Although I know and have heard of dozens and maybe hundreds of cases that just didn't work out as hoped, I offer this little tidbit. A couple decided to pursue their dream of living in paradise and the ultimate for a scuba enthusiast, investing and being part owner of a dive shop!. They were confident after 20 years of several times per year visits. They had numerous friends and the ideal dive shop looking for an additional partner. (maybe with someone's else's money, we could pay off the back due bills and with someone to answer the phone, I could take a vacation for once in years). I thought the person should have been ashamed for taking such advantage of people whose rose coloured glasses clouded reality.
They spent close to two years planning the big move. Sold their business, sold their home, reduced all their household goods to bare bones as they were moving to paradise. It took all of three months before the slow steady spiral of gee, maybe we underestimated this situation. They had gotten a decent deal on a house with a significant price reduction as it had sat on the market for a few years. The long and well planned move to paradise, to live out the dream lasted all of six months. Evaporated was only about $150,000 and with luck, the house might sell within a few more years at only a 30-35% loss. That was one hell of a vacation, a thousand bucks a day, but having to work like dogs too with no time to enjoy any of it. Then they wound up back where they started, but no home, no business, their former life wiped clean and having to start over from scratch. This was the higher tuition going to school costs.And this was a story that would rank above average compared to many. As they say, want to open a business in Cozumel and have a million dollars after your first year, best to start with two million, but more would be better.
I know the long time dive shops, the handful that were the first to operate. And then the second wave that to their credit, have managed to still be around after 20 years. Then there are those still struggling, but somehow gasp enough air to have made it past a ten year milestone. And then the dozens, hundreds, thousands of the rest of the dive shops fighting, struggling to carve out a little niche for themselves. I know a number of places that might rate as doing OK, a small minority, but I doubt anyone could say they are doing well, not with a straight face.
The deck has long been stacked against foreigners doing business in Mexico. All kinds of extra taxes, accounting measures, super restrictions on just what and how they can operate. Now due to the recent tax and immigration law changes, some of those unfair obstacles are being reduced, by grossly increasing all the responsibilities, taxation and extreme accounting measures required of Mexican owned businesses. Now Mexican owned business are facing equal, if not worse than what used to be exclusive of either larger corporations or foreign owned businesses. Small family owned mom and pop type business, which used to be the cornerstone of Mexican tradition and culture are facing a serious day of reckoning. The very, very minor 5% increase in IVA so screamed about, the very least of their concerns. That just brought the border States into the same sales tax structure as the rest of the country.
Sorry, but scuba is far from a growing sport that it enjoyed for decades. There's too many extreme, adventure sports in competition that require little travel. The Internet has helped to put numerous dive shops out of business across North America as merchandise can be purchased online cheaper than what wholesale cost might have been. The days of Texas dive shop organised Splash groups flooding the island with 800-1000 divers during the Fall slow season is a long distant memory. The "pie" of potential divers have been stagnant, while the number of dive destinations and the operators that compete for the clients have grown exponentially.
Now if you are like a few of the local shops that set up, "trust fund babies", it sure helps if you have a sugar daddy, or a trust administrator with a stack of blank checks that can sign the checks and fill in the amount later. If you can afford to drop a big bundle without a care or concern, God bless you. Do make sure you come with at least a round trip ticket.