Why We Live Where We Do in Mexico

In today’s post, I am going to explain why we chose to live where we do in Mexico.

This is actually a very common question that we get from readers. In fact, just yesterday we were asked this question four times.

Mexico is a large country with a very diverse landscape. It doesn’t matter if you are a beach person or a mountain person, there is something in Mexico for you. For us, it has always been the white sand beaches and turquoise waters of the Caribbean that called to us. We absolutely love the relaxed, laid-back Caribbean lifestyle and Mexico offers it at a price we can afford.

That basically means that our search area was reduced to a roughly 200 mile stretch of coastline along the eastern side of the Yucatan Peninsula, in the Mexican State of Quintana Roo. There are a lot of amazing destinations located along that stretch and we love to visit most of them. So, how did we narrow it down from there?

We knew from living in Florida, a tourist destination as well, that just because you enjoy visiting a certain area does not mean that you want to call it home day in and day out. When one chooses a permanent residence there are several factors that one should consider that may not be a priority when choosing a vacation spot for a week or two.

My wife and I are both planners and the decision to end up where we did was developed over several years and over 30 trips to Mexico. During those trips we stayed at a variety of different locations, inspected the local infrastructure, analyzed crime patterns, and tried a wide variety of tequilas. That last one did not have anything to do with the process — it was a lot of fun.

The following are some of the criteria we used to narrow our search:


We did not want to live in a large metropolitan area because of the increased noise, traffic, pollution and crime. This eliminated Cancun and Playa del Carmen from our list of possible destinations.

Proximity to an international airport

We wanted to live within two hours of an international airport. The closest one in this area is in Cancun, so anything south of Tulum was eliminated from the list.

Ease of travel

One of our favorite pastimes is exploring the Yucatan and seeing everything that it has to offer.

Since we do this quite regularly, we decided to eliminate the islands of Cozumel and Isla Mujeres from our list. We did not want to deal with the hassle and expense of regularly transporting our car by ferry to the mainland.

Safety and security

I spent 25 years of my life working as a law enforcement officer in a busy jurisdiction dealing with violent and dangerous situations on a daily basis. When I retired, I wanted to do it in an area that was safe and peaceful. This eliminated some of the more densely populated areas from the list and pushed us to buy a condo in a gated community with 24-hour security.

I still follow crime trends and read the crime related articles in the local papers on a daily basis. This reassures me daily that we made the right choice when we decided on this particular development and area.

Access to quality medical care

Although we did not want to live in a densely populated area on a daily basis, we wanted to be close enough to either Cancun or Playa del Carmen in order to have access to quality health care.

Strong community

This is a big one that a lot of people overlook. We have met several expats who tell us that they feel lonely and isolated in their particular development.

We live in a community that promotes interaction between residents. Sometimes it is difficult to keep up with all of the invitations to go out to dinner, go to the beach, or just stop by the condo to socialize. The other night a group of 15 residents went out to dinner to enjoy some live local music.

I believe one of the reasons we have had such an easy transition into life in Mexico is because of the community we live in.  From the first day we arrived, we began meeting neighbors, who later became good friends.  These individuals played an integral role in helping us get adjusted to our new life.  They were constantly giving us advice on where to go and how to get things done.

The more people we meet through the blog and in person, the more we see how rare this type of community is.

Investment potential

It is no secret that both the population and property values in this part of Mexico are increasing.

We wanted to get ahead of the next wave of growth and that put us south of Puerta Aventuras.

Access to beaches

When choosing an area or development, it is important to consider both current and future beach access. Just because you have access to a local beach today, does not mean that you will still have access in five years when they put a hotel there. We have seen this problem in more populated areas such as Cancun and even right around Akumal Bay.

This is why it was a priority to find a development that already owned beachfront property. We also have access to the facilities at multiple resorts at no additional cost, that is a big plus for retirees on a fixed income.

So Where Did We End Up?

We ended up buying a condo south of Akumal that checked all of those boxes, including beach access. We have been here for over a year now and we have not found another place where we would rather live – well, within our price range. I did see a few mansions on the beach that looked appealing.


This shows where the town of Akumal is located

The purpose of this post was to share the criteria we used to make our decision, not provide free advertising for my development. I will, however, share the information on an individual basis. If you would like to know more about where we live, you can contact me through the contact page.

Let’s Wrap This Up

Everyone is different, so your list of criteria will likely differ from ours. The important thing is that you are happy and safe wherever you end up calling home.

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About the Author

Q-Roo Paul
Paul Kurtzweil (Q-Roo Paul) was a deputy sheriff in Florida for 25 years before retiring at the rank of lieutenant in 2015. He and his wife moved to Mexico looking to maximize their retirement income. In 2016, they started a blog called Two Expats Mexico (qroo.us) sharing their experiences, as well as information about the logistical and legal aspects of retiring south of the border. The blog has been viewed over two million times and the articles have been republished in numerous periodicals across Mexico.

39 Comments on "Why We Live Where We Do in Mexico"

  1. Our criteria is very similar to what you wrote about. We wish to be on a beach somewhere, but we are just beginning to look into the specific locations. We have been to Aruba several times and I decided while I like to visit, I don’t want to call Aruba home. We are leaving for Cancun this saturday to check out that area. We probably won’t venture far this trip, but if you have any must see activities in the Cancun area, send them my way!

    • I don’t have any tips for Cancun. We usually only go there to either go to the airport or Costco….haha. If you decide it is a little too busy for your tastes, send me a message via the contact form and I will give you some more peaceful and tranquil alternatives.

    • Try Puerto Morelos. We love it, and bought a house in “La Colonia” last year. Not on the beach..,about a 10 minute bike ride, or quick by cab. Much less expensive than on the beach, and always something to do. It’s between Cancun and Playa Del Carmen. We have a 4 BR, 3 bath house, with nice yard. Still have to do a bit to the kitchen, but only because I want to. Lots of Expats here, along with great locals!

  2. This is a great post! My husband and I are considering retiring to Mexico. We had thoughts of Isla Mujeres or Isla Holbox but this post brought up some really important points. Thank you for sharing.

    • Thanks for reading the blog. I love visiting both of those places a couple of times a year.

  3. Another nice article.. well written and a pleasure to read.

    I agree with everything you’ve said, although we chose a bigger community (Cuernavaca).

    We decided ‘climate’ and ‘community’ was what we needed.

    When first looking for a spot to call home, you might tempted to choose a vacation setting or a mansion on the beach… but you might be wrong. They can (and do) wear thin, given time.

    Study hard to find lasting values… it pays of in spades.


    • Thanks for reading the blog. Cuenavaca is on my list of places to see here in Mexico. Perhaps it will even lure us away from living full time by the beach 🙂

    • Hoody and the Crib Chicks | August 15, 2016 at 4:40 pm |

      Dear Bob, who do you think you are? Mr. Awesome? Your long time secret admirer…

  4. Now I know why your blog name is QRoo! I’m new to your blog!
    We are moving in 4 weeks from Australia to Mexico. To a fishing village that from visiting for 5 years, we realised that was our true home and where are hearts belonged. I agree about community, this is so important and what is the key to why we fell in love with our village.

  5. Is Medicaid/Medicare from SS honored in Mexico?……What is a Ballpark figure monthly to live in your condo area that includes food, insurance, monthly maintenance, average mortgage payment , taxes etc….


  6. I just started reading your blog and really enjoy it. We own a condo close to Playa del Carmen on the other side–the Grand Coral development (NIck Price Condos). For now, we just go 4-5 times a year for vacations and rent it out the rest of the time. In 5 years, we expect to retire there. We did a similar check list when looking for just the right spot. The ONE thing missing from our check box is a community of ex pats. We are also very social people–have a tone of friends here in the states and are very active with friends. Our development there is very much a vacation home spot. If that is still the case when we are ready to retire we will potentially buy a different condo with more of a community and either sell the existing one or just continue to rent it out (it is a break-even situation now). I appreciate the criteria you mentioned in this blog–good info. Perhaps our paths will cross on one of our many vacations there to Playa or when we eventually make Playa del Carmen our home.

    • Thanks for reading the blog. We have a friend that had a condo on the north side of Playa and he decided to sell it after spending some time with us here. He said that he liked the community aspect. By the way, if you want to buy another condo on the north side of Playa, I know a guy 😉

      It seems like most of the full time expats — and a few of the part time ones — all meet at some point or another. We are in Playa about once a week to shop and eat. If you ever get down around Akumal, let us know and we can meet.

  7. Great post as always!
    Did you originally consider the Pacific beach communities as well (places like Sayulita north of Puerto Vallarta for example), and then just decide you liked the Caribbean areas better, or were you only interested in the Caribbean side from the beginning?

    • I love the way the water looks on the west coast but it is a little cold for my tastes. I have always been partial to the warm waters of the Caribbean. I feel like Jimmy Buffett could walk by at any minute…hahah

  8. Great blog post. Thanks for sharing this information.

  9. Hello Paul
    I’ve been considering buying a small place in Tulum/ and surrounding areas..and I have been following your blog. There was a very negative article in the New York times about Mexico corruption and owners of business being evicted and houses being forcible taken over. Link here…http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/17/world/americas/mexico-tulum-corruption-evictions.html?_r=0

    Wondering if you can shed some light..or if there is much more to the story?

    • Hi Michael. The situation in Tulum involving the hotel owners being evicted is very complicated and should not be used as a reason not to come to this area. There are a few more precautions to take when buying land in the restricted area, especially ejido land, but generally speaking, cases like that one are rare. That case is still working its self out and I am waiting to see what the truth is once it is all done.

      My advice to anyone wanting to move down is to buy in an established development that was constructed by a reputable builder. Also, always hire a lawyer to help you with the closing to ensure there are no red flags.

  10. how can someone know that the country of Mexico won’t take the property back one day, is there any way to be sure?

    • There is no way to be sure of that anywhere in the world. Properties have been “nationalized” in countries from Venezuela to India; however, there is nothing to indicate that will happen in the visible future here in Mexico.

      I am super conservative with my money and I bought here.

  11. John Fosbaugh | August 30, 2016 at 8:36 pm |

    Thank you for all our Info. My Husband and I have decided to Retire in Majahual. This is 4 hours south of Cancun. 1 Hour away from Chetumal the Capital of Quintana Roo. We spent 9 days at an eco friendly resort.
    We spent time in town on off Cruise ships days and Ships days.
    We have decided to purchase land this year. We will build in 3 years.
    My biggest question is how we do the finances. We understand as a none resident we must own the property through a trust with the bank.
    I have also read We can become citizens after living there for 5 years.
    We have located the sister bank to bank of america in Chetumal. We went to our bank to day, and were told
    we can open an account and then just transfer funds.
    Any info, blogs or websites would be greatly appreciated.

    John Fosbaugh


    • I have been to Mahuhual a few times, they have great lobster. If you are purchasing undeveloped land, I would STRONGLY recommend hiring a real estate lawyer to assist you. There are lot of scams involving real estate down here and the law firm will act on your behalf to make sure the land does not have liens, is not ejido land etc. Since starting the blog, I have heard so many horror stories from readers.

  12. Donna Norstadt | November 16, 2016 at 11:19 am |

    We traveled for years on vacation to QRoo and started looking to buy in Merida, PDC, Xcalak and finally settled. in Mahahual. 4 years ago we purchased our first casita and came down as much as we could. Last October we retired and ended up purchasing another new house closer to the beach. I did get my residence and I absolutely love Mahahual. It’s a very small quite town so you get to know people fast. It’s still developing infrastructure so things aren’t perfect but they work. I have to remind myself it’s Mexico and I can look at the beautiful Caribbean every day. Life is good and I enjoy your blog.

    • Congratulations! We like going down to Mahahual to relax for a day or two and eat a lot of lobster.

  13. Only one thing wrong with the Riviera Maya–no waves! 🙂 Well, pretty high summer a/c cost too. It gets ferociously hot.

  14. Mary L Gonzalez | March 10, 2017 at 11:29 am |

    We hope to one day retire to Mexico. We love Isla Mujeres, but have been to Akumal/Tulum area as well. It’s a hard decision. Love your blog.

  15. Bradford Arnsparger | March 16, 2017 at 4:04 pm |

    This particular blog topic Paul, over the other useful blog information, is h-u-g-e!

    I say this as much of the guess work and logic one would go through…frankly, has been leveraged and done. Not that you would want a plethora of people infusing your chosen spot; but truly, you did a splendid job in using excellent and logical criteria so as to ‘narrow the options’ and arrive at what seems to be a great living location. And yes – jealous! 😉 Brad

  16. Great blog string here on this one. Thanks errybody!

  17. Cinda Johnson | May 13, 2017 at 12:33 pm |

    Thanks for the great info, we have been scuba diving in CanCun and Isla Mujeres but also did not love the crowded big city feel. We retired 4 years ago and due to wanting to be close to our children and grandchildren, we chose to live in San Felipe in the Baja. The water is warm since we are on the Sea of Cortez side versus the Pacific Ocean side and it is a very small fishing & shrimping village. We, like you also researched and stayed several places over a 13 year period before retirement and love where we are. Due to your blog, we have added your location to our travel list.

    • Q-Roo Paul | May 14, 2017 at 7:00 am |

      Thanks for following the blog, Cinda. You should definitely check out this area if you make it over to this coast.

  18. Craig Roberts | June 24, 2017 at 10:40 pm |

    After following your blog for the last couple of weeks, my interest has been peaked. My wife and I want to come visit Mexico and see what there is to offer for us ( I’m trying to get her to see how much more enjoyable life can be). What town or resort are would you suggest to stay along the riviera maya area?

    • Q-Roo Paul | June 25, 2017 at 5:42 am |

      There are so many wonderful resorts and areas. It depends if you like a more urban area with more restaurants and activities (Cancun, Playa del Carmen), or if you want something more laid-back like Akumal or Tulum.

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