A few years ago, my wife Diane and I packed our lives into six suitcases, Diane tucked our beloved Chihuahua, Carmine, under her arm and we set off to build a new life in a small coastal village on Ecuador’s northern coast, a country we had never visited.
Isla Mujeres is small. At five miles long and a half-mile wide, Valerie Pasnau feels it provides the perfect lifestyle for her and her husband, John. It's easy to understand why they would choose the picturesque Caribbean island just eight miles off the coast of Cancún, Mexico. "The island has everything we need and almost everything we want," she says. "What we don't find here, we can find in Cancún, just a short ferry ride away."
While the notion of getting away from it all on a tropical island has near universal appeal, coconut phones and signal fires won’t cut it with today’s savvy expats. Let’s face it. You want to have your solitude, but also remain connected to the outside world through high-speed internet service and modern transportation options. Particularly Read more...: First-World Comforts at Low Prices on This Tropical Island
After living here in Cancún over a year, I’ve come to the conclusion that Cancún is not so much a traditional Mexican city as it is an international city with strong Mexican overtones. Though it retains its Mexican flavor, the influx of tourists and the city’s young age have seen it develop into a vibrant, modern, and sophisticated city with a lively nightlife.
“I like the way things are now, and with family and a new grandson in Canada, the snowbird lifestyle works great.” When not embracing family life to the full, Kim gets to savor the many joys Playa has to offer. “I absolutely love Playa del Carmen,” Kim says of her winter home. “The beaches are world-class and the water sports are unlimited, with snorkeling, scuba, fishing, paddle boarding, surfing, boating, swimming, and just floating in the gorgeous tropical waters.” And it’s not only sun, sand, and sea that keep her coming back. It’s also the friends she’s built up over many winters here.
The modern vacation mecca has everything needed for a great life, according to the couple. They haven’t felt the need to learn much Spanish, as many of the locals speak English in this tourism oriented area. They say they also don’t need a car. A continuous stream of buses runs along all main routes, offering clean, convenient, and inexpensive access to all areas of the city. Major chain stores such as Costco, Walmart, and Sam’s Club have outlets in Cancún, so shopping is easy and familiar. These days, there are also tons of major brand restaurant chains, along with some great local eateries.
“At the end of a long day, Daisy and I love to visit one of our favorite restaurants,” says Jim Silver of his new life on the Caribbean island of Isla Mujeres, just eight miles offshore from Cancún. “Obviously, living on an island means great seafood, but that’s not all you’ll find.”
"I guess I was just sick of the corporate stuff. I felt like if I didn't make a move to get something going...it would never happen," says John Dykes. John and his wife, Mimi, were doing pretty well. They had a nice home in Texas where John was running a large automotive supply store and Mimi had her own staffing agency.
Sipping wine sitting on the deck of his 36-foot cabin cruiser, Fish Trap, John Pasnau takes a slow deep breath of clean, salt air and reflects on his new life. He and his wife, Valerie, are getting ready to cast off for a short cruise to watch another Caribbean sunset along the Riviera Maya. "Retiring to Mexico almost a year ago was probably the best decision I've ever made...except for asking Valerie to marry me," he says.
We came to Cancun after beginning our expat retirement adventures in Ecuador. Our retirement plans were in serious trouble in the U.S. I had suffered my second heart attack in 2009…and soon after I lost a good job and the health insurance that came with it. I was unemployed, uninsured, and the medical expenses were stacking up. So, we decided to take a chance and live overseas, a decision that first brought us to the small fishing and farming community of San Vicente on Ecuador’s coast, just a short distance from the equator. We spent two great years there, but with my heart issues, we decided it would be wise to live closer to top-notch emergency medical care.