“Wow! Lucky you.” That’s the first thing people say when we tell them that we live on Isla Mujeres, on the Caribbean coast of Mexico. And then the questions start.
“What do you do for medical?” This is probably one of the most frequently asked questions. As Canadians living outside our country our universal health care is void after an absence of seven months.
Here in Mexico we chose to pay as we go. If we need something done we pay for it – a lot less than we would pay in either the U.S. or Canada. Some of our friends have had stellar treatment at any one of the three first-class hospitals in Cancún with their American-trained doctors.
Others have not had a good experience. The same can be said for any doctor in any hospital in any country. Outstanding, good, bad, or indifferent treatment – it depends. Rather than obsess about potential health issues, we just enjoy every day for what it is.
“Can you own property?” Actually, Mexico makes it relatively easy for foreigners to own property. Inland, you can hold a direct title to your Mexican real estate. In the restricted zones — including prized beach areas or the manufacturing zone near the Mexico-U.S. border — you can own real estate through a bank trust.
The choice of bank is up to you. The trust will have a renewal term of anywhere from 25 to 45 years. The bank will handle the government forms that need to be filed yearly, for a fee of course. The trust can be transferred or sold.
“Do you feel safe?” Yes we do. But, having said that we do not live on the Mexico-U.S. border where there are problems on both sides of the line.
We aren’t night-owls. We barely stay awake for sunset so we aren’t involved in the late-night action. And like any country in the world, big cities have areas that you would not venture into for any reason. The same applies to Mexican cities.
“What do you do with your time?” Ah, well, what does any retired person do with his or her time? We read, putter at small jobs around the house, enjoy a meal with friends or family, nap, putter some more, go for a walk, learn a bit of Spanish, do a little offshore fishing, take photographs and write two blogs.
Another favorite pastime is road trips, exploring the beautiful historic cities and villages of Mexico.
“How much are your property taxes?” Low. But like every country taxes vary from property to property, size of the house, waterfront versus inland – all of the usual conditions that are taken into account for property taxes.
“Do you have to leave the country every six months?” No, not if you have a temporary resident card, good for one year, or the newer permanent resident card which is good indefinitely under current government regulations.
If you come in under a 180-day visitors permit, yes you do have to leave, but you may return again.
“Can I work in Mexico?” Sure, once you obtain the necessary permits and permissions. A number of the island restaurants, real estate offices and stores are owned and operated by people from other countries.
“What do you miss the most of all?” I miss very little except the close proximity of my immediate family. We do, however, wish we had a better comprehension of the laws, rules and regulations.
When a person grows up in a certain culture, be it Canadian, American or European, you have an innate understanding of what is expected of you. When you switch to a different culture life can, at times, get interesting, very interesting.
We also miss conversing in a language that we are comfortable with. And before you feel the need to email me and advise me to take lessons – I am 65, Lawrie is 74. Our brains seldom retain the words that we have learned. We try to find a new word every day that we can remember. That is a huge accomplishment in our books!
And yes, “Wow! Lucky us!” We enjoy living in paradise with good weather, good food and good friends. Try it – you might like it!
The writers are Canadians who have been full-time residents of Isla Mujeres for eight years. You can read their blog here.