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.
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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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