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Those who vacation in Mexico may often ponder the thought of living there year round, but quickly dismiss it as a possibility. Sure, the white sandy beaches, crystal clear waters, and laid-back lifestyle are soothing, but is it realistic to dream of moving there permanently? Yes! Whether you are a retiree looking for the perfect spot to spend those golden years, or a parent in search of an ideal location to raise children, Mexico may be the answer to living a vacation life... permanently!

There are approximately a half-million Americans currently living in Mexico, and enjoying the region tremendously. Like many countries, Mexico offers a wide variety of landscapes. From mountainous areas to jungles and beaches, Mexico truly serves as a sort of paradise for many. In fact, nearly half of the entire country is 5,000 feet above sea level, offering an assortment of living possibilities. Whether you prefer large cities or small communities, Mexico can oblige. After all, Mexico is home to the largest city worldwide and the smallest villages and communities on the continent.

Aside from the kind, gracious people, the temperate climate, and the fascinating countries that lie nearby, Mexico is also an extremely economical place to live or retire. All major goods and services within the Mexican boarders are approximately one-third the cost of similar American products. This includes renting or purchasing a home, private schooling, food and gasoline.

Now that you're convinced Mexico is a wonderful place to live - let's get you there! Anyone traveling to Mexico must obtain a permit. This goes for tourists visiting over a long weekend to those who wish to stay permanently. Upon entering the country, visitors are issued a tourist visa (or tourist card). These cards are distributed at the airports in Mexico and allow for a stay of up to 180 days. Tourist visas are also available at most travel agencies and Mexican Consulate offices in the United States. To obtain a card, simply show proof of citizenship by means of a passport or birth certificate. Despite the fact that tourists are automatically allowed to stay in Mexico for up to six months at a time, there is still a limit on the amount of goods you are allowed to bring into the country. By land, a tourist is allowed only $50 worth of goods and $300 by air. A 32% tax is often charged for goods imported beyond this dollar amount.

The six-month permit is clearly the easiest, simplest method of staying in the country, so many foreigners opt to renew their permit by traveling across the boarder every six months in an effort to prolong their stay. The FM-3 immigrant status is much like the tourist visa, but must be renewed annually, opposed to every six months. However, the six-month visa and FM-3 do not allow a non-native to work while in Mexico.

One variation fo the FM-3 visa allows an immigrant to work with a sponsored employer, but must be renewed every six months. Once a position has been located and the employer has agreed to hire an immigrant, the employer must prepare the appropriate documents for the Office of Immigration.

For those who wish to start a business or bring capital for investment in Mexican industries, an FM-2 visa is required. In this instance, the immigrant is required to meet several requirements such as hiring a significant amount of Mexican employees. Upon approval by the Mexican government, the business is on its way - but not without a substantial fee.

The process of moving to Mexico may appear daunting at first, but in comparison to relocating to other countries it's really quite simple! In fact, the most difficult aspect to relocating to Mexico may be adjusting to the lifestyle. Unlike Americans who plan their entire day around a clock, Mexicans lead a much more relaxed existance. One may go so far as to say a wrist watch isn't even necessary in Mexico! In adjusting to the "manana" life, keep in mind that it is impossible to impose your own strict time- schedule on a population that has successfully operated this way for hundreds of years. Still, there are individuals who do not consider this lifestyle refreshing. In fact, those who welcome the hustle and bustle of large cities may find the Mexican lifestyle a bit irritating.

If pets are in your travel equation, you're in luck! Mexico is one of the few countries where pets are not required to be in quarantine. All you need to do to your pal into the country is proof of shots (no more than 30 days old) and a note from a veteranarian (no more than 72 hours before traveling) stating that the animal is healthy.