Retire in Mexico?

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By Mikehamm | Steemit

During our vacations to Isla Mujeres, my wife and I would always meet and talk to gringos that either lived on the island full time or had spent winters in Mexico. After a few years of vacations there, my wife and I decided that Mexico might be a good place to spend part of our eventual retirement time. We knew that summers could be a problem with the heat, rainy season and the potential for a hurricane but it would be nice to be able to spend winters in the warmth of days at 80°F or maybe a little warmer.

As we walked the streets of el Centro we would stop be the real estate office and look at the fliers on the windows. We were quite surprised! Condos were available on the island starting at around $50,000 US and homes that needed a little work were available starting around $100,000 US. We didn’t think that was bad for our own little piece of paradise. This was before the tourist boom on Isla Mujeres and things were still quiet and peaceful most of the time. We never found the island too crowded and what tourist did come to the island kept an array of restaurants open that we could choose from.

We just weren’t ready at that point to jump into that commitment. We needed to give it some more thought. So, every year we would go back and at some point during the vacation we would walk past the real estate office. The first few years the prices didn’t change that much but you could tell the number of tourists was increasing. To make a long story short, we waited and watched the $50k condo go to $150k. At the same time that $100k house went to $500k. Who knew we could have had an investment that would increase 3 to 5 times its original value over less than 10 years.

The prices coupled with the boom in tourism on Isla Mujeres brought us to the conclusion that although Isla is a great place to vacation, it won’t be a place for retirement. We had read somewhere of fishing villages north of Merida that people were starting to move to from Canada mainly, maybe that is somewhere to check out.

Merida is one of the oldest cities in the Americas located in the north western part of the Yucatan peninsula which was originally occupied by the Mayans. The Mayan influence remains today with the names of many locations in the Yucatan being more Mayan than Mexican. Complete with universities, hospitals, casinos, museums, international airport, and shopping malls it has just about anything one would want. The last time I looked, Merida has about 1 million people but is more compact than cities in the U.S. with very narrow streets and smaller lots for houses. The Yucatan coast is about 30 minutes north of Merida.

We spent about 3 years vacationing at different houses along the Yucatan coast. Some areas toward Telchac Puerto, we found were too remote, it would be a 30-45 minute drive to get to a grocery store. Progreso is the largest town in the area and we found it too busy. Progreso is a cruise ship stop, so a couple of days a week Progreso is full of tourist from the cruise ship. We settled on a small fishing village called Chelem.

Driving north from Merida to the coast usually takes you directly into Progreso, Chelem is west of Progreso about 15 minutes. In the village there are approximately 3500 residents with about 300 – 350 being either from the U.S. or Canada (mostly Canadians, eh). During summer high season, the Yucatan coast fills up with Mexicans vacationing during the summer starting from Semana Santa (around our Easter) through the end of August. These vacationers keep a variety of local Mexican restaurants in business. Several ‘gringo’ restaurants are available also to break up the diet from just Mexican food. Winter high season is comprised of snowbirds coming down from the U.S. and Canada to avoid winter.

We did end up buying a house in Chelem. We found a two bedroom, bath and a half house with a swimming pool that we liked. The entire property is enclosed in a wall for privacy. There is a security aspect to the wall but after spending time there security hasn’t been a big issue. When we’re not there, we rent the house out to cover expenses and make some improvements to the house that we want before we decide to retire permanently.

We bought the house in 2015 and only wish we had more time to spend there. So far, we’re very happy with our own little piece of paradise.

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