Is Mexico the Best for American Expats?
Maybe. It Depends. Here is why.
(Disclaimer: For information and entertainment purposes only. Not intended to be personalized advice of any sort. Please consult a qualified professional. Some links may provide affiliate commissions to the author.)
According to the yearly report by InterNations, an expat community founded in 2007 that has been gathering data on the topic for more than a decade, Mexico is the preferred destination for those moving abroad, including Americans. Topping the Top 10, it beats the likes of Indonesia, Portugal, Vietnam, and even the popular expat hub Thailand.
Among the most important factors considered for the Expat Insider 2022, experts listed ‘the ease of settling in’ and ‘finances’. Namely, how accessible visas are to live and work in those countries, safety, and how expensive is daily life. Mexico may have not led the ranking in all aspects, but it still came out on top with a higher overall score.
Out of the 1 million plus Americans living in Mexico, 91% is happy with their life there, placing it at number one in the expat charts:
Not sure how anyone could be happy in Australia these days, given that its leaders have decided to revert it back into a prison colony with coof lockdowns.
Living in Mexico, Americans are generally happy with their Personal Finance – it ranks in the runner-up slot in this specific category – and how welcoming the country is. It leads all of the Local Friendliness, Finding Friends, and Culture & Welcome subcategories, with more than 90% of those surveyed describing locals as ‘friendly’.
It is worth noting the global average for friendliness is at a much lower 66%. Additionally, building new relationships in Mexico as a newcomer is much easier than elsewhere, as reported by 75% of Americans residing in Mexico, as opposed to 42% globally. That is not to say Mexico is perfect: every nation has its downsides.
It does not feature anywhere in the top 10 for Expat Essentials, a subcategory that deals with local bureaucracy – something that 53% of immigrants struggle with – availability of government services online, cashless payment options and others. More specifically, it enters the list at number 11 – still a respectable position, one could argue.
Lastly, Mexico is placed at a much lower number 17 in the Working Abroad, and number 24 in the Quality of Life indices. These are the two areas where it performs the worst, though ‘still well’, as asserted by InterNations. Unexpectedly, other countries with more stable economies and a ‘solid’ job market fare better, such as Denmark (number 1), Australia and Ireland.
Regardless of the moderate performance in certain subcategories, Mexico remains the top destination for those looking to start a new life in a foreign country. 64% of immigrants found it easy to get a visa moving to Mexico (compared to 56% worldwide); they are also pleased the ‘culinary variety’ (92% vs. 77% global) and the natural environment (90% vs. 83%).
Having traveled to Merida in the Yucatan peninsula, I can confirm, this area of Mexico is great. I personally know a handful of people, including former work colleagues, who retired to Mexico, and they love it there, especially the low cost of living.
Here are some other reasons why you should consider Mexico as a new home:
House prices and rent are usually cheaper, particularly in non-touristy areas, compared to major cities in the U.S. like New York, Los Angeles and Chicago
Mexico borders the U.S. and it is likely your home town, or home state, will only be a two to three-hour flight away
There is a large American community in Mexico and English is widely spoken in big urban centers, especially Mexico City and Cancun, as well as border cities
Consular assistance is probably better in Mexico than everywhere else in the world: the U.S. has a total of 9 consulates in key regions all across the country
For more extensive reading, I would recommend picking up a copy of Russell Blake’s book, “Expat Secrets of Mexico.”
So where to avoid, in comparison?
Some of the worst places to move to as an American expat include the following:
Unlike in Mexico, foreigners living in Kuwait have a hard time integrating, with 44% of immigrants finding locals ‘unfriendly’. On top of that, half of them rate social life negatively, compared to only 26% in global figures. In New Zealand, Americans are not met with social barriers or huge culture shocks, but it remains a cripplingly expensive place to live.
Expats in New Zealand are extremely unsatisfied with their Personal Finance – 75% vs. 35% in global term – charting at number 52 on this ranking. Similarly, 68% of foreigners living in Hong Kong are ‘unhappy’ with the cost of living. Even more interestingly, 46% of them ‘miss creativity’ in local business and better opportunities.
As long as Kuwait remains under the thumb of the United States, it will remain a backwater country in the Middle East. New Zealand has turned into a prison colony under Prime Minister Horseface, constantly locking down over the coof. Hong Kong has locked down almost as hard as China, and since the suppression of pro-democracy protests, has become frighteningly like their masters on the mainland. Hong Kong may be nice for a vacation, with great shopping, great tailors, tasty food, but it is way too expensive to live there, and definitely not as free as it used to be in the 90s/00s and under British colonial rule.
Cyprus is a bankrupt island in the Med that used to be a decent choice for CBI, but not anymore.
Luxembourg is like Switzerland: Nice place, but too expensive.
Hard disagree on Japan. There are incredible bargains there on new and pre-existing real estate, and many small businesses are up for sale at bargain prices because they have no successors to take over. A smart and savvy investor or group of investors could reverse the process, and do to Japan what Japan was doing to the rest of the world in the 80s and 90s by vacuuming up as many businesses as they can. Staff them with enough Western foreigners for labor, and you would not only solve their population problem, but also build a sizeable and influential political/voting bloc.
South Africa is basically no country for white men, or civilized people in general. The whole country is going the way of Zimbabwe and most of the rest of Africa, driving out the talented and hard working, and leaving everyone who is left to starve.
On Turkey, again, hard disagree. There are great opportunities to get CBI via real estate investment, and a Turkish passport will get you into many countries, East and West, visa-free, including countries like Japan.
Italy is great for a vacation, but I have to agree, I’m not sure if you would want to live there, given the expensive prices for so many things, high taxes, and the way their justice system has raised one too many eyebrows.
On Malta, I softly disagree. There are worse places in Europe to live. The passport is great, especially if you can afford the million dollar CBI price tag and high cost of the residency requirement.
Would you consider becoming a gringo expat, living in Mexico? Let me know in the comments below!