Needless to say, the social and political rancor in North America has reached new heights (or lows). In the U.S. political sphere, the November 2018 mid-term elections resulted in the Democratic Party wresting control of the U.S. House of Representatives. The U.S. President's approval ratings are hovering around 40%. The issue of U.S. immigration reform remains paralyzed amidst political acrimony. Yet, the U.S. President remains adamant about his desire to obtain billions of dollars to build a border wall to keep prospective immigrants out of the U.S. Yet, there's a new norm that has developed in the U.S.
Obscured by all of the above, is the steady flow of American retirees – The Baby Boomer generation - headed south - to Mexico. Frankly, it's an exodus; a MEXODUS. Baby Boomers are considered those born between 1946 and 1964). According to CBS News, the number of Americans retiring outside the United States is growing exponentially. Between 2010 and 2015 the number grew 17 percent. CBS says, the figure is expected to rise during the next 10 years as boomer retirement continues. According to several sources, Mexico is now considered the preferred retirement home for an estimated 1-2 million American retirees - more than any other country. According to Senior Living Magazine, an estimated 10,000 Baby Boomers will achieve retirement age each day - between the present through 2030.
“Where should I retire?” It ‘s a common question in America as Baby Boomers contemplate how and where they might spend the remainder of this life. For tens of thousands, this question includes destinations outside the U.S. Oftentimes; this process involves mulling over Mexico. Every January, the publication International Living provides retirees with suggestions using their Annual Global Retirement Index. In 2018, Mexico was ranked as the 2nd Best Place to retire by IL. Estimates vary, but it’s safe to conclude that a few million Americans and Canadians now reside primarily in Mexico. That’s a lot of Gringos who have made the leap.
I recently completed 2 two week visits to the Guadalajara and Lake Chapala areas in central Mexico in August and October/November 2018. The purpose of these trips was to examine the possibility for retirement in this locale; already home to thousands of expat retirees/resident tourists from the U.S., Canada, Europe and the U.K. What motivated my wife and I to invest in considering Mexico? We had several. We're not alone. During these recent exploratory visits, we had the opportunity to speak with dozens upon dozens of senior American baby boomers in Mexico. Some were already residing there. Others were exploring the possibilities as we were. Our question was: "What inspires retiring American baby boomers to consider Mexico as their retirement home?" Here's what they told us:
- Reduce My Cost of Living - As study after study indicates, American Baby Boomers are ill prepared financially for retirement. REWIRED Magazine states; this "lack of financial preparedness" has become the primary cause of anxiety among Boomers. According to International Living, you can live on U.S. $1,865 per month in Mexico including rent, utilities, groceries, entertainment, healthcare, household help and incidentals. For a couple, the figure moves to an estimated $2,500 per month. Again, costs are relative. Want to live in a tourist area near a Mexican beach on the sea? Your costs will be significantly higher. The same is true for areas in Mexico where American retirees are already well established, like the Lake Chapala/Ajijic area and San Miguel Allende. The current peso to the dollar foreign exchange reality makes reducing the cost of living even more inviting (currently 19.8 Mexican pesos to one U.S. dollar in early January 2019).
- A Better Climate - For many, the motivation to move toward a better climate and retire the snow shovel, winter clothing, umbrella, and avoid sleet, ice, humidity, excessive heat, and the like was a common reply. Of course, Mexico is a massive geographic area. However, the variety of improved climate choices within the country make it attractive to retiring baby boomers.
- More Affordable Healthcare - Mexico, particularly when compared to the U.S. has a vastly more affordable healthcare environment. Of course, this depends upon one's current medical requirements and those that may arise in the future. No, U.S. Medicare healthcare coverage is not valid for medical treatment outside the U.S. Thus, you must rely on cash and qualifying for available Mexican healthcare coverage for those who hold both temporary and permanent visas. Of course, for treatment requiring Medicare coverage, you can return to the U.S. for the same.
- A Cultural Adventure - A common response was the desire for a cultural adventure. Mexico's proximity to the U.S. provides just that. From food, to landscapes to architecture, language, the arts and the people - Mexico possesses what many American retirees seeking new cultural experiences are after.
Baby Boomers have been characterized by Dr. Alexis Abrahamson as those who "make smart decisions based on available resources." They are independent and "make up their own minds and determine what is most valuable or significant." Moving to Mexico for retirement appears to have become the new norm for American boomers. There is no wall that can prevent the flow of North American retirees relocating to Mexico - along with their substantial economic contributions to the Mexican economy.
The text is an excerpt from investigative journalist Bill Dahl’s new book, Lake Chapala – Beneath The Surface – Considerations for Retiring in Mexico. It is available in paperback and e-book editions on Amazon.