Reader Question: We are planning on moving to Playa Del Carmen in the near future and we are having trouble choosing a school for our children. One problem we have is we will not have a car until we know Playa is the place we will live forever, so we need to figure the schooling issue out first to decide where to rent/purchase a property.
Since our children know basically only English we need a school which teaches English first and Spanish second. Could you point us in the right direction?
~Thank You !
Manny's Answer: Hi Matt!
Congratulations on your decision to start a new life in Mexico. Playa Del Carmen is beautiful and has many good bilingual private schools. I suggest visting several and also joining Facebook groups so you can talk to parents and other people who live in the area. This is really important, especially if you plan to make this move without a lot of "on the ground" research beforehand. Make sure you have all your documents in order, including apostiled birth certificates for all your children, apostilled marriage license, and anything else that you might need if you plan to stay (I assume you are going to apply for residency if you are going to enroll your children in school).
FYI, our COMPLETE listing of Playa Del Carmen Schools is HERE.
You can also choose an online educational option if you wish, especially at the beginning when you are making your decision. Also note that private tutors are very inexpensive in Mexico. We hired a superb private tutor (with a Master's degree in education!) for our eldest son, who has a learning disability, and she has helped him so much that he is now reading and doing math at normal levels for his age (he was at least 3 years behind in terms of his academic test scores when we initially moved down here, so his progress has been phenomenal). The tutor works with him every day for several hours. The private tutoring costs us only about $50 per week--incredible, considering that a SINGLE, hour-long tutoring session in the U.S. costs us more than $50 each time.
All that being said, why would you delay purchasing a car? The peso is still at 20:1 compared to the U.S. dollar, so you can purchase a fairly good used car for almost nothing right now. (We bought 2 used cars when we moved down, we spent less than $5,000 on both of them, the way the exchange rate is right now, they were very cheap). You will probably need a vehicle if you plan to research the area, but I don't recommend renting a car unless you only plan to do it for a few days, or a week at the most.
Car rentals are almost prohibitively expensive down here, and when we first came down, we rented a car for a month and it cost almost $1,800 USD for the rental cost and insurance. We could have easily purchased a car outright for that price. You can also legally drive an American car down and use it for up to 180 days (6 months) without issue. That might be a good option if you're not completely sure about your move. Just realize that you will have to drive the car back up to the U.S. before the 180 days are up. Take only the safe toll roads if you plan to drive down, and don't drive at night if you can avoid it.
As I mentioned in one of my other blog posts, we used Mercado Libre (an online website similar to Craigslist) and found our used cars that way. A quick search for cars in Quintana Roo (the Mexican state where where Playa Del Carmen is located) brought up over 700 results, including several practical SUVs for less than $4,000 USD. I suggest going that route and just buying a cheap car when you get there. A Minivan or SUV would be a practical choice. A sportscar (especially one brightly colored, lowered, or with anything that might attract a thief, like nice rims) would not be.
Anyway, this is a lot to take in, I know, but I really hope you go through with your plans and find your way down to Mexico. It really is a more relaxing and affordable lifestyle.
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