You can not just waltz into Mexico and rent a home, stay for more than 180 days and call yourself a resident, well not legally that is. It takes paperwork and a little money and a whole lotta patience!!
Earlier this year (2012) the Mexican Government announced 2 major changes in their immigration program in order to become a Mexican Resident. First the income requirement were just about doubled from $1,200 a month to $2,300 a month. Second the process to apply MUST start outside the USA. The income also must come from outside of Mexico, so my USA Social Security qualifies in this regard.
The nitty-gritty: Keep in mind that whatever you are reading here and now has a good chance of being outdated at any time by the Mexican Government. In addition the person you are face to face with, either at your Mexican Consulate or Mexican immigration can really make or break what you are trying to accomplish. Thier mood can change from day to day.. and YOUR attitude can help things dramatically. First, TRY to at least say Buenos Dias and Holla when approaching the staff member, second- have ALL your document ready. ALL of them. Often times they need 4 copies of everything and guess what – they have no copy machine available to you.. so you will need these copies upon your arrival. Smile and be patient, do not appear in a hurry. After all, since you are retired what IS your big rush? Take a book, sit down relax and wait.
For the current rules on income, background checks etc etc please check HERE.
Now fast forward to today again and my surprise. I drove to the Consulate office and knew full well that my income was short but rationalized that “it would be just fine”. Crazy me. The 2 ladies at the front desk took a look at my income and it stopped right there.. no, I can not move to Mexico and I was basically handed my hat. So much for THAT dream. I sat in my car with the incredulous feeling and said out loud “oh great so my income isn’t even good enough to live in Mexico??!!”. I marched back in to the office.. and headed for a different area and spied a man in his 30’s that I felt I could appeal to. I began a conversation with him about my desire to live in Mexico and that surely my close to $2,000 monthly pension income would be sufficient in a practical sense. In an adjacent office I was aware of a man, well dressed, crisp white shirt who interrupted our conversation and in a really great Mexican accent asked “so you want to live in my country?” he introduced himself as the consul! He then invited me to Mexico and to return tomorrow and he would approve the application. Whewwwww.
Lesson learned: The Mexican consul has complete discretion as to who is approved and who is not. So if you are in in a similar quandary about your “lack” of income and you desire to move to any Third World country, don’t give up so easily..there are ways to make it happen! On the flip side, a high income and a poor attitude along with an ego the size of Mexico, you may not get to live in Mexico. Good luck to you all.