Top 14 Criteria to Consider Before You Become an Expat

Top 13 Criteria to Consider Before You Become an Expat

If you’re considering becoming an expat there are several criteria to keep in mind when choosing the place you will call home.

Now with the ability to work remotely or take early retirement, it’s not just people over 65 that are moving to foreign countries. Families are homeschooling and moving from country to country giving their kids a world education.

Being an expat is a part of living the ageless lifestyle after 50 for so many of us, who like me have created a laptop lifestyle business.

I first moved to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico in 1991 there was very little here. The way of life back then was completely different than it is today.

Keep in mind that the peaceful little village you fall in love with today could become the next hot vacation spot if you’re moving to an attractive beach area that is up and coming.

There are so many things to consider when you’re looking at leaving your home country. Many have to do with the highly personal way you live your life.

That’s why it’s important that you have a clear vision for your life and know exactly what is important to you.

What are you willing to overlook?

What are you willing to compromise on?

What are you willing to give up?

What new habits are you willing to take on?

These are personal decisions you’ll need to make with your eyes wide open or you’ll get caught up in a vacation mentality which will cause you to make some very expensive mistakes.

The most important thing is that you end up choosing the perfect place for you. And I guarantee you there is one. You just need to decide exactly what it is you’re looking for.

Once you know your own personal criteria you will have narrowed your search and saved yourself a lot of time and money.

Just like the way people would describe living in your hometown through the lens of how their family lives you will find the same thing in any expat area. So makes sure you find people with a similar outlook, values, lifestyle intentions and income to talk to before you make your final decision.

Criteria to Consider Before You Become an Expat

  • Water
  • Weather
  • Safety
  • Cost of living
  • Food
  • Why rent
  • Healthcare
  • Language
  • Ease of transportation
  • Goods and services
  • Proximity to the US
  • Quality of housing-US standards
  • Culture

All of these criteria are different for everyone. What I consider perfect weather might be unbearable to you. Your neighbor’s idea of safety may be much more relaxed than yours. Cost of living goes from one extreme to the other depending on your preferred lifestyle.

Some things are facts and are easier to know before you go check a place out. Healthcare, ease of transportation, proximity to your home country and culture are all easily checked online. You can get a general idea about the weather, but for example, here in Cabo, we have many micro-climates that don’t show up in weather apps.

I don’t know that there are any expat areas that you can’t find food for your specific diet, but that is something you can check by joining Facebook groups of expats who are living there. That also goes for what goods and service are available. If there’s something specific you are concerned about not being able to get, ask people who live there.

In the video below we covered all the criteria on this list in detail except for one, the availability of water.

Note: There is great content in their video. I apologize for the shadowy person you see. If that bugs you then just listen and don’t watch. A big reason I do these Saturday morning Facebook Live broadcasts is to take my viewers to the beach. Sometimes that means giving them a view of the ocean that makes it difficult to see my face. This time I sat on the east side of the table to give you a different part of the beach. Obviously, that was a mistake. At the very end, I lost the Internet connection. At that point, I was ending with the fact that you need to know what are the non-negotiable things for you.


The availability and cost of getting water to your home is an issue in many areas. Either they don’t have enough water to start with or growth in the area is limiting the availability of water. Make sure you check on exactly how the water arrives at your home, how often, how it is stored (in Mexico we have a storage container called a pila), and how much it costs.

Not having enough water available through city water and needing to order a water truck is much more expensive. So this is an important thing to know.


I received a question about the availability of food. I talked about it int he video, so I won’t go over it again here. I did take a few photos at the grocery store so you can see what the produce section looks like. There is more and more local organic produce showing up in the grocery store all the time. For 6 months a year, I get a CSA box of organic veggies delivered and it costs a little less than $200 US for 24 weeks. That’s about $7-8 a week, depending on the value of the peso.

Also, the are several organic farmers markets that run from November to May, and a couple that are still going in the summer.

At an average right now of 18 pesos to the dollar, that large chocolate muffin is about 40 cents. A loaf of artisan bread for $1.30 and an individual baguette for 16 cents.

Most produce is very inexpensive. I get enough turmeric to last me 2 weeks, about 10 medium size, for 15 cents. A little bag of organic herbs that you’d find in the produce section in the U.S. is about 90 cents here. And they are local herbs.

When I go to a local produce store, rather than a grocery store, I can get a kilo (a little over 2 pounds) of most fruits and vegetables for less than $1.

Things are changing rapidly as far as food goes. 25 years ago there was very little produce of any kind available in Cabo outside the winter tourist season. Now that season is year around and much larger. The population here has grown by at least 10 times what it used to be. And there are organic farms everywhere that are selling locally instead of just growing to export for US companies.

If you’re looking at moving to an up and coming area, you could experience the same kind of growth. If you’re looking to move to a well-established culture, you might not see rapid changes.

Specialty foods

Most of the popular areas that expats are drawn to do have availability of getting specialty foods. You will pay more, but you can get them.

We have 2 small shops that bring in more of the Whole Foods type of inventory, but it will cost you on average about 40-100% more. Shipping and customs cost money and gas to make the 1000+ mile trip from the U.S. The other alternative is ordering online and paying for a mailbox company to ship it down. You will pay for your mailbox and then pay a shipping and customs fee for packages.

Here in Cabo the mailbox I have is about $20 a month and then it’s 29% on top of your invoice for whatever you buy. So $100 order from Amazon ends up being $129. Plus you’ve already paid CA tax and shipping on that order to get it to the San Diego mailbox address.

The way shipping works will vary from country to country. We recently have also had Amazon come to Mexico. I personally haven’t used it. Some people I know have ordered successfully and some have had issues.

There are also several network marketing companies that have distribution inside Mexico so you can get great products without paying customs and double tax. I order regularly and get products quickly.

The other issue with shipping is that you may live in an area that doesn’t have regular postal service, reliable service or regular addresses.

Addresses here are an issue. I have one address on my electric bill and another one on my water bill. Very different addresses. How is it possible? That’s just part of living here. Some things aren’t worth questioning. And yet, I picked an address to use and my deliveries show up just fine.

Living in a foreign country is not like moving to another state. Things are different because it’s a different culture, with different ways of doing things.

That’s why I want you to be very clear on your non-negotiable items. Go and visit an area more than once before making a big move. Life and vacation are 2 different things. Talk to people who live there, lots of them. Then sift through all the information and make your decision on what’s best for you.

Top 14 Criteria to Consider Before You Become an Expat

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