updated 6:36 PM CET, Mar 18, 2023

'Surge' reported in number of Americans moving to live in Mexico in 2022

The number of Americans living in Mexico on a temporary or permanent basis leapt by 75% last year, compared to 2019 – the year before the Covid-19 pandemic hit – according to data from the country's Interior Ministry (SEGOB), and numerous press reports.

Mexico has long been known as the country with more American expats than any other, with Canada consistently ranking No. 2. 

According to the data, which may be found by clicking here (see table (cuandro) 2.2.3), some 11,518 Americans received a temporary resident card in Mexico last year, up from 9,086 the previous year (2021), and just 5,393 in 2020. In 2019 there had been 6,564. 

The increase is being attributed to the rising cost of living in the U.S., which saw inflation hit a 40-year peak in 2022, which is said to be driving many south of the border, especially retirees.

Another factor being cited is the growing popularity across the U.S. of working "remotely". In theory this can be done anywhere, but because of its location, Mexico is well-placed for remote workers who need to get back to the States on a regular basis.

San Miguel de Allende 2Meanwhile, although many Americans are continuing to opt for pictureseque Mexican towns and cities like San Miguel de Allende (pictured left, in the state of Guanajuato), the largest number of Americans obtaining residence cards last year were, the statistics show, settling in Mexico City.  Perhaps not surprisingly, recent media reports (and returning expats) have been reporting that locals there are expressing growing frustration at a steep increase in house prices, which is being attributed to demand from foreigners, including but not limited to Americans.

U.S. media organizations as well as English-language publications in Mexico have been writing about the surge in U.S. expat numbers since late last year, including Bloomberg, which called the trend in a November article headed "Americans Move to Mexico at Record Pace as Remote Work Beckons." The article's subhead read, "Temporary visas through September highest since data available."

Noting that Mexico had granted 8,412 temporary residence permits to Americans during the first nine months of 2022, compared to just 4,550 in the same period of 2019, the Bloomberg article added: "That number may be just a fraction of the influx of U.S. expats [arriving during this period], as Mexico has said for years that the true figure of Americans moving to its shores is undercounted."

The article noted that more Americans had also received permanent residence permissions in the first three months of 2022, "with the number rising 48% from 2019, to 5,418."

Officially the U.S. State Department estimates that some "1.6 million U.S. citizens live in Mexico," which it says is also "the top foreign destination for U.S. travelers," and  "hundreds of thousands of people cross the [U.S./Mexico] border legally each day," made easier by a 2,000-mile border "with 47 active land ports of entry."

Also reporting the leap in Americans moving south of the border was Elpais.com, a Spanish newspaper and news website that publishes an international edition in English and Spanish. Earlier this month it posted a story entitled "The number of Americans residing in Mexico has surged in the last three years." 

The Mexico Daily Post, another English-language news source based in Mexico, published its story on the growing U.S. expat numbers on Feb. 11, entitled "Migration in the 'opposite direction': how the number of Americans settling in Mexico has grown."

State Department warnings

At the same time, meanwhile, the U.S. State Department continues to warn Americans considering traveling south of the border to avoid certain areas.

State Department travel advisory for the country, last updated in October, shows six states in the "Do Not Travel To" category, due to "crime and kidnapping" risks; seven in the "Reconsider Travel To" category, again owing to "crime" and/or "crime and kidnapping" risks; and 17 states in which travelers are advised to "Exercise Increased Caution when Traveling To." (This includes Mexico City.) 

Just two states – Yucatan and Campeche  – are listed in the final category, where travelers are told they need "Exercise Normal Precautions" only. 

Crime isn't new in Mexico, of course, but its pervasiveness and the Mexican government's continuing inability to control it has come as a surprise to some Americans.

Such as a retired dentist from Texas, for example, who wrote in 2020 about how he came to the agonizing decision to give up his much-loved home, and lifestyle, in San Miguel de Allende, after the "invasions" of his property "by thugs" along with "cartel impunity, untrustworthy banks and incompetence at the top" had became just too much. 

"What makes this even more sad is the fact that I love Mexico," he wrote, in an article that was published by the AXFNJ with permission, after having initially appeared  on the MexicoNewsDaily.com website. 

"I love its natural beauty, from the desert, to the mountains to the pristine beaches. My family has loved it all.

"But most importantly, we have loved the Mexican people. Our relationships are more like family than even friends. I have personally invested millions of dollars in your country.

"But I give up."

Since that article was written, of course, a recent spate of mass shootings in the States has prompted many Americans to speak openly about considering moving abroad to get away from gun crime (although crime-conscious Americans probably wouldn't get very far in exploring Mexico before deciding it wasn't for them).