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Practical Tips for Preparing to Overwinter in Mexico


A significant number of foreign residents in Mexico live here on a part-time basis. Most of the ‘snowbirds’ arrive during the fall season, spend winters and early spring here, and return to their home country to spend late spring and summers with family and friends who live there.

Factors that influence commitment levels

As we describe in our continually updated guides about living and retirement in Mexico, how much time you spend living in Mexico, and how much commitment you make to cultivating a lifestyle here will depend on many things and is ultimately a personal choice that you will probably have determined when you were defining your intentions and identifying the key factors and other matters that will influence your choices about moving to Mexico.

As noted in our guides referenced above, the key factors that influence these choices include:

  • social and family ties you have in your home country;
  • the attachment (or otherwise) you feel to your home country;
  • the physical distance between Mexico and your home country;
  • your financial resources and personal energy levels required to move twice a year; and
  • your offspring’s perceptions if you have children.

These factors are addressed in detail in our guide to living and retirement in Mexico, and although they are not the only influencers, they are the principal ones which most foreign residents face as they make their choices regarding a move.

Practical matters to consider as you prepare to return to Mexico

If you are one of many foreign residents that shuttles between your home country and Mexico each year —or if you intend to do this as part of your planned lifestyle— there are several practical matters to consider as you prepare for your re-arrival to Mexico.

Your visitor or residency permit

If you use a visitor permit to reside in Mexico part-time, note that border officials appear to no longer be giving 180 days stay by default.  They can still give 180 days maximum (by law) but in many cases people are begin given fewer days—sometimes as few as 10.

If you reside in Mexico even for a few months a year, we recommend you consider applying for a residency permit that will make your border crossing smoother and prevent you from having to leave the country if your visitor permit is not issued for the length of time you intend to overwinter in Mexico.

Renewing your temporary residency

If you hold temporary residency in Mexico and you intend to keep your residency status in Mexico, you will need to renew it before its expiry date.  Residency card renewals must be done in person, in Mexico—they cannot be filed by proxy.

Your arrival in Mexico is an ideal moment to check the expiry date on your residency card(s) and file your renewal (or exchange to permanent residency) as appropriate.  If you need assistance with your renewal process or exchange to permanent, our associate can help.

Vehicles you might bring

If you intend to drive your US or Canadian plated vehicle to Mexico, consider whether you will need a Temporary Import Permit (TIP), and whether you need a TIP or not, you’ll need to purchase a vehicle insurance policy that covers your vehicle while its in Mexico.  Read our guides to driving and road trips in Mexico for insight and advice about driving here.

House and home

If you own a home in Mexico, you’ll need to talk to your local contact or agent about ‘reopening’ the property for your return if it has been left vacant in your absence.

As we remark in our guides to home maintenance and security, it’s not advisable to leave your property unattended for months.  If it has been rented out, you’ll need to liaise with your agent or the tenants to organize the checkout and hand-back, review of the property’s condition, and return of the deposit, etc.

If you rent a home while you’re in Mexico, you’ll need to liaise with the owner or the owner’s agent you are dealing with about arrangements for you to take possession of the property during the lease period.  And it’s also important to know who is renting your home while you’re away.

Health matters

People who live in Mexico part-time might choose to take out defined insurance policies that cover them for the months they are in Mexico; others choose to take a chance and pay any medical expenses out of pocket and buy a medical evacuation policy that would return them to their home country in the event of a major medical incident or accident. Learn more about the options for Mexico health and medical coverages.

Language skills

Being able to speak at least some Spanish will materially improve your lifestyle experiences while you’re in Mexico, even if you’re only living here part of the year.  There are sensible reasons for investing time and effort to learn (or improve) your Spanish, and there are courses online and in classrooms that can help you to do this.

Travel and leisure opportunities

Part-time residents in Mexico may opt to take advantage of their presence in Mexico and consider some travel and leisure opportunities that are close-by.  You can browse custom leisure tours offered by travel experts that know Mexico intimately here on Mexperience.

Miscellaneous practicalities

The guide to living and retirement sets out the plethora of practical matters and details which need to be considered as you move from one place to another. Many of these matters are relevant whether you move to Mexico full-time or part-time—the principal difference is that if you are living here only part time, you’ll effectively be managing lifestyles in at least two different locations simultaneously.

Practical matters as you prepare to leave Mexico

If you intend to leave Mexico for a defined period each year and return months later (or next season/year), the key matters for you to consider prior to your planned departure date from Mexico will likely include:

Resources for Living & Lifestyle in Mexico

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.  Our resources include:

Mexico in your inbox

Our free newsletter about Mexico brings you a monthly round-up of recently published stories and opportunities, as well as gems from our archives.



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