Chances are, if you are reading this, you may already know we are on our way to Mexico! As things unfolded, we shared our retirement, house sale, and the announcement that we were moving on our personal social media pages.
This blog and the next few will touch on why we picked Mexico and why we picked Merida. We’ll also go through the process of what it took to get a Permanent Residency Visa and ultimately head off on our flight.
Right now, we are sitting in an Airbnb in Miami, chilling for the weekend with our boys Chip and Dale until our flight on Monday afternoon.
Retiring Outside of the USA
We’ve been together for twenty years. During that time, we‘ve lived in Philadelphia, Clermont, Florida, and most recently, St Petersburg, Florida.
But, during that time, we’ve traveled to thirty states and twenty-five countries. We’ve been to four of the seven Modern Wonders of the World, took a helicopter to the top of a glacier in Alaska, and took a sunrise hot air balloon ride over the Maasai Mara in Kenya.
Needless to say, we LOVE an adventure. We knew we wanted an adventure, but we also wanted to slow life down. Additionally, we wanted to go off the beaten path and live like locals. We wanted to have less and do more.
Picking A Location To Retire
Over the last five years or so, we looked at places we had traveled to and popular ex-pat communities around the globe. We had a specific list of considerations and boxes we wanted to check.
We considered Amsterdam, one of our favorite places to visit, Thailand, Costa Rica, Portugal, Puerto Rico, and obviously Mexico. There were also a few other places that people suggested that we skimmed over.
We looked at a number of factors, including:
- Cost of Living
- Accessibility to Healthcare
- Quality of Life
- Moving with our two cats
- Places to explore
- Access to an international airport
- Easy to travel back to Philadelphia in case of a family emergency
While many of these places we considered checked several boxes, ultimately, Merida, Mexico, checked the most boxes off our list and is the perfect place for us to start.
To be completely honest, up until about three years ago, we had never heard of Merida, Mexico. We started seeing posts by our friend Hope a few years back and fell in love with everything she was posting, from the food to the historical sites in Merida and across the Yucatan.
Hope was someone Mark knew through the events industry in Philadelphia, and eventually, Chuck came to know her too. She had recently retired to Merida and raved about how amazing it was.
We made arrangements to book an Airbnb, fly to Mexico, and explore on our own; meet up with Hope during our visit to look at what ex-pat life looked like.
With all of our plans in place, we learned that Hope died suddenly just a week or so before we were scheduled to arrive. Her passing was hard as she was a sweet, kind person, and we will be forever grateful for her introduction to Merida.
Checking All the Boxes
Merida is the capital of the Yucatan and, surprisingly, a place not many people in the USA have heard about.
It is located about 190 miles west of Cancun, but culturally it’s a world away. Merida is not the touristy beach location people think of when you say you’re going to Mexico.
It is an old colonial city located about thirty miles south of the beach in Progresso. In a city of about 1.1 million people, ex-pats make up less than one percent. For us, it’s not too big, and there aren’t too many ex-pats while still having an ex-pat community.
For USA retirees in Mexico, the cost of living is very affordable. While digital nomads and ex-pats moving to Merida have increased costs, it’s still very affordable. Healthcare, both government and private, is very reasonable, and the quality is very good.
The Yucatan is very different from a lot of Mexico. The Mayan food and culture are everywhere. The foods are different from what most of us think of when someone says Mexican food; they have incredible regional foods with distinct flavors. There are tons of cenotes, beaches, and archaeological sites to explore.
Merida has been rated as one of the safest cities in all of the Americas for multiple years, right behind Quebec City! Everyone we spoke to at home worries about our safety because of what they see on the US news. We’ll actually be safer in Merida than in most major USA cities.
We can relocate with Chip and Dale relatively easy. There is no quarantine necessary, and we’ll see how easy it is in reality in a few hours – so, more on that later.
Merida has an international airport, and there is talk about building a new larger airport soon. American Airlines has direct flights daily from Miami, so flying to or from Philly is pretty easy.
Obviously, any place you move has negatives, and we’re not naïve enough to think Merida is a utopia.
The first negative everyone talks about is the heat. Merida, Mexico, is HOT, and it’s humid. But, most of the people screaming about the heat come from places that are cold or have no humidity.
Living in St Petersburg, Florida heat and humidity is nothing new to us. We know it will still be an adjustment. Locals tend to run their errands in the morning and head home by eleven-ish. We’ll relax in the air conditioning or by the pool, have our main meal in the middle of the day, and then head out to explore the cantinas, music, and cultural activities as the sun goes down.
As Merida is not a tourist destination, not many locals speak English. So, we are working hard on learning Spanish and expect to take some classes once we get on the ground. It’ll be easier when we get to use it all the time. And, from what we’ve seen, locals appreciate it when you try to speak Spanish.
So, that’s why we decided to retire overseas, what we were looking for, and ultimately, how we picked Merida as the place to start our adventure.