After vacationing in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico for almost a decade, I began to like the idea of becoming a "Snowbird" six months a year. Why not? I hate winter. I know a lot of people here -- both locals and ex-pat Canadians -- some who have married Mexicans. I may be a little young to be considered a "snow bird" but I feel this is a great time of my life for an adventure.
I can do my job from anywhere as long as I have my computer, WiFi and a phone. With technology today, it isn't a problem. I talked to my clients and they didn't seem to mind, so I decided to take the plunge.
I headed down to PDC at the end of September to celebrate my birthday and to hunt for my new home. I found the perfect place in just a few days. Two bedroom, two bathroom, beautiful Italian furnishings, a huge balcony, a big common pool, private roof top patio with a Jacuzzi, a six minute walk to the beach and two minutes away from one of the biggest grocery stores in town. And the best part is the price -- only $1000 a month!
I arrived in Playa 12 days ago. I have left behind many typical first world problems, and now deal with "second world problems." The first thing you learn when you get here is that nothing gets done in a few minutes in Mexico. Thankfully I have great friends here who have been amazing in helping me set up the condo and purchase everything I need to get started. I would have been lost without them.
Playa Del Carmen is a tourist town, so things are fairly easy to find. Some things are cheap, other are more expensive. There is a Walmart, and the grocery stores sell more than just groceries. There is a Sam's Club in Playa, and a Costco in Cancun. So far my biggest problem is too much glare on the screen of my laptop when I work on my patio -- I need an anti-glare screen but the local Office Depot doesn't carry the size I need.
A friend is now bringing one from Toronto. Only one other thing has been hard to find so far. The stove in my kitchen is electric, although most in Mexico are gas. I need new rings to go around the elements but nobody seems to sell them here. Those are now also coming from Toronto. I love my friends....or as I like to call them, my "luggage mules"!
My new Mexican cellphone service (unlimited data on my iPhone, ten local numbers I can call for free at any time, and 250 minutes a month) is costing me a third of what it would cost in Canada. My cable and internet is costing me half of what it does at home.
I have only experienced a small amount of "gringo discrimination" so far. Taxis here charge tourists more than locals. There is one price for a cab ride in central Playa -- its 20 pesos. Twenty-five if you get into the taxi at a taxi stand at one of the stores. But if you are pegged as a tourist they tell you the price is 50 pesos. My Spanish is poor (I start my lessons this week) but I have learned one important phrase -- Vivo aquí -- which means "I live here." I don't even ask them for the price -- I just hand them 20 pesos and get out of the cab. If they try to tell me it's more I just pull out my magic phrase and say "gracias."
My friends in Playa Del Carmen run the gamut from affluent Mexicans (lawyers, doctors, architects, wealthy entrepreneurs) to hard working bartenders, teachers, and musicians. The people here are truly lovely, genuine people. I had a dinner party on my roof top patio on the weekend which produced two-day hangovers for some of my friends. We ate, drank, sang and danced the night away. It's a very different vibe than back at home. If there is one thing I know for sure, my Mexican friends sure know how to have a good time!
Now that I have settled into a routine, I am looking forward to many adventures and new experiences. I am looking forward to traveling around Mexico to really experience the culture. I am also looking forward to the wedding of two of my Mexican friends in December. I will also be traveling to Merida soon to meet the parents and families of two close friends of mine. Let the adventure begin...I am ready for it!