One of our readers recently asked me how many expats live in Mexico because he, like many, found it difficult to believe that about 1 million expats from around the world call Mexico home.
Pinning down the exact number has always been difficult because census bureaus and state departments within countries often don’t track the whereabouts of their expats on a regular basis. We were, however, able to come up with data from the U.S. Department of State and the Mexico Bureau of Census that provide estimates of the number of Americans living in Mexico and the number of total foreign-born living in Mexico.
This is tricky, though, because of “snowbird” expats – especially from Canada – who spend just part of the year in Mexico, and those who live in Mexico on tourist visas. They generally are not counted, so the actual number of expats is probably underestimated.
We looked at several U.S. Department of State estimates of the category Private American Citizens Residing Abroad. In July 1999, the U.S. Bureau of Consular Affairs compiled an expat list that showed nearly 4.1 million Americans were living abroad (excluding U.S. military and non-military government employees). This type of information is rare indeed since the U.S. government very infrequently publishes estimates of Americans living abroad.
In the 1999 estimate, Mexico was by far the leading destination for expats, holding 25 percent of all American expats or just over 1 million.
Fourteen years later, the U.S. Department of State again released estimates of where Americans are living abroad. Released to the Association of Americans Resident Overseas (AAR0), the government estimate placed the American expat population around the world at over 6.3 million, about a 54 percent increase over the 1999 estimate. In fact, if all American expats were placed in one state, it would be the seventeenth most populous state in the U.S.
For Canada, its Department of Foreign Affairs estimates about 125,000 Canadians live at least part of the year in Mexico and other Latin American countries.
We also looked at Mexico’s 2010 census data, which showed a total of 961,121 foreign-born residents in Mexico, which by now may be much higher.
We may never know the exact number of expats in Mexico, but feel pretty safe in saying that there are at least 1 million total expats living in the country and quite probably many more.
Now, where do most expats live in Mexico? Our first expat survey on our site asked that question. It is not projectable data but based on nearly 900 responses, a lot of you live in the Lake Chapala area (19 percent of respondents). Other major expat communities are in Puerto Vallarta (13 percent), San Miguel de Allende (10 percent), Oaxaca (6 percent), Merida (4 percent), Los Cabos (4 percent), Mexico City (2 percent), Guanajuato (2 percent), Guadalajara (2 percent) and Cancún (under 2 percent).
But nearly four-out-of-10 of you are living in other parts of Mexico. If you live in an area that has a large expat population that hasn’t been mentioned, add a comment and let us know or send us a note through our Contact page.
Hasta proxima semana, amigos.