Is Moving to Mexico Still an Option?

When we first started planning our 2 month trip to Mexico, it was with the intention of scouting out a few cities that we were interested in exploring long-term, and then hopefully moving to the city of our choice shortly after. For this reason, we divided the trip into 10-14 day stays in Oaxaca, Puerto Vallarta, Querétaro, Guanajuato, and Mexico City. However, there’s been some fairly recent and drastic changes to the requirements for temporary residency that may force us to re-evaluate our game plan as we decide if moving to Mexico is still an option for us.

A Bit of History

For a very long time, Mexico had a fairly lax stance on people visiting on repeated tourist visas. They have one of the lengthiest tourist visas you can get with a U.S. passport (180 days) and that used to be the default amount of time you were approved for upon entering the country. Because of this, visitors could go for 180 days at a time, and simply leave the country for a few days or months, before re-entering to spend another 180 days.

Now, Mexico is definitely trying to discourage this behavior, and the length of time for which you are approved is up to the discretion of the immigration official at the airport when you arrive. While it of course helps to have a return flight already booked and proof of accommodation, even that won’t guarantee you are approved for your preferred duration of time.

I’m not too concerned about being denied for the duration of our upcoming 60 day stay, because I think it would start to discourage tourism if too many people weren’t approved when they had already paid for flights and hotels. I am worried though that it could be a problem if we go back a few months later with hopes of staying the full 180 days.

Why Did the Policies Change?

The reason Mexico has changed this policy is because they feel repeated visitors should really be applying for temporary residency. That is something that we had definitely planned on doing, but were hopeful it was not something we’d have to do right away. When we first started planning this trip and eventual move, the income requirements for gaining temporary residency were markedly lower than they are today.

Because of the pandemic and global inflation, the minimum wage in Mexico recently went up by around 20%, and since income requirements for temporary residency are based upon the minimum wage (300x the daily MW), this increased the monthly income requirement to around $2600/month after taxes. To put this in perspective, the monthly requirement when we started to consider this option was around $1600 a month.

The good news is that once you get approved, you have temporary residency for a full year and can renew that residency for another 3 years before having to apply for permanent residency (which has even higher income requirements).

So is Moving to Mexico Still an Option?

Depending on which consulate you go to in the United States for your application, you will need to show proof that you are meeting this income requirement for the past 6-12 months before you can be considered for temporary residency.

Since we are not making that type of income now, we could potentially be over a year away from even being able to qualify, but most likely more since we are both hoping to transition to remote work, and it will take some time to build up consistent income based on the current qualifications.

This is clearly a disappointing setback, but I have already started thinking of possible solutions and alternate pathways to get to our end goal while spending as much time exploring other countries as possible. There are other countries with digital nomad visas and lower monthly income requirements that are usually valid for up to a year, like Portugal. There’s also the option of visiting other nearby countries on 3-6 month tourist visas, such as Panama or Belize, while we work to establish a predictable and consistent monthly income.

picture of smiling couple with the river in Porto Portugal behind them
We visited Porto, Portugal in September 2021 and would definitely go back

Wherever we go, I want to make sure we can take our dog, Griffin. He’s staying in the United States during our upcoming trip, but he needs to be included in any future plans we make. He was one of our primary reasons for choosing Mexico over another favorite country of ours, Thailand. The flight there is simply too long and the process too expensive, unless we knew we’d be staying for many years.

picture of chihuahua wearing a life vest on a kayak
Griffin loves adventures and doesn’t like to be left behind

In an ever-changing economy and an unstable world, I know that bumps in the road are to be expected, but I can’t deny that I’m worried about our next steps. I look forward to adapting and sharing our future plans with you.

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