Island Living at its Finest on Mexico’s Isla Mujeres For $3000

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.

7 Reasons to Retire in Mexico

Mexico is the world’s #1 retirement destination, and there are many very good reasons for that. For US and Canadian residents it provides proximity to home, and other benefits. Here are the few advantages of retiring in Mexico

Free phone calls to the U.S. and Canada—and affordable phone/internet packages.

With your Mexico landline telephone or even your cellphone, you can call the U.S. and Mexico for free. No more international long-distance charges. The communication infrastructure in Mexico is thoroughly modern and reliable, yet extremely consumer-affordable. The telephone and internet packages costs her just $22 a month. You can call friends and family in the States anytime you like. No muss, no fuss, no extra cost.

Free healthcare coverage for those over 65.

You may know that the quality of healthcare in Mexico is first rate, with top-notch care provided through Mexico’s private healthcare system at one-fifth the cost of similar services in the U.S.. Same goes for the cost of private health insurance plans. But get this: If you are over 65 (foreign residents with visas included), you can join the public Seguro Popular health plan program for free. Imagine…free healthcare. By the way, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) reports that well less than 1% of Mexicans have “impoverishing” healthcare costs. The number of U.S. citizens with bankrupting medical bills? 16%.

A tip to get you a free vacation to Mexico:

Need some dental work? In Mexico, it will cost you a fraction of what it costs in the U.S. A dentist in the USA charges $13,000 to cap eight front teeth. A dentist in Mexico with a state-of-the-art clinic will quote $2,144 for the same work. You will save  $11,000 that will not only pay for your airfare but also for a luxurious Mexican vacation—with lots of money left over.

Low-cost air carriers.

Speaking of airfares to Mexico, did you know that several new budget airlines are revolutionizing travel to/from and within Mexico? You can get back and forth to the U.S. for as little as $200 round trip, and travel from place to place within Mexico for less than $50 on sparkling new, clean airplanes.

Peso exchange.

Just wow. Fifteen years ago, one U.S. dollar bought you 10 Mexican pesos. Ten years ago, your dollar got you 14 pesos—a huge bargain. Today, you’re getting 18 to 20 pesos for your dollar, making Mexico more affordable than it has been in a very long time. Economists don’t think this will change any time soon. “It’s like getting a big raise just for living in Mexico,” expats often say (For just $1,865 a month, a couple can live very well in Mexico, and a single on much less.

Extremely easy visa process.

Of all the retirement destinations, in fact, Mexico is one of the easiest (and most affordable) countries to qualify for and obtain a resident visa. New Immigration rules allow you to start the process with a few simple documents at the Mexican consulate nearest your home. (There are more than 50 in the U.S. alone.) Then it’s a snap to finish the process in Mexico at a local immigration office, typically with an English-speaking staff.

It’s, overall, a very safe place.

Mexico sometimes gets a bad rap, largely undeserved. Most of the country is very safe…cities in Mexico often have lower crime rates than comparably sized cities in the U.S. In fact, at least nine U.S. cities have higher crime rates than the vast metropolis of Mexico City. Washington D.C. has an almost 50% higher violent crime rate than does Mexico’s capital city.


Tale of a Roving Retirement in San Miguel – a World Heritage Site

I have wanted to visit San Miguel—nestled just northwest of Mexico City—for many years. For one reason or another, I had never made the trip, but its allure kept it on my list.

After spending three months in Porto, Portugal, San Miguel was my second extended stay for my “roving retirement” planned for 2017. I arrived in mid-April for a two-month stay. I was in awe of its beauty—full of vibrant colors, stunning art galleries, and top-shelf international restaurants.

I rented a house through HomeAway in the Guadalupe neighborhood. Just a couple blocks north of the San Miguel city center, Guadalupe is a wonderfully authentic Mexican neighborhood, currently in the gentrification process.

My house for my two-month stay was a two-story home on an old cobblestone street a block from the neighborhood school. Across the street was a small, one-man mercado where I could pick up a bag of fresh pineapples, mangoes, and oranges for roughly $3. Most days my lunch was all fruit.

The house had two bedrooms and two-and-a-half bathrooms, much more than I needed, and rent was $1,000 per month, including all utilities (electricity, water, gas, and WiFi) and a house-cleaning service twice a week. The first floor housed the living room and kitchen, the second floor the bedrooms, with a small sitting room between them, and the third floor held the rooftop and laundry room; all decorated in the beautiful colors and design of Mexico. I also had a rooftop garden, which I shared with the pigeons that roosted there every morning and some evenings at dusk.

Trash pickup was announced at 6:30 a.m. every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday morning with the clanging of a bell.

Which brings me to some of my most vivid memories, surprises, and loves of San Miguel: the sounds of the city.

At least twice a week, a vendor would slowly drive the neighborhood streets selling and bringing propane gas tanks right to your door. With a megaphone speaker, he broadcasted his presence for all to hear. Sometimes the megaphone shouted a message in Spanish, other times a jingle played. The farmers selling fresh milk and produce would also announce their pending arrival—some with stereos mounted on their trucks.

Most days I rushed to my window when I heard these neighborhood sounds. They were an unexpected gift of travel. And a peek into the rich Mexican culture.

From fireworks celebrations when the sun goes down, to roosters announcing the arrival of a new day, life in colorful San Miguel is lived, loved, and enjoyed out loud.

By Diana L. Davis


A Typical Day in Tranquil and Fun Mazatlán, Mexico

I’ve lived in Mazatlán, Mexico for the past 10 years, moving here after my kids were grown. Mazatlán is a mid-sized resort city on Mexico’s Pacific coast, with beaches that attract tourists and surfers, and easy access by ferry to La Paz, across the Gulf of California.

I wasn’t yet retired when I moved here from Northern California, and still had to work, but I’ve been able to start my own business: an English-language magazine for the expat community. It’s not only successful but fun to do, and helped me learn about my new community.

A typical day for me starts out early. I get up with the birds at 6 a.m. and then usually I do some kind of exercise. Maybe I’ll ride my bike along the beautiful beachfront esplanade, called the malecon, that stretches from Mazatlán’s Centro Historico to the hotel zone. Or I might walk along the beach itself, with the water lapping at my feet, for a change of pace and more tranquil scenery.

A few years ago, I took up surfing, and it has become one of my favorite things to do. I was 56 when I started, taking lessons from a local surf school, and have since bought my own board and learned enough that I can go out on my own. It’s something I’d wanted to do my whole life, and finally I’m able to. Most of the other surfers are young enough to be my grandchildren, and I know they get a kick out of seeing me in the line-up, waiting for a wave. I’m not very good, but I always have a great time and love being in the ocean.

Next, it’s time for coffee (iced of course) and breakfast, either at home or at one of several espresso shops nearby. If I’m in the mood, there are also taco stands open only for breakfast, where for under a dollar, I can enjoy a savory chicken, beef, or smoked marlin taco, deliciously complete with handmade corn tortillas, an array of fresh salsas, and the conviviality of my Mazatlecan neighbors.

At first, I struggled to learn to relax and not worry so much or work so hard. That might be one of the hardest things to do—and the biggest benefit to living in Mexico. You read about “leaving it all behind,” and I can tell you from firsthand experience that’s a challenging mindset to adopt. But once you do—and I guarantee if you move to Mexico, you will—you won’t regret it a bit.

If ever I forget how wonderful my life is in Mexico, all I have to do is talk to friends that are still living in the U.S. Then I see just how much I’ve actually forgotten: What it’s like to have a stressful life. A tight schedule. Not enough money to do the things I want. Having to live in cold, dreary weather for months on end.

There’s always a point in the conversation where I have what I’ve come to call a “reality check.” They’ll be on their morning commute to work, already tired and unhappy, and I look outside my window at my view of the sparkling Pacific and remember: This is my life. I did it; I made this happen.

Story narrated by Janet Blaser