I've been doing a lot of research about Tulum and the surrounding areas. Tulum is primarily an eco-community, which means that a lot of the housing is designed to be low-maintenance and even run "off the grid."
There is a great little travel article here about Tulum and how it's changed in the last two decades. Tulum certainly has more tourists than before, but it's still an unspoiled paradise (especially compared to Cancun or Puerta Vallarta, both of which I found unclean and full of scammers).
People use solar panels and tináco water tanks to provide hot water in Tulum. The water tanks are common throughout Mexico. When we went to visit my in-laws in Leon, they had one of these on the roof. It was common for the city water to run out at the end of the day, and the tank allowed them to have water in the bathroom and the kitchen even if the water ran out for the rest of the city.
For hot water, a small propane water tank is usually installed outside somewhere. We were able to use a little 25-gallon tank, in combination with a low-flow shower head, to provide hot showers for six people. You have to get in, turn on the water, soap up, and get out fast. But it works.
Hot water is a luxury in many small towns throughout Mexico, but we've been lucky so far to have basic amenities everywhere.
We're very excited about our trip. I'll make sure that I post lots of pictures.
After using several pricing websites and Google's wonderful "cheap flight" locator (https://www.google.com/flights), we finally got some affordable flights to Cancun. We used Amex to book the flights. After a year of charging everything to our Amex gold cards, we had over 60,000 points. This allowed us to get 4 tickets for just over $400, including taxes and fees. An absolute steal. The original price was almost $2,000 (which was still pretty good!). I sound like a commercial for American Express, but honestly the travel perks are wonderful. Even if you only travel of take a vacation once a year, Amex is the way to go.
My husband and I have been using our American Express cards exclusively for about 3 years now, (this means that we use Amex everywhere, even for groceries, and we just pay it off every month) and we have taken at least a dozen "free" vacations by using our points.
We are still accumulating points now, and hopefully by the time we leave in a few months, we will have enough points to get at least 3 or 4 of our hotel days for free.
We reserved a car with Hertz at the Cancun airport. American Express has excellent car insurance coverage for rental cars (confirm that your card has thing before relying on it, though!). I've had some bad experiences with Hertz in the past (stateside) but the price was less than $100 USD for 10 rental days, so you can't really beat that.
From the Cancun airport, we will be spending a few days at Playa Del Carmen. Then we will explore down the coast and see all the Riviera Maya has to offer.
As I mentioned in my previous blog post, I was first inspired to expatriate by Nadine Hays Pisani's book, Happier than a Billionaire.
Several months ago, I contacted Nadine directly about her experience, and she quickly and graciously replied!
My Question: Can you offer any suggestions to make the move easier? I'd like a nice place near the beach. It doesn't have to be big-- two bedrooms is fine; I prefer outdoor living. Thanks in advance for your help.
Nadine's Answer: Finding a place to live is easy. Once you are here, then you can look for a cheaper place. The deals are out there, but you have to be here on the ground to find them. A lot of the families live in a place called Reserva Conchal which is this really nice private community/resort. It is pricey but it seems that's where are the families like to congregate.
Plus it is super safe for the kids and they have access to lots of pools and amenities. It is also situated right on the beach.
Where I am living now, outside Tamarindo area, has a few private schools for kids. Here are some useful links:
This is a good place to start if you are concerned about where you kids will go to school. These kids get into some great universities in the states and end up knowing quite a few languages.
But where I live is about 10-20% more expensive than where I lived in Grecia so it is a trade off. But if you want to live near the beach, it gets more expensive.
Hope this helps, so much to think about but it's been so great for me so far. Can't even imagine where I would be if I didn't take the chance and move to Costa Rica. Probably still trying to fix that darn fax machine.
Now....a sunset in Tamarindo....can you feel the Pura Vida yet?
Nadine Hays Pisani
And she sent a photo of a gorgeous Costa Rican sunset! Thanks Nadine!
It sounds cliche, but it's true. Our journey started with a book. In 2011, I purchased a book by Nadine Pisani called "Happier than a Billionaire."
Nadine and her husband decided (quite suddenly and with great conviction) to sell everything they owned in the United States and move to Costa Rica. She wrote a book about her ex-pat experience, and it became a bestseller. I read the book, told my husband about it, and after a great deal of cajoling, he decided it might be possible for us, too!
Since then, I've read dozens of books on the subject of ex-pat travel and relocation, and I am going to blog about our journey, too. I think that most people who really WANT to do this, can do this.
First of all, my husband and I speak Spanish. (a big PLUS!, although mine is a bit rusty). It helps to be bilingual, but even a few months of study can really help you on your quest for the perfect ex-pat experience. My 3 years of high school Spanish (over 20 years ago!) has helped me tremendously, and after many more months of practice, I understand and speak Spanish much better.
We visited Mexico in February 2014, and decided that we were finally going to take the plunge. This is our journey! Thanks for coming along with us!
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Just a middle-class dad and mom with three young kids, looking to escape the rat race. This is our journey!
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