Have you ever thought about traveling and living abroad? If so, you’re not alone. Many people, myself included, have thought about what life might be like outside of the United States. Yet, while traveling and living abroad might seem like a pipe dream, it is actually more attainable that you realize. In fact, Mexico has become a retirement paradise for nearly one million U.S. citizens. Whether you are looking to retire early or just stretch existing retirement income, retiring in Mexico is more attractive than ever before. But why is retiring in Mexico so popular and why do so many Baby Boomers move south of the border?
For six years, I went searching for answers. I surveyed over 500 Baby Boomers, from over 30 different cities, towns, and regions of Mexico. That research concluded with my book, The Fun Side of the Wall: Baby Boomer Retirement in Mexico, which became a #1 best seller. What I uncovered was a surprising combination of reasons why so many seniors not only move to Mexico, but stay there for good.
Retirees leave for many reasons. There is evidence that some retirees do not trust U.S. policymakers to guarantee a comfortable retirement. In addition, according to AARP¹, a growing number of U.S. retirees (currently 5%) are taking advantage of permanent international migration as one way to stretch their retirement dollars. Since 2008, AARP has published at least 15 separate reports or bulletins on U.S. Retiree migration into Mexico², naming Puerto Vallarta as the best Mexican destination, citing its low cost of living and laid-back lifestyle as the area's primary attractions.
There’s good reason for AARP to make these recommendations. When you compare Mexico’s cost of living to the U.S., the financial benefits are obvious:
Consumer prices are over 64% higher in the United States than Mexico.
Grocery prices are almost 70% higher in the United States than in Mexico.
Restaurant prices are almost 90% higher in the United States than in Mexico.
Rent prices are nearly 200% higher in the United States than in Mexico.
Healthcare is also a lot cheaper there. On average, retirees in Mexico will spend 50 percent less for the same treatments, medications, and procedures as their counterparts in the United States. Even better, in most places the quality of the healthcare system in Mexico is on par with what is available in the U.S. - despite public misconceptions to the contrary. In my book, retirees often said that the total cost of medical procedures in Mexico was less than what they were paying copays. And enrolling in a Mexican healthcare program might be easier than you think. In most cases, it will require some sort of residency status, which can be acquired in as little as four months.
Another eye-opening discovery from my book are the reasons why so many of our U.S. Baby Boomers fall in love with Mexico. One of the most significant reasons was the discovery of many authentic communities spread out all over the country. Numerous authors have long warned that a sense of community is in decline in the U.S. As early as 1992, Wendall Berry warned that the media and consumerism were breeding distrust and that community was being “destroyed by the desires and ambitions of both private and public life.”³
Baby Boomers move to Mexico in search of authentic communities they no longer believe exist in the United States. When you venture outside of the tourist spots, Mexico has many beautiful communities tucked away off-the-beaten path. These communities offer retirees a sense of belonging and purpose that they believe have become harder to find in the United States.
Through my extensive research, I uncovered that almost 60 percent of retirees believed that there were more opportunities for meaningful participation in their Mexico communities than there were back in the United States.
If you are like many Baby Boomers close to retirement or already in retirement, it may be exciting to to think about living outside of the United States. Fortunately, you are not alone! Living in Mexico can be a great way to stretch your retirement dollars and find an authentic community to enjoy your Golden Years with. In fact, there are nearly a million U.S. retirees already there. So, if you want to retire in Mexico, you’re not alone. Do some research, check out my book, and JOIN THE CLUB!
Travis Scott Luther is the best selling author of The Fun Side of the Wall: Baby Boomer Retirement in Mexico. You can find the book on Amazon.com - just search “baby boomers in Mexico.” You can also learn more about Travis at www.TravisLuther.com.
1 AARP 1999. Ibid.
2 AARP. (2010). Mexico: First-class urban amenities and charming palm-fringed villages draw retirees to the Puerto Vallarta region.
3 Berry, 1992. Ibid.
Image provided by Travis Scott Luther