Your guide for moving to Mexico from the US

Your guide for moving to Mexico from the US

by Alison Maciejewski Cortez

Updated June 20, 2023

Have you dreamed of sipping margaritas on a beach in Mexico while learning Spanish? Maybe you visited on vacation and now you’re thinking of moving to Mexico from the US! 

Mexico is a beautiful country with cosmopolitan cities, colonial pueblos, beaches, mountains and everything in between. You can find US and European expat communities in many cities. If you speak Spanish or are learning, you have many attractive choices when it comes to choosing a place to live. 

Everyone’s situation and reason for moving to Mexico is different. Let’s review some general information about Mexico, including visa requirements for US ex-pats and different places to live in Mexico. 

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Moving from the US to Mexico

Here are some basics you’ll want to consider when thinking about relocating to Mexico as an American or as a resident of the US. 


If you are researching how to move to Mexico from the United States, the language question is probably your first concern. Do you need to speak Spanish to live in Mexico?

It depends. Spanish is the official language in Mexico. If you speak Spanish or are taking Spanish classes, you’ll be able to communicate with more people. Plus, you’ll likely feel more immersed and more involved in your new community. 

There are some communities in Mexico with a higher concentration of English-speaking foreigners. These include Tulum, San Miguel de Allende and Puerta Vallarta. Also, in touristy and expat-populated areas, English is the main language, spoken in many restaurants and stores. 

This is not true everywhere in Mexico, though.  Remember that most interactions at banks and governmental offices require some knowledge of Spanish if not outright fluency. 


Spanning an area of 1,972,550 square kilometers (761,610 square miles), Mexico’s geography is quite diverse. When moving to Mexico from the US, there are different climate options for everyone!

Cities in the southern mountains can be hot during the day, but nights are cool and often require warm clothing. On the other hand, cities in northern Mexico get seriously hot desert weather: daytime temperatures are regularly over 100°F and AC is extremely helpful. Finally, if consistent sunny weather is what you dream of, you will be happy to explore the stunning beaches on both coasts.  


When moving to Mexico from the US, an important aspect to look into is healthcare. Mexico’s public healthcare system, the Mexican Institute of Social Security (IMSS), is available to temporary and permanent residents for a fee. Additional information about rates and applications can be found on the IMSS website

Foreigners with more financial resources often choose private health insurance. Depending on your finances, this might be the option for you. Additionally, some people choose to keep health insurance in the US if they travel back and forth frequently. 

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How to move to Mexico from the United States

So, you’ve decided you want to move to Mexico. Your next concern should be arranging your legal status. There are a few different options depending on how long you want to stay. Below is an overview of the options, but be sure to review up-to-date requirements from the Mexican consulate

  • Visitor: US citizens are allowed to enter Mexico for a maximum of 180 consecutive days with a valid passport. The 180 days are, however, not guaranteed. The length of stay is given at the discretion of the immigration officer upon arrival.
  • Student visa: If you would like to study in Mexico, you can enter on a student temporary visa. 
  • Temporary resident visa: This visa is useful for those who want to stay more than 180 days but less than four years. This is perhaps a better option if you are retired or have a remote job, as it does not allow you to work or receive income in Mexico.
  • Temporary resident visa with rights to work:  This visa is the same as the one above but, as the name says, it comes with permission to legally work in the country.
  • Permanent resident visa: If you want to live in Mexico forever, this is the type of visa you want to apply for. 

Relocating to Mexico from the US: Where to live?

You’ve decided Mexico is the place for you. The even harder decision is where in Mexico to live

Mexico City is the place for you if you like giant, cosmopolitan cities. You will find everything you need in Ciudad de Mexico or CDMX. The transportation system is great. The culture, nightlife and culinary scenes are top-notch. Multiple international companies are headquartered in the capital, so even if you’re working on your Spanish, you can find some English enclaves.   

Puerta Vallarta is a midsize city located on the west coast of Mexico. It’s a great beach town that relies heavily on tourism, so English is spoken in most places.

Tulum is another gorgeous beach town. It is located on the Caribbean coast and it is an excellent area if you’re interested in Mayan ruins, the beach and other natural wonders. A new airport is being built, so you’ll be able to fly directly there. 

San Miguel de Allende is located in central Mexico, northwest of Mexico City. This is a beautiful colonial town with a big art scene. 

Oaxaca is a state located on the west coast of southern Mexico. Many people consider it the jewel of Mexico. Oaxaca City is small in terms of size but has everything you need at a relaxed pace. Look closely at some of the beaches in Oaxaca, such as Puerto Escondido or Huatulco. 

True immersion to mitigate negative impact

Wherever you end up, keep in mind that gentrification has inflated the cost of living for locals in many Mexican cities. The recent boom in foreigners resettling in Mexico (specifically US Americans and Europeans) has, in many cases, negatively impacted locals. To offset this as much as possible, follow these tips:

  1. Avoid paying above-market prices by researching the local real estate market.
  2. Shop at local markets, stores and street vendors.
  3. Avoid patronizing restaurants known to exploit workers.
  4. Don’t rely on English forever. Use Spanish in daily interactions.

What are you waiting for? 

Now you know the basics about moving to Mexico from the US. From healthcare to visa requirements, you have a starting point. It’s a big decision, so make sure you do your research. You can always come to Mexico as a tourist, stay for a month and see how you feel before making the leap. Be sure to take some Spanish classes to prepare for your move. It might just be the best decision you’ve ever made! 

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Alison Maciejewski Cortez

Alison Maciejewski Cortez is Chilean-American, born and raised in California. She studied abroad in Spain, has lived in multiple countries, and now calls Mexico home. She believes that learning how to order a beer in a new language reveals a lot about local culture. Alison speaks English, Spanish, and Thai fluently and studies Turkish. Her consulting business takes her around the world and she is excited to share language tips as part of the Lingoda team. Follow her culinary and cultural experiences on Twitter.

Alison Maciejewski Cortez

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