Update information: The book was published before the new INM procedures went into effect on 1 May 2010.
For the current INM procedures, please read How to Move to México and Living in México.




1. Why we say this is The Best How-To Book on Moving to Mexico

In this chapter: The attraction of a new lifestyle and culture. The decisions you’ll face. Our experience helping others make the move. A predictor for your happiness in Mexico. We tell you both the laws and what we and many expats have experienced dealing with these laws.

2. You really are considering moving to a different country

In this chapter: a brief geological and historical look at Mexico to give you some perspective on the forces that have made Mexico what it is today. You are joining 10,000 years of complex history and evolution, not a static postcard Mexico.

3. Is it really a quarter to a third cheaper to live in Mexico?

In this chapter: It’s mostly true, you can live 25-33% cheaper in Mexico, depending on how you choose to live. What costs higher and lower? Property taxes of a few hundred dollars a year are your biggest potential savings, followed by cheaper and tastier local fruits and veggies. Very little heating, A/C is rare. The minimum monthly income for an FM3 residential visa. Living like a middle class Mexican family versus importing an upper class US or Canadian lifestyle. Sample budget for a single person living on $1,350 USD/month income. Housing costs in Lerdo, Durango, compared to those in more expensive expat haven San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato. Comparison chart of 28 sample grocery prices in similar Dallas and San Miguel de Allende supermarkets.

4. Health care, most likely your main worry

In this chapter: Cost of doctors, ERs and hospital care. Differences in health care in Mexico. Medical tourism. Medicare and Canadian health care programs. Keeping Medicare Part B. Varying quality of care. The two government hospital systems and private hospitals. Applying for IMSS. Private insurance plans. Medical evacuation companies. Different attitudes toward prescription drugs. Hospices, living wills, medical power of attorneys, prepaid funeral plans. Living in Mexico with disabilities and with HIV/AIDS. Allergies, amoebas and food poisoning. Dentistry. Vision care. Alternative and holistic medicine. Rolly’s experience in a Hospital Angeles ER. Carol’s detailed report on having two knee replacement surgeries in Querétaro.

5. Staying Healthy in Mexico

In this chapter: Careful walking. Turista. Water safety. Purifying produce. Street vendors. Immunizations. Mexico’s response to the flu epidemic.

6. Crime and Personal Safety

In this chapter: The drug wars and will they involve you? Expats usually feel safer in Mexico than they did in much of the US. Putting crime in perspective. A few border cities versus the rest of Mexico. To pay or not to pay a traffic policeman a mordida (bribe) in the rare case you may be asked. Differences in the police and judicial hierarchy and in the underlying legal principles in Mexico. The most likely crimes you might experience—“mustard” bandits, pickpockets, money scams. Taxis. Cultural differences and special issues of gays and lesbians, women, and people of color. Common sense preventions for street safety and home security. Don’t let stereotypes and fears prevent you from pursuing your dreams.


7. What’s your closest fit?

In this chapter: Figuring out what you really want in a new home location. How Rolly and Carol and Norma made their decisions. The varied kinds of lifestyles you can live in a city with many expats, compared to how you might live in a town where you are the sole expat. A trip around the country looking at potential relocation areas in all of the 31 states and the Federal District (Mexico City). Special cities: the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Mexico, and Mexico’s Pueblos Mágicos (Magical Cities).


8. Visas, pet permits

In this chapter: What is a visa and which one is right for you? How do you get one? Meeting the financial requirements. If you think you might want to make the move permanently and perhaps eventually become a dual Mexican citizen, what should you do differently? How do you bring your pets, whether driving or flying? In Mexico will you be able to get your pets’ favorite food, vet care, boarding? Finding a pet-friendly hotel on the road. “No tell” motels. The Mexican consulates in the US and Canada. The Canadian and US consulates in Mexico.

9. Moving your “stuff” isn’t easy

In this chapter: To use a menaje de casa or not. Bringing all your household versus having a garage sale and buying new in Mexico. Dealing with a moving company. What you can’t include in your packing for a moving company. Duty-free items. Prohibited items. Passport regulations. Which lane to choose at the border if you’re driving—to declare or not. Customs brokers if needed. Should you take a chance and drive through the Nothing to Declare lane? Shipping by sea. Rolly’s sample menaje de casa.

10. Bringing in your vehicle legally

In this chapter: Only one vehicle is allowed in your name. 10-year permits for RV motor homes. What you need for the Temporary Vehicle Importation Permit of a foreign-plated vehicle. Getting the permit online. Article 106, in English and Spanish, to carry with you in your car. Emissions testing. Crazy not to get liability insurance. Getting Mexican plates (nationalizing) your car. Should you buy a Mexican-plated car when you arrive instead? What should you consider for a car to use in Mexico? Do you really need a car? Different rules for Baja.


11. Keeping a Car in Mexico

In this chapter: Driving is different in Mexico. A day without a car policy in Mexico City. Car insurance. What to do in a car accident. Some insurance companies. Motorcycles and RVs. Rental cars.

12. Your new home

In this chapter: Some new termsfraccionamientos, ejidos, fideocomisos, notario públicos. How to find an inexpensive apartment. Buying, building and remodeling. Overseeing employees and the construction process.

13. Employee Law

In this chapter: Hiring a housekeeper, gardener or other employees. Work permits for yourself. Renting out property. Starting a business. Teaching English.

14. Fitting in

In this chapter: Learning Spanish. Banking and ATMs. Phones. Internet. Mexican cable and satellite TV. Educating your children. Dealing with poverty around you. Stray animals. Shopping. Cooking techniques and food substitutions. Staying out of politics. The peso mentality. INAPAM card. The Mexican bus system. Cultural jolts. Differences in holidays and celebrations. Getting married. A final love story to Mexico.

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