We have written a lot about retiring in Mexico, but what about just living here part-time?
Recently we got in touch with Tony Scopel, an American traveler and creator of the website You, Me and the Dock, who chose Playa del Carmen as a temporary home. We wanted to know why he chose this destination and his answers are very interesting.
Even when he’s not retired yet, his lifestyle allows him to spend extended periods of time in this area, and we’re sure that his experience can be helpful if you’re planning to retire in the Riviera Maya.
Continue reading to learn more!
We have on several occasions visited many destinations up and down Mexico’s beautiful Riviera Maya. Places like Puerto Morelos, Puerto Aventuras and Tulum are very picturesque and each has its own charming qualities. But now living in Mexico and specifically in Playa del Carmen, is a dream come true!
Being somewhat a spoiled American, Playa as it is known to the locals, offers many of the amenities we graciously enjoy back home. One of the many advantages we looked at was the cost of living in Mexico. It is approximately a third of the cost of United States. With that said, all the other benefits make this a perfect utopia for extended stays. When we were looking for places to stay for lengths of time, there had to be certain necessities that needed to be present, and one of those particulars is the need for sufficient and affordable healthcare.
Mexico’s health system has made great strides over the last decade. Merida, the capital of the State of Yucatan, is ranked number one in Southeast Mexico for healthcare services and medical research. I also have personally experienced medical and dental treatment in Playa del Carmen, and it was just as professional as anywhere in the States. Playa’s doctors speak multiple languages and have their doctorate degrees and credentials posted in plain sight. Their staff are courteous, professional and very knowledgeable. The part that makes this even better is that it’s about a quarter of the cost compared to the US… All this gets two thumbs up on my list of musts!
One of my favorite things to do during the day is to walk up and down the beach and watch all the activity going on. There are people kite surfing, playing paddle ball and performing tricks with a soccer ball. You can also take a chair, an umbrella, your favorite beverage, and a good book and just relax. With the turquoise Caribbean water and blue skies above as a backdrop, there isn’t any place else on earth I would rather be.
We spend several days a week enjoying the many restaurants, cantinas and beach bar & grills. The cuisine here in Playa is some of the best I have tasted throughout our Latin America travels. The seafood is in abundance and is cooked in so many different ways to choose from. There are plenty of places to eat traditional Mexican food and it is made with the freshest ingredients. On certain days we order tacos, tostadas or empanadas from small cart vendors scattered around town. There are also other authentic cuisines represented here in Playa del Carmen from such countries as Italy, Cuba and Thailand to mention a few. Food is so affordable that there should be no reason why you have to cook and do the dishes every night.
Shopping is a whole new experience here in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. There are name brand stores, department stores and my favorite, the homegrown shops. You can find just about anything you want, and then some at the best prices. I like going into stores and shops to browse and see what the latest Latin trends are. There are stores filled with appliances, home furnishing and electronics. We sometimes walk to a park where there are farmer’s markets filled with fresh fruits & vegetables, local crafts and food carts. It is amazing the things you can find that you can’t get back home. Not to mention the grocery stores and there are plenty of them. Shopping in Playa is an enjoyable experience and not a job.
When we decided to plant ourselves in Playa del Carmen for a year, we looked at all the nearby towns and islands as well. We are an adventurous couple and like to take day trips or spend a night or two somewhere close, but far enough away to consider it a brief getaway. Playa has several nearby destinations that offer easy day trips: Cozumel and its great snorkeling is a 35 minute ferry ride away, Puerto Aventuras and its aquatic attractions and town center is twenty minutes away via car, bus or taxi. Tulum with its Mayan Ruins and beachfront eateries and hotels is 40 minutes south of Playa del Carmen. The sleepy little beachfront town of Puerto Morelos is a 25-minute bus ride north of Playa. These are just a few of the places that can be visited in a day’s time.
The attractions offered in and around Playa del Carmen are countless. You can visit Playa’s new indoor L’Aquarium. This is a great way to marvel and learn about many of the ocean’s inhabitants. You can take a walk down the beach and schedule a fishing, snorkeling or dive trip. Another exciting day tour is to explore a cenote. These below ground caverns of crystal clear fresh water are a great way to spend a hot day cooling off.
If you just want to casually stroll around and see what’s going on in town, then set out with no particular destination in mind. We have done this many times on a lazy day. You never know what you might stumble upon. Sometimes you can find a festival or cultural event happening in a local park. If you get bored in Playa, then it’s your own fault.
An important line item on my list was to have great weather, beautiful beaches and fabulous water. Mexico’s Riviera Maya has all that and more. Playa’s beaches and turquoise waters can only be explained visually. When we turn the corner and the beach comes into view, it takes our breath away. I think to myself, “I am living a post card dream”. The summers get a little hot and humid here for sure. But a trip to the beach and the cool tempered Caribbean water cures that in a heartbeat.
In summary, all the information provided above are things that are readily available for us to enjoy whenever we want. But there are other important reasons why we chose to be retired in Mexico. Life is simple here. People are genuinely sincere and friendly and always willing to help you in any way they can. It reminds me of the way it was when I was a kid and I walked or rode my bike everywhere I went, when the local stores and eateries were friendly and filled with charm. People worked hard to make an honest living for their family. In Playa del Carmen it’s the same: we meet people on the street and talk about anything and everything. The Mexican culture is a simple one and that is to enjoy life and what is around you. What you don’t have, you don’t miss!