Setting Down Roots In The Riviera Maya
Not so long ago, people got married, bought a house in or not too far from the same town they grew up, and raised a family. Just a few decades ago, traveling the world was a luxury and a dream for many, if they even thought about it at all.
Today, exploring the globe has never been easier! If you can spare a few extra moments for trip planning, there are some incredibly affordable flight deals posted on airline and travel sites every month. Purchasing a vacation package lets you conveniently book everything at once from flights to transportation to hotels to excursions. The world is more accessible and the travel bug has caused an epidemic!
In fact, more and more singles, couples and families are leaving their former lives behind to hit the road full time! While most are delving into new cultures and seeing the sights for the awesome experiences, some are even getting paid to promote heavenly destinations around the world!
Playa del Carmen is one such heavenly destination that draws hundreds of thousands of visitors each year and easily seduces some to stay forever.
We asked Jacqueline, an Australian world traveler, wife, and mother of two, to tell us her story of why she ended up establishing roots in Playa del Carmen.
JR: How many years have you lived in Mexico?
Jacqui: We have lived here for 20 years – 12 in Mazatlan, 7 in Cozumel and 1 and a half now in Playa del Carmen.
JR: Why does Playa appeal to you?
Jacqui: I love the fact that families are close-knit here. Also we can live a high quality lifestyle for a fraction of the price it would cost in Switzerland or Australia for example (where my husband and I are originally from.)
JR: Your children were both born in Mexico. How do you find the healthcare system here?
Jacqui: Yes, my oldest was born in Mazatlan and the youngest in Cozumel. We have never experienced a problem with the healthcare system. We have private health insurance as well as access to the free local healthcare that is available to all Mexicans. The health system has definitely come a long way in the 20 years that I have lived here. When my son was born in Cozumel, they did not have a pediatric facility for newborns and he was placed in a box beside my bed after the C-section. I stayed overnight in the hospital and was released the following day.
Today Playa del Carmen has very good hospitals, doctors, and specialists who either reside in or travel back and forth from Cancun to see patients.
JR: What are some of the benefits of raising your children in Playa del Carmen?
Jacqui: I am very happy to give our kids the kind of childhood we had at the their age. It is almost impossible to do that anywhere else. We live in a city, yet it has a very warm, small town feel, friendly and safe. One of my kids is involved in equestrian and the other in golf. The costs of these sports in the majority of countries around the world would make it impossible for our family. But we are fortunate enough to be able to give them these options here.
JR: What do you think of Playa del Carmen’s growth?
Jacqui: I remember back 15 years ago when Playa del Carmen began to grow, we were living in Cozumel at the time. We would have to go all the way to Cancun shopping almost every month the first year. As time went on and Playa grew, we traveled to Cancun less often.
5th Avenue barely existed and was basically a dirt road; the town was so small. There was no Chedraui supermarket back then. Today 5th extends several city blocks and the city is stretching out further every month. It amazes me! Yet, the beach is still the same – beautiful. Playa is so diverse now with so many different cultures. I love the fact that my kids interact on a daily basis with other kids from all over the world.
JR: You are building a home now and you have owned homes elsewhere in Mexico. How is the process of completing a real estate transaction in this state?
Jacqui: We just recently sold a house in Cozumel after owning it for 13 years. It was one of the easiest things we have done. We researched and found a good, organized Mexican lawyer that was familiar with Mexican law. The entire transaction was completed from offer to closing in 10 days.
With regards to building: again, research and try to speak to others who have worked with the architect. You need to be able to trust a knowledgeable architect because you’re going to be working together for a while. We built a home in Cozumel that was a difficult endeavor. But this time around, we are halfway through and the experience has been much better, and definitely worth it. There are a lot of resources like expat groups online that we have used for reliable references. In fact, we ended up finding a superb carpenter through this channel of information.
JR: Any piece of advice you can offer to those who are thinking of purchasing real estate here?
Jacqui: The best piece of advice I can give is to really take your time. Have a clear idea of what you want and find a trusted realtor. We were lucky to work with one who really listened to us and who found us the perfect location that best suited our needs.
JR: The newspapers tend to prefer to print the dark side of Mexico. How do you feel living in the country and traveling often throughout Mexico?
Jacqui: I travel every month to various parts of Mexico because my son plays in many golf tournaments throughout the year. It is just the two of us and I have never once felt scared or unsure in any area I’ve been to. My children are 16 and 12 and there are times when I travel to certain parts of the US that I have felt unsure about the safety. Just as in many other countries when you are traveling internationally, there are parts that tend to be more dangerous than others. As for 2 blonde foreigners traveling through Mexico, we have never encountered any remotely dangerous situations. I would never choose to live here if that were not the case. It is a beautiful existence here in Mexico, and it feels similar to how life used to be for me in Australia 20 years ago.
JR: How is your Spanish? What is your opinion – can you get by here having a limited Spanish vocabulary?
Jacqui: I can speak about 90% Spanish and understand 100%. But here in Playa del Carmen, most Mexicans that work in the tourism industry speak English and it is very easy to get around with limited Spanish nowadays. Even if you speak no Spanish, most of the Mexican people will try to understand or will find someone who can help. You may not end up with exactly what you wanted, but at least they make the effort to help.
JR: Is there anything you miss about your home country of Australia?
Jacqui: My whole family lives in Australia, but my parents thankfully come to visit at least once a year. I have not been back in 7 years and do not miss it for the most part. I would love to take my kids back when they are older and show them where I grew up, but I really don’t see us living there again in the future. Mexico is my home and always will be…
JR: What would you tell a young family on the fence about making an international move?
Jacqui: Go for it! Why not? If you have kids, it is a great experience when they have the opportunity to live in another culture and learn another language. The best thing for us about living in Mexico is that we have come to learn that Mexicans live for their families. Sunday is sacred, a time when everyone gathers together to make time for each other. In many cases, in adulthood, the children look after their parents, the way it was a very long time ago. It is hard to teach that to people unless you live and experience such a way of living.
We hope this article has provided some insight into the lifestyle of an expat here in Playa del Carmen. If you have questions about this extraordinary city by the sea, don’t hesitate to contact one of our Playa experts at BRIC Vacation Rentals anytime by calling 1(800) 519-2496/+52(984) 803-3191.
If you have visited Playa del Carmen and would like information and valuable tips on how to go about purchasing a property, check out A Gringo’s Perspective On Buying Real Estate In Mexico.