always been that you will stick out like a sore thumb when turmoil strikes and I also point out that even in the US the “have nots” will be coming after the ones that “have” when turmoil strikes.

    It doesn’t take an intellectual giant to realize this. Being prepared (in my opinion) does not make one foolish but wise.

    by robert — May 25, 2014

  88. The U.S. has a higher percentage of its population in prison of any other country. The question is why. A financial collapse will have the greatest affect North America and western Europe. Thus the greatest turmoil. During the political and financial turmoil in countries like Panama, Ecuador, Guatemala, Chile, Argentina and others. The locals protected American and other expats living there. Yes, some were taken prisoner, a few killed, but the majority survived because they were prepared as were their neighbors. It is estimated that a full third of the U.S. population would expire as a result of a financial collapse; That’s from FEMA and that is likely an understatement. Have your passport ready!

    by Jeff L — May 25, 2014

  89. I so do enjoy discussions about our favorite places to retire…

    by Godsgirl — May 25, 2014

  90. A very solemn thank you to all that made the ultimate sacrifice to defend and protect the principles and values we stand for. The best place to retire is right here in the good ole US of A.

    by Bubbajog — May 25, 2014

  91. Jeff L., I think your point is well taken. I also believe that in the face of an economic collapse, which I think is very likely, the turmoil in the US will likely exceed the turmoil elsewhere. After all, poor people in Mexico are used to tough times…we are not. Just ration gas and watch people freak out here. This is actually one of the reasons I made the choices I made…to downsize drastically, to move to a mobile home park, to be close to the Mexican border. I didn’t want to sink more money into property when I expect the economy to fail, I wanted to be in a place with good neighbors I could trust, and I wanted to be able to escape to Mexico if necessary. I will be buying a storage shed as soon as I can, and then I will lay in some supplies…water, canned goods. Just to be prepared.

    by Ginger — May 26, 2014

  92. To all those enamored with Mexico = “Hasta la vista”. As for me and my house we are staying in the US – actually now contemplating NE TN – love the mountains and from what I have seen it’s friendly to retirees and RE taxes are extremely low. Further investigation is necessary.

    To all my Veteran Brothers – Thank you for your service to our country.

    Hopefully they will get this VA fiasco straighten out.

    My Passport is reserved for a vacation to Ireland not to move out of the US.

    by Robert — May 26, 2014

  93. God Bless our VETERANS and the USA. Without our veterans we would not have the freedom we have today. I love these United States of America and would never leave what has been given to me by brave men and women who have sacrificed so much.

    by vickie — May 26, 2014

  94. Thank you Vickie and right-back-at-you Robert; remembrance to our fallen comrades.

    My bride of 40 years and I are making our stand right here in Wyoming. After many month dreaming of a retired life in a warmer climate we’ve decided that we could do a LOT worse than we thought we were here, if only just briefly. Right now we’re looking for a dwelling on a property that is a little more farm-able than this little house on the Wind River Indian Reservation. After a visit to the eastern part of the state last weekend, we think that we’ve found it on the North Platte River in the eastern part of the state! I should keep this list-server posted with our progress, eh?

    by Gary — May 26, 2014

  95. A heartfelt THANK YOU to all our Veterans. May those who made the ultimate sacrifice never be forgotten.

    by Godsgirl — May 26, 2014

  96. Wow. Maybe we need a new topic “Places to Retire in Fear” or something like that:cool: Thank you vets!

    by John H — May 26, 2014

  97. Gary – never been to Wyoming but I hear it is beautiful as is Montana. I took a HD Motorcycle tour around the US when I got out of the AF but missed those two states. Would love to visit and could you tell me about RE prices, taxes etc.

    Now that we are a “Seasoned Citizens” our first gut reaction would be – It’s tooooo (brrrrrrrr) cold to move there.

    We are on a very limited budget (both cancer survivors) so finances really dictate for the most part where we will finally settle down and live our lives out. Some people on this site have some really deep pockets – I am jealous.

    Your thoughts would be appreciated.


    by Robert — May 26, 2014

  98. We are not seeking a “place to retire in fear” we are merely seeking the freedom and liberty and peace us veterans stood and fought for. Many of our rights have been sacrificed of the altar of “political correctness” There are places in this world that still respect individual freedoms. And for that reason, I’m out!

    by Jeff L — May 27, 2014

  99. Robert – this post should be in the “Mountain States..” forum, but i’ll try to sum up Wyoming for you. We have only lived here since 1975 but I feel qualified to give you my honest opinion.

    We are a mountain state and even the plains and prairies are “high altitude” and arid. It goes without saying that the mountains have shorter summers. Best to live in the eastern part if you want to farm (we like to garden). It gets hot in the summer but not very humid. We have more sunny days than not, by a wide margin. We are motorbikers and this is a beautiful place to ride; we have a lot of bikers.

    We are people who love the outdoors and aren’t ashamed to carry a jacket around with us in the summer, knowing that we might be outside after dark! If you like fishing and/or hunting Wyoming makes it cheap and easy for you. We have plenty of public land. Camping? Hiking? Wildlife and landscape photography? We has it!

    We are an energy state, so taxes on oil, coal and uranium production puts a huge amount of revenue in our coffers. There is NO STATE INCOME TAX! Sales taxes are usually 4% or 5% tops but there are no sales taxes on groceries in most communities. Doctors are at a premium in some places, while hospitals in Casper and Cheyenne are well staffed. There is a VA hospital in Cheyenne and it is part of the recent scandal (thanks Obama ). Get used to driving 100+ miles to do major shopping unless you live in Casper or Cheyenne, even if all you need is available at WalMart! Note to hipsters, we have NO IKEA stores but I heard there is a Starbucks in the new Safeway store in Lander.

    We give a discount to Veterans. I get about 30% knocked off of my property taxes because of my Veteran status. Our property tax is about $600 a year, so that’s almost $200. We live in the town of Riverton; house appraises at $150,000.

    We are and have always been a conservative state. We recently managed to elect some extremists to our State House, but I think people have learned a few things about “moderation” since then. A fact that isn’t well known is, there are more “same-sex couples” per-capita in Wyoming than any other state. I will take a leap here and claim that almost all of those couples are of the “female” gender! Yet, we will probably be one of the last states to have “same-sex marriage”, go figure. We are known as “The Equality State” because we elected the first woman governor.

    I hope you get the gist. The best way to know it is to visit it.


    p.s. we actually have fast internet, too, so a lot of folks who do little more that surf the internet would be perfectly happy in Wyoming from the warmth of their kitchens

    by Gary — May 27, 2014

  100. Gary, tks for the info. My wife, who is a breast cancer survivor needs to be near excellent medical care and facilities. Sounds like a nice place – wish you well. Brother – thank you for ur Veteran service.


    by Robert — May 28, 2014

  101. No problem, Robert! Here, folks who get cancer usually move (temporally) to Billings where there is a first class C facility.

    Just an example of what we deal with here; my grandson broke his arm on a Friday afternoon, and when rushed to the local “privately owned” hospital my daughter was told that the X-ray tech had already left for the weekend, so she should bring him back on Monday! My wife and I bought a $50 a year insurance policy that gets us a life-flight to Casper if we ever need serious emergency healthcare!

    Anyway, I hope some other folks read my post and realize that Wyoming just ain’t for everybody 😉


    by Gary — May 28, 2014

  102. You have to see this one!!!!
    We are just opening Donde Mira el Sol Senior Resort. It´s awesome! Please visit and get to know this marvellous place where we care for your health, wellness, security and confort.

    by laura mendoza — May 29, 2014

  103. […] Tourism in Guatemala – Report on a Recent Emergency Taking Baby Steps to Retire in Mexico Mexican Retirement Gone Bad – Why This Gringo Can’t Wait to Get Back to the USA (the comments are at least as interesting as the […]

    by » Ex-Pat Retirees, Medicare, and Health Insurance Topretirements — June 10, 2014

  104. First things first . If you want a good to excellent experience in Mexico you need to arrive equipped with a good to excellent command of Spanish and knowledge of Mexico . My parents first took me on an extended trip to Mexico when I was 5 in 1956 . I learned Spanish in high school and later became close to fluent by traveling in many Latin countries and earning a B.A. in Latin American Studies .
    The response and treatment you get from Mexicans when they hear a blond with blue eyes initiating an intelligent conversation with them is like night and day compared to what I’m reading in these posts . My advice is to find a place you like in the Republica , go back to the U.S. and immerse yourself in Spanish courses ( writing , reading , speaking – – there are no shortcuts ) for at least one year . Study the history , culture , etc . Go back to Mexico and you will be a hit . Guaranteed ! Mexicans are very kind and giving . Show them that you took the time to learn their language and customs and they will make your life full of pleasure . And don’t go to Chapala ! Plueeze . Once you can speak Spanish very well , there are soooo many other nicer places to live in the 31 States of the Republic .

    by Don Smith — December 5, 2014

  105. sorry to hear about such bad experience in my born town ajijic. but most to the time foreing people do not get what they expect, because they do not used the rigth way. I have travel in the US and make bussiness, some I did it well, but some others they take advantage on me. claiming that they have a good connections with the legal sistem. and loss a lot money. but that doe’s not mean that every body are the same, we have honest and bad people, like you have in the U.S. I already have so bad experience there, like when I was driven back from florida, the police stop me near to San Antonio Texas, and call another policeman, and they remove all my things from my suburban incluring the seats and after 3 hours, they take me to the judge and paid more than 100 dollar fine. why? do’n know! they see you like another mexican drug dealer! another beatifull experience was when I whent to chicago to see the Natural history museum. they hold me in the airport area an a office and they ask me so many questions, that I was ready to take the next fly back to mexico, they was so rude. but like some body said, “Does not mean that applies to everyone”. so I will coming bak to the Estates! as I said before, you do’n have to be in U.S to be ripoff! we have some imported foreings that do that! expatriates! they used the confident and trust from the old people and then, they steal their money and property! we have many samples! like Perry March, Sam Chavez, Henry Loridans, Paul raza, Sandra loridans, Gilbert Silverman, and so many that is impposible to mention. scams like Firt Global Bank, leading by an expatriate! how finnaly was deported and face barrs in Arizona!. or the new one named “Ajijic Ospice” . God! I better stop! because may be all mexican have to move to the U. S.! good look!

    by Rene Guzman — February 20, 2015

  106. We lived in Guadalajara for 3 years, not as retirees but as USG officials. I have to say one needs to be careful about medical services. I did a complete physicals in the best hospital there, Stayed in the hospital one night andI was shocked to see the bill: $300plus for the doctor who arranged it and $8,000 plus (yes, it was $8,000not $800) for the examine and I did not even had hearing test or see an Gynecologist! This was 3 times more than my local friend who had a major surgery and stayed in the same hospital for 4 days!!! I was livid but we gave them insurance information and they charged insurance company and the company paid for it. I only found out after it was paid. So, if you have US insurance, they know what they can do and will charge you US prices with less service. Dentists are the same especially those who were trained in the US. Yes, you can get great deals but if you want US trained doctors and you have insurance, be aware.

    by Mingchen — February 21, 2015

  107. I am sooooo sorry you had a bed experience! We have been here ibn the Baja Peninsula for 5 years and have NEVER regretted the decision to move here!

    by Becky — September 14, 2015

  108. I am sorry to say that I totally agree with Robert. While my personal experience may seem to some like I am negative towards Mexico and others may discredit the facts as they are uncomfortable with them.
    If I am negative in my view of Mexico, it is because Mexico truly wore me down…it changed me. Seven years of being taken advantage of, literally harassed for services and items I never wanted…my prices always higher than the Mexicans paid. Restaurants with two menus…one for Mexicans…one for foreigners. Same foods, different prices.
    I cannot understand how after so many Mexicans live or have lived in the United States, and most have at least one family member in u.s…well, I cannot understand how it seems that there is a mindset in Mexico that gringos have unlimited cash stored back in the u.s and can afford to be taken advantage of without limit. It is so tiring, disheartening, and de humanizing to be used as an opportunity para provecha. Provechar means ito take advantage of. It hurts and it wears you down. I feel 20 years older for 7 years there. As a woman , I would never recommend living there without a male companion or friend, as the respect seems nonexistent there for a single woman who is not interested in being a wife or esposa to them or freely sharing her flesh is something that the culture does not seem to have a place for. Robert is correct in his assessment and I don’t think Robert can be blamed for that. Robert says it like it is and if he was a woman, I am sure he would have worse to say. I shall refrain from saying more. But the beatiful climates, fruits, flavored of Mexico are easily tarnished by the society. What may seem so friendly and lively and beautiful may seem less so after losing sleep from nights of sensory bombardment until dawn, after the umpteenth person rips you off and smiles about it and that is just about every day and night . Veracruz, yucatan, …it doesn’t really matter. There are a few good folks, but even they themselves will tell you the same …you cannot trust anything or anyone, from the local on the street all the way to the officials. It’s all rigged like a bad carnival game. It is a way of life there to take advantage of others. It truly is a shame, as it could be a paradise, but it is more like a mean trick. Hard to live in an atmosphere where there can be no trust. None.
    Regardless of crime being world wide and bad things happen everywhere, I still feel Mexico to be a place where daily life in a society with nothing and no one to trust is not worth the living. Beautiful is Mexico, but hard is the life. If you can get taken advantage of, and lied to daily and still think it’s paradise, then more power to you. I commend you for having very thick skin and very deep pockets. You will need both to live there. Most everything outside of local foods and crafts have to be imported, so the prices are much higher and quality lower. Warranties don’t work there often, even if your purchased item has one. There are no set rules, no fair prices or exchanges and no recourse legally or otherwise if you are cheated….you just get cheated more for complaining about it. I know this to be my experience, I know it to be the experience of many. And yes, more Americans are selling their cases and getting out. I think maybe twenty years ago or more it may have been easier to live there, or so I’ve heard from old expats ,but the dollars being passed around by tourism and gullible good hearted foreigners have spoiled them by now and it all just seems like a trick circus.
    It doesn’t matter if you explain that even though a dollar is worth maybe ten or so pesos, that what counts is how many dollars you have…so the Mexican with 500 pesos has more in their pocket than a person with 20 dollars….yet honestly they cannot see it like that. If it’s a dollar and you are a gringo, green go….then you are a bottomless well and mexico is entitled to all the water they can drink.

    by Michelle — October 18, 2015

  109. I think Rene Guzman makes many good points. I’m a blond, blue-eyed well-educated American and I’ve been ripped off (or been attempted to be ripped off) many times in both the US and Canada. So even to their own, people in places will attempt to make the best of a situation where the buyer has less information than the seller. I also speak Spanish fairly well and when given a gringo price (which has only happened maybe 2 or 3 times) I just laugh and give them a look like “I know what you’re doing”, and then make an offer close to the real price. One taxi driver in Aguascalientes tried to charge me 50 pesos for a ride that should have been 35. I simply said to him, “no, it should cost 35”. We agreed on 40 and all was well. Arguably not a ton of money in difference, but it’s the principle: if I get gringo-priced, I’m not going to take it sitting down. At the very least, I’m going to show them clearly that I know what they’re up to and am not happy about it. We gringos need to do our part too.

    I will say that if you don’t learn some Spanish and have some guts to stand up for yourself, you may occasionally have a hard time. And yes it can make life unpleasant sometimes. But if the alternative is the US, what you have there is literally massive institutionalized corruption, where the rich own the government and where the reason your potholes aren’t fixed and your public schools are lousy is because the rich have managed to take all the money for themselves and leave just pennies for the rest of us. Canada is bad in a different way (I split time between Mexico and Canada now). Here you won’t be scammed illegally much, but if there’s a legal way to do it, oh boy will they try. Like the guy who tried to tell me the brakes on my car weren’t available anymore and had to be custom-machined for $1200. Or the lawyer who tried to charge me $600 for a consultation, even though he’d done no work and his website clearly said “first consultation for free”.

    So, in the end, people are people. But in Mexico you have two big disadvantages: 1) The legal system has bigger fish to fry than gringos’ relatively minor issues, so if something happens you won’t get much justice, and 2) you’re perceived to be rich and naive. Best advice? Learn Spanish so you don’t look as naive, and have Mexican friends you can ask advice and help from. And of course, be kind and humble. As they are.

    by HBJ — October 20, 2015

  110. I really enjoyed reading all the preceding. Found it useful and enlightening. As more than one poster noted, there are websites and companies that go way too far in painting a can’t-miss nirvana picture of what life will be like in MX. I am strongly considering relocating to MX within 2 years. So I am really working on soaking up as much of this material as I can. There is an old adage I like which goes something like – you need to be able to learn from the mistakes of others, because life is too short to make all the mistakes yourself.

    One thing I know will be of help if I do in the fact take the plunge is … I worked as an expat in my mid-20s to early 30s. I’ve been through the shocks of,
    a) You are now in a country where you cannot get things done as easily as you can in USA/Canada/UK. The local stores don’t have hundreds of things you are used to having at your fingertips.
    b) You are now surrounded by a whole lot of people who are not like you, many of them much poorer. Human nature is some will be very jealous, especially not understanding it took you decades to accumulate what you have. Human nature is some will try to rip you off.

    I can tell some (not all but some) of the negative posts are very much about people who have done a poor job of processing these 2 basic shocks. The worst of them read like a child throwing a temper tantrum due to fatigue. Some Americans just need to stay in America (and ditto Canadians). If you cannot adapt, if you cannot step back and breathe, if you cannot at the end of the day pour yourself a drink and understand the world did not end just because your car won’t be fixed until two days from now, save yourself the headaches and aggravation.

    A lesson I have very much taken to heart from the above, and from accounts in other places, is DO NOT BUY REAL ESTATE. Too many bad outcomes. Too much can go wrong. Houses are a burden even in the USA, where there are 100s of nearby companies and individuals who can address maintenance issues, and they all speak your first language (and even some of them rip you off). I was recently in Ajijic, spoke with an older couple (sat next to them in a restaurant) who found a house they really like, lived in it for a year, then signed a 5 year lease extension. If they suddenly wanted or needed to leave – or frankly, they simply passed away – the financial sacrifice would be loss of a deposit equal to 3 months rent. Why buy/build, putting maybe a couple hundred thousand $ at risk, when you can do that?

    I like HBJs simple comment – Be kind and humble. I have spent many short stints in MX, and this is a commandment to be heeded. It goes a long way in Mexico, where appearances, respect and the avoidance of conflict are cornerstones of daily life. Get along to go along strongly applies. Don’t be dismissive of the maid, the shopkeeper, the maintenance man, the bus driver, the door man at the hotel. It’ll bite you in the ass.

    by AguyINtheUSA — October 30, 2015

  111. It is our love for the ocean that draws us to Mexico. For years and years we have driven the coastline of Baja Mexico. Finally, with the wife having Dual Citizenship and after making her a member of an Ejido in Mexico we purchased Ocean Front property. We did this with the help of others who were willing to invest. We didn’t need them to purchase the property but we wanted to be part of a group. We had seen greedy Gringos who wanted to make money off other gringos. They tried to buy the property, develop it and charge an arm and leg for it. In doing so, they went thru the nightmare of buying property and the hell of trying to improve the property by themselves and were very sorry. Their properties sit abandoned.
    It is my opinion, if you want to live in Mexico only do so as a group. Also, our property is within 3 hour drive of the border so we can make routine trips with each person taking their turn. If it works out we will spend about 6 months in Baja and 6 months at our home in California. The next big mistake we have seen is gringos investing too much money in Mexico too soon. We plan on grading, building a fence and establishing an RV park. In other words, keeping the improvements at a lower level at first until we make connections and build relationships, especially with the government agencies. We understand, and accept, brides are part of the culture and need to be incorporated in the improvement budget.
    We are also Earth Friendly, so the thought of building our own gated community that showcases the most Earth Friendly tech. really excites us.
    We have learned the hard way there is no such thing as loyalty or trust from a Mexican if you are a gringo. Just like their family members cannot do anything wrong – the gringo is at fault. We met a person who was in a car accident. He was hit by another car and when he told that to the police officer the police officer told him he was at fault because he was a gringo. We have learned crime is not the problem in Mexico… the problem is the danger you are in after the crime. So security has to be the number one priority. I believe this means being in a group in a community with your own security and with connections to government officials.
    It is remarkable how gringos leave their brains at the border when they cross over to Mexico. Of course, no matter how careful you are, problems occur. You just want to make sure they are small and that you are prepared to solve them.
    To me, the thought of sitting on a porch, surrounded by friends and family, watching the sun set over the ocean and listening to music and the sounds of the ocean is worth pursuing the dream….carefully.
    God Bless, Darrell @

    by Darrelln99 — November 11, 2015

  112. I live in the Lake Chpala area. I have to disagree with most of what this man says. Some people will do anything to sell a book, and this interview that the article is based on is all about creating controversy to sell a book.

    First of all, my electric bills are $10 a month. I don’t live in a 6200 square foot house, but the electric rate is the electric rate. The rate is tiered here in Mexico, so high users pay a higher KG rate that is still lower that the rate in FL which is the lowest in the US currently.

    Buying through a US franchised real estate company is probably not wise but why would you when there are so many honest and pleasant local realtors? Real estate laws are very different here than in the US, and anyone buying here needs to acquaint himself with those laws. Buying and then trying to sell a 6200 square foot house in a market that is largely much older and a 1 or 2 person family units and then super-upgrading it is foolish if you ever anticipate having to sell it.

    The author seems to be blaming Mx for his mistakes. We are each responsible for our own decisions, and when moving to a different country we need to learn the rules. This gentleman speaks of gringo pricing which gringos can avoid by simply learning the language and making friends of locals. Mexico is a great country which in my opinion is much less corrupt than the US or Canada.

    by Serena Jackson — December 12, 2015

  113. It is unfortunate that some have a negative experience, have retired three years ago and have owned property in the Manzanillo area since 2006. Have had nothing but a wonderful experience, purchasing, building and fitting intro the community in an area that is very Mexican and a few Expats around. Very positive experience. It is very important to remember that we are a guest in their country. Rule number one; attempt to speak spanish, learn the language, Rule Number two: do not exude affluence, Be aware of the cultural differences, Find a worthy charity to support. In all transactions work with a trusted Notary and or lawyer. Do not make emotional decisions quick decisions based on the beauty of the area, but make your decisions based on long obeservation, recognize that a real estate deal is a long haul. 5 Million expats from Canada and the US cannot all be wrong. Stephen’s information is good, but do not judge his experience as they way it is. We have thoroughly enjoyed our home, our neighbours and our community and never lose site of the fact that we are guest in a foreign country.

    My wife and I have been in the area fulltime for 15 months, we speak the language

    by Peter D — December 28, 2015

  114. this sounds like so many people i have known that move to foreign countries only to turn them into the countries they have left behind. expat community? i can envision that very clearly: gated, secured, landscaped, big new houses with all the modern conveniences of home…all kinds of alarm systems, all new heavily loaded wiring, the works. have you even bothered to learn the language? have you made any effort to meet the locals, learn their culture, eat their food, shop their businesses or the mercado? probably not. you’re too busy reaping the benefits of cheap taxes and medical care while expecting all of the locals to jump and snap like american help. we get it on this side of the boarder too. mexicans that come here and want to live like they did in mexico. they don’t learn the “lay of the land”, the culture or the language and are just as resented by US citizens as expats are resented by mexicans that act the same way in THEIR country. you are what the mexican locals refer to as an ugly american. you get what you give.

    by ilovemexico — June 30, 2016

  115. Thanks, ilovemexico. Well said.

    You mentioned Americans in Mexico, Mexicans in America (and implied the many national variations). Frankly the same applies for those who relocate in the US. I get tired of reading comments from those who want the South to become the North — just for them. And vice versa on this too. California or Arizona or Texas is not New York or North Carolina or Iowa. Oh yeah, and vice versa.

    I’ve been there done that. Lived and traveled in several foreign countries, tried to pick up at least a smattering of the language — my attempted use of mixed English, Spanish, French, German and Italian amused some, incensed others, but mostly we got along.

    Long ago, I moved from a northern US base to the deep South and lived through the period where going “home” was my dream. Then one day I realized that the DEEP southern accent I was hearing was “right”. I was home. I have no interest in leaving.

    Anyone who plans a major relocation will be a lot happier a lot faster if they accept a “new life” instead of trying to force their “old” way on an adopted region.

    by Rich — July 1, 2016

  116. The problem is that Americans living at Lakeside area, too lazy to learn the language and the basics of the culture, do get ripped off. However, its the gringo owned businesses that take advantage of retired northerners.

    by Esbar D — July 1, 2016

  117. All the Negative reviews about living in or near lake Chapala are 100% Correct. All the towns around Lake Chapala resemble Grey Hound Bus Pit Stop. The only Americans or Canadians who love living in the Lake Chapala area are Real Estate Brokers & Real Estate Agents who make an
    excellent income listing the same real estate properties over and over again and again from one end of Lake Chapala to the other end! The Only people who have any Positive Comments about living in and around Lake Chapala are the Real Estate Brokers & Sales Agents!
    Most Americans or Canadians who move to the Lake Chapala area make the Very Huge Incompetent mistake of buying a home or building a home immediately after arriving in the Lake Chapala area! No foreign resident should purchase or build anything in the Chapala area or any where in Mexico until they have lived there for at least 3 full years FIRST! The problem
    is many north Americans are in a hurry, are dimwitted, senile or brain dead when they arrive in Mexico and purchase a super over Priced Property within several weeks after arriving and they know exactly nothing about what it’s like to live in the Lake Chapala area or any where in Mexico! Lake Chapala is a Mexican Lake Full of RAW untreated Sewage and no one swims or walks in the Chapala Lake water unless they are brain dead. The town of Chapala and all the towns around the lake are Super Boring & Super expensive. There are basically NO fun enjoyable daily, weekly, evening, monthly or Holiday activities in or around Lake Chapala and it is one of the Most Boring places to visit or to live full time. Chapala city and every town along the Lake Chapala offers basically nothing to anyone who is NOT senile or brain dead.
    All the laws in Mexico are satanic catholic church laws and the catholic church controls all of Mexico and all people in Mexico are GUILTY UNTIL PROVEN INNOCENT! There are about
    1000 Negatives for every Positive in Mexico! It’s ONE thing to Visit and it’s entirely another thing to live in any foreign country Full Time! It’s Night and Day! The man who wrote the Truthful article about living in the Lake Chapala area is 100% Correct and he barely began to cover Only a Few of the Hundreds of Real Negatives of Living in the Lake Chapala area or in most of Mexico. Yes! I’ve been to Mexico and Chapala and always rented a home and quickly discovered each time our disgusting and repulsive All of the Chapa Lake area is to visit and how much worse it is to Live there full time. The entire Lake Chapala area is a Giant Public Toilet in most physical ways and a super boring place to Live Full Time! You will REGRET 100% eventually for every moving to the Lake Chapala area and especially the Ajijic city which is a real boring super over priced Mexican Crap hole socially & physically. If you live in
    Ajijic or any where in or around Lake Chapala, depart your rental home ASAP or Sell your privately owned home ASAP and Depart the Lake Chapala area and Never Look Back!
    When I was visiting Ajijic and Chapala I was approached almost every single day from some
    North American or Canadian attempting to show me their home which was for sale and I ignored them. Oh! One real estate agent showed my a very nice home up the lake toward the west end of the lake for sale.
    It had a small river flowing next to the house, which flooded each year and physically touched the west side of the entire house and this house had a Slum shack attached to the back of the house and it had another SLUM shack attached to the side of the house, which two Mexican families lived in. As a result of the River being next to house and the slums on two sides of the house, the real house value was not $300,000 USDs but its’ real value was actually ZERO US Dollars and the property was actually 100% worthless to any one who was not senile or 100% brain dead. Yes! About 95% of all building Contractor in Mexico are Professional SCAM Artists & anyone who does not know this FACT is going to have a huge Problem sooner than later!

    by Harry Adams — November 29, 2016

  118. Rent for 3 – 4 Full Years in Mexico or in any Hispanic American country before you ever think about buying any land or home or building one. Only then will you Know Most of the Good Bad and Ugly of living in Mexico or any where in Hispanic America! There are NO Exceptions. If a real estate broker attempts to sell you something in less than 3 years, then buy some heavy duty
    leather boots and invite the real estate broker out into the street and then kick the male or female broker between the legs half a dozen times and then roll their SCAMING Fraudulent public sewer rat butt out into the street gutter where they belong!

    by Harry Adams — November 29, 2016

  119. Ajijic is not for a type A person. It is beautiful to me, with the flowering vines, colorful paint…etc. The small village feel,the friendly people. Compared to New England it is heaven, because of the relaxed atmosphere. As in the USA one has to beware of scams, be careful who you hire, etc. You have to ask around, be connected with the neighborhood where you live and get services word of mouth, if you need a plumber, use the same plumber the rest of the neighborhood uses, etc. Do not call the Police in Ajijic, unless it is a major crime like murder; you must find the person in the neighborhood who will take care of it if you cannot do it yourself, that is how it works. If you need a lot of government regulation, and taxes, stay in the USA and good luck to ya.

    by sara — November 30, 2016

  120. When you build it is treacherous, same as in USA. You need to speak fluent spanish or have a male Mexican friend who knows the area well, who will help you. Building needs to be overlooked on a daily basis. If you do not know then you need someone you trust who knows about proper building practices in the area to help you oversee the project, otherwise you are asking for trouble. For myself, renting is preferable, if someone moves in next door who is loud or has too many animals in too small a space or not well taken care of and stinky, you can move easier. Or buy a house where the ‘policers’ of the neighborhood live, for the bad things will not be happening on their street unless it is by them, that is part of the culture.

    by sara — November 30, 2016

  121. Yes! Some Good Information Sara! By the way Sara, your NOT the same sweet Sara with the little cute Poodle Dog that you adopted and I met in the Ajijic Central Plaza several years ago, are you? The Sara I met in Ajijic was from the New England states too.

    by Dean — December 7, 2016

  122. There are some very Good Articles from Real people who have visited or lived in the Lake Chapala area and in or near Ajijic. Any American who is considering living any where in Mexico, needs to Read all these Articles about the Real Facts about living or visiting the Lake Chapala area.
    It’s not just the fact that Lake Chapala is the largest lake in Mexico full of Raw Untreated Sewage but this is so much important vital information about living in Ajijic or any where near Lake Chapala.
    My Husband and I have visited and lived temporarily for 6 months in Ajijic and in Chapala city where we discovered exactly All we needed to know about the Lake Chapala area. Based on Common Sense & Our experiences in the cities around the lake, we decided to depart Mexico and return to America as fast as our VAN would take us. We crossed back into America and entered our home state. Just an hour from our home town, we stopped to buy gas for our Van.
    My husband bought a MEGA Millions Lottery Ticket. Two days later I checked the Winning Numbers on His Ticket and my Husband had all the Winning Numbers & He was the Winner of one of the Largest MEGA Lottery’s in America! We have now re-examined our Lives Carefully. We are planning to Visit Puerto Vallarta soon and Build a New Winter home in Puerto Vallarta. Today we have our own Security Officers who travel with us & we have Mexican Security Officers who will Also meet us at the Mexican airport that we land at in our own Private Business Jet. We plan to visit Chapala city and Ajijic city for a few days, just to say hello to some nice Gringos we met who live in Ajijic and in Chapala. We will have our Security Officers with us. When we walk around Ajijic we want to be Safe and we will have 4 Security Officers in Plain clothes following behind us and 3 more Security Officers in plain clothes ahead of us. We will also have 2 full time Ajijic police officers nearby observing, if we need their additional protection, morning, noon or evening in or near Ajijic. The same goes for Chapala city. After several days we’ll say goodby and head for Puerto Vallarta and our new winter home over looking the City and Bay. Our Private small Personal Cruise sheep is waiting for us at the Puerto Vallarta Yacht Club where we will be using it to take our friends and some Orphans on Scenic Bay cruises during the days and evenings when we are in Puerto Vallarta each winter. We are also in the process of helping all the children in the Puerto Vallarta Orphanages and we will Cover All their educational needs (this includes daily Educational Tutors today at each Orphanage, including computers, who will teach them to be the Best They Can Be & also they will learn to speak Perfect English & several other languages if they wish)and we will cover ALL their University Expenses 100% through at least their Masters Degrees, or PHDs if they wish, at Our expense, at the Mexican University of their choice.

    by Francis — December 21, 2016

  123. Yes! All foreign residents who become Permanent Mexican residents after 4 years time living in Mexico, will be required to pay Income Tax on ALL their foreign retirement income in Mexico!
    This is why the Mexican government has made it Mandatory that you must become a Permanent
    Mexican resident after you have been a Temporary Mexican Resident for 4 years in Mexico!
    Your Foreign income will be TAXED!

    by Bob Morgan — December 27, 2016

  124. Yes! We agree with your Excellent up to date information about the New Mexican Permanent Resident Requirements. Every foreign resident in Mexico needs to know these facts immediately.
    I’m a US Attorney and I Know and Understand the Facts and the Consequences of becoming a
    Mexican Permanent Resident. I have visited many cities in Mexico and I know all the good and all the BAD about living or retiring almost any where in Mexico today.
    Here is a little more Extremely important information to all the US and Canadian foreign retired residents in Mexico!
    The Mexican government Wants all Temporary Foreign Residents
    to Become Permanent Mexican Residents within four years after arriving in Mexico!
    Any Temporary foreign resident who has lived in Mexico for 4 years, MUST become
    a Permanent Resident of Mexico or leave Mexico immediately!
    1) Mexico now requires the primary Permanent resident to have a $2100 Minimum Income
    EACH month in Mexico! ( Yr. 2016 )
    This is 4 Times MORE than what any typical Mexican earns in Mexico in one month!
    2) Then they ADD another Income requirement
    for each foreign dependent!
    3) Then they Add a Super High Import TAX
    on Any Auto that you Import into Mexico!

    4) Then Mexico attempts to take additional Income Tax
    from your foreign Retirement Income!
    Yes! I can understand why any foreign resident with Common Sense in Mexico is now attempting to relocate to a More US Friendly foreign country today without any hesitation or delays!
    Best Wishes!

    by Robert Adams — December 27, 2016

  125. Beginning in( 2016) Mexico Demands that All Temporary resident Visas Be Upgraded to a Permanent Resident Visa immediately after any Temporary Foreign Resident has been in Mexico for a Maximum of 4 years!
    A Temporary Mexican Resident Visa is good for
    ONLY 4 years in Mexico starting immediately!

    1) This Requires each Primary Foreign Resident to Prove about a $2200 USD per month income each & every year beginning in 2016 ! This is about 4 times GREATER than the Mexican Average monthly wage.
    2) For a Married couple this SAME Permanent Mexican Foreign Resident Visa Requires approximately $3000 USD per Month income & is Mandatory today & in the future in Mexico for any & All Permanent Foreign Residents in Mexico! This is about 6 Times GREATER than the Mexican monthly Average Wage in Mexico!

    3) Mexico can also Collect an Import Tax on all Permanent Foreign Resident Autos brought into Mexico or the Permanent residents will be Required to remove their autos from Mexico immediately!

    by Anna — January 1, 2017

  126. I had not seen anywhere on this site where there are current postings about living in Mexico. I have a friend who bought a home in San Miguel de Allende. She was formerly with the Stated Dept. here in DC. I usually listen to those retirees as they have travelled the world and get a good perspective, but I would like other opinions. I , myself, lived in Cairo, Egypt for six years so I know how to adapt to other cultures and languages. I wondered if anyone has any current information about this area of Mexico. It sounds lived paradise, great weather, no humidity, many ex-pats, safety and cheap prices. It is in the mountains. I hope someone can comment. My friend keeps a small studio apartment here in DC where I live and she seems to come home for medical care only–about once every six months or so. Thanks for your help and patience as I attempt to get information.
    (Posted by Jennifer)

    by Admin — April 25, 2017

  127. Hi Jennifer,
    If you go to “Find Retirement Towns by State” on the home page, Mexico will appear on the drop down menu. Hit that and a number of Mexican towns appear, which you can hit for information. There are also 55+ communities listed. At the bottom you will find a list of related articles from the website which should have additional comments.
    Happy Hunting

    by Moderator Flo — April 26, 2017

  128. Hi Flo:

    I am looking for anyone who knows about San Miguel de Allende specifically. That was my question. I was looking there as a friend who I know loves it there and thought I might too. I did as you stated and there is very little written there–that is why I posted here. The few posts I found were from 2010.


    by Jennifer — April 27, 2017

  129. Jennifer
    Did you click on the link for San Miguel de Allende? There is information posted there.

    by Moderator Flo — April 27, 2017

  130. wow,,,,when you are not happy,,,,go where you are….weve lived her at lakeside 6 years, bought a house and built on, live in a mexican community. Things are much easier than in the states. Love the people. No place is perfect but between the U.S. and here I’d continue to live here

    by Anna — April 27, 2017

  131. Interesting that there seem to be two camps of people here: those who have a purely wonderful experience and those who are just over Mexico. I started out in the former camp but unfortunately have wound up over time in the latter. Michelle, I could have written your post myself. After seven years in Mexico, this country has worn me down. It’s also made me a lot less nice and significantly less tolerant. I find being nice here, smiling too much (as someone mentioned) makes you an easy mark for trouble. You have to assume people are going to scam you until you learn otherwise.

    This is my third time living as an expat, and I learned quite a bit of Spanish after moving to Mexico. I have made every effort to assimilate. I don’t live in gringo enclaves. I understand about poverty and lack of infrastructure. But the culture is just not for me. I have been told by Mexican friends that lying, cheating, scamming, backstabbing, and corruption are just part of the culture; these are not stereotypes. While I understand many of these things evolved as survival mechanisms for Mexicans under the Spanish and the kleptocratic government that is in bed with the cartels, that doesn’t mean I have to like them. At some point, I feel it becomes an excuse for immoral behavior.

    The noise and the chaos are exhausting. Every time I find a quiet place to live (and I’ve moved six times!), it lasts for a month or two before someone moves in right on top of me (even if there are acres of open land), starts playing their banda music day and night, and throws their garbage wherever they want. The beaches in my area are filthy with plastic bottles, beer cans, used diapers, and garbage people won’t pay to have collected at home. Stray animals roam the streets, and I am told I’m a terrible dog owner for keeping my dogs on the leash instead of letting them run free. Spaying and neutering is “unnatural.” Men urinate wherever they like, in full view of others.

    My house has a rat problem (outside,luckily–my dogs keep them away indoors), and the landlord’s only solution was, “Get a cat.” When I moved in, they “forgot” to tell me there was a problem with the water, which I had to push and threaten to get fixed after a week. They knew there would be a house going up in the empty meadow next to me, and yet they lied and said they were “just clearing brush” when work on the lot started. My landlord’s mother tried to steal my refrigerator during my move by replacing it with another, thinking I wouldn’t catch her or notice, but I returned to the house as they were making the swap.

    I’ve had more money and belongings stolen out of my own home than I can even count up at this point. My car has been hit three times by people who refused to pay for the damage. I’ve had my life threatened twice. I had to bribe a previous landlord $500 to open the gate to take my truck out on moving day (that was a compromise from $2,000 after I threatened to call the consulate).

    Yes, I have met a few nice, helpful, honest people, but they seem to be the exception here, and I am alarmed that I feel I am developing animosity towards Mexicans in general. At what point am I painting people with the same brush vs. simply acknowledging the reality that some cultures have a higher tolerance for crime, lack of respect, and poor personal boundaries? I’m starting to understand why many people in the States don’t want Mexican neighbors because of these cultural norms. In reading about dealing with my loud neighbors, I’ve come across literally hundreds of posts about people shaking the walls with their music until 3 am, letting their children run unsupervised at all hours of the night, leaving garbage strewn everywhere, and generally making tranquil life an impossibility for their neighbors on both sides of the border. If you complain about it, you are potentially marked for retaliation. Even Mexicans who don’t like this behavior will side with their countrymen because of their crazy honor code here; they will make excuses for the worst of it, and tell you that’s just how it is. Don’t make waves.

    I wish I had managed to get on the IL/Disney version of Mexico, but unfortunately not. I am making it my goal, like the author above, to help other would-be expats see what they are getting themselves into. It’s possible to have a great experience here, but some of it is luck, and a lot of it is taking off the rose colored glasses. I would definitely not recommend Mexico for single, older women–you will have a target on your back to be taken advantage of wherever you go, and you will be pushed around a lot more. Having enough money to get things you need, without being flashy about it, will help tremendously. Bribes, extra gringo rates, and the like are part of living here. If you can make friends with some Mexicans with connections (wherever, don’t ask), that will help too.

    I love the land and the low cost of living. Pretty much everything else is driving me crazy. I drink a lot to self-medicate from the stress and insanity. I have become withdrawn and stay away from social groups that invite endless drama (another aspect of the culture I could do without–calling it “passion” doesn’t make it better). I wish I could afford to leave, but I’m stuck here for a few more years. I used to think I would do it all again because Mexico has forced me to make changes in my life that I wouldn’t have made otherwise. However, now I feel it was just a big mistake coming here. Saying “no place is perfect” is true, but it doesn’t help people who are trying to decide where to live. I would tell expats on a tight budget or single women to look elsewhere.

    by Had Enough — August 14, 2017

  132. Had Enough, you have really experienced a lot of bad stuff! I would never go to Mexico. Heard too many bad stories and the latest is suspicious deaths at resorts after consuming alcohol. I have looked at some of those all inclusive resorts and some are gorgeous. However, due to the crime, no way. I spoke to a guy years ago who went to Mexico. With his resort rental they gave you a pink jeep to drive while on vacation. He and his family got in the jeep and went down the road just a little way and Mexican police pulled him over for a bogus infraction. The policeman said he could ‘avoid’ going to court by paying the fine right there. He knew the drill and paid the officer and drove off. He knew he was scammed but nothing he could do. If there is any way you can get OUT of Mexico now, rather than later, go! Contact a relative to loan you some money. In the long run, it would be cheaper to pay the relative back than get scammed by these people! What a shame! No thank you, USA has its problems but I will endure them rather than live with all the issues you are dealing with. Good luck! There’s no place like home!

    by louise — August 15, 2017

  133. Living in Mexico. This is a myopic and dangerous view of living in a nation where the majority of the population risks its lives daily to escape it. The crime is rampant, and most of the infrastructure is controlled by gangs that are better organized as well as funded than the government is. The medical care is that of a third world nation, and its health system is the same. Unless you have your own well-armed security force as well as abundant funds to pay bribes, you will be living a much shorter life than planned, and in a location that will keep you up at night. And I was in Federal law enforcement, incidentally, and I could tell you stores that sound like movie scripts…… I wish luck to all retirees AKA future victims who go south of the border.

    by Bob — August 15, 2017

  134. Had Enough, I read your post again and really feel for your situation. If I were you I would sell all my large items, give away other stuff load up that truck and drive back to the USA as fast as I could! You could mail some stuff to some relatives or friends to keep for you till you return. You sound miserable and that is no way to live. To get robbed more times than you can count is just terrible. Save your sanity and possibly your life and come home!

    by louise — August 15, 2017

  135. Wow!…Thanks everyone for sharing your experiences. I was reading about how wonderful it is to retire in Mexico until I ran across this comment area. If there is one thing that most people agree on it is the noise. If there is one thing that would make me go postal it is barking dogs and loud music. Poor sanitation is not for this pilgrim……I am sorry for all the people who are suffering from making the choice. I hope it is some consulation for all of you to keep the rest of us from doing the same……
    Thanks. I do appreciate you.

    by David — August 21, 2017

  136. Noise and crime. I get such a kick out of International Living painting every single country as paradise. I have traveled a lot and unless you are very rich there is no paradise. I’ve noticed that the poorer they are the more music they want to listen to. In Jamaica homes the radio is the last thing shut off when the crawl into bed and the first thing turned on when they wake. Last time in Mexico, 2 years ago, I couldn’t find a place to have a quiet meal outside on a beautiful day as they ruined it by having some guy playing and singing during lunch and dinner. In Honduras I was awakened at sunrise every morning by roosters crowing. I would lay thinking about ways I could sneak in, wring their necks and eat them for dinner as! To get quiet you must be out in the country with no close neighbors. Then there is the begging, everywhere except Panama. You may be assaulted often by people trying to sell you junk or services you don’t need, but they are not just looking for a handout. Very few people smoke in Panama either, unlike Mexico. Panama like all Central American countries has a 4 month dry season and an 8 month rainy season. There is no paradise. There are only places with less problems than others. I don’t know why that guy says he is trapped for 2 more years. When you find yourself in a bad place you need to get out! Just don’t think you are going to find paradise somewhere else. Even here at top retirements I find most of the advertised retirement havens are for upper middle class rather than middle class.

    by Bob — August 22, 2017

  137. A MLS search shoes 6200 sf runs from $525,000 to 1.5 million. Also, that is a lot of space to air condition. Was that a typo?

    by Willow — August 22, 2017

  138. Hi Willow
    Not sure what post you’re responding to. Could you give us some more information?

    by Moderator Flo — August 23, 2017

  139. So grateful for Had Enough’s post and also grateful I never took the bait & moved to Mexico. I was a Spanish major in college, travelled extensively in South America, as well as Mexico & dreamed of a retirement in Mexico most of my life . . . yet each time I came “home” from extended exploratory trips to, in particular, Ajijic & San Miguel, but also many others, my first reaction at being back in my ‘way too conservative, culture-deprived, colorless & boring cow-town metropolis, was the quiet — the blessed quiet of no dogs barking, no ear-splitting cojetes or boom-booms at all hours of day & nite and lastly I would notice that even tho’ I had to drive to get to any restaurant at all, I didn’t have to walk around or through dog or donkey doo to go out to eat. And, okay, there was one more thing: my beautiful house and landscaped yard, tho’ far from art and the artsy scene would not have purchased a third of its equivalent in the two communities mentioned above. Sometimes, I do have regrets — which is why it is gratifying to have my instincts affirmed in staying put for now while continuing my wide-ranging search. There’a a new home out there for me somewhere and I’ll know it when I see it. My heart aches for Had Enough and I wish her something fabulous ahead — she deserves it, as I trust, do we all. Ellen

    by Ellen — August 23, 2017

  140. Just realized I left an essential part of my decision out: not just the animal feces on the streets, but the general filth everywhere! It may be boring where I live in the States but there are laws regarding noise pollution, from humans and dogs, and there is mandatory garbage removal. You could practically eat off the streets! LOL. I wouldn’t try that in Mexico. And while I’m at it still, I don’t want ever to live again where there are no leash laws — seen too many threatening canine teeth. Ellen

    by Ellen — August 23, 2017

  141. Ellen, when I lived in Cairo Egypt, I had the same experiences. The dogs running wild and free ruined many an evening walk. I was afraid of being bitten. Mexico is also a third world country and many similarities you wrote about were the same in Cairo on the back streets. I lived in an upper class neighborhood, however, one had to leave it to get to anything worth doing. Thanks for your post.


    by Jennifer — August 24, 2017

  142. That is why I am so damn thankful and proud to be an American living in the great ole USA!!!

    by Bubbajog — August 24, 2017

  143. I appreciate everyone sharing. I am single, 65 living in Ajijic. I have had a mixed experience and want to go home. I came down for the healthcare, needing a knee when I suddenly found my self at 60 unemployed without insurance. I sold my house to get a knee and now have no place to go home to. I love the Mexican people, so kind and gracious with beautiful manners. But the scams and robberies are rampant and the beggars get on my nerves. I am a low budget person, give what I can, but I am seen as rich because I am Gringo. It is irritating when I am so poor, and they ask me for what I simply do not have. I give away a few coins a day, a few get irritated when you so not give more and a child explained to me “rica” (rich) one day when I said “not today” I am not rich. I live on $800 a month, hard to do in expat land, though that may sound like a lot to a Mexican who only pays $70 for rent. The average rent for expat is $600 a month, so I obviously cannot pay that. I have noticed the pharmacist will charge a Gringo more than a Mexican and some well meaning, better off folks, give money to the children making it hard to say no and teaching them bad habits. My Mexican friends told me we should not give to children because they should not be sent out to beg/. But I do feel inclined to help disabled and elderly people and have purchased food for more than a few. Musicians are working, so I always tip. I try to support the small vendors and I buy fruits from the children. But I am not rich and resent that this discrimination is allowed to go on. I stay in a one room hotel apartment with a small kitchen for $300 a month. At least I am safe here. I know so many robbery stories that it makes me dizzy. My maid in my last apartment stole my father’s ring, the only thing I had from him. That happens at home as well, but I never could afford a maid at home, so this was violating to me. My biggest discomfort has been with the click behavior with the women. After being invited to a luncheon, one may receive an email telling them they are not welcome back. They are clicky and snobby and they have treated me a little badly since moving into a cheap hotel. Ajijic is beautiful and the healthcare is a benefit, but the snobbery with the exapats is significant and I am soon to go home. You opinion does not matter, How I wlll live on what I have, I do not know., Since the last election, there has been a little anti American sentiment expressed mostly in Guadalahara where a friend was beat up. MY receptionist asked me once why we come here if we do not like Mexicans. I explained we come because we do. It is sad that is what they think.. But I cannot change that with the current administration who has embarrassed me here and has given the Mexicans the idea we do not like them. Mexico welcomes medical tourism, so one can always visit for that.The casino hotel is gone and there us only one little casino that is fairly harmless. No table games. . Not American style at all and everything here is on cash basis. For me, a mixture of good and bad, but so many leaving the US, the crowd is getting annoying, cannot get a seat on the bus anymore and this needs to stop. As for Walmart many Gringo boycott because of their reputation of cruel management. I shop there because they are giving someone in a poor area a job. That is what I am supporting.Good luck with your decision.

    by Nettie — August 31, 2017

  144. One phrase comes to mind when reading oversea moves gone bad “Grass always looks greener on the other side”. Do your homework folks. Investigate the negatives and when your done, investigate again!

    by Skip P — September 1, 2017

  145. It seems that if you have a good supply of money Mexico can be wonderful with its climate & health care. However if you are just getting by or must live on a low budget Mexico is not for you. I would have a hard time with the begging children, the noise, and the trash problem.

    by Monica Eblen — September 1, 2017

  146. Experiences in Mexico sound much the same as our experience living in Thailand.
    Curiuos as to WHERE in Mexico these people are living…would these experiences be the same in say for instance Quarnavaca or San Miuguel de Allende?

    by Roberta Bengtson — September 5, 2017

  147. Steven is not talking about Mexico, he is talking about Chapala and Ajijic which is an area dominated by people from the US and Canada, and thus attracts unscrupulous locals who prey on the naive. I have lived in Mexico for 15 years, but i knew instinctively to stay from the Ajijic area. So far, i’ve lived in Guadalajara and Colima. The first thing i did was to learn a fair amount of Spanish. To go there (or any foreign country for that matter) and build a house without knowing anything about the country and how business operates in that country is absolutely foolhardy (to be as kind as i can). To me it is beyond imagining. Learn some Spanish, become interested in the culture of the people, avoid ghetto living and setting yourself apart, show some respect, you are a guest.

    by Beverly — September 24, 2017

  148. Who wants to be a “guest” possibly forever? Beverly has hit the exact reason I am reluctant to try retirement in another country (except Canada).

    by Tim — September 25, 2017

  149. I believe someone on this site was planning an investigative trip to Mexico this summer I as a possible retirement destination. Any report!?

    by Florence — September 25, 2017

  150. FYI for those who might be interested.

    by Rich — September 25, 2017

  151. Nettie: I was reading of your experiences in Mexico. Unfortunately, I am having similar experiences here in Atlanta. Used to be lovely, quiet, suburbs…but now overflowing with people, horrible traffic…and I can not leave my door without someone asking for money. Even inside the better supermarkets I am accosted by people down on their luck…and find myself giving what I do not have. Like you, I am trying to live on a very limited income.Begging everywhere….sometimes they come to my door.

    Bob, though I am fortunate to live in what is viewed as a nice, suburban neighborhood: we still have major problems with noise, crime, and smoke( neighbors love to burn…though they are in violation……..against the law under most circumstances…but how good is a law that is not inforced).

    Also reminds me of our experiences in Thailand. When out and about in Atlanta…I have to remind myself I am not in a third world country….or am I?

    by Roberta Bengtson — September 26, 2017

  152. Florence that was me. I loved Mexico in early August I went to San Miguel de Allende. It was all I had hoped, the people were hospital, the food was fabulous as was the weather. My friend bought a lovely home there and I stayed with her. It was lovely. Lots of socializing and cheaper prices than here. I want to go back yet again or several times to visit and get a true feel. The Artists are amazing and the colors are vibrant. I need to go back and spend more time. This I know I will rent if I go back.

    by Jennifer — September 26, 2017

  153. All good to know; HOWEVER, why on earth would someone need to have a 6200sf mansion that brings attention to them?
    The reason most people retire to Mexico is to simplify their lifestyle and blend with the locals rather than stand out.

    by Sharon — October 17, 2017

  154. You will notice two extremes in the comments that are being made here. The vicious ranting against Mexico, the Mexican people in general and Lake Chapala in particular are so hurtful. On the other hand Lake Chapala is not paradise on earth. We came here, rented for a while and then bought a house and live here full time. Those who come and hate the country, the people and life in general don’t last long (thank goodness). Just leave quietly because you probably won’t be happy wherever you go. But I feel compelled to address some inaccurate statements made by some here.
    1. You MUST become a permanent resident after four years of being temporal. That is not true. After four years of temporal status you can go back to Canada or the US and start the temporal process again and have another four years of temporal and you can do that over and over if you want to.
    2. It costs just as much to live here as it does in Canada or the US. That can be true or false. If you want to live exactly the way you do in Canada or the US, eat the same food and buy the same products you did “back home” then you’re probably right. If you want to adapt to the culture here and eat and shop locally you will find it very economical. My haircuts cost $4.50 Canadian here as opposed to $20 in Canada. My wife and I went out to a fine dining restaurant the other night for my birthday. We both had wine, a lovely veal dinner and dessert while enjoying a great jazz trio playing in the background. The total for both of us? $40 Canadian. We also went out for lunch yesterday to a Mexican restaurant. Huge meals for both of us with drinks. We took half our meals home because we couldn’t eat it all so it was good for four meals. Total – $11 Canadian. We attend the Jalisco Philharmonic Symphony in Guadalajara (45 minutes away) in a fabulous old theatre, Teatro Degollado. The orchestra is world class, the ambience is wonderful and front row seats are $20 Canadian.
    3. You have to live in constant fear of robbery and possible murder. What a joke! We live just outside of Chapala in a lovely country setting. We have no bars on the windows and our neighbors are both Mexicans and expatriates. Is there crime in the area? Of course, human beings live here. Is it worse than Canada? Absolutely not. If you make the effort to live among the people, at least try to learn their language and customs, you will be treated warmly and accepted. Complain and moan loudly about how “this is not like home” and you will be shunned and rejected. This is their country not yours, they were here before you came and they will be here after you leave.
    If you’re not willing to come and fit into Mexican life please stay home. There are lots of dogs here and some of them bark. There are fiestas regularly because the people love to get together socially and enjoy their music, adult beverages and each other. Life in Mexico is vibrant, relaxing and thoroughly enjoyable if you want it to be. If you’re flexible come on down, if you don’t want to change or learn new things please don’t.

    by Dave — October 28, 2017

  155. I can not come to terms with how someone let this happen getting ripped off once ok people need to think before acting I have lived in la penita for many years have not been ripped off 1 time you need to get to know the local people and become amigos with them I have had many reno’s done on my home I make a small contract such as tile the kitchen floor I get a price in a written contract for labor I find out from the worker what he needs to do the job I go get what he needs have it brought to my home at the end of each day if i am not happy with the work then I pay and you do not work for me again..this happened once that lesson cost 800 peso for 2 days work or 55 dollars at the time. pretty this this guy no longer works for me I found two guys that do all my work they know what I expect and over the years we have become amigo’s if I have a problem with the CFE or TELMEX I find a employee and tell them hey if you can fix my internet today I will give you $10 for me in mexico this is how it rolls if you can not wrap your head around it then I agree with you the best thing to do is pack up and go. as far it cost more then at home sure where you are from but my costs even with throwing the odd 10 at some guy to fix my internet 25% of the cost at home I also feel that just because you could not figure the simplest thing out here you should not be telling others how bad it is you should say I could not figure it out..

    by Dale — October 28, 2017

  156. My Grandmother retired in Mexico, and having to deal with her estate and affairs when she became too old to care for herself was an eye opening experience. I would URGE anyone and everyone who has moved there to retire to make arrangements early, before you get sick and or in a position you are unable to fend for yourself. Find people you REALLY trust, possibly a local in your corner, because there are vultures there, who will greet you with a smile and bend over backwards and do back flips to the very end, and get a hold of any and all remaining money + belongings that remain, even if it’s your very last penny. These people are very well connected in the towns and cities, they have a team of attorneys on their side, who all get a cut and they will sue you and swindle money from your family, try and take your property, liquidate your belongings and steal the money. Sounds harsh, but this happened to my poor, sweet, Grandmother.

    by Anne Beck — November 12, 2017

  157. It’s true that electricity prices are high in Mexico. What the article fails to mention is that low levels of consumption are heavily subsidized (like up to 90%) by the Mexican government. That’s why people use energy conserving lights and appliances. It’s why they turn off the lights in rooms that aren’t being used. It’s why they use electric fans rather than air conditioning units.

    As one’s electricity consumption increases, he gets bumped up into the next pricing tier and the government subsidy begins to fade away. Above a published level of consumption the government subsidy goes away completely and high consumption penalty pricing comes into play. That’s when the electric bill can soar to hundreds of dollars.

    by Sam Spade — February 19, 2018

  158. We have lived in mexico about 10 years, my wife is from here. We live in a non gringo area, not a well to do area.

    Most locals can barely afford to use electricity. As stated only have a bulb or two, no refrigerator. My mother in law is an example, there are many. Service is horrible, even eith us chain stores. We have never been ripped off, by being vigilant.

    We moved here out of necesity and will finally be going back to the us. I can’t wait. Crime is rampant, even in small pueblos.

    I have been to 16 countries and many for extended times and I can only think of one that was worse.

    by Xsquid — April 24, 2018

  159. I have a friend in San Miguel de Allende and she loves it, I did note that she told me that she will be moving back here for her final retirement years once she reaches 80 years of age…or three years from now. She bought a lovely home there and rents it out to her friends when she visits here. She gets her medical care here and had a cataract surgery here last month. She is in Washington from December to May. She is aware of the decline in Mexico but does not feel it in her community.

    by Jennifer — April 25, 2018

  160. There are so many things to consider when making a major move anywhere. I would recommend renting a place for a year to “test the waters” before buying or building. Thank you.

    by Paul Francis — August 19, 2018

  161. I find that where ever you go there you are…….People that go to Mexico and complain because it isn’t like the USA and they don’t like the Mexicans and the Mexican Culture should stay in the USA. To move to Mexico and live in Gringolandia where no one speaks Spanish and then complain about the Mexicans? The Ugly American is alive and well and should stay in America instead of polluting Mexico.

    by sheryl l fletcher — November 26, 2019

  162. Sheryl, well said. Similar comments can be made for those to move to the south from northern cities and then complain about southern mores and life-styles and environments. Feel welcome if you can enjoy your surroundings, be a part of solving any true problems you may find, but don’t try to change your new home to be what you left behind.

    by RichPB — November 27, 2019

  163. Michelle’s and especially Netiie’s experience resonates with me…. I became an expat when my banker father moved us to the USVI when I was ten which is when the travel bug bit me. At 14 I was living in the Dominican Republic-unfortunately and fortunately. … IN 2019 I thought i would move to Mexico from Spain. I had travelled in my twenties throughout Europe and then in my thirties throughout Central and South America- I have been to 60 plus countries. I decided due to the relatively low cost of living and the climate that I would live in Mexico and I can tell you that not all Latin American countries have such a high amount of thieves and undesirables as the DR and Mexico. It is not an issue of race but culture. EL Salvador and Nicaragua actually have kind people who help you and never expect any money from you but my experience last year in Mexico was so harrowing I am still resting most of the day and i am in my forties. My adrenals are exhausted and I am in excellent health but the stress was so jarring I had to come back to Europe. What I suggest to people is this: if you want honest people Europe is the best place to retire. I can swim in the ocean in Greece, the Albanian RIviera , Canary Islands of Spain., Madeira, the Algarve and leave my wallet in my bag and not watch it like a hawk. … I am recovering from the horrific stress I experienced with the Mexican people in 2019=2020 happily here in Europe with quality people who have a good moral compass.But my experience in Mexico(and Guatemala)was horrific. I do not know really where to even begin. I will begin with my decision. I was living in Spain and my desired place the Canary Islands to live simply did not coincide with my budget. I decided that Mexico would be a good choice to save money …. If you are considering retiring for less try Greece, or Albania where you will not be robbed blind and obviously rent for five years before buying anything. You can also try Portugal the second safest country in the world or Spain a wonderful place to live! But do not choose Mexico or the DR, Guatemala or even Panama as there is violence against foreigners. There are plenty of real estate agents on this forum that want to get your money but the overwhelming majority of people on here are saying the same thing-not only is theft a part of the culture there is anti-American sentiment which is the correct term for what people are calling taking advantage of gringos. I am STILL recovering from the exhaustion of being in Mexico during the covid crisis no less.

    Editor’s note: this post has been edited for length and potentially inflammatory language.

    by Tatiana — December 12, 2020

  164. I tried living in Mexico for 1 year and three months. It was the most exhausting experience of my life. Not only is the noise a significant problem but the inherent theft within the Mexican culture that bothers me. As an Western European I have been blessed to be raised in the world’s bastion of peace. Americans seem to think they live in a safe country but I never grew up with murders on the news. If there is a murder in Western EUrope it is talked about for a very long time becasue we occupy the first 35 places on the Global Peace Index along with Japan, Canada, and New Zealand.

    Europe is the intellectual’s choice. And I love it. I will never leave except for visits to New Zealand and the South Pacific islands.

    by Tina — June 5, 2021

  165. If you have to be “vigilant” about being ripped off, you are living in a toxic environment. After living on six continents, I have found Europe to be the only healthy environment form food to psychological health of residents. I would never live in the Americas it is so toxic. Canada is the single bastion of sanity on the otherwise insane two continents

    by Tina — June 5, 2021

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