Mexico is one of the number-one countries that expats say they are the happiest in their personal and work lives. If you are looking for a place to live outside of the country that won’t necessarily mean a deep dive into culture shock, Mexico should be at the top of the list.

However, before you relocate “south of the border,” here are answers to your most common questions.

What is the Cost of Living in Mexico?

The cost of living in Mexico is much more affordable than in European countries, or even in the U.S. Feel like eating out? Find a casual restaurant with delicious food for only $5. Need to fill up with gas? Get ready to fork out around $3. If you work for an American company in Mexico, you can expect to live very comfortably.

Is It Safe to Live in Mexico?

We have all heard the news. However, the way Mexico is painted on your television screen doesn’t always translate to an accurate portrayal. Mexico is much safer than it would seem, according to Carlos Barron, an FBI veteran who now helps US travelers stay safe in other countries. There are, of course, certain regions, particularly in large cities, that you should avoid, but this could be said for any country. As Barron points out, personal safety often comes down to common sense.

Do People There Know English?

People who visit Mexico are surprised to learn that many residents speak excellent English. Because the expat population in Mexico tops out over 1 million, you will not have to look far to find someone that can speak your language. Since tourists frequent Mexico, it is also relatively easy to find locals who speak English.

Luckily, if you want to stay in Mexico and learn how to speak with local people, Spanish is an easier language to learn when you start from English.

What are the Visa Requirements?

Temporary Stays (Tourist)

Now that you realize fitting into life in Mexico will likely be easier than you might have thought, it is time to dig into the nitty-gritty. To get into Mexico and stay for more than six months, you need a visa. If you want to stay for less than six months, you can cross the border with your American passport. Your passport is a valuable thing, especially in Central and South America, so be sure to keep it in a safe place, or it will be difficult for you to return to the United States.

Long-Term Stay

Most U.S. citizens wanting to remain in Mexico for the long term will apply for the FM3 (No Inmigrante) Visa. The application process can be quite long due to both countries’ bureaucratic red tape. Still, there are plenty of resources online helping you to get it done without using an immigration lawyer in about a month. You can renew your FM3 annually and must start the renewal process 30 days before the visa runs out.

Permanent Resident

If you want to move all of your household items to Mexico instead of bringing a couple of suitcases, that is a different story. You will need to have a Permanent Resident or Temporary Resident immigration status to do so. Even with these designations, you can’t bring guns, ammunition, plants or food into the country. If you intend to apply to be a Permanent Resident, you will need to fulfill one of these criteria:

  • Have a job in Mexico
  • Have close family in Mexico
  • Intend to retire to Mexico
  • Have four years of temporary residence in Mexico
  • Study in a Mexican educational institute

As long as you fulfill one of these criteria, you can start your application process. You will need to go through a similar process to get the residency card for the FM3 visa. You should apply for an FM2 instead in this case. The first step is to set up an appointment at the Mexican embassy, and they will guide you from there.

Moving to Mexico!

Now you’re equipped with the information you need to move your belongings and get the process started for your emigration. It’s time to pack your shades and sunscreen and get ready to hit the road! Check with SpareFoot.com for the best stateside self-storage rates. Storing your household goods temporarily can offer flexibility while you sort out your immigration plans.

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Amanda Williams