La felicidad es una decisión, or "Happiness is a Choice"--this is a phrase we saw repeated over and over in our travels, especially in Mexico. The Mayan Riviera is a beautiful place, and it's difficult to stay angry or bitter when you are surrounded by so much natural beauty.
People just seemed... more content. Even in the face of scarcity. We were invited to dinner in people's homes, and everyone always bent over backwards to share what they had with us, even if it was just a simple plate of beans and rice. People laughed more. Spent time outside. Laughed with their families.
It's a difficult concept to explain, and I have a hard time understanding it myself. When we come back to the US, our beds are softer, the showers are always hot, the electricity never goes out--and so on. We enjoy plush carpets, 2 (gasp !) refrigerators, a TV in each bedroom... you get the idea. We appreciate all the modern amenities that our modern society has to offer.
But a few months after getting back, the stress is already starting to creep back into our lives. The kids have stopped playing outside. We are stuck working overtime, trying to make deadlines. Stuck in traffic during rush hour, Sometimes for hours. My eyes hurt from being in front of a computer too long. My wife's skin problems, associated with stress, make their return. I have more trouble sleeping. And we both start gaining weight. Amazing, since we both felt like we ate more in Mexico.
Are you ready for a major lifestyle change? Is Costa Rica the right place for you?
“Ticos” are some of the nicest people in the world, not surprisingly since Costa Rica has been rated the #1 happiest country in the world by the Happy Planet Index.
Costa Rica is known for having a high life expectancy, high levels of experienced well-being, and a low ecological footprint. The Costa Rican government works hard to protect its natural environment, and the people of Costa Rica are laid back and friendly.
The Expat Fever! series is designed to give readers an account of what life in Costa Rica is really like through candid interviews, facts about moving, references and resources.
If you are thinking about moving, but don’t know where to start, this book is a great resource! Only you can know if you are truly ready to expatriate, but this book can get you started on your journey.
Are you ready for a MAJOR lifestyle change?
Our newest release, our relocation guide for Tulum, Mexico, is now available in the Amazon Kindle store! Here's a little overview:
In this book you will learn all about Tulum, a bohemian beach town in the heart of the Riviera Maya. You will read candid interviews from expats, vital information about Tulum, and where to best enjoy the town. You may have heard about Tulum, traveled there, or already be on the road to moving there. Whatever stage you are at in the process, this book can act as your guide on the expat journey.
With a rich history, interesting culture and beautiful backdrop, Tulum seems like the ideal place to settle down, but is it right for you? In this guide, you will learn about Tulum’s culture and some of the history that made Tulum what it is today, as well as some of the downsides of living in paradise.
You will read first-hand accounts and tips from men and women who have expatriated there.
We get a lot of great emails from potential expats, asking what they should do make their move smoother. Here's a recent question from "Ana" that we thought we would share (all personal information has been removed):
Ana: Hi, and thank you so much for sharing your journey. I appreciate the list of Playa Del Carmen schools you have put together and are wondering if you might be able to give me a little more personal insight into any of them. I am planning on moving to Mexico in the next month or two (depending on how long it takes me to get everything packed and settled) I am thinking of either Sayulita or Playa del Carmen as a destination but have never been to either! I live in Chicago now (past 30 years) but as a child I lived in Mexico city and Merida. I will be moving with my 11 year old son and we are super excited about this move but personally I have some apprehensions about school or more specifically finding one with kind, happy and friendly kids. That's almost more important to me than an amazing curriculum.
I'm also having a bit of a struggle finding a place to rent at a reasonable price (under $1,000 US dollars per month) I figure once there during that month I can look for something in person for a more permanent place. In any case whatever information you can share would be greatly appreciate. People like you give me the courage I need to make this crazy move.
Manny: Thanks for your email, Ana. I'm not familiar with Sayulita, only with Playa Del Carmen and Tulum. We did explore as far down as Akumal, which was also very beautiful.
I personally loved both cities, but if you are moving with a child, Playa Del Carmen will have a better choice of schools. The city is larger and more urban. My best advice is to visit the schools personally with your son--also, ask around locally. Locals and other expats will be honest with you. The kids seem to be happier in Mexico overall, so I wouldn't be apprehensive about that. If you are interested in moving further south, like Akumal or Tulum, then there are also schools down there, and honestly the rents are cheaper overall, especially in the city center. I would take some time to explore, a few weeks at least, before deciding on a long-term rental. Trust your gut!
As for rental properties, there are plenty available for 1K and even cheaper but unfortunately, these are rentals that are not available online. We saw tons of "SE RENTA" signs in the windows when we were in Playa Del Carmen just a few months ago, but these are obviously not going to be advertised online. I suggest getting a vacation rental for a month or so and then going down to look in person. Don't feel any pressure--just treat it like an extended vacation and I'm sure everything will work out fine. The whole idea behind living in the Mayan Riviera is to enjoy life--I don't think there was a single day that my wife and I didn't go down to the beach to swim at least for a few hours.
It's not for everyone, but if you you are already familiar with Merida and Mexico City, then I'm sure you won't have trouble adapting.
No website or company has paid a fee to be mentioned in this blog. Any suggestions you see are based solely on our own experiences and personal preferences.
Just a middle-class dad and mom with three young kids, looking to escape the rat race. This is our journey!
If you have a question for us, please contact us directly using our email here.