Making a move is a step by step process. Like walking down a path, it generally has a beginning and it has an end. The FAQ's in this section are ordered with that in mind. We try to address questions in order of importance when making a move to another country. If you have a question that has not made it onto this section as of yet then please email us and we will be happy to get with you on it ASAP. Here goes......

Is it safe to live in Mexico? Is it safe to live in Merida and the Yucatan as a whole?
- I think this is something that Americans and Canadians have questions on right now. That is why I start with this: Safety. I run into Americans and Canadians from time to time in various places: The gym, Costco, McDonalds, Home Depot............you name it, expats can be found at the usual places here in Mexico. Conversation usually goes the same way: 1) How long have you been here, 2) Where do you live, 3) How do you like it?....Pretty basic questions to get things started. And conversation usually always turns to issues like Safety, Cost of living, the global economy, family up north, ....so on and so forth. The one thing that all expats here seem to feel the same about is the safety issue.

The Yucatan seems very safe. The entire peninsula feels safe, especially Merida and its surrounding areas. I go jogging about three times a week about 30 minutes before it gets dark. I see women and men out running and walking by themselves all the time. Children are playing in the parks. Federal, state and local police are all over the place. Everyone here seems to feel very safe and secure. When you talk to locals about their city they will tell you there is no crime here. I'm sure some cashier in some store here is taking money out of the till somewhere if you know what I mean. But there are no shootings here, no noticable crime. You just don't see it. That's my take. I would feel safer here than I would in Detroit, Philadelphia, or some parts of Los Angeles or Oakland.
How much does it cost to live in Merida or other areas of the Yucatan?
 - If you own a home down here it should run you, depending on how much you like to spend for miscellaneous entertainment and vacations, anywhere from $750 a month on up. I think a single person can live here for $750 monthly if they own their own home. That is with you taking most of your beach trips to Progresso, spending about $250 monthly on groceries, using your A/C in reasonable amounts, .......$1,000.00 per month is probably a little more safe in case unexpected expenses arise. 

 - Note: We are a family of four and our monthly budget is $2,000.00 roughly, give or take. And that is with us renting a brand new home for about $575 USD per month. Not bad. The cost of living in the Yucatan is about 1/2 to 2/3's of what it is in the US or Canada.  

Can you show me what a monthly budget looks like in the Yucatan?
 - This is pretty easy actually. This is our monthly budget. You can adjust it based on the number of individuals you have in your household, whether you are going to buy or rent at first, how much your miscellaneous spending habits are, ..........etc, etc, etc. Remember, we are a family of four....married with two growing boys:

Rent: $575 USD monthly
Electric: $200 USD
Water: $20 USD
Drinking Water: $25 USD
Propane Gas: $25 USD  (Used for stove, clothes dryer, hot water heater)
Gas (Car): $100 USD
Car Insurance: $30 USD
Groceries: $600 USD
Miscellaneous $300 USD
Cable/Internet: $40 USD

That should be roughly 2k USD per month. Hope that helps.

Can I live in Mexico on a tourist Visa (FMT) year round or do I need an FM3 or FM2 residency visa for that?
 - A tourist visa is good for up to 180 days. You can be here for the period of time marked on your FMT before you have to leave the country. If you wish to be here longer for 180 days for work or residency then you need to apply for an FM3 or FM2 residency visa. These two types of residency visas are good for one year and have to be renewed annually. I can tell you that people are known to just leave the country after six months and come back in on another tourist visa for another 6 months. There are people that have been living in Mexico like that for years and even decades. We have "heard" through various forums and websites that this is being more closely monitored by the Mexican government via Passport monitoring. Is this true? I know a guy who has been in and out of Mexico 4 times this year alone, all on tourist visas....and no one has ever told him about any new restrictions or monitoring by Mexican authorities.

NOTE to READER: Visa laws and changes start going into effect somewhere between November 2011 and January 1,2012. The new laws have already been passed and delegated off to local immigration offices to be instituted shortly. The previous answer is about to be changed. Mexico is doing away with FM2's and FM3's.

What are the qualifications for an FM3 or FM2 Visa?
 - As of the time of this writing, qualifications for an FM3 or FM2 visas are the same. You need to be able to show bank statements for the past three months that show income of $3,000.00 US per month for a family of 4. If you don't have income but you have assets (savings and investments) that amount to $36,000.00 in value (12 months x $3,000.00) then that can substitute for actual income. Basically you are showing the Mexican Immigration that you have stored capital to offset a lack of income, in this case $36k USD for a normal family. I know a couple in Chixclub just north of Merida that does not have monthly income but they have substantial investments and savings. They just showed their bank account statements verifying this and they qualified for their FM3's.
- If you own a home here the amount of monthly income needed to qualify for an FM3 or FM2 is cut in half to $1,500.00.
- If you are single or a married couple then I believe the qualification amounts are lower. Contact YES or a Mexican Immigration Attorney to assist you with these questions.

Should I get my FM3 or FM2 Visa in the US or Canada or wait until I get to Mexico to apply for them?

Note to Reader: The following answer is also changing in the next 2 to 3 months with the new visa law changes. I am not sure if you can apply for residency visas in your home country's consulate anymore.
- If you buy a home here before you make your move to live here you can apply for an FM2 or FM3 visa at the Mexican Conslate in your country of origin. If you are just going to rent then you need to come down on a Tourist Visa (FMM) and apply after you receive a utility bill in your name. So in that case you are going to come down for a vacation and rent a place first on a tourist visa (FMM),                  I have talked to one couple from British Colombia who did their FM3's in BC with no problems. They applied and received them through Mexican immigration/Consulate right in BC. I have heard and read online from others that it is difficult to do. Not sure which is right for you.

Should I buy a home or rent a home first?
 - That is your call personally. Renting first has its benefits because it gives you the opportunity to come down, really scope out all areas while you live here for a year. Most rental contracts here are for 12 months. Buying a home before you move down has a benefit to it in that when you go to apply for FM2's or FM3 visas it reduces the income requirements by up to 50% in many cases. It's your call. If you come down for a two week visit and you find something that you just have to have and your heart tells you it is the right thing to do then by all means go ahead and buy it. But if you need to satisfy your cautious side, if that is you, then come on down and rent. You have options either way.

How much deposit do I have to put down if I rent here?
- My landlord asked me for three months of which two months are automatically refundable at the end of my 12 month lease, regardless of the condition of the property. The third month is a deposit that is refundable if I hand the property back over in good working condition with all outstanding utilities paid. I found this to be reasonable as we came down on Tourist Visas (FMM) first before applying for residency visas. Would you rent to someone for a years lease that still needs to get their residency visas approved? I wouldn't and I thought it was shrewd on my landlords part. I would have done the same thing.

Sometimes a landlord may want a co-signor that lives here in Mexico. Why I don't know because one, I don't like co-sigining for others and, two, how many people do you know in Mexico that would be able to go on the hook for you for 12 months of potential unpaid rent. Some Mexican landlords will just ask for the one month's deposit if they like you and really NEED to get the place rented. It all depends. So far I have found my relationship with my landlord to be a very dependable one. I hope it continues.

So I have decided on a Visa. I have the income to live Mexico. What do I do next?
- Plan a trip!!! I would take at least 7 days to fly down and evaluate real estate. You really need to come down and see what you can afford and what the market offers based on your budget, whether it is renting or buying. Making the trip down is everything and you need to both enjoy it and maximize your time by working with someone you can trust who will make good use of your time.

How do I research real estate in the Yucatan while I am still in the US or Canada?
- Start with the Internet. Examine the sites first to get a feel for the overall picture and price averages based on features. From there send emails to more than one agent and see which one treats you the best. Fransisco Guiterrez and Arlette Basteris are the ones I worked with to begin with. They are with http://www.yucatanrealestateparadise.com/.

Fransisco was the one that communicated with me the best. They are both bilingual and Fransisco is also a licensed attorney. You will need an attorney to help with contracts so you kill two birds with one stone on that one. Mayan Living, Yucatan Real Estate Paradise, Yucatan Premier,.....these are some of the better real estate companies down here I have found. Check out their sites and narrow down properties you want to see and send the links to your agent. They will set up appointments for you. But one thing I do advise, pick an agent and go with them. Be loyal. That way you get the best service. And if you come down to look at properties and they take you out and drive all day showing you houses, make sure you pick up the tab for lunch. It's the right thing to do.

Can my realtor show me properties that are listed on other companies websites?
Absolutely. Their are only about 5 deeply-established real estate companies in Merida and the surrounding areas. We don't have an MLS system in Mexico so if you see a property on another website you want to see just let your agent know and they will call that company for you and set up a showing. When we came down I had a list of about 7 houses I wanted to see. The list had properties from three different companies on it. Fransisco at YREP made all the necessary calls and found out what homes were still available and got me appointments to see several of them. I would recommend you find that one buyer's agent you can work and run everything through them.
Can I work in Mexico while on a tourist visa?
 - On a tourist visa you can't legally work in Mexico at all. You can only be a tourist which is basically go around and spend your money. You can run a business outside the country via phone, internet or other means but you can't legally work inside the country.

Should I drive my car down to the Yucatan?
- It depends on your cash position. I had two vehicles before I made the move down. We sold one and drove my Ford truck down. It took 2 1/2 days. I think people that don't either bring a car down or at least have it shipped here are at a disadvantage in the long run, that is unless you buy a car when you come down. You need transportation for the daily necessities of life from running to the store to shopping for furniture to getting to the beach. You can take public transportation for "some" of these things but at some point public transportation becomes a hassle. Do you really want to wait for the bus in a rainstorm if you don't have to? Some people do. Sometimes we have to based on where we are in life. I would recommend however that you bring or buy a car once you get here. It is cheaper to just drive or have your car shipped down. People do it all the time.

Where do I get my car Insurance from?
- You can search online for Mexican car Insurance. There are many companies to choose from. My landlord's son-in-law is a Mexican Insurance agent and he recommended the following company to me:
http://www.mexadventure.com/ . My policy ran me about $350 for the year. I got liability and theft coverage for just in case. It's your call how much coverage you want but you definitely need to have your auto policy in place before you come across that border. It is the Law!

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