Living, Retirement, Working

The Practicalities of Living Part of the Year in Mexico

There has always been a contingent of foreign residents who live in Mexico part-time, usually between late fall and early spring of the following year

Colorful colonial street in Mexico

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.

Free guide, continually updated: Living & Lifestyles in Mexico

Read our free, complete and comprehensive guide that is packed with helpful advice and local knowledge, whether you intend to live in Mexico part time, full time, or for a defined period.

Guide to Living & Lifestyles in Mexico

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

Property rentals

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 provided by our associates 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.

Learn more about the service and make a request here

Lifestyle planning

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

Mexperience offers you a comprehensive online resource of information and local knowledge to help you discover Mexico, explore choices, find opportunities and plan a new life in Mexico.  Our resources include:

Free guide, continually updated: Living & Lifestyles in Mexico

Read our free, complete and comprehensive guide that is packed with helpful advice and local knowledge, whether you intend to live in Mexico part time, full time, or for a defined period.

Guide to Living & Lifestyles in Mexico

Mexico in your inbox

Our free newsletter about Mexico brings you a monthly round-up of recently published stories and opportunities, as well as gems from our archives.


  1. Michael Lumsden says

    If you purchase property in Mexico but only spend 180 days or less per year, are you required to pay Mexican income tax? Are there property taxes in Baja?

    • Mexperience says

      Hi Michael,
      You need to contact a tax attorney or accountant to discuss this as everyone’s situation has unique characteristics.

      There are property taxes in Baja–look up the chapter on Property Taxes in our free guide to Mexico Real Estate, link here:

  2. Marry says

    What if I leave on day 181? Shouldn’t it not be counted as having stayed only completely on day 180? Not sure if that would be a problem for me since on my day 181 is a Sat., and I have more availablity of getting to the airport.

    • Mexperience says

      Hi Marry,
      If you over-stay when you are here under the auspice of a Visitor’s Permit (FMM) then you have to engage in some paperwork and pay a fine before you leave.

      The amount of the fine depends on how many days you over-stayed. See the section titled “Over-stayed on your Visitors Permit?” on this related article, for details:

    • Micaela says

      Thanks for the info! If I receive a Temporary Visa am I allowed to leave before the first 180 day mark or must you stay the full 6mo upon initial entry?

      • Mexperience says

        Hi Micaela,
        You can leave anytime before the 180 day expiry window; however, if you overstay the 180 days, you will have to pay a fine before you depart (see response above to Marry). You can find additional information about the FMM (Visitor Visa) on this article:

  3. Jazmin says

    What if I can only stay the maximum 6 months and then when I have to already almost leave, like a week before, a family member dies? Is there any way like an exception to stay longer passing the 180 days? A bit longer? If I maybe show copy of the death certificate or something?

    • Mexperience says

      By law, it’s not extendible. You can over-stay and pay a fine before you leave: it’s not very expensive if don’t over-stay long. Attend an immigration kiosk at an aiport or a local immigration office for more details.

  4. Chris says

    If you have a permenant resident card in mexico are you still only allowed to be outside mexico for about 30 days? Can I drive back and forth accross the usa border without mexican immigration detecting my being outside the usa?

  5. Cam says

    What if I’m already in Mexico and im staying for more than 180 days: what do I do? I’m just visiting family.

  6. Grisel says

    I am originally from Mexico but USA nationalized. I believe Mexico accepts dual citizenship? If this is the case. Would I be able to open a bank account without having to get a residency permit? Would I be able to get a temporary job for the six months permitted without permit? I wonder.

    • Mexperience says

      Hi Grisel
      Mexico does accept dual-nationality, so you could hold US and Mexican passports concurrently.

      If you are a Mexican national, you do not need a residency permit and you can open a bank account and apply for work in Mexico without the need for further permits/permissions.

      If you don’t have citizenship and:

      – hold a Residente Permanente permit, you may open and bank account and work without special permissions.
      – hold a Residente Temporal permit, you need work permissions on the permit and you can open a bank account locally.

      You cannot work or open a bank account with a Visitor’s permit (FMM).

      Download our free Mexico Immigration guide for details:

      If you need personal assistance/advice you might consider using our Relocation Consulting service:

      • Mari says

        Thanks so much for this response! I’m in the same situation (hold dual nationality and want to stay there part-time) but worried about opening a bank account. I believe you need to provide an address, is that not correct?
        As for renting, is there any good resource for a site that is safe and reliable to look for a place?
        Do you guys provide consultation for dual citizens? I feel I’m 80% confident with my move, but want to make sure I haven’t missed anything.

  7. David says

    Hello, is it possible to do two times 180 days back to back? ( With a few weeks? Like going 6 months, coming back to Europe a few weeks and then back to Mexico for another 6 months?

  8. Kathryn says

    If you stay below the 180 days, how long do you have to be out of Mexico before returning? In Panama, it is one month for US citizens. Can I leave for 3 days and then return?

  9. Joe says

    Hello, and thanks for creating this resource.

    In an earlier post I read that one needs to have a Temporal to open a Mexican bank account– an FMM won’t do. My question is why would I wish to have one?

    While traveling internationally I’ve never had an issue using an ATM to access my US bank account, and paychecks (and eventually social security funds) can be auto-deposited in these.

    What advantages does one gain having a Mexican bank account? Thanks again!

    • Mexperience says

      Hi Joe,
      Some foreign residents live here (part time or full-time) quite well without a bank account and use their foreign-issued ATM card for cash, as you describe. That can get expensive over time, though, as the fees for international withdrawals are higher than fees for withdrawals from a local account and you lose a little each time in the foreign exchange spread. Also, if your card is lost or stolen, retained by an ATM, or cloned, getting replacements requires more work and international shipping of replacement cards.

      Having a Mexican bank account enables you to transfer larger blocks of money from abroad to the account (you get a better rate) and use a Mexican bank card to make payments locally in pesos as well take money out of ATMs. And if your card is lost or compromised, it’s easier to get a replacement locally.

  10. Bruno says

    Would a green card holder have the same privilege of staying in Mexico up to 180 days on a visitor’s visa?

  11. Johanna van Zanten says

    The article is not correct that you cannot have a bank account as a tourist. I had one (In Ajijic) but the bank’s condition was I had to maintain a minimum balance of roughly $500 at all times. I was punished with a high-interest charge if I dipped below that balance.

    • Mexperience says

      Hi Johanna, a few years ago banks might have opened an account with a tourist permit. However, today all the main banks ask to see a residency permit before they will open an account. We checked with the main banks and they all said they require this.

  12. Mary Eschbach says

    How do I get a Visitors Permit? FMM

  13. Phil says

    I like to drive down to cabo in my CA plated car for 6 months using a FMM.

    Can I return to USA on a one way flight for an emergency or other circumstance or do I have to drive the vehicle back over the border to leave?

    IE you must leave the way you came.

    If the answer is No you must bring back the vehicle, then I must ask..Can I fly into TJ and then walk across border over the CBX?

    Please advise

    • Mexperience says

      Hi Phil,

      Normally, a car’s Temporary Import Permit (TIP) is tied to the FMM; and you must leave Mexico with the car and the FMM you entered with before its expiry date.

      However, as you do not require a TIP to drive your car on the Baja California peninsula, your FMM will be valid for you to enter by road and fly-out.

      You can read more about bringing foreign plated cars to Mexico on this article:

      • Phil says


        Follow-up question. Since I only seek a FMM with a CA driver’s license, am I allowed to buy a Mexican plated vehicle during my stay or drive a non-rental Mexican vehicle? Does my plate have to match my DL in Baja Sur

        • Mexperience says


          You need a WHTI-approved document to enter Mexico: most people use a passport — you can read more about that here

          The rules about Mexican car registration vary by state. Many states require the registrant to have a residency permit as well as a Mexican address.

          Generally, anyone can drive a Mexican vehicle owned by someone else with the owner’s permission, but you should check with the owner’s insurance company about liability in case of an accident: they may have rules about who is, and who is not, insured under the terms of the policy.

  14. Ben Boone says

    Would visiting someone every weekend, say Thursday through Sunday, for six or seven weekends in a row be an issue? I’d be flying in to MEX.

    I guess I would just get a new tourist visa every time I re-entered…

    • Mexperience says

      Hi Ben
      If you make frequent re-entries, you might have your intentions questioned when you return–you can explain that you are visiting someone for several weekends over a set time frame. And yes, every time you leave you would surrender your FMM and obtain a new one when you return.

  15. katdec says

    When you say 180 days.. is that a calendar year? I have already been there for approx 4 weeks this year but was planning on going back in Nov for 6 months?

    • Mexperience says

      Hi Katdec,

      It’s a maximum of 180 calendar days per visit. So if you stay a month and then leave, you can return and stay up to another 180 days (or less), etc.

      Under current rules, there is no time limit you have to be outside of Mexico for before you can re-enter on a Visitor’s Permit (FMM). However, see the caveat regarding this in response to Mauricio, further down the comments…

    • Christine says

      Hi Katdec

      You will in this case be going into the following year for approx. 3 months, also leaving you another 3 for the same year….. all is good! Also, not knowing where you are coming from many provinces in Canada have added a 7th month to our time we can be out in a one year period.

  16. would like to know about as a u.s retiree .if its possible to stay in mexico for two months…and what kind of permit is needed

    • Mexperience says

      Jose Luis,

      As referenced in the article:
      “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 needn’t apply for a resident visa: you can live here on your visitor’s permit (FMM) for up to six months.”

  17. Elizabeth Linne says

    Question:My husband & I are searching for a non-resort beach area for residential living
    suitable for older folks who do not surf but who love to swim, kayak &
    SUP in calmer waters. We’re looking for a spot with water accessible for
    these activities from a residential property – not crazy about hauling
    boat or board. Any ideas out there? Ifso, we’d sure appreciate your words & experience. Thanks!

    • Mexperience says

      Hi Elizabeth,

      For non resort beach destinations, consider:

      San Felipe, Loreto and La Paz in Baja;
      Mazatlan, Costalegre (area), and Puerto Escondido on the Pacific coast; and
      Campeche on the Gulf Coast.

      You can find guides to all these places on the Mexperience Beaches section, here:

      • Johanna Smith says

        Hi Elizabeth, we just discovered
        Bahia de Kino which is the place you seem to be looking for. Endless beautiful beaches , hardly anyone there during the week. On weekends, especially Easter and weekends in the warm/hot months
        there is more activity because people from Hermosillo come to relax. Check it out!

  18. Nancy says

    Just like moving anywhere new, it takes time and patience to build new relationships, both with new friends and your day to day living. But the rewards are endless. I am from Ontario and lived in Florida for 7 winters because it was more “convenient”. When my husband passed away, I decided to spend my winter in Mexico…first in Chapala and now in Melaque. The first year was challenging but this year is far different. I have become more involved with my community and every day is peaceful and fulfilling.. I’m even cooking turkey this Christmas for a group of friends I have met.

    • Will says

      Nancy,what are the differences you see between Florida and Mexico. My wife and I have been doing the snowbird thing in Bradenton Florida. We are tired of the American day to day existence. The beach is wow but there there is no history or culture here. We are hungry to find life and humility in Mexico. Will and Renata

    • John clement says

      When you refer to “getting involved with your community”, are you referring to the local Mexicans, or other Canadians and Americans ?

  19. jsac says

    What is the minimum monthly expenses to live down around Puerto Adventura
    for 6 months a year-October-March. Rent, food, electric etc.. etc..?

  20. Donna Melville says

    We drive every year from Gabriola Island, B.C. ( near Vancouver) and have absolutely NO trouble..just an amazing time! last time we drove down the Baja first, took the ferry to Mazatlan and in total we were on the road 4 weeks til we arrived in Zihua.. If you are a bit nervous the first time, stick to the toll roads and skip highway 200.

  21. Gloria says

    Hi Ed. My husband and I drive to Mexico often, 2-3 times a year. We have not had any problems with our travels…we tend to drive during the day because our vision is not as good as when we were younger….we both are over 80. The highways are excellent, although expensive. We typically drive from upstate IL to Mexico City. We have traveled extensively in Chihuahua. We have driven to Oaxaca and San Cristobal. The highways in Mexico are safe and usually in excellent condition.

  22. Paul Ostrof says

    What can a “residente temporal” do that a “turista” can’t do?

    • Mexperience says

      Hi Paul,

      As Residente Temporal, you can stay in Mexico beyond the 180 day limit (up to 5 years, depending on the visa you acquire) and you may also work/earn an income in Mexico (subject to the visa’s terms); you can open a bank account and you might find it easier to get rent leases and engage in other transactions which require residency status.

      See the Guide to Mexico Immigration here on Mexperience for more details about the different visa types:

    • First Last says

      Temporal can be for 1-4 years, with unlimited exit/entry. Temporal allows you to have a MX bank account- credit card, buy and register a car, work and receive wages from a MX entity. Allow you to bring a foreign plated car duty exempt for up to one year. Essentially all the privileges of a MX citizen except voting, holding an elective office and working for a government entity.

  23. Mauricio Villalta says

    If I want to stay in Mexico longer than the 6 months permitted, can I leave the country and re enter the same day to have another 6 months extra? if that can be done, how many times am i allow to do it? any answer is beforehand appreciated.

    • Mexperience says

      Hi Mauricio,
      Under current rules, there is no time limit you have to be outside of Mexico for before you can re-enter on a Visitor’s Permit (FMM). However, the entry procedures are now computerized and the immigration officials have sight of your historical border crossings. They might question your intentions upon re-entry. If you plan to live in Mexico longer term, we suggest you consider applying for a temporary or permanent resident permit to avoid any problems of this nature.

      You can find details of the different residency permit types here on Mexperience

  24. Robert Garza says

    Hello Ed,
    I spend 3 months in Zihuatanejo. In fact I’m leaving in a couple of weeks. I fly down. I do know of Americans and Canadiens who drive down with no problems at all.

  25. Patrick says

    Is getting the 180 day visa just a simple matter of putting the dates on the FMM, or do you have to tell customs upon arrival you wish to stay longer then the 30 day norm?

    • Mexperience says

      The form asks you how many days you intend to stay, so you enter that number. You’ll usually be granted 180 days by default. By law, you can apply for an extension at any immigration office to a maximum of 180 days if you are granted less than this at the border.

  26. Susan says

    I would like to find a way to live comfortably in for 2 to 3 months a year in Mexico. I am 65 and cannot tolerate the Ohio Winters. I would like more information from others who are doing this. I am concerned about navigating the culture without knowing Spanish. I have been to Oaxaca, Oaxaca and loved the climate.

    • Emily Smith says

      Hi Susan, There are places in Mexico that are easier to get by without speaking Spanish. We lived in Playa del Carmen for a year knowing only rudimentary Spanish, as it is a more touristy area. I advise you to learn at least elementary Spanish, though — a little goes a long way! You can learn online for free using Duolingo, or invest in audio lessons. There are a lot of expats living in Playa del Carmen either full or part-time, so you will be in good company. There are many furnished rentals, restaurants, and the winter weather is wonderful. It is a busy tourist town, though, so that may or may not appeal to you, but we liked that we could escape via ADO bus to other cities, like Valladolid and Merida, so easily. There’s more history and culture in those colonial cities than in Playa, but they would be harder to negotiate on a long-term basis without Spanish. If you are on Facebook, you can join the group “Expats and Locals in Playa del Carmen” if interested. Good luck! My husband is from Ohio and left just as soon as he could for warmer climes, so I understand your feelings completely.

  27. Shelli Lipton says

    Living six months in Mexico and six months in New York is the best of two worlds. The weather is wonderful when we reside in either domicile.

    • Amy Sunstrum says

      Take me with you! I am an excellent chef.i have to be busy so I clean constantly and I am now versed in Spanish. Soon I will be fluent. And as far as New York goes..Well I happen to love it so much my 2 girls were conceived there 30 years ago

  28. Arnold Thompson says

    Mexico is fantastic place to live or spend 6 months on vacation. As the article says there is fabulous hospitals, dentists & cosmetic doctors. Always get referrals from expats. We spend 4-5 months in Manzanillo & actually drive down from Calgary as do several other people. No fears we enjoy the drive. Discover Mexico as there is so much to see & visit

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