READER QUESTION: Hello, I have been reading several of your posts, I was wondering if most of the information is also relevant for Canadians looking to relocate to Cabo/Baja area. Obviously there will be differences in taxation but as for as the processes to work and live in Mexico, is it similar? Most the information on your blog is American-based. Thank you.
Manny's Answer: Hi Sean! The information on our blog is mainly based on U.S. expats, because that's what we are, and we are basically talking about our own experiences. But we've met LOTS of Canadian expats in Mexico, as well as Canadian "snowbirds" that only come down to visit to escape the harsh northern winters and then return home.
Many of them are either retirees or digital nomads who work online and can basically roam around and live anywhere. There are also a lot of French, Spanish, and German transplants in Mexico, (from our experience, more in the Mayan Riviera and the state of Quintana Roo than in Baja California Sur, but I think that's more due to simple geography than anything else. Californians and Texans can easily drive down the Baja Peninsula with their cars and it's less than a day's drive to get down to Baja and start enjoying great beaches and a cheaper standard of living.
I don't know anything about Canadian taxation but my understanding is that the residency process for Canadians is the same as for Americans who wish to obtain Mexican residency. You just have to prove that you are solvent (basically) and produce 3 months of bank statements showing that you can support yourself, which is why so many retirees come down to Baja and live very comfortably on their Social Security checks. A good Mexican immigration attorney can answer all these questions for you and they are typically much cheaper than any US or Canadian attorney.
We have met countless people who do this, including Mexican nationals who have dual U.S./Mexican Citizenship. Even a very small Social Security check (or other retirement, such as a military pension or other pension) is usually a LOT more than most Mexicans earn per month. For example, in Mexico, a schoolteacher typically makes around (the equivalent) of $11,000 U.S. dollars. That is less than $1,000 US dollars per month! And that is considered a good and stable job in Mexico.
American and Canadian dollars stretch further down here, as you can imagine. That's even taking into account the fact that the peso is currently very weak against the U.S. dollar.
Now is a great time to buy land or other property in Mexico, because it is considered dirt cheap. We have purchased two plots of land and we are looking to purchase vacation property, as well (just haven't decided if we should go with Ixtapa or Tulum, or Playa Del Carmen!) There are so many beautiful coastal cities that it's really hard to decide.
Our advice, as always, is to come down with an open mind and really just enjoy yourself. DON'T spend your time at all-inclusive resorts or hotels. Get a place off the beaten path (there are tons on Airbnb) and just walk around and see how the locals live. That will tell you if Mexico really is for you.
Be FREE! EXPATRIATE!
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Happy New Year everyone! It's been a wild ride so far. We have the chance to look back and reflect on everything we've done and all the places we have been (and all the places we plan to visit this year too!)
We are planning a very quick trip back to the U.S. for business this week. We are finding that our trips back to the U.S. are getting shorter and shorter, and most of what we need to do we can now do online.
We finally bit the bullet this year and got a foreign bank account, (we also kept our US-based accounts) but this means that we have to file an FBAR this year (bummer). My wife is filing our FBAR because she has an accounting background, but she only plans do it for us (she doesn't file FBARs for any clients because of the liability attached it it).
Similar to regular U.S. tax filings, there is no need to register as a professional to file the FBAR as an individual, but most expats get professional help from a CPA, enrolled agent, or attorney to file their FBARs.
Most of our banking can be done online, and if we have anything that needs to be signed and mailed back to the U.S. with a wet signature (i.e., an "original signature") we have found that DHL is the most reliable method for mailing documents outside the U.S.
Some trips are inevitable, of course. But everything is getting easier for us to manage, our lives, our finances, everything.
Here's to another year of expat living!
Another year in Mexico has almost come and gone, and we can't believe how quickly the time has passed! All of our children are in private schools (at less than the cost of having a single student enrolled in a school in the U.S.!) and the schools are out for Christmas break.
We've gone to Christmas plays, Christmas Mass, Christmas parades! It's bright lights everywhere, and the holiday continues until El Día de Reyes Magos (literally, the "Day of the Kings").
In most Christian traditions, this is called the Epiphany, or the "Feast of The Three Kings". Epiphany is celebrated 12 days after Christmas on 6th January (or January 19th for some Orthodox Church who have Christmas on 7th January) and is the time when Christians remember the three wise men who visited baby Jesus in the Manger with the Mary and St. Joseph.
There has been lots of festive parties and family get-togethers, this weekend alone there have been two big parties and two we have had to decline. All the kids get dressed up and go with us, there's lots of food and children playing, it is a wonderful time for family and making memories.
And also a time for eating! We have been eating almost non-stop, we are going to have to hit the treadmill in January but until then, Merry Christmas from our family to yours!
Reader Question: Hello - We are currently building a house in Loreto, Baja CA Sur. We look forward to spending much of our time there in the future. I've read in past blog posts your advise about purchasing cars with Mexican plates vs. 'importing' our US cars. We have an Airstream travel trailer that we may want to have with us in Loreto. Can we keep it there with us with US plates? I've been digging around online and I'm hoping you can steer me to a source of accurate info.
Manny's Answer: We generally don't advise on importing U.S. vehicles, the process of legalization is very difficult. But you can drive your cars into Mexico for the length of your tourist visa (180 days) while you decide what to do. You don't have to decide right away. I'm not sure about the travel trailer, you should probably speak to a professional in Cabo that can advise you on that. As we mentioned in prior blog posts, we merely purchased our vehicles in Mexico, which were very cheap as the exchange rate is very good right now for U.S. dollars.
I know that there are many offices that specialize in importing cars and household goods in Cabo and San Jose del Cabo. I would consult with an attorney on the matter. It is very cheap to seek legal advice in Mexico, we paid only about 1,000 pesos for a consult (about $50 U.S. dollars). If you want to import a car and "legalize" it in Mexico, you have to hire a custom’s agent (an agente aduanal). A google search turned up several of these processionals in Cabo and all over Baja. That's what I would recommend.
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Just a middle-class dad and mom with three young kids, looking to escape the rat race. This is our journey!
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