As many of you my followers and subscribers may know, I am undertaking a series of trips to and around Mexico to determine the best location for my #BLAXIT. I am traveling all around this incredibly beautiful country to find a relocation home as I pursue an authentic, unapologetic, and free existence in this world. I will chronicle all my stops here in this blog.
I am evaluating each place I visit to determine whether it is somewhere I can settle for at least 6 to 18 months after my BLAXIT. I will be evaluating places on the following 10 factors.
- Short distance to the nearest International Airport; and direct flight to Washington, DC area or South Florida airport in the US available.
- The temperature and climate is stable. It is not excessively hot or cold majority of months of the year. Low to No Hurricanes or earthquakes risk
- Fresh Fruit and vegetables are easy to access and find.
- Cost of Living is low. Average 1-2 BR Rent falls between $400 -$1000 per month in secure building, 5–10-minute walk to the beach, downtown, gym, pool, ocean view (if in beach town), A/C, very hot bath water (smile), washer/dryer/dishwasher in unit)
- Stable Wi-Fi and cell phone reception
- Creature comforts like Walmart, Costco, Starbucks present or nearby
- Uber is an option
- Neighborhoods are walkable and safe for walking alone
- There is a black expat community accessible to me
- It Feels Like Home
The cities/towns I have or will visit in Mexico are:
Playa del Carmen
San Miguel de Allende
Some of these factors I have noted may be of zero importance to many but they are of critical importance to me so as I travel this is the lens I will apply to each town or city.
In future blog posts I will share my impressions of the following cities:
San Miguel de Allende
After my visits are complete, I will share which town, if any, I selected as my relocation destination.
I have devised a Five Point Rating scale that I will apply to the towns I visit going forward.
5 – Perfect (all of the factors are present)
4 – Damn Near Perfect (8 or more factors are present)
3 – Almost Perfect (7 or more factors are present)
2 – Probably Not (6 factors or less are present)
1 – Hell No (3 factors or less are present)
Here are my ratings of the Mexican cities I have already visited based on this rating scale:
I will be remote working throughout, I mean somebody’s got to pay for this stuff, right? I am visiting these towns and cities to get a sense of the feel and rhythm of each place. Along the way, I will collect information about each city, what makes each place interesting and unique. But most importantly I will be allowing myself to absorb how each place makes me feel.
If you have been following me you know that I am in relentless pursuit of my personal freedom. I have explained all the reasons why in prior post but if you are new (welcome) please check out my first post “America: I am breaking up with you” and “America is a Gilded Cage.”
I want to preface my comments by stating that these are my opinion and views. Other bloggers and residents of a town or city, may differ from me on many things so keep in mind that these are just my views. My trips are being financed by me. I am not being sponsored by any person or entity and therefore there is no one or entity influencing the views shared here.
This is an updated post on Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo. I visited “Playa” or “PDC” as I will call it throughout this post, back in October for about four (4) days. I wrote a post about my initial impressions here.
In this post, I am updating my impressions after a longer stay from December 27 to January 3, 2021. I also visited Isla Mujeres from January 3 to January 7. Since I am not considering Isla Mujeres for relocation, I will write a post about it at a late date. I will say it is a great place for a getaway especially a couples getaway but definitely not a place I would consider for relocation.
For more information about historical information about Playa del Carmen (PDC) check out this link.
What I continue to love.
Thriving Black Ex-pat Community
The primary pluses are the same. PDC has a thriving black ex-pat community. There is a great group of young-ish black people living in the city and they are creating a wonderful vibe and lifestyle that is attractive and the right fit for many. It’s my favorite thing about PDC. I have made connections with wonderful black people, especially black women, doing wonderful things. They are making a positive impact on the PDC community. They are entrepreneurs doing the damn thing and I DIG it!
Though the black population is on the young side (25 to 45) I loved walking down the street and seeing so many of us just living and thriving.
Great Food Options
I also found that I was WRONG about food options in PDC. I am not afraid to admit when I’m wrong y’all and I was WRONG.
I was able to sample more of the restaurant offerings in Playa del Carmen and fell in love with places like Patanegra (the Seafood Paella ya’ll), Primo, and the restaurant at the Thompson Beach House. Rockas continues to be a BIG favorite of mine and I highly recommend a visit there. Being the foodie that I am I was thrilled to learn of multiple restaurant options in my second visit to PDC.
The rooftop pool vibes at multiple hotels across the city simply CANNOT be beat with the rooftop pool at the Reef 28 continuing to be my personal favorite.
Great restaurants and entertainment. I am a foodie. I love eating good food and I don’t want to eat Mexican food all the time even in Mexico. PDC gives you MANY choices. In PDC you have access to wonderful Mexican food as well as great Italian, great Spanish food, and good Thai food.
I also visited the Central Market where fresh fruit, vegetables and flowers can be purchased for very reasonable prices.
PDC is also walkable and if you are in the central area of the city you can walk to many places on foot.
Spanish Fluency Not Required
Spanish fluency was not required. While it would help tremendously to have Spanish fluency of at least an intermediate level. I was able to get by for the most part with my beginner Spanish. I found that many of the locals in PDC that I encountered understood English very well and many speak English quite well. This is not uncommon in tourist-centric locations Mexico and PDC is a tourist center.
Wi-Fi Reception was Good as was my Cell Phone Service
WIFI was good at the short term rental (STR) where I stayed (The Shore) and at the hotel where I stayed for New Years (The Reef) so overall I would say that the WiFi in PDC was good and not a problem, and my cell phone service also worked well.
What I don’t love
I continue to be concerned about the lack of attention to COVID-19 precautions amongst the expat community (black and white) in PDC. Especially since it was New Year’s Eve weeks, folks were frankly acting the complete a—in my humble opinion and it was concerning. There was little attention to social distancing or wearing a mask especially on Fifth Avenue. I saw lines queued up outside bars at 10pm at night with masses of people going inside. COVID-19 is going to be with us for a bit longer and I wish that folks would be much more responsible.
Housing Cost is on the Higher side if you want all the perks
Housing in PDC is in the higher range if you want amenities like a secure building, concierge, gym, rooftop pool and A/C, ocean view, and a short walk to the beach (which are all on my list). If you are moving to a beach town and a tourist center and especially during high season, a one or two-bedroom with all the amenities many of us want is going to run you from $800 to $1200 per month. This is still way lower than what one would pay in the US but it is more than some may wish to pay if they are considering permanent relocation to Mexico.
I also continue to dislike the “Taxi-Cab Shuffle” in PDC. What I mean is that in “tourist” areas there is a “tourist tax” if you will, on cab fares that differs from what you will pay in non-tourist, i.e., Mexican or Mexican adjacent areas. You can pay significantly more to go the same distance in some neighborhoods and areas versus others and the difference in cost is significant. There is no Uber in PDC so if you live in the city you have to navigate the taxi-cab situation all the time.
Beaches are Just Ok
The beaches I’ve seen in PDC do not thrill me. I shared why in my prior blog post and my opinion of them has not changed. They are not bad, but definitely not as beautiful as Tulum.
Safety & Security is an Issue
A larger concern for me is the reports of petty theft (purse and cell phone snatchings) that I was told about by both ex-pats and locals. People were very matter-of-fact about it with many telling me to just keep my wits about me, to take taxis at night if possible, and to avoid walking alone after dark. It is critical for women visiting PDC to exercise the situational awareness I mention in my blog post about my Top 5 Travel Security Tips for Female Solo Travelers. I take my personal security very seriously and as a single woman who travels and moves around in the world solo most of the time, I don’t like feeling on guard when walking alone down the street.
I also heard several stories about local police shaking down ex-pats, primarily males, for bribes. Those stories give me significant pause as once I am settled in the city of my choice, I will want my young adult son to visit me. I’m not relocating from America to put him in a position to be subjected to police harassment in a foreign country where he would be a visitor. The stories I heard from multiple people is of significant concern when I consider PDC as a permanent relocation destination.
Mosquitoes and other biting insects
As I said in my prior post about PDC, the mosquitoes and other biting insects are alive and well in the PDC and hella disrespectful. Do not go out in the evening without repellent. They will tear you up. Like they’re cousins in Tulum they will Eat you alive. You’ve been warned. I recommend using very strong mosquito repellent in PDC. Here are links to the ones I like here, here, and here.
PDC is a great vacation location and it is a place I could probably live in for 1-3 months. I have met some wonderful and awesome people in PDC, some I consider true friends so visiting is something I will continue to do but I do not think I would be happy there on a long-term basis. I would prefer to live in a community with Uber, with fewer security concerns.
PDC is not going to be the most inexpensive place to live in by Mexican standards. It is considered Medium on the cost of living scale. I researched the cost of living and PDC’s rent is 77.17% lower than the city I live in currently in the United States. You can review the cost of living by checking out Numbeo and Expatistan.
The Single Girl Factor. The Single Girl Factor is my evaluation of my dating prospects in a city based on my use of online dating apps while traveling. There is nothing scientific about it. I simply utilize dating apps in the area and see how many matches or hits or solicitations I receive.
Applying the Single Girl Factor, I think I could enjoy being single in PDC. While the dating pool skews a bit younger than I am, the online dating app results were promising. Apparently, even at my age I am still a draw (LOL).
In my next review of places in my Mexico city/town Tour, I will explain why Puerto Vallarta is now my favorite beach town in Mexico and is in close running with Merida pending my visits to Guadalajara, Ajijic Lake Chapala, Oaxaca, and San Miguel de Allende.