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Survey Shows More Aspiring Expats Are Heading to Mexico  

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The new Expats In Mexico survey shows more aspiring expats are heading to Mexico, a big jump from the Expats In Mexico survey conducted two years ago.

Primarily from the U.S. and Canada, 54 percent of respondents say they are Extremely Likely or Very Likely to move south of the border, an increase of 5-percentage points from the Expats In Mexico Survey 2019.

And they will be moving much sooner. Sixty-one percent say within two years, compared with just 43 percent in the survey two years ago, an 18- percentage point increase.

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Nearly 300 aspiring expats from primarily the United States and Canada completed the survey in January and February of this year.

Of those who are not ready to move to Mexico within the next several years, 40 percent cite their need to work and save more money before moving. It should come as no surprise that economics at home is driving that decision. According to a study by the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies, 58 percent of Baby Boomers saw their employment negatively affected by the pandemic. These effects ranged from a reduction in hours to the complete loss of jobs. Baby Boomers represent 70 percent of this year’s survey respondents.

So how did money play into survey respondents’ motivations for moving to Mexico? It was certainly popular, with 26 percent of respondents saying they were looking for a lower cost of living. But that was not the top reason. Lifestyle made a big jump in 2021, with 40 percent making it their number one consideration for moving, a 10 percent increase over the 2019 survey. Climate rounded out the top three reasons for moving to Mexico, with 1 in 5 respondents just wanting better weather.

Another big jump we saw this year was the number of people who say they are moving to Mexico by themselves. Thirty-six percent of respondents say they plan to make the move solo, an increase of 10-percentage points over 2019. And when they make their move, two-thirds plan to live in Mexico full-time, another 10-percentage point increase over the 2019 study.

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If you are an expat living in Mexico, you may be wondering where all these people plan to live. If you live in Puerto Vallarta, expect more company. Vallarta remains the most popular destination for aspiring expats, followed by Lake Chapala, Los Cabos, Mérida, and Playa del Carmen. If you own rental property in any of these places there is good news. The number of new expats who plan to rent rose to 55 percent, 5-percentage points higher than the 2019 survey. On the other hand, just 30 percent plan to buy.
As for what type of community these newbies are looking for, 60 percent say their preference is to live in a neighborhood with both expats and Mexicans.

The survey also shed some light on how long these newly-minted expats plan to stay in Mexico. More than half say they will live in Mexico for more than 10 years and another 25 percent say they will stay at least five.

But some did express concerns about moving to Mexico. Security tops that list, with 38 percent stating that safety is their top concern. The good news is that safety worries dropped 7-percentage points from the study two years ago. Hablas español? Fear of learning a new language also was a potential barrier to moving for 28 percent of our survey takers, who said fear of learning a new language was making them think twice. About two-out-of-10 worry their healthcare needs might not be met in Mexico.

Finally, it is clear that when these aspiring Expats in Mexico decide to make their move, they will make smart decisions. An astonishing 22 percent hold a graduate degree, which is a 7-percentage point increase over the 2019 survey. Another 25 percent hold a four-year college degree, an increase of 4-percentage points.

For those of you who are interested, here are the complete key findings of the Expats In Mexico 2021 Survey:

  • The number of respondents who say they are Extremely Likely or Very Likely to move to Mexico increased from 49% in our EIM Survey 2019 to 54% in this year’s study.
  • They will also move much sooner. When asked “How soon will you move to Mexico” 61% say either within one year or one to two years. In 2019, just 43% said they would move that quickly.
  • Nearly 40% of those that say they were not likely to move to Mexico within one year say they are still working and need to save more money.
  • Two-thirds of respondents say they plan on living full-time in Mexico, a 10-percentage point increase over the EIM Survey 2019.
  • About 45% say they will sell all of their household goods before they move, no change from 2019. International movers are the choice of around 10% of all respondents.
  • More people are planning to move solo. This year, 36% say they would move alone, a 10-percentage point increase over 2019.
  • Once in Mexico, 55% say they would rent, a 5-percentage point increase over 2019. About 30% say they would buy a home, down 2 percentage points from two years ago.
  • Over 60% of those planning to move to Mexico say they want to live in a neighborhood with both expats and Mexicans.
  • Puerto Vallarta remains the most popular (13%) destination for new expats, but its popularity dropped 4 percentage points since 2019. Other top spots in order of preference are: Lake Chapala, Los Cabos, Mérida and Playa del Carmen.
  • Asked for a second choice of a place to live in Mexico, Puerto Vallarta remains #1 with 13% choosing it. San Miguel de Allende is #2 as a second choice with one-out-of-10 respondents choosing the popular colonial city.
  • The primary differences between respondents’ #1 and #2 choices of a place to live were in order of importance: Geography, weather and cost of living.
  • Unsurprisingly, nearly three-fourths of respondents say they would be retiring in Mexico, up 6 percentage points from the 2019 study.
  • Lifestyle (40%) is the number one reason respondents say they are considering a move to Mexico, a 10% increase from our 2019 survey. Lower cost of living (26%) was #2, up 5 percentage points from two years ago. Climate was the third most mentioned (20%), a 4% increase from 2019.
  • About 38% of respondents say security issues in Mexico are their top concern about moving to Mexico. While high, it is a 7-percentage point drop from our 2019 study. Learning Spanish (28%) is also a concern for some, an increase of 5 percentage points from two years ago.
  • The majority of respondents (53%) say they plan on living over 10 years in Mexico, which is 3 percentage points less than two years ago. Another 25% say they would live from 5-to-10 years in the country.
  • Slightly more (7%) of respondents are from countries other than the U.S. and Canada, compared with 5% in 2019.
  • More males (58%) than females (42%) participated in the study.
  • Nearly 70% of respondents are over 55 years of age.
  • Over 80% of respondents are Caucasian.
  • The number of respondents who hold a graduate-level degree (22%) increased 7 percentage points from our 2019 study. Those with a four-year college degree (25%) increased by 4 percentage points.

The Expats In Mexico Survey 2021 is a partnership this year with Travis Luther, the author of “The Fun Side of the Wall: Baby Boomer Retirement in Mexico.”


  1. The possible expats who say they need to work a few more years, before they can make the move are making a major mistake. After the disaster that was 2020, how can they predict how employment is going to be for them over the next few years. My advice to them would be sell everything you own house, condo and car and move south ASAP.
    I’m about to say some things that might not be so popular with my fellow Canadians and my relatives in the United States both countries are in bad shape and I wouldn’t go back and live in either country, if you paid me a million dollars (American). My lifestyle is double from what it was in Canada and my expenses are only a third of what it used to cost me in Canada and it would be even more, if I were living in the U.S. no thank you. All aspiring expats should get out of the United States and Canada while the getting is good.
    My expenses include $210 for a 2 bedroom apartment my utilities including electricity and internet run about 40.00 a month in Mexican pesos 825 for all utilities for rent 4,250 pesos a month. I work at a Mexican state University as an English Professor where my salary is 1,200 dollars a month or roughly 25,000 pesos a month. As you can see I live very well on my salary. By the way for the first 6 months of the pandemic from Mid March,2020 till October, 2020 all of the campuses of my University were closed no classes either, but all employees from Professors to secretaries received full pay and benefits while this was happening since October of 2020 we have been teaching our classes online. I live a modest lifestyle by choice, but even so, if you look at the numbers I’m giving you there is no reason to, put off moving to Mexico!!! Staying in either Canada or the U.S. is just asking for more economic trouble, difficulty and who knows even calamity. Here in Mexico you know you will pay, so much less than back home and you need to get out of Dodge ASAP. One aditional advantage I enjoy is that my University is based on the Mexican Pacific coast, so I live within a few miles of some of the greatest beaches in the world. As far as security most of the problems here in Mexico are up near the border with the U.S., because of drugs down where I live I believe it is safer than any major city in Canda or the U.S. This is my experience ONLY, but after 9 years and 2 months living in Mexico I would never go back to Canada to live NO WAY!! I’d lump the U.S. into this equation as well NO WAY!!

    Aaron Toledo
    Tenured Professor of English
    Permanent Resident of Mexico.
    Place of Birth: Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

    • Great post. We have been snowbirds so far. We are thinking of leaving Canada now, because travelling has become difficult if not impossible. We don’t want to have to deal with vaccinations and travel passports every year. We are hoping, once in Mexico, that we can live peacefully. What is your take on that?

  2. I agree with Aaron Toledo. What are you waiting for? When you say that you have to save more or work more. Here is a tip. With that mindset, you will never have enough. I am a professional artist and entrepreneur. I have dual citizenship + permanent residency in Mexico. I live on my Swedish pension of the equivalent of just USD 660 per month. That pays for the 3 bedroom house which I rent, utilities and internet and gas to my car and I still have money left. I live in a beautiful area called Mayorazgo in Santiago de Queretaro


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