By Bill Dahl
At long last, the world is traveling again. Currently, every day in the United States, it is reported that 10,000 people a day turn 65 (typical age for retirement). Furthermore, the number of older adults will more than double over the next several decades and may represent over 20 percent of the population by 2050. “Where might we retire?” It‘s a common question in the U.S. (and elsewhere) as Baby Boomers contemplate how and where they might spend the remainder of this life or a portion of it. For tens of thousands, this question includes destinations outside the U.S.
Oftentimes, this process involves mulling over relocation to Mexico. Estimates vary, but it’s safe to conclude that a few million Americans and Canadians now reside primarily in Mexico. There are more on their way, particularly when pandemia induced cabin fever has inspired many to look beyond the borders of their current country. Get ready…what I have referred to as The MEXODUS – the relocation of expats to Mexico – is about to increase in post-pandemic magnitude and velocity. What sort of assistance is available for those choosing to relocate to Mexico?
Expat Relocation Services
As a married and retired couple who relocated to Queretaro, Mexico a few years ago, we have first-hand experience with this process. We also used what are commonly referred to as expat relocation services. This article profiles two current expat relocation services companies in Queretaro, Mexico – to provide readers with a better understanding of these resources. The subject of this article is also pertinent for those considering relocation abroad – wherever that might be.
When you Google the term “expat relocation services” (EX-RS) you receive about 1,350,000 results in half a second. When I did the same for the term “relocation services,” the search results climb to 86,200,000 results in 0.79 seconds. Currently, Employee Relocation Services (ERS) in the US market in 2021 is estimated to be US $13.2 billion.
I interviewed the owners of two of these companies. They are Ivonne Pavaan of Host Relocation Services and Monica Wright of House Hunting QRO. Both are bilingual. Their contact information is located at the end of this article. Here’s what they shared with me to share with you: Ivonne is a Mexican national. She began learning her craft some 15 years ago as part of an internal relocation services team who worked for an international company. She has owned and operated her own company, HOST Relocation Co. for the past 7 years. She and her associates have served nearly 1,000 customers over the past decade and a half.
Expat Relocation Clients
Where do most of her retiree clients come from? She estimates that 80% are from the U.S., 10% from Canada, while clients from Brazil comprise the remaining 10%. Expat retirees comprise 60% of Host’s annual revenue stream. However, HOST also has a contract with Toyota Motors Corp. and some local Toyota parts suppliers for “professional, occupational relocation services.” This segment comprises 40% of Host’s annual revenue. Country of origin for these clients are 50% Japanese, 40% U.S. and 10% other (German, Korean, Taiwanese). For clients relocating to Mexico due to their occupation, Ivonne says they are aged 30-50, single professionals, and almost all male. For the expat retiree community she serves, the majority are in their 60-70’s, single (and divorced), 60% have pets 3 brig foreign plated vehicles to Mexico with them. The majority are Americans and Canadians.
For Monica Wright at House Hunting QRO, she has dual citizenship (U.S. and Mexico). Monica has owned and operated her relocation services company in Queretaro, Mexico for over 4 years, serving hundreds of expat clients. She is a duly licensed realtor. Country of origin breakdown for Monica’s expat clients are 80% from the U.S. and 20% from Canada. Her clients remain almost exclusively expats retiring to Mexico. Most retirees are aged 50’s to 70”s, married, no kids, and have pets. A very small percentage of her expat relocation clients bring foreign plated cars. A growing segment of her business is for LGBTQ couples. She also serves a growing number of clients who are relocating to Queretaro for work (“Get permission, in writing, from your company before you contact an external relocation services provider, or you could end up footing the bill.”) Generally, these clients have become unhappy with their employer provided relocation services (be it internal or external). These clients typically range in age from their 30’s to 50’s, and many have families with children and pets.
Recently, Monica was selected to assist two young American expats find their home in Queretaro, Mexico. After traveling Mexico since 2018, Jordan, Maddie, & their Husky Laska chose Queretaro as their new home in Mexico. In January 2018, they packed up their tangerine-colored car and left the US to start exploring Mexico. Since then, they’ve been making travel videos about their life in Mexico. In less than three years, subscribers to their YouTube channel “Tangerine Travels” has exploded to over 229,000 subscribers. Publicly announced on May 8, 2021 – their video about selecting Queretaro as their home has over 131,000 views. Needless to say, Monica is very busy!
Expat Relocation Services – Menu
What services are available to expat retiree clients relocating to the area and/or those relocating due to employer requested relocation? Here is a summary:
● Locating suitable housing – (including landlord/tenant negotiations, lease review and negotiation, buy/sell contract/documentation review, lease guarantee requirements, damage deposits, etc.).
● Guidance on how to register/residency renewals/extensions with Mexican immigration authorities, obtain IDs, tax numbers etc.;
● Provide an overview of the public healthcare system, private healthcare options, and steps to take to register with a local doctor;
● Provide information on local utility companies and how to set up your electricity, water, gas, phone, and internet services;
● Provide an overview of the local tax and banking system, plus steps to take to open a bank account.
● Translation services
● Tips about the local public transportation system – UBER etc.
● City and Neighborhood Familiarization Tours
● Currency exchange advice
● Personal Safety information – “First question they ask!”
● Assistance obtaining a work permit with INM
● Buying a home/reselling an existing home in QRO
● Renting a home/apartment in QRO
● Recommendations for healthcare insurance providers
● Assistance on renewing TIP permits for non-Mexico plated vehicles.
● Buying or selling an automobile in Mexico
● Guidance for Obtaining a Mexican Divers License
● Pet relocation advice
● School recommendations for the kids
● Recommendations for legal advice/representation
● Recommendations for local healthcare providers (dentists, doctors etc.). Especially for women for OB specialists.
● Acquiring domestic household assistance.
How to Find Reputable Relocation Service Providers
How do prospective clients find Ivonne and Monica? Of course, the internet and social media platforms are primary; Facebook, YouTube, their websites, and word of mouth. Expat groups on Facebook are abundant and popular. Satisfied clients are happy to recommend expat relocation services to others who are curious about the same. Both Monica and Ivonne have similar motivations for providing the expat community with their services: “We enjoy helping people – particularly those from different cultures. We are also proud to be residents of Queretaro and Mexico.”
What are the primary reasons most expat retirees contact an expat relocation firm for assistance? For Ivonne and Monica, these reasons include immigration issues, hunting for suitable housing, transportation services and tourist trips. Neither use a written contract for providing expat retiree relocation assistance. However, a clear understanding of the fees associated with this assistance is provided up front. If you desire a written contract, one can be tailored to the needs of your specific engagement.
If you might be wondering about the percentage of the clients served are expats who have already relocated to QRO? Answer – 30%. In terms of the percentage of their expat clients who are relocating to QRO from other cities in Mexico? Answer – 30%. Monica adds: “There is a tangible increase in the numbers and momentum of people moving from Puerto Vallarta, Guanajuato, San Miguel de Allende, CDMX and the Chapala/Ajijic areas to Queretaro.” Perhaps you might be wondering when you should contact one of these relocation assistance firms for assistance? “Before departing your current city/country of origin, upon reaching QRO, when expats are looking for a new apartment or home to live in here. And finally, when expats are selling their homes here in Queretaro.”
According to Ivonne and Monica, the top three mistakes expats make during their relocation process to Mexico include: “Generalizing about Mexico – which is very large and diverse. Expats have not completed the essential, independent research with the correct, reliable resources for prospective relocation abroad. People pay more to correct their mistakes without hiring us at the outset of the process…a process that is different for each individual situation.” What are some suggestions these relocation assistance professionals would give expats considering relocation for retirement to Queretaro, Mexico? “1. Contact us early 2. Research all the essential processes and documents from reliable resources 3. Learn Spanish language skills and country cultural considerations. 4. Furthermore, be
prepared to learn and change. Be flexible, tolerant, and enjoy the adventure. 5. Act like a grateful guest and you will be treated like one.”
Why Queretaro? According to these two professional women, Queretaro is rapidly increasing in popularity for the following reasons: “Personal safety, reduced cost of living, cleanliness, diverse cultural and entertainment locales and events, the weather (little to no excessive heat and humidity), location in central Mexico (perfect for exploring the region), the established and growing industrial economic engines in Queretaro, and the kindness of the Mexican people who reside here.”
No matter where you may relocate to internationally, for whatever reason, my hope is this article will better inform you, and inspire you to investigate the suitability of these services in your life.
For the transition to living abroad, expat relocation service providers are an indispensable resource. Enjoy the journey!
HOST Relocation Co.
Tel: +52 442.364.9402
House Hunting QRO
Tel: +52 442.516.5218
Disclosure: The author has previously used the expat relocation services provided by both Monica and Ivonne. The author has received no remuneration whatsoever past, present and/or commitments for future remuneration of any kind from either company and/or its principals. This article was crafted and published for public education purposes only.
About the Author:
Bill Dahl is a Mexico based journalist whose written work is widely published including – but not limited to – the subjects of U.S. immigration reform, culture, racism, international affairs, public health, social justice, economics, corruption and the environment. He can be reached at https://www.BillDahl.net. His book Lake Chapala Beneath The Surface – Considerations for Retiring in Mexico (January 2019) remains a favorite in the Senior Travel category.