Is it legal to own property in Mexico?

What is the process to buy a property in Mexico?

What do I need to purchase a property in Mexico?

Types of VISAS

What is the cost of living in the Lakeside area?

What are the property taxes?

What is the Medical care like?

Is it legal to own property in Mexico?  

The Mexican Constitution allows you as a non-Mexican to own land in Mexico outright with a Direct Deed as long as you are more than 50 miles from the coast or 100 miles from an international border. If you are within either of the boundaries you may own the property although your deed must be administered through a Bank Trust. This is to protect Mexican Sovereignty. The Mexican government wants to encourage foreign investment in Mexico. You will have the full protection of the law whether you decide to buy with a Direct Deed or a Bank Trust.

What is the process to buy a property in Mexico?

The properties in Lakeside are, for the most part, priced in U.S. dollars although there are a few that are priced in Mexican Pesos. Almost all sales are in cash as mortgages are not available to foreigners. In some situations owner-financing is available but it is not common and the interest rates tend to be high when it is available. Some Buyers have been able to self-finance their purchase with a home equity loan.

A 10% deposit is required with an offer to purchase. This is usually handled through a wire transfer. If you are thinking of purchasing a home while you are here you should talk to your Bank to prearrange permission for a wire transfer through your Bank. The balance is due usually 3 days before closing. Most closings are from 1 to 3 months from the accepted offer to purchase although a longer closing may be possible if agreeable to both parties.  

The closings are held before a Notary Public. A Notary Public in Mexico is not the same as a Notary Public in either Canada or the U.S.  In Mexico, a Notary Public is a lawyer that has been practicing for at least 5 years and is then appointed by the State Governor to fill a limited number of available positions. All legal documents must be presented to a Notary Public in order to be considered valid. It is commonly joked that in Mexico, Notaries are next to God! The Notary Public guarantees a certificate of no liens and will register the deed in your name after the closing.

The Buyer is responsible for paying the closing costs which include the deed registration fees, the transfer fees, the notary fees and a government regulated amount in pesos depending on the property value as evaluated by the tax department(fisco avalua).

The Seller is responsible for paying the commission and the capital gains if there are any to be paid.

What do I need to purchase a property in Mexico?

You will need the following three items in order to make an offer on a property: a passport, a visa (either a tourist, temporal, or permanente) with a clear, readable entry stamp, and 10% of the offer amount as a down payment. If you are going to be using a temporal or permanente visa you must have the actual card in your posession.


Tourist visas - are for people that are planning on spending up to 6 months at a time in Mexico. These visas are automatically granted when you arrive by plane or car and are usually valid for upto 6 months.

Temporal & Permanente visas - must be started outside of Mexico.  Check with the closest Mexican Embassy to you for information and requirements for either of these visas.

What is the cost of living in the Lakeside area?

This really depends on your lifestyle and what you like to do. Recent news articles have reported that you could live here for about $800 U.S. dollars per month (but that would not be a very comfortable lifestyle). In order to live quite comfortably you should count on around $1,500 - $2,000 U.S. dollars per month. This would include all your bills, a maid, a gardener, groceries, dining out, with a little extra leftover for shopping, travel, and massages!

Examples of approximate local pricing in U.S. dollars (based on 20 pesos per dollar) are as follows:

Maid - 50 pesos / $2.50 per hour

Gardener- 50 pesos / $2.50 per hour

Electricity - 1,000-2,000 pesos / $50-$100 per month depending on use

Telephone - 389 pesos/ $20.00 per month which includes unlimited long distance to Canada & the US

Internet - internet is included with your 389 peso phone plan

Cell phone - My plan is 349 pesos / $20 per month for unlimited calls to Canada & US plus 4 GB data

Restaurants - 150-600 pesos $7.00- $30.00 per person including wine

Massage - 400 pesos / $20.00 per hour

Facial - 500 pesos / $25.00

Movies - 60-100 pesos / $ 3.50-$5.00 at the theatre

Beer - 80 pesos / $ 4.00 (six pack)

Physiotherapy - 500 pesos / $25.00 for 1 hour

Chiropractor - 700 pesos / $35.00 per visit

Doctor visit - 400 pesos / $20 per visit

What are the property taxes?

The property taxes are very low. The typical taxes on a $200,000 U.S. dollars home will be about $100 to $150 U.S. dollars per year. Because the property taxes are so low, most of the neighbourhoods, or fraccionamientos as they as known here, charge a monthly fee for local services. These services include garbage pick up (at least twice a week), electricity, maintenance & repairs for the common areas. Water and security are included as well in some fraccionamientos. The fraccionamiento fees, in most cases, are between $40 and $50 U.S. dollars per month.

What is the Medical care like?

Guadalajara is one of many medical training centers for Mexico, and as a result the hospitals and the equipment are modern and excellent. The most common comments of locals who have used the Mexican medical system is that the care is equal to, or better than, that in the U.S. at a fraction of the cost.  

Locally, there 3 medical clinics in the Lakeside area and various dental offices. Each of the clinics have bilingual Doctors and Nurses on staff and a number of Doctors are U.S. trained. Ambulance service is readily available through the local Red Cross and there is air ambulance service to the U.S. and Canada from Guadalajara.

There is a national health care program available to Mexicans and non-Mexicans alike. It is known as the IMSS. At a cost of about US$350 per person per year the plan entitles you to Doctorís services, ambulance service, hospitalization, medications, as well as dental and eye examinations.

There are also other medical plans available through local insurance companies. The Lake Chapala Society is a good source for medical information and plans. They also provide periodic monthly health sessions which involve diabetes testing, immunizations, and skin cancer examinations. There is also Boomers in Paradise which offer well priced health insurance plan.

gazebo in ajijic plaza
woman in traditional dress holding flowers
children dressed for Day of the Dead