How to Get A Temporary Resident Visa in Mexico: A [2024] Expat Guide

Read my comprehensive guide to becoming a Mexico Temporary Resident. From initial visa application in your home country to picking up your official resident card in Mexico, this article provides a structured step-by-step guide, real-world expat experiences, examples of required documents, and costs.

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Published On: December 15, 2023

Latest Update: May 6, 2024

About the author

Hi, I'm Marco Sison. I worked in finance for Fortune 50 companies before retiring early at 41 years old. I have been an expat for over 10 years, living in over 50 countries to show you the best ways to save, invest, and live in amazing countries outside the USA. I am a trusted resource on personal finance and overseas retirement for US News & World Reports, HuffPost, MSN Money, USA Today, ABC Network, Yahoo Finance, Association of MBAs, the iTunes documentary Seeking FIRE, and the Amazon Best-Seller- Abroad: Expats That Thrive.


  • Start by applying at any of the 53 Mexican Consulates in the United States.
  • Allows access to IMSS affordable healthcare coverage
  • Costs only $350 USD and is valid for up to 4 years
  • Eligible for permanent residency after 4 years
  • Can’t legally work for a Mexican company without an additional permit.
  • Income requirements start at ~$2600 USD per month or savings of ~$45,000 USD

Experience Applying For A Mexico Temporary Resident Visa

I remember touching down at the Cancun airport on my first trip to Playa del Carmen. As a US citizen, immigration was a breeze. I walked in with an FMM visa (Forma Migratoria Multiple, the equivalent of a tourist card) and was ready to hit the Riviera Maya for some sun and fun.

This was pre-pandemic. At the time, the National Institute of Migration allowed citizens from 65 countries, including the US, UK, and EU, to enter on a very generous 180-day tourist visa. I thought I was staying for two weeks, but after falling in love with the country and getting permission to work remotely, I stayed the full 180 days.

Table of Contents – Click To Expand: How to Get A Temporary Resident Visa in Mexico: A [2024] Expat Guide


INSIDER TIP: Forma Migratoria Multiple (FMM) Tourist Card Phase Out- As of Sep 2022, the Mexican National Immigration Institute stopped requiring paper FMM for air travel. Now, digital FMMs are represented by a passport stamp with the number of days allowed in the country. The FMM is commonly known as a “Tourist Visa,” though it technically is neither a visa nor exclusively for tourists.

But it wasn’t enough. I flew home to the US for a few days and then went right back, and for a while, this worked, but with the enormous amount of expats participating in this same behavior, the Mexican government took notice.

The Instituto Nacional de Migración (INM- Mexican Immigration) started cracking down on foreign nationals who were essentially living in Mexico on tourist visas and not paying income taxes or contributing to the local economy. At one point, they limited Mexico tourist visas to just seven days. And for no rhyme or reason, it seemed pretty dependent on the discretion and mood of the immigration officer.

Marco Sison, the author, with his family enjoying a sunset in San Miguel de Allende Mexico
Just four more Americans enjoying life in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

That’s when I knew I needed to apply for a temporary resident visa. I didn’t want to risk getting denied entry or banned from the country for trying to extend my tourist visa again and again. I’m not the only one with this idea. Americans are flocking south to take advantage of the low cost of living, laid-back lifestyle, and delicious food.

The Mexican government’s Migration Policy Unit estimates that the number of Americans on residency visas in Mexico has grown over 13% yearly since 2019.

An estimated 1.6 million U.S. citizens live in Mexico, and Mexico is the top foreign destination for U.S. travelers. US State Department

Initially, The immigration process seemed overwhelming, with loads of bureaucratic requirements, authorizations, and paperwork. Even Google didn’t help. There were so many conflicting resources online, even on official government websites, and the “expertise” coming from Facebook expat communities was like a pinata filled with outdated information and bad advice. Oh, and did I tell you that the financial requirements go up each year?

Ugh! There were times I wanted to throw my laptop through a window.

To help other expats looking to move to Mexico avoid similar frustration, I created this guide to simplify securing your temporary residency visa (TRV) for the United Mexican States (bet you didn’t know that the United States was also part of Mexico’s official name). 

Overview of a Mexico Temporary Residence

With over 1.5 million American expats living in Mexico either full or half-time, you aren’t the only person craving Mexico’s easy life.

Whether you want to stay for a year and indulge in the culture of Mexico City or establish a long-term home by the Caribbean Sea, obtaining temporary residency is the key to making it happen.

Mexico Visa Terminology In Spanish and English

Legal terminology is confusing, especially in a foreign language. Here a is quick guide of key terms to help.

Visa de Residencia TemporalTRVTemporary Residence Visa
Tarjeta de Residente Temporal TRTTemporary Residence Card
Nacional De MigracionINMNational Institute of Migration
 Forma Migratoria MultipleFMMMultiple Immigration Form

People will use the terms stamp, visa, permit, and card interchangeably. There are differences.

  • The Temporary Residence Visa (TRV) is the first step in to legally living in Mexico long-term (up to 4 years).
  • The TRV, sometimes referred to as a permit, is preapproval from the Mexican Consulate that allows you to live in Mexico for over 180 days, but less than 4 years.
  • The TRV is a stamp on your passport that is valid for 6 months and only allows you to enter Mexico once.
  • You must exchange your TRV within 6 months from the issue date for Tarjeta de Residente Temporal (TRT) at an INM branch in Mexico.
  • Obtaining your temporary residence card is the final step that confirms your legal immigration status and allows you to stay in Mexico for one to four years.
An example of a Mexico temporary resident card

Quick Facts- Mexico Tempoary Residency

  • Allows for multiple entries- you enter and exit as often as you like once you have a Temporary Resident Card (TRT).
  • No minimum duration- Unlike many countries (Spain, Colombia,) you don’t need to live in Mexico for a minimum number of months to maintain residency
  • Visa process starts in your home country- unless you have family ties or are married to a Mexican citizen, you cannot apply for a TRV in Mexico.
  • Application process finishes in Mexico- After the Mexican Embassy or Consulate approves your TRV, you must get your Temporary Residence Card from an IMN office in Mexico.
  • Cost is roughly $350- $51 USD paid in the US for the TRV and another ~$295 USD / $5,108 MXN paid in Mexico for the TRT.

There are 7 types of visas for temporary residence:

  1. Economic solvency-show you have enough money to live in Mexico
  2. Scientific research- in waters under Mexican jurisdiction
  3. By Invitation from a public or private institution- to participate on a NON-PAID project
  4. Under a temporary work permit for specific international working vacation youth programs
  5. Family Unity- if your spouse, common-in-law partner, parent, or child is a Mexican citizen.
  6. Buy Real Estate in Mexico- purchasing property worth at least $8,297,600 Mexican Pesos (MXN)
  7. Investor In A Mexican corporation- purchasing ownership or stock exceeding 4,148,800 MXN

How long is the Temporary Residency Permit good for?

Temporary resident visas are for foreigners moving to Mexico for over 180 days but less than 4 years. Your first temporary visa will only have validity for one year. After the first year, you can renew the visa for 1 to 3 years for a maximum of 4 years.

After 4 years, you are eligible to apply for Permanent Residency.

The Mexican Resident Visa Process

Mexico has streamlined what was a complicated process to just a few steps outside and inside the country. However, like any country’s residency visa application process, some painful bureaucracy must be followed, or you will waste time and money.

The first part of the visa process starts at home. If you are from the US, you are in luck. Mexico has 53 consulates in the United States, more than any other country has consulates in a host country, and you can apply through any of them.

INSIDER TIP: You don’t have to pick your closest Mexican consulate- Email several consulates near you asking for their exact requirements and check for appointment times. Schedule an appointment with the one with the best timing and least demanding requirements.

Which is the best consulate to apply for my Mexican visa?

Every consulate is different, and the consular officer handling your application can request additional information or documentation to support your application.

For example, some people have been asked for 6 months of paystubs to support an “Economic solvency” application. Other applications required 12 months of financials. Some consulates require a “wet signature” on bank statements, while others only need photocopies.

Contact the consulate in your jurisdiction in advance to ensure your documents meet their specific standards.

StateCityIncome RequirementSavings Requirement
CaliforniaLos Angeles$3,200$52,350
CaliforniaSan Francisco$3,275$54,589
CaliforniaSanta Ana$3,112$51,860
District of ColumbiaWashington DC$3,275$54,589
LouisianaNew Orleans$2,794$54,589
MinnesotaSt. Paul$2,593$42,218
NevadaLas Vegas$3,111$51,860
North CarolinaRaleigh$3,109$51,000
TexasDel Rio$3,300$53,700
TexasEl Paso$3,275$54,589

Can I apply for a TRV myself, or do I need a Mexican lawyer?

The first stage of the visa application process is at the consulate in your home country and does not require a lawyer’s help. You can apply yourself. The procedures are straightforward. You won’t be buried under mounds of paperwork or have to run from one government office to another.

If you qualify and follow the step-by-step guide below, you shouldn’t have any issues getting approved.

How can an Immigration Attorney assist with my temporary residency application?

If you hate hate bureaucracy and paperwork, a Mexican attorney can assist in completing the second and final stage of your residency application in Mexico. Most immigration agents have limited English, document requirements get more stringent, and translations and authentication may be required.

You can have a visa specialist walk you through the application procedures step by step and answer any questions. Immigration lawyers do this all day. They know which documents matter the most, what format things need to be in, and where mistakes are commonly made. A specialized Immigration lawyer will cost you a bit more money but relieve you of the headaches and stress.

Requirements To Apply For Temporary Residency in Mexico

TR Visa Financial Requirements

To apply for a temporary resident visa, you must meet one of the four financial qualifications below. Unfortunately, you cannot combine any of the incomes/values. You must prove financial stability and the means to live and support yourself in Mexico.

  • A monthly income of $3,275 USD or more over the last six months. Can include pension and social security, but some consulates do not include rental property income.
  • An investment/savings account showing an average balance of $54,600 USD over the last 12 months. Home equity does not qualify.
  • Applicants can make a capital investment of $4,148,800 MXN, approximately $240,000 USD, in a prescribed manner. (I recommend using a visa lawyer if you choose this route.)
  • Own a residential property in Mexico with a minimum market value of $8,297,600 MXN, approximately $480,000 USD. The property must be free of any liens, and the application name must match the name on the title deed/sales contract.

NOTE: At the time of writing, the currency exchange rate is approximately 1 USD to 17.29 MXN. However, the official amounts are in Mexican Pesos. Use the official FOREX rate on the day of your appointment to ensure you meet the financial requirements.

screen recording of how to find the official exchange rate to use when paying for your Mexico Temporary Resident Visa
Official Exchage Rate When Paying For Your Mexico Visa

INSIDER TIP: Ineligible assets or savings- at the time of this writing, consulates will not include the value of Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies, stock options, OTC stocks, gold, silver, or other precious metals do not count as sufficient assets to meet the criteria of financial solvency.

Mexico Temporary Resident Visa Application Required Documents

To apply for a TRV, you will need to collect and submit the following documents:

  • Completed visa application form printed on double-sided paper.
  • Valid passport with at least six months left before expiration and a blank page available
  • Copy of your passport personal information page
  • Passport-size photo that was taken in the last six months
  • Documents proving financial stability (depending on which requirement you are using)
  • Visa Fee’s
  • Copy of marriage certificate (if applicable)

Your documents need to be in either English or Spanish. If the original language differs, you must translate it before applying.

Cost To Apply For A Temporary Resident Visa

Getting a long-term visa in some countries can hurt your pockets. But, like most prices in Mexico, visa fees are very reasonable.

Currently, the fee for a Temporary Resident Visa is $51 USD and must be paid at the Mexican consulate in your home country before submitting your application. You’ll most likely be asked to pay it in cash, or some consulates will request a bank order.

You can also pay online via bank transfer, but only pay after you’ve secured an appointment for your application. You will need to bring the receipt to your consular appointment.

Once you receive your visa, you must also pay $5,108 MXN ($295 USD) in Mexico to obtain your residence card.

You will have to pay a renewal fee each year you stay in Mexico until the four years of the temporary residency are over; then, you will have to apply for permanent residence or leave the country.

Cost of Visa Application Fees Around The World

CountryVisa TypeApplication Fee USDValidity (Up To)
ColombiaRentista$542 Years
CroatiaRent$641 Year
MexicoTemporary$514 Years

Step By Step Guide To Apply For A Mexico Temporary Residency

Think of the process to become a Mexico Temporary Resident as two stages:

Stage 1 PreApproval

Steps 1 to 4 are done in your home country or a country where you are currently a legal resident. This is where most expat and digital nomads in Mexico make their first mistake. You cannot apply for a temporary residence permit inside Mexico.

Stage 2 ‘Canje’- Exchange

Step 5-7 is after the consulate approves your application and gives you a passport stamp. You now have 180 days to enter Mexico and canje (exchange) your stamp for a resident card.


Step 1: Make a visa appointment with the consulate or embassy

Book your appointment promptly. Spots are limited and may take some time to secure. The Mexican consulate recommends at least a month before you plan on visiting Mexico.

Some consulate websites have online appointments, but the easiest way is to call and schedule by phone. If your spouse or dependents are also applying, you must schedule separate meetings for each applicant.

screenshot of Mexico Consulate website for online visa appointments


Step 2: Gather all your documents for your meeting

We’ve already gone over the documents required for step two. You’ll want to collect all necessary records for your application and fill out the visa form. You can print out the form here, or the consulate can email you a form after you schedule an appointment.

I’ve gone ahead and put a downloadable checklist together to make it easy for you!

xxx downloadable


Step 3: Attend your visa appointment

Arrive early and bring all of your documents with you. A consular official will interview you and review your personal and financial information to confirm your eligibility. 

After the interview, pay the $51 visa processing fee or show your receipt if you paid online. Depending on their backlog, you might receive your temporary resident permit that day. If not, you will receive it within a day or two. If you’re traveling from out of town, you can hope for one day but plan for two or three.


Step 4: Head to Mexico

Once you’ve received your visa, you have six months to enter Mexico and switch your visa for your resident card. If you miss the 6-month deadline, you will have to repeat the process.


Step 5: Receive Temporary Resident Card Tarjeta de Residente Temporal (TRT)

Once you arrive in Mexico, you must go to an institution, Nacional De Migracion (INM), within 30 days to receive your temporary residency card. You will need to bring a few different documents with you to the appointment. (They accept walk-ins)

  • Valid Passport
  • The Temporary Resident Visa
  • Original Visa Fee Receipt and Two Copies (see section below)
  • Two Passport Photos
  • One Right Side Facing Passport Photo

INSIDER TIP: Waiting In Line For Walk-In Appointments- Some INM branches are insanely busy. In Queretaro, some people line up the night before to get a same-day appointment the following day.

I suggest arriving the day before, preferably between 3-4 pm. You won’t get a same-day appointment, but if you’re in line by 4 pm, they’ll schedule one for you the next morning. This is much better than spending the night in line.

After paying the 5,108 MXN fee, you will receive your residency card. Yay! This card will be valid for one year and can be renewed up to three times. After four years of having a temporary resident status, you can apply for permanent residency.


Step 6: Renewing A Temporary Mexican Resident Visas

You have to renew your temporary resident visa every year for three years, and then you can apply for permanent residency. The renewal process is straightforward. You will just need to schedule an appointment at the closest INM office.

You can not renew it online or out of the country. It has to be done in person at the immigration office.

You will need to do this 30 days before the expiration of your current visa, and you will need to pay a fee for the renewal. In some cases, you can extend the card for the next three years versus renewing it every year. You’ll be able to apply for this in person.

Here is a breakdown of the yearly renewal

  • 1 Year $5,108 MXN
  • 2 Years $7,654 MXN
  • 3 Years $9,693 MXN
  • 4 Years $11,488 MXN

How to pay for your Residency Card Fee

Pay Using A Credit Card

Good news. INM offices are finally hitting the 20th century. Many larger INM branches now accept Visa and Mastercard debit and credit cards. Some are even modern enough to have eWallet terminals accepting Apple Pay and Google Pay. However, INM offices do not accept cash.

Pay With Cash

If your local INM does not accept bank cards or if you want to pay with cash, follow the process below.

  1. Fill out the payment form online
  2. The name on the receipt MUST BE AN EXACT MATCH to how your name is written on your passport.
  3. Under Tipo de trámite o servicio (Type of procedure or service) Choose this Derechode Residente Temporal (DRT)
  4. Choose your closest INM office
  5. Print the form
  6. Pay the amount on the form at a bank before your INM appointment.
  7. You will need to bring the original receipt and two photocopies.
screenshot of the INM payment form required to pay for a Mexico Temporary Resident Card at a bank

INSIDER TIP: US Passport and Middle Names- Look at the form above, notice there is no section for middle name. Translated in order, the fields say “First Last Name,” “Second Last Name,” and “Name(s).”

If your US passport has a middle name, you put your FIRST NAME and MIDDLE NAME on the “Nombre(s)” line.

The INM will not process your TRT application if the names are not exactly matched.

You will need to make another appointment after fixing the error. Banks will not correct the error.

You must pay the fee again for a new receipt and wait for a refund from the INM. Refunds can take up to a year to hit your account.

If you are from another Latin country that uses your Mother’s Last Name and your Father’s Last Name, double-check the form to ensure your names are in the correct order.

Mexican Temporary Resident Visa and Card Processing Time

From start to finish, you can expect 1-3 months of processing time for the temporary resident visa. The longest part will likely be scheduling a visa appointment at the consulate in your home country.

You will receive your visa in 1-3 days after your appointment, in some instance on the same day. After you receive your visa, you will have six months to travel to Mexico and switch it out for your resident card.

Once you arrive in Mexico, you have 30 days to go to INM and obtain your temporary resident card. This process usually takes no more than a few hours to a full working day, depending on how busy the immigration office is.

Translate all your documents into Spanish before you attend your appointment. This will save time and avoid any issues with immigration officials who may not speak English fluently. This only saves a few hours, not really days or weeks.

Mistakes are what make the process longer. To make the process of your temporary resident visa faster, gather all your documents for review, then have a Mexican Immigration Attorney confirm your application is ready to go.

How can I convert from Temporary to Permanent Residency In Mexico?

I’ll go over briefly what is required. Check out the full article on obtaining permanent residency for a complete guide.

Your temporary residence visa is good for four years, after which you can apply for a permanent residency card through the National Institute of Migration (INM). 

To obtain permanent residency, applying before your temporary permit expires is crucial. The fee to convert your temporary residency visa to permanent residency is 1,632 pesos, in addition to the fee for the permanent resident card, which is 6,226 pesos.

Here’s what you’ll need to take to your appointment to receive your permanent resident card:

Typical Mistakes and Potential Issues with the TRV Process

  1. Financial Requirements: You must meet certain financial thresholds, either through proof of income, bank balances, property value, or business investment. These amounts are based on a multiple of Mexico’s minimum daily wage. The financial amounts change annually. Your financial statements must meet the revised amounts.
  2. Incomplete or Incorrect Documentation: This is the most common issue. You need to provide a range of documents, such as proof of economic solvency, a valid passport, photos, and application forms. Any missing or inaccurately filled-out documents can lead to delays or rejection of the visa application.
  3. Timing and Processing Delays: Backlog or inefficiency at the consulate or embassy can result in longer wait times for an appointment. INM offices are historically slow in August before summer break and nothing gets done in a Latin country in December. Everyone takes nearly a month off for Christmas.
  4. Different Consulates Have Different Requirements- Some consulates require 12 months of pay slips vs. the usual six months, resulting in a delay while you wait for additional pay stubs. Another typical difference is some consulates require original bank statements. Statements printed online are not valid. If you use paperless banking, you may need a bank stamp, signature on letterhead, or potentially a notary. 
  5. Leaving Mexico Too Soon- If your application is in process, but you need to leave the country, you must request a permission letter of exit from the INM. You will be allowed a maximum of 60 days outside the country. Your visa application is on hold until you are back in Mexico.

Common Myths and or Misconceptions about Getting Your Temporary Residency:

  • You must have a job offer (Myth): You do not need a job offer as long as you can prove that you have sufficient monthly income to support yourself in Mexico.
  • You can work with a temporary residency card (Misconception): Working with TRC is technically possible, but legally working in Mexico for a Mexican company requires a work permit.
  • That a Temporary Resident Visa is the same as a Temporary Resident Card.
  • You need temporary residency status before applying for a permanent resident visa (Misconception): Some consulates allow you to apply directly for a permanent residency visa based on financial solvency,

Benefits of the Mexico Temporary Residence

  • Stay in Mexico as long as you like (up to 4 years)
  • Enter and Leave Mexico as many times as you like
  • Open a Mexican Bank account
  • Apply for a Mexican driver’s license
  • Get access to affordable public health insurance
  • Apply for a permanent visa after four years
  • Potential to work
  • Get local prices at museums and attractions (some even offer free entry for residents)
  • Duty-free import of your personal household goods

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Certain rights and obligations come with your temporary residency status. Including:

  • The right to enroll in the Mexican healthcare system
  • The ability to purchase property or a vehicle in Mexico
  • The obligation to maintain valid immigration documents at all times while residing in Mexico
  • Must fill out paperwork for annual renewals and pay associated fees.

Advantages of Temporary over Permanent Residency

There aren’t many benefits of being a temporary resident vs. being a permanent. Nearly everyone has to start with a temporary resident visa, even if their spouse is a Mexican citizen. Temporary residency permits also require less paperwork and require you to have a smaller sum of income/savings to prove financial stability.

Also, temporary residency allows you to import cars with foreign license plates without customs and import tax for up to 4 years.

FAQs- Mexico Temporary Resident Visa

Is a temporary resident visa the same as a Mexico work visa?

A temporary resident visa is not the same as a Mexico work visa. You cannot work for a Mexican company or earn income in Mexican pesos on a temporary resident visa. If you plan on working in Mexico, you must apply for a work visa separately.

When should I start applying for temporary residency in Mexico?

You should start the process and gather all the documents for your temporary resident visa application one to six months before you move to Mexico. Remember, most applications require at least 6 months of paystubs and bank statements.

Can a US citizen get permanent residency in Mexico?

Yes! A US citizen can get permanent residency in Mexico through the temporary resident visa process. You can apply for permanent residency after four years of holding a temporary resident visa.

Can I apply for a temporary visa while in Mexico?

No, you can not apply for a temporary resident visa in Mexico. This must be done at your home consulate.

What if I lose or Damage My Mexican Resident Card?

If you lose or damage your Mexican resident card, you must visit the closest immigration office to request a replacement. You’ll have to pay the initial card fee again.

We moved the comments to the New Expat Forums

  • How come EVERY site I go to has different — VERY different — dollar figures for amounts of income and savings required? Every one.

    TEMPORARY RESIDENCY (6 mos at a time), savings 50-75K
    PERMANENT RESIDENCY, savings 220-300K
    Residency in Mexico Financial Requirements 2024- By Consulate
    Last Updated on January 26, 2024
    The right two columns highlight Permanent Residency through monthly income or Permanent Residency through savings. N/A means I don’t have their information, or they have not responded to me.
    You only need to prove one, not both. Income requirements are NET- or after taxes. However, the consulates ultimately look at your balances from your bank statements.

    • Hi Alan, Sorry for your frustration. The answer is two reasons. One, the Mexican Peso to USD Exchange rate. The currency is going crazy. There has been as much as a 15% swing in the last year, so prices quoted will change depending on the exchange rate. Two, and this is frustrating, but each Mexican consulate can set their own financial requirements. Depending on which consulate you go to, the financial requirement can change by 70%. Your best bet is to check the financial requirements of the specific consulate you will be applying to.

  • Hi-You mentioned hiring an immigration lawyer to cut through the bureaucracy in Mexico when getting a temporary residency visa. Do you have any suggestions of how to find someone and how to know if they’re legitimate/overcharging etc.? Thanks so much!

    • Hi Marcy, It’s beneficial (though not technically required) to choose a lawyer in your city. They will have a better grasp of the nuances of the INM office there and it’s easier for you two to meet and work with each other. Where do you plan on living?

  • Thanks for all the valuable info and tips! You didn’t mention student visas, which I have heard can be converted to temporary residency. Do you have info about that route?

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    About the author

    Hi, That's me. I'm Marco Sison. I am a survivor of the corporate rat race. I started Nomad FIRE to show you an alternative to the stress and grind of 70-hour weeks to pay off a mortgage, student loans, and countless bills. After getting laid off in 2015, I said screw it all and retired early at 41 years old. I have traveled the last eight years to over 50 countries to show you the best ways to save, invest, and live in amazing countries for 70% less cost than the US. I have been featured in: US News & World Reports, HuffPost, MSN Money, USA Today, ABC Network, Yahoo Finance, the iTunes documentary Seeking FIRE, and the Amazon Best-Seller, Abroad: Expats That Thrive. [view press...]