Can You Afford to Retire In Mexico On Your Social Security? - Mexico Relocation Guide (2024)

Can You Afford to Retire In Mexico On Your Social Security? - Mexico Relocation Guide (1)

You might plan to start pulling from your Social Security benefits soon. And if you’re considering retiring in Mexico, you might wonder how you can afford to retire with social security alone.

To help you determine if this is possible, I’ll highlight how you can join the thousands of retired ex-pats living in Mexico on social security alone. I will cover what type of lifestyle you can expect, how to qualify for residency, planning for healthcare, and some watch-outs that can eat into your fixed income.

Because there are many different social security benefit amounts, I think it’s important to establish an average. According to US News, AARP, and many other publications, the average social security check is USD $1,800 in 2023 You might never be able to retire on that in the U.S. However, considering Mexico’s lower cost of living, retiring in Mexico is absolutely doable!

Let me explain…


Yes, you can absolutely live in Mexico for $1800/month. Many people already do it. The trick is having and sticking to a budget.

You’ll have to set a realistic budget for a rental, health insurance, groceries, eating out, transportation, and entertainment. You’ll probably have to shop at mercados or farmer’s markets instead of big-box grocery stores to buy fresh produce.

You should also expect to take public transportation instead of buying or owning a vehicle. In Mexico, gasoline costs $4-$5 a gallon or $83-$95 pesos a gallon. However, most people do fine getting around on public transportation or foot, especially in smaller cities like Ajijic or San Miguel de Allende.

I’d also like to point out that some cities like Ajijic, Puerto Vallarta, and San Miguel de Allende tend to be more expensive than other very similar cities.

But if you look at rentals from word of mouth or by exploring the city and finding “se renta” signs, you are more likely to find the best rentals in Mexico. Another advantage of living in SMA or Ajijic is the weather and the savings on your electric bill. Hardly anyone in these cities has air conditioning or heating. That alone can save you 100 dollars or more monthly on heating or cooling costs than coastal towns.

What’s even better is that not only will you be able to afford to retire in Mexico, but in most cases, you can even hire some services that seem almost like a luxury back home. In Mexico, we hire a housecleaner who comes 2x/a week for less than $15/a day and a gardener who comes once a month for less than $20.

Our cleaning lady helps us clean, wash clothes, fold and put away clothes and also cooks on occasion. She is lovely and very reliable. But more importantly, I don’t have to do it. And when you retire here, you won’t have to either if it fits your budget.

Learn How to Move to Mexico and Have a Better Life for Less! Check out our Complete Mexico Relocation Guide.

Cost of Living

To give you an idea of just how you can stay within a $1800/month budget, here is a quick breakdown for someone living in Ajijic/Chapala Jalisco:

  • 2 Bed 2 Bath Condo. $800/Month. It is fully furnished and has a community pool, BBQ area, and plenty of green space to sunbathe.
Can You Afford to Retire In Mexico On Your Social Security? - Mexico Relocation Guide (2)
  • Utilities (electric, water, and gas) $30/Month
  • Groceries for 1 Person: $300/Month
  • Mexico Only Health Insurance $150/Month
  • Taxis/Ubers/Didi $50/Month
  • Public Transportation: $40/Month
  • 30High-speed Internet (50Mbps+) : $25/Month
  • Restaurants (eating out 2x/week) $200/Month
  • Entertainment: (movies, theater, or similar) $100/Month
  • Savings (setting money aside for big emergencies) $125
  • TOTAL :$1820/MONTH

You can see that not only is it possible to live on about $1,800/month in Mexico, but you can actually live very comfortably! And keep in mind this is a budget in Ajijic, one of Mexico’s more expensive cities especially for housing.

I also noted that setting some money aside each month for emergencies is important.

For example, you should always try to set some money aside each month for those unexpected things like getting dental work done. Or perhaps you might need to plan for a big trip back home to visit family. Either way, having some savings is necessary and smart.

If you’d like more examples of other people’s expenses while living in Mexico, check out this interview with Sue and Paul in Huatulco. Or check out how April and her family of 4 live on less than $2,000 dollars a month.

Residency Income Requirements

And now that you’ve worked out your budget, you might be getting excited knowing that you can afford to retire on your social security income! But there’s one caveat. $1,800/Month isn’t enough for the Mexican Immigration Government to grant you a resident visa. So I’ll cover how you can qualify further on.

(Find out what the income requirements are for residency in Mexico, by consulate)

And every Mexican consulate has different income requirements to apply. I don’t understand it either, but that’s how things are.

Some Mexican Consulates will grant you a temporary resident visa with as little as $3,500/month in income or $57,000 in savings. Some Mexican consulates (for example, Austin, Texas- require you to have more than $4,100/month in income or more than $65,000 in savings. So it’s a big range.

Most Current Income Requirements for Residency

To add a bit of complexity to the process, some consulates require you to be over 65 to apply for permanent residency. I guess they assume that only people over 65 can afford to retire.

So what happens if your social security benefit doesn’t meet the minimum requirements for you to obtain residency in Mexico? Well, most people rely on their savings to prove financial independence. That means that if you’re one of the people whose social security benefit is less than the minimum requirement at the consulate nearest you, then you’ll have to start beefing up your savings account.

Here is a list of all Mexican Consulates and Embassies around the world. Each one should have their income requirements for residency.

A Few Money Saving Tips

Can You Afford to Retire In Mexico On Your Social Security? - Mexico Relocation Guide (3)

One thing you don’t want to do is move to Mexico and end up eating into all your savings because you didn’t plan for some expenses. So here are a few watch-outs that can surprise you and your wallet.

  • Rent! Don’t buy. Buying real estate in Mexico can be enticing, but I highly suggest renting for at least 6 months. If you don’t like your area, you can easily pack up and go to a different area when you rent. If you own your home, this is less possible.
  • Rent BELOW Your Budget– When you rent at the very top of your budget, you’re vulnerable to changes in the currency exchange rates. To avoid being accidentally priced out of budget if the peso gains strength, try to rent below your budget.
  • Sell your car before moving. Owning a car in Mexico has become increasingly more expensive with time. Gasoline costs keep increasing, and public transportation is cheap and readily available. Most cities have a mixture of residential and commercial. Therefore, most neighborhoods are walkable and easy to navigate.
  • Only bring what you need! Hiring a moving company to bring your things to Mexico can be very expensive, and in most cases, rentals come furnished. So, it’s always better to downsize and start fresh. You’ll be able to find everything you need in Mexico, don’t worry.
  • Buy local health insurance. Most retirees coming to Mexico are surprised when they get sick with a costly illness and don’t have insurance. At the very least, I highly recommend buying local health insurance that will cover you in Mexico. Yes, healthcare in Mexico is very affordable in most cases. But if you end up needing chemotherapy, dialysis, or major surgery the costs can quickly add up if you are paying out of pocket.
  • Always save some money. Having a fixed income for the rest of your life can be very liberating and you can live on without worry! But setting some of that income aside for an emergency is still a good idea. That way, you’re not forced to take out a loan or use a credit card with a high interest rate.

Get our Free Email Series About Living and Retiring in Mexico! Learn more.

So Why Wait?

I know many people who worked their whole lives and saved as much as they could afford, only to find out they’ll never be able to retire. When they start budgeting their lives without their normal income and counting on social security alone, they quickly realize they can’t afford to work. Most of these people are in their 60s, and the thought of working another ten years seems depressing.

Can You Afford to Retire In Mexico On Your Social Security? - Mexico Relocation Guide (4)

But luckily, there’s a way! And if your social security alone doesn’t give you enough income for you to be able to retire in Mexico comfortably. In that case, you can always count on a few side hustles like teaching English online, remote customer service jobs, or other online part-time opportunities that can help you fund your freedom overseas.

One of the silver linings Covid brought to our modern world is the need for remote workers. Many companies are realizing that remote employees are just as efficient as in-person workers.

Finding Jobs Online- Tips Digital Nomads Need

The same companies realize they can save a lot of money on overhead without needing a big, expensive office. Luckily for you, that means more and more opportunities to continue a job from anywhere in the world!

The point is you only have one life. It isn’t a dress rehearsal, and you’ll never regret having worked more on your deathbed. If you want to learn more about living, traveling, and the cost of living in Mexico, check out my other blog posts here.

Can You Afford to Retire In Mexico On Your Social Security? - Mexico Relocation Guide (2024)


Can You Afford to Retire In Mexico On Your Social Security? - Mexico Relocation Guide? ›

Retire In Mexico On Social Security

How much money do I need to retire in Mexico? ›

What is the average cost to retire in Mexico? The big question for many people considering retiring in Mexico surrounds the cost. The good news is it's estimated that $2,500 per month for one couple would afford a very comfortable lifestyle, covering your home, transport, and private health insurance.

Can I still collect Social Security if I move to Mexico? ›

If you leave the U.S., we will stop your benefits the month after the sixth calendar month in a row that you are outside the country. You can make visits to the United States for specific periods of time, depending on how long you've been outside, to continue receiving your benefits.

Where is the best place to retire in Mexico on a budget? ›

Mexico's affordability, pleasant weather and established expat communities make it a popular retirement destination for Americans. The best places for retirees in Mexico are Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo, Lake Chapala, Los Cabos, Playa del Carmen, Puerto Vallarta and San Miguel de Allende.

What is the 5 year rule for Social Security? ›

The Social Security five-year rule is the time period in which you can file for an expedited reinstatement after your Social Security disability benefits have been terminated completely due to work.

How much money do you need to get permanent residency in Mexico? ›

Residency in Mexico Through Monthly Income

If you are applying for residency in Mexico using your monthly income to fulfill the financial criteria, you have to ensure that your monthly income is at least USD $4,350 for temporary residency and USD $7,300 for permanent residency.

How much money do I need to move to Mexico? ›

Most Americans who make a good income in the US can live comfortably in this country, especially when you consider that the average cost of living in Mexico entails a budget of $600 to $2,000!

Will I lose my SSI if I move to Mexico? ›

If you are a U.S. citizen, you may receive your Social Security payments outside the U.S. as long as you are eligible for them.

How long can you live outside the U.S. without losing Social Security? ›

Luckily, there is no time limit on how long you can live outside the U.S. and still receive monthly Social Security payments.

Will I lose my SSDI if I move to Mexico? ›

The Social Security Administration will likely continue your checks when you are abroad if you are a U.S. citizen and: You qualify for disability based on your own work record. You live in an approved country.

What is the safest town in Mexico for Americans to live in? ›

The city in Mexico considered the safest with the lowest crime rate is Merida, located in Yucatan. This is also one of the most affordable cities in Mexico, making it a popular destination for retirees and expats. Merida's low crime rate makes it an excellent choice for visiting and living in.

Can I buy a house for 100k in Mexico? ›

The typical home value in Mexico as of February 2022 is USD128,009. You can expect this number to go up every year. You can find a house in the Pacific coast or down south in Mexico for $100,000 or more. For $100,000, you can get a small house or villa outside of popular coastal towns and outside of tourist hotspots.

What is the safest place to retire in Mexico? ›

Oaxaca. One of the safest and cheapest states to retire in Mexico is Oaxaca. Oaxaca City, in particular, offers retirees the best of both worlds — an abundance of big-city amenities combined with the inviting charm of a small-town atmosphere.

Is 1 million enough to retire in Mexico? ›

The annual cost of living in laid-back Playas del Coco equates to roughly $31,600, so $1 million would last about 26 years. The historic center of San Miguel de Allende is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This beautiful, historic city has a large American expat and retiree community, so it's easy to form new friendships.

Can I retire in Mexico on $1500 a month? ›

In America, a typical retiree spends $4,345 on average, whereas the cost of living in Mexico for a single person can vary between $600 to $2,000 a month. Many expats report living comfortably in many areas of Mexico for $1,500 a month as well. The country can be pretty easy to live in.

Where do most Americans retire in Mexico? ›

With daily flights from many U.S. destinations, it's no wonder Puerto Vallarta remains one of Mexico's most popular places to live and retire.


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