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Independence Day! Americans, Californians defect to Mexico amid U.S. inflation

Our southern neighbor has become especially attractive to those fleeing California, already the second most expensive state to live in after Hawaii, due to high housing prices and rising crime

Celebración con fuegos artificiales el 4 de julio en el Rose Bowl de California en Pasadena
Celebración con fuegos artificiales el 4 de julio en el Rose Bowl de California en Pasadena | Ciudad de Pasadena

July 4, 2022 7:38am

Updated: July 4, 2022 10:04am

Most conversation around immigration between Mexico and the U.S. regards travel north but an increasing number of Americans are heading south looking for a relaxed, more affordable lifestyle.

Our southern neighbor has become especially attractive to those fleeing California, already the second most expensive state to live in after Hawaii, due to high housing prices and rising crime.

The median price of a home in California is about $797,470, which only a quarter of the state’s households could afford in Q4 2021.

California native Janet Blaser, a former journalist who now writes about expat living, told CNBC that she moved to Mazatlán in 2006 at age 50 after “years of living paycheck to paycheck.”

Blaser gave three tips to those considering making the move themselves.

The first is to do the research, but not so much that you get overwhelmed. She recommended reaching out to experts and those who have been living abroad for a while.

“Decide on a few primary sources of information so you don’t get bewildered by everything that’s out there. Ask every question, even if it seems silly or inconsequential,” Blaser said.

“And if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is,” she added, giving the myth of “free healthcare” in Mexico as an example.

The second tip was to have clarity on what one wanted of a “perfect location.”

“Mexico is a big country with lots of lifestyle options. Beach or mountains? House or apartment? Cosmopolitan city or small-town casual? These are just some of the decisions you’ll need to make when moving here,” she said.

The tip was to be patient and forgiving of yourself as you navigate new cultures and customs.

“A slower pace of life is part of the deal; learning patience is a necessity,” Blaser said.

“You learn to expect that you’re going to make mistakes, and the only way to learn and move forward is exactly that: Learn and move forward — with humility and a good sense of humor,” she added.

Around 800,000 Americans are living in Mexico, most of them Mexican-Americans who repatriated or travel back and forth, according to Ariel Ruiz Soto, an analyst at the Migration Policy Institute.

Critics say ex-pats are gentrifying the areas they are moving too, pricing out local Mexicans who are not paid in U.S. dollars.