When you ask foreigners who now live in Mérida what attracted them to Mérida and why they stayed, you will get a wide range of answers. They fell in love with the colonial city, they had always dreamed of living in a foreign land, they felt safe, the people are friendly and make you feel welcome, and the winters are warm.
You might meet someone who says moving to Mérida was the biggest mistake they ever made; they hate everything, the heat, the bugs, the people, the food. When you hear this, remember that there are people who can be miserable anywhere. As the sign said on the entrance to the Magic Theater in Hermann Hesse’s novel Steppenwolf, “Not for everybody.”
Living in Mérida, Yucatán, is a good decision for many people. The U.S. embassy in Mexico City estimates that there are more than 600,000 Americans living in Mexico. An estimated 300,000 Canadians live in Mexico, at least part-time. Mérida has expats from all around the world.
Listen to the voices of foreigners who came to Mérida, and they will tell you why they stayed.
Connie Burk says:
“After six years of living in Belize in a remote, rainforest setting, my husband, Jerry, and I were ready for a change. After living near and working with quite poor Maya villagers, and always being perceived by them as being very rich, we were looking for a situation where we could "blend in" with a vibrant middle class in Mexico. We already knew and loved Mérida from many years of traveling, and we thought we'd try a taste of city life. The colonial architecture, especially with its tall walls enclosing the gardens, was especially enticing for me because I tend to deal with hot weather by removing most of my clothing at home! Now, we're in the middle of the city, but our garden is very private. We're very happy here.”
Debbie Moore says:
“I came to Mérida by accident. On a prospective buying trip to Majahual, I happened to meet Mitch Keenen and asked him where he lived. His answer: Mérida. Mérida? Back then Mérida was a place no one had even heard about. I was already committed to life on the Mayan Riviera. My curiosity aroused I started checking the real estate sites for Mérida.
Once I saw those broken down colonials I was hooked. After 3 years of looking at and dreaming about Mérida, I finally made the trip. I bought my house in 3 days.
What I love about Mérida is that Mérida is like kissing a toad and finding a prince.
Like most first time visitors to Mérida, my first impression was of a city in general decay. However, the more time you spend here the more wonderful “layers” you discover and the less old paint you see.
Yes, the wonderful old colonials are often in ruins but the amazing transformations that people create are wondrous. Every home is completely different, unique, and creative. It is always a treat to visit one no matter how modest. Even the non colonial homes of Mérida are interesting.
The city offers everything you could want from culture to shopping to excellent medical service. After living in Playa del Carmen for 3 years, Mérida is more like living in the US as far as amenities go.
Mérida offers a true Yucateco experience to anyone seeking it. From exploring the ruins to participating in the holidays and festivals, a person can totally immerse themselves in this rich and colorful culture.
We also have a large, varied, and interesting expat community. There are a number of charitable groups and some “fun” organizations too. Life here is never lacking for social interaction if that is what you like.
However, after a number of years here, the thing that still amazes me most are the people.
The Yucatecos are, for the most part, a quiet and gentle people; therefore the city exudes a quiet energy, a sense of tranquility and well being that is lacking in most places today. Life here is so CALM and PEACEFUL and JOYFUL, unlike life in the rest of North America these days.
Every day I sit in my garden here in Mérida, hear the church bells, and count my blessings.
I ask myself “How did I pull this off?”
Coming to Mérida is one of the best things I have ever done in my lif
Tom Kuhn says:
“Why? We had traveled for a couple of decades within the borders of many Latin American countries. Most of our travels were taking place in México as it was a comfortable fit for us. A friend that lives in Mérida invited us to visit. We found Mérida to be a wonderful city, culturally diverse, very friendly people, minimum crime, and superb medical care in all fields. Mérida is close to the Gulf and the Caribbean and that makes it simple to get our ocean fix when we need/want one. In addition it has an international airport which makes traveling very easy.”
Mary Anne and Allan Dunlop say:
"We were initially looking for a warm and easily accessible destination to escape Canadian winters. From the many options we finally chose Mérida for its culture and its people. Do not come here if you want to simply export your own culture to a warmer climate. Come here to find a rich history and incredibly diverse people - French architecture, Spanish colonial influences, the amazing Mayan ruins and people. The hospitals are excellent (doctors still do house calls) and it is safe to walk any street at night. Restaurants range from Ritzy to modest (you must try the cocinas economicas) and entertainment from the Symphony to dancing in the street. We love it here."
©2010 John M. Grimsrud
©2010 John M. Grimsrud