I am wondering if you might be able to answer one question for me or lead me in the right direction. I am planning on moving to Playa del Carmen in the next few months. Is it possible to take with me or have transported, my 2 jetskis that I own on a double trailer? A transporter company told me that I might only be able to take 1 of them to Mexico with me. Also, how does it work to legalize vehicles in Mexico? Is it a similar process to a car?
Manny's Answer: Hi Efren,
The process of legalization for a car in Mexico is rather complicated. Some American cars (especially newer cars that are less than 10 years old) cannot be legalized. Also, by law you must hire the services of an authorized customs agent if you officially want to "import" your cars.
Because of the hassle as well as the costs involved, We didn't take our cars with us when we moved to Mexico. We sold our two American cars and purchased two vehicles in Mexico with existing Mexican plates.
Now, there are attorneys that specialize in this sort of thing, but in our research, we quickly realized that the transport costs, the shipping, and the costs for the attorney to "legalize" our cars would have exceeded the actual value of the vehicles. It was thousands and thousands of dollars. We just didn't bother to take them with us for that reason. Nissan, Ford, and Chevy, etc, all of those car companies exist here, and you can also buy used cars, boats, and jet skis fairly easily. We used Mercado Libre Mexico to find one of our cars (a website similar to Craigslist where you can search by state). The dollar is very strong against the peso right now so we got a screamin' deal on a used minivan that would have easily cost us 10K in the U.S. (it only cost $3,500 down here, based on the currency conversion right now is 20:1!)
If you are going to do this, consider watching the peso closely and converting your dollars when it drops. Our dollars have been stretching very far down here, we now own our house outright as well as two cars that are completely paid for in less than 3 years. This was an impossible dream for us when we were living in CA.
And to give you some more honest advice about shipping cars: having American plates and an American trailer in Quintana Roo is going to make you a target for the police. You might end up getting pulled over very frequently.
You don't have to make this decision right away. We held on to our American cars for about 6 months before we "pulled the trigger" and sold them, but we never actually brought them into Mexico. We just kept the cars at my brother's house in Nevada and eventually sold them when we decided to remain as expats permanently.
I suggest contacting an attorney if you decide that you really want to transfer your cars to Quintana Roo.
Be free! Expatriate!
Hi, my wife and 2 sons are thinking about relocating to the Playa de Carmen area . Can you recommend and know costs of a private school for 3rd and 7th grader ? Will it be hard to find a 3 bedroom, pool home in that area , costs? What have you found for a good resource to find long term home rentals?
Thanks for any info,
Regarding Playa Del Carmen, my best advice is to do a short-term rental at first. There are lots of scammers who prey on expats online, so I only recommend renting long-term if you can see the property in PERSON first. This is especially important in downtown Playa, because there are bars and clubs that make noise all night. While this might be fine for some people, we have a family and we need our sleep!
The strategy that we have used all over Mexico with great success is to rent using Airbnb first, (use a credit card, not a debit card, so you have purchase protection and can reverse the charges if there are problems with the unit.). The best option is to rent a 2-bedroom condo with a full kitchen and a laundry room, nice 2 bedrooms are relatively easy to find on Airbnb and most of the time you can get a nice discount for renting the entire month. Then go with your family, and search for your "forever" home in person, at a leisurely, unstressful pace. Once you find a neighborhood that you like, I suggest renting for at least a year before purchasing property in the area.
You can find long-term rentals in person, or use a rental agent from a reputable real estate company like Remax Mexico. We've had some luck using Vivanuncios, that is a Mexican classified site similar to Craigslist, but I wouldn't rent anything using these methods sight-unseen.
And who knows? Once you are living there full time, you might like Isla Mujeres or Tulum more. The entire region of Quintana Roo is beautiful beyond belief, especially once you leave the tourist zones you may have a difficult time deciding which part of this paradise you like more.
Now, for private schools, we have found that they are excellent in Mexico, and extremely affordable compared to US or Canadian private schools. This is true even for children who have special educational needs.
Our eldest is currently in a prestigious bilingual private school for about $250 USD a month, after an initial fee of about $600 (remember the peso is at an unbelieveable exchange rate of 21 right now so that price won't last--but you can expect to pay about $400 per month approximately, assuming the peso settles down at some point and goes back to about 10-12).
That price included materials and books. The class sizes are small and they have a modern computer lab. They even offer a robotics class! This has been a wonderful experience for us, after not being able to afford private schools in the US and pulling our children out of an awful, underfunded public school.
There are lots of private schools in the Mayan Riviera to choose from (literally dozens). I suggest visiting a few and checking their class sizes, as well as how many teachers they have that speak both English and Spanish.
Be free! Expatriate!
Reader Question: We're looking to explore Playa Del Carmen this winter for a week. Been going to Key West for the past 10 years and as we reach retirement age, we have come to the conclusion the we can't afford Key West. Wanting to see if we like Playa and hopefully start to look for a home to spend December through May.
Any advice on where we should stay to start our search would be greatly appreciated and we are SOOOO excited to take this adventure. We would consider other spots on the peninsula but think that Playa just may be the best to start this quest. We're both in our mid 50's, and from Ohio
Any correspondence is welcome and I want to thank you in advance for your time and assistance.
Answer: Hello Greg!
Playa Del Carmen is absolutely beautiful and full of retirees, snowbirds and expats. Much, much nicer than Cancun for a permanent move (which is super-touristy). My suggestion is to rent a place on 5th avenue and just peruse the whole city on foot (Airbnb is where we usually book our reservations because we prefer to stay in Condos with a full kitchen, rather than hotels).
Take a day trip to Cozumel and Isla Mujeres, too. It's worth it, you might like the islands more.
Akumal is fantastic and so tranquil, but it's a little further south, so it's a bit of a drive. Worth exploring though if you are looking for a "forever" home.
We liked Tulum for it's wildness and natural beauty, but the modern amenities just aren't there yet, plus there is a TON of real estate fraud going on in Tulum right now, so buying down there is very very risky, even for Mexican citizens.
Be free! Expatriate!
Reader Question: Hi! My husband and I are thinking of buying in Playa Del Carmen. We'd like to spend time there first, but I was wondering, as it seems you lived there a while, is there an area that is ejido and should be avoided? If we don't have a lot of money, what area of the town do you recommend? Do you know if it is easy(ish) to rent to others if we were not there a few months a year? I appreciate any advice you might have. We lived in Cuernavaca many years and my husband and two sons have dual Mexican/US citizenship. (I don't.) Thank you so much for any information you can share!
Response: Our suggestion is to rent temporarily, at least at first. When we arrive to a new area, we usually use Airbnb, and rent a condo for about a month or so. We also rent a car and spend a lot of time researching an area with our own eyes--that will tell you more than anything else. If you see a lot of graffiti, that's a sure sign that an area has at least some crime.
That being said, Playa Del Carmen is extremely safe for tourists, children and families, more so than any US city. The only crime we ever saw there was petty theft.
Anything on or near the beach or 5th Ave is going to be very nice, but be aware that there is always the potential for loud noise if a club or bar moves in close by. For that reason, we usually choose to rent, rather than buy. And you should get your Mexican Residency, it's very easy to do. My wife just completed the process and it was pretty painless (read about our Visa application journey here) and only took about a month.
Reader Question: I saw an interview you guys did with an English teacher that relocated to Playa Del Carmen to work. Would love to know more about ESL jobs in Playa. Thank you for any help. -Douglas
Thanks for contacting Expat Fever. I suggest contacting the language school, IHRM to get more information about language-related jobs in the region. Here's their website: http://www.ihrivieramaya.com/. They are a well-known school in the area that caters to expats as well as locals wishing to improve their language skills.
There are many opportunities all over the Caribbean for expats who are fluent in English and who have the patience to teach others basic grammar and conversational English. Of course, you must have a good command of the language yourself in order to teach. There are also jobs in the area for companies like goFluent, which is an English tutoring service that allows you to work online.
There is plenty of work in call centers, as well--companies that look for fluent English speakers for foreign-based call centers. A quick look on Craigslist Yucatan brings up dozens of jobs like this in the area as well as Merida, Tulum, and other nearby cities. You just have to look.
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!
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