Isla Mujeres. Isla Mujeres: living in paradise.

Common questions for expats in Mexico

Health care, safety and what do you do all the time are topics of interest

“Wow! Lucky you.” That’s the first thing people say when we tell them that we live on Isla Mujeres, on the Caribbean coast of Mexico. And then the questions start.


“What do you do for medical?” This is probably one of the most frequently asked questions. As Canadians living outside our country our universal health care is void after an absence of seven months.

Here in Mexico we chose to pay as we go. If we need something done we pay for it – a lot less than we would pay in either the U.S. or Canada. Some of our friends have had stellar treatment at any one of the three first-class hospitals in Cancún with their American-trained doctors.

Others have not had a good experience. The same can be said for any doctor in any hospital in any country. Outstanding, good, bad, or indifferent treatment – it depends. Rather than obsess about potential health issues, we just enjoy every day for what it is.

“Can you own property?” Actually, Mexico makes it relatively easy for foreigners to own property. Inland, you can hold a direct title to your Mexican real estate. In the restricted zones — including prized beach areas or the manufacturing zone near the Mexico-U.S. border — you can own real estate through a bank trust.

The choice of bank is up to you. The trust will have a renewal term of anywhere from 25 to 45 years. The bank will handle the government forms that need to be filed yearly, for a fee of course. The trust can be transferred or sold.

“Do you feel safe?” Yes we do. But, having said that we do not live on the Mexico-U.S. border where there are problems on both sides of the line.


We aren’t night-owls. We barely stay awake for sunset so we aren’t involved in the late-night action. And like any country in the world, big cities have areas that you would not venture into for any reason. The same applies to Mexican cities.

“What do you do with your time?” Ah, well, what does any retired person do with his or her time? We read, putter at small jobs around the house, enjoy a meal with friends or family, nap, putter some more, go for a walk, learn a bit of Spanish, do a little offshore fishing, take photographs and write two blogs.

Another favorite pastime is road trips, exploring the beautiful historic cities and villages of Mexico.

“How much are your property taxes?” Low. But like every country taxes vary from property to property, size of the house, waterfront versus inland – all of the usual conditions that are taken into account for property taxes.

“Do you have to leave the country every six months?” No, not if you have a temporary resident card, good for one year, or the newer permanent resident card which is good indefinitely under current government regulations.

If you come in under a 180-day visitors permit, yes you do have to leave, but you may return again.

“Can I work in Mexico?” Sure, once you obtain the necessary permits and permissions. A number of the island restaurants, real estate offices and stores are owned and operated by people from other countries.

And finally:

“What do you miss the most of all?” I miss very little except the close proximity of my immediate family. We do, however, wish we had a better comprehension of the laws, rules and regulations.

When a person grows up in a certain culture, be it Canadian, American or European, you have an innate understanding of what is expected of you. When you switch to a different culture life can, at times, get interesting, very interesting.

We also miss conversing in a language that we are comfortable with. And before you feel the need to email me and advise me to take lessons – I am 65, Lawrie is 74. Our brains seldom retain the words that we have learned. We try to find a new word every day that we can remember. That is a huge accomplishment in our books!

And yes, “Wow! Lucky us!” We enjoy living in paradise with good weather, good food and good friends. Try it – you might like it!

The writers are Canadians who have been full-time residents of Isla Mujeres for eight years. You can read their blog here.

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  • Dave Warren

    I like the Mexico News features. I am in Tepic in the mountains. The law here is …keep your head down, don’t rock the boat, always stay under the radar, don’t dress too well, show respect. Nails standing up too high get hammered.

  • JG

    Lots of questions answered here

  • Pesobill

    “What do you do for medical “? Well if you have an emergency get ready to pay big money if you are a foreigner and be prepared to pay “gringo prices” so sub par services . I have had both parents in Mexican hospitals and was pricey and confusing , very creative “billing ” too. Living in Mexico is over rated , inconvenient and is more dreamland hype for the masses .. Crime ridden place I will not even visit after living there for years !

    • Paxton

      I had an emergency in Colima a few years ago and it cost 1/10th of what it would have cost in the US, private room for three days in a private hospital, consultancy with the University Hospital Doctors, good care, some one could stay with me……total cost was about $1000US.

    • Herradura Plata

      “Crime ridden?” No, no. Crime is what occurred at places like Sandy Hook Elementary School? Columbine? Oaklahoma City bombing? That, amigo, is crime. “Made in the USA” crime, Only a matter of hours before the next slaughter of innocents.

    • PintorEnMexico

      You may have gotten old here but you never LIVED here.

      • Güerito

        PEN, why not just stick to observations and statements, without the school kid insults.
        BTW, you stil owe me one.

        • PintorEnMexico

          I wasn’t aware that a response was due. Sorry. I kind of lose interest in subjects after they’ve run their course here. I thought the last exchange was about the math and it checked out for you. I didn’t have any dog in that fight. As I said, I don’t care one way or the other. If there are more immigrants or less, it doesn’t matter to me. I was just saying that remittances relative to oil revenues can be explained by multiple effects.

        • PintorEnMexico

          Oh, and I had kidney stone to take care of…

          • Güerito

            PEM, I’m deleting my post about you not responding. I hope you’re recovering fine.

          • PintorEnMexico

            No worries Güerito, that all went down a month ago. Pain is easily forgotten.

    • Güerito

      A couple years ago, I was bit by a dog while taking a short cut walking down the railroad tracks near my house down here.

      I went to the nearby state clinic and was immediately taken to the front of the line for fear of rabies, etc. I received the full shot treatment over one month, completely free.

      Inexpensive, high quality health care is one of the reasons I live here. Contrary to what many others might think, Mexican doctors and Mexican government officials take health care very seriously.

    • you should purchase major expenses medical insurance for high quality medical insurance. “gastos mayores” – I have lived 39 years in Mexico and would never go anywhere else for medical treatment.

  • This looks to be a very calm, balanced, credible, well-written article. Thank you to the writer, Lynda Lock.

    If you’re considering moving to Mexico, you should listen to people like Lynda and then as many additional expats as possible. Here’s a site with hundreds of answers about living in Mexico, provided by expats already there:

  • Güerito

    Please don’t come to advertise here… Chuck. I feel sick when you do that, you should too.