As promised, I am asking to international travellers and people living and working in a foreign country to share their life stories with me to know why they decided to leave families and friends behind to explore new realities and meet new cultures!

Are you curious about how they managed to adapt and settle in their new countries? Then follow my expat interviews categorised by country! Are you an expat wanting to share your tips and experience with the rest of the world and be a source of inspiration? Then fill in the expat interview form: I would love to hearing from you!

Travelling—it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.” Iba Battuta

Let’s meet Reina: from Key West straight to Playa del Carmen

Introduce yourself briefly. Tell us who you are!

Hello! I am a retired restauranteur from Key West, Florida enjoying  the next stage of my life in Playa del Carmen Mexico.  Most every day is warm and sunny with some of the most beautiful beaches just a few minutes from my door.  A beautiful geographic diversity, amazing food, warm friendly people and incredible culture and history are just a few of the wonderful things that Mexico has to offer.

Why did you move to your current country?

Key West is a wonderful place but very expensive and a hurricane prone little island. I believed that I would have a much higher quality of life retiring in Mexico.

What do you do for a living? How was the job hunting?

I am retired. so I no longer have a job.  I do own two vacation rental properties on the Riviera Maya which provide me with additional income. Without a work permit finding a job can be difficult.

How is the social life in your city, is it easy to make friends?

Making friends in Playa del Carmen is so easy!  Many expats who retire here all chose Mexico for similar reasons so there is an immediate common bond.  I live in a gated community where I have become friends with many of my neighbours.  I belong to a book club with interesting women from all around the world.  There are trivia and  game nights at local restaurants which is a a great way to meet people and of course the Pilates studio and the gym which I belong to are also great places to meet new friends.

Why should people move there? Why did you fall in love with this place?

If you are looking to retire to a  warm, tropical destination with a very affordable cost of living, excellent amenities in regard to shopping, good health care and easy access to the US then Playa del Carmen is a great choice.  If you are a beach/water person there are over 200 miles of some of the most beautiful beaches with all of the water activities that you could possible want!

What do you want to say to people looking to move there?

Don’t compare it to where you have come from.  Enjoy experiencing new things and a new way of life.  Learn some Spanish it goes a long way.  Smile and people will be happy to help you!

How is the health system? Is it a safe place to live in?

The free health care system has its challenges and can be hit to miss but there are many great private doctors and hospitals where the care is quite good and costs are very affordable.  As a 60 year old woman I pay about $2000/year for private insurance.
In general I feel safe.  Theft seems to be the biggest crime expats face.  Stay away from drugs and late night clubs and trouble will likely stay away from you!

How is the general cost of living, what is the average rent?

Generally the cost of living is probably about half of that in the US.  Many things are even less.  A great 2 bedroom apartment close to the beach can be had for less than $1000 a month.  I own my own home and a similar house in the states with the same proximity to the beach would cost three times as much. 

In Key West the cost of a single Pilates class was over $50.  Here i can go three times a week for a month for less than the cost of one class.  The gym I belong to is about $16 a month.  A similar gym in Key West would be well over $100 a month.  My maid for a 2300 sq  foot house is $25 a week again a quarter of the price of the US and my pool guy is $40 a month for 3 times a week in Key West I paid $125 a month for once a week.  Just a few examples.  One final example would be the cost of property taxes.  In Mexico I pay about $300 per year versus $8000 in Florida!

Tell us something you don’t like about where you live and the difficulties you came across when settling in.

Moving was quite easy.  Coming from the United States where everything is fast , fast, fast it takes a little bit of time to get accustomed to the slower pace of life in Mexico and coming from a very small island sometimes the traffic here can be frustrating.  The highway system has not caught up with the growth of the area.

Tell me an unmissable thing to do in your city over a weekend

Go to the beach!   Enjoy the sunshine and get out on the water!  Snorkel, swim, fish, paddle board but do something to enjoy the ocean or a cenote (natural fresh water pool).  Take a stroll on world famous 5th Avenue which is 4 kilometres of shopping, cafes, restaurants and bars and make sure to enjoy some fabulous Mexican food!

Did you find Reina’s experience useful? Then check out the other upcoming expat interviews in other cities! 

Planning your holidays in Mexico? Then have a look at Reina’s beachfront accommodations in Playa del Carmen! Here are the links: Luna Azul Condos and casita at Luna Azul Condos