Top 8 Things You Should Bring With You When Moving to Playa del Carmen

By: Deidre

1. A Sense of Humor - When we first moved to Playa del Carmen we made a lot of mistakes. Actually we’ve been here almost a year and we still make a lot of mistakes. I’ve driven the wrong way down roads, I’m pretty sure I insulted our waiter’s mother one night while trying to order dinner in Spanish and I’m too embarrassed to tell you how long it took us to figure out how to buy stuff in the bakery section of the grocery store (just pick up a pizza pan and some tongs and add what you like). In each of these situations there was initial mortification followed by a huge release of laughter at our own expense. We long ago decided if everyone else is laughing at us the best thing to do is join ‘em.

2. Patience - Everyone tells you something, but no one tells you everything. Having applied for and received residency status, a refund from the Mexican government and legal status for our car (we think) I can tell you that you can ask what you think are all the right questions but you’re only going to get maybe ¾ of the answers you need. Which means multiple appointments and lots and lots of waiting. You can’t hurry the government, you can’t hurry the checkout girl who is checking her text messages instead of waiting on you and you can’t hurry the cooks in the kitchen who are preparing your food. Learning to slow down and accept and appreciate the slowness takes time, but starting with a patient mindset will help.

3. A Diet and Exercise Plan - The gastronomy here in Playa del Carmen is incredible. Because of the large influx of expats from around the world, the diversity and quality of food - and drink - are amazing. On top of the delicious regional dishes like carne asada, tacos al pastor, pibil, tostadas and chilaquiles, the other food options are endless. We’re talking pizza, pasta, seafood, sushi, curry, empanadas, falafel, crepes and so much more. Every day I see a new restaurant concept opening that I can’t wait to try. I haven’t even mentioned the margaritas, mojitos and mezcal that are all readily available at pretty reasonable prices.

4. Swimsuits - Speedo should be a sponsor for the whole Riviera Maya. Well maybe not Speedo, but you get my point. You’re going to get wet. It’s the tropics so there’s a pretty lengthy rainy season. But beyond that there are way more fun ways to get wet. Here around Playa del Carmen there are breathtakingly beautiful beaches, natural swimming pools known as cenotes that can only be found a few places in the world and world-class snorkeling and diving spots. 

5. A Good Set of Sheets - High thread count, good quality sheets at an affordable price just cannot be found here. You might think you can get by with the scratchy stuff, but after a month or two you’ll realize your sheets have exfoliated your whole body and you’ve been rubbed raw. Find good sheets somewhere else. Bring them.

6. Your Curiosity - I’ve eaten grasshoppers, drank micheladas, swam through an underground cave and ziplined off the highest tower in Latin America. Some things I’ve enjoyed more than others (I’ll pass on more grasshopper guacamole). But these are all things I never would have had the opportunity to try in my previous hometown. And they might not be available in the next place I live. The important thing is to be open to new experiences wherever you are, whatever they may be. Opening myself up to new experiences in Mexico has made our lives here so much more enriched.

7. Nerves of Steel - Driving in Mexico? Every time I get behind the wheel I have to get into combat mission mindset. Both lane markers and speed limits are merely suggestions, shoulders are for passing and turn signals either mean someone else is getting ready to pass or they want you to pass them or maybe they just forgot to turn their blinker off. Some of them might even be turning. Who knows? And when we get out from behind the wheel and get on our bikes? Even more terrifying. We’ve learned to get into a zen mindset and just start pedaling. Eyes ahead, never look back, you might not like what you see coming up behind you.

8. Humility – The people of Playa del Carmen are really, really nice. As loco gringos who are still trying to learn the Spanish language we have been in situations that we don’t understand and can’t control. And there have been so many times that random strangers have stepped in and helped us out with translating, carrying a heavy bag or pointing us in the right direction. Getting over the idea that we can do it all ourselves was tough. Having the generous and kind spirit of our host country be the ones that taught us that lesson? Humbling. 

And on our list of things that you don't need to bring with when moving to Playa del Carmen? Well that list is pretty short. Socks, the notion that you won't be woken up each morning by a rooster and a negative attitude can, and should, all be left behind.

 

About the author

Expat Blog ListingDeidre is an American expat living in Mexico. Blog description: Restless and unfulfilled with cubicle life we decided to leave it all behind and hit the road as AWOL Americans. We're creating our own lifestyle as we go by taking it slow and living life to the fullest.
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Contest Comments » There are 13 comments

Mike P wrote 6 years ago:

This blog has me thinking I could handle a relocation. Note if only I could Heather up some pesos and patience.

John Johnson wrote 6 years ago:

Great blog guys! It's nice to live vicariously through you and your adventures.

Alex wrote 6 years ago:

I love reading about all your adventures! Thanks for the tips!

Linda O wrote 6 years ago:

I may never actually become an expat anywhere (although someday I could wander across the Kansas/Missouri state line, I suppose) but the stories you tell about life in Playa del Carmen are fun and enlightening. No matter how deeply rooted we are in our current location, it's good to broaden our horizons and understand what life is like in other places, the better to find common ground. Kumbaya and all.

Michele In Playa wrote 6 years ago:

D. Great blog! Brings me back 9 years or so..... FYI, I can get you guys really nice sheets right here in Playa!! Remind me on Tuesday!! LOL

Jenni wrote 6 years ago:

I love reading about your adventures! Some of your stories have me laughing out loud and others make me very envious of your relaxed life.

Susie Mize wrote 6 years ago:

Extremely informative. Good stuff and well said. I have been following your blog www.awolamericans.com and find them all to be very interesting.

Karissa wrote 6 years ago:

Great blog! I love reading all your posts. They are so inspiring and I've learned so much about other cultures. Keep 'em coming!

Shirley wrote 6 years ago:

Look forward to each new post. I feel like I'm learning as much as you are through each of your adventures. What a way to live life!!

Sharon wrote 6 years ago:

Another great post- I'm learning so much in preparation for our move to Mexico. Any chance you could publish a pocket sized how to guide? Along with your top ten local restaurants and more getting about tips? I loved your drive to Punta Allen- keep up the great work. Have a great Christmas!!

John Spencer wrote 6 years ago:

Look forward to each new entry, I laugh I cry, it's the feelgood blog of the year!

Misti wrote 6 years ago:

These bloggers really show the ins and outs of living outside their home country. They tell all- both the great and the frustrating things about living abroad. I love how great they are about exploring the local culture of the Mayan Riviera. I never miss a post!

Aaron wrote 6 years ago:

This is great!! These are great tips for someone who might be looking at making a big life change and moving to Mexico.

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