We occasionally hear from readers who have decided to retire in Mexico, but they’re not really sure where to go. They write asking for our advice about different areas of the country and housing options available.
Obviously, I don’t have some type of sixth sense when it comes to matching people with the perfect place to retire, so the most I can do is tell them what criteria we used to narrow down our options when we moved down.
This article is longer than most of my articles, feel free to break it up by taking about halfway through.
Why We Live Where We Do
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 loved visiting most of them when we used to come down on vacation. So, in order to narrow it down even further, we considered numerous factors — here are the top eight:
1) Safety and Security
As a retired law enforcement officer, this was the most important to me personally.
I spent hours analyzing crime data online and reading through old news reports related to crime from across the Riviera Maya.
As I’ve said in previous posts, relying solely on statistical data (e.g. homicide rate) can very misleading without including data about geography and victimology. The news reports helped me fill in that missing data and I determined that the majority of the state was very safe for both tourists and expats. In many ways, it’s safer than many areas in Florida where I worked as a deputy sheriff.
As you travel around Mexico and explore local neighborhoods, you can’t help but notice that many of the residences and businesses have one or more of the following: high walls; bars on the windows and doors; broken glass shards on the top of the exterior walls; barbed or razor wire; and even electric fences to block people from climbing over the walls or jumping over from a neighboring roof top.
These common property additions aren’t done for aesthetic reasons, unfortunately burglaries and thefts can be a problem in many areas.
That’s why we knew that we wanted to live in a gated community with security. We planned on traveling a lot and we wanted to reduce the chances of our home getting broken into while we were away.
We didn’t want to live in a densely populated urban area because of the increased noise, traffic, pollution and crime. This eliminated Cancun and Playa del Carmen from our list of possible destinations.
3) 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.
4) 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 didn’t want to deal with the hassle and expense of regularly transporting our car by ferry to the mainland.
5) Investment Potential
We wanted a property that would also serve as a sound investment and offered the possibility of rental income, in the event that we ever chose to go that route.
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.
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.
7) Access to Quality Medical Care
Even though we didn’t want to live in a densely populated area — I mentioned that one before — we still wanted to be close enough to one that has multiple well-equipped private medical facilities. Both Cancun and Playa del Carmen meet this requirement.
8) 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, doesn’t mean that you will still have access five years down the road when they put a hotel there. We’ve seen this problem in more populated areas such as Cancun.
Where Did We End Up?
We ended up buying a condo about 20 minutes south of Playa del Carmen that checked all of the boxes, including beach access.
We’ve been here for over three years now — and even though we travel frequently and see a lot of places — we still haven’t found another place where we would rather live.
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.