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Hello Cozumel, Canadian Family Thinking Of Moving To Cozumel

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#1 Thomas Flint

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Posted 27 January 2015 - 01:20 PM

Hello Everyone,

 

I have been visiting Cozumel for a few years and cannot stop thinking about it. I just returned a few weeks ago and all I can think about is living in Cozumel. However, I am not retired, 47 years of age, 2 kids, one 13 almost 14 and one 11. My wife is also 47 years of age. She is a Hair Stylist and I work in Telecommunications as a Credit Analyst and Early prevention specialist. Although I am  still quite a few years away from Retirement, my wife and I always talk about moving to Cozumel.

 

I live in Ontario Canada, 2 hours North of Toronto where it is very cold and dreary in the winter months starting in November right through until April.

 

My worries are decent education for the kids, finding a decent job in my field if even possible . Are there telecommunication companies in Cozumel ?

The other option is possibly working through a VPN from Cozumel .  I am thinking of first, going down myself for a few weeks not on vacation and exploring the real estate  Rentals first, my concerns are , how difficult is it to just get up and go, get immigration papers and a working visa and work there or even start your own business.  What are the expenses like in Cozumel

 

Electricity

Water

Taxes

Internet

Groceries

Car Insurance

Rent ( decent area for safety of kids )

What is a very typical salary expectation for a business profesional

 

I am very open

 

Thomas.


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#2 Thomas Flint

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Posted 27 January 2015 - 01:22 PM

I hit enter before I completed my thread,

 

I am very open to all criticism  and your opinions good and bad,

 

Thank you


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#3 Carey

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Posted 27 January 2015 - 03:30 PM

I'm sorry to have to give you bad news but probably neither of you will be able to work in your chosen professions anywhere in Mexico.  The rule is if a Mexican can do it, they get the job over a foreigner every single time.You have to have extraordinary skills, ones that employers cannot buy locally before they will consider going to the incredible trouble and paperwork of hiring you over a Mexican.  You can start your own business, however, and employ yourself.

 

Or find a job where high fluency in English is very important but these are almost entirely tourist related and don't fit with your skills sets.  There are a couple of American women who have set up their own salons and have created a following but that will take quite awhile so you'd need money to live on for several years, have to pay rent on the salon, etc. etc.

 

As to your teens, there would be no good educational options for them here.  You would need to home school and then you might have difficulties getting them the credentials necessary for them to be applying to college in a few years.

 

We came down here as retirees so avoided these difficulties.  We also waited to make the full time move until our daughter was accepted to college.  We home schooled her before that, much of it on Cozumel.  But we then stayed back in the US most of her last two years before college so that she could take advanced placement courses at the local high school, take all the college aptiude and achievement tests and get a scholarship.  THEN we moved here.


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#4 mstevens

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Posted 27 January 2015 - 05:48 PM

I dunno, Carey. I agree that the chances of getting employment as a credit analyst for a telecom company in Mexico are zero unless the applicant has some extraordinary skill not offered by any Mexican candidate. On the other hand, it's possible that such a job would be eminently doable remotely for a NOB employer with the occasional trip back to the mothership.

 

My brother and I both grew up as expats and went to local schools. We learned all sorts of things we wouldn't have in US schools, not the least of which was becoming entirely fluent in another language. The OP's kids are right at the age when my brother and I enrolled in the local hauptschule not knowing a single word of German we hadn't picked up from Hogan's Heroes. We both got into good colleges in the US and ended up with advanced degrees. As a medical school professor I reviewed lots of applications from kids with all sorts of educational backgrounds who ended up doing fine in medical school.

 

Surely not every school on the island is completely worthless? Homeschooling as such didn't exist when I was that age, but a fair number of students enrolled full-time in US schools end up taking online courses for various things so that might be a decent supplement to schools on the island.


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#5 dawnb

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Posted 27 January 2015 - 05:57 PM

Ah, the island calls, doesn't it? You don't choose Cozumel, Cozumel chooses you. We too fell in love with Cozumel, bought property, then figured out that we're much better off vacationing there, albeit several times a year. I agree with Carey's advice. Unless you have a lot of money and/or are retired, it's probably best as a vacation destination.

As much as we love the island, I can't see us living there.
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#6 Charles

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Posted 27 January 2015 - 08:47 PM

People's perceptions of the island sure changes transitioning from a vacation destination to living there full time. My first trip to the island evolved into a six week stay, the majority of the time outside of tourist areas. It was the functioning town that attracted me to the island, that and the people. I had to learn Spanish and that really expanded my experiences. I learned to live and think as a Mexican and I was respected for that. My first legal job paid about $350 dollars a month, but during my first week the peso devalued and it turned out I was making about $220 dollars a month. Jobs if you can get one are typically six, eight hour days a week. Semi-professional salaries might start at around $500 dollars.

I really value and appreciate my time living in Mexico. It was a great adventure. I had about eleven years full time on the island, with another seven years seasonally for six+ months plus a year. For what attracted me to the island, less and less existed. It saddened me to see person after person go out of business as the economy changed. For the "little people", the average Mexican, the island has been in a depression since before Wilma. It costs major bucks to start a business with any chance of success. With that much money, why work, you could be retired.

The biggest factor to consider in moving to Cozumel would be health care. You'll be leaving a system among the best in the world for something that is second class. You can buy health insurance, but it'll cost a lot more than any fee you pay for Provincial/Canadian insurance. Can you adjust to Mexican health care if needed, would you want your family? Decent medical facilities exist in Merida. Some doctors speak English but you really need to be able to speak Spanish. Since Mexico learned insurance coding from the States, this cancer on health care costs has made prices a hell of a lot more expensive today than it used to be. The biggest factor in our deciding to abandon all life on the island was finally having health insurance in the States. We stopped living there when my wife gained Medicare coverage and I now have "Obamacare". In theory my wife and I might visit again one day, but I doubt we'd come for even a month.

Too many people get enticed into trying to duplicate a fantasy vacation into a full time life. It rarely works for many people. Too many people crash and burn during the first year and wind up dropping $100,000 dollars. I can relate to your wanting to leave during the Ontario winter, I get a touch of that in Alaska. Me, I can't stand the heat. My last winter in Cozumel even the Mayans were calling it the year of no Winter. I'd add and no Spring, no Fall. It was 32C to 35C in January and February. I think the schools would be OK for a year or two. Private school costs will be another expense. You could possibly make it work if you can work long distance via the Internet. Realistically it will require a serious lifestyle and mentality adjustment or you could wind up spending even more trying to duplicate your lifestyle north of the border. Good luck with it all. I think the general consensus is that Cozumel is a nice place to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there! (not any more)
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#7 Carey

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Posted 27 January 2015 - 10:43 PM

 Actually, all things weighed in, I still consider Cozumel to be an excellent place to live full or half-time.  So I'll have to disagree with you on that one, Charles.  It's an actually affordable carribbean island with a great deal of sweetness and charm.  It may not be as safe as it was 25 years ago.  But compared to most places I've lived in the states and other vacation spots I've visited, it feels very comfortable to me still despite the slight rise in moped purse snatchings and the like.

 

I've never had a problem with the health care here and it is amazingly more affordable, still, then in the US.  And the health professionals are never in a hurry and are so especially kind and compassionate.

 

The weather in the summer and fall is obnoxious.  But the other 6 months?  Close to heaven a lot of the time.

 

Some foreigners ARE getting along just fine here running their own businesses.  But part of that is luck and all of it is hard work.  And nothing along these lines should be undertaken without a great deal of on the ground research-- as in come here and live for 6 months and see where there is a need and take it from there.

 

People trying to come here and work as wage slaves?  Forget about it.  People retiring here who have serious health problems?  Probably not a good idea.

 

My life has been enriched in the extreme by the experiences I've had here.  The island, for all it's foibles and faults,.is a place I will love until my dying day.


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#8 Carey

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Posted 27 January 2015 - 11:08 PM

I dunno, Carey. I agree that the chances of getting employment as a credit analyst for a telecom company in Mexico are zero unless the applicant has some extraordinary skill not offered by any Mexican candidate. On the other hand, it's possible that such a job would be eminently doable remotely for a NOB employer with the occasional trip back to the mothership.

 

My brother and I both grew up as expats and went to local schools. We learned all sorts of things we wouldn't have in US schools, not the least of which was becoming entirely fluent in another language. The OP's kids are right at the age when my brother and I enrolled in the local hauptschule not knowing a single word of German we hadn't picked up from Hogan's Heroes. We both got into good colleges in the US and ended up with advanced degrees. As a medical school professor I reviewed lots of applications from kids with all sorts of educational backgrounds who ended up doing fine in medical school.

 

Surely not every school on the island is completely worthless? Homeschooling as such didn't exist when I was that age, but a fair number of students enrolled full-time in US schools end up taking online courses for various things so that might be a decent supplement to schools on the island.

You mention German.  So I will assume that it was a European country where you had to dive right in as a kid.  I don't think it's a good comparison -- Western European to backwater Yucatan, Mexico school.

 

It would be one thing if the kids were young with plenty of time to pick up the language and fit in over time.  But at their age, I'm not sure they would have the time to soak it up and assimilate.  Plus everything I've heard from local parents says that the 'best' private school on the island is, well, not all that good.  Different mind set here.  The well to do Mexican parents make the rules and the teachers and admin have to  tow that line or get fired. Also tons and tons of busywork.  Kids in the schools here are swamped with homework.  It's very old school.  Like the 50's, kay? I investigated this, admittedly, 15  years ago, when we were contemplating same for our daughter.  REJECT.  Sorry.

 

As to working remote, yes, that is a possibility I'd forgotten.  And, with the right company, it really could work.  Because internet on the island is pretty fast these days.  And relatively bug free at least via telmex.


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#9 mstevens

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Posted 28 January 2015 - 02:52 AM

You mention German.  So I will assume that it was a European country where you had to dive right in as a kid.  I don't think it's a good comparison -- Western European to backwater Yucatan, Mexico school.

 

It would be one thing if the kids were young with plenty of time to pick up the language and fit in over time.  But at their age, I'm not sure they would have the time to soak it up and assimilate.  

 

The country was Germany, but it was in the 70's and we were way out in the boonies. Our house had 2 indoor toilets, which gave us 40% of the town's total. We got a week off school in October to harvest potatoes. I was 13 and my brother 11, the same ages as the OP's kids, when we started. We soaked up the language and assimilated fine. Nobody knew we were American until my parents opened their mouths and ruined the illusion. The local dialect (Pfälzisch) was so different from standard German that most Germans didn't understand a word of it, so in essence we learned 2 new languages. 


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#10 Freezin' Canuck

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Posted 28 January 2015 - 04:40 AM

 As a fellow Ontarian, also living two hours north of Toronto, I can relate...pushing snow, putting on chains, taking off chains, bundling up to go out, unbundling to come in, keeping the fire stoked, $800 heating bills, blah, blah, blah. After that first trip,  more than twenty years ago, I began to fantasize about living in Cozumel and how to make it work (a mid-life crisis, maybe? Hard to tell when you're in the middle of it, lol). The winters seemed to be getting longer and more brutal, and in life, it seemed we were spinning our wheels. Considered all the angles and decided couldn't do it without risking too much. Fortunately our kids were already grown. If my kids were younger, I believe immersing in another language and culture can never be a bad thing for one's horizons, but it could also have serious dislocating socializing down-sides. I probably wouldn't have risked that either. 

Now we have bought a fixer upper in a wonderful neighbourhood and poured a fair bit of retirement loot into making it exactly how we want it, but still keeping a safety foot in the door (thanks blog) in Canada. So far, so good. Charles is right about the Spanish. It's exciting to finally begin to communicate and think in a different language, and culturally, it is way beyond the comfort zone, but also exciting, and our new friends here are very accomodating and patient with us. As for the medical, no catastrophic illnesses thus far (touch wood), but I'm pretty impressed with the level of treatment and cost. As to the culture, Cozumel is an easier transition to Spanish-speaking than some other places, fellow boomers have dropped into, but we have deliberately plunked ourselves down in the middle of an Spanish-speaking (and considerable Mayan presence) neighbourhood. So far our steady stream of visitors from Canada also get that gleam in their eye on the allure of Cozumel. Almost all comment on "how friendly the people are". I can relate, but it's not for everybody, and there are downsides. Carey's advice is sound. Don't burn your bridges and/or carry a life preserver. There is a lot to learn. This blog has been extremely helpful in that respect, but a paragraph or two cannot substitute for hands on experience and shedding any "rose-coloured" glasses. Sign me...still loving it in Cozumel, but learning as I go and enjoying that as well.


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#11 mstevens

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Posted 28 January 2015 - 10:23 AM

useful stuff

 

When are we going to get a "Like", "Thanks", or "Helpful" button around here?


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#12 La Bella

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Posted 28 January 2015 - 12:05 PM

Hi:

we are in the process of living in Coz part-time. We will be there for a month in May.

we want to just rent for whatever time we  want to stay. We are keeping our house here in the States.

My husband is retired and I can work from anywhere where there is WiFi.

We have been vacationing in Coz for over 20 years and although we love the island , we don't think it's a good

option for us to move there permanently.

Each situation is different. Good luck with your decision.

 

La Bella


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#13 Kandy

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Posted 28 January 2015 - 10:50 PM

I absolutely disagree with Charles about the health care/insurance. I had life-threatening blood clots 2 years ago. I was transported by ambulance to Cancun - Hospital Galenia. I have never experienced such great care. The nurses were very attentive - no English, but we managed to communicate quite well. The specialist came in 3 times a day, wheeled the ultrasound in himself, unwrapped my leg, did the ultrasound and re-wrapped the leg. His English was quite good, and he stayed as long as necessary to answer every question to my satisfaction. I had a huge private room that had a sofa for my husband to sleep on and the bathroom and shower were really spacious. When I checked out 4 days later, the hospital bill totaled $2,200 USD. The specialist's bill was slightly less than $400 of that! So, great care, incredibly inexpensive! 

 

As for our health insurance, we paid $2,800 USD for BOTH of us last year. The deductibles are extremely low and we are covered up to $50,000 in the states should something happen there. I couldn't be more pleased about that. I will say I wonder what is going to happen to us with Obamacare since we live here 12 months out of the year and don't have insurance in the states. Guess we'll know soon enough!

 

We have lived here 4 years now. We sold everything in the states. My husband still works full-time, but is able to work remotely and make 3 trips a year back to the states for a week each. I retired, but have started a small business here. It is slow going, but I'm hanging in there. You really cannot come here expecting to find a job that will cover expenses for a family of 4; at least, not in the style to which you are probably accustomed. Others have been spot on with their comments in this regard.

 

If the island calls to you, as it has to many of us, I'd recommend enjoying extended vacations until the kids are all off to college and you are in a position to retire or start an online business of some kind. It's an adventure, and a very enjoyable one if you come with the right mindset. It's not the US! ;)

 

Wish you all the best!


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Kandy
Living the Dream in Cozumel

#14 Thomas Flint

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Posted 06 February 2015 - 09:59 AM

Thank you very much for your responses, I truly do appreciate all the feedback you have given me. My kids are the most important thing to me and their education so that being said, I will be waiting until they hit college or University just a few years away. I will be visiting this beautiful place twice a year and will continue to do so until I decide to retire and know one day I will be living in Cozumel, its just a matter of time.

 

Thank you all again.

Tom


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