Merida real estate has much to offer expats. From daily exercise classes at the immaculately maintained sports stadium, Estadio Deportivo Salvador Alvarado, to easily accessible high-speed Internet and WiFi, to fabulous Yucatecan cuisine, it is truly like no other place on earth.
But perhaps one of the best things about life in Merida – and in many other parts of Mexico – is the friendliness of the local people, who always seem to be quick to lend a helping hand or to give a smile of encouragement. And where else can you purchase a glass of devastatingly sweet, fresh-squeezed orange juice for a mere 80 cents?
Thanks to the high-speed Internet availability in Merida, it is possible to live here and work with companies from anywhere in the world. Imagine sitting at your desk with windows and doors open to catch the tropical breeze from your home’s lush center courtyard, or setting up shop for the day on the kitchen counter, where you can keep an eye on whatever you are cooking, picked up from the local market that morning at the suggestion of your housekeeper.
Yes, in Mexico you may actually be able to afford help around the house – one of the many benefits of the more affordable lifestyle that is available here. In addition to boasting private courtyards and terraces, many of the homes here also have their own pool, and it is customary to grow tropical fruits, such as limes, on even small lots.
Merida is also home to a number of economicas, which are highly affordable restaurants where you can grab a quick but tasty bite for between $2 and $4. Yucatecan cuisine is known for its strong Spanish and Mayan influences, which lend it a unique flavor that is unique in the world. And the food is also not without a Northern European flavor, especially from Holland, which remained an active trading partner throughout the 19th century.
Typical ingredients in the local fare include chiles, chocolate, corn, cucumbers, honey, squash, tomatoes, venison and wild turkey. Pork and Seville oranges,which come from Spanish influences, are used to make the popular cochinita pibil, while the Dutch brought Edam cheese to the region, which is used to make quesos rellenos, a dish that stuffs the rind of the cheese with almonds, ground beef, olives, raisins and spices and fries it together until nearly carmelized before wrapping the mixture in bananna leaves and steaming it until the inside is totally melt-in-your-mouth delicious.
A visit to the market is often the highlight of the day, with hundreds of visitors and a constant hum of activity. Tables are piled high with everything from foodstuffs to gadgets and other items, while local musicians play for a few cents, adding to the unique vibe of the place. The best part? A mere $4 to $5 is enough to fill your totes to the brim with fresh food – where else can you do that?
Unique sights in Merida’s Plaza Grande, or main central plaza,include a 16th century Spanish cathedral, a mansion named Casa de Montejo that has been converted into a bank in recent years, and the MACAY, or Museum of Contemporary Art.
Amazing as it may seem, all of this is available for a budget of between $18,000 and $30,000 a year, which makes it easy to live well for much less than it would cost in the U.S. or Canada. Real estate prices in Merida are hovering between $30,000 for a small home in the town’s central historic district, to around $400,000 for a large, 6,000-plus square foot mansion that comes completely furnished.
To make it even more appealing, Merida has its very own international airport, which makes it easy to visit friends or family outside of Mexico. To get a real feel for the city, consider renting a home on your first visit, but come prepared: You probably won’t want to leave once you see all that Merida has to offer.