Motivations and Fundamental Choices for Moving to Mexico

Why do you want to move —or why have you already moved— abroad?  And why to Mexico? It’s worth taking some time to reflect on what is motivating you to consider a move to Mexico, or what brought you to Mexico in the first place if you’re already here.

This article explores motivations as well as the fundamental choices you’ll need to make as you begin to paint (or repaint) your lifestyle canvass in Mexico.

Key themes and motivators for moving to Mexico

Common themes that motivate people to move abroad, and to Mexico in particular, include:

Reorganizing life situations: part of a long-term strategy of reorganizing a life situation for an eventual retirement, or semi-retirement, abroad—often when children are grown-up, debts paid, and spare time is available.

Culture and living environment: a desire to experience a different culture: for themselves, or as part of giving their children a wider perspective of living, lifestyles, and culture as they grow up.

Quality of life: the pursuit of a better quality of life, influenced by factors including the cost of living, the climate and natural environment, cultural nuances, and reasons related to health and well-being.

Working and professional reasons: a work placement or secondment that brought them to Mexico by way of their employer’s request for them to move here; or a desire to relocate an independent/freelance workstyle to Mexico.

Confidence of familiarity: the desire to move to a place that is familiar and geographically close to their home country—many Americans and Canadians know Mexico through vacations or family trips they have experienced here throughout their lives.

Pursuit of a new calling: a need to create a change in their life circumstances; perhaps as a response to some major life event, e.g., divorce, illness, or some sudden or unexpected loss or shift that caused the person to reexamine their lifestyle needs and choices.

Simplification and down-sizing: some people come to a point where they realize that their life situations have become enormously complex and challenging; and moving to Mexico becomes part of an effort simplify, down-size, and focus on a carefully considered set of redefined priorities—see the next heading in this chapter for more details about this;

Reflection through recuperation or sabbatical: to convalesce after an illness, or to take time away on sabbatical to reflect on how to make significant lifestyle changes and experiment with what these changes might look and feel like.

Simplifying your lifestyle situations

Simple living is concerned with recognizing your priorities, defining what is most important to you, and reorganizing your life to focus on those things and, in tandem, release the excess and superfluous elements and situations which are crowding or impairing your life.

A surprising number of people cite ‘creating a simpler lifestyle’ as one of the key intentions that propelled them to move abroad to start over with a fresh perspective on life.

Mexico offers choices for people who want to live more simply, and we have published articles that address matters related to creating simpler lifestyles for themselves and their partners/family here, and if that’s what you’re seeking, you don’t necessarily have to wait for retirement to consider pursuing a simpler lifestyle in Mexico.

The fundamental choices of your decision making

Most of the detailed choices that you’ll make as you consider a move to Mexico tend to be ‘peripheral’ matters; that is, they are everyday minutiae that are most often defined by specific circumstances and in most cases will not influence or impact the overall strategy and rationale for moving here.

Periphery matters might include things like whether to bring certain domestic appliances, accessories, or furniture with you or whether you’ll buy new when you get here.

However, some choices are fundamental, and, like the foundation stones of a building, these choices will determine what you can subsequently build within your framework from here on; and if you discover after the fact that you made a sub-optimal choice concerning something fundamental, it could cost you a lot more time, effort, and money to reorganize.

It’s therefore prudent to consider the fundamental choices you need to make as you consider a move to Mexico. While everyone’s situations and lifestyle priorities have distinct characteristics, there are a handful of matters which tend to be universally fundamental early in the decision-making cycle, and these are summarized below:

Timescales and your level of commitment

If your move to Mexico is intended to be tentative or experimental, or only part time —perhaps to get away from the cold during the winter months, or as part of a period of reflection in your life— you are likely to maintain ‘structures’ in two countries: for example, you may own a home and rent in Mexico, returning to your home country for certain seasons; or you might avoid making certain types of commitments in Mexico, e.g. buying a house here. Beware that this type of to-and-fro lifestyle takes good planning, as well as considerable effort and resources; moreover, it can become tiring over time.

Some people decide to make a ‘clean break’ with their life situation in their home country, sell their home if they have one, and their personal goods, and move to Mexico in earnest as means to motivate themselves to make things work: problems and challenges will inevitably arise, and being committed is a constructive way to find pathways through the difficulties.

Being clear about your commitment level and timescales will help you to focus on what is important and will also influence some of the other fundamental decisions you have to make.

Choice of location to live in Mexico

Where in Mexico do you want to live? Mexico offers a wide variety of locations, which in turn offer distinct types of topography, climate, and amenities.

Pausing to carefully consider the location you will go to is time well spent and patience well applied—especially if you intend to buy a home.  Part Three of this guide summarizes a list of key locations to discover and consider.  Also review the links in the Further Insight section, below, about matching your location with your lifestyle needs, and connect to Mexperience guides and articles about choosing a place to live.

Seeking legal residency

Some people have been staying longer term in Mexico as ‘perpetual visitors,’ using a visitor permit to live here indefinitely.  However, recent changes to the way visitors are admitted is making this more difficult, and perhaps impossible in some cases.

Exploring your routes to legal residency is therefore a fundamental aspect of your decision-making, and you ought to be clear about what type of residency permit you would like to apply for, (considering also what type you may qualify for), before committing to move here.


When you’ve chosen a location to live, you’ll need to arrange suitable accommodations locally.  Options include:

  • Choose to rent for a year or two before you commit to buying a home in Mexico.
  • Take a temporary rental for a brief period (usually a few months) while you scout for a home to buy locally.
  • Choose to make an investment in a home purchase right away.
  • Move to Mexico and rent a home long-term, instead of buying a property.

Renting gives you additional flexibility but carries drawbacks in terms of choice of property types available and protocols —many rentals don’t allow pets, for example.

Buying enables you to find a place that is more precisely suited to your lifestyle needs and encourages you to settle in the location you have chosen. It might also be sensible to buy sooner in a place where the market is buoyant, and prices are rising; or if you have patient capital and are prepared to hold on to property for a longer period, perhaps renting it out, even if it transpires that the location is not ideal for your needs.

Local services, amenities, and connections

Depending on your life stage and lifestyle choices, the services, amenities, and connections you want, or must have, can vary tremendously—but it’s essential that you identify them.

Read our article about matching your lifestyle needs to your location for details about this; key matters to consider are:

  • the location you choose to live and rent or buy a home in (and the locale within that location) should have the key services you identified you need close-at-hand, for example, medical care if you have a pre-existing condition that may require immediate assistance;
  • amenities you want or need regularly should be nearby too: this could include stores, restaurants, social centers, or other places of interest that form key parts of your life’s activities and priorities;
  • if you have children, you should consider what they need in terms of schooling, sports activities, and community events—and ensure these are available and not too far away from where you live;
  • the location should suit your need for community connections: local interest groups—whether those are with other foreign residents, Mexican neighbors, or both;
  • if transport links are important to your lifestyle, you should consider these too: some places to live in Mexico are idyllic but remote, especially more rural places—so plan accordingly.

Whether you will work in Mexico

If you’re not planning to move to Mexico to retire, you’ll need to consider whether you intend to work here, in what capacity, and how.

Getting a work permit without a formal job offer from an established company is not easy. Self-employment options are available.  Our articles about working and self-employment in Mexico provide detailed insights and guidance.

Cross-checking your choices

When you have taken time to consider what is motivating you (or what events or situations are driving you) to move to Mexico, and you have made decisions concerning the fundamental choices, you should consider your intentions and priorities.

Key matters to cross-check in your deliberations include:

Having realistic motivations

Are your motivations realistic and driven by a desire to create a new lifestyle based on the things that are important to you and those closest to you?  Making choices based on fear or misunderstanding, on a desire to run away from something, or through refusing to face matters and issues that will inevitably follow you to Mexico (or some other location in Mexico if you’re already here), does not create a good foundation for cultivating a new lifestyle abroad, in any foreign country.

Considering your partner and family

If you’re in a relationship, or have a family that will move with you, it’s important to take their needs and emotions into consideration as these issues can fracture your lifestyle intentions and even break relationships without consideration at the planning stage.

Two helpful questions to ask:

Is your partner feeling comfortable about the idea of moving to Mexico and the choices you are making? Some couples might assume that the other person’s desire to move to Mexico is as strong as the one leading the intention; and couples might also find that one partner adapts much more easily to Mexico than the other, even when both partners have genuine intentions about moving here.

How will you support your children through the changes?  If you have minor children, the decision is ultimately yours, but you will need to be mindful of their needs and prepared to support your offspring through the changes and the inevitable challenges they will face as they join new schools, make new friends, and grapple with Spanish perhaps as a secondary or foreign language.

Will your location choice be a suitable place for you?

Will the location you have settled on suit your lifestyle needs and intentions?  Places that are great to visit on vacation might not be the place you want to live. Locations that appear ideal in the rain season might be quite uncomfortable in the dry season.

If you chose a place that doesn’t have any secondary schools suitable for your (now) young children, that can cause logistical challenges when they grow a bit older.  Our articles about matching your location to your needs and discovering places to live in Mexico address these types of issues and help you to consider your choices.

Suitable accommodations for your needs

What type of accommodations are you considering?  Whether you rent or buy, finding the right house in the right location and moreover in the right neighborhood can strongly influence how your experience unfolds in Mexico—especially in the early years.

Choosing your accommodations is a fundamental choice.  You home will ideally be a place you can feel comfortable in, situated in the right location for your lifestyle needs and surrounded by the services and amenities you need and want, as well as having easy access to things you have identified as being most important for your lifestyle—for example, social connections, community, schools for your children, transport links, etc.

Your readiness to adapt to Mexico

It’s helpful to ask yourself how adaptable you (and your partner and children if relevant) are.  Moving to a foreign country will place unique demands on your patience and your social skills, as well as test your ability to compromise and adapt amidst changing situations.

As part of your adaption process, you’ll need to make an effort to settle-in to your new life here, cultivate social networks locally, and find purpose and balance in your everyday life situations.

Our series about essential skills for expats addresses the key matters foreign residents should consider as they move and settle into a new life in Mexico.

Further research and resources

Mexperience offers you a comprehensive online resource of information and local knowledge to help you discover Mexico, explore choices, find opportunities and plan a new life in Mexico.  Resources include:

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