In 2021, I decided it was time to see whether Mexico could ever replace the United States as my home base. I planned to visit for one month to test it and then head back to America to think things over and make a final decision. But, I loved that first month so much that I stayed for nearly half a year. In spite of this, my final decision is that I couldn’t live full-time in Mexico. So, why am I recommending it to you anyway? Keep reading to find out!
Moving to Mexico is really easy. The border agents have no real desire to determine who you are or what you’re doing in the country. They seem to let anyone through. They checked neither my driver’s license nor my passport in the half a dozen times or more that I have crossed into Mexico.
Most of the U.S. persons I knew there were retired and would just cross back into the U.S. every few months to renew the six-month extension on their legal stays, even though Mexico has no official record of them being there. Keep in mind that if you fly in or drive further south into Mainland Mexico, you will encounter a much stricter border and will need a visa to continue.
Most Americans who moved to Mexico either drove their RVs down or bought one, on arrival. From there, finding an affordable spot to park an RV was easy enough.
MY VERDICT: I love how easy it is to “move” there if you don’t plan to work in the country. If you do plan to work in Mexico and become a resident or citizen, it will take some work. However, the process is much simpler than a Mexican moving to America. I know one American couple who moved there, got their work permits, and became legal residents. The husband works in real estate and sells condos to Americans.
The Cost of Living
The cost of living in Mexico is remarkably low. U.S. ex-pats do tend to pay more than Mexicans for accommodations, but you can end up paying much less than in America. The couple selling real estate sold their Arizona home and bought a million-dollar house near the beach for $200,000.
While there were some RV parks in the $600 to $700 monthly range, this is much less than you could expect to pay to camp or live on the beach anywhere in America. Even better, if you shopped around and took advantage of discounts, you could pay even less. I was one block away from the beach and paid $300 per month. This included the cost of sewer, water, electricity, internet, and access to a pool area.
Food was insanely cheap in Mexico. I could walk out of a store with everything I want and pay $45. I’m going to miss not needing to have a list or budget at the grocery store.
MY VERDICT: Even though I could never live in Mexico full-time, I could definitely see myself going there every year to save money. There were some weeks where all I spent was $3. I was able to pay off some debt and save for my eco-dome. If you need to do the same or you have a low retiree income, head to Mexico!
The cost of living might seem lower to U.S. persons, but I’m sure it doesn’t feel that way to Mexicans. Most people seemed to be doing well in Rocky Point, Sonoyta, Mexicali, and the towns I passed in-between. As one of my friends pointed out, you can tell by the cars people drive. A significant number of these vehicles were recent models and in decent shape.
Nevertheless, not everyone prospers in Mexico. There was begging and haggling, even outside tourist spots. The begging was primarily from other immigrants passing through Mexico, particularly from Honduras. They are not persistent or impolite, but it can make for an unpleasant experience when packing your groceries away.
I mostly ran into Mexicans begging outside Bodega (Walmart), Sams, and at the border. They sometimes blatantly ignored my requests to be left alone or not to touch my truck. No is recognizable in just about every language, especially when it’s accompanied by head shaking and a stern expression. Even more so when no means the same in Spanish!
MY VERDICT: While I was in Mexico, I really hated grocery shopping because of the haggling and begging. But, on my very first grocery trip back in the U.S., there was someone waiting outside the store with their hands outstretched. So, this is not unique to Mexico. However, in Mexico, it was every time I went to the store, and that drove me nuts. If you’re from New York or Vegas, this might be normal to you. As a woman travelling solo, the last thing I want is strange men hanging around my truck and harassing me.
This might surprise you, but travel is my main gripe with Mexico. It is the number one reason I could never live there full-time. Mexico has a lot of great places to see and the country is much bigger than most Americans might expect. The problem is getting there.
When travelling in Mexico, there are a lot of military and police checkpoints. They check for fruits, vegetables, drugs, stolen vehicles, trafficked humans, and lord knows what else. They are professional and polite, but I can’t stand having my personal belongings repeatedly searched.
Some towns are also so volatile that you shouldn’t drive through as a foreigner. I once wanted to visit a town 5 hours away. One local puzzled it with me and could not find a safe route. Recently, another Mexican took a look and told me I would need to cross back into Arizona and head down through another border crossing to avoid volatile areas.
MY VERDICT: If you aren’t planning on traveling across states and towns in Mexico, you’ll be just fine. You can fly to the town or city of your choice, drive to Baja California or just head to Rocky Point. There are established safety corridors to and from these areas. I would also like to say that the entire 5 months I was there, I had no incidents of crime, violence, or hostility. In other words, I have experienced more hostility in America, from Americans, than I have from Mexican locals. Countless incidents in America; zero in Mexico.
I’m not sure who I distrust more: Mexican police officers or American police officers. I will say I have no fear of being shot or otherwise harmed by the police in Mexico. I have had several interactions with them and all have been polite.
I did, however, get a ticket for running an amber light. The police officer claimed I ran a red light. When I showed him my dashcam, he changed stories and said, “Red means stop. Yellow means stop. Only green means go.” I paid $50 for the ticket at the police station. After driving in three countries, this is the only ticket I’ve ever gotten in my life.
There was also one incident in Mexicali where a police officer trailed my FJ Cruiser with the high beams on. I had risked a late-night trip to the airport to get my stranded parents and he saw me just as I drove by. You can watch the incident in this YouTube video. However, this is partially my fault. You’re supposed to be off the road by nightfall, and obviously, I wasn’t. I went to get my stranded parents at around 12:30 AM.
MY VERDICT: I find the Mexican police annoying at best. None of them threatened me or made me feel unsafe. Even while they tore my FJ Cruiser apart looking for drugs, they were so polite you couldn’t even be as mad as you wanted to be. I’ve also been told that my fancy truck looks like it’s either a drug mule or I’m a rich Cali girl with daddy’s money to spend.
I experienced no racism in my everyday life in Mexico. Mexicans didn’t stare at me and I didn’t feel like I was treated any differently because of the colour of my skin. However, whenever I had my dad with me, any checkpoints I breezed through on my own, we got stopped at and searched. We joked about it at first, but it happened consistently. That said, they were still incredibly polite and professional during these searches.
While I experienced no racism from Mexicans in my everyday life, the Arizonans there was another story. They sometimes stared at me at restaurants or while I was out minding my business. The looks were sometimes hostile; as if to say: what is SHE doing here? The first time, I felt sure I must have imagined it. Then, the guy I was out with pointed it out too. Aside from staring and sometimes being really awkward, however, no one did anything.
That said, most of the other Americans were nice. If anything, I would say most of them were curious. Was I really travelling by myself in Mexico? What did I do for work? How long had I been in the country? Did I plan to return to America?
MY VERDICT: I spent most of my time in Mexico at Rocky Point, otherwise known as “Arizona’s beach”. I’m sure the experience is much different in Baja California and Baja California Sur where most of the Americans there are from California. Why is this relevant? California and New England are the only regions I have been to in America where I haven’t had any racial incidents or racial awkwardness. I’m sure other people might report different experiences, but those are mine.
The American Men
The U.S. ex-pat community in Rocky Point is extremely small. It is also almost exclusively older retirees. The friends I had there ranged from about 50 to 80 years old. Needless to say, I was the youngest U.S. ex-pat and the men could not let me forget it.
In one of my YouTube videos, I talked about how one of them sabotaged my rooftop tent delivery after I turned down his advances. What I didn’t have time to share in the video was that I also saw myself saved in his phone as ALEX HOT [Fire Emoji]. This guy was so old, he was bald with liver spots in his head, and had that “old people shake”. The last time I saw him, he was staring at my chest so badly that a gentle breeze would have sent him sprawling.
American men also constantly felt the need to try to touch me or invade my personal space. And, of course, being from Arizona, most of them weren’t wearing masks and were not vaccinated. Eventually, I stopped going out to places alone and narrowed my circle down to three people. I developed a reputation as a recluse and eccentric because of that and was better off for it.
MY VERDICT: American men did not seem to bother married women as much. The married American men were also extremely well-behaved, even when their wives were not present. The men are not the only culprits, though. I once saw teenage girls groping a male waiter while their parents looked on and did nothing. Essentially, Black and brown people are often there for American amusement and satisfaction, whether we sign up for it or not.
That said, not all of them are bad apples. The American men in Mexico were also the first to invite me offroading. No one in America ever has or ever followed through. Also, for better or worse, I think the freer culture in Mexico made it easier for them to say, hey, let’s take that FJ out to the dunes! than if I was a stranger in America. And, obviously, I had friends I was so close with that I slept at their house in Phoenix while travelling to and from Atlanta.
I’d like to end things on a positive note, so let’s talk about the view. Mexico is a beautiful country, but not all of it is. The border cities were full of traffic, dust, dirt, and garbage. However, Rocky Point, La Paz, Rosarita, and several other locations get rave reviews for their beauty.
Rocky Point is a Mexican version of Yuma, in my opinion. It could use a facelift for sure. But, walk out to the beach and nothing else matters. The sunset was remarkably beautiful every evening, without fail.
After a while, Rocky Point’s rustic look grew on me. It was no Cozumel, but it was home. I’m sure some parts of Jamaica have the same effect on U.S. expats who move there.
MY VERDICT: The beautiful sunsets on the beach are one of the things I will miss most about Mexico. Consequently, for my very last evening in Mexico, I made sure I got a good taste of it.
The Final Verdict
I had an amazing time in Mexico and met some amazing people. While adjusting, I never had to look far for help. Mexican locals and most U.S. ex-pats did not hesitate to offer advice: from where to find a dentist to a spot to send my mail. It is an especially attractive alternative to America when you consider the cost. However, the restrictions on domestic Mexican travel and the horny old American men are the top reasons I don’t think I could live there full-time.