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Reality Check of living in Cozumel


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#1 Coz2wonder

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Posted 26 February 2010 - 01:45 PM

After 7 years of living here, what I thought, and what is reality can be a light years apart.

There are those who live here full time, those who have vacation homes, and those who want to live here.

I though I knew my expectations, and how every thing would have worked out, then somewhere down the line I had a clash with reality.

I was wondering if this would make a good topic for discussion.

One thing about CMC, it does provide for a reality check.
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The most important thing in life is not knowing everything, it's having the phone number of somebody who does!

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#2 Valli

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Posted 26 February 2010 - 02:49 PM

Paula, that is an excellent topic suggestion, and a lot of useful information can be shared. What I would be interested to hear, based on your experiences, what were your expectations, and what was the reality? I have done a lot of research and spoken with many, such as yourself, but I know from a personal standpoint, I likely have a great deal to learn. What I do know, is that the things we may take for granted in Canada or the US almost always do not apply in Cozumel.
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#3 nauticab

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Posted 26 February 2010 - 04:42 PM

expectation: getting working papers would be easy based on talking to the govt officials in the states for mexico
reality: quite difficult. you can't just come down and open a business. and now it's even harder.

exp: rent would be cheap as can be, like $100 or $150usd a month for a 1 or 2 bdrm near the water.
real: while i got lucky and found a great place, it was double (still a great deal) and everyone ended up wanting to rent the 2nd bedroom.

exp: food would be cheap
real: it is. i was never a filet mignon kind of person and can eat cheaply. veggies and fruit are cheap as can be compared to the states.

exp: i would have to learn spanish but can do it by hanging with locals
real: yep... that's how i learned it. never studied the language but spent my time with locals, not expats. i have very few expat close friends which is why i speak pretty fluently.

exp: i would get bills when stuff was due
real: not always, or it would come late and the guy is outside ready to cut off your power. and you don't send a check in the mail. you gotta go pay at the centers. easier now with internet and kiosks at many locations at least.

exp: could go diving all the time
real: unless you have a real "in" with a dive shop, you still gotta pay for the diving and it can add up fast. lower the daily or weekly diving when living here to a few times a month unless you get a job doing it (which is what i had to do eventually!)

exp: (not mine but some folk's expectation) what a party place, just like vacation!!!!
real: gets old people. when i first moved here, not knowing many people except the locals who knew me from my crazy vacation days, i spent almost each night at the old charlies. after a week, i just went there and drank water and got to know people better. in those days, the locals didn't drink all night long either, it's too expensive.

exp: buying property is cheap! i can maybe someday get ocean front!
real: HA!!! anything but cheap. i have lakeside friends who paid less for their 1/4 acre lot of land than what i paid for my 12x20m lot in maravilla. and when it comes to hurricanes, i feel much safer being a bit away from the water.

exp: if you need to look up a number, the phone book is always a good resource.
real: the directories here are the most useless, out of date (even if new), missprinted, and unorganized phone books i have ever found.

just a few from my point of view.
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Cabrilla's Sport Center
Calle 11 % Melgar y 10av
Edificio Portales, Local 1
Dressing Fishermen and Triathletes from Head to Toe

#4 Carey

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Posted 26 February 2010 - 06:35 PM

those are all great, Nauticab!

Let's see if I can add anything. Well, here's one

Expectation: Can't wait to buy comfortable new furnishings for my house.
Reality: (different now but not so until about 4 years ago) everything is hard as a rock and probably ugly to boot. If you like carved wood, you're all set. But it's hard on the fanny. And to get the comfy stuff from people like Luh McDevitt, you have to be prepared to pay plenty because there's a 45% import tax on furniture into Mexico.

Expectation: Good, cold yummy fresh milk will always be no further than the grocery store.
Reality: until what? a year ago -- or less -- the only milk you ever saw was vacuum packed. Now the Mega carries it. Sometimes. And everyone who loves it stampedes the store to grab their share before its gone.

Expectation: Grocery stores will be kept to high hygenic standards because it would be bad for business to let a food store run down.
Reality: Chedraui started out great. 6 months ago bakery closed because of rat sightings. So far so good on the Mega. We live in hope -- but with low expectation on this count.
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#5 Carey

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Posted 27 February 2010 - 06:58 AM

Expectation: I know I'll have to drink bottled water. But it's available everywhere and should be easy to get.
Reality: All water companies are not created equal. I was buying El Cenote water first couple of years I was building here because the trucks came right by my door a couple times per week. But I got sick enough to require lab tests and drug treatments three times during that period. Then read a news story about water quality testing and turns out El Cenote got a very bad score. Switched to Cristal and never been ill since.

Expectation: well, actually, in this case I just assumed and didn't even think about it -- calling for services -- doc appointments, taxis, etc. -- will be an easy given.
Reality: If you don't not only speak some Spanish but understand what is being said back to you, you are as to a deaf mute if you need to conduct any business on the phone.

Expectation: ah, beautiful weather year round living in the tropics
Reality: from April through October it tends to be so hot and muggy here that it's a real trial doing any kind of outside physical activity. So, say you want to sweet the leaves off your walkway. Get up at do it at 6 AM. Because by 8 AM its getting unbearable.

Expectation: Hurricanes? What? Me worry? What are the chances? Stupidly,
Reality: This island is in Hurricane Alley and if you live here full-time July through October -- with particularly emphasis on September and October--hangs a worry around our necks like a rotting albatross. Stupidly, when we built our first house, we made no provisions in advance for bad storms. I was down here on my own one summer living in one house and working on the other when a bad one looked like it might be heading right for us. It missed us but it scared the hell out of me. Because I simply wasn't prepared. So I tore around town on my bike, purchased 3/4" plywood, got it cut, got it put up. All last minute and freaking out the whole time and kicking myself for being such an idiot as to not have made advanced plans for this. Of course, it missed us. And now I'm all set. But this should have been part of the design when we built the house.

Expectation: When you've been through one hurricane, you're a vet. Nothing worse can hit you.
Reality: A lot of us thought that after Emily. Which came through hard and fast and mostly blew down a lot of trees. So we got a little cocky. Then came Wilma. I honestly think we can't get any worse than Wilma, the strongest storm on record for the Atlantic which slowed to a stand still and SAT on us for ?? 48 hours and had TWO eyes. It was scarey as hell, let me tell you. And the island survived! But after that, everyone is always thinking... is this going to be another Wilma?

Expectation:I've got my hurricane protector system ready. So I'm all set if a storm comes.
Reality: Every bad storm will show home owners other flaws in their protection system. Which windows and doors leak badly when the rain is slamming them sideways for hours at 120+ mph. Which trees should have been trimmed ahead of a storm so they didn't fall on the roof? I need twice as much gasoline to keep the generator running next ground and on and on.

Expectation: There will be at least a few stores on Cozumel where I can purchase English language books.
Reality: Nupe. It's a dry gulley where it comes to books in English. Used to be there was a little magazine store downtown that carried a rack of the latest paperback bestsellers. But you paid even 10 years ago around $10 per paperback. Now that store is closed and your only resource to NEW reading material is the airport giftshop where you will now pay $160 pesos -- about $14 US for a trade paperback you could buy at the Houston airport for half that price. Rock 'n Java has a two for one swap collection but you'll run through that in a y ear if you're a big reader. Various locals do book swap parties and that helps. But if you're a voracious reader -- get a kindle or ask me about shipping used booked very cheaply via M-bags and the US Post office.
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#6 zoloft20

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Posted 02 March 2010 - 10:19 PM

Reality check: Living in Cozumel, Great Post, I to, have a house in Cozumel and lived there for 5 years... (in corpus)luv the island, the people, and my great Home, had to come back to the states,,, for another 2 years, help with family matters...............but.... food is cheap... (not always the greatest) Built a Beautiful home pretty cheap back then,,,,,,,,,, Casa Rita....... luv the house....... we luved Cozumel so much, we may have taken the steps a little to soon ! but we are not sorry, at leaast the house will be there when we go back for Good, we visit often, and miss it so much when we have to come home. Still needs some updating, their offices,,, especially,a little to behind, I think that is why we luv it so much. here in america, things are rushed, hectic, and everyone whats to slit your throat, or so it seems, HEALTHCARE IS BAD AND EXPENSIVE ! BUT, one of the reasons i came back, i needed to go back to work for benefits because i am a diabetic !, and some other things, and hubby cant work with knee replacements !No one here likes each other anymore ! since the ecomony is some bad, even the churches are not full anymore!
But,,,,, i know cozumel is feeling it too,,, but,,,,,, here,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,its EVERYONE FOR THEMSELVES !
Yeah.. phone books never good on the island lol
electric , wow sometimes we would wait and wait and finally after living there 6 months , realized hey, you DONT ALWAYS GET YOUR BILL,,,,,, on time., last minute ,, run up to pay it..... phone bill was just as bad,,, i think the only thing ever came on time was the 10 dollar water bill........and cablemas bill,,,,of course, our cleaning girl was always on time,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,not lol, but we did not mind at all !
Our beloved Rocky (our dog) cherished and luved the island especially the beach ! couldnt wait for those afternoon drives to the south end..................................he just passed away in august, HE HAD A GREAT LIFE, NOT to many dogs get to drive to cozumel mexico from philadlephia, pa........ Iam so so glad we took him there, he luved the second floor balcony, just chillin !
we to, partied for about 3 months
reality check................................................becomes very expensive
reality check... when our kids came IT COST US A FORTUNE ! LOL,, they luv paradise beach, and of course, all the famous bars on the island,,, but, thats ok thats why we are there.
reality check- sometimes.. especially if you have family in the usa, (kids and grandaughter) you kind of Miss home once in a while.
BUT,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,WE TOM AND RITA WILL RETURN !!!
there are good and bad everywhere,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,ILL TAKE COZUMEL ANYTIME OVER AMERICA !
B)
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#7 ecochick

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Posted 22 August 2010 - 07:14 PM

In regards to expectations vs reality.. are there any American based companies in Cozumel hiring bilinguals? I have dual citizenship (mexican-born)and currently live in the states but would like to move and work in Cozumel. Worried about the reality of finding employment.

Any thoughts?
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#8 Charles

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Posted 22 August 2010 - 10:09 PM

In regards to expectations vs reality.. are there any American based companies in Cozumel hiring bilinguals? I have dual citizenship (mexican-born)and currently live in the states but would like to move and work in Cozumel. Worried about the reality of finding employment.

Any thoughts?


Bilingual ability combined with Mexican citizenship would open many doors. There are American owned companies, but Mexican or Spanish owned might offer more options. You can most likely find employment, but the question will be just what will be your adaptation to a much lower standard of living than typical in the States and can you be paid a wage realistic with the cost of living?

Above average jobs pay around $500-$600 dollars a month. It is hard to make it except on a two wage earner household.

What job skills or marketable abilities do you have from the States?

There would be three primary areas of employment; beach and water sports directed at the cruise ship passengers, all inclusive resorts as an activities director and lastly, downtown jewelry store sales. Many places want to hire for the "high season", but then need creative measures to starve the employees into leaving during the low season which grows longer each year. Since Mexican labor law makes it complicated to hire seasonally, salaries will be low as many places need lots of help for half the year, but the other half it becomes an extreme financial burden to have triple the staff that might be required. Since you can't terminate employees without reason without compensation, salary taxes and obligations are expensive for the business owners.

It would be fairly easy to get a job in jewelry sales at the start of higher cruise ship season, but salaries might average $400-500 monthly. Keep in mind the standard Mexican work week is six days a week, eight hours per day. One day off per week to attend to household needs does not leave much recreation time, but then you can't afford most activities anyway.
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#9 ecochick

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Posted 23 August 2010 - 07:48 PM

Thanks Charles. I currently work for the phone company here in the states and have a degree in economics. I'd like to do something totally different and go into property and rental management. I really do not want to go into sales of any kind in Cozumel, no jewelry, no tours, no timeshares. Heck bartending sounds like a good gig.
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