Why Not Work Remotely from Mexico?
Updated July 2017
Working in retirement...from Mexico
One snowy day in Colorado a few years before moving to Mexico, I rode up to Winter Park to ski with a woman from Boulder who worked as a director for IBM. She had not seen her boss, whose office was in New Jersey, for six years.
Like another friend of mine who is a healthcare consultant, my ski buddy will probably continue to make money in retirement consulting part-time from her home. As I sit in my own office in Mexico, I wonder what would be the difference if either of these woman decided to consult from Mexico?
If you're not ready for a full-time life of leisure and you are wondering where you will work after retirement, maybe you should think in terms of what country rather than what company.
Many people do a scaled back version of what they did in their career as a way to still make some extra money in retirement. Some decide to do it from Mexico.
I have already talked to a few finance and financial planning professionals who live in popular expat cities like San Miguel de Allende, although you have to to a little research to figure out they are there.
Their websites show U.S. headquarters photos in the masthead and have U.S. contact information. Sometimes their partners are in the States and the semi-retired ones are taking in the sun. Talking on the phone with them is the same as it would be calling from across town.
I'm not sure consultants every really retire completely. Like lawyers, they always seem to like to keep a desk somewhere to the end of their days.
Today, your consultants could live anywhere in the world. When formatting my book, I hired a company in India. They did a great job at a phenomenal price. We Skyped regularly, even though our meetings had to be at 10:00 at night because of the 12-hour time difference. One of those consultants could be you.
People are often surprised that Mazatlán is in the same time zone as Denver. Figuring out the time differences between your clients and you shouldn't be any more confusing working from Mexico than it already is working from the U.S.
Internet service has improved a lot in the last few years in Mexico, and services like Keepgo, which provides you a mobile wifi hotspot, can ensure that you always have internet service as long as you have phone service.
Are you good at book-keeping or accounting? That's another profession that would translate well to making money after retirement from abroad.
For many years, my C.P.A. was in another state, as often happens when you have a business relationship you're satisfied with and move to another city. Online security has advanced so much, you are likely to find you're just as safe operating from another country as you are at home.
What other jobs might one do in retirement abroad? What about medical transcription? What about contract virtual assistants, which seem all the rage right now for former secretaries who have whiz bang technical skills but don't want to be chained to a desk.
Since they are independent contractors, their employers don't have to pay benefits, but in Mexico, medical plans cost a fraction of what they do in the U.S.
I would recommend you be pretty good technically though before taking the leap, because you do have special considerations when setting up an office in another country. Line up your outside network I.T people early, and have several on speed dial. You will not get the same response time you enjoy in the U.S.
Here in Mazatlán, I know a few I.T professionals quietly programming by day and taking in the culture by night. I saw one recently with his apple laptop in a restaurant working while doing a fine job of maintaining a conversation with a Mexican couple across the table. Internet service has become very reliable in the larger cities here in Mexico. I rarely experience more than half an hour down.
While not a retiree, a friend of mine's son decided after a few years of work after graduation that he'd travel though South America while designing clients' websites.
A technically-savvy retiring graphic artist might also be able to maintain a few clients for retirement income from an office in another country. Regardless of your age, you will still be saving money while making money, especially if you are moving from a larger city in the States.
You can also think about turning a hobby into extra income in retirement. A favorite for expats is photography. Mexico offers a rich catalog of sights and colors for the enthusiast or artist.
For contract employees or the self-employed, some business expenses should be just as tax deductible as they've always been (disclaimer here, I'm not a tax expert, but the same expenses as a writer are as deductible working from here as from Denver.)
If you haven't moved yet, don't forget the possibility of Mexico as a place to incubate your business plan, the book you want to write or a place to do research on your next big move without distraction.
Aside from ways you might make money in retirement doing what you do now, "a penny saved is a penny earned" takes on a fresh relevance when you consider the option of house-sitting.
You may not make much money, but snowbird expats with large homes frequently hire house/pet sitters while they are away off-season or traveling. It doesn't pay much but if you are retired, you will keep the money you'd otherwise pay in rent and often it does include at least a stipend.
There are sites you can register with for house-sitting gigs. Like living in Mexico in general, more people travel around Mexico house-sitting than you'd ever guess. It's particularly appealing to couples, where one person might have good handy-man skills.
I have been offered several times to house-sit for lovely homes in good neighborhoods and know at least one retired single woman who house-sits for a nice home in Mazatlán's El Centro every year.
Some Spanish definitely helps and is often required because you still have to communicate with housekeepers, gardeners and service people like plumbers.
Even though I haven't taken anyone up on the offer to house-sit (many involve taking care of a pet which I have never owned and don't want to practice with someone else's), even renting a very nice place, I cut my expenses by half by working in Mexico.
Clearly it has been much more of an adventure. In my first year working here I took take a water taxi to my gym for five pesos every day and got to eat my first ripe mangoes. These long-term stays are mini-lives that are much richer to me than just travel.
Why should immersion experiences be only for 18-year olds on study abroad programs?
Maintain the dream...
Stalking computer help in Mexico - "The Beating Heart That is Your Laptop." - Ventanas Mexico
Digital Nomads Roam the World While You Rot in Your Office - I didn't say it, Mashable did!
A Blog from Craig Bradshaw in "Expat Focus" who is working remote from his company in San Diego.
"Live Better South of the Border" - An Amazon book of pros and cons of working in Mexico by Mike Nelson
Next up: Even with its glitches and headaches, when you do get it all sorted out, technology can make your evenings at home in Mexico just like are are at home....if you want them to.
I'm a partner with Ventanas Mexico, which helps people explore the idea of full or part-time living in Mexico, and author of "Interactive Guide to Learning Spanish Free Online," a curation of the best free Spanish tools on the web (with lesson plans). Learning Spanish takes years. Get started today!
Also recently released, "If Only I Had a Place" - a guide to renting luxuriously in Mexico for less. Includes a directory of rental concierges in the most popular expat areas in Mexico.