Semi-Retiring in Latin America - The Best of Two Worlds

Semi-Retiring in Latin America - The Best of Two Worlds

Check out the Local Laws

Typically, visitors get a temporary visa when they visit a Latin American country. It will last up to 180 days (about six months). At that time, they need to return to the border and renew. If they stay and work, they need to get a work permit. The permit is created and usually paid for by the employer. Taxes are paid in Mexico and also in the home country.

Salaries are very low in Mexico. English teachers make about $100USD a week – college professors make about $5 an hour. The minimum wage is $.50 a day, but most housekeepers make $11 for half a day and normally men make $22 a day for construction labor. After taxes, there is very little money for the effort. However, working on the Internet or by phone for a company elsewhere if the money does not enter Latin America is a viable option. Then taxes are only paid where the employee is legally working, and the living expenses are lower where the employee is actually living.

Many Income Seekers Work from Latin America

I have discussed stock trading with a retired stockbroker. Now, he only trades his own stock every morning. He is very happy with the arrangement of working online from his home in Latin America. He travels all over the world and continues to work while he is traveling by using the Internet.

A couple I interviewed had several online writing positions. They are able to travel back to the USA about four times a year for person-to-person updates. The rest of the time they work from their home in Latin America. They sold a business and continued to consult with the new owners for several years through email and infrequent visits. They find that working from Latin America may cost the same number of hours, but the overall stress levels are lower.

Doing Business In Mexico

One family I know created a business of fine boots. The boots are made in Mexico and then shipped worldwide. They have lived in Mexico over two decades. When they first moved to Mexico, they ran a restaurant, but that was difficult. There is a general attitude that if you are able to steal from your boss, the owner is not a good businessman. Most bosses will only handle money themselves for that reason. I have heard the same phrase over and over; “It is not logical to expect the hired retail employees to put the income in the cash drawer. That will just not happen in Latin America.” There are many cultural reasons why, but suffice to say, starting a business is not the best option for semi-retirement.

Getting the boot business going was very hard. Standardization is not the norm in Mexico. It took a lot of rejects before they could create the same boot size each time. They still keep all the work and decisions in the family.


It is highly possible to work in another country and live/play in Latin America. Just be certain of the laws in each municipality before doing so, but with the right planning, you can have the best of both worlds.

Written by 2Casa Expert: Dr. Jacqueline Zaleski Mackenzie, author, speaker, and social scientist, is author of Empowering Spanish Speakers and other books to help understand the Latino culture. She has a BS and MS in business and an EdS and PhD in bilingual and special education and sociocultural studies. She lives in a native village in Central Mexico where she researches the Mexican culture and remodels a campesino home.