After studying 22 countries with sizable retirement communities, International Living (a consultancy group) rated Mexico as the fourth most attractive country for foreigners to retire to in 2013, after Ecuador, Panama and Malaysia. The study looked at eight factors: real estate, benefits for retired people, cost of living, integration, entertainment, health, infrastructure and climate.
According to the US Census Bureau, there are 41 million people of retirement age in the USA. More than half of them have annual incomes of between 70,000 and 150,000 dollars, and they are expected, on average, to live to the age of 83; 80% are home owners. This number will swell to 72.8 million by 2030, 40% of whom may have difficulties maintaining their previous lifestyles during retirement. Given its proximity, this makes Mexico an attractive destination for many baby-boomers seeking a comfortable retirement lifestyle.
But where in Mexico will these retirees choose to live?
According to this analysis by the consultancy Aregional, there are 36 specific areas in Mexico where the real estate market is targeting US baby boomers seeking a place to retire. About half of these locations (see map) are in central and western Mexico. Locations in these regions include Guanajuato and San Miguel de Allende (both in the state of Guanajuato), Colima, Comala and Manzanillo (Colima); Chapala, Ajijic and Puerto Vallarta (Jalisco); and Nuevo Vallarta and Punta Mita (Nayarit).
Locations in northern Mexico important for retiree real estate include Rosarito, Ensenada and Los Algodones (Baja California); Los Cabos, La Paz and Loreto (Baja California Sur); Puerto Peñasco (Sonora) and Mazatlán (Sinaloa). [Kudos to RickS for noticing that Puerto Peñasco is not located very accurately!]
Retiree real estate is also prominent in several places in the south and south-east of Mexico, including Acapulco and Punta Ixtapa (Guerrero); Huatulco (Oaxaca); Playa del Carmen and Cancún (Quintana Roo); Puerto Progreso (Yucatán), as well as the cities of Campeche and Veracruz.
It is not known how many US retirees have already chosen to live in Mexico. While it is relatively easy to quantify the number of retiree tourists (those staying more than one night, but less than six months), it is impossible to accurately quantify the number of non-working, non-Mexicans who have chosen to relocate full-time to Mexico. Technically, these “residential tourists” are not really tourists at all but longer-term migrants holding residency visas.
Residential tourists already form a very distinct group in several Mexican towns and cities, with lifestyle needs and spending patterns that are very different from those of regular tourists. Their additional economic impact is believed to exceed $500 million a year.
A case study of residential tourism, and its pros and cons, in Chapala-Ajijic on the northern shore of Lake Chapala is an integral part of chapter 19 of Geo-Mexico: the geography and dynamics of modern Mexico.
Posts related to retirees in Mexico:
- How many foreigners live in Mexico, and where do they live? (May 2011)
- Drug war death trends in areas of interest to foreign tourists and retirees (Mar 2012)
- The perfect book about San Miguel de Allende for the armchair traveler
- Are these the 101 most beautiful small towns in Mexico?