Retirement: Big City vs Small Town

Retirement is different for each person. Some people seek retirement to simply sit out on a porch, overlooking the ocean and relax for good. Others are out to find adventures that they couldn’t quite have while working the 9 to 5 job.  Retirement is a very personal thing; but the Riviera Maya offers choices for everyone. From a big city like Cancun (or Merida in the Yucatan Peninsula), to smaller towns that are growing like Playa del Carmen or Chetumal, and even to laidback beach towns like Tulum, Bacalar or Puerto Morelos.

Hustle and Bustle in a Laidback Setting

Fifth Avenue

If you want your retirement to have a rich and varied social life, full of bars and restaurants and want a buzzing town with amenities, you should consider Playa del Carmen. You will be able to admire its natural beauty and engage in social activities such as painting, photography and others. If you’re more of a secluded person, you will find a variety of villas where you can walk the dog and take a short stroll to the beach for some alone time. Playa del Carmen might still seem small for some; but its exponential growth has put it on the retirement radar for years now.

The city has everything you need for a comfortable life. You will find large supermarkets, international coffee shop brands, and even clothing lines from Europe, the United States and beyond. It is big enough to support culture (having its own large theatre in the city), yet small enough to continue having that beach vibe that you might be looking for. Another advantage of this lovely beach town is how easy it is to move around by bike or walking. A car is only necessary if you are moving from point to point or going towards the other side of the highway. But in those cases, a quick and cheap taxi ride can help you out. Playa del Carmen also features plenty of real estate options for retirement, which you can check out here.

The Big City

Cancun Hotel Zone

Cancun is much bigger; but it might suit you if you are looking for a much more cultural place, and a serious variety of shops, restaurants and bars. Not that Playa del Carmen doesn’t have them, but perhaps not at the same scale. In Cancun you will find concerts such as classical music, ballets, plays brought from Mexico City (and sometimes even Broadway), and museums. You will also find supermarkets – large and small – offering products from the United States and Canada.

Perhaps Cancun’s largest downside is the complexity of the city itself. The streets might seem confusing, and understanding public transport could be difficult. But once you get the hang of it, moving around is easy. In Playa del Carmen, on the other hand, public transportation and moving around is rather easy and inexpensive. An upside to Cancun against Tulum and Playa del Carmen is medical care and treatment. It has bigger hospitals, better clinics and more medical professionals. This doesn’t mean you won’t find services like these in Playa del Carmen or Tulum, but for bigger emergencies you are better set in Cancun.

The Little Places for Complete Relaxation


You may be a person who really just wants to avoid the hustle and bustle of a city. In this case, you’re most likely better off retiring to Tulum or Puerto Morelos. These developing towns still carry that fishing village vibe and are a completely different world than Playa del Carmen or Cancun. However, the downside is that infrastructure isn’t quite as advanced as in larger towns or cities. This does not mean that there is no infrastructure or that it is not being advanced. In fact, Tulum is home to one of the most privileged communities in the region, Aldea Premium. This community not only offers luxury and exclusive real estate, it also has some of the most advanced underground infrastructure systems for telephone, internet, water, and electricity.

Both Tulum and Puerto Morels will offer a quiet retirement with amenities that are enough to live a comfortable and affordable life. Luckily, highway transportation is easy to catch and within minutes you can be at Playa del Carmen or Cancun for more specific needs you may have (like going to the movies!). One of the best things about these smaller communities is that less people speak English. This means you will have to practice your Spanish more, which is a great advantage.

These smaller towns also give you access to the little places, often incredibly beautiful, that are usually down a dirt road from the highway. They run through the jungle and mangroves and gives you something new to explore on a daily basis.

Your Retirement is Up to You!

Mexico Retirement

You will end up deciding what best suits you and what your needs and wants are. In the Riviera Maya, you will find everything from gated communities, golf courses, beachfront homes, expat communities, and much more. The best thing is that everything is nearby. So, it doesn’t matter where you end up settling down for your retirement, you are still just a short drive away from everything else.

The first step is to start looking at the real estate options available and contacting our expert Buyer’s Representatives. They will be able to guide you in finding the perfect retirement place for you.

And remember, at Top Mexico Real Estate…we make it happen!

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