Upstate New Yorker Robin Chacon and her husband, Marty, love exploring Mexico. But a vacation is never enough. Instead, they prefer to live in a place for six months or a year. That way they have time to really explore different areas of Mexico.
A nature lover, Robin says she “loves finding so many places to live in Mexico surrounded by beautiful nature. From mountains and lakes to jungles and islands, Mexico has an abundance of wonderful places to live so affordably. And in every place, we have found great rentals for under $500 a month.”
The most recent place, ticking all of the boxes with its pristine nature and low cost of living is Cozumel in the Mexican Caribbean. It’s become a sort of home base for the couple and they are currently renting a small tw0-bedroom house for $500 a month.
Surrounded by pristine turquoise waters teeming with marine life Robin says “Cozumel is home. We always come back to Cozumel. Es me corozon (it’s my heart)”.
What Do You Get For $500 a Month?
Naturally, I asked, what criteria does a town need to meet when you’re looking for the next place to live and explore?
Robin said they have four main criteria when selecting a place to live:
- Reliable Steady Internet: Being an ESL Teacher (English as a Second Language), reliable internet is a must for teaching online. Unreliable or slow internet with a lag is a deal breaker.
- Low Cost of Living: The lower cost of living in small, less touristy towns means their money goes a lot further. Less work is needed to pay the bills and there’s more time for fun. That means exploring, hiking, swimming, and day trips.
- Climate: I laughed out loud when Robin pulled a face while shaking her head saying, “if there’s snow, I’m not going. If it rains for months on end, I’m not going.”
- Nature: Being nature lovers, this is a deal breaker for Robin.
Removed from the concrete jungles of cities and near nature is where Robin is at her happiest. That is why all of the places they’ve lived in Mexico are in the heart of nature. Like when they decided to live in Valle de Bravo in Central Mexico. That was to experience the majestic Monarch butterfly migration.
Located in the mountains surrounding Lake Avándaro, a couple of hours west of Mexico City, Robin said she was pleasantly surprised to fall in love with the town. The town’s cobblestone streets were a joy to wander, and the friendly locals and colorful architecture are enough to warrant a revisit. Which they are doing in early 2023 — and they’ve found a lake house to rent for $300 a month.
What About Work?
Although Robin’s not retired, it’s nice to have left the high-powered corporate world back in upstate New York and only work two to four hours a day.
Robin explained, “my students are in China so I teach in the early mornings and am done by 9 a.m. Then it’s off to the gym and the rest of the day is free”.
Plus, it’s quiet. Early in the morning is Robins’ favorite time of day. Sitting with her coffee listening to the birds singing is peaceful and incredibly relaxing no matter where in Mexico she is. No more corporate stress of being a Project Manager at a big chemical company or a cold commute. Now it’s singing birds and giggling children in the Caribbean warmth.
That’s the reason they decided to move to Mexico. The weather. Sunshine and less stress are great for pain management. Something Marty needed after a back injury. Now he doesn’t have to keep long working hours or put up with painful months of bitterly cold weather.
How is the Healthcare?
The high quality and amazing affordability of healthcare in Mexico mean that their health expenses are a fraction of what they would have been had they stayed in the U.S.
Robin shared “the chiropractor here is fantastic and he’s only $30.” Actually, all of the healthcare is so cheap that she summed it up like this “I can get acupuncture, specialized laser treatment for inflammation, physical therapy, and a long rehabilitating massage, all for $200.”
Even working part-time is enough to pay for the healthcare and extras they need.
“I only have to work part-time instead of 40 to 60 hours a week. It’s a better quality of life, and less stress. I have greater freedom and flexibility in work. No more micromanaging bosses and if I want to take time off, I can. I can pick and choose my contracts and companies I teach through.”
One of the biggest perks Robin didn’t see coming was the personal discoveries that living abroad blessed her with. Explaining “I really learned what doesn’t work for me. I know myself better. What I’m not going to tolerate anymore or if I don’t want to do something I don’t have to.”
Now life is relaxed. Joyfully exploring Mexico, the lower cost of living means there is more time to relax.
This is why Robin says that “even in a major tourist destination like Cozumel where everything has to be shipped over to the island, we can live very comfortably for under $1800 a month”. That’s including medical treatments, gym memberships, and a lot of extras they would never be able to afford back home.
Previously living in Valle de Bravo and San Cristóbal de las Cases it was even less. For $1300 a month they lived very comfortably. Eating out regularly, enjoying day trips and adventures, hikes, and time in nature.
During these adventures, Robin confessed to falling in love. “I discovered photography and I love it!” she beamed. Going on relaxing walks with waterfalls, wildlife, and not another soul in sight is perfect for amazing photography.
A passion shared by Marty makes it a fun couple’s activity. “Discovering the joy of photography, I love taking amazing photos of all the places we’ve lived. Big churches on a hill, or shots Marty takes with his drone. We love exploring and taking amazing photos.”
The Perfect Side Hustle
They built a love project side business doing drone photography. The perfect side hustle for a little extra cash while out and about roaming around Mexico.
Robin smiled broadly explaining “everything we have fits in our car, including our lovely kitty Lily.” When they want to set out to explore another part of Mexico it’s as easy as packing the car and off they go.
Plus, with car insurance at a fraction of the cost, it’s easy to do. What used to be their monthly insurance bill is now the annual bill. Plus, Mexico’s infrastructure is fantastic. Wide, clearly marked, well-maintained roads and highways are easy to navigate and drive. It’s freeing. As was downsizing and simplifying her life.
I’m Happier for Simplifying My Life
“Back in the States, we had so much stuff. The big house, gardens, lots of clothes, four cars … so much stuff,” Robin says. Now, downsizing to an apartment or small house and living a simpler life she said they are a lot happier.
Less work, less stress, no bosses, more time to spend together and see Mexico. It’s all a win for a happier healthier life. A better work/ life balance with less financial stress.
Smiling Robin says it’s easy to enjoy a better of quality of life with more treats like eating out regularly. Even on Cozumel, Mexico’s largest cruise port and a major tourist destination, there are plenty of places for a couple to enjoy a meal for $10 or less. One example is a wonderful traditional Mexican restaurant where residents get a cold drink, soup starter, a main meal, and dessert for $5.50.
To finish up I asked Robin if she had advice for anyone wanting to explore Mexico by living in different places.
Her tips and wise words of advice were this:
- Rent before you buy.
- Get a bank account that will reimburse foreign ATM fees and a credit card that does the same.
- Have a traveling mailbox.
- And don’t hold onto ‘stuff’. Storage spaces are expensive and you can easily buy everything you need in Mexico. Probably for cheaper than it cost to store the stuff back in the U.S.
Just go and enjoy this gorgeous country and its wonderful people!
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So inspiring! Tips on how to find rentals would be helpful.