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Moving to Mexico Is Now a Popular Search Term

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Maria O'Connor blogs for Expats In Mexico Blogger
Maria O’Connor

This is not a political blog but, because of the recent elections in the United States, the phrase “moving to Mexico” is now a popular search term. Even if that’s not your motivation many of you might be interested in what it takes to move to Mexico.

First, you should know about immigration procedures. For those of you who have visited Mexico, you are aware that when you enter the country you are given a FMM or Tourist Visa. This is the piece of paper that gets cut in half when you pass through immigration. You get it back when you leave.

A tourist visa allows you to be in Mexico for up to 180 consecutive days as a tourist. You are not allowed to work but you can do everything else that a visitor does. You can even purchase property, rent an apartment, buy a car and open a bank account (at some banks) with the tourist visa. For snowbirds or those who divide their time between Mexico and their home country, this visa is often all you need.

After the 180-day term there is no time requirement for being out of Mexico as there is, for example, in the European Union. This means that when your 180 days are up, you simply need to leave Mexico, but you can come right back for another 180-day period.

If you’re considering a full-time move to Mexico, you have two options: a temporary residency visa or a permanent residency visa. Our EIM immigration section has all the details.

Here are a few helpful tips courtesy of friends and clients of mine that have gone through the visa application process. First, when applying for your visa at a consulate, remember KISS (Keep it simple!). Don’t go into a long diatribe about what you are planning to do in Mexico, your history with the Mexican culture, your love of tacos or anything else. And second, if you plan on working when you are in Mexico, you can make that modification to your visa locally. It is MUCH easier to modify your visa in Mexico than it is to obtain the initial temporary visa that allows you to work. It can be done, but I don’t recommend it.

Now that you have your visa, what stuff should you bring to Mexico? That’s a hard one. I think it depends a lot on where you live in Mexico and the things that are important to you. Life here has changed a great deal in the last 25 years and now there isn’t much of anything you can’t get in Mexico. We even have amazon.com.mx!

Off the top of my head, the things that you can obtain at better prices abroad would be linens, electronics, California wine and athletic shoes and other outdoors wear. We are now allowed to bring six bottles of wine per person into the country, which is nice!

Regarding furniture and other household goods, the majority of real estate here is sold turnkey so unless you are buying preconstruction or an unfurnished property, it is likely you will not need to bring any furnishings. Also, remember that the tropical climate in much of Mexico can wreak havoc on things like books, leather goods and electronics, so keep that in mind.

Look for an Expats In Mexico article in December on how to move to Mexico. It will provide a lot more details on the whole moving process.