Neighborhood kids fishing on the beach. Neighborhood kids fishing on the beach.

Why we live in MX: the top 10 reasons

Contemplating cold weather leads to the compilation of a top 10 list

A few days ago a local taxi driver asked me: “Where are you from?” And I replied as I always do: “I live here, but I am originally from Canada.”


We then moved on to discussing the winter weather and how this has been a record-breaking cold winter north of the Mexico-U.S. border.

Menos treinta grados centígrados? -30 Celsius?” He tosses both hands in the air in an expression of mock horror. (-30 C is -22 Fahrenheit. That’s damn cold on any temperature scale!)

Por qué?” He asks. “Why? Why live there?”

“I don’t know!” I respond, grinning.

My response prompted a comedy routine. Unusually expressive, his hands hardly touched the steering wheel for the entire ride as regaled me with his thoughts on living anywhere where the temperature was less than 15 Celsius.

I was still laughing as I exited the taxi and then I started thinking of our Top Ten Reasons Why We Live in Mexico. And here they are in reverse order in the style of David Letterman:


No. 10 — History and culture: Mexico is ancient, dating back to Mayan, Aztec and Toltec civilizations. Add in a little Spanish culture starting in the 1540s and you get a nice mix of romantic, expressive and passionate people.

No. 9 — Sea creatures: Whale sharks, sea turtles and dolphins still abound in this ocean. Deepsea fishing is a thriving business as are the underwater photographic safaris specializing in whale shark, sailfish and marlin dives.

No. 8 — Good restaurants and cool beverages: We can eat, drink, and be merry at a choice of restaurants, bars and taquerías. We can choose between Cuban, Italian, Swiss, Argentinian, Chinese, French, Mediterranean, Tex-Mex, or of course local Mexican flavors in a range of prices from expensive to very inexpensive.

Many of the eating establishments feature live music during the late afternoon or evening. The music adds to the festive feeling of a holiday in paradise.

No. 7 — Sunrise and sunsets: My favorite times of the day, the beginning and the end. In the morning the sleepy sun reaches up to finger-paint the sky in pinks, and oranges and purples. It is the start of another new day.

At sunset the sun slowly gathers in the colors, putting them back into a paint-box for the night, tucked away safely until morning.

A glass of wine and my sweetie beside me as we watch the sunset — it’s a perfect ending to another great day.

No. 6 — Beaches and boats: Two of my favorite things to photograph are the white sandy beaches, and the myriad of interesting boats moored or anchored nearby.

Many of the boats are painted delightfully cheerful combinations of yellow and blue, turquoise and white, red and yellow, or green and orange, reflecting the love of bright colors prevalent in this culture.

No. 5 — Laughter and easy acceptance: living on Isla Mujeres is the best choice for us. It is a small community where people care about you as a person. Friends accept you for who you are, not what you were. You are simply a friend.

No. 4 — Kids can be kids: The uncomplicated lives of local kids always brings a smile to our faces. Here the kids play: they play with friends, with toys and with older siblings and grandparents.

They ride bikes. Swim in the ocean. Explore the neighborhood. Run from house to house with friends. Giggle and laugh. We feel younger just watching their antics.

No. 3 — Colors: Reds, blues, greens, yellows, oranges and purples tossed willy-nilly as if an omnipresent painter was having a temper tantrum, scattering tins of paint with a sweep of a large hand.

Houses decorated in fanciful combinations reflect the owners’ personal preferences. Brilliantly tinted flowers tumble over walls, in an array of reds, oranges and pinks. Eye-catching and beautiful colors abound.

No. 2 — The weather: January is the coldest month of the year with average daytime temperatures of 27 degrees C and nighttime temperatures of 19. November to April is the dry season and that normally gives us cool dry weather with an average of nine hours of sunshine per day.

No. 1 — New adventures keep us young: just ask any of our multitude of “senior citizen” friends. We are all healthy, happy, active and enjoying life. No one cares that we are getting older. We enjoy each day.

So, -30 C in many parts of Canada and the U.S. as opposed to +27 C in Mexico on the same day in the month of February.

No wonder the taxi driver regaled me with his comical anecdotes about Canadian weather. It was totally beyond his comprehension why people would live in colder countries.

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The writers are Canadians who have been full-time residents of Isla Mujeres for eight years. You can read their blog here.

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  • frankania

    The Olmec culture dates from before 1200 BC. They are the ones who carved the famous “colossal heads” found near Veracruz. What about August in Isla Mujeres? Isn’t it too hot? That is why we live in Cordoba at 3200 feet altitude–never too hot nor cold!

  • Tony Cortes-Barocio

    Failed to mention, the cost of living, which is the No 1 reason.

    • Beau

      100% right.

      • fuready

        Exactly, Beau. While not the only reason, how many of us would be here if the cost of living was the same as in the U:S:?

        • Beau

          I know we wouldn’t. We live in Sinaloa, ( Mazatlan) beautiful State, but very, very dangerous. Not all of us can afford to live in Isla Mujeres or in Yucatan.

          • Gary Black

            I live in Merida, Yucatan. An extremely safe and beautiful city. Cost of living is relatively low and being within a stones throw of the Gulf makes it an ideal place to live. Weather is superb and we are very close to all the amazing ruins, cenotes and caves. I love Canada but, being in my “Golden years” the body just does not function as it once did in -30C weather.

          • Weather is “superb” in Mérida? Only if you like to sweat. I used to live in New Orleans, where you will also melt most of the year. Years back, a coworker took a vacation to Mérida. On returning, he said he’d never experienced such sweltering heat in his entire life. And that was from a New Orleans resident. I’ve been in Mérida since — just once, in January — and it was bearable. Can’t imagine what it would be in other months.

            To each his own, I guess.

          • Gary Black

            I have a beach house in Chelem, next to Progreso and temp there is quite a bit lower than Merida. So we trot off to the beach, 20 mins away, and cool off in the Gulf waters. Many ex-pats live in and around Progreso. It has the nickname “Canadian Riviera”. Play golf right through summer. Two courses within 15 mins of Merida and the beach. Hard to beat that. If we want to slum, so to speak, we take the 2 hr 15 min ride, on an excellent cuota, to Playa del Carmen. As you say, to each his own. Enjoy what we have while we have it.

          • Steve Galat

            Chelem Beach 20 minutes away?? Chelem (like Chuburna) is RIGHT ON THE BEACH, yo. WHERE really ARE you?

          • Gary Black

            I have a villa in Merida, which is 20 minutes from Progreso, Chelem, Chicxulub, and Churburna et al. My beach house is in Chelem, 5 mins from Progreso. Easy trip and golf courses are mid way between Merida and Progreso. Hard to beat anywhere up north.

          • Steve Galat

            Merida…Great cosmopolitan sophisticated town! But I can only recall the searing heat that BURNED my eyes as I trudged the elegant Paseo Monteja last year…The Devil’s Anvil!

          • Jeez, Beau, Sinaloa is Narco Central. Move somewhere else.

          • Diane

            I know many people who live in Maz (and have for years) they feel very safe and happy. I think you may be overstating.

          • Steve Galat

            Yucatan? You can RENT a lovely HOUSE with pool on/near the beach (Chelem, Chuburna) or just outside Progreso for U$S 250-375/month

    • You got that right, and it’s not even on the list.

  • Glen Olives

    Very well done, Lynda and Lawrie. In the economy of ideas, positive views of Mexico are in short supply.

    • Herradura Plata

      Wouldn´t disagree with most ítems on the “top ten” list; they are standard Mexican attractions. The language, however, does exude a certain “I´m alright, Jack” attitude, often heard from Canadians, Scandanavians and a few fortunate others raised in near-perfect societies. Most Mexican communities are deeply troubled, not discoverable perhaps on Isla Mujeres.

      • Glen Olives

        When I lived in Playa Del Carmen I was sometimes asked by visitors for advice about where to visit an “authentic” or “real” Mexican pueblo. My answer was always, “You’re in one.” The romantic idea of an idyllic rural Mexican village where people live in harmony is just that — an idea. Of course you can find rural towns in every state with shady zocolos and old people feeding pigeons. You won’t find many young people because they’ve all moved to Mexico City, other big cities, or out of the country altogether, for work of course. Those left behind survive on remittances. There are, of course, nice places to live, whether a big city (Querétaro gets my vote) or a smaller one (Jalapa for me), or even a “pueblo mágico” off the tourist map (Alamos, Sonora, Batopilas, Chihuahua, or Bacalar, Q.R.). But endemic poverty and hard lives are the rule rather than the exception.

  • kallen

    Weather and cost of living for sure. Certainly not the history and culture. Most of the other reasons are just filler as they can be found just about anywhere. I love the natural environment of Baja but at the rate Mexicans are destroying the place, it won’t be an environment worth visiting for long. There was a time when I wanted to be here full time: but now I’m not so sure.

    • Ruben

      Kallen, I agree what you wrote about “Why we live in Mexico: the ten top reason”, but…. Not all Mexicans are destroyers of the environment as you says, remember that corporate companies and citizens of the United States and Canada, Spain, Japan and China in collaboration with authorities and some Mexican citizens buy consciences with money to build tourism developments in unique and valuable areas due to its location, they ransack our coastlines, buying consciences to install mines and take our natural resources that owns this noble land to the detriment of the quality of life of its inhabitants.

      I invite you to stay in Baja and contribute and support what the vast majority of Mexicans do not want it to happen in Baja and all over México.

      Best regards,


  • People invariably mention the warm weather as a plus to living in Mexico. I mention the cool weather. People who lived most of their lives in the southern realms of the United States, as I did, do not want to retire to more sweaty weather. Quite the contrary, which is why I now live 7,200 feet above sea level in the middle of Mexico.

    Beaches, sunsets? Totally available above the border. New adventures? Available above the border. Colors? Okay, you got me on that one. You should see my house. Kids can be kids? With increasing “safety” regulations above the border, this is quite true. Adults can be adults too. There’s more liberty in Mexico. I like that although at times that can be bad because it applies to other people too. Good restaurants? Far more restaurant variety above the border. This “plus” doesn’t hold water at all.

    One of the best things about living in Mexico — and it’s not on this list at all — is that it’s far cheaper to live here, and that’s why most northerners move down, though they hesitate to say so.

  • D Daniel

    It is really funny that people expect the low cost of living to be the reason for living in Mexico. Like you, it doesn’t make our list. We could live anywhere in the US and absolutely prefer Mexico for many of the exact reasons you mention. #1 being the wonderful people. We’ve lived in 3 different locations in Mexico, 2 on the coast and one in the mountains. All 3 were beautiful in their own right. We like Isla the best – the climate is perfect for us even in the summer. We don’t even use AC!

    • Steve Galat

      Thanks be to Allah that you’re immune to mosquitos and don’t care about the restaurants there. Such is what I hear; I’ll have to see for myself someday, of course! Meanwhile, Greetings from Puerto Aventuras!