Reader Question: So we are looking to move our entire family (Husband, myself, 4 kids ages: 14,11,6 and 5) for 6 months to Tulum/Akumal. Our main purpose is for us and the kids to learn Spanish through immersion (my husband and I have an academic foundation but need to immerse to become fluent and our children have no foundation or Spanish knowledge).
We also are excited to not only learn Spanish but have an adventure. We are not sure if we can afford 4 kids in Private school for 4-500/month each. So we are looking into the public school system. As a Canadian will they even let you enroll your children in public school? Are the Tulum and Akumal public schools safe for kids? We are not concerned about the academics, we want them to learn to speak Spanish, have a cultural experience, make friends, etc--but our number one concern is safety. Any direction I could get on this would be very helpful. I also plan to purchase your Tulum guide...will this information be in your guide?
Oh one other question...are there any good childcare centres for a baby (less than 2 years old) in Tulum that are reputable and safe? In addition to our other four school-age children we have a 17 month old and my husband and I will be enrolled in Spanish school for about 5 hours a day and will need a caregiver for our baby during that time (the others kids will be at school). Any advice?
My Reply: There are many great schools in the Mayan Riviera. As I've said before, this region is very safe and full of tourists, so there aren't really any "BAD" schools (like gang-infested, or anything like that).
However, public schools in Mexico do have issues with underfunding, and those who CAN afford to send their kids to private schools usually do. Private schooling costs around $400 a month per student, but it can vary.
The public school system is only for Mexicans, (not sure if that applies to legal residents with permanent residency) so that's a hurdle. You should really consider applying for permanent residency if you are going to make such a drastic change and try to enroll your kids in school. Moving for only six months with the intention of throwing your kids into a foreign public school with no plans for permanent residency sounds drastic to me.
As for daycare centers, there are plenty in Playa del Carmen, but not really any that I'm aware of in Tulum. However, that being said, household help is so affordable in Mexico--any type of labor, really. What we paid for full time care for three kids in the US (about $1,300) would cover a full time nanny, housekeeper, as well as RENT in that region. A hundred dollars a week is a huge amount of money down there, even in the tourist regions.
Just as a comparison, it's not unusual for a day laborer to work 8 hours in the fields and take home only 60-70 pesos (about 5 USD for a full day's work).
So getting household help would be the easiest and cheapest solution. You just have to find someone that you trust. We've always had good luck, and there are plenty of women that have raised their children and now are looking for domestic work. I can't emphasize that enough.
That being said, it's so beautiful down here, if you can make it work, it's like living in paradise.
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READER QUESTION: Hi! I just found your site and wanted to thank you for the interesting reads. My spouse and I are looking to take the plunge and move to the playa-Akumal area. Our goal is to purchase a bed and breakfast there and spend the rest of our lives basking in paradise. Curious if you could suggest someone to assist me when I get there. Thanks in advance!
Answer: Thanks for stopping by our blog! In response to your question, Akumal is beautiful, but I am not very familiar with that area. I do have a colleague that I can recommend who has extensive experience in Akumal. His name is Russ Motley and his real estate company, Akumal Investments, was recently featured on the HGTV's "Beachfront Bargain Hunt". Russ kindly did a feature for us about Tulum in our official EXPAT FEVER Tulum Relocation Guide. I'm sure that Russ will be able to help you with the Bed and Breakfast idea. Good luck on your travels, and if you get that Bed and Breakfast up and running, drop me a line--I would love to do a feature.
READER QUESTION: Great site! Good advice! I would like to move to Playa del Carmen. I speak Spanish and my family will learn quickly. In Nashville, where we live, the rule is to choose a neighborhood according to the best schools. (And price.) School is very important for us. We drive 30 minutes (23 miles) to take them to a private school. When moving to Playa, do we keep the same rule or the drive is short to all schools?
One of the most common questions we get (several a week) is about private schools in Playa Del Carmen, (or questions about schools in general). Aside from the popular list that we've compiled, we like to answer questions from our followers.
As for schools, there are so many great international schools in Playa and there really aren't any problems with "bad" schools in that area. It's not like the US, where you might have a gang-infested school in one part of town, while the "rich" part of town has something very different. I couldn't imagine commuting 20 miles anywhere in Mexico in order to attend a specific school. In Playa, there are tons of options and you would not have to do that.
That being said, public schools in Mexico do have some issues with underfunding, so those who CAN afford to send their kids to private schools usually do. Private schooling costs around $400 a month per student, but it can vary. That's just a ballpark, and you can expect to pay more in a tourist area like Playa Del Carmen or Cancun.
A lot of expats also choose to home-school and/or use an online school, which was not an option 10-15 years ago. You have to decide what you want to do and it's a very personal decision, I suggest going down for an extended vacation and doing the research "on the ground" so to speak. There's really no other way to do it.
However, you can certainly get your research started before you go, because most of these schools have websites and Facebook pages where you can learn more about them and contact them directly.
Below, you see an image and link to a popular international school, AK LU'UM.
Going to the website, you can see their mission statement, a PDF handbook for parents, and details about what they offer in terms of education. This is just one of MANY schools in the area. You have to do your own research and find out which school is the best for you and your kids.
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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