Some people want to leave behind the cold winters in their home country. Others living in Mexico like to return home during the high summer months to avoid the sultry humidity that is prevalent at most of Mexico’s beach locations between May and October. Some enjoy Mexico for part of the year, and return to be reunited with their friends and family at home, or to take care of work or business matters there.
For Canadians and Europeans, maintaining a ‘legal residency’ in their home country by staying physically present there for at least half of the year gives them access to healthcare schemes provided by their countries’ welfare systems. Some expats prefer their home country in small doses, and love Mexico most when they only live here part-time.
Whatever the reason —they are too numerous and diverse to document in any meaningful way— part-time residency in Mexico is a growing trend among foreigners.
Mexico is a popular lifestyle destination
Mexico has, for long time, been a popular country with foreign residents, and has always hosted a mix of transient visitors and long-term residents who moved here and stayed for years—and even for the rest of their lives. This trend and attraction is well documented in some of the famous literature that has been written by foreigners, and especially by those who live or have lived their lives here.
Today, foreign residents in Mexico appear more transient than in decades past; a trend that is perhaps being driven by affordable long-distance transportation, commercial trends (such as short-term and temporary work contracts), and technological shifts—in particular, the advent of independent ‘knowledge professionals’ working online: people who can ply a living by trading know-how without having to be constantly situated in one specific place or office building.
Permits for living part-time in Mexico
For those who want to explore the opportunity to live in Mexico part-time, 180 days is a key number for several reasons.
If you’re planning to be in Mexico for 180 days or less —and don’t intend to participate in any remunerative activities that generate an income inside Mexico— then you don’t necessarily need to apply for a resident visa: you can live here on your visitor’s permit (FMM) for up to 180 days. (Visitors are usually given the maximum 180-day allowance, but if you are not, note that the FMM cannot be extended or renewed; you’d need to leave the country and re-enter under the auspice of a new FMM.)
There are other advantages to splitting your year into two equal parts. You can get better deals in Mexico when you rent property for at least six months and, if you rent your principal home to help fund your six months in Mexico, a six month tenancy is usually the practical minimum you’d rent for. This is also true if you own two homes —one in your home country and one in Mexico— it’s easier to rent out the one you’re not using for six months.
Many part-time residents —particularly under-insured Americans— also use their extended stay in Mexico to undertake healthcare procedures (or dental work) at a fraction of the price that hospitals back home are charging for the same treatments. Even some Canadians and Europeans, whose publicly-funded healthcare systems don’t cover all bases, for example, dental care or cosmetic surgery, make use of their extended stay in Mexico for the same purpose. For those who have healthcare plans they can call-on back at home, a medical evacuation insurance plan could make good sense.
Living and working in Mexico
The disadvantages to living part-time in Mexico under the auspice of a visitor permit is that you cannot legally work or undertake any lucrative activities that generate an income inside Mexico. You can’t open a bank account, either; although in the past it was possible to open a bank account without legal residency, today all banks demand to see a residency permit before they will open an account for you.
If you intend to work in Mexico and still only live here part-time, you should apply for a Residente Temporal visa. Note that if you are volunteering in Mexico, you can do this under the auspice of your visitor’s permit. You can learn about the different visa types of visas and the time limits associated with them on this article.
Whether you’re exploring your options for living in Mexico full-time, part-time, or for a fixed term, this article about planning a lifestyle in Mexico provides you with a comprehensive overview, with links to resources here on Mexperience that will help you to research the opportunities, prepare yourself, and realize your plans.
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