Why We Chose to Retire in Mexico Instead of the U.S.


One of the most important aspects of retirement is financial planning. You want to make sure that you’ll have enough income to maintain your current standard of living, as well as have some disposable income so you can do fun things, like travel.

The general rule of thumb for middle and high-income earners is to have a retirement income of at least 70% of their former household income. Keep that number in mind as you read on.

I suppose that my wife and I would be considered mid-level earners. We had been in our respective careers for many years and had worked our way up to management positions. I was a lieutenant with a sheriff’s office in Florida and Linda was a director for a children’s advocacy center that assisted with child abuse investigations.

After 25 years on the job, I was eligible to retire and I looked forward to having more free time to spend with Linda. The problem was that Linda was still too young to retire and we determined that if she did stop working, we would only have about 33% of our former income.

That’s a long way from the 70% recommended target income. In fact, the amount barely left us enough to eat regularly after we paid our all monthly expenses — which included a sizable mortgage and car payment.

If You Can’t Win the Game You’re Playing, Find a New Game

For over 15 years, Mexico was our favorite vacation destination and we would go there as often as we could. We loved everything about the Riviera Maya and we would often talk about moving there someday.

We started thinking that maybe someday was now.

I started researching everything I could about living south of the border — especially the cost of living. On paper, it looked like we could make it work, but only if we could eliminate all of our debt in the U.S. and reduce our spending.

We decided to give it a try and we then sold, donated or discarded 99% of our belongings in the U.S. We didn’t even want the expense of having to rent a storage shed.

We applied for and were granted resident visas at the Mexican Consulate, packed our belongings into four large suitcases, and flew to Cancun with the intention of trying it for a year.

So, How’s It Going?

We’ve been in Mexico for over three years now and we absolutely love it.

We ended up using the money we had left over from the sale of everything we previously owned to buy a condo in a gated resort community and a car. We now live 100% debt free for the first time in our adult lives.

The lack of debt combined with the low cost of living in Mexico, has made it easy for us to live very well here. We enjoy a higher quality of life than we did in the U.S. and we have plenty of disposable income to enjoy our retirement to the fullest.

If you would like to see a breakdown of our living expenses, check out How Much Does It Cost to Live in the Riviera Maya?

Let’s Wrap This Up

This article may make it sound like we moved to Mexico on a whim and we were just lucky it worked out — but that’s not the case at all. We conducted countless hours of research and carefully planned our move to increase our odds of success.

I’m sure that if I ended the article right here, we would be inundated with emails from readers asking for more information about the type of research that we did and the results etc. If you’re one of those folks, my advice is to subscribe to the blog and I’ll answer those questions one article at a time.

Well, that’s enough blogging for today. It’s another beautiful day in the Riviera Maya and there’s a beach chair with my name on it. Hasta luego.


Paul Kurtzweil (Q-Roo Paul) was a deputy sheriff in Florida for 25 years before retiring at the rank of lieutenant in 2015. He and his wife moved to Mexico looking to maximize their retirement income. They later started a blog called Two Expats Mexico (qroo.us) to share their experiences, as well as information about the logistical and legal aspects of retiring south of the border. The blog has been viewed over two million times and the articles have been republished in numerous periodicals across Mexico.