Why the Riviera Maya is an Ideal Home Base for Retirees Who Love to Travel

Beach area south of Akumal (Source: Q-Roo Paul)

When my wife and I retired in 2015, we wanted an active lifestyle but the problem was that our monthly retirement benefit was only about 1/3 of what we used to make when we were both working. After subtracting the monthly expenses, we realized that our ‘active lifestyle’ would probably be limited to eating out a couple of times a week.

Neither of us were happy with that prospect so we decided to move to the Riviera Maya in 2015 in search of an affordable retirement destination. Our gamble paid off and we found exactly what we were looking for. Inadvertently, we also discovered that the Riviera Maya is the ideal home base for retirees who love to travel.

Before I give you the reasons why, I’d like to answer a question that some of you might have right now:

Where’s the Riviera Maya?

The Riviera Maya is a popular tourist destination on the eastern side of Mexico that borders the Caribbean Sea. It runs from the area of Puerto Morelos down to an area south of Tulum.

The map below is interactive, so you can zoom out to see where the Riviera Maya is in relation to other areas that you might be more familiar with.

The Reasons

Now that we have the geography lesson out of the way, let’s move on to the reasons why the Riviera Maya is an ideal location for retirees who love to travel.

Low cost of living

The cost of living is significantly lower in Mexico than it is in the United States or Canada. You can save money on everything from property taxes to healthcare. For example, we live in a modern condo inside a resort community that butts up against the Caribbean Sea and our property taxes are less than $200 USD a year.

The more disposable income you have, the more traveling you can do.

Proximity to a major international airport

The Riviera Maya is located near the Cancun International Airport, which is the second busiest airport in Mexico after Mexico City. In 2017 alone, the Cancun International Airport handled 23,601,509 passengers.

With so many flights coming and going, it’s never difficult to find economical flights to destinations all over the world.

If you enjoy cruising, you can take the less than two hour flight to Florida and visit any one of the three busiest cruise ports in the world: Port of Miami, Port Canaveral and Port Everglades.

Ideal location for home exchange

We have several friends who love to travel the world and they do it on a tight budget though home exchange sites. They all say that living in the Riviera Maya has made it even easier to travel because it is a well-known tourist destination and everyone seems to want to come here.

One friend in particular commented that he never has trouble finding amazing places to stay around the world; however, he doubts that it would have been this easy if he was still living in a small town in the middle of nowhere in Texas.

Even when you’re not traveling, you’re in paradise

Traveling is great but after being away from the Riviera Maya for a few days, we both start to miss it. This place really checks all the boxes for us: beautiful Caribbean beaches, great food, friendly people, and plenty of things to do (e.g. ziplining, cave exploring etc.).

The best part is that since we are residents, we can qualify for locals-only discounts at restaurants and attractions. This allows us to lead an active lifestyle and save up for our next trip at the same time.

Let’s Wrap This Up

When we moved to Mexico, we never expected to be able to travel as much as we do now — but we sure aren’t complaining.

We take at least one major trip a year and about a dozen mini-trips around this part of Mexico. In fact, we have two mini-trips planned for this month alone.

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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. They later started a blog called Two Expats Mexico (qroo.us) to share their experiences, as well as information about the logistical and legal aspects of retiring south of the border.

29 Comments on "Why the Riviera Maya is an Ideal Home Base for Retirees Who Love to Travel"

  1. Sitting in SFO airport waiting to board our flight back to Tulum. As usual, you’re right on the money!

  2. Ingrid C Royle | April 15, 2018 at 8:49 am |

    Thank you ! I love your blog, great info every time.

  3. David Edgar | April 15, 2018 at 9:09 am |

    In 2010/11 we were going to do some travelling through South America and thought that if we planned our trips from Mexico (our winter place is in Manzanillo) it would be cheaper as we were already that much further south than if we planned the flights from Edmonton,Alberta. Much to our surprise at that time a flight to Rio was cheaper from Toronto than from Mexico City. The same held for São Paulo and Santiago. Things may be different now but check flight prices from different departure points before booking.

    • Q-Roo Paul | April 15, 2018 at 9:10 am |

      That’s amazing that the flight would be cheaper from Toronto than from Mexico City.

  4. Love your blog! We love the Riviera Maya, going back in July .

  5. Thanks for your amazing and informative blogs. Do you have any names of medical insurance companies we can get a quote for medical coverage in Mexico? We are seriously considering moving to Mexico.
    John

  6. Thanks for another great blog post Paul. Now I just need to get some $$$ raises to buy a place down there.

  7. Me and my wife moved from San Francisco to the yucatan area this year. In fact we are still in process. Paul is a hundred percent right! San Francisco is the highest most expensive place to live in the U.S. we were forking out over $10,000.00 a month in total living expenses (Our total income per month) and couldn’t afford to do anything. Buying a house, and totaling our living expenses in Yucatan we have managed to free up over half of what we were paying in San Francisco! Now we will be able to travel the world and live in a more proactive life style on our time and dime!

    Thanks Paul.

  8. I would be afraid of any recent built condo after the event where the whole family on vacation was found dead. They just throw them together so fast now.

  9. Mary Darwall-Santangelo | April 15, 2018 at 11:21 am |

    Paul, once again you have succinctly stated the reasons why we are making the same decision. Hoping to see you both soon.
    Mahalo from Hawaii,
    Mary & Ray

  10. What are people’s opinions and ideas about retiring north of Cabo? Not in Cabo but little town north. Los Barrilles. Baja may be more expensive. Just considering it right now. Thoughts?

  11. Suzanne Warner | April 15, 2018 at 4:55 pm |

    Not a reply, but question. Do you know anyone who is a permanent resident of the US and has earned Social Security benefits, then moved to Mexico? I am curious whether my husband can have dual Permanent Resident status. We do not want to lose his benefits from the US.

  12. We just got back from our 6th times in the B-E-A-U-T-I-F-U-L Riviera Maya…We’ll be back for sure…more than a week next time!! Tks for the post and info!!

  13. Thanks Paul (for all you do).
    We’ve headquartered ourselves in Cuernavaca, and while it’s a perfect climate, we still like to travel.

    In fact, we’re headed to Cancun tomorrow for a 10 day stay to check out your area. {grin}

  14. Michel Bourgon | April 16, 2018 at 11:46 am |

    Hi Paul,

    Just got home from Riviera Maya on Sunday am …..minus 5 C , freezing rain , etc.

    We spent a great 7 days at the Iberostar Paraiso del Mar resort ………It was indeed Paradise ! Went scuba diving in Cozumel & the Cenotes , We are already planning our next trip in Jan. 2019 !

    We will be retiring in less than 4 years and you have given us some good ideas ! Thinking of spending 1 or 2 winters in Riviera Maya as a base for traveling thru that region .

    We are bikers and also want to travel – RVing thru Canada & States as part of our retirement during the Canadian winters .

    Love your blog ……

    Mike & Tobie .

  15. As usual great and helpful post. I do have several questions not really related to this post and I have not found on your other posts. 1. I we get permanent residency there but also have a home rented by my daughter can we still get Medicare? OR do we even need it? Do you have any health insurance coverage at all? And do people ie you insure your condo, house whatever? We will be living in ******* in about a year I hope! Thanks

    • Q-Roo Paul | April 17, 2018 at 8:42 am |

      1) You’ll have to check with Medicare for that one, 2) Yes, we have private health insurance here in Mexico and it is MUCH cheaper. 3) Less than 5% of people in Mexico insure their condo/house but many expats do. 4) In condo communities, there is normally a universal plan that covers buildings and common areas.

  16. Holly & Michael | May 18, 2018 at 9:26 am |

    Hello from “you know where” in good ole Polk County! I absolutely love reading your blogs and seeing the pictures you post. Michael and I have discussed this move often as well. I have to admit, at first I was hesitant but the more I read and the more images of the stubbing water…. I am truly getting hooked! A few more images of lovely cocktails would be nice…. LOL but it’s ok, I can take those when WE visit! Awesome job on the blogs! I try to do that from time to time with our fishing charter website. Hopefully when we MOVE across the tracks to your paradise we can continue the charter and I can maybe serve cocktails or help get rid of the seaweed when it gets the stunning beaches too hairy…… anyway…. can’t wait to read more and hopefully we can visit soon!

    • I meant “stunning” water… maybe I need a cocktail?

    • Q-Roo Paul | May 18, 2018 at 7:45 pm |

      Let me know in advance when you two are thinking of visiting. We take a lot of trips and we want to make sure we’re in town to show you around and point out the best beach bars where you can take lots of pictures of cocktails…lol.

      Say hi to Michael for me.

  17. We visited RM for our 30th Wedding Anniversary and stayed at the Secrets Resort. We loved it and felt very safe. We would love to hear more about your Real Estate experiences and or Rental accommodations in your area.

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