Retirement in Mérida Mexico – demystified!

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The thing you’ve worked for your entire life…well almost your entire life – retiring from work. Retirement might be in your near future and maybe you found this article because you were thinking about retirement in Mérida Mexico. Mexico is becoming increasingly popular for retirees. Here’s why . . . Warmer weather, lower cost of living, higher quality of life, and excellent healthcare are just a few of the many reasons, Mexico is on the top of the list.

The first time I visited Mérida I fell in love with it. I knew it was the home I was searching for and the new life I yearned to create for myself. Just three months after my initial visit, I chose to move here from Dallas, Texas.  There are so many reasons to love it. It’s easy to navigate around, once you know the layout of the city. You can live like a king, queen, prince, or princess or you may decide a simpler lifestyle suits you better.

This article was updated in August of 2023.

Retirement in Mérida Mexico – demystified!

For a complete breakdown of costs, see: Mérida Mexico on a Budget: Our Guide for the Best Tips

Relaxing retirement with a high-quality of life

The capital city of the semi-tropical Yucatan peninsula,  Mérida is home to almost a million people, of whom only an estimated 4,000 are expats. This magical location blends modern and historic; creating a beautiful landscape of both progress and development among the abundance of beautiful colonial buildings. Moreover, you will find plenty of first-rate leisure facilities such as museums, art galleries, restaurants, movie theaters, and fantastic shopping.

It’s worth noting . . .

To the south is an International Airport from where you can take direct flights to major cities in the US or Canada for those essential trips back home. To the north is the Gulf of Mexico for those essential trips to sandy shores and small beach towns. Mérida is somewhat isolated from the rest of Mexico by geography which has created a unique culture with its origins from the time of Mayan occupation and their resistance to conquistador attempts to eradicate them.

Mayan influence is evident everywhere in Mérida and can be seen, heard, and sampled in speech, dress, cuisine, music, and dance which is an integral part of day-to-day life.

Beyond that, with the number of English speaking expats being relatively small, the need to speak, or a have willingness to learn Spanish is greater than in other parts of Mexico. With that said, Merida has a lending library that stocks an extensive collection of books, videos, and tapes in English. Just imagine living in one of the safest cities in Mexico with low serious and violent crime rates.

Visas needed for retiring in Mexico

Naturally, retiring in any foreign country is different than retiring in the U.S. The first step is deciding what kind of visa is best for you. In the beginning, you may choose a tourist visa. The easiest choice, a tourist visa gives you the flexibility to try things out, get your bearings, and do preliminary research. This visa allows you to remain in the country for up to six months. After that, you will have to exit the country and then re-enter. Be warned: if you are a “perpetual visitor”, you may be questioned at the port of entry. Computerized systems make it easy for the immigration officials to have ready-access to your movements through Mexico.

Once you decide you might like to stay a little longer, it is better to apply for a temporary resident visa. How does it work? Based on financial solvency, you’ll apply for one year. If approved, you’ll renew for three more years for a total of four yeas. After four years, you are eligible for permanent residency. You may qualify for permanent residency first and not have to go the temporary route for four years.

Bottom line:  Qualifying for temporary or permanent depends upon the investments, income, savings, and assets you have for a given period of time. It is best to check the Mexperience website for up to date information.

Mérida offers a discount program for retirees


National Institute for Elderly Adults:  the INAPAM Program Mexicans have great respect for elderly generations. As such, the Mexican government creates special programs that reflect this respect. In other words . . .If you are over the age of 60 you are eligible for a discount card and the range of benefits that comes with it. If you are an INAPAM holder, it is always worth asking about your discount.

Namely, the discounts include:

  • Medications
  • Buse fare when you book in advance (ADO, etc.)
  • Movie tickets
  • Property tax
  • Entry to museums
  • Restaurants
  • Department stores
  • Water bills
  • And many, many more

Rent a house for one year before you buy

When relocating to a foreign country, it is best to try before you buy. Rent for a few months or a year; immerse yourself in everyday life before buying. I highly recommend using a service such as Airbnb and renting short term in different neighborhoods. There are numerous options for locations, styles, types, and other items you’d like to have on your list. You may even find renting is a better choice than having to deal with maintenance or if the neighborhood (or your neighbors) changes. This is a common occurrence with the amount of expat activity at this time.

Get a feel for different neighborhoods, the location of the markets, the healthcare providers, and other necessities in your chosen area. Renting provides the flexibility to change your environment in the event it is not conducive to your preferred lifestyle. Once you decide Mérida is a permanent option, you have the ability to purchase via a fideicomiso or bank trust. This is a safe way to buy a home and have access to homeownership rights.

High-quality healthcare and medical facilities are available

The following information is to help you further research healthcare options.

  • The Lancet is one of the most prestigious general medical journals. In 2018, The Lancet published a research paper that showed that healthcare quality and access grew significantly in Mexico from 1990 to 2016.
  • During the same period of time, Mexico’s Healthcare Access and Quality (HAQ) index rating rose from 45.5 to 66.3. The median HAQ value for all countries in 2016 was 63. The rating for the U.S. was 88.7.
  • According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, Mexico has experienced a steep drop in infant mortality, heart disease, and stroke in recent years.

But you’re probably wondering once you move countries, your healthcare plan may or may not be transferable. The great news is that there is a new state of the art hospital that caters to Americans and foreigners. AMEXCARE performs validation of insurance benefits in advance. It all boils down to this – There are lots of quality hospitals including government hospitals. You can find treatment for most ailments, diseases, and issues when you retire in Mérida. Notably, there are also wonderful dentists here too.

Accessibility to other countries with the ability to travel in Mexico

Notably, Manuel Crescencio Rejón International Airport has numerous airlines and options for flying all over the world. One of the biggest advantages of retiring in Mérida is access to the rest of Mexico. When in Mexico, do as the locals do and tour one of the most beautiful countries in the world. Fly to other destinations around the country and experience all the variety of food, artisanal crafts, archeological sites, and charm for an affordable cost. In addition, if traveling is part of your plan, retirement in Mérida Mexico might be the best decision you could make.

Find your tribe in Mérida from expats to locals

No matter what, there are times when you want to be around others who have a similar background and understand what it’s like to move to another country. You know the feeling – It helps to share stories, trials, and tribulations as part of the process. It’s soothing to find support when you run into the struggles of retiring, whether in a foreign country or at home.

One thing is for sure – It is common to feel lonely, out of place, or even sad. A new country, a new community, a new life means finding a new group of friends and support system. But the truth . . . You’ll also find an expat community in Mérida that encompasses several cultures. Take time and find the one that’s right for you:

Utilize your free time to get involved in the community

The bottom line is this, retirement means free time. One thing that will never happen with retirement in Mérida Mexico is boredom. Options, decisions, choices, activities, museums, tours, you name it….. A plethora of things to do await you! A good place to start is the Mérida English Library. Events, tours, and educational programs created to benefit ex-pats.

Behind the scenes secrets of retirement in Mérida

Everything takes more time

Plan for things to take extra time to accommodate traffic and unknown circumstances. Deliveries, including Amazon, are much different in Mérida.

Slower pace = higher quality of life

Let’s not forget, Mérida offers a slower pace and, of course, cultural differences. Retirement is about slowing down and adapting to a new way of life however now you are in a foreign country.

Patience, grasshopper

Be patient, ask questions, and seek help or assistance when you need it to avoid frustration. Here’s the secret . . . Manana can mean this morning, tomorrow, or not today.

People will say yes when they really mean no

The last thing Yucatecan people want to do is offend anyone. Be cognizant if you don’t get your answer quickly, you may be hearing yes when the real answer is no.

Plan your EDC or Every Day Carry

This involves keeping items that you need to take with you every day handy. The point is being prepared at all times will help you immensely.

Here’s my list:

  • A bottle of water
  • Travel size sunscreen
  • Travel size mosquito spray
  • A hat and/or umbrella
  • Phone charger
  • Pen and paper
  • A light sweater or wrap
  • Hand-sanitizer
  • Handkerchief

3 of the most dangerous things in Mérida

Heat – Plan accordingly with sunscreen, hat, or umbrella. You’ll be grateful to have a light wrap or sweater with you due to the change between the outside heat and the inside air-conditioning.
Mosquitos – Always carry repellent with you. A great trick I found is that hand-sanitizer takes the sting out of bites.
Sidewalks – Wear comfortable shoes, watch when stepping on and off of curbs. Don’t multitask or look down. Be aware of where you place your feet at all times.

Don’t try to duplicate your American experience

Mexicans value individual freedom and most are left to do as they please. This can make a refreshing change or be frustrating depending on the situation. Even if you have residency, you are still a visitor. So (1) Be polite (2) Be a good neighbor (3) Think before complaining.

Interesting and little known facts

  1. Did you know Mexico has the largest population of U.S. ex-pats anywhere in the world?  Many retirees focus on beach living or small, local destinations.
  2. Mérida is a hidden gem for numerous reasons. It is a big city with a small-town feel. If you don’t know by now, Mérida is a well-kept secret.
  3. Shopping and travel are at a premium.
  4. Mérida has one of the lowest crime rates in Mexico.
  5. Mérida is clean, has a low level of pollution, and has an ever-increasing amount of benefits that will increase your quality of life.
  6. If constant air conditioning, a large house, or a big property are your preferences, be prepared to spend a little more than the examples provided.

In truth – Every year more and more expats choose to retire in Mérida. Just remember, exact costs will depend on how you want to live in your retirement years. If you’re willing to live like a local and sacrifice some luxuries, you won’t need an exorbitant amount of money.

Final Thoughts on Retirement in Mérida Mexico

By now, you’ll have realized why Mérida is becoming popular with retirees. Where else can you find a picturesque location with beautifully maintained colonial buildings, cobblestone streets along with museums, art galleries, and archeological sites to explore? Retirement offers many advantages, most of all free time. Most people have planned for and anticipated retirement for many years.

Here’s how ridiculously easy it is . . . When you consider places to retire and socialize with other expats, you’ll find plenty of options. Consider retirement in Mérida Mexico; a spacious and tranquil city, free of overcrowding found in other destinations in Mexico. Wouldn’t you like to retire in a location that is beautiful and tranquil that offers arts, gastronomy, entertainment, and culture with fabulous beaches close by? If you answered yes, consider Mérida the top place in the world for retirees. That’s all that really matters.