Relocating from California to Mexico: Your Essential Guide

Relocating from California to Mexico: Your Essential Guide

May 14, 2024

Scenic panoramic view of Mexico City center from the observation deck at the top of Latin American Tower Torre Latinoamericana.

The Great California Exodus isn’t only limited to neighboring states. People are moving from California to Mexico as well. This seems contradictory to many, especially since there’s illegal immigration into the US from the Mexican border all the time. But the lower cost of living and proximity to California are the main reasons why Californians are making the move.

If you’re one of them, you’ve come to the right place. In this article on relocating from San Diego, CA, to Mexico, we will explain the process of international moving from California to Mexico and cover the legal, cultural, and other aspects.

Visa application form

Start With Visa and Residency Requirements

Relocating to another country is a legal-intensive process. You need to have the appropriate documents to make the move to avoid legal troubles.

There are several visas you can apply for. These are:

  • Tourist visa
  • Temporary resident visa
  • Permanent resident visa
  • Employment visa
  • Investor visa
  • Family reunification visa

As a US citizen, you can enter Mexico as a tourist without a visa for up to 180 days. This allows you to explore the country and assess whether you want to stay longer.

If you plan to stay in Mexico for longer than 180 days, you’ll need to apply for a Temporary Resident Visa. This visa is valid for up to four years and allows you to live in Mexico with the option to renew annually. To qualify, you’ll need to demonstrate sufficient financial means to support yourself during your stay.

Likewise, a permanent resident visa is for permanent residency, an employment visa is for those seeking employment, and an investor visa is for investors and entrepreneurs.

As a first step, you need to apply for the appropriate visa and residency requirements and get it approved.

Besides a visa, you’d need to get other official documents in other like a passport, ID cards, and driving license. Keep these updated and ensure they’re valid.

Research About the Cost-Of-Living Differences

Mexico is undoubtedly cheaper than California. Thus, you’ll be paying a lot lower in Mexico than you do currently. But it’s important to put a figure around it.

As per stats, it costs $4,775 per month on average to live in San Diego, California. That figure is for a family of four, excluding rent. The same is around $2,500 in Mexico on average.

But don’t get fooled by average figures. Mexico is a large country with several cities and towns. So it’ll vary a lot depending on your location and living standards. It’s important to conduct more research into the cost of living differences and have clarity before you move.

Insurance form

Sort Out Banking, Financing, and Insurance

While you’re calculating the cost of living differences, you need to tick off a related item on the to-do list. Sorting out banking, finances, and insurance before moving to Mexico is crucial for a smooth transition and ensuring financial security during your stay.

Most banking services are now operating globally. So contact your banking service provider to check if they support international usage. If yes, you’re in luck. If not, you may have to open another account with a different provider.

For financing, you need to secure enough funds in your account. A Mexican visa agency says, “Investment or bank accounts with a monthly ending balance of at least 300 days of the current general minimum wage in México City (approx. USD 4,394.11).”

Thus, top up your account and maintain the required balance during visa verification.

Thirdly, there’s insurance. It’s necessary to obtain health insurance coverage while traveling abroad. Thus, get in touch with a local insurance provider to seek coverage.

Couple doing research

Learn About Mexican Cultural Etiquette

Understanding the cultural differences between Mexico and California is essential to enjoying your time while in Mexico. While there are many similarities between the two regions, there are also distinct cultural nuances and etiquette that newcomers should be aware of.

Note that Mexican culture places a strong emphasis on hierarchy and respect for authority figures, elders, and individuals in positions of power. It’s important to address people with proper titles, such as “Señor” (Mr.), “Señora” (Mrs.), or “Señorita” (Miss), followed by their last name unless permitted to use their first name.

When meeting someone for the first time or entering a room, it’s customary to greet people with a warm handshake and a friendly “Buenos días” (good morning), “Buenas tardes” (good afternoon), or “Buenas noches” (good evening), depending on the time of day.

Also, there are many things you should never do while in Mexico. Know more about these etiquettes and stay on the right side while in El Águila Real.

Atlas Allied truck

Meet California Expats in Mexico Online

Many Californians move from California to Mexico each year. Thus, there’s a growing community of California expats in Mexico. Joining these groups will make you feel more at home and help you adjust to the Mexican culture.

Puerto Vallarta, San Miguel de Allende, and Merida are considered some of the best cities for expats moving to Mexico. To find expats around these regions, you can make use of certain Facebook or Reddit groups. So meet some compatriots before you move in.

Pack Your Belongings and Keep an Inventory

When it comes to goods and belongings, the major worry is regarding cross-border customs. You don’t have to worry about it when moving nationally, but it’s a pain when moving internationally.

Like other countries, Mexico has a specific set of regulations for importing household goods, known as “menaje de casa.” The good news is that as a permanent resident, you can bring most of your used personal belongings duty-free.

To ensure a smooth customs clearance, you’ll need some documents, which include an inventory of items. This should include:

  • Sequential numbering of each item
  • Description of the item
  • Quantity
  • Brand (if applicable)
  • Model number (for electronics)
  • Serial number (for electronics)

So when packaging items, you need to label each and every time and write clear descriptions.

Also, Mexico restricts or bans the following items:

  • Weapons and ammunition
  • Fresh Food Items: Fruits, vegetables, and meat products are generally not allowed.
  • Plants and plant products, soil, seeds, and live plants require permits.
  • Certain medications

So, be extra vigilant when handling packaging. We recommend taking the help of a moving company instead of moving brokers for a smooth transition.

Family moving to a new home

Arrange Accommodation and Transportation in Advance

Many people leave accommodation till the very last time after they arrive in Mexico. But most learn that it’s a bad decision.

First and foremost, early accommodation arrangement provides necessary peace of mind. Especially if you’re unfamiliar with the area, having a confirmed place to stay upon arrival eliminates the stress of scrambling for a hotel. In the age of Airbnb, finding accommodation is a matter of clicks.

However, if you’re moving in for a longer haul, it’s better if you arrange flats instead of hotels.

So you should make time and start house hunting while you’re still in California.

Make the Move with Atlas Allied!

While the allure of Mexican culture and sunshine beckons, it’s important to approach your move with a healthy dose of preparation. By understanding customs regulations, planning your shipment, and potentially booking accommodation in advance, you can ensure a smooth transition.

Stay alert when traveling, especially during night hours. While Mexico is relatively safer, there have been reported crimes. That being said, enjoy your move and new home in a foreign land. If you need help with shipping your belongings, why not request a free moving quote?

Atlas Allied is a San Diego international mover that offers top-notch, full-service moving solutions with a rich history dating back to 1925. We are a residential and corporate relocation specialist in San Diego. Rely on our expertise to make your California to Mexico relocation a success. Contact us today to learn more.

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