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Exploring Abroad: Parting Thoughts on Mérida, Mexico

Cynthia:  Our initial impressions of Mérida were quite positive—tons to do, friendly people, low cost of living. After two weeks exploring the city, has any of that changed for you?

Edd:  Not really. We’ve been so busy every day and there’s still a lot we didn’t get to do. Sadly all the museums remain closed because of COVID. We were really looking forward to visiting several of them.

C:  Let’s get the “elephant in the room” out of the way. The weather…

E:  Oof. No amount of forewarning prepared us for the heat in Mérida. We couldn’t bear stepping outside in the afternoons.

C:  Well, we were there during the hottest time of the year. Plus our bodies are attuned to a temperate climate after 11 years in Cuenca.

E:  Yeah, but as an expat candidly admitted, “Mérida has three seasons—hot, hotter, and hottest!”

C:  So true. It’s easy to understand why the city has such a vibrant nightlife with so many rooftop bars and restaurants. We thoroughly enjoyed the pleasant, breezy evenings, and quickly adjusted our schedule to take advantage of them.

E:  The overall architecture of the historic part of the city surprised us. Apart from the grandeur of those mansions on Paseo de Montejo, it’s pretty much street after street of tall pastel walls and doors built right out to the edge of the sidewalk.

C:  As we observed when we looked at real estate with Colm Cooney of Mexico International Real Estate, on the other side of those walls could be a fixer-upper or an eye-popping luxury home with a fabulous pool and gardens.

E:  We also learned that numerous expats are taking advantage of opportunities to buy, renovate, and sell properties downtown. I was amazed to see almost no graffiti anywhere. Very unusual for a city of Mérida’s size.

C:  No stray dogs or litter either. Plus we read that Mérida is one of the safest cities in Mexico.

E:  Considering the country’s “dangerous” portrayal in the media, that’s really important information. On our day trip to Progreso beach the bus drove through the north side of town. Really different from historic El Centro, right?

C:  Night and day. Modern buildings. Enormous malls. Multiplex cinemas. U.S. stores like Costco, Walmart, and Home Depot. It was easy to forget we were in Mexico!

E:  And if you’re craving an even more “American experience,” Houston is only a 2-hour, nonstop flight away. We met a couple who are actually running their business there from here.

C:  General thoughts about expats we’ve come in contact with?

E:  The ones we’ve met have been so kind and open to our many questions. And they all love Mérida! A few on social media—not so much. But I think that’s just the reality of the online world in general.

C:  Affordability is an attribute we always examine. We found that a low cost of living is certainly available in Mérida.

E:  As long as you don’t constantly run the A/C, according to almost everyone. Beyond that, nothing else seemed expensive at all.

C:  Right. Housing costs are low compared to the U.S. Prices in supermarkets even for imported goods ranged from super cheap to reasonable. And Uber... Wow, when we found out fares were often $2 or less, goodbye walking in that heat!

E:  So I think it’s fair to say that Mérida is an expat destination well worth considering. As long as you’re OK with the heat.

C:  That’s why we were told, “Make sure you have a pool or access to one wherever you live.”

E:  Sound strategy. But this city is not for these two “Goldilocks” people, right?

C:  Nope. Mérida’s many positives, including the beach being less than an hour away, don’t outweigh the oppressive heat and humidity.

E:  Agree. A temperate climate is really crucial for us. And that’s a key point for our subscribers. Make a wish list of what’s most important to you and stick with it. Your ideal location is out there waiting to be discovered.

C:  Well, up next for us is the eastern coast of Mexico. We’ll be visiting Tulum, Playa del Carmen, and Cancun.

E:  It’s going to be really interesting to get a feel for living in what are mainly thought of as vacation spots.

C:  Before we arrive, I’m excited to explore two important Mayan ruins. There’s so much to see and do in this country!


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