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Bob, From Pa


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#1 BobinPA

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Posted 02 March 2013 - 02:03 PM

I'm not really sure when it happened...or if anyone else experiences this...

It could have been while looking up at the towering coral heads of Columbia Deep while at 80 ft...or during sunset in the Plaza, where little Coz children were playing with visiting divers' kids...but at some point you realize Coz is not going to leave you, and you'll always be missing something inside while you aren't here.

I'm Bob, a fire chief in a northeastern U.S. city. Me, along with my Laurie, have fallen in love with this island and are now seriously considering a permanent future on the island. I'm grateful to Carey for this website, which has helped us a great deal. Our sixth visit together to the island is coming up in three weeks and this time we'll be doing research on the details of moving and buying here.

Being realistic, we will heed the wise advice to rent here first...and our hope is we find expats to speak with about their experiences coming here. I'd be grateful for any advice or stories on moving here, or how to meet expats that could give us some starting advice.

Looking forward to talking to all of you, it's great to be here!

Bob
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#2 BettyfromToronto

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Posted 02 March 2013 - 09:54 PM

Welcome Bob to CMC. This is a great place to get so much information.

I just joined recently when hubby & I started to look at retiring in Cozumel in early 2014. We started by having a real estate agent take us around to look at houses during our Nov 2012 visit to see if we could afford it. Yes we can. Then we confirmed our decision during our Jan 2013 trip when we were able to see an insurance agent to confirm we could afford to buy medical insurance.

Now we have a year to sell off a lot of stuff and get the house ready to put up for sale in the Fall.

I see you are a diver too. We've met great people here (Paula) and others on the scubaboard.com message board who had tons of information and were only to pleased to share their tips with me.

Welcome
Betty
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#3 hillbilly

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Posted 03 March 2013 - 02:55 AM

This is exactly what we did and moved here in October. By the way we were volunteer firefighters in Colorado, My wife for 26 years and me for eight. We love it here, there are allot of things involved with the learning curve but overall the best thing is that even though we have investments in Colorado still we do not have to read or listen to the daily news cr*p. What a relief and what an eye opener to live where the lifestyle is so easy. Come on down, do use a realtor and look for high ground, no flooding right?
Only problem for a firefighter is everything is concrete and unless the jungle gets going there are no fires other than a palapa or two. That is good right?
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#4 Jim912

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Posted 03 March 2013 - 06:41 AM

When you get down just us a note. We can always throw something on the grill have a cold dink and share our experiences and it might help with your plans. I know it's relative but even in north Louisiana we get more ice, sleet and cold than we want. Always look forward to t-shirts and sandals.
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#5 Kandy

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Posted 03 March 2013 - 06:08 PM

Hi, Bob. My husband and I can relate perfectly to your story. We moved here Dec. 7, 2010 and have never been happier. We love it here. When you get here, we'd be glad to meet you for lunch or have you over just to chat about all that's involved. We can also share our medical experiences with you - again no real complaints overall.

Welcome to the wonderful family of those bitten by the Cozumel bug Posted Image
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#6 mstevens

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Posted 04 March 2013 - 04:29 PM

We just got home at 2 this morning (to snow deep enough that we had to shovel to get into the house). We have our lovely house on the island just sitting there empty. However, I can't really see moving there permanently. Spending months at a time would be great, but I really think that for me sooner or later I'd just get too frustrated with island life. I base that in part on having moved to New Hampshire from Galveston after 11 years there and finding that the heat, humidity, and constant corrosion got to me. For impatient, humidity-intolerant people like me it's probably best to leave one foot in the US and another on Cozumel.
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#7 BobinPA

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Posted 04 March 2013 - 07:25 PM

Thanks for everyone's reply...I probably should add my youngest is 10 years old, and I'm pretty sure the ex will not let me take the kids to Coz permanently, so it's going to be awhile until we do any long term moving. Mstevens, I hear you and we also realistically expect to keep one foot in the U.S....my thought is buy a few years ahead of retirement, perhaps get in the vacation rental business, but I have absolutely no knowledge of renting or what the occupancy rate is on the island.

Kandy/Jim/Betty glad you guys are happy there, it's incredible to compare the friendliness and laid back lifestyle of Coz to where Laurie and I live...the stress level of the northeast US is always high.

Billy: I saw a fire on youtube in Coz during Carnival a few years ago, right in the middle of the parade, I think at the Carlos/Charlies...was wondering how their trucks were ever going to get past the crowd.

It might be fun to pick a place to meet anyone who wants to share a margarita at a good place to chat about your experiences...do all the ex-pats know each other pretty well? We'd be fascinated to hear your stories. If you had to vote on a place for Margaritas where would it be?

One specific question: On this trip I want to rent a jeep in Playa and drive down to Punta Allen...my feeling is that QRoo is pretty safe, should we have any security concerns about a trip like that?

Bob
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#8 mstevens

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Posted 05 March 2013 - 09:22 AM

re: the vacation rental business

This is not something any potential purchaser should count on. You might rent now and then, which could help a bit with expenses. However, there are tons of empty hotel rooms on the island and there is not a lot of vacation rental business compared to a few years ago. There are also some significant issues with Mexican and US tax law that need to be taken into consideration.
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#9 BobinPA

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Posted 05 March 2013 - 09:40 AM

Yes, as I sit on the couch and do research what you tell me I know is true; the deficit in the US is a mess and Uncle Sam is going to try to get its money wherever it can...the real problem here is finding "ground truth" and making the best personal decisions for our future. I have a brother who believes the future will be in renting; vice owning...to keep the flexibility of travel and the simplicity of not dealing with tax codes.

I suppose if I wanted to live in Coz six months out of the year; renting would be an option, but it must be nice to have a place you can call your own. All reasons for us to seek out ex-pats and hear their experiences....

I assume wise advice for the part time resident is to only purchase a home you can afford without rental income, and then rent as the market allows to make money as the economy allows.
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#10 mstevens

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Posted 05 March 2013 - 10:13 AM

only purchase a home you can afford without rental income, and then rent as the market allows to make money as the economy allows.


That's been our approach.

Unless you plan on living on the island, owning a home is not actually practical at all. Under any normal circumstances, I don't see a chance of actually making money through rentals. At best, it might offset a bit of the cost of maintenance. We've owned for about a year now and have had one 1-week rental and one 4-day one. Quite a few enquiries ended up going nowhere when the potential renters wanted to pay rates that in one case I didn't think would even cover the increased electric bill (due to A/C) for the period. In other cases, the income after expenses would've been so low that I couldn't see having strangers in my house messing with my stuff and peeing in the pool for that amount. Before we bought, the rental history was quite good, but still didn't quite cover the sellers' annual upkeep expenses.

It's mighty nice, though, and convenient, too - all our dive gear is locked up at the house along with all the clothing and stuff we need, so we travel with just a small messenger bag each. What with Global Entry, it's nearly painless getting to and from Cozumel.
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#11 BobinPA

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Posted 05 March 2013 - 10:34 AM

That approach makes sense. I was reading last night about the Mexican 25% tax on rental income, and on top of that the new US Law passed in 2010. Having trouble understanding the details, but until living there permanently, or semi-permanently, hard to justify buying per se. I can definitely see the temptation for having a cash business in renting, as some places I've stayed have hinted a cash transaction will help out my rate...I can figure out why that is.

I can certainly guarantee to anyone I'd NEVER pee in their pool. ;)
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#12 Charles

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Posted 06 March 2013 - 01:56 AM

Yes Bob, that was quite a hot Carnaval event. That was Borge's float, the man who is governor now. I had a front row view of the fire, on the side walk across the street. I stood up on the bench when the fire truck parted the crowd. Besides firefighting the bomberos are called to deal with bee hives regularly and the occasional misplaced crocodile. They do a good job!

Please do yourself (and others to follow) a big favour and try renting for a period before buying and burning any bridges. A period of rental would let you get a feel for the island and do spend some time in the summer to learn about heat. You can live in a gated community and completely insulate yourselves from the culture, go big bucks for ocean front or try to adapt to normalcy (thank you Warren G. Harding) of living within the community. What you gain during a trial experience will pay you many dividends, think of it as tuition or insurance of making an expensive mistake.

I think many have quite an adjustment to the contrast of a fantasy vacation environment. As to diving, I've seen a number that moved to the island for the diving and found they did more diving on their vacations than after they moved. If you adapt well your priorities change and much of your time goes to day to day household realities. I believe Hillbilly made a comment recently, he's a new arrival, but his move was a couple of years in the making. He might have some worthwhile perspectives.

Now doing business, if only you could be so lucky as 25% tax. That applies to mainland property, away from the coasts and borders. Cozumel ownership most likely would require a fideicomiso, a banking trust to enable foreigners to purchase property in the restrictive zone. Mexican laws and regulations as applied to conducting business are complicated, confusing, contradictory and simple put, discriminatory toward foreigners. Mexico is attempting to address some of those concerns and the immigration laws have undergone two major changes which are still a work in progress. Perhaps the laws will change or if enforcement of Mexican law with regard to rentals and their taxation happens, there will be many rental owners in for rude awakenings. Verify everything and trust no one's advice based upon their experience and belief, including mine. There are legal professionals for that with expertise in the ever changing Byzantine system of Mexico. It is buyer beware and there are no laws regarding disclosure, verify everything.

Now if you want to buy a hotel....? If you want to have over a million dollars in your first year of business, I can help you there, best to have a least two million to start. Some with very well informed and realistic expectations are satisfied and content with the trade offs and compromises of life. Others crash and burn in less than six months and consider themselves relieved if the experience costs them less than $100K. It is a lot cheaper and practical to rent, at least until you are confident in what you're doing.
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#13 BobinPA

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Posted 06 March 2013 - 12:06 PM

Thanks Charles, that's a great post which intelligently lays out the terrain. Laurie and I are both sure we would take the advice of renting long term first; in fact, it seems like depending on our situation in the U.S. it is most likely we'd arrange long term rentals for our part time Cozumel ambitions. Probably not going to be buying any hotels! Interestingly enough, although I love diving in Coz, my interest in living there has more to do with the atmosphere and the people who are so nice. It's not the best retirement location for diving, as say, compared to Bonaire where I know friends who so shore dives right outside their condos without the need for a boat to take them. Bonaire, however, comes with its own downsides, especially compared to how nice the folks in Coz are.

As for living in the Mayan world, I know there is a growing expat community in Belize, for which I've also done some research...although I've yet to make it down there.


Do you have any advice on the relative safety of travelling on the mainland in QR (from Playa to Tulum/Punta Allen?)

I think this trip I may stop by and visit the Bomberos on Cozumel, perhaps bring a tshirt or two...I bet they probably get regular visitors from curious US/Canadian firefighters who come to visit the island.
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#14 hillbilly

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Posted 06 March 2013 - 10:32 PM

Bomberos get allot of firefighter visitors from other countries, always good to talk to firefighters as it is a brotherhood much the same as Harley riders. We gave them some patches from Colorado and chatted with them awhile. At least best we could do in Spanish.
When we first purchased our home there were mexican renters in the house, we thought it would be perfect since we had a couple of years before we were going to move here. After the new laws concerning income thru a foreign trust came into play it kind of pissed me off that we would have to pay taxes in the USA.
Also after looking into it we thought that it was not really fair to make income here and not pay taxes to the place we wanted to live. Not really legal anyway.
So our house sat empty for a year and a half which gave us time to mostly furnish it here from different stores on the Island and help the economy somewhat. We hauled a trailer from Colorado to here and had no problems at all.
We are enjoying the culture here, Sunday is a really good day as we now watch the local team play baseball in the afternoon and then go to the square in the evening. Other days you just kind of live as we did at home, it is a challenge and we make a game of hunt and peck to find stuff we need.
As I might have said earlier throw all expectations out the window and just go with it, they know what they are doing here from the old to the young and if you observe their behavior and copy it everything works.
We kept several houses in Colorado and it is my belief that they will be sold and this will be our home for the future,after all it is the easy life. We are retired so maybe that is what makes it so easy.
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#15 Coz Crazy

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Posted 07 March 2013 - 04:04 AM

Greetings Bob. Alot of great and informational replys to your post. We had been visiting the island many times before deciding to make it our home. It took well over a year to locate our property as we had certain needs in mind. Our home is in the Corpus area, we wanted small with add on capacity. We get down every three to four months or so fo a couple weeks. Showing up again in May to meet with our contractor for some renovation work. We will not rent our place out. Mstevens is correct about not wanting strangers in my home. that is another reason for our purchase of a smaller home. There simply is not emough space here to describe the island and the people. We have met many folks who have become closer to us there than any we know here in Maine. If plans go as expected we will move down in about a year. Glad to be of help if you need it, we have had plenty and i want to pay it forward where needed. Very best of luck.
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#16 mstevens

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Posted 07 March 2013 - 09:55 AM

We drive between Playa del Carmen and Tulum fairly often. I've never had the slightest safety concern.
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#17 Steve

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Posted 09 March 2013 - 09:53 PM

Bob, you won't have any problems driving from Tulum to Punta Allen. It is perfectly safe. The road is in fairly good condition right now but the drive will take you around 3 to 4 hours. I didn't go all the way to Punta Allen this year but did last year. From the arches to Xamach Dos took about 1 1/2 hours. It's a good place to stop for a couple of beers. A few kiloneters past the bridge.

I love Punta Allen and it's a great place to go. Nice beaches and friendly people. The road can change at any time but is always bumpy. If you are driving a stick shift, don't expect to get into 3rd. gear. There is not much to do there but it is still fun. Plan on spending the night to avoid the long drive back in the same day. Tell your wife to wear a sport's bra. There is a nice little place to stay for around $400 pesos a night next to Niki's place ( La Serina or something like that). Punta Allen is a lobster fishing village and has a few bars and small tiendas along with 5 or 6 restaurants. The beaches are nice. You can see the old light house and the lagoon. Fishing is good and it is possible to see a few manatee's there. Go and enjoy yourself.
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#18 tosajohnsons

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Posted 18 March 2013 - 05:02 PM

Our first post on the site. My wife and I are both divers and managers for large firms in Wisconsin. We have a just-under-six-year plan to move to Cozumel to retire at 60. We would love to meet some locals on our decompression day on Thursday May 16, 2013. We're buying. Off to basketball but I will fill in our details later. Bob--we look forward to meeting you.
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Dan & Paula




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