10 Things I Love About Living in Mexico

Jun 26, 2008

Following on the heels of Cancun Canuck's post about positivity, I thought I would post on something that's not often focused on here in Mexican blogsville- the things I like about living here! Sure there are lots of blogs out there that tell the not-so-wonderful stuff about Mexico, dog poop, big puddles after it rains, calling for more gas, etc., and I agree with lots of them, I've even written posts like that myself (see ants living in our car, gargantuan Mexican cockroach, or waiting on the gas truck). It's important for people to know that it's not all roses here, but sometimes I think it's easy to focus on the negative so much that you forget the positive. So here is my gratitude list of things I love about living in Mexico.

1. The role the family plays in daily life. I love that on any given Sunday I can stroll down to the beach or to a local cenote and see several extended families enjoying the day. They often bring Grandma and she brings a big pot of something and a bunch of tortillas and they have their Sunday Dinner right on the beach. They will often build make-shift shelters from the sun and install Grandma and any babies that are too small to crawl around beneath them.

2. No junk mail. I already touched on this when I got a letter last week, but one of the good things about not having the most reliable mail system is that I'm not getting 10 lbs. of junk mail every day. I'm not a huge "green-living" enthusiast, but I always thought that all that junk mail was overkill on the whole deforestation thing. I love not having to check the mail everyday, or even every week.

3. Yummy foods I've never tried. I've been thinking about this for a while. I did a little research and it turns out that much of what we think is Mexican food in the states is either TexMex or CaliMex. I dated a guy from the left coast for a while and we used to trek over to the Mexican neighborhoods in Charlotte in search of CaliMex food and that's what we found- burritos. I have to confess that I had never even heard of Tacos al Pastor before we moved here, not to mention sopes, tostados or horchata. And I'm not even talking about Mayan food- that's a whole different thing! I'm just still here enjoying learning more about traditional Mexican food. Oh- and the candy...

4. Living really close to amazing, deserted beaches. I grew up vacationing at the North Carolina Outerbanks. The Outerbanks are beautiful in their own right, and when I was a kid there were long stretches of sand dunes that were pristine (now they are covered by multi-million dollar homes). But the Outerbanks can't hold a candle to the beaches in Tulum and points south. Just a little over an hours drive I can be laying under a palm tree (who needs an umbrella?) on a virgin beach with sugar-white sand and water that is 10 shades of blue. Is this really my life?

5. Everything is in walking distance. Well, this isn't totally true, but most of the things that interest me are within walking (or biking) distance. This is the first time that hubby and I have owned one car and not had any problems with who gets to use it. I can easily walk to the beach, to yoga class, to meditation, to the gym, to the grocery store, to the wine store (I figured that one out in our first week here), to salsa dancing, to regular techno dance clubs, to bars where our friends hang out, to coffee shops, to Spanish lessons, to tons and tons of restaurants, you name it. When we were living in the burbs it was a 1/2 hour drive to anything. When we lived just outside of Manhattan everything required you to go into Manhattan. This is the first time that I have lived somewhere that has most everything I want to do just around the corner.

6. Reduced addiction to air conditioning. Who woulda thunk that living somewhere hotter than New Jersey would break our addiction to A/C? Well the truth is that electricity is fairly expensive here (but still cheaper per month than running our pool in the summer in NJ). We have a decent ocean breeze and when we open our balcony doors the air blows clear through the apartment, so we only use A/C at night and on the occasional still day. It's nice to be accustomed to regular, humidified air and hubby doesn't wake up with a stuffed up nose everyday (although we think it has something to do with Jersey because even when we go back for a week he gets it- doesn't matter where we stay). At home we used to run the A/C all the time.

7. Lots of people from lots of countries. I love that on any given day I might be hanging out with a German, a Russian, a Swiss person, a French person, a French Canadian, a Dutch person, you name it. Playa del Carmen attracts a lot of Europeans and I love the international feel. It almost feels like we're all exchange students. The best part is listening to Europeans effortlessly switch between the 4 or so languages they're fluent in.

8. Chico can go practically anywhere we're going. At home our dog got the short end of the stick. He wasn't welcome at restaurants and the weather was often not nice enough to be outside so he didn't get nice long walks during the cold months. Here he goes to dinner with us regularly as most of the restaurants have outside seating. He gets to walk around town with us an pee on whatever strikes his fancy. Everyone brings their dogs, and leash laws, if they exist here, are not enforced. Chico's life is probably better here. The only place they're really sticklers about dogs is on the beach. Chico can't go to any beaches here in Playa, but he can go to the beaches in Tulum, including many of the beach clubs down there.

9. No carpet. I hate carpet. It's really gross and requires one to own a vacuum cleaner. I abhor vacuuming- I'd rather clean the toilet, don't ask me why. It was a problem in the states because we had carpet and we had a dog and a cat. The carpets needed to be vacuumed regularly. I love that we have tile throughout the apartment here. I love that if I spill some water I can just leave it, too, which is a plus over wood floors. It just feels like our apartment is cleaner because the tiles can't really collect anything- one sweep and it's gone. Plus I like the smell of the pinesol/bleach mixture the cleaning lady uses.

10. No "real" winter. I seriously do not miss wearing long underwear 9 months of the year or bundling up just to go get the mail. Chico gets many more walks because it's reasonable to be outside year round. I have to admit that I may actually miss fall this year, but winter, uh... I can visit it. Seriously, one week of winter per year is plenty for me. Plus, people want to visit you when you live somewhere warm and beautiful. There's less, "So when are you coming home?" and more, "When can we come visit?" Me likey.

Those are just ten of the things I love about living here. Do you have any to add about living in Mexico? What do you love about living where you live?


Jeff said...

When I read over this top-10 list, it makes me think about where I live (Boston). I love this city, and it has some of the things that Playa has:

1) many beaches to the north and south, but I certainly wouldn't call them amazing with white sand and clear water
2) excellent food and nightlife...although all the international cuisine is more or less Americanized
3) Boston is very much an international city. It is much smaller than New York, but every single day I hear another language on my way to work. It's great to be living amongst people with such different backgrounds and interests (and language abilities)

However, the things that Boston doesn't have include year-round warm weather or everything in walking distance. I would much rather have a 5 minute commute to work, palm trees lining the streets, and a wide selection of beautiful white sand beaches with glistening turquoise-blue water.

Have you learned Spanish pretty well by now? Where do you work in Playa? Any plans to return to the states? I still can't quite imagine living and working in paradise, but it sounds nice :)

New Beginnings said...

Loved your post! I agree with all your top 10. I am not yet living there - soon to be. But I think I have to add this one thing I love about Mexico:

I love the Mexican's way of "living in the moment". I think that is one of the first things I noticed when I first visited. Whether you meet someone cleaning a home, sweeping the street, washing a car, etc., they all have a huge smile on their face and are enjoying each and every moment of their life. In the crazy rat race that I live in in Western Canada, that is so so rare.....

And my most favorite is their sense of family......which I believe was numero uno on your post.

Great post!

mexpat said...

I've never been to Boston, unfortunately. It was on my 'to-do' list when I lived near NYC, but never got done!

My Spanish is getting pretty good! I have studied it since I was 7, so I really just needed the push from proficient to fluent. I'm enjoying learning Mexicanisms like slang and other 'dichos'. I've been here 6 months now and can easily say what I need to, now I'm working on speaking at tempo and getting jokes and stuff like that.

Plans to return to the states? Uh.... only if the money runs out! Really, I love it here. I would like to stay here as long as I can figure out a way to stay here.

We own our own business doing software development and web design mostly for American and European clients. Most of our work is referral based, so we don't have to fly back to the states too often to do it.

Are you planning on moving to Mexico?

Hi New Beginnings-
I just stopped by your blog- welcome to the blogosphere!

Yeah- that Mexican way of living in the moment also extends to the way they handle money. If they have it, they spend it. There's not much saving for a rainy day here, which can be a plus and a minus. But generally people are pretty content with life- that is, as long as they get plenty of time with their loved ones! It's so very different from life NOB.

Can't wait to read more about your life as it unfolds! Suerte with your move!!! :)

CancunCanuck said...

Yay positivity! Excellent post my dear, thanks for brightening my day. :)

1st Mate said...

As a dog-owner living on the Sonora coast, I concur with all ten of your positivity points. I can add at least two more: medical and dental care you can afford even without health insurance! And being able to live in a very reasonable and comfortable rental house five minutes from our boat, which is moored for free, radically cutting our cost of living. Oh, and mercados and tianguis where I can get a bag of almost any kind of produce for a buck.

mexpat said...

Canuck- Thanks!

1st Mate- Thanks for stopping by the blog! I think radically cutting one's expenses is certainly possible, just not quite as possible in Playa! Many things are nearly the same price as in the US, unfortunately. Although medical care and produce is still quite a deal here.

Anonymous said...


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