Dear International Living Reader,
You may remember my Four Cs rating system:
Comfort, Convenience, Cost, and Culture.
These are the four things I consider when I think about living somewhere. They are completely subjective, and they don’t have anything to do with profit potential or return on investment. It’s only about why I personally would or wouldn’t live in a particular place.
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Since I live in Merida, Mexico, I thought this might be a good time to demonstrate my Four Cs treatment.
A rating of 1 in a category is the worst, and a rating of 5 is the best…so there are 20 possible points. The closer to 20 a place scores, the better it rates with me.
Comfort: I’ll say it right up front…in the summer, Merida is brutally hot and has lots of mosquitoes. But…it’s 40 minutes from the beach at Progreso, so you can drive up there on a summer afternoon and cool off in the sea breeze. The rest of the year, Merida weather is paradise. It’s also a clean, quiet, fresh city, and if you’ve ever lived in a dirty, noisy, stinky city, you know what a difference that makes. Comfort = 3.
Convenience: Merida is one of the most convenient places I’ve ever lived. It’s completely flat, and the streets are laid out in a grid (more or less), so getting around is easy. The international airport has good connections and a number of direct flights to the U.S. I can walk around my neighborhood and find almost everything I need in the local tiendas, but we also have a Home Depot, a Sam’s Club, a Costco, an OfficeMax, and several Wal-Marts. Some people think these places were created by the devil to ruin charming Third-World destinations, but I’ve lived without Home Depot and Wal-Mart, and I never plan to do it again. Most of the locals I know feel the same way. Convenience = 5.
Cost: Real estate prices are rising in Merida because it’s becoming more and more popular with expats and Mexicans alike. But taxes and health care costs are ridiculously low, you can eat very cheaply at the local restaurants, and the summer—when you’re apt to use air conditioning—is the only time your utility bills amount to much of anything. It’s hard to spend more than $3 on a taxi ride, and buses to anywhere in town cost pocket change. If you rent a house or apartment from a local in a part of town that isn’t being gentrified by rich gringos, you can pay $400 or less per month. Cost = 4.
Culture: There is more to do in Merida on any given night than you have time for, and most of it is free. Free dances in the parks, free guitar concerts, even free stage shows on Saturday nights near the central park. Some of the most magnificent Mayan ruins on earth are just 90 minutes from Merida, and the city itself is a treasure trove of historical buildings, churches, and neighborhoods. You can also find world-class jazz, classical, rock, and alternative music in Merida. I even play on Thursday nights with my friend, Gary DeRose, in a club called Jazzin’ Merida. Any town where I can play guitar in front of people and be allowed to stay has to be culturally open-minded! Culture = 5.
Merida’s Four Cs rating = 17.
There you have it…that’s my town. I hope to see you in Merida sometime soon.
Editor’s Note: Dan Prescher is one of IL’s experts on the ground in Mexico. Dan regularly writes about Mexico and other hotspots in Latin America for International Living’s monthly Magazine. If you’re not a subscriber, you can sign up here.
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