Why move to Riviera Nayarit, Mexico?
Retirement to Riviera Nayarit is a good option for many expats looking to retire early or wanting to experience a higher standard of living on a limited retirement income.
The main reasons for considering this is your quality of life and the cost of living here, or just leaving the 'rat race'. Several things should be considered though.
You'll be moving to a country with a different language, culture, laws, environment and climate. Many of the things you may be used to might not exist here, or, if they do, are strangely different.
It's highly recomended that, before taking the plunge, you spend an extended amount of time as a visitor first, especially in the hot summer months.
The town is not really built for vehicles, especially now with the limited parking available. Even walking around may not be what you expect. We don't have wide sidewalks and, in some of the older parts of town, they are sprinkled with utility poles and trees.
In areas below our the steep hills you'll find very high kerbs, essential for the amount of water which will flow down those streets in the rainy season. By the way, this is not a country which has much litigation, so if you step in a hole on the sidewalk and hurt yourself, it's considered your fault for not looking where you were going.
Speaking the language is probably the one most helpful abilities you should aim for. Several classes are available here.
Mexico is not just a haven for retirees. Young people are seeing the benefits of escaping the traditional 9-5 in the US and designing a more fulfilling lifestyle in Mexico. Continue reading for our insightful discussion with a young expat who shares her experiences and thoughts on working remotely in Mexico, escaping the traditional path, and enjoying a new lifestyle.
Mexpat is a 31 year old woman who is happily married to a fellow wanderer and the proud parent of one black lab. She grew up in North Carolina, but lived most recently in New Jersey before moving to Riviera Nayarit, Mexico almost 9 months ago. Mexpat and her husband run a software and web development company that services clients mostly in the US and Europe.
Today we are very lucky to have Mexpat, author of the top Mexico Blog Mexico or Bust, as our guest to discuss her experiences as a young person moving to Mexico. My first question is why, at such a young age, did you decide to move to Mexico?
We were already stuck in the rut that we saw so many of our friends in: School, Marriage, House, Cars… the next thing on the list was having kids. A couple years ago we decided that we weren’t sure we wanted to be stuck in that rut for life, so we started taking scuba diving vacations and assessing whether or not we could live in each location. We narrowed it down to Cayman Brac or Cozumel, Mexico. A few other things came into play and later we chose Playa del Carmen over Cozumel.
I had studied Spanish nearly all my life and was as fluent as I could get staying in the US, so Mexico had more appeal to me than the Caymans. My husband is an avid cave diver (I occasionally accompany him, too) and the Yucatan Peninsula has some of the best caves in the world, so it wasn’t hard to get him on board. Then things started to work out with our business in a way that made it possible for us to work abroad. Finally, I told my husband that there had to be more to life than working to pay for our mortgage, so we were either moving to Mexico or having a kid. That kid ultimatum works every time!
I guess the bottom line is that neither of us was willing to wait until retirement to have this adventure when we could do it now. Who knows what sort of health problems we may face in our old age (God willing we reach old age)! It wasn’t by accident that we structured our life and company to work from abroad. We are entrepreneurs on purpose. Besides, two weeks of vacation a year is not enough!
Since you are not living off retirement, how do you afford to pay for living expenses?
We have owned a software and web development company for almost 10 years now. Most of our work is referral-based or generated from internet searches, so we are able to work from here. We use VOI phones, so we were able to keep our regular business phone number. We still have employees in the States, but they all work from home, so it’s a virtual company. For now, this is working, and we always keep an eye out for business opportunities here in Mexico, which are plentiful if you are creative
In what ways has your lifestyle changed when you moved to Mexico?
One of the biggest ways my lifestyle has changed is that now I live in proximity to the things that I enjoy doing. Pretty much everything is in walking distance: yoga classes, Spanish lessons, the gym, the beach, meditation classes, coffee shops, restaurants and bars. In that respect my life has gotten simpler, I no longer have to drive 1/2 an hour to do the things I want to do.
Neither of us are pack rats, but somehow we had managed to accumulate a lot of stuff over the last 7 years. It was really cathartic to get rid of most of our stuff. Now we are enjoying apartment living again and trying to keep our “stuff” to a minimum.
In the US shopping is a regular pass time and everything in the media is set up to make us think we need to buy whatever they’re selling. It’s not like that in Mexico at all, so we’ve enjoyed being away from that pressure and the insidious marketing messages. They still bother us when we go back to visit, though. Somehow, living here, it’s become completely unimportant to me to have a Blackberry or a nice car.
I probably work less here by choice, but working less means earning less. Unfortunately, Playa del Carmen has a higher cost of living than other Mexican towns, at least according to what I’ve heard other expats report regarding their expenses, but it’s still more affordable than life in New Jersey.
We aren’t sure how long we’ll be here (”as long as it works” is the plan), so part of being here is enjoying the opportunities that exist. I could work the way I did in the States, but that’s so much easier when it’s miserable outside. I take more time out for me here, whether it’s exercising or just reading a book at the coffee shop. Saturdays are for laying on the beach and Sundays are for diving!
What was the biggest adjustment you had to make when you moved to Mexico?
The biggest adjustment for me was having to assume all the responsibility for things outside the house. In the States, my husband was the one who would call the Cable company or the Gas company. Since he speaks very little Spanish, I am the one who has to make all the arrangements. At first, it was very hard for me to get used to my new role, plus it was difficult to anticipate the questions that my husband would want me to ask. It led to a lot of, “Well did you ask him ____?” Followed by complaints about my translation services. It took us a while to figure things out, like paying bills, but after I did them once I was able to tell him how it works, my husband was able to do them by himself.
Likewise, one of my husband’s biggest adjustments was getting used to his newfound sense of impotence in certain situations due to his lack of Spanish. He was often extremely frustrated with not being able to communicate directly with Mexicans who didn’t speak English. He’s getting better at taking it in stride and I’m getting better at translating for him. He’s also learning Spanish slowly and, luckily, isn’t afraid to use what little Spanish he knows. He certainly isn’t afraid to make mistakes, which has led to some pretty funny ones!
Another huge adjustment I had to make was understanding that sometimes people will make plans with you and just not show up. Where I grew up, if someone stood me up I would be angry and wouldn’t invite them out again. Here it’s culturally acceptable to pull a no-show. I had to learn to take it in stride, and/or let the person know that I wasn’t ok with being stood up. I have heard that the longer you live here, the more likely you are to act the same.
Yes, the weather can't be beat, better than nearly any other place North Of The Border (the acronym NOTB will be used in the rest of this page). The winters are wonderful, in the summer it's hot and humid with brief downpours of warm rain, very similar to Miami Beach.
Cost of Living:
Less expensive, but, depending on your lifestyle, it will vary. If you come down and want all the amenities you had back home, your savings won't be a lot. If you choose a simpler life, with a few less conveniences, you will save a bundle.
Real Estate :
Although prices continue to increase, you'll get a better deal over the price NOTB. Again the higher luxury properties will give you less savings than the lower ones. Location very much determines the price, near a beach? got a view of the bay? = higher price. Property taxes are very low.