Originally from Michigan, but a former long-term resident of Florida, Linda Southwick immigrated to Mexico in 2016. She now resides in TAO, a luxury residential development near the beach town of Akumal, located between Playa del Carmen and Tulum. Read Linda’s insightful interview below about her experiences immigrating from the U.S. and creating a new life in Mexico.  

When and why did you decide to move to Mexico?

When I retired I thought I might like to live somewhere else, and I thought about Europe and different places, but Mexico was nowhere on my radar. I lived in Florida for many years on the beach side. I love water. When I first moved to St. Augustine it was quaint and quiet, but then it exploded. That was part of the reason I was looking for a place to go to.

I had joined International Living in 2012 and gone to a couple of their conferences, and they were advertising one in Cancun. Normally I’m a very metered person. I can make impulsive buys, but it’s usually not something like this. I went to the International Living / TAO (developers) conference in November of 2013 and I signed the purchase contract. We were having a get-together with the people from TAO and they asked us how we felt here, and I said, “I’ve never felt the presence of God so strong in my life.”  It was a very impulsive buy.

The unit was supposed to be done in March 2016, but it wasn’t done until October 2016. I live in one of the prettiest developments around here. And I’ve made some good friends.

What are the differences between your life now and your life before?

When I came down here, it was a real learning experience – going to the grocery store, finding auto and home insurance, the language barriers, being in a new construction; there were just a lot of ups and downs. Probably the greatest thing was finding a church. I found a church in Paamul, run by American people. That helped stabilize me because then I felt like I had a base. There aren’t many residents who stay here year round. Having been in a private home for so long, there are a lot of adjustments: the noise factor, the distance from grocery stores – but it’s something you just adapt to; it’s a way of life.

In the States, the food costs more, the taxes cost more, insurance costs more. Everything is so expensive there.

The thing that is so important to me is the people. I have never lived where the people are so kind, and they seem to have joy no matter what their status in life is, and that’s gone in the US. Even though I don’t speak the language here, I feel embraced.

How did you find the immigration process?

I moved here in 2016, and back then the process wasn’t so long, because there weren’t so many people applying. A lawyer recommended Adriana to me. Adriana guided me through the pictures and finger prints, sitting in the (immigration) office with me for hours. That was very successful and she has renewed it for me – as the temporary residency is only for four years. And now I have to do the permanent visa. She went above and beyond and also helped me with my driver’s license. I highly recommend her. She is very efficient at what she does and she has such a warm heart. For all the work she did and the personal connection I’ve had with her, I’d pay her twice as much.

What advice would you give to people thinking of moving here – or what would you do differently?

Come down, and find a realtor you can trust. Rent a place first for 6 months – because you need to get a feel for how it is to live here.

Be aware that this is a growing area. Costs will probably go up. If you have the ability, venture into places that are not yet popular. Be financially astute; know what you’re paying for. How much does it cost to close? What does it cost me to import my car? How much are immigration services?

Don’t bring your furniture. You’re going to pay import duties on that. Let go of stuff.

Be thoughtful about how you’ll do your banking here. Make a budget.

One thing I tell people is not to bring a foreign–plated car here. I had a fairly new car in Florida, and in the process I began exploring what I would do with the car. I didn’t realise that bringing the car into Mexico with me would require me to be on a temporary visa. Now when I do my permanent visa application I will have to decide what to do with the car, and it’s not easy: take it out of the country and import it or take it across the border and sell it.

Is there anything else you want to tell us about your experience?

I’ve had surgery here, and it was great. I have a good dentist – probably better than the one I had in the States. I’ve been very pleased with the medical care here.

The community is very transient here. Make connections. You’ve got to reach out to make them.

When I went back to Florida last year, I thought “I couldn’t live here again”.


Thank you, Linda, for sharing your immigration experience and advice with us. We’re delighted you took the leap and your Mexican life is a success. Welcome to Paradise!

Have you worked with Adriana to start a new life in Mexico? We’d love to hear about your experience. Get in touch: info@immigrationtomexico.mx.

Enjoying our blog? Read our last article: Mexican Residency: In a Nutshell