Some highlights of InterNations' survey of expats in Mexico Some highlights of InterNations' survey of expats in Mexico. internations

Mexico places second for expats: survey

Cost of living offsets concerns over safety and stability

Friendly people, beautiful beaches and tasty cuisine are among the reasons why expatriates are choosing Mexico as a place to live, ranking it second in a new survey.


The Ease of Settling In Index is the result of a survey by InterNations, a network and guide for expatriates, in which 14,400 people provided their feedback on life abroad in 64 countries.

This year, Ecuador held on to its first-place ranking for its low living expenses, affordable health care, friendly welcome and social opportunities, while Mexico moved up one to claim the No. 2 spot.

The cost of living and the ease of settling in overcame concerns over safety, political stability and peacefulness. More than four out of five expats viewed living costs favorably and more than three-quarters were generally happy about their financial situation.

Mexico ranked seventh against other countries on the survey’s cost of living index and third in the personal finance index. In terms of happiness, Mexican expats — like Mexicans themselves — rank right up there in third place after Ecuador and Costa Rica.

Three out of eight say they are very happy with their lives, almost double the worldwide average of 19%, a sentiment shared by many native Mexicans. The United Nations World Happiness Report put Mexico in 14th place out of 158 countries this year.

Other reasons to like Mexico were leisure opportunities and climate, but in terms of overall quality of life its ranking was just 22 as a result of low scores in two sub-categories, travel and transport, and health, safety and well-being.


While travel opportunities got a positive rating from 94%, only 56% had a positive view of transportation infrastructure.

Personal safety earned a negative review from 24% of respondents, compared to a global average of 11%. Political stability was seen negatively by 29% compared to 16% worldwide, and peacefulness 23%, compared to 10% on a global scale.

Despite all that, Mexico has almost five times as many retirees as the global average: 23% compared to 5%. And 41% of expats in Mexico said they will probably never leave.

Working expats are somewhat less happy about Mexico due to long hours — on average 47.1 hours a week. Two out of seven expats work part-time and about 12% are self-employed.

But on the whole, expats working in Mexico are not dissatisfied — 73% said they were generally satisfied with their jobs. However, the state of the economy was a concern for nearly a third.

The top three nationalities of expats in Mexico are American, 42%, Canadian, 10%, and British, 6%. Retirees constituted 23%, and the average age is 48.8 years.

The survey was conducted online in February and March by asking participants to rate diverse aspects of life. The study also revealed there were 10 types of expat, ranging from people who had relocated for employment to those looking for a better quality of life.

Other high rankings were Panama, which placed eighth; Canada, in ninth; Costa Rica 12th; and the United States 13th.

Mexico News Daily

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  • Henry Wilson

    Seems to be an accurate survey. Concerns about public entities corruption, political instability, low quality health care and violent crime seem to be less important to most expats with whom I have talked than the positives of the cost of living, climate, scenery, and the culture. This will probably remain fairly constant as long as the very serious problems affecting Mexico do not seem to expand significantly beyond present locales.

    The government of Mexico would do well to make certain the expat conclaves of Guadalajara-Chapala, Puerto Vallarta, Baja California, the Mayan Caribe, and Merida-Progresso remain largely unaffected as to not do so could change the expat situation and decisions to remain in Mexico very quickly and drastically.

    The ranking of Mexico near the top remains interesting given the fact the government of Mexico has no real program in place to financially encourage foreigner retirement, unlike many other nations, and most foreigners would say other Latino nations are far more personally welcoming, particularly to Americans, than are most Mexicans.

    • Ellen Fields

      It seems to me that we have no idea what the government is doing, but I would agree that they do not seem to be doing much in relationship to expats in their country, other than (of course) issuing visas. I would be interested to hear what you know that other countries are doing… I’m not aware of the US doing anything in particular for expats on its shores…

      • Henry Wilson

        I believe all of the Central American countries, including Belize, have a Retirement Visa program for foreigners wishing to permanently settle. Ecuador in SA has an excellent program and really wants foreigners and their money to settle there. Each prgram varies of course, but they mostly provide financial incentives, such as no taxation on foreign source income, no limit on the personal items, such as household furniture you can bring in, easy transport and entry with your automobile, discounts on purchases, no need to leave the country to renew the visa, things like that. Some are more attractive than others. Best attraction? No stares and glares ( or many fewer) from the locals if you are an American. Most are really nice people.

        Mexico has nothing of real financial substance or attraction for the foreigner, except after many years renewing the visa you can apply for a permanent visa with no expiration. The advantage of Mexico is that it, along with Peru , normally will give you a 6 month tourist visa. No other nation in Latin America of which I am aware gives a tourist visa for that long of a period of time up front upon first entry. I usually just cross over to Belize or Guatemala if I want to continue residing past the 6 month limt and return after a 24 period. I think most foreigners do that as the aplication process for a permanent visa as with everythng else in dealing with the Mexican government is a nightmare. I also get tired of the bureaucrats looking at this Gringo as if I am a piece of dog S, and so do my best to keep my contact with them to the bare required minimum.

        Frankly I would be deep in SA right now and have gladly given the Mexican border officials the “middle finger” upon exiting, but for the fact I am an American and for business and personal reasons need to remain close to the States (Minnesota).

    • Jim Carr

      I disagree with some of your comments as I find Mexican health care to be far superior to that of the US especially where the quality of CARE is concerned. Mexican physicians and specialists are easily as professional and well qualified and costs (where applicable) are a fraction of those north of the border.

      The importation of automobiles is definitely a pain but I found the immigration process to be easily maneuverable and acquiring permanente status ensures I don’t have ANY hassles moving across the border in either direction as often as I wish.

      I find security to not be an issue in the Guadalajara/Chapala region and in fact feel safer in Mexico than in the US.

      They (Mexicans) certainly could make things easier and more inviting to expats by streamlining their processes but as Ellen suggested, I’m also not aware of the US doing anything for immigrants or expats either.

      Americans unfortunately are often viewed with skepticism and disdain when moving around in foreign countries but honestly, and I’m not pointing fingers but you bring it on yourselves with your me first, superior, I’m entitled attitudes and your how dare you, I’m American way of pushing your weight around. No offence but if you tried harder to FIT IN instead of trying to change the world into smaller versions of the USA you might find things easier and more inviting.

      • Henry Wilson

        Response: 1. Mexican health care ranks at or near the bottom in international rankings. Ask any Mexican his opinion of IMSS. “You foreigners go to your hospitals to get well. We Mexicans go to our hospitals to die.” Pretty much the sentiment here. As for costs being lower, as with most things in life such is true in Mexico. You normally receive what you pay for. 2. Your experience in obtaining pèrmanent retirement status (if that is what you are referring to) is I submit the exception and certainly not the norm. As for crossing back and forth across the border, I never said it was a problem. 3. I never said security was a problem in the expat colonias. Please read my comment again. 4. The position of the US vis a vis permanent retirement of foreigners in the US was not raised in the article nor in my comment and thus your comment regarding such is not relevant. 5. And finally we get to the motive for your response, i.e., “all of you Americans are jerks and you deserve the treatment you get in foreign countries.” The comment is beneath the dignity of a response.

      • Patricia Dolan

        I totally agree with your assessment of the entitled American……and I’m American. I grew up in Europe and have traveled extensively and have seen first hand the attitude and entitlement. It’s embarrassing. Not all of course, but certainly by in large.

        • Jim Carr

          My comments re Americans were perhaps a bit over zealous and not meant to ridicule. Your agreement is in some measure vindication although I wholeheartedly agree with you that not all are culprits. I too have traveled extensively and in many European countries was advised to distance myself from my English speaking (American) friends.

          Perhaps it’s more cultural than anything and a product of those less travelled. I reside full-time in Mexico and have made very good friends of many U.S. Expats who are equally well traveled, now calling Mexico home and who share our sentiments of their fellow countrymen. I suspect many countries export there fair share of ‘entitled’ visitors but given the sheer volume of American travellers it likely appears more prevalent than it may in fact be.

          I won’t dignify Mr Wilsons retort as I think he typifies my remarks with his comments …”also get tired of the bureaucrats looking at this Gringo as if I am a piece of dog S, and so do my best to keep my contact with them to the bare required minimum.
          Frankly I would be deep in SA right now and have gladly given the Mexican border officials the “middle finger” upon exiting, but for the fact I am an American and for business and personal reasons need to remain close to the States (Minnesota).”

          I think enough has been said on this topic.

          • Henry Wilson

            Agreed. Enough had been said on this subject when you exposed yourself as an anti-American bigot. But hey…you are in good company on this website, and the worst offenders are the Americans themselves.

      • Brig

        You hit it right on the nail Jim! I have lived and worked in Mexico, I am Canadian, in my early and mid 40’s. Now returned to Canada, only fro a short while, due to family reasons. We vacation every year and plan to return to retire. LOVE the Mexican people! Their healthcare is as superior to ours, or should I say better when it comes to doctors caring more.

      • Alex Double

        Good stuff, Jim!!

      • Bill McGrady

        Americans… I guess ALL Americans are “me first, superior, I’m entitled etc., etc.” Careful bub, I’m American and have lived down here in Mazatlan for 12 years and have done business that whole time with contractors, vendors and doctors etc. I don’t see any difference between Canadians and Americans. I guess I see individuals more. Some are cool and gracious while others are judgmental, obnoxious and down right not folks you wanna hang with. I Love Mexicans and therefore, Mexico! (even some of those can be a bit testy!) Canadians can be…. ain’t gonna go there. A whole bunch of um are my good and dear friends! Too bad some Americans can be crude, rude and otherwise not nice. But I gotta say, I think you know what I would say.. I seem to get along easier with people in general here than there.

        See you on the Malacon! American man.

  • Alex Double

    Mexico is a wonderful place to retire to.Even for a Brit who has been used to free healthcare the quality of life here far outweighs any disadvantages. I am sorry that Henry Wilson had such bad experiences with the Immigration Authorities our experience has been quite the reverse. maybe there is corruption etc here but at least it tends to be out in the open not like the sneaky way it percolates through British politics. Viva Mexico!!

    • Henry Wilson

      I am a dual US-UK citizen and your comment trying to compare the extent of public corruption in Mexico, which ranks near the top of international listings, with that of the UK is not only laughable but offensive.

    • Jim Carr

      Alex I must agree with your comments. I think Mexico is a fantastic place in which to retire. I love the Mexican people and their way of life. I too was accustomed to free healthcare and find the user pay system expensive (compared to free) but overall reasonable and immensely less expensive than US hospitals. I’m impressed by the degree of professional care provided and the state of the art training and equipment.

      Corruption to some degree is evident in every country and at virtually all levels but you’re right, at least in Mexico it’s out in the open and in my experience things over the last five years have actually improved.

      I don’t try to import my former countries customs into Mexico, my new home, I choose to accept and adopt their way of doing things. It is their country after all and I’m the visitor.

      • Alex Double

        Thanks for your supportive comments, Jim. You are absolutely right!

  • Lynne Willard

    This article is about “The Ease of Settling,” not dealing with bureaucrats going back and forth across the border. I easily became a permanent resident of Mexico a few years ago (albeit under the old system) but obtained health coverage, the INAPAM card, a driver’s license, multiple bank accounts, a car and a moto by showing little more than my valid visa and passport, as well as a current utility bill–not even in my own name. Every Mexican “bureaucrat” I have dealt with in the past 14 years has been polite, helpful and gracious, even before I learned Spanish. Ease of settling? Nothing could have been easier, and I can no longer think of a single good reason to cross the border.

  • deepwater805

    I moved to the Pacific side of Baja Norte eight years ago, and can’t even contemplate living anywhere else. I had come from LA, and moved to a small village of maybe 300 people. The first thing I noticed when I first moved in was the total absence of urban sounds. No street noise, choppers, sirens, dogs barking (well almost no dogs), and no dealing with massive traffic every time I want to go anywhere. All I did hear was silence, the occasional pounding surf during high tides, and storm surges, feeding, flirting, and fighting hummingbirds, (they’re really cute when they fight), and every once in a while the yip yip of coyotes as they pass through. In other words: the peace and tranquility here is unmatched by any place I’ve ever been. Of course I’ve got to mention Mexican beer. It even gives Germany a run for the money, and frankly, put a Spaten, or a Pacifico in front of me, and I’ll be reaching for lime instead of the stein….

  • Lorileeca

    We have lived in Mexico permanently for over 10 1/2 years and have returned to Canada only once this last January. To say the cost of living there and the taxes you pay on everything was an incredible shock to our meager wallet. We have IMSS and can say the medical care here is far superior to that of Canada, especially if you have an emergency and how quickly they get you in. The Doctors and nurses are as professional as any we have ever needed. We received our Permanent resident Status a few years ago and had to go through the old process, the new system is far superior. Dealing with government officials may take a little time but they are always polite and always manage to get what is required done. We may not understand their systems but it works. We will live out our lives as happy Mexican Canadians in Mexico

    • Jerry

      Lorileeca, Enjoyed reading your post along with the others as well. I too am Canadian but love, love, love Mexico and its people. The locals really make a difference. Although I have always lived in the multicultural city of Toronto, sometimes it makes me wonder why the lack of acceptance which I find totally opposite in Mexico. Would love to move but have been skeptical especially with the topic of health care. Mind you, I have been treated in a hospital in Mexico, both emerg and outpatient and definitely agree with what most posters are saying i.e. the superior care – doctors and nurses regard you as a patient not just a number. So, I have 2 questions for you:
      1. IMSS – how does it work? Another poster here (Patricia) indicates it has gone bankcrupt?

      2. Do I need to buy insurance? I spoke with a couple earlier this year, they dont have insurance and the husband had emergency treatment including surgery costing about $2,800 which is fairly decent. Is this the right way to go – pay as you go?
      Your insight and any other tips for a novice who is considering the move, would be greatly appreciated.

      • Lorileeca

        Hi Jerry, IMSS is well and healthy and we have used it numerous times. You make 1 yearly payment and the first year I believe is restrictive to prevent people with serious conditions to take advantage of the system. There is a price under 59 and 1 for 59 and over. All your drugs are free as you pick them up at the hospital or clinic Pharmacy. If you are just a visitor and not a resident I would think travel health insurance always a good buy, but as a resident. we have had IMSS since the day we moved here. I can not say enough about the retired life in Mexico, the sunshine, cost of living and the relaxed pace of life. Also if you have yourself declared a Non Residential Canadian there is only a Federal income Tax on your income and 16% an agreement between Mexico and Canada.

  • Henry

    Mexico is a great country whit a wonderful things, but I love the Belize family Vacation, but is just my opinion.