What’s it like to live and retire in Cancun, Mexico

We have been living in Cancun for 6 years. We moved here permanently after we retired from our jobs in the suburbs of Chicago, Illinois. We had vacationed in Cancun repeatedly since 2001 so we knew the area. The attractions here are many: The weather, the culture, clean air, the wonderful Caribbean sea and the many interesting things to see and do. We chose to live in the city as opposed to the famous Hotel Zone because we wanted a more authentic cultural experience by living right in the city among our Mexican neighbors.

Retire Cancun, Mexico, Beach mxcCancun is a big, small city with most of the conveniences that we were accustomed to in the USA. We live in an area called SM18. Our home is within walking distance to all the major stores and businesses. By car or taxi most are no more than 5 minutes away. Cancun also has a fantastic public transportation system. We can walk to Walmart, Sams Club, Costco, City Club and the beautiful, modern, amazing Plaza Las Americas. The local “Triple-A” baseball park and soccer stadium are nearby. In Plaza Las Americas there is a wonderful VIP movie theater featuring leather recliners, each w/ a personal table and lamp. Push a button and the wait staff will bring you a menu and serve you beer, wine, hard and soft drinks from the bar, (often there is a 2 for 1 special) …………..and food that includes everything from freshly made popcorn to sushi, pizza, and sandwiches. The price of admission is approx. $6 USD.

By car it’s a quick ride over to Home Depot, Grease Monkey, Superama, Mega, and AutoZone. The Mexican government has greatly improved their immigration facility and it’s pretty much a no hassle visit or two to apply for or renew your papers.

We have Medicare but it does not provide coverage outside the US. So we have the IMSS Mexican heath program which costs approximately $700 per year and covers most common problems. We also have a catastrophic policy. For about $2400 USD per year with a $2000 USD deductible we are both covered for any major events internationally. It also covers air ambulance to anywhere in the world. We find that most of our ordinary visits to Dentists, Internists, Optometrists, Skin doctors, etc. are so inexpensive that we pay out of pocket for them. In Cancun there are numerous private hospitals and 4 of which I’ve had personal experience with. They are all excellent. If you are a resident they charge much less that if you are a tourist. One time I had a severe allergic reaction to something I ate and I went an emergency room. I was given an IV and a shot and saw the doctor and was in there about 3 hours. The bill was 300 pesos……about $25 USD.

We’ve made new friends and enjoy a very active, rich social life here. My wife belongs to the International Women’s Club (IWC) and that has been a source of many of our new friendships. Cancun is a melting pot of many nationalities and we have friends from many countries around the world. For example, last Thanksgiving we hosted a dinner and our guests were from Mexico, Canada, Denmark, Ireland, Costa Rica and the U.S.

Retire Cancun, Mexico, Mayan ruinsThe Mexican people are hospitable, warm, welcoming, and fun loving. Life here is much more relaxed than in our former home. We find our neighborhood to be safe and have not had any incidents in the time that we have lived here. All of our neighbors are friendly and most of them also speak English. Suzie takes weekly Spanish lessons and is well on her way to being fluent. We really enjoy our life here, especially the warm weather all year long. We take most of our meals outside on our covered patio even through the winter months. These facts really solidified our decision to live here as the right one.

My wife and I are certified scuba divers and we can go on dives all year round in the crystal clear waters off of Cancun, Cozumel, Puerto Moreles, and Isla Mujeres. The fishing, boating and snorkeling are also fantastic here. We take art lessons and are learning how to paint in oil on canvas. In addition, we are slowly eating our way through the hundreds of restaurants in the area and posting reviews about them on our web site.

We have a maid once a week and a gardening service twice per month. Luxuries we could not have back in the USA.

We do have concerns during the hurricane season. But unlike most parts of the USA we do not experience sudden unexpected natural calamities. If anything good can be said about getting hit with a hurricane it is that you have about a week to prepare for it. This year we watched in horror all the floods, fires, droughts, tornado’s, tsunami’s, and earthquakes that have affected the USA, New Zealand and Japan. Most of these come suddenly with little or no warning. I’ll stick with the hurricane risk until further notice.

We can enjoy the warm clear waters of Cancun all year round and take advantage of sailing and swimming every chance we get.

We feel very fortunate to live and love Cancun which we now call our Home.

Click for additional information about Mexico.


  1. For a Mexican experience away from the great heat of the beaches, you might also take a look at San Miguel de Allende, which has an easy and moderate climate. My award-winning book on the expat experience tells the story of 32 Americans and Canadians living their retirement dream there.

  2. Hi. Is I possible to live on 700 usd in cancun city proper. Thanks

  3. Hello Tom!
    We are a family living in the DF but thinking of moving to Cancun. I am Costarrican, my husband spanish, two of our kids southafrican and the other mexican.
    Your comments about living in Cancun were very useful and helped us get a better idea of how living there could be.
    I dont know if you could give me some advice as to which schools would be a good option: pricewise, location, reputation…if you can´t do you know anybody that could?
    Thank you!

  4. Hi, loved your post. Can you tell me where to look for a rental like you have? I love Cancun and vacation in Puerto Morales each year. Interested in living there during retirement.

  5. Interested in visiting Cancun for a couple of months to find out about living there. Could you help me out where I could rent. Hopefully near your place since you have had no incidents. Thank you.

  6. My husband got a job offer on an American company in Cancun– he will be making around $40k a month and they told him tax is about 10%– It is obviously great money, but do you think is safe living there? is there a high rate of kidnaping, or robberies in the Cancun area?

  7. Veronica, I feel safer here than in many of the cities I lived in the USA. We have been here almost 7 years. The only so called incidents we have been involved are traffic stops by the police seeking a “mordita”. The kind of money your husband will allow you to live like a Maharasha here.

  8. Kevin, $700 USD a month will not allow you to live here.

  9. Lorena, We don’t have school aged children. There are many excellent private schools that our friends say are excellent. You would not want to enroll your children in the public school system here.

  10. David, We own our home so all I can say is SM18 and SM17 are great neighborhoods with private homes for rent.

  11. Dear Mr Tom i read ur post and i need u to guide me as I need friends in Cancun because i am coming from Egypt to Cancun. My wife is patient with autoimmune disease and she needs long treatment in Cancun so I will stay for long time and its my first time to come to Cancun i dont know any details also i need to have a job I am oil painting artist and I can give art lessons to foreigners so can u help me in this topic

  12. Hi tom. Could you please clarify why one couldn’t live there on 700 a month. Could you clarify if one couldn’t live an American expat lifestyle or? I lived in Acapulco for 3 years on not much more than that in like 5 years ago and I go there often and not much has changed. I am considering moving to cancun and I wonder why it’s so different to live in cancun on more money than the average Mexican makes than in Acapulco ? I assume thousands and thousands of Mexicans live there on less than that ….. Also considering myself and the other poster may not have to see doctors as often and pay extra insurances etc. thanks

  13. As a single female in early 70’s, would you recommend Cancun as a good place to retire?

  14. HI…we would like to spend a long time in Mexico…so we are looking for a small apartment first floor and pay no more than. 200 a month…can u help us…not only that we would. like to meet more friends…thanks…Irving and Gloria

  15. I don’t know anywhere that you could live on $200/mo. in Mexico

  16. Why do you have a catastrophic policy? It seems pretty expensive.

    I will be moving to Cancun in July 2015.

  17. I really enjoyed your informative posting. My wife and I, spent xmas vacation in Cancun 12/21/14 to 12/28/14 I immediately fell in love with Cancun. My wife and I have lived for the past 9 years in Utah. I am in Chronic Pain every day. I had the most unusual thing happen while in Cancun, my pain subsided and only had some pain and discomfort 2 to 3 days out of the 8 days we spent in Cancun. So, we have made a decision about moving to Cancun in 2 years. That is when my pension will start and I already receive my Social Security. I am very glad that you posted about the Healthcare available there in Mexico. We are selling our home and will be moved there in 2 years! I wish we could move there right now, but we will be patient and wait in anticipation of living in PARADISE on EARTH!!!

  18. John, by any chance do you have Lyme disease?

  19. I’m thinking of moving to Cancun in 2 years! Can I live off $1500.00/month? fixed. I was thinking I could also make money teaching English or some type of diving job, as I’m a diver as well. any thoughts?

  20. How much for rent for one bedroom apartment close to the beach,

  21. Jaime Barrientos

    April 25, 2015 at 5:42 pm

    Hola Tom, I read your article and want to thank you for the great info you posted. I read with interest your comments about the health system in Mexico and the catastrophic policy you have in place. My wife and I are looking into this retirement option. If you can talk about real state prices to include home sizes, it will give us a more detailed picture about this living expense-housing. Thank you for your information.

  22. I am also a senior retired female interested in living in Mexico; is that feasible? Thank you for your detailed post which I benefited from and so enjoyed.

  23. Hello Tom
    Great article ! My husband and I just fell in love with Cancun and the many people we have met . We are a little to young to retire just yet . Well my self any way. Any information about having your own business here . I have a successful business in the states. But would love to come here and do my trade as a stylist and salon owner. Any thoughts?

  24. Fredric Alan Maxwell

    July 15, 2015 at 2:37 am

    Good info all around. Is there a Mexican bank in Cancun anyone would recommend. Safe is the key.

  25. Clyde E. Dahler

    January 27, 2016 at 9:16 pm

    Can i live in Cancun in a small apt. on 1100 a month SS

  26. Hi Tom,
    We are thinking of moving to Mexico for at least 1 year, as I might have found a job there.
    We are a simple folk, don’t like the bells and whistles, but would like to find a place there to rent that’s reasonable. When I lived in La Pinita, hour south of Vallarta, I had a 2 bedroom apartment for $300. paper month.
    Would I find that in some decent areas?
    Thank you,

  27. hi ! loved reading about your new lifestyle in the the Cancun area ! We’ve been recently vacationing here. Very inspiring !!

  28. I am sick of the high taxes and insurance that are preventing me from retiring even though I have been working in the school system for over 35 years. I am an online college instructor and between that and my retirement, I will probably bring in around 4,000 a month. Can I use my 50,000 equity and be able to purchase a small home and live on that amount? Also, I have three dogs I will not leave behind. Are there vets there or is it not a dog friendly area. I vacationed in Cancun last year and absolutely loved the area and the people. I am actually certified as a school psychologist and special education teacher and will also look into working part time in a school. Thank you for your input, I am really anxious to live where I can get some good scuba diving time in!

  29. Love your site with so many anwers. I worked in Mexico years ago and am planning on moving to Cancun by late September. Can you tell me about bringing my car to Mexico. Appreciate it.

  30. I enjoyed your article, Tom. I, too, am interested in retiring in Cancun. Your info on health care costs was very helpful. I’m excited about visiting this year to check out housing and other info.

    I don’t know how people can expect you to answer their questions about costs for rentals and if they can afford it. You’ll never know some things until you put some skin in the game; invest your time, do some research and go down there. If you want something bad enough you make it work!

    I don’t think you can stay there long term without having proof that you won’t be a drain on their society. I’m sure I’ll be able to look it up somewhere online and get all the details.


  31. Douglas Whisler

    January 3, 2017 at 2:55 am

    I get $1326 a month. Can I get apartment for $600 or less? Please email me at scufun1@gmail.com I’m interested in Cancun area. Nothing fancy needed. Any info is good!

  32. hello tom,

    You seem like a man with a keen knowledge of the area. May I ask some additional questions prior to our trip. I have been doing some reading about Tulume, and it sounds like someplace that we would enjoy visiting. HOWEVER, I prefer to be on my own and not with a group of tourists from cruise ships, who get herded on and off buses and are on a tight time schedule. It would be nice to maybe hire a local to take us around on our own. Having said this how would you recommend I do this. I am going to be staying on Cozumel and will most likely have to take the ferry across to Cancun. Thank yyou

    Michael Feldman


  33. Hi Tom!

    I am traveling to Cancun solo in two weeks. I plan to venture out of my fancy resort to enjoy the culture & life. I am curious to know about traveling by car. Is driving on the main roads there safe? Easy drive? For now I’m planning to drive inland about 2 hours and then head to Las Coloradas. Other blogs I read make it sound so easy getting through tolls and whatnot. Is that the case? Am I better off hiring a host to drive me? I should add I don’t speak a ton of Spanish. I’m good with maps and finding my way around- just need to reassure my worrywart dad that I probably won’t get stolen.


  34. Hello Tom!
    My wife and I live in California but thinking of moving to Cancun. My wife and I are US Citizen’s my wife was born in Mexico and I was born in El Salvador.
    Your comments about living in Cancun were very helpful to us and have a better idea of how living there could be.
    Looking for a place to leave, we are thinking to rent first and then buy
    Can you tell us what would be a good place in Playa Del Carmen or close to it to rent
    Thank you!

  35. We’ll be spending 3 months in Cancun,Jan/Mar thus next year . Id be interested in a volunteer opportunity. Beaches and reading aren’t enough for an active me .Thanks for any suggestions.

  36. Can anyone email me who knows of any care homes/ nursing homes in Cancun? Thanks!

  37. I will be in cancun the business days of feb 12 to feb 16th 2018. It would be nice to meet up for some professional advice

  38. Tom and others,
    are there any assisted living facilities you can recommend in Cancun or Playa?
    Looking something for my mother, my plan is to retire there i about 10 years, but looking something for her right now.
    Thanks in advance for the tips

  39. Hi!

    Just read your article – I’ve been tossing the idea around of moving to Cancun for at least part of the year (winter!). Thoughts on purchasing a condo there that I could VRBO or AirBnB when I’m in the states? What is the average monthly cost to live in the area you live in?

    Thank you!

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