Moving to a new country can be a thrilling experience but it also comes with its own set of challenges. As an expat moving to Mexico, there are several things to consider, including understanding and navigating the Mexican visa requirements.
Mexico has strict visa requirements that every foreigner must adhere to in order to stay legally in the country. The path to Mexican residency and Mexican citizenship gets much easier if you have Mexican relatives, because this is a much easier way for you to acquire legal residency or even Mexican citizenship.
Foreigners with ties to Mexico like a parent, grandparent, child, or spouse can apply for residency and citizenship and access its advantages like unrestricted work authorization, public healthcare and education availability as well as social security benefits without the need to demonstrate a stable income. To start this process, applicants must first obtain evidence that verifies their family relationship (like birth or marriage certificates).
Spousal and Family Paths to Mexican Citizenship: If you have relatives with Mexican connections, there is an easier way for you to acquire legal residency or even Mexican citizenship. This is an easier path than the normal naturalization process – it is easier for those with Mexican family ties. The main two paths to obtaining Mexican citizenship are through marriage or family ancestry.
The application process can take several months so it’s important to plan ahead! Engaging an experienced Mexican immigration lawyer is usually recommended if you are not fluent in Spanish. At any point during the process, if there are questions or concerns about your application it’s best to seek help from a professional rather than continuing on without guidance. A knowledgeable lawyer can provide invaluable assistance throughout the process and ensure that everything is done correctly so that there aren’t any unforeseen issues down the line.
Have you fallen in love with Mexico and want to make the Yucatan your home? Imagine awakening to the sounds of tropical birds singing outside your open window. The warm Caribbean breeze caresses your face as you take in the first rays of morning sunlight. This could be your life every day, in the Yucatan.
Located in southeast Mexico, between the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea, the Yucatán Peninsula is one of the most popular destinations for snowbirds wishing to escape harsh winters and expats looking for a permanent home in the sun.
The Yucatan is a safe, friendly area and a great place for retirees to find a new home. When considering expatriating to the Yucatan, potential expats should weigh their options carefully. The Yucatan Peninsula is home to many unique places, from beach towns like Progreso to larger cities like Merida. Every option has its pros and cons and it’s important to evaluate which location is right for you.
One should consider proximity to the beach. Beach towns such as Progreso or Akumal are ideal for those who enjoy being near the water, but may be too remote for those seeking more urban amenities. Larger cities like Merida offer a variety of cultural attractions, stores, and modern conveniences.
Another important factor is access to quality schools for children of expats. Each town offers different levels of educational opportunities; it’s important to do some research ahead of time in order to ensure that your children have a strong academic foundation when they settle into life in the Yucatan. Additionally, keep in mind the job opportunities available in each area - this will help you determine whether you can establish a stable career while living there.
Top Retiree Cities in the Yucatan Peninsula
The top locations in the Yucatan Peninsula for expat retirees are as follows:
Merida: The capital city of the state of Yucatan, Merida offers a vibrant mix of colonial architecture, museums, restaurants, and a growing expat community. While no city has it all, Merida is pretty close to perfect. The cost of living is lower than many parts of Mexico and Merida has top-notch healthcare facilities. Expats are drawn to Merida's rich cultural scene, walkable streets, and proximity to both Gulf Coast beaches and inland archaeological sites.
Progreso: An affordable beach town, Progreso is popular with retirees who enjoy the laidback lifestyle. Located thirty minutes away from Merida, housing along the sandy beaches is a bargain compared to other coastal communities. Progreso's main appeal is its seaside promenade, restaurants, and proximity to Merida. The expat community hosts events and get-togethers regularly.
Valladolid: For a small-town colonial feel, Valladolid is an excellent choice. The picturesque historic center has pastel-colored colonial homes, churches, and a central park anchored by a large cathedral. Mayan ruins like Chichen Itza are just a short drive away. Valladolid has a nascent expat scene as retirees are discovering its charms. Cost of living is extremely economical.
Chelem: Chelem is a small fishermen's town near Progreso, about 45 minutes from Mérida. This tiny seaside hamlet had become a favorite with expat retirees, and we met several from England, France, and the United States when we visited. The town was quiet and peaceful, with a slow pace of life.
Izamal: The town of Izamal, also known as the 'Yellow City' due to its buildings, is a designated as a 'Pueblo Magico' by the Mexican government,which translates to 'Magic Town.' Despite the fact that it is not a beach town and can become quite warm in the dry season, many expats call it home and say that it is an incredibly hospitable place with no crime.
Celestun: A sleepy fishing village on the border between Yucatán and Campeche, Celestún is about a one and a half hour drive from Mérida, depending on traffic (and the condition of the roads!). Deeply rooted in history, this sun-drenched village moves at a slow, relaxed pace - exactly the way residents prefer it. The town's inhabitants take pride in preserving its tranquil ambience.
The city of Merida and other cities in the Yucatan are renowned for their safety, excellent quality of life, and well-equipped medical facilities. These positive attributes have enticed numerous retirees from the United States, Canada, as well as many European countries including Spain, France, and Germany to make the move to the Yucatan region.
Deciding whether or not expatriating is right for you involves careful consideration of all factors involved - from quality of schools and job opportunities, to proximity to beaches and overall safety concerns. It is important not only to weigh pros and cons between different areas within the Yucatan Peninsula but also between what life would look like at home versus abroad - making sure that any decision made takes into account all aspects of life as an expat in this new location.
Expats must also consider how life abroad will compare to life at home. In addition to the lower cost of living, there are many amenities and activities available in the Yucatán that one cannot find back home. For example, it is possible to get fresh seafood from local fishermen almost every day. In addition, some cities like Merida have beautiful parks ideal for outdoor activities such as running or biking. And if you’re looking for a cultural experience, don’t miss out on the traditional dances and holidays celebrated throughout the region!
There are also some drawbacks when it comes to living abroad. To begin with, there may be communication barriers due to speaking a different language—and even though English is more widely spoken in larger cities like Merida, Spanish will still be necessary when dealing with government officials or other daily interactions. Additionally, expats should do their research on local laws and customs so they can ensure that their stay is safe and legal.
Life abroad certainly has its perks but it is important to think carefully before making any decisions - consider all aspects of life as an expat in this new location before taking the plunge! With proper planning and preparation, expatriation can be one of the most rewarding experiences of your life!
A big thank you to Kristian P Guerrero for allowing us to reprint this informative article!
Belize Real Estate Buying Process & Expectation
In spite of rising interest rates, more and more of you have been reaching out for Information about Belize Real Estate and how the buying process works here on the island. I thought it would be a perfect time to adjust and adapt this previously sent blog so we can keep you up to date on how the buyer and closing process works.
As most of you know and have read, Belize is an all-cash market with very little available with regards to Seller Financing. What we’ve been seeing a lot lately is our clients moving a lot of their investments out of the traditional stock and crypto markets and placing them in more secure real estate investments oversees. Real Estate Markets like the Caribbean and especially Belize, being an emerging location within Central America and The Caribbean, have historically shown significant growth in value or at worst, maintained their high value throughout the years. Our clients are blessed to be able to use their investments year round and also take advantage of rental returns that their condo or home accrues quarterly.
Like in North America, there is a process. Over the years we at RE/MAX Island Real Estate have been leaders - and if we can use a fancy word - Trail Blazers, in stream lining the process for our clients and friends. We secured services from trained and licensed professionals so that our investors can feel the same ease as they would if they were buying back home - albeit usually with better views on the island. Here’s how it usually works with us.
Drafting an Offer for Purchase in Belize
We’re gonna skip past the sexy part. We connected and we’ve exchanged dozens and dozens of emails, WhatsApp messages and we put a shortlist together. You got to ride around on a golf cart with me and you’ve laughed at my dad jokes. You probably met Kirian and Liliana, danced to a few Tik Toks they created for our properties, seen what you need to see and you're ready. Now, we’ve found the one that fits. We were patient and now the wife is happy. We found it! What happens next?
The first step would be to draft an offer or purchase. We gather the legal description that’s on the title and put it on a RE/MAX sales agreement and add your legal names as the buyers. We submit that offer to the selling side and then I take a bat and hit them on the knee caps until they sign. Just kidding. I hit them on the shins.
Once terms and price point have been agreed upon the first thing we do is we high five obviously, but then we would request 2 IDs (Bio Data Passport Page & Drivers License from you or all parties that are to assume ownership. I’m not sure if a Sam’s Club card will work). The Government of Belize requires this for proof of person and residency.
How Can You Choose to Take Title?
How do you choose to take title? The recommendation is to take title in a Belize Chapter 250 Corporation (our version of what you guys call an LLC). This reduces the Stamp Tax (Transfer Fee) from 8 to 5% as well as provides limited liability protection and serves as your holding company. The lawyer we recommend has a list of ready to go corps we recommend assuming to save time. A US Trust can be the director and shareholder of the Belize Corporation but would need to be registered to do business in Belize. The title company does that on your behalf in simultaneously with closing. This cost is reflected on the 1.5% approximate legal fees.
Another advantage of the Belize Corp is that you can open a Belize Dollar bank account. This process has to wait until you legally own the property but we connect you with the bank so they share their list of documents needed to open a bank account. It will feel like they ask for everything including DNA samples but in the end a lot of my clients feel it’s worth it.
If title is already held in a holding company or Belize Chapter 250, then no stamp taxes or transfer fees apply (depending on how the seller structured the share capital). The only fee would be 1.5% legal fees plus the transfer of shares and directorship which would be approximately 1%. The title company performs a full title and corporate search and offers an opinion with the end findings to guarantee marketable title and that the corporation has no liability and has done no business but act as a holding company for the property. In certain situations and because the corp name cannot be changed, we do end up with some pretty cool and sometimes some pretty unique names. Imagine taking ownership of Cheeseburgers In Paradise Limited or the coolest one I’ve seen is Casa Sin Pantalones Limited.
Home Inspections cost $600.00 and are recommended on all purchases. If you meet a Real Estate Professional that tries to tell you it’s not common, tell him this is not 2016! We hire a civil engineer and he flies down to perform the inspection and within 72 hours has a full report and recommendation back. These are all rentable units so the aesthetic stuff isn’t really what we are looking for. The major issues we try and see out are appliances, HVAC, electrical and of course Structural Integrity. Resurveys for undeveloped land or private homes range between $550.00 to $1900.00 depending on size of lot. Again, we get a professional licensed surveyor to carry out the resurvey and we usually have it back between 48-72 hours. Mr Gillete is great :)
Closings typically take 30/45 days however I always add an additional 15/30 day extension on all my contracts to purchase. The Belize Government requires wet signatures on all transfer of land documents submitted to the lands department so FedEx or DHL is required to send originals to buyer and seller of signatures and notarizations.
This is meant to be a short read. We use a couple of trusted Real Estate Lawyers like Arguelles & Co. & Arthurs & Balderamos because they focus primarily on Real Estate Law and give our clients first class service but also because they have a US based escrow account so earnest monies are held in a bank in the United States.
That gives my clients just a little bit more comfort when sending earnest funds and it can be confirmed as received within 24 hours as opposed to 7 business days if sent out of country from US to Belize.
The closing agent is your legal representative so he works for you alongside me. Monies are only dispersed to seller once he confirms that all the required documents for a safe and guaranteed transfer can occur and he only disperses funds with your authorization and permission. Emil & Saidi have been god sends throughout these busy times. Once funds are disbursed, Emil and his team have already submitted the required documentation to the Lands Department and Companies Registry and we can now track the submission with the LRS number issued. Easy right?
The blabbing or blogging ends here. At this point we have everything moving on cruise control and the only thing we then wait for is the title to be returned to the closing agent. That is a whole other blog post. Although you have ownership and possession of the property, the physical title turn around time if expedited is between 9-12 weeks. It's Island Time.
Thank you again for making it all the way down here on this written blog and for allowing me to help share more information about Belize.
Have a great day!
You can contact Kristian P Guerrero and see her listings here.
Images are all licensed from Canva.
Is Portugal's NHR Regime Ending?
Portugal has long been a popular destination for expatriates and retirees looking to enjoy a high quality of life in a beautiful and welcoming country. One of the key attractions for many is the Non-Habitual Residents (NHR) tax regime, which offers significant tax benefits for individuals relocating to Portugal.
However, in a recently televised interview with CNN Portugal, the prime minister of Portugal, Antonio Costa, announced that he plans to end Portugal's popular NHR scheme. The recent Portuguese budget proposal in October 2023 further confirmed that it is Portugal's intention to end the regime at the end of 2023. This decision is expected to have a significant impact on those who have already taken advantage of the NHR program, as well as those considering a move to Portugal in the future.
The NHR tax regime (Non-Habitual Residents) in Portugal allows qualifying professionals, retirees and high net worth individuals to benefit from a 20% flat rate of tax on Portuguese-source income. Many foreigners who planned to move to Portugal at the beginning of 2024 are understandably upset by the short notice of this news. John, a user comment from a popular Facebook group, stated the following:
For individuals who are considering a move to Portugal, this announcement may influence their decision to relocate. The removal of this significant tax benefit may make other countries with more favorable tax regimes more appealing. Spain, for example, also has a similar tax regime, where NHRs are taxed at a flat rate of 24%. Spain may become an attractive alternate option to those who were considering a move to Portugal.
Understanding the NHR Regime
The Non-Habitual Resident (NHR) tax regime was introduced by the Portuguese government in 2009 with the aim of attracting wealthy individuals and retirees to Portugal. Under this regime, qualified individuals who become tax residents in Portugal enjoy several tax benefits, including:
The Prime Minister's Justification for Ending the NHR Regime
The government of Portugal and the Prime Minister has cited several reasons for the decision to end the NHR tax regime. Primarily, the move is seen as an effort to address growing concerns about tax avoidance and wealth inequality. Critics argue that the NHR regime disproportionately benefits the wealthy, allowing them to pay little or no tax on their income and assets.
Additionally, the Portuguese government aims to streamline the tax system by removing the complexities associated with the NHR regime. Ending the program would foster greater tax equity among residents and ensure a fairer distribution of the tax burden.
Planning for the Future
There is still time to apply, for some people, even if the NHR regime ends at the end of 2023. According to the budget proposal, NHR ends on December 31, 2023. People who meet certain conditions on or before that date should still be able to apply before March 31, 2024.
For those who want to benefit from the NHR regime, it is essential to seek professional advice as soon as possible. There are many Portuguese attorneys that offer this type of legal and immigration service. Given that the changes will come into effect in 2024, individuals still have some limited time to evaluate their options and make the necessary adjustments to their financial plans.
It is also important to note that while the NHR regime is set to end, Portugal still offers many other advantages as a place for residency or retirement. These include a favorable climate, affordable cost of living, excellent healthcare, and a high standard of living. Individuals should consider these factors alongside the changes to the tax regime when making their decisions.
Carefully Consider all Your Options!
The Portuguese government's decision to end the Non-Habitual Residents (NHR) tax regime in 2024 will undoubtedly have a significant impact on individuals who have already taken advantage of the program and those considering a move to Portugal.
The move is seen as an effort to address tax avoidance and promote greater tax equity among residents. While the changes may present challenges for NHRs, Portugal still offers many appealing qualities that make it an attractive destination for residency or retirement. Seeking professional advice and considering alternative tax planning strategies are advisable to navigate the new tax landscape.
Bacalar, Mexico is a perfect family-friendly destination that offers an amazing array of activities for adults and kids. To make your family trip truly successful, it is important to plan activities that cater to the interests and needs of your children. We have three kids of varying ages (17, 10, and 8 years old) so we wanted to make sure we chose activities that would be fun and engaging for all of them!
Activity 1: Visit the Balneario Ejidal Magico Bacalar
Av 1 & Calle 28, Centro, 77930
Bacalar, Quintana Roo, Mexico
+52 983 131 6427
Facebook Page for Balneario ejidal Mágico Bacalar
Balneario Ejidal Magico Bacalar is a fun beach club and full-service restaurant and bar that lies on the shores of the Bacalar Lagoon. They charge a small amount for parking (about 30 pesos) and they charge entry to the beach club, which is also affordable. The beach club stretches far alongside the lagoon, and kids can play, swim while parents can enjoy eating, drinking, and sunbathing. The club restaurant offers traditional Mexican dishes, including ceviche, and usually has live music or a DJ for entertainment.
There are water slides, swings, hammocks, diving platforms, etc, as well as little shops to rent life vests or buy floatation devices and other things, so don't worry if you forget your water shoes or sunblock. It's an affordable and good place to enjoy a day at the lagoon, don't expect anything super-fancy, but the kids will enjoy their day and you won't break your wallet!
It is imperative to bring towels and a change of clothes for the whole family. There are bathrooms and changing rooms for men and women.
Tip: It is advisable not to leave any valuable personal belongings unattended!
Activity 2: Visiting the Fort of San Felipe
Av 3, Centro, 77930 Bacalar, Q.R., Mexico
TripAdvisor Listing for the Fort of San Felipe
Fuerte de San Felipe de Bacalar (Fort of San Felipe of Bacalar) is a Spanish fortress that is located in Bacalar, Mexico. Visiting the Fort of San Felipe is an exciting way of introducing children to Mexico’s rich history. The fort was constructed by the Spanish military in 1729 to protect Bacalar from pirate attacks. Children will be fascinated by the cannons, pictures, and the architecture of the fort.
The Fort of San Felipe is open daily and cost to enter is 50 pesos per person (about $3 USD). It is located in the town center and can be easily reached walking or by bike. The best time to visit the fort is in the early morning or late afternoon to avoid the intense sun. Wear comfortable shoes for walking over the uneven surfaces of the ruins. The fort is a fantastic spot for a photo op with a traditional Mexican background.
Activity 3: Discovering the Cenote Azul
Carr. Federal 307 Chetumal - Cancun Km 34, Bacalar 77930 México
+52 983 119 9948
Facebook Page for Cenote Azul
We went to the Cenote Azul and the Cenote Azul Restaurant (they are basically the same place) twice on this trip. By the second trip, our teenage son was trying to charm some local girls by diving into the Cenote head first!
The Cenote Azul is a natural sinkhole with crystal-clear water. It offers an extraordinary experience for families. Children can snorkel, swim, and learn about different fish species, while parents can lounge around and enjoy the beauty of the cenote. There is a full restaurant and bar. Sometimes they will have live music, but generally only on weekends. My wife ordered a cappuccino after lunch and said it was one of the best she had ever had.
Cenote Azul is located on the outskirts of Bacalar, and it is best to get there by car. Admission costs about 30 MXN per person, and snorkelling equipment and life vests can be rented by the hour.
It is essential to follow the instructions of the cenote staff, avoid touching any marine creatures and, limit the exploration to the indicated areas. You can bring your snorkelling gear or rent one at the venue.
Activity 4: Kayaking by Private Tour on the Bacalar Lagoon of Seven Colors
Kayaking in the Lagoon of Seven Colors is an exceptional experience for the whole family. The crystal-clear water and the beautiful natural surroundings of the lagoon are stunning and peaceful. The activity is safe for kids and also an opportunity to introduce them to a waterborne sport. Kayaking trips can be booked through several companies located around the lagoon. Most of the tours are around two hours, cost 200 pesos per person (about $10 USD at current exchange rates).
Life jackets should always be provided by the tour company! It is advisable to bring water, sunscreen, and wear comfortable clothes, longer sleeves helps prevent chafing from the life jackets (it happened to our daughter, lesson learned!). You can also bring an underwater camera or rent one to capture the beautiful views during kayaking.
Final Tips for Family Fun in Bacalar!
Exploring the town of Bacalar is an opportunity to know and explore rural Mexican culture in a beautiful setting. Bacalar, Mexico offers an amazing array of activities for families to experience together. From kayaking in the Lagoon of Seven Colors to enjoying the colors and flavors of hundreds of shops and restaurants, Bacalar has something for everyone.
We hope this guide has been informative and helpful in your planning, and we encourage you to experience the magic of Bacalar with your children!
We are currently in Bacalar, Mexico, enjoying the beautiful weather and the world-famous Bacalar Lagoon. We always look for good breakfast spots that are family-friendly and affordable. These are the best 3 that we have found on this current trip. Here are the three best breakfast restaurants in Bacalar, Mexico (according to our family!).
Ixchel Bacalar: Delicious healthy food options
+52 983 177 7827
Calle 26, Avenida 3 y 5, Mario Villanueva Madrid, 77935 Bacalar, Q.R.
Facebook Page for Ixchel Bacalar
Ixchel Bacalar: This was our favorite breakfast spot on this trip. The food was great every single time, and even our pickiest kid found something on the menu that she liked. Lots of healthy food options and free parking on the side of the restaurant, this restaurant offers an impressive breakfast menu. There are lunch and brunch options, as well. We had excellent toasted sandwiches which were delicious with marble toast (pictured below). Try them if you want a hearty breakfast option that will keep you going all day.
These are some of the best breakfast restaurants in Bacalar, Mexico. Make sure to give them a try if you're in town and looking for a delicious start to your day!
Address: Calle 18 Avenida 5, Bacalar 77930 Mexico
+52 1 983 210 1296
Facebook Page for Enamora Bacalar
Currently serving breakfast at any time of the day. Enamora Bacalar specializes in making great breakfasts. Our family ate here several times and the food and service was great. Great salads and sandwiches, too. The drinks are fresh and healthy, we tried the juices and the chia drinks. The outdoor seating is great, you won't feel stuffy and you can enjoy your freshly-squeezed juice in the morning breeze.
Mestizos Cocina Callejera
Calle 22 Av 3 y 5 Col. centro, frente al parque principal, Bacalar 77930 Mexico
+52 55 47758685
Website for Meztizos Cocina
We only visited Mestizos once, it was very busy so we had to wait a while to be seated. You may want to try during the week if you are in a hurry. It's a lovely place with a great atmosphere and delicious fresh Mexican food. We got breakfast, juice and coffee. The menu has a wide variety of great food served in the traditional style.
Don't Go Straight to Bacalar, Check out Chetumal, too!
Chetumal is the often-overlooked capital city of the Mexican state of Quintana Roo. The up-and-coming touristic destination of Bacalar, is 24 miles away, and often draws tourists straight from the airport, but don't miss out on Chetumal's fun places and great food!
Chetumal offers several budget-friendly activities for families. Chetumal has many attractive sights and things to do, tons of wonderful restaurants of all price points (from tiny taquerias to fancy fine dining locations), plus a beautiful bay and literally hundreds of off-the-beaten path swimming spots that your kids will love (our kids did!).
The Water is Warm and Great for Swimming!
As for the weather, we visited in July this year. The nights are usually pleasant and you can enjoy a comfortable breeze if you are close to the bay, even in the summer. If it starts to rain, it usually only lasts a few minutes. Although it is hot during the day, the nights are very nice. The best thing to do in the daytime is swim! We rented a small car and found multiple swimming spots just by driving around. Many spots have an attached restaurant where you can buy drinks and food, but they will often just rent a table for a nominal amount, and people often bring their own food.
The little swimming spot in a small village about 10 minutes outside of the main city of Chetumal. Parking and the entry fee cost less than 200 pesos for all of us (small children enter free, so our youngest was free) and although they did not offer food, we bought some bottled water, chips and snacks from a nearby convenience store and brought that in with us. The kids loved it! There were tons of other children there, (mostly locals) and we spent the entire afternoon there and it cost us less than $30 for the parking, snacks and drinks.
The second picture is a swimming spot is in Laguna Guerrero, also very close by. Dozens of these little swimming spots can be found all around the region.
Chetumal offers affordable options for accommodation and dining, so you can make the most of your budget while enjoying all that the city has to offer. We were able to find Airbnbs for less than $50 a night, although if you want a view of the bay, expect to pay significantly more. Make sure that whatever place you decide to rent has A/C as well as a place to park, if you decide to rent a car, which we recommend if you want to explore this bustling capital city.
We suggest you visit the Chetumal Malecon (the main Boardwalk) in the warm summer evening. Take a stroll along the Malecon de la Bahia, the boardwalk in Chetumal, to enjoy the beautiful waterfront views and experience local culture. You'll find various monuments and sculptures along the way, showcasing the city's heritage.
On the evenings and weekends, the main plaza is filled with little food stands, jumping houses, rides, and other games for small children. Dozens of vendors sell all types of things: toys, food, ice cream, pastries, etc.
There are also tons of restaurants, cafes, and shops, for any budget! Don't be afraid to explore! These are just a few of the fun activities and experiences you can enjoy while exploring Chetumal, Mexico. We hope you have have a great time!
Have you ever dreamed of escaping to a tranquil beach town away from the hustle and bustle of tourist-filled destinations? Look no further than Sisal, Yucatan. Located on the stunning Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico, Sisal offers an authentic and relaxing experience for travelers seeking a true getaway. In this blog post, we will uncover the hidden gems of Sisal and why it should be on your travel bucket list.
Enjoy Pristine Beaches and Clear Blue Skies
Before we delve into the present-day charms of Sisal, it's essential to understand its rich history. Sisal was once the main port for Mérida, the capital of Yucatan. It thrived during the 19th century as an exporter of henequen, a fiber used in making ropes and handicrafts. Although Sisal's glory days as a commercial port have faded, the remnants of its illustrious past can still be explored throughout the town.
Sisal is blessed with pristine beaches and breathtaking natural landscapes that will leave you in awe. As you wander along the shores of the Gulf of Mexico, you'll be greeted by glistening turquoise waters and powdery white sand. The tranquil atmosphere invites visitors to unwind and soak up the sun. For nature enthusiasts, Sisal also offers the opportunity to discover abundant wildlife in nearby nature reserves and mangrove forests.
Explore the Old Town of Sisal
One of the highlights of visiting Sisal is exploring its charming town center. Stroll through the cobblestone streets and marvel at the well-preserved colonial architecture. The main square, or zócalo, is the heart of the town, where you can relax on benches under the shade of ancient trees. Don't forget to visit the San Francisco de Asis Church, a testament to Sisal's cultural heritage.
Sisal is a haven for water sport enthusiasts. Whether you are into fishing, kayaking, or paddleboarding, the calm waters of Sisal offer the perfect playground for your aquatic adventures. The town also serves as a gateway to the famous Ria Celestun Biosphere Reserve, where you can witness thousands of flamingos in their natural habitat.
No visit to Sisal is complete without indulging in the flavors of Yucatecan cuisine. From delicious seafood dishes to traditional Yucatecan specialties like cochinita pibil, the local cuisine will tantalize your taste buds. Don't forget to try the refreshing local drink, called "khool," made from the green, naturally fermented henequen. Savoring these culinary delights is an essential part of immersing yourself in the local culture. We had some of the best ceviche EVER in downtown Sisal!
How to Get to Sisal from Merida
Getting to Sisal is relatively easy. The town is located approximately an hour's drive west of Mérida, the capital of Yucatan. From Mérida, you can rent a car, take a taxi, or hop on a local bus to reach Sisal. Alternatively, some tour operators also offer guided day trips to Sisal. The quickest way to get from Mérida to Sisal is to taxi which costs $440 - $550 (about $25 USD at the current exchange rates) and takes about 45 min.
The entire town of Sisal is walkable, and almost everything (shops, the beach, restaurants) is within walking distance of the town's center. You can also rent a car at the Merida airport if you want to explore the surrounding area, we recommend Leon Car rentals, across the street from Merida airport (do not rent from the car rental kiosks inside the airport! They will rip you off!)
Conclusion: Just GO!
If you are seeking an off-the-beaten-path beach destination in Mexico, Sisal, Yucatan should definitely be on your radar. Its tranquil beaches, rich history, and authentic charm make it a hidden gem waiting to be discovered. Escape the crowds and immerse yourself in the natural beauty and cultural heritage of Sisal. Plan your trip today and create unforgettable memories in this tropical paradise.
Retiring in Ixtapa, Guerrero on a budget is possible if you're willing to be flexible about how you spend your hard-earned dollars. Ixtapa has become an increasingly popular retirement destination over the past few years, and it can definitely be a great place to retire.
It's located on the Pacific coast of Mexico and offers beautiful beaches, tropical weather year-round and inexpensive food to satisfy any picky eater. The town itself has plenty of restaurants, shopping malls and other amenities for retirees who plan their budgets carefully.
Do simple things like walk, take the bus and cook your own meals, just like you would in a cheaper city.
It's a good idea to be prepared to do simple things like walk, take the bus and cook your own meals, just like you would in a much cheaper city. You can take walks along the beach or through town with friends and family. The ocean view is beautiful!
Go for bike rides around town (bikes can be rented at many places, but buying a used bike is a cheap and easy way to get transportation anywhere without having to pay for gas!). It's easy on flat streets with minimal traffic congestion because there aren't many cars in Ixtapa compared with bigger tourist cities like Cancun or Acapulco.
Rent a smaller house or condo, a few blocks away from the beach can save big bucks!
Rental real estate is a great option for people who are on a budget and want to stay in Ixtapa for an extended period of time. Renting is cheaper than buying, especially if you're not sure about staying in a certain area long-term. There are also advantages to renting over buying because it allows you more flexibility with your living situation. Renting will allow for easy moves without having any long-term financial obligations attached (like paying off a mortgage).
In addition to being affordable, many rental properties in Ixtapa are vacation condos that offer many amenities including pools and gyms which make them great options for retirees that some of the amenities of a resort but without the high price tags. A great way to find them is to check on Facebook, Airbnb, or even local real estate agents. You can also come to Ixtapa, stay at an Airbnb for a few days, then walk around downtown and look for "Se Renta" signs, there are many of them plainly visible on the street.
You can rent an apartment in Ixtapa that’s furnished or unfurnished. Furnished rentals are relatively easy to find and usually the first choice for snowbirds and retirees that haven't made up their minds yet on the location that they would like to live in.
Eat in local restaurants, instead of paying tourist prices.
If you want to save money, the best thing you can do is cook your own meals, or eat at local "family style" restaurants. There are a few ways you can do this:
Retiring on a budget in Ixtapa is 100% possible if you're willing to be flexible!
Retiring on a budget in Ixtapa is possible if you're willing to be flexible. Consider making some small sacrifices in order to have more flexibility with your money, especially when you first decide to move.
Zihuatanejo de Azueta, a beautiful coastal town in Mexico, is known for its delicious seafood and traditional Mexican cuisine. But if you are looking for traditional Mexican breakfast as well as a something like pancakes, that can be a little harder to find.
La Jaiba Feliz was our best find for breakfast on this trip, because it was affordable, family-friendly, and one block from the beach.
This spot has a lot of good breakfast choices, pancakes, eggs and ham, etc. as well as traditional lunch items like hamburgers and quesadillas. The omelets were good, as well as the fruit plate. The kids all got hamburgers and seemed to enjoy them. The orange juice is fresh-squeezed and they have coffee as well as other traditional drinks and foods.
Here are some traditional breakfast dishes to try at La Jaiba Feliz:
Pozole: Traditional pozole is made with pork, hominy, and a variety of dried chiles. It is often served with a variety of accompaniments such as chopped onion and radish, cilantro, and lime wedges. It is usually served in a large bowl and is meant to be shared among family and friends.
Chilaquiles: This is a popular breakfast dish in Mexico, and you can find it at many restaurants in Zihuatanejo. This dish is made from tortilla chips that are lightly fried and then simmered in a spicy tomato sauce with onions and other seasonings. They are typically topped with cheese, crema, and avocado.
Fresh Fruit, Granola, and Yogurt Plate: Zihuatanejo is known for its fresh fruits, including papayas, mangoes, and pineapples. We had a papaya and melon plate the day that we visited and it was very good. They will offer you yogurt and granola as a topping if you like.
Overall, there are many delicious local foods to enjoy for breakfast in Zihuatanejo. Whether you prefer sweet or savory dishes, you are sure to find something to satisfy your taste buds.
Isla Ixtapa, located in the state of Guerrero in Mexico, is a beautiful and secluded island that is perfect for those looking for a peaceful and relaxing vacation. Playa Coral, one of the island’s most popular beaches, is a great place to spend vacation time with kids, and it is safe for swimming for young people (bring water shoes, though, there is coral and rocks the deeper you go and can be sharp on tender feet!).
Here are some tips on how to enjoy a fantastic family vacation in Playa Coral, Isla Ixtapa:
3. Enjoy Local Cuisine: There are plenty of restaurants on Isla Ixtapa that offer delicious local cuisine. Don't miss out on the opportunity to try fresh seafood dishes such as ceviche, grilled fish, and shrimp cocktails. We ate at several restaurants during our trip, but the best food was at Lili Cipriani, which had some of the best octopus ajillo that we have ever tasted! The prices were reasonable for the island and we were able to pay with a card, so we could get travel points, which was nice.
In conclusion, Isla Ixtapa and Playa Coral are the perfect destinations for those looking for a peaceful and relaxing vacation. With beautiful beaches, crystal-clear water, and a variety of activities to choose from, there is something for everyone to enjoy. So pack your bags, grab your sunscreen, and get ready for a memorable vacation in Playa Coral, Isla Ixtapa!
Spain is new offering a Digital Nomad Visa, more than a year after it was first announced by the Spanish government.
A fantastic option for those who want to work remotely from one of the most beautiful countries in Europe. As a digital nomad, Spain is an ideal destination. With its vibrant culture, stunning architecture, and beautiful beaches, it's no wonder that more and more remote workers are choosing to make Spain their base, and now almost anyone that makes a reasonable salary can apply for Spain's new digital nomad visa.
When it comes to working, Spain has a lot to offer.
The country has a fast-growing tech industry, with Barcelona and Madrid being hubs for innovation and entrepreneurship. And with a strong focus on work-life balance, it's easy to maintain a healthy lifestyle while working remotely.
Of course, there are some challenges to living and working in Spain as a digital nomad. The language barrier can be difficult to navigate, especially if you don't speak Spanish. And the bureaucracy involved in setting up a business or registering as a freelancer can be time-consuming.
But overall, Spain is a great choice for anyone looking to combine work and travel. With its beautiful scenery, affordable cost of living, and growing tech industry, it's no wonder that more and more digital nomads are choosing to call Spain home.
We get asked constantly about the most TAX-FRIENDLY state to transfer residency when you are trying to leave the U.S. (either permanently or temporarily), or in the case of RV explorers and part-time snowbirds, the best state for retirees who only want to spend a few months out of the year in one place and the rest of the year in a warmer tropical climate.
Note: This advice is coming directly from our accountant, who also took the plunge and became a digital nomad several years ago and now works remotely year-round. This is not intended to be legal or tax advice, just general advice that anyone can verify themselves.
Top 5 Tax-Friendly States for Digital Nomads
1. Nevada: Best privacy, no personal income tax, no corporate income tax. Allows anonymous LLCs. Shareholders in a NV corporation can also remain anonymous.
2. Florida: No personal income tax. Does impose a 5.5% corporate income tax.
3. Texas: No personal or corporate income tax, but does levy a gross receipts tax.
4. Alaska: No personal income tax. There is a corporate income tax.
5. Wyoming: No corporate or personal income tax.
Our Accountant, Chris: If you plan to live the life of a snowbird or be a digital nomad, the best state to establish residency is Nevada. Nevada has no corporate or personal income tax as well as the best privacy laws. Nevada collects most of its revenue through sales taxes, as well as taxes on the casino and hotel industries. Nevada is the only state that does not share information with any other state or the IRS, and Nevada is one of the few states that allows anonymous LLCs. Shareholders in a Nevada corporation can also remain completely anonymous.
This can prevent unwanted individuals from having access to your private information, and it also cuts down on spam, unwanted mailings, and solicitations from businesses and individuals trying to sell you things when you open a new business (one of my pet peeves!).
All the major cities in Nevada (Las Vegas, Reno, Carson City) host several popular incorporation and mail forwarding services targeted towards expats and snowbirds that make transferring residency and setting up a corporation or other entity in Nevada very easy to do. Corporations and LLCs do have to file an annual list every year, which costs several hundred dollars, but can be filed online. If you don't have a corporation or an LLC, then it is much cheaper. In Las Vegas, for example, a home-based sole proprietorship or general partnership costs nothing to set up, the business license is free. And there are no state-level tax return filings in Nevada.
Nevada also has the benefit of several big cities and a wide range of climate and terrain. In Tahoe, you can enjoy beautiful mountains, skiing, fresh air, and the beautiful Lake Tahoe for fishing or water activities. If you like nightlife, or if you like live events, concerts, parties and gambling, there's Las Vegas. And everything in between.
Florida and Texas are close seconds, and preferable to Nevada in terms of climate if you want to live in the states at least part-time. Florida and Texas impose no personal state income tax, but they do have some types of franchise/corporate tax on a businesses' gross income.
Florida imposes a 5.5% corporate income tax. In Texas, businesses with $1.18 million to $10 million in annual receipts pay a franchise tax of 0.375% on their gross receipts.
Alaska isn't a bad choice, either. There's no personal income tax, but there is a corporate tax. Alaska imposes a corporate tax ranging from 0% to 9.4%, spread across ten tax brackets.
It's also less accessible than any of the lower 48 states. Actually getting to Alaska if you need to do anything related to your residency requires a long drive and a border crossing, or an airline flight over Canada. And the harsh Alaskan winters are not for the faint of heart. But to be fair, there are many people who love Alaska's unspoiled wilderness. Plus, the summers in Alaska are rumored to be absolutely spectacular.
Wyoming is also another good choice, from a tax perspective. This state also imposes no personal income tax, but the landscape is isolated and rather bleak, (I've driven through the whole state and there isn't much to see in Wyoming). So if you're not planning to actually live there at least part of the year, Nevada is a better choice in terms of privacy as well as tax benefits.
Imagine a place where the sun shines almost every day, the water is crystal clear, and the locals are warm and welcoming. That place is Bacalar, Quintana Roo, Mexico.
This beautiful town is located in the lush, tropical Mexican state of Quintana Roo and offers a wonderful mix of Mexican culture and Mayan paradise. It's conveniently located about 30 minutes from the state capital, Chetumal, which hosts every store with any modern amenity you could possibly need, including Wal-Mart, Costco, and Home Depot. There are also modern, affordable hospitals in Chetumal, in case you need medical care.
So if you're ready to say goodbye to cold winters and stressful commutes, it's time to explore retiring in Bacalar, Quintana Roo, Mexico.
Qualifying for a Retiree Visa
If you are planning on moving to Mexico to retire, the first step is to research the different visa options and requirements. The retiree visa is a very popular choice for those who want to enjoy their golden years in Mexico. A retired couple can retire very comfortably in Mexico with an average income of about $2,500 a month, or $30,000 a year.
For retirees who want to live in Mexico, the first stop is to visit the nearest Mexican consulate and apply for a permanent resident visa.
Finding a Home and Settling in Bacalar, Mexico
Although there are expensive hotels and pricey waterfront homes, Bacalar is a very affordable place to retire, if you manage your living expenses correctly.
Finding a home in Bacalar, Quintana Roo, Mexico is relatively easy. With a wide range of housing options available, from waterfront condos to homes in town, you're sure to find something that suits your budget and your needs. Using a service like Airbnb or Facebook marketplace, you can find short term rentals as low as $19/night. Monthly rentals range from less than $500 per month for a small studio to several thousand for an entire home near the lake. The closer you rent to the Bacalar Lagoon, the higher the price will be.
You can choose to rent or buy and there are plenty of real estate agents in town who can help you find the perfect place. Some sample prices for a monthly rental on Airbnb are shown below. This search was for the entire month of April 2023 and it's just a sample of the range of different prices that you will see for a monthly and/or short-term rental.
Enjoying the Local Scene and Living the Good Life in Bacalar
You will find a warm and welcoming Mexican community in Bacalar. The locals are friendly and generous, always willing to share their local culture with foreigners. You will be able to experience the real Mexican way of life, from the fabulous local cuisine to traditional celebrations.
Eating out is affordable and you can find fresh fruits and vegetables at the local markets. Plus, there are plenty of activities like scuba diving, horseback riding, lake tours, diving and fishing trips and more that you can enjoy while living here.
If you’re looking for a place to retire that offers a lower cost of living, good healthcare, and plenty of activities and amenities, Bacalar is a great choice. And with a retiree visa available to those over the age of 50, it’s easy to make the move.
1. Easy Residency for Retirees: Costa Rica's rentista visa is the perfect option for retirees looking to move to Costa Rica on a long-term basis. The rentista visa, also known as retiree visa or pensionado visa in Costa Rica, allows its holders to stay in the country with no time limit and to work without limitation.
The rentista visa can be easily obtained by demonstrating stable, passive income such as rent or dividends from stocks and bonds. The rentista visa stands out among other visas because applicants do not need to demonstrate any form of employment in Costa Rica. To apply for the rentista visa, applicants must show a secure monthly income of at least $1,500 USD plus an additional $500 USD for each dependent over the age of 18.
The rentista visa also offers several benefits to its holders, such as access to healthcare and discounts on purchases from various retailers including restaurants, hotels, and entertainment services. Additionally, rentista visa holders are eligible to apply for permanent residency after being a rentista visa holder for three consecutive years.
Applicants are required to apply for residency at the Immigration Office of Costa Rica. It is recommended that you hire an attorney to go through the application process.
2. Low Cost of Living: One of the biggest benefits of retiring to Costa Rica is its low cost of living. With a lower cost for basic necessities like food, housing and transportation, retirees can stretch their retirement savings further than in many other countries.
3. Great Climate and Natural Beauty: Another great benefit for those looking to retire to Costa Rica is the country's climate. With an average temperature ranging from 66°F (19°C) in San Jose up to 80°F (27°C) along the coastlines, you won't have to worry about extreme temperatures or harsh weather conditions that can be found elsewhere around the world. And the country offers any type of scenery that you might desire, from stunning beaches on both coasts and lush rainforests full of exotic wildlife – there’s something to keep you entertained and exploring year-round.
4. Affordable Health Care: For retirees considering moving abroad, one of the most important factors is access to affordable health care services and treatments; fortunately, Costa Rica has both! The country offers quality medical care at a fraction of what it would cost in other countries with some procedures costing as little as 1/10th compared with US prices!
5. Tax Benefits: Costa Rica offers some of the most attractive tax benefits for retirees looking to move abroad. Retirees can take advantage of income tax exemptions, tax credits on insurance premiums, and other expenses that make living in the country much more affordable.
6. Friendly People: One of the great things about Costa Rica is its friendly, welcoming people. Locals are generally warm and accommodating to both locals and foreigners alike, making it a great place to meet new people and make friends.
7. Easy Accessibility by Air: Costa Rica is easy to reach via air travel with direct flights from the US and Europe to multiple destinations throughout the country. It's also easy to travel within Costa Rica with a variety of transportation options such as domestic airlines, ferries, and buses. The cheapest month to fly to Costa Rica is January, but affordable flights can be obtained year-round if you book in advance. There are many non-stop flight options to Costa Rica from major cities in the United States. British Airways has also recently launched direct flights from London (LGW) to San Jose (SJO).
8. Central Location: Another great advantage of retiring in Costa Rica is its central location. From here you can easily explore other countries in Central America or take a quick trip to North America or Europe when you need a change of scenery.
9. Low Crime Rate: One of the biggest concerns for retirees looking to move abroad is safety and security – luckily Costa Rica has one of the lowest crime rates in Latin America. Costa Rica has a strong social safety net, an emphasis on education, and a commitment to democracy and the rule of law.
Costa Rica has historically had one of the lowest homicide rates in the world, with only 4.7 murders per 100,000 people. This is a marked contrast to other Central American countries like Nicaragua and Honduras, which had homicide rates of 10.6 and 42.8, respectively. According to data from UN-Habitat, the country has a rate of only 7 violent assaults per 100,000 people. This is far lower than other Central American countries like Guatemala (50) and El Salvador (69).
The country also benefits from its geographic location; Costa Rica is surrounded by the Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea, which can make it difficult for criminals to enter or leave the country. The country’s national police force is well-regarded and very effective at keeping crime rates low.
10. Stable Economy: Costa Rica has a stable economy and is one of the most affluent countries in Central America. The currency is strong, making it easy to budget for living expenses and plan for your future. Plus, you can count on the government to remain financially solvent so you never have to worry about your investments or savings.
Costa Rica is an amazing destination for retirees who are looking to make a new home abroad; with its low cost of living, great climate, affordable health care and tax benefits – it's the perfect place to start your life anew. Plus, its stunning natural beauty and friendly people will help you feel right at home!
No website or company has paid a fee to be mentioned in this blog. Any suggestions you see are based solely on our own experiences and personal preferences.
Just a middle-class family with three young kids, looking to escape the rat race. This is our journey!
If you have a question for us, please contact us directly using our email here.