I’m a 37-year-old early retiree, hobbyist blogger, and travel coach from the USA… and on January 20, 2023, I was conditionally approved for temporary residency in Mexico. In short, this is a green card to stay in Mexico long-term, past the time frame allowable to tourists (it has nothing to do with citizenship, passports, or voting).
And while I’m (partially) rejoicing now, it’s been a saga months in the making.
Do you want to retire in Mexico? Find out what it takes!
But first, the backstory: Why I’m moving to Mexico
I LOVED the six months I spent traveling around Mexico in the first half of 2022, just me and my dog, driving across 10 states, spanning 8,000 kilometers, visiting big cities and charming “pueblos magicos” (magic towns). Some favorite spots: Mexico City, Oaxaca, Puerto Vallarta, Miguel de Allende, and the waterfall region of Huasteca Potosina… but who could choose a favorite?!
I’m single, I’m 37, and I’m moving to Mexico — with no Hispanic roots, and only a working knowledge of Spanish — but in this country that neighbors mine to the south, I feel a sense of home, peace, and wonder. (Oh, and I’ve never felt unsafe.)
During my six months in Mexico, I documented my journey, all that I was learning and experiencing, and how I was falling in love with the country on my blog and social media channels. My content reached a lot of new eyes — from Mexicans in Mexico, to Mexican-Americans in the states, to expats who were already living in Mexico, to Westerners who wanted to live or travel indefinitely in Mexico!
I received comments such as, “I’m Mexican, and I love seeing Mexico through your eyes!” and “I live in Texas now but I was born in Mexico, and you’re making me nostalgic for my country!” Others said, in a reaction to all the places I had been and seen (to which I laughed), “You’re more Mexican than I am!” or even, “Your dog Penny is more Mexican than I am!” And there were even people with homes in Mexico who opened up their doors to me to stay — an invitation of which I was extremely touched. It’s really no surprise to me that the phrase “mi casa es su casa” is in Spanish.
Given that I’m a nomad, and nomads are, by definition, wanderers who do not stay in one place for too long… I also received the inevitable comment: “Why Mexico for six months?! Why not go somewhere else too? Aren’t there a lot of other countries you could visit?” — of which I felt a little defensive.
I find Mexico to be one of the most naturally beautiful, and culturally and historically rich countries in the world. Each city and region is different, and there’s so much to explore. I love the easygoing way of life, the language, the hospitable people, the flavorful food, and the way it opens up my eyes and my appreciation for something that is different from what I’m used to.
(And also, it’s close enough to my family who is in the U.S., but it’s not the U.S. The U.S. is not all that it’s cracked up to be.)
When my 180-day tourist permit came to an end in June, I knew I would come back. And I planned to get temporary residency so I could stay in Mexico beyond 180 days a year, if I so chose.
So I went back to the states, and started to collect everything I needed to fulfill the requirements. However, I ran into a laundry list of snags.
But first, what are Mexico’s visa requirements in 2023?
While Mexico doesn’t have a “digital nomad” visa, they do have a temporary (and permanent) residency visa available for people who want to spend more than 180 days in Mexico at a time.
This blog is just about my experience and should not be taken as immigration advice. As requirements change, and vary slightly by location, consult your nearest consulate or other reliable online publishers for up-to-date information relevant for your situation and specific to your nationality.
The economic solvency thresholds increase every year, and are derived from calculations of Mexico’s “minimum daily wage.” In 2023, in the most simple terms, Mexican temporary residency applicants must have one of the following:
- Monthly income of ~$3.2K USD over the last 6-12 months
- Savings/investments of at least ~$54K USD over the last 6-12 months
- Own a house in Mexico or make a capital investment in Mexico
While it may look doable for a lot of Americans on paper, the devil is in the details.
My dramatic temporary residency application and approval experience
To cut a very long story short (and much removed for clarity)…
- In September, I followed the directions a consulate employee had given me over email… but the process had recently changed, an important detail omitted in our email communique.
- I was not able to get an appointment in October, in the time frame that I originally was told I could expect, and was unable to get an appointment during several months of attempts.
- Once I finally got an appointment (December 5), I learned of another “requirement”: that my statements be wet-signed, stamped and dated by a representative of the financial institution, and I was sent home and rescheduled for the 21st.
- The Fidelity office near me (I both called and stopped in) would not sign or stamp their statements, and they directed me to make a special request by mail to see if anything could be done for me.
- I made a special request by mail to have wet-signed month-end statements for June-November. The request was approved, but the letters didn’t arrive to me until late December.
- The consulate asked to move my December 21 appointment to January 9.
- On January 9, I went to my appointment, but since it had been rescheduled, I didn’t have time to get the appropriate signed letter from Fidelity for the month of December. The consulate again sent me home and rescheduled me for the 20th of January.
- I contacted Fidelity and requested another signed letter for December. I called them four times in one week.
- I still didn’t have the letter on January 19 — Fidelity said it was in the mail — so I went into the Fidelity office near me. They finally saw my panic, printed the letter and signed it. My interview was just 16 hours away.
Conditions met, I went to the consulate, delivered all the paperwork, answered questions, and had my photo taken. My visa was finally pre-approved! And, oh my god, bureaucraZY!
It sounds like a case for persistence, and cause for rejoicing, doesn’t it? We’re not all the way to the finish line yet, if you can believe it. There are several things that need to happen once I get to Mexico City to finalize the process (ayiyiyi). TO BE CONTINUED on that front. (FEBRUARY 1, 2023 UPDATE HERE!)
And while the 2 1/2 months I spent stateside trying to get paperwork and appointments were not originally on the agenda, they meant I could spend a concentrated amount of time with my family… and for that, I am SO grateful.
Nothing great in life is that easy, and nothing easy in life is that great. I have a newfound appreciation for all those in the world trying to obtain legal residency in a country other than where they’re born, and when all is said and done, victory will be oh so much sweeter. The adventure continues! ❤️