With temperatures in the mid-80s F, habitually warm Caribbean waters on all sides, and a perpetual sea breeze accompanied by the trills of soaring sea birds, Mexico’s Isla Mujeres maintains a loyal complement of full-time residents and seasonal snowbirds. It’s no longer a hidden gem, but rather has grown into a mature destination where expats can enjoy an affordable island retirement in casual, Caribbean comfort.
A couple can live in grand style on Isla for $2,500 to $3,500 a month; this includes rent, utilities, dining out regularly, and a couple of trips to the mainland each month for major shopping.
Access to and from the island is provided by a fleet of modern, high-speed ferries that maintains a frequent schedule between several terminals in the mainland city of Cancún. The cost for a round-trip ticket is about $20 and it’s a comfortable 30-minute ride.
Isla (as the locals call it) is not a sandy, beachy island. Although the island’s north end does have a very nice beach of soft, white sand, Isla is a chunk of stone rising from the seabed, with a powerful surf and mostly rocky coastline. But, no worries—its proximity to Cancún and the Riviera Maya provides 80 miles of postcard-perfect, palm-lined, sugar-sand beaches for those who want to wiggle their toes in the sand.
For expats, Isla’s big appeal is its casual lifestyle, where shorts and beach shoes are the accepted attire for any function. It’s common for weddings to be officiated while bride and groom take their vows in shorts, tee shirts, and sandals.
I rented a home home. It is about 800 square feet and has two bedrooms, a modern bathroom, sitting area/living room, and a very functional kitchen. It is furnished and air conditioned and has a small fenced yard. I paid $800 a month, including all utilities.
“A bottle of local beer, Indio, is only about $1. And I can buy a whole chicken for about $3.30. A large bottle of Coke is 65 cents and a big loaf of bread is 75 cents,” says John.
Cost of living on Isla Mujeres varies, depending on your taste. People live entirely on a Social Security check of $1,700 a month, renting a small apartment for about $325 a month. One can live a comfortable life and also fly to the US for $300.