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Best Place to Retire in Mexico is Mérida

Best Place to Retire in Mexico

The best place to retire in Mexico is Mérida. That's what Amy Jones would say if you asked her. But does that mean Mérida is perfect? No, of course not. Every place has it's ups and downs. But when it comes to Mérida, there's just something about it. 

It's a feeling when you're there, it's the architecture, it's the people, it's the food! Take your pick but most people will say that there's no place like Mérida. 

Mérida is located on the Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico and is the state of Yucatán's capital city. It's located right next to the state of Quintana Roo which is where Cancun and Cozumel are located.

So if you're searching for the best place to retire in Mexico and this city interests you in the least bit, you need to listen to this podcast. Amy Jones, an American expat who has lived in Mérida for the past year, joins us to discuss what it's really like to live in Mérida.

Amy truly loves living in Mérida but the city does have its pros and cons. Amy gives a balanced view in this podcast which may help you decide if Mérida is for you. 

Find out things like:

  • Is Mérida really a safe city?
  • How is the cost and quality of healthcare?
  • What are typical monthly expenses for the basics?
  • Is there a large expat community in Mérida?
  • What are some of the downsides to living in Mérida?
  • What is the #1 thing you must have to increase your chances of enjoying Mérida?

Once you listen to the podcast, check out Amy's blog at LifeInMerida.com. Also, read our other blog about retiring in Mérida from a local's perspective.

Best Place to Retire in Mexico is Mérida Transcript:

Jerry: Hello and welcome to today's episode on the best place to retire in Mexico...Mérida!

Evelyn: I'm really excited about this one because Mérida is one of the most affordable large cities in Mexico to retire to. And there's quite a few things I really love about it. One of the things that I know I love about some of the cities in Europe is the history there, the architecture, the buildings are old and we don't get that a lot here in North America. But Mérida was actually founded in 1542 by a Spanish conquistador. There's so much beauty in the architecture there. They're really well known for the colonial buildings. Not only is it beautiful to look at, but you can actually live in some of these colonial style homes, which I'm really interested in.

Jerry: Yeah, that sounds really cool. And certainly, something that we enjoy when we go over to Europe is seeing that architecture.

Evelyn: Absolutely. The other really interesting thing is that Mérida was actually voted the second most safe city in North America.

Jerry: Really?

Evelyn: Yeah, actually, Quebec City was number one. And what I find interesting is that makes it the safest city in Latin America. It makes it the 24th city safest city worldwide. And if you're looking at the highest rated U.S. city, that would be Salt Lake City at number 51. Mérida has a reputation of being extremely safe. And I'm really excited because today we're talking to Amy Jones and she has a wonderful blog called LifeInMerida.com. She's been there for about a year now and she's a single woman. And I'm really curious to see her take on this.

Jerry: Well, excellent. That sounds great. Let's jump into it.

Evelyn: Hi, Amy. Thank you so much for joining us today. I really appreciate it.

Amy: Hi, Evelyn and Jerry, thank you so much for having me on. This is very exciting.

Evelyn: It is very exciting. I know Mérida is a very popular destination for expats around the world and is said to be the best place to retire in Mexico. It's a great city to end up in and spend your golden years. I'd love to know a little bit more about you. Like where were you living before moving to Mérida? What other places were you considering retiring to? Would you would you mind sharing that with us?

Amy: Of course. Before moving to Mérida, I was in Dallas, Texas for 28 years and I decided to give myself a Christmas present in 2019 and move here on Christmas Day. So, I've been here at this at this point for one year. And for me, it wasn't a retirement decision, it was more that I had one of those life changing events and had an illness and decided that if I wasn't going to make my move quickly, I may never make a move. And so, I decided to narrow down five locations in Mexico to move to. I love Mexico. I've lived here in the Riviera, Maya before in 2006. And so, I knew that eventually when the time was right, I would come back to Mexico because Mexico is really where my heart is. So, the locations that I considered were: San Luis Potosi, San Miguel de la Area and San Cristobal de la Casas. I narrowed it down to five locations in Mexico.

Evelyn: So that's interesting. Did you have any sort of list for your most important criteria for the city that you select?

Amy: This is going to sound kind of strange, but my number one criteria was I did not want there to be like a huge expat population. I'm one of those people that I did not want to duplicate my American experience. So the ratio of expats to locals was probably my main consideration. Another strange one was I wanted to make sure I could get Amazon.com deliveries.

Evelyn: Of course!

Amy: I don't want to duplicate my American experience, but I do want my American luxuries.

Evelyn: Damn right.

Amy: So, Amazon delivery was a big consideration. I wanted the location to be relatively close to the US. I still have family in the US and if there was a family emergency, I wanted it to be somewhere that I could either get to an airport relatively quickly. So, about a four to five hour travel time to the US with an eight-hour max. I wanted it to be in the same time zone and I'm a big cultural kind of person. So, I love music, art, food, museums and things like that. So, I wanted there to be like a big kind of focus on culture. More like a cosmopolitan city, in a way, but not too large, if that makes sense, right?

Evelyn: Yes, that does make sense. And I've heard that Mérida is a nice mix of that larger city feel and smaller communities to live in. You can choose a different feel.

Amy: That's absolutely correct. The layout of Mérida it's really cool, like most cities, I came from Dallas where we had a big loop that kind of encompassed the major part of the city. And here...it's the same way. You have little communities within the loop. And each little community or colonial has its own little vibe. If you're in central Merida, which is where a lot of the expats live, you have a certain vibe. If you're in the north, which is where I live, there's a different vibe. So, there is something for everyone here. If you're a beach person, we're twenty-five minutes from Progresso, which is the main beach in the Yucatan, and lots of beach communities along the coast. There really is something for everyone.

Evelyn: That's exactly the word I was looking for...vibe. That Mérida is large enough to be able to find the vibe that speaks to you. That's really good to know. So, what I'm really curious about how you ultimately chose Mérida. Did you just fall in love with it? What made it rise to the top of the list?

Amy: Sure. It's really interesting, I lived and worked in the Riviera Maya, which is in the state of Quintana Roo, which is just to the east of the Yucatan, the state of Yucatan. And when I lived in the Riviera Maya area, everyone always talked about Mérida. And when they would talk about it, they would just have this like internal light and they would just start to glow and their faces would shine and they would get this big smile on their face when they talked about Mérida. It was like Mérida was just some magical place that everyone just loved.
And so, when I started to do my research, I was like, wow, it's very interesting. It's a colonial city very close to San Miguel Allende. I mean, the same kind of vibe and feel lots of colors. And when I decided to make my list, Mérida was first and I arrived in Cancun on my research trip and I decided to rent a car because I really wanted to kind of see the countryside and get a feel for the area because I'd only been in the Riviera Maya area before. I'd actually never been outside of that area. And so, the car rental place, the girl said, where are you going? I said, Mérida. And she got the same I had the same effect. She just lit up like someone turned a switch on. She's like, oh, my gosh, Mérida is gorgeous. Have you ever been there? It's wonderful.

Amy: And so, I was like, wow, this is it's the same field that people had before. It hasn't changed. And so, coming into the city, I started to recognize why people felt that way. Everyone was happy. They smiled. They're very helpful. It's got a large Mayan history, of course. And you look around town and you still have visible signs of the Mayan culture. And people speak Mayan here. And I just really focused on what I feel, again, that vibe, the energy that I had walking around. And there was one location in Centro called Santa Lucia Park. And there two really, really big trees and an obelisk. And I decided just to kind of stand in the middle of the park and kind of get the feel for the area. And literally it felt like my feet were growing roots. They just kind of like sunk into the ground and I felt this just huge positive energy and love and joy and happiness and it was like my heart opened and I thought, this is my place. I don't even have to go anywhere else because I felt like this was home, even though this was my first time I'd ever been here. It's just it was this automatic connection and it was really just magical. So that's my story.

Jerry: That's amazing. That's the feeling that we hope to have as well.

Evelyn: Right. That's what we're looking for, is to hit a city and say, yeah, I think this is it. We're home now.

Jerry: With respect to the different vibes in Mérida, I don't know if it's easy to articulate what the different vibes are. But I'm thinking through some of the cities we've lived in and sometimes a certain area is going to be more of a younger kind of party vibe and another might be a different vibe. I'd be curious your thoughts and kind of the different vibes of Mérida.

Amy: Yeah, absolutely, and I think that's a really great question. When people think about Mexico, they think about party scene or they think about retirement. It's like the extremes. So, you've got a spring break party scene or you've got this really slow-paced retirement scene. Nobody's working and they're sitting around drinking coffee and then cocktail hour and whatever. So, get all of your preconceived ideas out and just start with a blank slate. When you arrive at the airport, it's in a more industrial local area. The airport is pretty much in the city.  
And so you start from the airport. It's got this more industrial local feel. You come into Centro district. There's a huge number of expats and vacationers and snowbirds that come to the area. And one of the reasons that they come and stay in Centro is because it's very walkable. So, you're going to have the vibe. You're going to have the complete range of vibe from. Families that come, local families that come from Mexico City and they come to Mérida to experience the restaurants and the culture, you're going to have the vibe of young people walking around because there's lots of hostels in the area, backpackers. You're going to have the vibe of the snowbirds, which is completely different. So, it's a really amazing blend of all these different vibes, depending on what block you're in, what restaurant you're in. And there's not one. To me, localized area where people collect, where you're going to get like this cool cultural vibe or a vacation vibe or each, but they all kind of blend together and make just this really, I don't know. The word symphony comes to mind the symphony of just energy, that, again, there is truly something for everyone.

Jerry: That sounds awesome. I know a lot of our listeners are going to be wondering, Mérida sounds so amazing, but maybe they don't speak Spanish. So, I'm curious, how important is it that you speak Spanish when you're living in Merida?

Amy: It's pretty important, actually. And again, it's also going to depend on what area you're in. So, if you think about the touristy areas, the touristy areas are very focused on foreigners and English seems to be the main language. When you get into places like Mérida, depending on where you are in the city, you may not have anyone that speaks English. So, my recommendation is to have a working cell phone. And if you have a language barrier, get on Google Translate. And the one wonderful, wonderful thing about this culture is they're extremely patient. They want to help. A smile is worth a thousand words. So, if you can't speak the language, even if you don't have a working knowledge of the language, as long as you're friendly and you have a smile and you make an attempt or you have Google Translate, people are going to help you and they will be very happy to do that.

Evelyn: That's really great. And I think it is important to when you relocate to another country outside of your own country to respect that culture and give it a good old college, try to do whatever you can. I know of a lot of folks who move abroad to countries such as Mexico. They welcome learning that other language. It's I've actually read a lot about language. And, as you're as you start aging, it's one of the best things you can do to stave off things like Alzheimer's and dementia is learning another language. So, what better way to do that than to move to a country like Mexico and really immerse yourself in it and really be able to learn that language and immerse yourself in the culture. Which brings me to my next topic - you mentioned the culture and a lot of the folks are friendly. They they're willing to help. And the culture is another reason why you chose Merida. So, what kind of differences have you seen? So, you're an American expat in Merida. What are the the pluses and are there any difficulties that you've seen other expats deal with in immersing themselves in that new culture?

Amy: So, the interesting thing when I arrived, I was very intent and I'm just going to make a not necessarily an apology, but just please be patient with my answer and because I will get to the point. So, I made a conscientious decision when I arrived that I did not want to be a part of any expat community I have seen over the years where people and I did not know anyone when I arrived. I didn't come with family. I had there was no I didn't have family here. I didn't have any friends. I literally knew no one when I arrived. And so, I have seen that expat. They are very uncomfortable when they arrive into a new country, and so the first thing they do is they want to find their community, their tribe, and be able to compare stories affected by get information, et cetera. I did not want to do that again. I did not want to duplicate my American experience. I wanted to have my own experience. And I wanted to start a brand-new blank slate life. And so, I, on purpose, stayed away from expat communities so that I could make my own. I have my own experience of this new life. And so. There everyone has their own level of comfort, and I think people find comfort in joining together with people that are like minded or have similar stories or similar backgrounds. That's their comfort level and that's great. But I think it also tends to dilute the experience of the country or the city of your choice. And it also dilutes the experience of the language, because if you're in a group of people that speak your native tongue, you're going to be a lot less likely to learn the language of your chosen country or city.

Amy: So, for me, the positive was the positive hard thing was making that conscious, conscientious decision to have my own experience and. This is not a country or a city of convenience. So, when Americans come here or Canadians or Europeans come here and they have the expectation that they're going to receive the same level of service or that you're going to have things that make sense or you're going to have conveniences like you have. Like I had my washer and dryer delivered the other day and it's delivered by the company I ordered it from. Then I have to call another company to get the connections for the washer and dryer and then I have to call another company to actually come install it. So, taking some of those things at face value instead of listening to other people's experience, whether they complain about it or they're comparing it to where they've been from or where they've come from. Excuse me. Those are those are some of the kinds of I guess that's kind of an odd positive to me that I made that conscious, conscientious decision to stay out of that community. And then the negative has been. You think things are not the same, it's like you're learning a brand-new way of everything because nothing is the same. Absolutely nothing is the same.

Evelyn: Well, it sounds like mindset plays a lot in how happy and how satisfied you'll be with your experience if your mindset is to your point. I want everything the way it was, then you're probably setting yourself up for failure in your new in your new country.

Amy: Absolutely, I 1000% agree with you, and I read an article the other day by a guy. Written by a guy, I think he had been in Mexico around 17 years, maybe by this time it's 18 or 19 years. But he did a very interesting. Article, an observation on expats, typically within four years, I think the percentage was 60 percent, typically within four years they returned to their home country. Because, again, like you said, everyone, the mindset, if you don't come with an open mindset, you get very frustrated, you get stressed, there's a lot of anxiety. And so. If you don't have that ability to be flexible and to be open to a new a new way of living, you do get frustrated and it is all about mindset for sure.

Jerry: So, Amy, I think this has been really fascinating, the culture which kind of leads into the next topic, which is around social life. So, you wanted to have a different cultural experience fast for a year to now. Do you feel like you've been accepted by the locals? Do you hang out mostly with locals and what your social life is like now?

Amy: This is a really interesting it's a great question, thank you. Interestingly, I am. A forced extrovert, I'm naturally very shy, I'm an introvert, and so I've learned to be an extrovert for the last 30 years. It's a force, I guess, personality for me. And so, for me, acceptance, I. I don't really care. I could be alone here and not even have any friends and have a great experience. I do think that experiences are enhanced when shared with others, and I have a great, very small local tribe. I've got a couple of expat friends, but I hang out with mostly locals. So, my boyfriend is from the which is another state that he's lived in Merida for almost 27 years. So he's very local. Of course, the people that I've met here are small business owners that are locals. And so I would say the majority of my tribe. Ninety nine percent of my tribe are locals with very few expats, because that that's really the community I wanted to build for myself in the right time.

Evelyn: Right. Right. That makes sense. It sounds like you were able to really design the experience that you wanted. And Mérida offers that option for folks. If they really do want to just stay within their expat community, they can. On the other hand, if they want to have the same type of experience that you have, that's available as well. And that's really interesting, which makes me think of...you're a woman. I'm a woman. Safety is often a top consideration for us when we travel or where we're choosing someplace to live. Is Mérida a safe place for you? Do you feel safe there? Do you do you go out on your own without worry? Like, how is that how is that going?

Amy: Absolutely, I I've traveled all over the world by myself, and I've lived alone for many years, and so as a woman, I would say I'm 100 percent safe. That doesn't mean that I'm naive and I'm not aware of my surroundings at all times, because I think that that's also incredibly important. Like any other large city, whether you're in Mexico, you're in the US or in Europe or wherever you are, there are shady parts of town, are not so great parts of town that foreigners or non-locals should not stray into because I think. I think what a lot of people don't understand about Mexico is, is that you've got the violence of the cartels. Then you've got crimes of opportunity, which crimes of opportunity here are probably 90 percent of the crimes. So, if you're not aware of your surroundings, if you're in a questionable part of town, if you're out walking late at night, you're setting yourself up for a crime of opportunity. But if you're cautious, if you're aware of your surroundings, if you know where you are, if you are out late at night, make sure you know you're walking with someone. I've never felt safer. Then then I feel here, even when I lived in Dallas for many years, and I feel much safer here than I did when I was in Dallas.

Evelyn: Yeah...as you were talking about that, I thought, well, that's every precaution I take here. And we're in Austin, Texas. And, I don't I wouldn't be downtown walking by myself at midnight. So same thing in Mérida, really, right?

Amy: Absolutely. Absolutely.

Jerry: And Amy, you had mentioned coming from Dallas, we're in Texas as well. I'm curious. Compare the weather. Is it more humid? Is it rain more? I'd love to hear more about the weather in Mérida.

Amy: Of course. So interestingly, the weather here can be very similar. To Dallas and Austin and Houston. So, we have. The heat, of course, it's very humid, there's a rainy season, which is also hurricane season that runs kind of may through kind of October and then there's not a lot of seasonal change. So, of course, we're in the tropical city. So, you do have a lot of humidity. But the difference is. The air conditioning, so I knew when I moved to Mérida, the temperature other than the rainy hurricane season, the temperature and the humidity was going to be kind of the same between Dallas and Houston, very similar. The difference is, is we are used to going into a fully air-conditioned house. We take a few steps to our car, which is air conditioned. We pa we take a few steps and go into a restaurant or a mall or shop or something. So, I would say 90% of your temperature is climate controlled by air conditioning. That's the big difference here. So, you do have this little bit of a weather difference. But the biggest change is the air conditioning part.

Jerry: And I assume you mean it's not as air conditioned.

Amy: That's correct.

Jerry: Ok, I just want to make sure all of our listeners realize because that's correct. It is one of the things I remember when we moved to Texas thinking every time I went in a restaurant how cold the restaurant was. And so it sounds like restaurants, maybe shopping centers, they're not are they air conditioned at all or they're just open? They tend to be non-air conditioned.

Amy: So there is no central air system here. Every room, every shopping center, not every bit, some have a mini split or a room air conditioner, not a window unit, but it's got a little remote control and you turn it on when you're in the room. So it cools off very quickly. But the interesting thing is people say electricity is very expensive here. I have not found that. I think they've got this mentality of everything's cheap in Mexico. And then when there's something this kind of similar to a US price like electricity, they think, oh, it's expensive, but. Many restaurants that are small and local do not have air conditioning, so they get a great cross breeze again, we're very close to the coast, so there's this great north south crossbreeds. So you go into a small restaurant, you sit by a window, you've got a little breeze. It's great. You go into a larger restaurant. If they're trying to save money or there's not a cross breeze, it can get really stuffy. So, if you look, once you enter a location, whether it's an Airbnb or a restaurant or whatever, just look around and see if they've got the little units. They're very recognizable so that you stay comfortable. The malls and the big shopping centers do have air conditioning. Some are open air, but the majority of them are climate controlled in some way, shape or form. So, it's not like you're inside a shopping center. You're sweating.

Evelyn: Oh, that's good to know. That is really good to know. And this this talk of hot, humid weather brings me to a thought about critters. I grew up in California, so we didn't have a lot of the bugs that we have here in Texas around the home. And so just curious...you've been in Mérida for a little over a year or just about a year now. How is that situation? Are there are you constantly fighting bugs in the house? What types of things have you seen that might be different from here in Texas? I'd love to know, because that is one of my things.

Amy: There's probably like a hundred different kinds of species of ants here and oh my goodness, if it's you're fighting a losing battle every single place I've lived in, with the exception of my new townhouse, now, every single place I've lived in has been almost overrun by ants. It's extremely difficult to get rid of them. And what I found is really the only way to keep them at bay is to have your house fumigated, like the exterior fumigated, like every three months. Otherwise, there are ants everywhere there in the bathroom there. In your computer, in the kitchen, in your living room. They're everywhere.

Evelyn: Wow. OK, I have not heard that. So that is really good to know. You have to be one with the ants if you want to live in Mérida.

Amy: And you open your sugar one day and there's ants in there and it's like... it's a little protein, it's not a big deal!

Evelyn: We get those centipedes, those really big centipedes here in Austin so ants sound doable.

Jerry: I don't know, though. I think I have a good idea that Evelyn will be waking up in the middle of the night screaming from some sort of nightmare about ants.

Amy: Oh, goodness.

Jerry: We were talking about shopping malls a little bit. And that really brings up a great question that I know a lot of our listeners are asking as they go down and they say, OK, I found Mérida. That's the place I want to live. And they come back and there's they're sitting there going through all their stuff and they're like, well, what exactly do I bring? What's available to buy? What do I need to ship? But they kind of go through this process trying to figure out what should I bring down is all my or all my normal things available. We would love to get your thoughts on that.

Amy: Of course. So, I highly, highly recommend doing at least one, if not multiple research trips and. I would. Tell people make a list of things that you really like about things that are special to you or important, maybe things that you would be very hard pressed to part with, and that can be a full range of items from furniture to blankets to kitchen appliances. I mean, whatever your listeners have in mind, we all have those special things that we're attached to. So, on your research trip, have that list of things when you come and then go out and see if you can replace, duplicate or find that item or similar item. And see what the price is, compare the quality, is it the same, is it similar whatever, and then go back home and make an itemized financial plan that says, OK, I can buy this in Mexico or Mérida for this this price, but if I take it in the suitcase, it's going to be this. If it's too big for a suitcase, what is shipping going to cost? Shipping, especially furniture, can be cost prohibitive. There are people that will ship containers of items and sometimes they get hung up in customs.

Amy: You've got to have a really, really, really good freight order that will handle all the paperwork for you to ensure that it does not get caught up in customs. Follow the rules, don't ship anything questionable. And for me, on my research trip, things were really important to me were sheets and towels, blankets, some kitchen appliances that were important to me. I love the Breville brand. And I had a toaster and a risotto maker and just interesting things like that. And so, when I was on my research trip, I could not find good quality sheets and towels. I could get my Breville toaster through Amazon, but it was going to cost too much. So, what I did was made a plan to bring items that would only fit in my suitcase and would make multiple trips. So, I would highly recommend, if you don't have a friend, that you can leave some items with, maybe even renting like a very small storage unit so that you can make multiple trips of things that will fit in your suitcase. And that's what I did. And it worked out great for me.

Jerry: That is a great idea. So, let me ask, in terms of your daily living, do you need a Mexican bank account? How do you pay for things? You had mentioned before that electricity was maybe not as inexpensive as a lot of people think, but I'd love to know more about your daily living and the costs, because obviously not everyone is a millionaire. And, people are a little bit concerned about the overall cost of living.

Amy: Sure. So do you. So, let's start with the bank account. Do you need a Mexican bank account? Absolutely not. You can use your credit or debit card here. Keep in mind, this is a very heavy cash-based society. So, if you're shopping at a local store or an artisan and craft location, typically they're going to take cash and won't take a card. I find it very convenient to have a Mexican bank account because I, I traded I transferred dollars when the peso is high. So, I actually make money by transferring American dollars into my Mexican bank account. So, I kind of look at that as an investment. There are two banks here that will set up an account for Americans on a tourist visa. That's the only two that I've found. It's either in Bursa or in IRCAM and they're super American friendly. They have almost all their staff speak English and they're very helpful. So just keep that in mind. You don't need a Mexican bank account. It's helpful. But this is a heavy cash-based society where pesos where cash is king just like anywhere else. Daily life, it's very interesting because things to me, things are very inexpensive here, would you like for me like to just kind of highlight some of my cost?

Jerry: Sure. Whether it's getting your hair cut or going grocery shopping, definitely. Yeah, it'll be fun to know.

Amy: Ok, so I'll kind of just give you like what everybody would typically think is your monthly amount and then give you some other kind of interesting numbers. So, the rent and this is for two people. So, my rent I live in a. To a two-story townhouse, it's three bedrooms, three and a half baths. I use my boyfriend and I open a catering company, so we use a lot of the downstairs for our catering business. So, it may sound really large that we use almost half the space for our catering business. So, we do events here, our offices here, and we pay nine hundred dollars a month in rent. It's about twenty-one hundred square feet and we've got a parking area that's fully gated, gated and our own little swimming pool. So we've got a couple of amenities which is parking in a pool that is kind of a high, high ticket item. So nine hundred dollars for rent. Food is four hundred dollars a month. We pay thirty dollars a month and pool service water runs about ten dollars a month. Electricity, the range right now is about fifty to one hundred dollars a month. Uber...because we don't have a car, we spend about one hundred and twenty-five ish on Uber so. Right, right. About fifteen hundred dollars for two people. That includes just your basics and then haircut and color my hair red and it's forty-five dollars with tip.

Amy: I love luxury so I get a manicure and pedicure. It's twenty-five dollars with tip. Pest control runs about thirty-five dollars every three months and medical, I've had the opportunity, I would say, to have some medical appointments here and I've been really, really pleased with the level of service, very state, high quality service, state of the art equipment and attention to the client is priority here. I've never had to wait for a doctor when I arrive at the appointment, and I've never felt rushed if I have questions. So that's been a really amazing, pleasant surprise. I've had a colonoscopy and I don't have insurance either. But I do know that there is a brand-new hospital here that is focused on international expat clients. So, they speak English, they take insurance and they just do a wonderful, wonderful job. So, there I've had a colonoscopy. It was two hundred and seventy-five dollars. A mammogram with imaging with sixty dollars. A doctor visit runs twenty-five to forty dollars. So that's, I think the health care for here. For me it's been extremely affordable and again, I don't have insurance. So, all that was just paid out of pocket. Right.

Evelyn: In America, we think that we have the best health care in the world. It's really great to hear as we talk to folks from living in different areas of the world that you can get really great health care in other places, but not pay the high price tag that we pay here.

Amy: Correct, that's absolutely correct, and I did a tour of the hospital. Because I really believe in doing due diligence, especially before you come to make sure you have all and of course, you're not going to have you're not going to know all the questions until you get here. But to have the majority of your questions answered, the medical questions were high on the priority list for me. And I did a tour of the hospital. And if you need a private room in the hospital for any kind of procedure, it's two hundred US dollars a night that includes everything.

Evelyn: Well, that's the price of an of a hotel in many places seem to have the same value.

Amy: Yes, I was shocked at that and pleasantly surprised. It was wonderful. Wow.

Evelyn: Wow. And, I think that is a reason why some folks are afraid to make a move outside of the US is the health care situation. And so, again, really great to hear.

Amy: And Evelyn, I keep going back to your comment about mindset, it's so true because I didn't for many years have insurance in the US because the insurance I did have didn't cover what I needed for health. I do a lot of Eastern medicine, holistic, a lot of acupuncture. And so my insurance didn't cover any of those types of services like the massage. But here, if you get out of that again, that American mindset and think, oh, let's see what let's see what's on this side of the fence. It just opens your mind to a completely different world. That really to me here, not waiting for the doctor at an appointment, not feeling rushed. When I'm with the doctor, with them taking special care, with the follow up, with everything, the complete three-hundred-and-sixty-degree treatment I've received, I would say this far supersedes the medical in in the US. Definitely.

Evelyn: Wow. Well, you know what? That might put a lot of minds at ease for those who might be looking to move abroad to Mérida. And so, let me ask you this for anyone out there, U.S. citizen specific, because you're a U.S. citizen who is looking to move to Mérida, what kind of residency requirements are there? What kind of is there a retirement visa that that someone can get the how do you get to live in Mérida?

Amy: Of course. So, the majority. So, I guess it's kind of interesting. Sixty percent of expats here are here illegally. Well, really, the irony. The irony. I know it's so ironic, isn't it? And, we think about, oh, everybody's in our country illegally and blah, blah, blah. Well, 60 percent of expats here are here illegally because they come and they live on tourist visas. So, you can be here and limited on a tourist visa and a tourist visa is good for six months. You just have to exit and enter the country and get your visa stamped. So, the old rule used to be you had to leave the country and re-enter after twenty-four hours. I recently tried this in back in August because is a situation I actually entered and exited on the same day. So, it did work. I'm not and I won't say that it will work for people, but it worked for me. So, you can enter and exit. Every six months that the tourist visa, you can also apply for temporary residency, and that is good for the first time, it's good for one year, you can renew that for up to four years. And then after four years, you're able to apply for permanent residency, depending on your status, whether you're retired, you're receiving Social Security, you're still working, they have different financial level that you have to meet. So, for someone like me, I have to show a minimum of I think now it's one thousand six hundred- and fifty-dollars deposit into my bank account for a period of a minimum of six months for someone that's retired. I think that that's a different it's a different number. I think it's a little bit lower. So, it depends on your age. If you're receiving Social Security or you're still of working age, you have to show proof to the Mexican government that you're self-sufficient.

Jerry: So, Amy, as we start to wrap up today's podcast, I'd love to ask you as you look back over your last year, what are your favorite things about living in Merida?

Amy: Fascinatingly enough, my answer is this, this is like, of course, I wasn't alive in the 1950s, but it's really like living in the 1950s. Technology is not prevalent. Hardly anyone uses email. People call each other not great communication. Yes, it's amazing. So, it's really like kind of going back in time. And I feel like that movie Back to the Future. It's like I've seen all the cool stuff in the US and then I've gotten here and we're still in kind of like the TV era with three channels. We've got eleven, thirteen and twenty-eight or whatever it is. And so, it's just really cool. Almost back in time era of people call each other and they spend time in the park and they take a lot of time over meals and they connect. And I think really that's my favorite part of being here is just it's a slower pace of life that's extremely community and family oriented. That's just it's great,

Evelyn: That sounds so good. It would probably make me overcome the ant issue.

Amy: Yes. The pros and cons, right?

Evelyn: Exactly.

Jerry: So, Amy, again, thank you so much for your time today, but I'm sure our listeners are going to want to learn a little bit more about your journey. Where can they go? Do you have a website?

Amy: I do I would say, please find me at LifeinMerida.com. I also have a Facebook page with the same title: LifeInMerida and a Facebook private group where people can talk to other expats and locals...also called LifeInMerida.

Evelyn: Great. And we'll also have links to those sites on our Web site, Retirement Rovers, dot com. So, if you need to find those links, you can find them there on the podcast page. Thank you so much. I've learned so much, Newt, so much more new things about Mérida. It's all the little details that like when you watch a show like Health Centers International, you really don't get the real everyday life. Like what? You know what it's like to live there. So, they've never talked about the answer

Amy: And the answer. One of the biggest problems,

Evelyn: Obviously, that's something that's stuck in my head.

Amy: Yeah.

Evelyn: That was such a great conversation with Amy, I really enjoyed it.

Jerry: I did as well.

Evelyn: The one thing that is on my mind, bugs. Yes, I hate bugs. I hate them with a passion. I hate them here in Texas. And I had to ask them about the bugs and Mérida. And so, she talked about ants. And I had that little voice inside my head screaming as she was telling me about the ants. But then I did a little research and I found Amy's blog actually popped up, ironically enough, about how to handle the ants in Mérida. She has a secret weapon.

Jerry: She does?

Evelyn: Yes, she does. And she talks about it on her blog. So definitely go find Amy's blog and check it out. I think it's an easy and cheap solution that'll help you keep bugs at bay, especially those ants in Mérida.

Jerry: That would be awesome on.

Evelyn: The other thing I really liked was the idea that she was talking about how Mérida was like stepping back in time.

Jerry: Yeah, that's interesting. The time when there's only three TV channels.

Evelyn: That's one of the things we'll talk about when we're talking to younger people is we had three TV channels and we had to get up as kids and change the dial. Our parents didn't have remote controls, that kind of thing. And it just took me back to a simpler time.

Jerry: I think...what many people are looking for in retirement is that simpler time where you're not completely focused on the iPhones and the Macbooks.

Evelyn: Yeah, I'm kind of technologied out. I don't think that's a word. But I said it.

Jerry: If it wasn't a word, you just defined it.

Evelyn: Yes, I did. So I am totally technologied out people.

Jerry: The other thing that I felt was really informative was about the health care.You start looking at the health care and it's scary to go from what you're familiar with here in the U.S. to a new health care system.

Evelyn: It is. But let's talk about this, because I think the idea of not having insurance scares a lot of people. And when she said she doesn't have insurance, but talked about the costs of her mammogram or her colonoscopy, it all seemed very manageable. In the U.S., if you don't have insurance and you have out-of-pocket costs for things, it could put you into bankruptcy.

Jerry: Definitely. I mean, some of the costs that she was mentioning, those costs are we spend more just on our cost.

Evelyn: Yeah, exactly. I know. And so really, what I'm hoping to be able to do is retire early. I don't want to wait till I'm 65. But gosh darn it, if you quit your job, you lose your health care insurance and then you have to buy it. And then it's really expensive the older you get, let alone if you have some kind of disease and may not even be able to get it at all.

Jerry: That's a good point. Well, it was really nice to hear that from Amy in terms of what their system is like and the overall quality care as well.

Evelyn: Yeah, actually, the ants scare me more than the health care now

Jerry: Making progress...

Evelyn: So the other thing that I was really excited about was when she really broke down that cost of living. You read a lot about how much it costs to live here or there. And somebody will say, oh, you can rent something for five, six hundred dollars a month, but it's really not maybe to our standards. Right? It is really comforting to hear her talk about her really nice townhouse that she has for nine hundred dollars a month. Two thousand square feet, which is more than we would need as a couple.

Jerry: Right. I mean, we would probably just need two bedrooms, one for us, and then one for our son when he comes down with his college buddies or just comes to visit.

Evelyn: Well, I think that's going to do it for today's episode. So we're Mr. and Mrs. Rover, thanks so much for tuning in today and hearing about Mérida. We really hope today's episode and all of the information helps you find your paradise.

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