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Mexico remains ideal for retirees

February 24, 2012

Many Reporter readers will already know this but now it’s official: Mexico is one of the best places on earth to retire.

Last month, financial news website “The Daily Reckoning” ranked Mexico as the world’s third best destination in its annual retirement index.

The list of the top 19 retirement destinations was compiled over several months, based on a modest budget of less than 2,000 dollars a month. Each country was evaluated in eight categories: real estate, special retirement benefits, cost of living, ease of integration, entertainment and amenities, health care, retirement infrastructure and climate.

Latin America featured prominently on the list, with 12 of the top 19 destinations. Ecuador came first with a score of 91.1 out of 100, while Panama was second with 90.4.

Thanks to its pleasant year-round climate and the low costs of health care and real estate, Mexico scored 89.6, proving that it remains a highly desirable place to live, despite recent U.S. travel warnings.

A report by the National Institute of Geography and Statistics (INEGI) revealed that as of 2010 there were 961,121 foreigners living permanently in Mexico. Of these, 738,103 (76.8 percent) were from the United States, while 7,943 (0.8 percent) were from Canada.

The state of Jalisco, including the hubs of Chapala and Ajijic, is home to around 50,000 North American expatriates, the largest colony of retired Canadians and Americans in Mexico. In addition, many non-permanent “snowbirds” regularly spend the winter months in the area.

Other popular destinations among U.S. and Canadian retirees include Baja California, San Miguel de Allende, Cuernavaca, Oaxaca, Merida, Mazatlan and the greater Puerto Vallarta area.

Most Americans “chose Mexico for retirement due to its proximity to the United States and its affordability relative to other U.S. retirement destinations,” found an International Community Foundation report on “U.S. Retirement Trends in Mexican Coastal Communities” from March 2010.

Nearly 75 percent of those surveyed said the cost of living was a major factor in their decision to retire to Mexico. Despite spending less here, most feel their quality of life is actually higher than in the United States.

The survey showed safety issues were a concern to 46 percent of retirees and 66 percent cited drug violence as an important public policy issue to retirees in Mexico. But only seven percent said security concerns have reduced the frequency or duration of their trips to Mexico, while 60 percent have not changed their attitude to personal safety since moving to Mexico.

See the full table here.

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