For some 80 miles, extending south from Cancún, the warm turquoise-green Caribbean Sea gently bathes the sugar-sand beaches of Mexico’s eastern shore. This spectacular stretch of bleached-white coastline is known as the Riviera Maya and has become the Caribbean’s most popular vacation destination. With year-round temperatures typically in the 80s F, plenty of sunshine, modern infrastructure, and first class healthcare, the Riviera Maya is also home to those who have discovered their retirement paradise here.
The view was literally breathtaking. Mexico's largest lake, Chapala, was just yards away and if I turned my head slightly, the purplish hues of the Sierra Madre mountains were visible just over my shoulder. It was late in the afternoon and the sky was turning astonishing shades of crimson and pumpkin-orange as the sun began its descent. I was submerged to my chin, out-of-doors, in a steaming cauldron heated by underground geothermal activity. I rolled an icy beer can across my forehead as I allowed the hot water to perform its magic.
There have only been two times in my life when the influence of others has provided immeasurable positive benefits for me. The first was when I met and married my wife, Diane. The other was when I discovered International Living.
Imagine sitting on your terrace with a freshly brewed cup of coffee. Your view takes in the entire arc of the bay as pelicans gracefully swoop and splash into the surf, gathering their morning meals. Several humpback whales are surfacing just offshore on their annual migration. The sky is, once again, a brilliant blue and the gentle, warm ocean breeze regularly delivers the fresh scent of the sea.
My wife, Diane, and I are fortunate enough to live on the Riviera Maya--a stunning, palm-infused, unflawed stretch of coastline on the east coast of Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula. Kissed by the turquoise, warm waters of the Caribbean Sea and graced with powder-white sands, this part of Mexico is spectacular. A living reef (the world’s second largest) lies just offshore and provides world-class diving and snorkeling opportunities year-round. An International airport in Cancún annually delivers some five million tourists from all across the globe to this popular Caribbean vacation destination.
Lake Chapala is a snowbird’s paradise that is home to a large and welcoming expat community. And that’s not all. In my opinion, Lake Chapala has the best-value real estate you’ll find in any of this country’s expat hubs. Sitting at an altitude of 5,000 feet in west-central Mexico, Lake Chapala (the country’s largest freshwater lake) boasts one of the best climates in the world.
As a retired expat and current resident of Mexico, I frequently get asked if Mexico is a safe place to live? Media outlets in the States are fond of highlighting occurrences of cartel-related violence near the U.S. border, leading many to conclude that all of Mexico is a scary, unsafe place. Further, the U.S. Department of State does a great job of issuing real-time warnings to travelers regarding upticks in violence in various Mexican locations.
After 35 years in soggy Seattle, Pat and Russ Huber were ready for a drier, warmer climate. They thought that Santa Barbara, California, close to friends and family and with much improved weather, would be their solution. They sold all their stuff, putting only a few things in storage, loaded their car, and headed south, looking forward to their new lives. But after about a year in California, Pat encountered a major medical issue.
It’s not hard to see what drew Valorie to this village of 12,000 people. Puerto Morelos lies about 30 miles south of Cancun and claims several miles of spectacular natural beachfront. Temperatures most days hover in the 80s F. The water is warm and clear, its colors ranging from dark blue to varying shades of turquoise. The sand is light and fine as sugar, and the tropical waters host all manner of colorful fish, lazy sea turtles, and even migrating whale sharks.
Cancún’s huge, maze-like outdoor mega-mart, Mercado 23 is where locals go to find the best deals. Here you’ll find dozens of food vendors and fish mongers, a large aromatic spice shop, butchers’ markets filled with cages of squawking chickens, sweet-smelling bakeries, and a dizzying array of specialty shops. Unfortunately, as entertaining and culturally enriching as it is, most visitors to Cancún never find their way to Mercado 23.