How did I stumble upon Merida? And now that I’m here, what’s it like living in Merida Mexico? Glad you asked.
If you read my last post, you know it took several years of research and planning to finally get on a plane. You know that I’m doing this journey with my family in tow, though it was supposed to be just me. That right there, is really how Merida came to be the city I chose.
So let’s go back to me researching places where I could live for US$1000 comfortably. Many Latin American countries and South American countries came up plus a few in South-East Asia. I narrowed it down to Bali and started doing my research.
For me, that research generally looks like this:
- What city and what neighborhoods to live in
- Things to do in the area
- Proximity to gyms, beaches, restaurants, coworking spaces and cafes
- How people get around
- How many black people are there and where do they hang out
- What the expat/digital nomad community is like
- How much rent and utilities cost
And all the things.
When I decided to take my family on this journey with me, things changed. Now, I wanted to know if there were good international schools in the city I chose and affordable but excellent places for healthcare. I wanted to know what it would cost to hire a housekeeper and the cost of buying a car or renting one long-term. Other things became a priority, not just the location of the closest beach bar for sunsets and cocktails.
I revised the places I shortlisted in my original research and narrowed it down to Panama, Costa Rica, and Mexico.
I ruled out the first two because honestly, the prices didn’t seem as affordable as these lists were making them seem unless I wanted to live somewhere a little more remote, which I did not. Merida kept popping up for a few reasons.
Is Merida Mexico Safe?
Every time I came across a list of possible places to live affordably, that list would mention how safe Merida is. That was news to me, as I’d never even heard about Merida. But it was ranked as the second safest city in all of North America, and number 21 overall in the world. Don’t ask where Kingston, Jamaica falls on that list.
That said something to me because even before the thought of bringing my family was born, safety was a high priority for me as a female solo traveler. It’s even more important with my daughter in tow.
So, to recap, Merida Mexico is safe AND affordable? My interest was piqued.
When I started to poke around in Facebook groups for expats in Merida, I found quite a large group of black Americans. Within the group were many of Caribbean descent. I liked that because it meant I might find people to hang out with while I settled and got to know my neighbors and met Mexican friends. Let’s face it, the language barrier won’t be overcome immediately so it’s nice to have English-speaking people who can somewhat relate to you.
So, is Merida Mexico safe? I’ve found that to be a BIG yes. It is super refreshing to be able to call an Uber late at night without worry of being kidnapped or sexually assaulted. I feel very comfortable recording on my iPhone even in crowded spaces. No one has so far tried to grab it out of my hands and I don’t walk around feeling as if anyone is going to.
I have walked on dimly lit streets at night to the ATM and chuckled about it with my mom as she knows we would NEVER attempt that in Jamaica. I walk downtown on back alleys and there is not this inherent fear that something bad is going to happen. Never been followed, catcalled, or harassed.
Even in the bustling market where vendors shout for attention, everything was supersafe and I never once felt uncomfortable. No one is aggressive or gives me a sense of fear.
Now, this is not Utopia. I’ve been followed in the supermarket before and Uber drivers have shafted my change thinking I didn’t know how much pesos I was supposed to get back. I’ve seen a video of two guys kicking into an apt and breaking into an Airbnb in Centro. So you still need to be careful, as careful as you’d be anywhere else. But the likelihood of something terrible happening here just doesn’t feel as high.
Here, people fill the many parks at night to enjoy street food, random concerts, and people-watching. Here, people say good morning and help you if you ask. Here, the police presence is prevalent, but not in an ominous way. My daughter has commented on how safe she feels walking the streets here. And that’s so important to me.
So Merida is safe, it’s affordable, what else?
Things to Do in Merida Mexico
The opportunity to immerse me and my family in a completely new experience was very attractive. The culture here is so rich and beautiful. The music, the food, the history, the art, and of course, the language.
To appreciate a lot of the culture, it’s really important to first learn the language. I’ve been to some of the cultural experiences and wasn’t able to understand what was happening because of course it’s all in Spanish. But I loved trying the street food and seeing all the displays every time. You learn a little more each time you go, so it’s important to keep going.
When you can, take a tour facilitated by a local who also speaks English. Believe it or not, we haven’t been on many tours or excursions as yet simply because all my finances were poured recently into getting ourselves an apartment. The plan is to be here long term so I wanted to get away from the high Airbnb fees and find a place that we could settle into. Now that that’s taken care of, expect all the cultural trips to be documented here and on YouTube!
Outside of cultural excursions, there are lots of things to do in Merida. I’ve had fun exploring the malls, the markets, the nightlife, and a bevy of restaurants so far.
I love that munchkin is experiencing the mall life. We don’t have these grand malls with things to do in Jamaica. She’s having fun meeting other teens here in Merida and going to play bowling or pool or going to the cinema. They often meet up to go ice skating inside the mall or head to the amusement park. “Mom, can I go to the mall?” isn’t something that happens often in Jamaica.
The nightlife in Merida is popping. And I haven’t been to many places yet but the ones I’ve been to get pretty wild. Mexican people love to dance and I love to watch it all.
I keep hearing that Papis has the best chicken wings in all of Merida. I’ve never considered trying the chicken wings at a gay strip club before but whenever I do go, you’ll be the first to hear about it.
The Weather in Merida Mexico
Call me crazy for this one. One of the things you will read about if you research Merida is how hot it is. It’s nicknamed the furnace of Mexico and it has earned that name. What a place hot?!?! It’s also quite humid which is a draining combination if you’re not used to it.
But coming from Jamaica, although it doesn’t get quite as hot there, Merida felt like home. I loved the tropical feel especially after spending some time in the cold of Bogota.
I love being close to the beach. But Merida also offers me the opportunity to travel about as I wish affordably. Mexico is a huge country with 32 states and many people don’t realize that. Flights to Mexico City can come in under US$100 and a bus trip to Cancun or Tulum is around $70 round trip. I’ve placed my Cancun video up above and my Holbox trip for my big 40th is coming up so make sure you’re subscribed to my Youtube channel.
I’m also a short and cheap flight away from Latin America and South America when I want to go exploring overseas and trips to the States are affordable from Cancun. Mexico City gets too cold for my dad plus the city life isn’t for him. Merida has the warmth, the conveniences of big city life without the expense and fast-paced life. We simply keep our butts indoors and under the a/c if necessary during the daytime and venture out with the rest of Merida at night to enjoy all that there is to do.
So, why did I choose Merida?
In my research, I found Merida had everything I desired not just for myself but for my family too. Here we found:
- easy to settle if we decide to stay long term
- lots to do and experience
- warm climate
- warm and inviting people of all ages
There are great international schools here too, I hear. I haven’t gone that way yet but I’ve already started my research to prepare munchkin who desires face-to-face schooling.
So I booked our flights here without even stopping in other Mexican cities first. I do plan to visit a few other cities myself or maybe with munchkin but Merida ticked all the boxes. It’s been a great place so far for my family to settle. If you’re considering Mexico for a family move or to retire, it gets my vote.
Now, if you’re single, you might have a challenge. But, I will say, that seems to only be for the black Americans who seem to want to date other black Americans. Those women I have come across who have expanded their wishlist have been finding luck with Mexican men. I didn’t even know Facebook dating was a thing! I have no interest right now and honestly, I pray it stays that way. The dating game is rough anywhere you are.
It’s almost time for us to make our first trip outside the country to reset our visa. I’ve been considering places in Texas since it’s close to Mexico. I’m wondering, is San Antonio worth visiting?