Moving to Mexico: Expectations vs. Reality (Housing)

Source: Q-Roo Paul

Prior to moving to Mexico in 2015, Linda and I had both formed certain expectations about what our lives would be like south of the border. Since we would be surviving on only one retirement, we knew that we would have to be thrifty to make it work. For that reason, neither of us had very lofty expectations when it came to housing or material possessions. We were – and still are – more interested in filling our lives with great experiences.

Everyone knows that life rarely turns out exactly like we plan or hope that it will. With so many variables outside of our control, most of our future plans are really just educated guesses sprinkled with a little hope. Our move to Mexico was no exception.

I thought it would be fun to share some of those expectations with the readers along with what actually ended up happening. I know that many of them are developing their own expectations about moving to Mexico.

To keep the post from getting too long, I will only discuss one category at a time. I’m dedicating this first one to housing.


While we were in Florida, I spent countless hours searching through property listings from Cancun to Tulum. The only listings that I could find anywhere near the coast were all extremely expensive properties that we could never afford unless we won the lottery.

The more I searched, the more discouraged I got. I told Linda that we would probably end up living in a very small apartment or house further inland. The goal was to keep it within a 15-20 minute drive from the beach.


Once we were in Mexico, we discovered that there were more options. I suspect — and I don’t know this for certain — that many real estate companies only highlight their most expensive inventory on their web sites.

Although there are a lot of very expensive properties in the Riviera Maya, we discovered that we didn’t have to be rich or go into debt to live in a great development only minutes from the beach. We were lucky enough to find the perfect place for us right away.

We ended up buying a 2BR / 2BA condo inside a beautiful gated community that has 24 hour security. The community is located inside of a larger resort complex. One of the perks to living here is that we have access to many of the amenities at the resorts as well.

Due to the reasonable price, we were able to buy it outright using the money that we had obtained from liquidating our assets back in the U.S. We now live less than five minutes from the beach.

Our monthly expenses, which include our HOA fees, are much lower than what they were when we lived in Florida. This leaves us more money to travel and truly enjoy Mexico.

Staying on Budget

Linda and I carefully track our daily expenses to ensure that we our staying on budget for the month. If we want to save some money that day, we stay on the property and take advantage of the amenities that come at no additional cost, such as playing tennis or just relaxing under a palapa next to one of the many pools.

I get a lot of emails from readers requesting that I include more pictures in my posts, so here are a few:


Taken our first day in the condo. As is the case with many historical photos, it is slightly out of focus.



This is one of the lap pools and you can see part of the gym through the trees behind it



We have access to over half a dozen pools on the property



These chairs are just beyond the pool from the last picture. I like to come here to think up memes and blog topics.



Free access to multiple tennis courts. The best part is that they even supply the rackets, towels and balls.



Yet another pool. I think I could just do a pool post.

Let’s Wrap This up

Obviously our reality — at least as it related to housing- has far exceeded our expectations. The more that we travel around the peninsula exploring new areas, the more thankful we are that we ended up here.

Note: Readers often ask me for the name of the development. I don’t like to publish the name in the blog; however, I will respond to individual requests for information. You can send me a message through this link: Contact Us.

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About the Author

Qroo 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 ( to share their experiences as well as information about the logistical and legal aspects of retiring south of the border.

48 Comments on "Moving to Mexico: Expectations vs. Reality (Housing)"

  1. I’ve been devouring your posts for a while now. Of all the research I’ve done in preparation for my future move down there, your blog is my favourite. It’s concise, informative and entertaining … and this one is particularly relevant because I take delivery of an apartment in this same complex mid 2017. Love all your photos, but when they’re this close to home it’s even better! Thanks for all your work, it’s much appreciated.

  2. Very nice complex.

  3. Yup. There are realtors for locals and realtors for gringos. When we buy, my wife is a national and they won’t see my white face in time to adjust the price 🙂

  4. Timothy Parker | September 6, 2016 at 10:40 am |

    What if your both white? Do I bring my Mexican employee with me?

  5. Jeff, On the West Coast we’d call that the Gringo Discount,

  6. carolyn richardson | September 6, 2016 at 12:59 pm |

    Where I have already made my own permanent move to Mexico–in my case, San Felipe, Baja, Norte, along the Sea of Cortez, I very much enjoy your articles and encourage you to continue writing and informing others. This article particularly hit home, as I also live within a larger gated community that enjoys a lot of free amenities and activities, the safety layer a gated community provides, with nearby shopping, gas, etc within each reach. Thanks for passing along good information and encouraging people north of the border to consider the many advantages of living South of the border!
    (I also developed my own website for the San Felipe area, listing as much info within it as I can, aimed for the full time, part time gringo or casual visitor to this area—

  7. Timothy Parker | September 6, 2016 at 1:23 pm |

    So are you saying we will have to pay more since we are both white? Just asking. We are seriously looking at moving to the same area as you in about 5-6 years. We go down there once or twice a year to the Hard Rock or Palace Resorts. We own our own restaurant and are just getting tired of all the BS that goes with it. To retire at 58 we can probably not be able to live in the US. Another question is as long as we retain US citizenship, are we able to collect Social Security as long as it is still around. Thanks!

  8. christopher mckay | September 6, 2016 at 1:24 pm |

    Are there any single young (40’s – 50’s”) retirees????? I am in my upper 50’s and divorced and would love to start planning a move……I just don’t want to be without a good woman.

  9. Great post. Very informative . Exactly what I want to do in the near future. Plus you’re on the Riviera Maya. Spend two weeks each September in Cancun at the Royal Islander with many friends who all happen to be time share owners. I’d love to parallel exactly the life style that you have created for yourselves. I’m a retired Executive Chef / Sous Chef. Came out of Key West back to Arizona in Sonoran Desert to serve as Caregiver for elderly parents in thier 90’s and oldest of my 6 sisters who is handicapped. I’m totally a beach person . Sun sand ocean or.seas. Was a surfer in my younger years mostly in Pacific Ocean. Not so agile anymore. Lol
    Love reading your experiences and all you share.Name is John and am almost 68.Single laid back fella. Will be at Islander this year from Sept17 – Oct 1st. Hopefully in near future will buy a one way flight. Lol ..Thanks again for your posts. It’s next best thing to a sunrise each time I read them.❤

    • Thanks for reading the posts and for taking the time to comment. We might even run into each other one day while you are down here.

  10. Martine Addison | September 6, 2016 at 4:15 pm |

    There must be a monthly HOA fee to subsidize all the amenities. I wouldn’t call them “no extra cost.”

    • No additional daily cost which helps us stay on our budget. There are HOA fees and they vary depending on the size of the condo or residence. Our fees are $181 USD a month which covers everything, including 24 hour security, gardeners, painting etc. Since we actively use the facilities and amenities, it is a huge savings for us.

  11. Enjoy your articles very much! Keep ’em coming! We have our condo ready in Cancun (@ KM 20.5 – Nizuc area) and are not there full-time yet (4 more years), but your blog keeps us in touch with the ‘goal’ in mind. Thank you!

  12. How do you cope with the summer heat? Is the condo air conditioned, and if so, how much do you use it? What is the estimated cost for the amount you use?

    • We do have an AC in each room and we run it sparingly during the day. We are on the first floor of a block building, so it stays pretty cool. We like to be very cool at night, so we run the unit in the bedroom all night.

  13. Robert Weisend | January 3, 2017 at 11:04 am |

    I live in Mexico 6 months a year have been in the same small coastal town for 20 years.
    Your blog is the best I’ve ever seen.Great format. Accurate simple direct.

  14. Melissa Hahn | January 6, 2017 at 8:21 pm |

    Thank you so much for our blog. I’ve been trying to get my husband to talk about Coasta Rica, think I’ll start talking Mexico. We love the Caribbean and live just north of the southern Texas border, so we know the language. How about medical care? My husband is diabetic, that is a concern for me. Thanks for your input.

    • Medical care has been wonderful here and very reasonable in price. We have friends who are diabetics. We will be doing more articles on health care in the coming months.

  15. What an awesome, informative blog! I’ve recently started thinking about how much better a lifestyle one could lead in Mexico. You just confirmed it for me. I’m Canadian and wondering if there are many of us down there? Thanks!

    • Thanks, Heather. We have a lot of Canadians here. In fact, about 1/3 of my neighbors are Canadian here in our condo complex.

  16. Hi Paul! I am in la Cruz Mexico for 3 months every year! Widow, young 74, have landed in a fun, vibrant, dancing, dining, exploring fun group! I want to see more of the Caribbean side ! I wonder where I could rent a nice place to feel it out in a community like yours? Close to the beach , I find on the PV coast line and take the busses up and down to see the small villages salulita, punta de meta, etc is so much fun! Do u have a lot of areas to explore. Sometimes those busses are so packed u can’t breath! Lol love the people! Food is awesome! Buy your chicken right off the grill on the highway ! How does ur side compare ! Gail

    • There are numerous short term rentals available and if you look hard enough, you can find some long term rentals that fit your needs. Everything is right off the main highway and the colectivos come by every few minutes. There is a lot to see and do over here. I will be posting an article soon about tips to finding some rental options in Mexico.

  17. Paul,

    Are there long term rentals available in your complex? If so, how much do they rent for? Is it priced in pesos or dollars?


    • Hi Troy. Long term rentals are difficult to find here. Almost everything is a short term vacation rental. If I hear of anything, I’ll send you an email.

  18. Did you bring any of your furnishings with you?

  19. Hola Paul,
    Wife and I are planning to move to Mexico 5-7yrs and I super appreciate the great posts and information. Question: How did you select Akumal as THE place you wanted to live in Mexico. Did you try other places or did you go by gut feel, etc…?
    Gracias amigo,

  20. HI Paul,

    Thanks for all the great info. We are coming for our umpteenth visit in May and we’re ready to start looking at properties. We are in our 40’s and are looking for a property with investment potential as well as a part-time home. Can you recommend a 1st step? It sounds like there is a lot more out there than what is posted on websites. Should we contact an agent first or just wander into some real estate offices in town when we get there? Do you have any agent or specific area recommendations? What is the attitude toward dogs there…will other people/properties appreciate our fur babies like we do? Is it hard to get used to “mexico time.”


    • Hi Gin, there were quite a few questions in there. There are always more properties than what you tend to see on web sites. The key to finding a good property or development is to find a reputable real estate person. We do have a very small number of people that we recommend for the Riviera Maya area. If you would like me to refer you to one that can help you in your search, send us a message via the contact form on the page.

      Dogs are accepted in most areas — so, no worried there. The one exception are the beaches. Many of them don’t allow pets but this is not unlike many of the beaches in the United States too.

  21. How much is your electricity bill each month – when you run your air conditioning every night?

    • It used to be between $70-$90 USD but we just installed new air conditioners that use 70% less energy. We’re hoping that brings it down.

  22. Rick Plourde | April 28, 2017 at 2:30 am |

    Thanks again Paul for a great article. We will be taking delivery of our unit in your community at the end of the year. The information you share with us is extremely helpful. Concise and to the point, we love it !!!
    Rick & Flower

  23. What is the best way to find long term furnished rentals in your area or Tulum area, would you say? Seems they are sparse when looking from US online. Maybe there is a better way? I’m looking to relocate permanently (single) with my 2 children to the area.

    • Q-Roo Paul | May 13, 2017 at 6:45 am |

      The easiest way is to come down here and look in person. It’s very difficult to do online.

  24. Hi Paul, I’ve heard so many different statements about down payment (%), what can and cannot be mortgaged, one can only get a loan from a Mx bank…I’m confused. Do you have something in one of your blogs about these questions and perhaps I did not see it? If not, could you kindly clarify these points in question? I’ve not spoken with a realtor yet as I am not 100% ready to take the dive…I’m information seeking right now.
    TYIA….I thoroughly enjoy all your newsletters and the information you have provided! Please keep it going!

  25. Thank you for your informative blog! I have lived in Mexico City for 6 years and then Cancun and Puerto Morelos for 6 months. I am now trying out Guanajuato. Do you know of anyone who blogs from Guanajuato? I love Mexico and am looking for the right city inwhich to retire!

    • Thanks, Deb. No, I don’t know of anyone specifically who has a blog related to Guanajuato.

  26. Shipping to Mexico?
    DON’T DO IT!!!
    First read this Blog. I don’t know how Paul and Linda managed to do it in four suitcases but, I’m not that good. In my defense I do have large original pieces of art work and large musical instruments and I thought, if I’m moving down permanently, then they’re coming, too.
    So I called Rocky Mountain Overseas in Denver. They came to the house. Chalked off the floor and the wall so I would know exactly how much stuff would fit into 200 cubic yards (their minimum). It’s actually a pretty big space, if you stuff your underwear into the glassware and wrap precious nicknacks in socks. They don’t care about the weight. You’re paying for the amount of room, it’s going to take up in the truck. For $3,000!!! And it’s going to take months to get it to Mexico, many phone calls and emails and documents.
    So, pause, pause, pause. What’s really so important that you can’t replace it, once you get to Mexico.
    For those, who are insistent on shipping (like me), may I offer you a far less expensive, far less frustrating alternative.
    Primera Plus Autobus. First, throw away all your pre-conceptions about Greyhound Buses. Second, get you and your stuff to Denver, Colorado. That’s the last stop Primera Plus makes before heading back to Mexico. My ticket from Denver to Morelia was $250. And this is the best part–your first 500 pounds of baggage, boxes, etc, are free. After 500 pounds, it is $1 a pound.( Note: purchase you ticket online as Primera Plus can be full and get to the bus station early, you don’t want to find that the space under the bus is already occupied.) (Second note: Inventory everything in the boxes. Two copies: one for you, one tapped on the box. Customs will want to know.) No antiques, no paper products, no drugs, excessive anything. Customs will think you are bringing it down to sell. Case in point, the couple with 100 cartons of cigarettes. For personal use????
    I have seen families move an entire household of furniture on the bus.
    Why Primera Plus? Because it is simply the best. The seats are better than first class airplane seat: wide, reclining with leg rests, TV, WiFi and bathrooms and overhead bins.
    Yes, it is going to take you three days. But do not despair, you and your stuff are going to arrive together. (You have to travel down with your things. They don’t allow you to just buy a ticket for your baggage and wave adios.)
    OK, three days? Yikes. It’s not that hard. I’ve done it. You can do it. And you have no idea how big and beautiful Mexico really is until you’ve crossed it.
    The bus driver (who always wears a suit and tie and keeps track of every passenger) stops for meals and the locals come and feed you marvelous food (not bus or the non-existent airplane food). Smokers? You’re just going to have to tough it out. But you can smoke after meals. Pets? Not allowed inside bus.
    My Bus Survival Kit:
    A travel pillow and blanket
    Thick Bus Sox–feet will get cold at night
    IPhone, laptop, etc., There are outlets on the bus
    A book or two.
    Stationery for those letters you just never seem to have enough time to write.
    Water bottle.
    Grooming Kit. The bathroom are tiny and that’s a good thing, as you can brace yourself when going around curves. I take a toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, shampoo (I have very short hair) and a wash cloth and a hand towel.)
    With a change of clothes, you can perfect this routine, so that you arrive fresh and refreshed for your new life in Mexico.
    The Border? You will have to disembark at the border, go through Customs, and drag your stuff to the Mexican Primera Plus Bus. This is not as awful as it sounds. For a few pesos, there is always someone there to help you. And you’re on your way again.
    Arrival? Same routine. You are standing by a mountain of your most precious belongings. What to do? There is always someone there to help you move.

  27. I almost forget the most important thing: The Value of your Shipment is $500. I don’t care what’s in it. It’s $500!!!! More than that and you’ll never get it across the border.

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