Retiring in Mexico: Larry Prater Talks about his New Life in Tepoztlan

10. Please tell us what was involved in relocating to Mexico. What about Mexican immigration regulations? How about receiving American pension payments in Mexico?

It is fairly easy to relocate to Mexico.  While living in Oklahoma I obtained my FM3 visa.  I was able to bring all the household good with me that I wanted to, in retrospect I might have brought fewer things, as I went a little overboard.

To obtain an FM3 visa, you need to show you have about $1200 USD income per month.

Social Security provides direct deposit of monthly checks, so my retirement check is deposited directly every month into a bank in the US, and then I can easily transfer funds when I want to my bank here in Mexico.

11. One important topic for living abroad is health care. What type of health care do you have in Mexico?


For about $300 USD per year, I have IMSS, which is the Mexican equivalent of US Medicaid.  It provides for my healthcare, inpatient and outpatient, as well as prescribed medications.

Street in Tepoztlan
Street in Tepoztlan

12. Please talk to us about the cost of living in the Tepoztlan area – food, accommodation, transportation etc.

In my opinion, the cost of living here depends on how you live.  We pay our housekeeper about $60 per week, she is here six hours a day for five days.  We pay one of our male employees about $85 per week, and the other about $130 per week.  This last employee is married and has two children.  Clearly, these people live on very little each week.

The cost of labor is the item that is most different from the US.  Labor here is very cheap, compared to the US.

Rent can vary from a little over a hundred dollars per month to a thousand or more.  As we own our place, this is not an expense for us, and taxes are cheap.  Food is cheap if you buy it and cook it, eating out at the better restaurants is not much less than in the US.  Imported items, such as cars and electronic equipment, are more here than in the US.

Public transportation is very good and rather cheap.  The van that passes by our place and goes into Tepoztlan about every fifteen minutes costs 6 pesos, or about 50 US cents.  A taxi from here to town is usually 35 pesos, or about $2.50.  A very nice bus from Tepoztlan to Mexico City, with one leaving about every 40 minutes, costs about $6.50.

Fruits and vegetables in the market, as well as meat, are much fresher and cheaper than what I was used to in Oklahoma.

Electricity is more expensive here, there is no natural gas, only propane, and our property has no water, so we buy trucks of water, which is expensive.  Maybe someday the town will provide water to our area, or maybe by some miracle we can get a well.

Interior of the church in Tepoztlan
Interior of the church in Tepoztlan

13. What is it that you enjoy so much about living in Mexico?

I always loved visiting Mexico and hated having to leave.  Now when I have visitors, I feel so good when they have to leave but I get to stay.

I find it very relaxed living here.  My favourite days are the ones that consist of going into town for lunch and then to a coffee shop for a while, to people watch and play with my iPad.

I love the climate here.  In Oklahoma, it was usually hot or cold, with not many days in between.  Here, in the land of “eternal spring”, the weather for me is perfect year round.  Our windows are always open.  It is never hot and never cold.  No need for heating or air conditioning.  In reality, I think the seasons here are the rainy season and the dry season.  The rainy season is usually June through September, with hardly any rain the other eight months.  The rainy season is my favorite, as I love plants, and they do so well during the rains.  And, the rain is usually about an hour, about dark, and it is usually clear and sunny during the day.

14. What would you say are the key differences between Mexican and other North American culture?

I think time and appointments are handled quite differently here.  People can be a couple of hours, or even a couple of days late, and when they do show up, they seem to have no awareness of not being on time.  If the beer company says they will deliver our beer on Thursday afternoon, and they show up Saturday morning instead, they don’t seem to think they did not keep their word.

In general, I think the people here are friendlier and certainly more sharing than what I was used to in the US.  We hear fireworks almost every day from one party or fiesta or another, with people offering guests and strangers food in their homes.

Many people here are slow to reveal personal information about themselves, more so than I found in the US.

Flowers adorning Larry's property
Flowers adorning Larry’s property

15. How was your adjustment process – did you experience any kind of culture shock when you moved to Mexico?

I was rather familiar with Mexico before moving here, so no real shock.

The bureaucracy can be maddening at times, until you get used to it and accept it.  For instance, when I go pay my annual fee for health insurance, they want me to bring a copy of the receipt for my payment from the year before, even though they have all my information on their computer.  You really need to carefully retain copies of all your papers and receipts, as these are requested far more here than in the US.

16. What’s in store for you in 2012 and beyond?

I hope to continue growing our spa business.  I hope to start traveling again, sometime, both in Mexico and beyond.  I hope to build a house, as this apartment was originally in my mind a two year deal, and I have now been here five.

Walkway to the pool and bar area
Walkway to the pool and bar area

Thank you, Larry, for sharing your personal story. Judging by the beautiful pictures you shared with us, you are truly living in paradise. We wish you all the best for your future plans.


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