Retiring abroad: ¡Bienvenidos a Ajijic!

For most Americans, retirement means kicking off their work shoes for the last time and spending their senior years at home relaxing, pursuing hobbies, and spoiling the grandchildren.  But for some, it means selling off their belongings, pulling up their roots, and moving overseas.

According to the Social Security Administration, just under 400,000 seniors have expatriated, choosing to spend retirement in Germany, Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, and Japan just to name a few.  And the number has steadily increased since 2010.

Among one of the most popular places for Americans, Canadians, and Britons to retire abroad is Mexico.

For several years, Mexico has ranked among the top ten best places for an expat to retire.  In fact, just a week ago, International Living ranked Mexico #2 on their yearly top ten international retirement destinations.

What makes Mexico so appealing to retirees from so many countries?  Well, just about everything, it turns out: spectacular scenery, wonderful weather, affordable cost-of-living, quality healthcare, amazing food, and a culture that shows seniors a tremendous amount of respect given the significance of their role in the family.

One town in particular has all of these qualities and more, attracting thousands of expat retirees from across the world.  Ajijic (pronounced “ah-hee-heek”) is a town of about 15,000 residents in the central Mexican state of Jalisco.

Ajijic sits on the north shore of Lake Chapala, the largest freshwater lake in Mexico, surrounded by the Sierra Madre Mountains.

Owing to the geography of the area, the climate is among some of the most pleasant in the entire world.  Year-round temperatures typically hover between the mid-seventies to mid-eighties, with most rains falling either in the evening or during the night, making for predictably lush, green, sunny days.

When it comes to the #1 concern most retirees have in the States–keeping costs low on a fixed income–seniors can stretch their savings and income much farther in Mexico. Currently, one U.S. dollar is the equivalent of roughly 20 Mexican pesos.

For between $175,000 and $250,000, an American retiree can purchase a more than comfortable home with three bedrooms and three bathrooms.  And if you’re just looking to rent, a retired couple can get a nice one bedroom apartment for around $500 per month (including all of your utilities).

Medical expenses are greatly reduced in Mexico compared to the United States.  Retirees in Mexico have to worry far less about being able to afford frequent trips to the doctor.

For world-class treatment in nearby Guadalajara, you’d only pay around $40 for a doctor visit, $75 for a mammogram, $215 for a CT scan, and $50 to visit a neurologist.  Even a trip to the ICU only runs you about $1,500-$2,500 per day (compare that to as much as $10,000 for an ICU stay in the U.S.).

Add that to a colorful, tranquil environment, wonderful services for seniors–especially geared toward foreign retirees–and delicious, fresh, affordable food, and you get one of the most populated expat towns in the world and a fantastic place to live out your retirement.