But I’m not running away. I’m running toward… toward adventure, toward discovery, toward diversity. And while I was in Mexico I discovered something intriguing: Once I leave the U.S., I am not bound by the rules of my culture. And when I am a foreigner in another country, I am exempt from the local rules. This extraordinary situation means that there are no rules in my life. I am free to live by the standards and ideals and rules I create for myself.
Rita Golden Gelman
Owning Property in Mexico
Contrary to most Americans’ beliefs, you can own property in Mexico. Your rights, as a foreigner, are fairly like those in the US, in most of the interior of Mexico. Within thirty miles of the water and sixty miles of the border, you need to buy properties through a fideicomiso.
Fideicomisos are bank-held trusts (not a lease) usually lasting either fifty and ninety-nine years. When fideicomisos are properly executed, they are straightforward documents that spell out the terms of the trust’s renewal, the responsibilities, and the rights of your successors to inherit the property. You will be required to pay an annual fee to a bank of around $500 to maintain the fideicomiso. (I pay Banco Monex $540 a year for my fideicomiso).
The rules of fideicomisos are constantly changing, so you are advised to do some additional research into current laws before buying your property. (A good notario, or attorney, is essential in all real estate transactions and should be knowledgeable about the current laws).
Getting a Mexican Residency
It is relatively easy to get a Mexican residency for US and Canadians. You are required to have around $2,200 a month to get a temporary residency in Mexico (or $35,700 in a bank account) and $3540 a month to become a permanent resident (or $141,700 in a bank.
The application process begins at a Mexican consulate in the US. In January 2019, I got my temporary residency without much difficulty at the consulate in Boston (based on my investment account balances). I have heard that may be more difficult to get interviews during the Coronavirus epidemic. (I was able to get my visa in Boston, even though my official US address is California).
Once you obtain your residency visa from the Mexican consulate in Canada or the US, you then have to complete the application process from the Mexican Instituto de Migracíon (in Spanish) near where you live in Mexico. My experience is that the process for a temporary residency for four years will cost between $600 and $2000 depending on if you use someone to help you with the process. Fortunately, at least the Instituto de Migracíon in Mérida is much more efficient then in the past.