Every year, people arrive in Mexico to stay for an extended period that doesn’t exceed six months, before returning to their home country.
Seasonal visits, and healthcare matters
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 this brief article— 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.
Considerations 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.
Mexico’s visitor permit
If you’re planning to be in Mexico for 180 days or less —and don’t intend to participate in any remunerative activities— then you might not need to apply for a resident permit: the visitor’s permit (FMM) can be valid for up to 180 days.
Officials at the port of entry used to give most (but not all) visitors to Mexico the maximum allowance of 180 stay in Mexico by default; however this is changing. Learn more about the number of days being granted to people arriving in Mexico under the auspice of a visitor permit, FMM.
Due to this change, some people who continually return to Mexico to live here part time are considering applying for residency to facilitate their entries to Mexico.
Caution – Continual use of visitor permits for re-entry to Mexico
Some people have been using the flexibility of the FMM to stay in Mexico longer-term; however, with today’s computerized entry and exit systems, immigration officials at ports of entry have ready-access to your movements through Mexico and ‘perpetual visitors’ — people who continuously enter, stay for a few months, exit and then re-enter Mexico in short order — are now having their intentions questioned at the port of entry.
We have heard of cases where people have been turned away; if you intend to stay in Mexico longer-term, or return to Mexico every year, we recommend you consider applying for legal residency in Mexico
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.
Healthcare and medical visits
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.
Other considerations for part-time stays 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 banks demand to see a residency permit before they will open an account for you.
If you decide you want to stay in Mexico longer-term, you need to leave the country every 6 months and return: this is inconvenient if you want to stay longer and you might have your intentions questioned at the border if you’re a perpetually returning on a visitor visa.
If you intend to work in Mexico and still only live here part-time, you should apply for a Temporary Residency permit. 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.
Get practical assistance with your Mexico residency application
We have helped thousands of people plan and realize their Mexico residency application. The Mexico Immigration Assistance Service saves time and potential inconvenience by helping you to prepare a strong application based on your situation, and mitigating the chances of having your forms, letters and other paperwork being rejected during the application procedures.
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.
Resources for Living & Lifestyle in Mexico
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