Updated: Oct 6, 2020
Have you considered traveling to Mexico or trying a language immersion program? Mexico is a big country. It is overwhelming sometimes. Trying to figure out where to live is not easy. There is literally something for everyone.
Gorgeous Landscapes that Fit Every Style
From mountains, to beaches, cold, to hot and tropical, it is equally as diverse as the United States. Deciding where to go can be quite difficult. It often comes down to budget. Weather is another popular factor. People usually steer towards the hot, topical climate, or the cooler areas. Also, what is your must have amenity (for me – it´s the beach!)?
Make Sure You Study the Language - Even Just a Little Bit!
But one thing is true. If you are considering moving to this beautiful country, you need to learn Spanish. You will find much better prices on real estate. But you will also avoid the gringo tax when you arrive. You can find out more about our online Spanish options by contacting us here.
Gringo tax is slang for the overcharging of tourists or people who don't speak Spanish, on purpose. I routinely do it to my brother when he comes to visit. Because he refuses to look at all of my best Spanish study guides and materials that I send.
To learn more about living in Mexico and the Spanish programs there, join my Facebook group, Future Mexico Expats.
How to Search in Spanish, and Using Mexican Pesos
To search, there are a number of Spanish language websites which advertise rentals. They are much, much cheaper than English language websites like Craigslist. It is better, but not as cheap as walking around by foot. However, I can't visit every city that I am interested in. It is not realistic. I need to use the online tools that I have to help me narrow it down.
For the purpose of this experiment, I choose a 10,000 Mexican peso price point ($460 USD according to today's exchange rate, updated on October 6th, 2020) for real estate rentals, near a beach, to see what exactly I could get. You can check the current exchange rate here.
Living Option #1 in the Riviera Maya Near the Caribbean Sea
#1 – A 3-bedroom house for rent in Cancun, Quintana Roo. See the original Spanish language listing on Segundamano. Segundamano is a Spanish-language website for buying and selling just about everything. Including a lot of real estate. It has modern amenities, includes a swimming pool and gym, as well as 24-hour security.
My heart sunk when I saw the location and how far is was to anything Caribbean ocean. After all, what is Cancun without that beautiful sea?
The neighborhood is located on the very outskirts of the city, 14 kilometers from the nearest public beach by car. Since I don´t have a car, I tried to click on public transportation, but it's not available.
This is typical for neighborhoods and residentials on the outskirts of a city. They are usually new, and do not have enough residents to warrant public transportation routes. Also, many of the residents, knowing how far away they are, have cars. The demand is low for buses.
My Previous Experience Living in Cancun
Also, full disclosure: I have actually lived in Cancun before. I lived in a local neighborhood called Jardines de Bonampak. It was about 5 minutes by taxi to the local beach, in the north of the city (not the hotel zone). The house cost $5,000 MXN per month in rent. It had 2 floors, 3 bedrooms, and was a brand new construction with a front and backyard. However, the lack of internet service options in the area was not compatible with working online. This was in 2014.
It wasn't my ideal place to live. Being close to the beach was nice, but it was only 1, small, public beach. Getting anywhere else was a nightmare. It was hot, expensive, and took a long time in a taxi or in a combi. Sometimes 2-3 combis.
Living Option #2 in the Riviera Maya Near the Caribbean Sea
#2 – Here we have a 3-bedroom, 1.5 bathroom house for rent in Puerta Vallarta, Jalisco. This is located on the west coast of the country. Not in the Baja Peninsula. P.V., as people refer to it, has become extremely popular with foreigners in recent years.
Many expats have moved there and prices have risen accordingly. See more information about PV here.
The good news is that it is ready to move in. It is completely furnished with AC in the bedrooms and has no neighbors (very important when holidays come around if you like to sleep, because Mexico is LOUD!). Like, really, really loud! The listing says the rental is 1 block from Walmart , the movie theater and a major bank which sounds convenient.
I'd have to research further into why it rerouted me to Playa El Salado and not to one that was closer, but either way, it is 1/2 the distance to the beach as the first option.
Living Option #2 in the Yucatan, near the Gulf of Mexico
#3 – A older, 3-bedroom, 3 bathroom condo for rent in Progreso, Yucatan. Read more about Progreso here. It comes furnished as well, including a jacuzzi, and there is a view of the ocean from the house, so I know it is close.
The listing doesn't have an exact location. However, since Progreso is such a small town, nothing is ever more than 6 blocks from the sea. There are also neighboring sea towns which are even cheaper. However, you won't find amenities or many people at all living there. That may be great for some and not so great for others.
The Results of My Mexican Rental Research
Overall, am I going to choose any of these places? Absolutely not. I would never rent a place sight unseen. But I do have a better idea of what prices are like in certain areas than when I started.
Based on what I found out from this search, I would cross Cancun off my list and research more about PV and Progreso before deciding.
Joining a few local expat groups I would ask about schools, the job market and safety as my top priorities. There are many of them on social media, including my own on Facebook called Future Mexico Expats.
Unpopular Opinion: I have Already Lived in a Few of These Cities
Spoiler alert: I already lived in Cancun and Progreso so I know what is wrong with them for my lifestyle. (In case you are curious: Cancun is overpriced and filled with foreigners, it's hot and crowded and you never actually get near the beaches when you live there. Progreso is 45 minutes into Merida for anything and everything by car, no schools which means no earning potential for me and nowhere to put my daughter while I do the earning.)
I didn't include Oaxaca beaches or Southern Quintana Roo because being so far from an international airport is a major inconvenience for me. As for the Gulf Coast, well, I already live here so I am biased.
Are you considering a move to Mexico? Looking for a Spanish immersion program? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sara Tyler has 2 M.A. degrees, in Educational Technology and Curriculum and Instruction. Her B.A. degree is in ESL. She has worked online since 2014, and has taught languages since 2010.
Her company, Viva Online, L.L.C. provides Spanish language courses, immersion classes, and professional development teachers. She lives in Playa del Carmen, Mexico with her husband and 2 daughters.