Life Adjustments when Retiring in Mexico
Retiring in Mexico may seem like quite a challenge, and after having been there recently to look at real estate, I can certainly say that it's not something that you just want to just jump into - though we did meet a lot of people who totally did just jump into it and seem to be doing fine! Mexico has a pretty bad reputation these days, but the expats we met down there didn't seem to be too phased by it, and we didn't run into any major problems.
Living in a Third World Country
First of all, you need to realize that if your experience of Mexico has mostly been in 3-5 Star resorts, if you live 'off the reservation' so to speak, you're going to be in for a bit of a shock, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing! Most of the people here are genuinely warm and friendly, but you do need to be aware of your surroundings, just like you would at home. Just like in your own city there are likely neighborhoods that you wouldn't visit at night (or even in the daytime!), cities in Mexico are no different and you need to keep this in mind if you are thinking about retiring here.
There are different areas in the country that are surely 3rd world and you will find that there are a lot of poor people here, though most of them still have a smile on their faces.
With an “average” retirement income you can certainly feel privileged here as your money will go a lot farther here than it will back home in the US. If you compare your quality of living at home and that of your lifestyle abroad you can truly afford to live luxuriously when retiring in Mexico.
A Laid Back Lifestyle in Mexico
You might be used with a very fast-paced and uptight life in the US but if you are thinking about retiring in Mexico you will soon find out that Mexicans are much more laid back and they have their own pace as if the clock here is turning slower.
While travelling in Mexico we ran into this many times, even once missing out on getting our laundry because we had arrived at time when we were supposed to, only to find the little stand where we dropped off our clothes was chained shut. We learned the next day that the owner had gone for dinner and that had we arrived an hour late from when we had agreed to pick up our laundry, we would have found the shop was open.
Learning the Language
One of the biggest challenges that you might have to face when retiring in Mexico is integrating with the local people. It's a challenge, but compared to some other languages it's not too bad for those of us from North America who likely have some Spanish or French (for the Canadians) tucked away in our brains from high school that can help us pick up the language.
You can still get by with English, and we met more than a few expats who had retired in Mexico and were getting along fine with only the very basics of Spanish.
The best way in a new country is always to learn the local language, but it's nice to know that even if you can't or don't want to learn it, that you'll still be able to get by. The local people really do appreciate it however if you do try and speak to them in Spanish instead of just defaulting to English.
Live with your Fellow Expats
Adjusting to retirement life abroad may not be the easiest thing to do. However, there are so many expats retiring in Mexico that they have formed close knit communities all over the country. When you are looking for a prospective area, just do some searches and see what's available in terms of expat groups or clubs and you will be pleasantly surprised.
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