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.
Mexico’s Riviera Maya is the Grand Prize Winner for most popular vacation destination on the Caribbean. The same motivations that cause more than five million vacationers from across the globe to flock to this area annually, are also attracting a growing expat population eager to turn their best beach vacation into a full-time retirement lifestyle.
We got as far as the town square in the small village of San Vicente on Ecuador’s northern coast when our car ran out of gas. I pulled to the side of the rutted, muddy road among a huge crush of writhing, smiling people as sultry Latin rhythms shook the windows of the car.
“You know Mr. Murray, you are in the gayest hotel in the gayest city in Mexico.” That was the greeting I got from the hotel clerk in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. It’s at times like these I realize how being part of International Living can take you to the most interesting and unusual places! And that’s how I ended up in Puerto Vallarta…I was here on an exploratory trip to find out what this well-known vacation destination, on Mexico’s Pacific coast, offered as a retirement location.
Cozumel is a perfect blend of laidback island life with tons of activities to enjoy. Here you can have as relaxed or active a retirement as you want. You can park yourself on a perfect stretch of white-sand beach for the day, listening to the waves as you read the latest best-seller, or don a snorkel to explore the world’s second-largest reef system, just offshore. Clear waters make it easy to see (and photograph) sea turtles, rays, and colorful clown fish. You can even make arrangements to swim with giant whale sharks.
“You may have heard this before but it’s really true in my case,” says Nicky Simonyi. “I came down here on vacation and never left. That was 35 years ago.”The 55-year-old Canadian is sipping a cool drink, just a few steps from the warm, Caribbean surf. You could easily toss a seashell into the turquoise water from where she sits.
Frank and Dale Reams took their first vacation to the quaint fishing village of Puerto Morelos on Mexico’s Caribbean coast in 1998 and knew, instantly, that they belonged there. “We fell in love with this area and after several more vacations, we decided that Puerto Morelos would become our retirement home when the time came,” says Frank.
Exchanging your existing life for a brand new one in another country is a big deal. Moving overseas offers a grand adventure while reducing living expenses and offering an overall improvement in lifestyle, but there will be challenges along the way and it’s best to be prepared.
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."