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Migraciones internacionales

On-line version ISSN 2594-0279Print version ISSN 1665-8906

Migr. Inter vol.10  Tijuana  2019  Epub Jan 01, 2019 


Seeking the Endless Summer. Push and Pull Factors in the Pleasant Transmigration Process in Spain and Mexico

Omar Lizárraga Morales 1

1Universidad Autónoma de Sinaloa, México,


This paper describes and analyzes the stages of the process of what is known in Spanish as Transmigración Placentera. The description of the phenomenon, we do it since the “Push- Pull” theoretical approach, which posits that human mobility responds to rational valuations by comparing elements in the place of origin and destination. In particular, we focus on describing and comparing the mobility of UK citizens who migrate to El Campello, Spain, and US citizens moving to Mazatlan, Mexico.

Keywords: North-South mobility; Transnationality; Retirement migration; Mazatlán; El Campello


En este trabajo se describen y analizan las etapas del proceso migratorio de lo que se conoce como Transmigración Placentera. La descripción del fenómeno la hacemos desde el enfoque teórico de Atracción-Rechazo, el cual plantea que la movilidad humana responde a valoraciones racionales comparando elementos en el lugar de origen y en el destino. En particular nos centramos en la descripción y comparación de la movilidad de los ciudadanos del Reino Unido que emigran a El Campello, España, y los ciudadanos de Estados Unidos que se trasladan a Mazatlán, México.

Palabras clave: Movilidad norte-sur; Transnacionalidad; Migración de retiro; Mazatlán; El Campello


Nostalgia for landscapes and lifestyles difficult to find in their usual environment has arisen among citizens of economically more advanced societies, contributing to the emergence of new forms of residential mobility ( Mazón, Huete & Mantecón, 2009 ). This human mobility is a clear indicator of new types of migration that has experienced a significant increase in the last decades of the twentieth century and the beginning of the twenty-first century. It is a model based on consumption and not on production ( Salva, 2005 ).

These migrants are characterized by an age that allows them to have free time and financial resources to live outside their country of origin in relative comfort, given their retirement status. This type of mobility in search of leisure and amenity spaces has been conceptualized in European and American literature in different ways: Amenity Migration ( Janoschka, 2008 ), Affluent Migration ( Schriewer & Rodes, 2006 ), Priviledged Migration ( Croucher, 2009 ), North-South Migration ( Balslev & Velásquez, 2008 ; Bozic, 2006 ), Retirement Migration ( Gustafson, 2008 ; Rodríguez, Casado & Huber, 2005 ), Residential Tourism ( Bielza & Bohl, 2009 ; Huete, Mantecón & Mazón, 2008 ), Elite Migration ( Janoshcka, 2009 ), Elderly Migration ( Illés, 2005 ), Consumption-Led Movility ( Huber, 2005 ) and Lifestyle Migration ( Benson & O’Reilly, 2009 ; Sato, 2001 ; Stone & Stubbs, 2007 ) and as it has been called in previous papers: transmigración placentera ( Lizárraga, 2012 and 2013 ).

The migrant to whom we refer, makes an assessment of his condition in his place of origin and what he will find in the place of destination before international mobility; he makes a comparative analysis of the economic, social, cultural and geographical elements that motivate him to move from one region to another.

According to Drachman (1992) the international migration process consists of three stages: 1) Pre-migration from the place of origin, 2) transit or trajectory, and 3) settlement and integration at destination. Durand (2004) adds to this process a fourth stage that refers to the possibility of returning to the place of origin. Each stage of the process has important variables according to the individuals.

This article aims to describe each of these four stages of the international migration process, based on the push-pull theory, and taking as case studies the mobility of UK citizens migrating to El Campello, Spain; and U.S. citizens migrating to Mazatlan, Mexico. Since there are few studies on north-south migration so far, this paper aims to make a theoretical contribution to the study of contemporary international migrations, taking two case studies from Europe and America.


Migration from economically advanced countries to other countries in the process of maturation may be surprising because it does not respond to the classic economic criteria observed in other migrations. Although the economic factor has a large influence, they are people who break with the “immigrant” stereotype because they do not compete for jobs, they are not discriminated against, it is not always a permanent movement and it is difficult to distinguish it from tourism, which is why the phenomenon has not been conceptualized until now.

Given the limitations of each of the concepts mentioned above in trying to encompass this population that travels for seemingly similar reasons, in this paper we call this human mobility pleasant transmigration, and its participants pleasant transmigrants.

As we have found in previous studies ( Lizárraga, 2012 and 2013 ), many of these migrants do not make return trips to their country of origin, but reside permanently in the destination. However, they maintain social, economic or political ties with their places of origin. It means that even when they do not physically return, they maintain permanent transnational practices, which characterize them as transmigrants ( Smith, 2005 ). We call it transmigration because of the high mobility of its participating actors between their places of origin and destination. It is a flow that is not forced, but voluntary and that far from being unidirectional, it is bidirectional, that is to say, they live a constant transnational migration between the two regions.

This mobility is made up of people who seek a better lifestyle, who make a comparison of their countries of origin and the benefits they find in another, contrasting the attractions they find in the receiving place, which can be for example a more relaxed lifestyle, a more pleasant weather, economic and health benefits, among others ( Benson & O´Reilly, 2009 ). When it comes to people looking for beneficial and pleasant conditions, whether economic, social or climatic ( O´Reilly, 2000 , Wishiteni, Masila, & Boniface, 2009 ) we call the qualifier pleasant.

This type of migrant seeks a better life quality, but not only in the economic sense, but also flees from possible bad scenarios that could occur in their place of origin, such as loneliness, routine, little physical exercise, inactivity, and so on. Its participants are also looking for an adventure, a new beginning, they are looking to escape the monotony, even though they are characterized by practicing leisure mainly in the receiving communities, although some of them undertake business. Apparently the fact of migrating has an impact on their lives, an impact of self-realization ( Benson & O´Reilly, 2009 ).

The main reason for their mobility is not the performance of paid work at the destination, but recreation, leisure, holidays, medical treatment, or enjoyment of the beach, while maintaining an acceptable quality of life, traits that characterize a tourist when visiting a resort for short periods of time ( Wishiteni et al., 2009 ). As Leontidou and Tourkomeris (2009) say, a new type of seasonal/semipermanent residential mobility has spread from retirees to other population groups seeking a different lifestyle.

Push-Pull Theory

This theory within migration studies is based on a series of elements associated with both the place of origin and the place of destination. According to this theoretical approach, there are factors that “push” people out of their habitual residence when comparing the conditions that exist elsewhere, thus generating a dynamic force of attraction and rejection ( King, 2012 ). This theory reveals the personal motivations of migrants; after an assessment of the costs and benefits of migration, they will choose the most advantageous alternative.

For Massey, Durand, and Malone (2002, p. 266) there are three basic principles of this theory: First, the unequal distribution of resources (economic, political, and cultural) among the regions of the world create regions more attractive than others to move around in. Therefore, positive factors exert an attraction, and negative factors represent a rejection or a push. Secondly, supply and demand in the labor market motivate mobility. Most advanced economies provide jobs, while regions of origin have job shortages and low wages. And thirdly, migrants are rational beings who calculate the costs and benefits of migration, so they decide whether to move or not.

Although this theory has historically been applied in studies to explain economic and labor migration, in this article we take it up again to analyze the leisure mobilities directed towards the south. In this case, the citizens of the United Kingdom and the United States are the people who make a rational evaluation of the benefits before making the movement, these benefits can be economic, taking into account the global inequalities in some countries such as Spain or Mexico. But there are also other pull factors, such as social and climatic conditions.


The fieldwork was carried out during the first semester of 2014 and 2015 in El Campello, Spain and Mazatlan, Mexico respectively. In order to know the migratory process; object of our study, a survey was applied to U.S. citizens in Mazatlan and to UK citizens in El Campello. The data collected consisted of knowing the factors of attraction and rejection that influence mobility to Mexico and Spain. We also asked about their socioeconomic and demographic profile, and about some attitudes of integration with the local society, such as the type of relationships, language proficiency and cultural identity.

People from the United States and the United Kingdom residing in private dwellings in Mazatlan and El Campello were surveyed. A sample of 200 and 220 surveys were applied respectively. Due to the difficulty of quantifying the exact foreign population in the two cities analysed, the representativeness of the target population is questionable. However, with random sampling, and with a relatively large sample size, we are confident that the results reflect some of the realities of international pleasant migrants in these two locations. Since our survey sample was not statistically representative, the objective of our study is to determine behavioral trends among respondents in both locations.

The target population of this survey was U.S. and British nationals who permanently or intermittently reside in Mazatlan, Mexico or El Campello, Spain respectively. Only people over the age of 18 were surveyed, retired and non-retired. Previous studies have found that these types of migrants often continue to work either in the place of origin or destination ( Croucher, 2009 ; Lizárraga, 2012 ).

The survey was conducted face-to-face with migrant actors in the two destinations between February and June. Finally, the data collected in the survey were coded to form a database in the SPSS program. It was then submitted to comparative analysis in order to provide interpretation services in this document.


According to the survey, U.S. migrants residing in Mazatlan, Mexico, come primarily from border states such as Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Nevada, mostly from California. Migrants from the United Kingdom in El Campello, Spain come from the most populated counties in England, such as Great Manchester, Worcestershire, Tyne and Wear, West Midlands, Yorkshire, and especially London.

In analyzing the data, we see that American and British citizens agree that “bad weather,” “high cost of living,” “poor quality of life,” “everyday stress,” “high immigration rates,” and “population pressure” are the most important factors of rejection from their places of origin, in order of importance. However, the migration process usually begins before the act of relocation. At this stage people make an assessment of their social and economic status, and there is also an idealization of profit after residential movement ( Drachman, 1992 ).

The decision to migrate has long-term consequences, so prior knowledge of the destination reduces uncertainty. At this stage of the migration process, pre-destination visits appear to be a crucial factor in choosing a place to live, as 95% of U.S. migrants visited Mazatlan before moving, according to our survey. On the other hand, 75% of British respondents had visited El Campello as a tourist before their permanent mobility. Another aspect to take into account in the pre-migration stage is the positioning of the destination in the tourism market, as the image of a destination is constructed from the characteristics of the place itself and what consumers are looking for ( Huete, 2005 ).

In terms of the demographic profile, according to the survey in El Campello the British population was relatively younger than the American population living in Mazatlan. In the first, the baby boomer migrant population (born between 1946 and 1964) corresponded to 48% of those surveyed, while those older than this generation represented 51%. In Mazatlan, by contrast, the baby boomers were 38% of the population surveyed, while the bulk (57%) was made up of people older than that age. In both destinations, the majority of those surveyed are married (75% in Mazatlán and 79% in El Campello), although there are some divorced (Mazatlán 11% and El Campello 8%) widowers (5% Mazatlán and 10% El Campello).

Generally speaking, Americans in Mazatlan have a higher level of education than the British in El Campello. According to the survey, the majority of Americans have a university degree (49%), a postgraduate degree (31% master's and 12% PhD). While the majority of the British population in El Campello has a high school degree (68%), a primary school (16%) and only 4% have professional studies; 12% of them have no schooling.

In this first stage of the migratory process, it can be said that it is a voluntary migration, but motivated by previous tourist experiences and by expelling factors to leave their place of residence in the United States and the United Kingdom, given the living conditions in the big cities of these two nations. That is, what motivates them to leave their usual place of residence, are the inherent characteristics of these large cities, and the “bad weather.”

Second Stage: The Trajectory

This stage corresponds to the journey from the place of departure to the destination. The trip can be direct to the chosen place, or in stages. In the latter case, uncertainty increases, especially when the event occurs in special circumstances ( Drachman, 1992 ).

Air connectivity is closely linked to the development of mass tourism and has facilitated residential tourism –and pleasant migration– in this sense, we find that the form most used by citizens of the United States and the United Kingdom who travel to Mazatlan and El Campello is air. Both destinations have low-cost flights and international airports. The flight time in both cases is approximately two hours.

The legal framework of the place of destination and the conditions of migrants also influence this stage, as mobility conditions vary whether it is legal migration or undocumented migration, or whether they have the economic and social capital to make the change with greater certainty and security.

In the U.S.-Mexico context, immigration legislation allows U.S. citizens to reside legally in Mexico under the migratory forms of Immigrant, Immigrant, Perennial Resident, Temporary Resident, Temporary Resident Student, Visitor for adoption purposes, and Humanitarian Visitor. Americans residing legally in Mexico may do so under one of these modalities, or with a migratory form of tourist. The internees to the country with this last migratory form are not contemplated in the statistics of residents, however, any foreigner can be in Mexican territory for up to six months. During their stay, all U.S. tourists can purchase real estate, just like any foreign resident. Therefore, the exact quantification of U.S. residents in Mexico becomes a difficult task.

In the case of Spain, until before the departure of the United Kingdom from the European Union, the British had “free entry and exit” from the country. But from the so- called BREXIT, they can reside legally through two types of visa: The so-called temporary residence, is a type of migratory document that authorizes to stay in Spain for a period exceeding 90 days and less than five years. Or, under the long-term residence document, which authorizes residence and work in Spain indefinitely. Foreign citizens who have had temporary residence in Spain for five years on a continuous basis have the right to long- term residence.

The social networks and social capital that migrants have are also important at this stage, as having family and/or friends at the destination can reduce the uncertainty of the migration process. Here it can be said that 64% of U.S. citizens had some kind of friendship or kinship in the city of Mazatlan before residing permanently, and 43% of UK citizens in El Campello also had these social networks before mobility.

Therefore, the trajectory stage is relatively easy for citizens of the United States and the United Kingdom who want to change their residence to Mazatlan and El Campello for short or long periods. The legal framework for Mexican and Spanish immigration is quite flexible for these immigrants who wish to enter the country. In addition, because they have social and economic capital, they are certain that their migratory route is relatively safe and comfortable.

Third Stage: Destination

The destinations analyzed in this research were the cities of Mazatlan and El Campello, both have the similarity of being beach tourist cities, one located in the Pacific Ocean and another in the Mediterranean. Mazatlan is located in the south of the state of Sinaloa, in the northwest of Mexico, bordered to the north by the state of Sonora and Chihuahua, with Durango to the east, Nayarit to the south, and the Pacific Ocean to the west.

Source: Prepared by the authors based on geostatistical framework 2014, version 6.2.

Map 1. Geographical Location of Mazatlan, Sinaloa  

Mazatlan is the second largest city in Sinaloa and one of the most important beach destinations in Mexico. The 2015 census recorded in this municipality a population of 502,547 people ( Inegi, 2015 ), of which 4,485 were U.S. citizens registered as residents ( INM, 2015 ). Previous studies indicate official numbers of migrants and their lifestyles which are probably under-represented in the census data ( Hayes, 2015 ; Huete & Mantecón, 2010 ; Janoschka, 2009 ; Schafran & Mönkkönen, 2011 ). The lack of interest in the official record may be due to intense mobility between origin and destination during the different seasons of the year ( Casado-Díaz, Casado-Díaz, & Casado-Díaz, 2013 ; Lizárraga, 2012 ), or it may be because in some cases they lack the financial means to legally obtain visas.

Tourism and fishing are the main economic activities of the municipality of Mazatlan. The average annual temperature fluctuates between 18 and 28 degrees Celsius, so this temperature attracts international tourists, mainly from the United States and Canada. It has an international airport with daily flights from the southwestern United States.

El Campello, on the other hand, is a coastal city in the Valencian Community in southeastern Spain that has been attractive to tourists and migrants from the United Kingdom, with its average annual temperature ranging from 12 to 26 degrees Celsius throughout the year. El Campello, located to the south of the Community, belongs to the province of Alicante and is 13 kilometers from the city of the same name. The municipality of El Campello has a population of 27,356 inhabitants, according to the National Statistics Institute ( INE, 2015 ) of which, at that time had the register of 1,279 resident citizens of the United Kingdom.

Source: Prepared by the authors based on geographical layer Argis, 2012.

Map 2. Geographical location of El Campello, Alicante  

In the municipality of El Campello, the main traditional economic activities were fishing and agriculture, but tourism, construction and other related activities are now the most important ones. El Campello is connected to the main tourist cities in the province (Alicante and Benidorm) by motorway and train, and the nearest international airport is 28 kilometers away with daily flights from the UK.

According to the data produced by our survey, British citizens residing in this municipality acquire residential properties in high cost areas and close to the coastline. The most popular areas for foreigners are in the Mucha Vista beach area, and on residential urban complexes such as Covetafuma, El Poble Espanyol and Bonalba.

The Pull Factors

Pull factors in pleasant transmigration have been analyzed in previous studies. For example, on the Costa del Sol, Casado-Díaz (2005) argues that the elements that attract foreign residents are previous experiences as tourists or migrant workers on the spot. It is also important to perceive the environmental conditions (climate and physical well-being) and the image of the destination in terms of different social and economic characteristics.

In the province of Alicante, attributes related to tourist infrastructure and facilities in general have also been identified ( Huete, 2005 ). It was also determined that intangible resources: culture, history, art; social environment (hospitality and kindness of residents, social equality, quality of life and language barriers); economic and political (stability, security and prices), “environment” (luxury, fashionable, good reputation, family, exotic, mystical, relaxed, cheerful, fun, pleasant), are perceived dimensions in the formation of the image. Agents involved in the development process (developers, builders, government agencies and real estate agents) have played a very important role in the development of new settlement areas and the management of own housing for foreign residents. They are responsible for the image that has been offered in this province in recent years.

As we find in this research, the most important pull factors for U.S. citizens residing in Mazatlan in order of importance are: “good weather,” “friendly local people,” “low cost of living,” “local culture,” “geographic proximity,” and “medical services,” among others.

On the other hand, for the British the attractive factors to move to El Campello, in order of importance are: “good weather,” “low cost of living,” “relaxed lifestyle,” “friendly people,” “geographical proximity,” “gastronomy” and “social networks,” among others.

Therefore, the attraction factors towards Spain and Mexico have an inverse relationship with the elements of rejection in their countries of origin; they flee from demographic pressure, high levels of stress, bad weather, high prices, and antagonistic factors attract them to the countries of the south.

Settlement and Integration

Settlement refers to the stage at which the subject reaches the destination and solves his or her minimal problems of immediate subsistence. This involves personal changes in the immigrant and changes in the host community. The immigrant retains his customs and values, while accepting patterns of the new culture, however, has not been culturally assimilated.

According to Drachman (1992) as soon as the adaptation process begins, some compatibility between the lifestyles of immigrants and the host community is required. Overcoming these conflicts depends on adaptation in the first place, and then on social integration. In the process of this integration, the person discovers the nuances of the new culture, progressively draws interest for it and slowly feels it as his own. Now, not only does he know and respect, at the same time he feels one more among the neighbors, and he will feel more and more like one of them.

Other rules remain in the intimacy of their home, which allows them to preserve their own identity, coexisting with the new habits acquired. At this stage, migrants can also make an adjustment, that is, minimum acceptance of the host country's culture so that it does not conflict with it, but there is no desire and need to incorporate it as their own ( Drachman, 1992 ).

In order to determine the level of social and cultural integration of American and British immigrants in Mazatlan and El Campello, in this study we wanted to understand some patterns such as mastery of the local language, social ties with the host community, and belonging to the social structure.

Given that both destination regions analyzed in this study are Spanish-speaking regions, we consider language proficiency to be an important practice of cultural integration, because the better a migrant can speak the local language, the more likely he is to interact with the community ( Rojas, LeBlanc & Sunil, 2014 ).

Unlike Drachman (1992) , in this study the findings show that relatively few respondents could speak Spanish. U.S. residents in Mazatlan showed a greater mastery of the Spanish language than their British counterparts in El Campello (14% U.S. and 4% UK citizens). We interpreted this general lack of language skills as the result of: 1) a lack of interest on the part of some migrants in interacting with the local community, 2) a lack of incorporation into the local labor market, due to their status as retirees, and 3) the difficulty of learning a new language at an advanced age.

When respondents were asked if they had local friends in Mazatlan and El Campello, respectively, it was found that in both cases the response was significantly positive, but slightly more so among U.S. citizens than British citizens in Spain (88% of U.S. and 74% of UK respondents).

One variable that is interesting to compare between the two nationalities is the number of intercultural marriages, that is, immigrants who marry local women or men. In this case, U.S. citizens also show a greater interest in interacting matrimonially with the host community. Of the 177 British respondents who were married in our study, only two were married to Spanish nationals (0.11%). On the other hand, of the 150 U.S. citizens married, 12 were married to Mexican nationals (8%).

From our point of view these intercultural marriages in Mexico are the result of three factors: a) the economic security that Mexican women obtain from U.S. relationships with husbands, b) the added security that foreigners receive from their financial investments in Mexico, and c) the social ascent that Mexican women have by marrying a foreigner with a higher income and educational level ( Lizárraga, 2010, p. 81 ).

According to Almada (2006) , there are strategic advantages in these marriages, since you can put the property under your wife's name as a way of protection, the local term for this is “prestanombre.” These patterns are similar to other destinations such as Thailand where low-income single mothers seek economic protection through marriage to foreign migrants ( Koch-Schulte, 2011 ).

Another form of social integration of this type of migrants is through membership in organizations or clubs, as these groups operate as socialization centers with other immigrants and the local population as well. Through this network, immigrants share information with each other about the receiving community. Membership of these organizations also allows migrants to gain experience in participating in voluntary work with the local society, which can further facilitate their incorporation ( Rojas et al., 2014 ).

In Mazatlan and El Campello there are several civil society organizations of this type. In Mazatlan some of the most important are the American Legion, Friends of Mexico, Familia and The Vineyard. In the Campello some of the most important are the English Speaking Club, Campello Social Club, AMUDECA and Mucha Vista Ladies Club.

In these civil associations local people are welcome and usually attend meetings in both destinations. U.S. citizens tend to have higher levels of participation in these groups than their UK counterparts. Sixty-three percent of those surveyed in Mazatlan stated that they belonged to at least one of these social organizations, while in El Campello only 34%, which is interpreted as a pattern of integration with the local community to a greater extent by Americans through these civil organizations.

At this stage of the migration process, it is worth comparing the levels of social and cultural integration of migrants in destination communities. According to the different variables measured, such as mastery of the Spanish language, civil association and intercultural marriages, Americans in Mazatlan show a higher percentage of integration than the British in El Campello, Spain.


Although for Drachman (1992) there are three stages in the migration process, Durand (2004) adds a final stage to the process and consists of the possible return to the place of origin. In the present case, return in the context of southbound migration may be permanent or continuous. Once again migrants rationally assess the cost-benefits of living in Mexico and Spain.

To quote Durand (2004) , the decision to return is a resolution similar to the one at the time of departure. Here we could say that the migration process is restarted in the opposite direction and therefore, again, a decision-making phase. On the other hand, the phenomenon of return refers to what happens to migrants during their residence and the changes that occur in the international context of the countries of origin and destination. Therefore, some of the explanations for clarifying the causes and permanence of migrants can also be explained in reverse, i.e. why do some migrants return to their place of origin?

For Durand (2004, pp. 104-107) , five types of return migration can be distinguished. While it is a general explanation of return mobility, it is worth quoting two of these types of voluntary return to have a theoretical approach to the case of migration that we address in this article. The first refers to when the migrant returns permanently and voluntarily, after a long stay, even after having lived abroad for decades or having adopted another nationality. It may be an abuse to speak of a permanent return, but the idea is that it is a return project, whether definitive or not.

Another voluntary return is the “unsuccessful” (2004, p.107) which responds to the inability to adapt to the environment, but, above all, because of racism and discrimination, in such cases seem to be more than enough reasons to return to their country of origin.

While traditional theories see migration as a decision of permanent mobility, today we are witnessing numerous cases in which there is a continuous return of international migrants, especially those who migrate for leisure spaces due to the compression of the space-time outcome of globalization. At the beginning of the 21st century, the theoretical approach of circular migration has gained relevance; a dynamic in which migrants are involved in a constant and continuous mobility between origin and destination.

A central argument in the literature on this circular mobility is that migration should not be considered only as a permanent movement, but as a continuous process; the desire to keep in touch with the country of origin in case of eventual return. Social obligations, emotional ties, political or economic activities are factors that increase the importance of transnationalism ( Gustafson, 2008 ).

In this case, there are two types of voluntary return migration; one is the permanent return type, where participants sell their acquired property in the south, or stop renting to return permanently to the United States/United Kingdom. Obviously, the cost-benefit analysis has to do with your initial investment and its current state. The higher the investment, the less chance of return.

On the other hand, we also find migrants who practice continuous return migration to the U.S./UK, that is, they go back to their place of origin for a certain time period, usually during the summer, when the temperature is very high in Mexico and Spain, and then they return in the autumn-winter season.

The Continuous Return

The British who migrate to El Campello tend to stay there all year round, while U.S. citizens in Mazatlan, perhaps because they are closer to the U.S., tend to move from one country to another during the year (see Table 1). That is to say, in addition to having continuous and permanent communication with their social networks in both countries, they maintain a more intense transnational migration than the British in Spain, as already analyzed in a previous research ( Lizárraga, Mantecón & Huete, 2015 ).

Table 1. Return Trips to the United States / United Kingdom  

  Once a month Twice a year Every six months Never
Americans in Mazatlan 66% 0% 19% 15%
British in El Campello 14% 16% 17% 53%

Source: Prepared by the author based on a personal survey conducted by the same author.

Permanent Return Migration

This is also a voluntary return, which is motivated by social and economic reasons. The influence of economic factors on the decision of pleasant migrants to return is substantial, i.e. although they define themselves as relatively solvent individuals, this does not mean that they do not depend on economic and material aspects when deciding to migrate from one country to another ( Huete, Mantecón & Estevez, 2013 ).

According to the survey, 21% of British people were considering returning to the UK on a permanent basis after making an assessment of their current situation in Spain.

The vast majority of the British population (84%) have not had financial difficulties in the last six years (during the period of economic crisis in 2008-2014). However, we find that 12% of them have had financial difficulties. These people state that the decline in income has been reflected in order of importance in: (a) “a reduction in the possibility to use leisure time activities,” (b) “low possibility to fly continuously to the UK” and (c) “problems paying household bills.”

The exchange rate can motivate both migratory movements: emigration from origin, but also return migration. A devaluation can encourage the return of migrants who have savings and can take advantage of changes in the market to live comfortably in their homeland. Regional disparities, especially between neighboring countries, can be both the cause of departure and return. Therefore, migrants who have return in their minds maintain the link to their place of origin ( Durand, 2004 ). As we can see, when migrants face an economic crisis, they react in terms of international residential mobility, in a similar way to people coming from countries with a lower level of economic development ( Huete et al., 2013 ).

In the case of U.S. citizens, 10% of the survey sample was considering returning permanently to the United States after making an assessment of their current situation in Mazatlan.

In this last stage of the migration process, migrants again make an assessment of the situation, and as we can see, they also return migrants for whom the economic factor has affected their lifestyle, especially in the European case, given their current economic situation. The social element is also an important attraction factor for returning to the north, in both cases, given their situation in old age, they are people who seek the protection of their family.


There are several theoretical macro and microeconomic approaches from different disciplines that attempt to explain international migration. From the microeconomic paradigm the individual decisions of the migrants themselves are explained, the general principle of this reflection is that migration is a personal decision. Derived from the microeconomic paradigm of migration is the push-pull theory, whose basic principle is that migrants make a rational evaluation at an individual and/or family level about the advantages and disadvantages of international mobility. That is why, in this research, this approach was used to explain the process of pleasant transmigration, because according to our appreciation, individuals and/or families make this comparative assessment at that personal/family level.

There is a pre-migration stage in which individuals make a personal assessment of the comparative advantages of the place of habitual residence and destination. But the economic element is not the only one present in this explanatory model; social factors, political and geographical circumstances also influence the choice of migration option.

In each migration there are also a series of stages that compose the whole process, from the place of origin, the trajectory, the settlement in the destination, and in its case, the eventual return to the origin. Each of these stages may be different depending on the social and economic conditions of the migrant and the international context in which the migration takes place. In the two points (origin and destination) the individual makes a new assessment of the situation in which they live, so that the decision to return may be present.

In the case of migrants from the United States and the United Kingdom who move to Mazatlan, Mexico and El Campello, Spain, participants leave their usual place of residence after an assessment of their economic, social and geographical status. Those who decide to migrate find several negative factors that “push” them south, such as the unhealthy climate, low quality of life, and the high levels of stress or demographic pressure in large cities. In contrast, in the south there are attractive elements that give them personal satisfaction, such as a pleasant climate, friendly people, and tourist infrastructure. In the case of pleasant transmigration to Mexico, we can say that there is greater economic asymmetry in relation to the Mexican population. In this case the financial reason is more important as a factor of attraction, than for the British when migrating to Spain.

When we speak of pleasant transmigration from north to south, it is generally a phenomenon of retirement age, which is completely voluntary, and the trajectory is carried out in privileged conditions. However, there are people who emigrate to Mexico and Spain, for various reasons, they sometimes decide to return permanently or temporarily to their place of origin in the United States and the United Kingdom. At this stage, once again, individuals and their families evaluate their current condition, and in some cases, they choose return migration.

In this paper we set to the task of analyzing only the process of pleasant transmigration from the United States and the United Kingdom to two communities in Mexico and Spain during a historical time, and from a particular theoretical approach. The stages of the process may vary in different international contexts or different socio-economic or demographic groups of migrants.

In some stages of the migratory process, both contexts present similarities and differences already marked in each part of the text, but in a general way in this article we describe and explain a new human mobility and scarcely studied until now, which in that regard contributes both theoretically and methodologically for future research.


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Received: June 29, 2017; Accepted: October 16, 2017

Translator: Yahaira Nava Morán

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