As the trees begin to lose their leaves and the temperatures drop, snowbirds take these cold weather indications a signal to finalize plans for their winter escape. As exciting as hockey season or Christmas preparations can be, the cold period can seem long and never-ending. To be able to take a mid-winter break from snowstorms and gray, rainy days serves the mind, body and spirit well.
For many couples, their escape plan involves more than a short stint in the tropics. Flying south has become a winter tradition, a natural ritual that has evolved into an important part of their lives. We spoke with one such couple to get insight into why they pick Playa del Carmen over the boundless options of warm weather destinations.
Lindsay and Janice are from Manitoba, Canada. They were our clients for many years and continue to remain in close contact with the BRIC family. We were delighted when they agreed to talk candidly to us about their annual Playa del Carmen experience. Hopefully, the information provided, will be helpful to those of you who are contemplating an extended winter getaway.
JR: How long have you and Lindsay being coming to Playa del Carmen?
Jan: We have been coming to Playa for over 10 years.
JR: Typically how long do you spend in Playa?
Jan: We spend around 4 to 5 months here.
JR: What do you think of all the changes and growth the city has experienced, in the last few years especially?
Jan: There have been considerable changes to Playa since our initial visits. Many of the changes have been positive in that they have improved the quality, selection and availability of items such as groceries, activities, shopping and accommodations. However, with the progress comes some negative changes as well. The traffic, pedestrian congestion and noise have increased. For someone who will only be in Playa for a week or two for some fun and sun, these changes would not have any impact. However, as a long term resident, the noise, especially around festival time (BPM) around our previous downtown 5th Avenue condo had become an issue. We now stay in the quiet, gated community of Playacar on the south end of town. It is our hope that the beautiful beaches, the ocean and the charm of 5th Avenue will not be lost in the pursuit of progress and development.
JR: What about Playa del Carmen keeps bringing you back year after year?
Jan: We continue to return to Playa for many reasons. It is a relaxed, casual lifestyle and we enjoy the pace of life here. Being a walkable community, there is no need for a vehicle. Biking, walking and reasonable taxi rates make it easy to get around. Also the beaches are some of the best anywhere. The people are extremely friendly and you can choose to be as busy as you desire.
JR: Do you run into many other snowbirds escaping the cold Canadian/American winters? Is it easy to meet people?
Jan: During our 10 plus winters in Playa del Carmen, we have met many other snowbirds, both Canadian and American who return yearly. It always feels like we’re coming home and reconnecting with friends. As well, we have become friends with many Mexican locals who welcome us back each year. It is very easy to strike up a conversation and meet new people whether you are sitting around the pool, walking the beach or eating out at one of the many great restaurants.
JR: What activities keep you busy when you spend an extended amount of time in this area?
Jan: People always wonder what we do all winter. Like anywhere else, we are just living and going about our daily activities. We love to do a daily beach walk, ride bikes, golf, shop, and entertain company by touring the various tourist attractions. We enjoy getaways to some of the nearby islands such as Cozumel, renting a car and exploring the interior of Mexico, or just visiting with friends.
JR: Do you find that the cost of living the same lifestyle you are accustomed to is reasonable in Playa?
Jan: Financially, Mexico is a very reasonable winter destination. Although, as this particular city continues to grow, prices for most things like rent, taxis, groceries, eating out, etc. increase as well. However, it still continues to be affordable compared to other Caribbean destinations.
JR: You’ve seen or heard about the headlines in Canadian newspapers about the violence in Mexico. Do you feel safe in Playa del Carmen?
Jan: As a female, I feel safe walking around town, even in the evening. However, like in any other city in any other country, there are areas where I would not walk around after midnight…you need to use common sense. For the most part, the crime we hear about is minor, crimes of convenience like small theft, for example a cell phone that have been left on a table and taken.
JR: How do you feel dealing with day-to-day life in Playa del Carmen with a limited Spanish vocabulary?
Jan: Knowing Spanish has never really been an issue as most people speak English in Playa. We feel somewhat limited compared to many locals that speak multiple languages. But we try to learn more Spanish each trip so we can communicate with a few words and phrases when dining out or grocery shopping. The locals appreciate any effort you make to speak the language, although it is not required.
JR: Any tips you can offer those who are searching for the perfect place to spend their semi or full-time retirement?
Jan: We continue to return to Playa as it feels like we are coming home each winter. What made us choose Playa del Carmen 10 years ago is simple – we wanted a destination that had more to offer than just a beach, as we needed more options if we planned on staying for a 3-5 month period. While Playa has both beautiful beaches and crystal clear water, it is also a safe community. No vehicle is required, which is a big factor for us. We didn’t want one of us to be stranded while the other was out with car. There are many touristy things to do with guests. The quality and variety of grocery items is important to us and the grocery bill tends to be a lot less in Playa than in Canada. We love the city for its unlimited dining options, quality hospitals and medical care, great movie theatres, abundance of golf courses, relaxed, comfortable lifestyle and consistently hot weather.
For semi-retirees like Lindsay and Janice, Playa del Carmen has become a familiar second home for them. The city’s location (40 minutes from the Cancun International Airport) and amenities meet their needs and more. This Canadian couple opts to rent a condo each year during their stay. With a plentiful inventory of luxury and budget-friendly condos, finding the perfect vacation home in Playa is an uncomplicated process.
Whether you are interested in a vacation rental or in purchasing a second home, there are reputable and established companies that can help you. BRIC Vacation Rentals and BRIC Real Estate have been making people’s dreams come to fruition for over a decade. Our professional staff of Playa experts is happy to answer any questions or offer first-hand knowledge and advice when it comes to renting or buying a property.
If Playa del Carmen comes up on the radar as you search for a home away from home, we hope this article provides some useful information to assist you when it comes time to make your decision.
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About the Author
Juanita grew up in a small town in the middle of Canada. Having experienced twenty years of ruggedly cold climate, she had seen enough snow to last her a lifetime. After moving to and working in Vancouver for thirteen years (where she was ecstatic to see the odd palm tree) she jumped at the opportunity to move with her husband and three children to Playa del Carmen. She calls it a ‘dreamy existence’ and cherishes year-round, backyard barbecues with friends, road trips and watching the sunrise over the Caribbean. She writes for Bric Vacation Rentals.