10 Reasons to Retire in Playa del Carmen
Every year, hundreds of thousands of people will reach retirement age in the United States and Canada. For those who have planned well, retirement will be a well-deserved reward and a time to relax and enjoy the fruits of their labor. Many have plans to downsize or relocate to a favorite vacation destination. Most will remain in their country of origin but more and more are seeking retirement options abroad and Mexico seems to be at the top of the list of desirable places to retire. The Riviera Maya seems to be attracting its fair share of retirees from the north. What follows are the Top 10 reasons people give for retiring in Playa del Carmen.
Beautiful Weather – For many retirees, winters in the US and Canada are miserable. Cold dry air may cause respiratory issues and exacerbate everyday aches and pains. The risk of flu or slip and fall injuries due to ice and snow can be a serious concern for many seniors. If you are looking for a retirement destination where the average yearly temperature is 78 degrees, Playa del Carmen is the place for you. Our winters are warm and sunny. Our summers are hot and steamy and some snowbirds elect to fly north during this season. Our rainy season is short and a refreshing relief from the summer heat. Historically, the Riviera Maya suffers a major hurricane (CAT 3 or higher) once every 11 years. Compare that to residents in south Florida who can expect to be hit once every 4 years. Unlike most homes in the southeast US, all of the residential structures on the Mexican Caribbean are made of concrete to easily withstand gale force winds. You can see why Playa del Carmen will allow for a comfortable and stress-free retirement.
Cost of Living – If you are already considering retiring in Mexico, Playa del Carmen is NOT the most affordable place to call home. Real estate prices are competitive, renting in an area attractive to retirees may be expensive and the electricity rates are higher than in other parts of Mexico. Keeping this in mind, housing rates in this idyllic Caribbean location are FAR less expensive than comparable retirement destinations in say Florida or the USVI. Should you decide to design and build the retirement home of your dreams you will find fantastic English speaking real estate agents, attorneys, architects and contractors to help you through the process. Residential building lots, even in gated communities, can still be found at affordable prices. Best of all, when building your own home in Playa del Carmen, the cost per square meter and property taxes are a fraction of those in the US or Canada.
Conveniences – While it may sound great to find a cabana on the beach somewhere and spend countless hours reading in your hammock far away from the worries of the world, the reality is that a comfortable life requires more than that. In Playa del Carmen, you can enjoy a beach lifestyle and still take advantage of all the modern conveniences you have come to enjoy in the US or Canada. There are many services you may need in your new retired life. For example, computer parts and repair shops, essential in this modern age, can easily be found in Playa. It may not sound charming but access to major grocery stores, Walmart and Sam’s Club will actually make your retirement much easier. You may prefer to search the local produce markets and tienditas for your everyday needs but it sure is nice to know that once a month you can stock up on essentials in one of the big box stores. You will find all of your Mexican neighbors will be doing the same thing.
Location, location, location – I’m not talking Playa del Carmen’s famous beachfront. In the heart of the Riviera Maya, Playa is just 45 minutes from the Cancun International Airport. With hundreds of affordable flights coming in and out daily, this busy airport provides Playa del Carmen retirees with accessible travel options back home to visit family and friends. Similarly, because affordable flights can be found from many cities in the US and Canada, your loved ones will be able to easily visit you in your new home in paradise. If your retirement plans include exploring the world, Cancun is an excellent starting point with flights to destinations throughout Mexico, South America, Europe and across the globe. Adventures closer to home can be found as well. The ancient architectural sites of Tulum, Coba, Muyil, Chichen Itza and Ek Balam can each be visited on an easy day trip from Playa. The colonial city of Merida with its theatres, museums and art galleries is a delightful departure from the “Corona Culture” of Playa and is just 3.5 hours away by car or bus.
Healthcare - When Americans and Canadians are looking for a place to spend their retirement, access to excellent healthcare is generally a prime consideration. As Playa del Carmen begins to fully develop its healthcare facilities, the city and the surrounding region become more and more attractive to expat retirees. While many Canadians and Americans who retire in Playa del Carmen will choose to make use of private hospitals such as Hospiten, a new state of the art general hospital was opened in 2011. This hospital provides free universal healthcare to all residents with IMSS insurance coverage and is accessible and affordable for expat retirees. Services not offered in Playa del Carmen can easily be found a short drive away in Cancun. Playa is also home to many excellent English-speaking primary care physicians and dentists offering top notch care at very affordable rates.
Good Eats – Regardless of their previous income level, most people who are retired will admit to having a “budget” of some kind. Of course their budgets vary in keeping with their standard of living. Some will be able to retire in luxury with few restrictions. Most will need to make their retirement saving stretch as far as they can go. Regardless of your standard of living, we all need to eat and Playa del Carmen is the best place to be regardless of your food budget. If your budget allows, you can easily dine out in a different restaurant for every night of the year. Those with a tighter budget will find good, healthful ingredients wonderfully affordable in Playa’s grocery stores and markets. People with dietary restrictions will be glad to know that many restaurants in Playa del Carmen are equipped to accommodate vegetarians and vegans as well as those with gluten sensitivity or food allergies. Organic produce and other products are now commonly found in DAC and several new specialty stores.
Keeping Busy – When daydreaming about their retirement, the idea of whiling away the days in a lounger, sipping margaritas on the beach may seem very appealing. If this is your idea of the perfect retirement, Playa del Carmen with its many beach clubs and expat bars will more than fill your needs. Many retirees find this lifestyle idyllic for a while but soon grow restless and search out ways to occupy their time. The good news is that Playa del Carmen has an amazing variety of volunteer opportunities with something to suit everyone’s interests and skills. Playa’s English-speaking Rotary Club welcomes retirees from all over the world looking for ways to live a productive life and give back to their new community. Animal lovers will find well-organized animal rescue organizations eager for their help. Many retirees enjoy reading to children and providing classroom support to local schools. Truly, there is no reason to be bored in Playa del Carmen.
Active Lifestyle - Playa del Carmen is an ideal place to retire for those who want to remain active into their golden years. The Riviera Maya has miles and miles of clean white sand beaches on which to walk or run. Cyclists will enjoy the new path leading from downtown Playa all the way to Xcaret. Golfers can choose from over a dozen championship courses all located within an easy drive. Tennis clubs for local residents have sprouted up at several of the luxury resorts in Playacar. There are several excellent gyms in the city all with state of the art fitness equipment and professional trainers. Yoga is very popular activity for retirees in Playa del Carmen and there are studios and instructors for yogis of all ages and skill levels. You can also enjoy sailing, kayaking, snorkeling, scuba diving, paddle boarding, horseback riding and more. The options for active retirees are almost endless. Hockey players and snowboarders may want to look elsewhere.
Safety - Despite the rather negative picture portrayed by the major media outlets in the United States, which focus on drug related violence, Mexico is statistically a safe choice in terms of safety. Violent conflicts, which make for good headlines, are primarily limited to the areas close to the US border and certain notoriously volatile regions in the interior. In fact, out of Mexico’s 2,500 municipalities, only 80 have been affected by the drug war. In Playa del Carmen, a boom in population has caused an associated up-tick in incidents of violent crime but this rarely involves the expat community or tourists. You can go out in the evening for dinner or a stroll along La Quinta and be assured to return home safely. Petty theft, break-ins and crimes of opportunity are a fact of life in most tourism-dominated locations. Playa del Carmen is no different and residents need to take reasonable measures to keep homes and belongings secure….just as you do back home.
Community – Playa del Carmen already boasts a large English-speaking ex-pat community, many of whom have chosen the Riviera Maya as a place to retire. Whatever your choice of lifestyle, you are sure to find people with whom you will easily relate. Visit one of Playa del Carmen’s popular expat bars like La Ranita, ALIVE, Mom’s or Zenzi and strike up a conversation with the couple next to you. Not keen on the bar scene? Playa’s English speaking churches, volunteer groups and charitable organizations are all places will you will find new friends in your new home. While they may have come to Mexico from a different country, like you, they have chosen to retire in Playa del Carmen for its warm climate, affordable cost of living and laid-back lifestyle. You may find they are a lot more like you than many of the friends you left back home.
Michele Kinnon and her husband Rob are the owners of BuyPlaya Real Estate Advisors based in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. Michele is a member of Rotary Club of Playa del Carmen Seaside and participated on the founding committee for Taste of Playa, the Riviera Maya’s largest and longest running culinary festival. She also writes local interest articles and administrates the Riviera Maya Events Calendar. Michele and Rob have lived in Playa del Carmen with their two children since 2004.