Moving to Mexico from the US

American ex-pats love Mexico.

Most enjoy a healthy work-life balance, and food, housing, and healthcare can be refreshingly inexpensive.

Tourists aren’t permitted to work while visiting the country, but working-age ex-pats may qualify for temporary and permanent resident visas.

Though no two moves are identical, moving an apartment from the United States to Mexico can cost less than $2,000. More established families with larger homes can expect to pay between $6,000 and $16,000.

In this post, we’ll look at moving from the United States to Mexico from nearly every angle.

Before reading on, check out these helpful international moving resources:

  • Best international movers: All international movers are not the same. With so much at stake, working with a top-notch company is imperative
  • Ship your car overseas: Don’t trust your ride to just anyone. Insist on working with an experienced international auto shipper
  • International moving costs: International moves can be expensive. Learning about moving costs now will reduce stress later on

Table of contents

Average costs when moving to Mexico
Best international movers
Mexican Visa Information
Visa types
How to move your belongings from the United States to Mexico
The reasons Americans are flocking to Mexico
Best cities in Mexico for ex-pats
Finding a job in Mexico
The disadvantages of living in Mexico
Legal requirements when moving to Mexico
Frequently asked questions

Average costs when moving to Mexico

Move size / Destination Mexico City Cancún Northern Mexico
Studio apartment $1,600 to $2,250 $1,700 to $2,400 $1,300 to $2,100
1 or 2-bedroom apartment $2,400 to $2,800 $2,450 to $2,900 $1,500 to $2,350
2 or 3-bedroom home (moderately furnished) $6,300 to $8,400 $6,400 to $8,600 $6,100 to $7,950
4 or 5-bedroom home (fully furnished)  $9,400 to $ $16,000 $9,600 to $16,500 $8,200 to $13,700

These are “ballpark” figures and do not include air freight charges.

Best international movers

Company Price Survey options Storage Minimum move size
JK Moving Services $$ Phone/virtual Yes 1 bedroom
North American Van Lines $$$ Phone/virtual  Yes 1 bedroom
Allied $$$ Phone/virtual Yes 1 bedroom

Mexican Visa Information

Mexico is the destination of choice for many American ex-pats.

Mexico is surprisingly accommodating to Americans, but you’ll still need to do your homework before taking the plunge.

Getting a visa can be as easy as:

1. Determining your immigrant status

Mexico has two classifications for ex-pats: immigrant and non-immigrant. The former is for those interested in living in Mexico long-term, while the latter is for temporary visitors.

Americans can visit Mexico for up to 180 days without a visa.

Also remember that:

  • Changing immigrant status takes time and shouldn’t be done without ample consideration
  • Immigrant and resident permits are not the same

2. Familiarizing yourself with different visa types

As of the writing of this post, Mexico is open to both essential and non-essential travelers.

Visa and permit options include:

  • Visitor Permit
  • Work Visa
  • Student Visa
  • Family Visa
  • Tourist Visa
  • Temporary Resident Visa
  • Permanent Resident Visa

Did you know?

Some Mexican visa types are only available to those whose bank account balances meet certain thresholds.

3. Paying the fee and applying

You can take care of fees and applications online or at an embassy or consulate.

Depending on visa type and personal circumstances, wait times range between two days and one month.

Make sure to account for possible delays when making travel arrangements.

Not sure if Mexico is right for you?

This post will help you decide.

How to move your belongings from the United States to Mexico

Depending on origin and destination locations and budget, your household goods will move by land and/or sea.

Because it can be prohibitively expensive, air freight is generally reserved for small, time-sensitive shipments.

With so many regulations and bureaucracies, overseas relocations are best left to experienced international movers.

In most cases, they’ll move your items by one of the following methods:

1. Shipping containers

20 and 40-foot shipping containers are most common on international moves.

Shipping containers can be used for moving and storage, though limitations on the latter may apply.

If you’re moving the contents of a multi-bedroom home, you can book the container for “exclusive use.”

This means that nobody else’s “stuff” will be in your container. Exclusive use can be expensive, but it may be necessary if you’ll need storage.

2. Moving vaults

Small wooden containers (vaults) are the most affordable option when moving shipments between 1,000 and 2,000 pounds of household goods overseas.

Like shipping containers, they can be stored until you’re ready to take delivery.

On the downside, wooden containers are more susceptible to moisture and damage than steel shipping containers.

Depending on the origin and destination locations, shipping containers and moving vaults may be transported to Mexico via truck, ship, or rail.

3. Truck

Some international movers transport household goods between the United States and Mexico via truck.

If so, they’ll generally contract the work out to a local or regional mover, so make sure you know who’ll be showing up on move day.

The reasons why Americans are flocking to Mexico

Approximately 1.5 million Americans live in Mexico.

Here’s why:

It’s close

Enough said.

The languages are similar

Ex-pats who immerse themselves in the culture and go out of their way to interact with Mexicans often pick up Spanish surprisingly quickly.

Housing can be inexpensive

Apartments in many popular Mexican cities are often half as expensive as similar units in the United States.

If apartments aren’t your style, consider finding a place through Airbnb.

Healthcare is affordable

American ex-pats aren’t entitled to free healthcare like Mexican citizens, but it’s still far less expensive and more accessible than in the United States.

The food is amazing

From quesadillas and chimichangas to Veracruz fish tacos and mole poblano, Mexican cuisine is in a league of its own.

It’s usually sunny

Temperatures in Mexico generally hover between 50 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit.

With predictable seasons and distinct climates in the north, south, and along the Gulf and Pacific coasts, there’s a little something for everybody.

It’s a paradise for digital nomads

With flexible visa options, great weather, and a low cost of living, it’s no wonder remote workers flock to Mexico.

Best cities in Mexico for ex-pats

For families with kids:

  • Mérida
  • Isla Mujeres
  • Puerto Vallarta
  • Cancún

For young singles and remote workers:

  • Colonia Roma
  • Juarez
  • Coyoacan
  • Playa Del Carmen

For artists, authors, and musicians:

  • Oaxaca
  • Mexico City
  • Sayulita
  • Cabo
  • Tulum

For business people and entrepreneurs:

  • Mexico City
  • Cancún
  • Puerto Vallarta

Finding a job in Mexico

Finding work in Mexico isn’t much different than in the United States.

It’s all about being proactive, networking, and applying (in-person and online) for positions that interest you.

Student ex-pats looking for jobs may get placement assistance from their schools.

Did you know?

Bilingual job applicants are in high demand, so consider brushing up on your Spanish while in Mexico.

The disadvantages of living in Mexico

  • The language barrier makes things difficult
  • Prolonged culture shock can cause hypertension and depression
  • The bureaucracy can be overwhelming
  • You may not be able to drive in some areas
  • Some areas have notoriously high crime rates
  • It may not be as cheap as you think in resort areas and Mexico City
  • Healthcare standards may not be as high as they are in America
  • The public education system isn’t great and private schools are expensive
  • Utilities and other public services are unreliable
  • Many public bathrooms aren’t free
  • It may never feel like home

Legal requirements when moving to Mexico

It’s easier for Americans (especially students and retirees) to move to Mexico than to many other countries.

That said, you’ll need to:

  • Prove that you’re an American citizen
  • Possess a valid passport and alternate form of identification
  • Show that you have a job and will be able to support yourself
  • Have a relatively clean background (no convictions for serious crimes)

There aren’t currently any COVID-related restrictions when visiting or moving to Mexico

Frequently asked questions (faqs)

Can a US citizen move to Mexico?

Yes, it’s relatively easy for Americans to move to Mexico.

Can you move to Mexico by car?

Cars registered in America can be driven into Mexico by owners with valid American driver’s licenses. Depending on whether you’re a tourist or an ex-pat, you can have your vehicle imported temporarily or permanently.

How much money do you need to move to Mexico?

Excluding moving costs, new ex-pats moving to Mexico generally need a minimum of $2,000 to cover visa fees, food, rent, and other costs until they get settled in.

Should you sell everything and move to Mexico?

It’s wise to give the ex-pat life a test drive for three to six months before selling everything and making a long-term commitment.

How much does it cost to live comfortably in Mexico?

Expenses for ex-pats in Mexico generally range from $800 to $2,000 per month. Living expenses can vary greatly based on age, lifestyle, occupation, and location.

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