Early retirement in Mahahual, Mexico, as monthly renters

ellen waves on mahahual beach

Last Updated on June 3, 2023 by Ellen

I’ve lived in Mahahual one month so far and I must say – I love it here.

My husband and I have sort of settled into a routine, which is what I wanted after traveling around for nearly two months straight, between Belize, Guatemala, Mexico and the U.S.

It’s difficult for me to be consistent with my writing effort and my workout regimes if we are always on the go – in a different hotel or studio apartment every week or two weeks as we visit new sites as tourists. I’ve been reading a lot of blogs by people who travel around often, to see how they still manage to keep up their workouts and/or commitments to other hobbies.

I’m sure I can find a balance once we get going again. But for now, my days are mostly dreamy and they run into each other.

The more time goes by into this early retirement adventure, the more people tell me they are jealous of my lifestyle. I don’t give this detailed account to make anyone feel angry or jealous or frustrated. We chose to live a life that is not driven by consumerism – a life that most Americans cannot fathom. We don’t buy “stuff” and we don’t have cars and we decided long ago we did not want children. Yes, these points save a ton of money, and no, we don’t regret our decisions.

So, this blog entry is really for my family who wonder what life looks like for us these days, and it’s for anyone who really wants to do what we are doing.

We live like poor people – by the imagined standards of the American middle class. In reality, we live quite well. It’s a simple life.

I wake up pretty early and check news and social accounts, have coffee, and go for a jog. Same routine I had in San Diego (only now I’m not checking work email before dawn).

I go the approximate distance of 5K four or five times a week. Sometimes I only do 2.5 miles, sometimes I get it up to four miles. The trick here is for me to run before the sun gets to strong for me – and that means I have to get going by 7:30 a.m. The earlier I go, the more I enjoy it. Sometimes I’ll slow down to snap a picture.

This distance and frequency is nothing short of a major personal accomplishment because of the mosquito-borne virus that had me down and out at the end of last year. Thankfully, the Chikungunya seems to have mostly faded away. Every now and then, my hands feel arthritic when I type or during my attempt at push ups, and, every now and then my knee gets a stabbing kind of pain underneath my knee cap – at my joint. But it never lasts longer than a full day anymore, and the pain isn’t anywhere as severe as what it was in January and February of this year.

I had stopped jogging for awhile, and I’m not as fast or strong as I was last year before I came to Mexico. I missed jogging on physical, mental and spiritual levels, so I’m grateful I can still do it at all.

When I’m done, I usually end at the lighthouse at the end of the malecon. There, I try to do some strengthening exercises, and when I’m done, I am on one knee to give thanks to the Universal Spirit for another fantastic day, which is full of possibilities.

At this point, I’m a sweaty mess and I jump right into the ocean (minus my sneakers, Injinji socks and iPod).

My spouse isn’t a morning person, so he’s not around me the first part of my day.

After my first dip of the day, it’s time for fruit and yogurt or a freshly squeezed juice from the shop around the corner from our one bedroom apartment.

By the way, our apartment is right on the malecon. A malecon is an oceanfront walkway. We don’t have a view of the ocean from inside the unit, but, the view of the Caribbean Sea from rooftop deck takes my breath away every time I go up there – which is several times a day.

With my running clothes hand-washed and drying on the rooftop deck, it’s time to people watch for a bit. On days when there’s no ship, this place is so laid back and chill, it’s hard not to love it. On cruise ship days, by now the malecon is full of activity. Shopkeepers have set up displays of their goods, restaurants have cleaned the beaches and set up tables and chairs.

In the late mornings, we do a little shopping if needed (we always seem to run out of milk, fruit and veggies), chat with some people we know here and there, including locals and also ex-pats and other tourists. Now and then I’ll do a blog entry. We read news. Talk. Plan for the future. We hide from the sun in the shade somewhere until after the noon hour.

By early afternoon, we decide what part of the beach to visit for another refreshing dip. Sometimes it’s a snorkel day, other days we just lay around in the shade or sit on the little islands revealed by low tide.

Sometimes we pack a snack, usually veggies and nuts and breads – whatever – things to graze on throughout the day. Other days we sit at a beach restaurant all day and order snacks.

On the days I write, my spouse sets up a table and chair for me on the roof in the shade by mid-afternoon. I’ve spent several hours up there writing fast and hard and constant like the wind off the ocean. Sometimes I go until it gets dark.

Last week, I got stuck on something and so I took a little break to get around the hump. Then we took a side trip to Tulum this week, so I’ll start back up with the writing in the next day or two.

Dinner either is at a local place on the cheap, or something we make in our apartment. Once in awhile, we’ll have dinner with new people we meet. If we’re lucky, these meetings might develop into friendships.

Some sunsets we watch over the jungle from the rooftop deck.

Lately, evenings are spent watching hockey, surfing the internet, reading and talking. Sometimes a blog entry is worked into this time frame – like right now, as I write this one.

Oh, and I have milk and cookies nearly every evening.

This is a fairly accurate picture of one of my typical days. Of course there are variations – trips to Chetumal, bike rides around town, snorkeling south of town, a frozen banana instead of cookies in the evening, etc. But this gives you an idea of our quiet, peaceful life in Mahahual.

One of the greatest things about our time here together is the location of this apartment. I’ll bet that in a few years, this will be out of our financial capability. The demand for this area seems to be increasing already, despite its relative remote location. It takes four to five hours by car or bus from Cancun, and two to three by car or bus from Chetumal, which is not an airport most Americans use because it doesn’t have international flights. After all, Tulum is only 90 minutes to two hours south of Cancun by car or bus, and that used to be relatively remote for most Americans.

In Mahahual, there are some ocean view condos nearly done with construction, and ready for sale. There are a few construction projects just staring by the malecon. There also are other new construction projects ready to start in another part of town a couple of miles from the malecon in a neighborhood locally known as the “Casitas.”

Before it’s out of our reach, we’ll enjoy it now – one day at a time, renting what we can afford, until it’s time to move onto a new place.

We are blessed to be doing nothing! Do you want this lifestyle?

4 thoughts on “Early retirement in Mahahual, Mexico, as monthly renters”

  1. Vlada Povshednaya

    Hello, Ellie.
    Thanks a lot for your blog. I really enjoy reading it, and I support the lifestyle you guys have chosen. It is truly amazing!
    My boyfriend and I trying to do kinda the same way of living *you might call us digital nomads;)*.
    We’re currently in Mahahual!) We got a place for a week on AirBnb, but after the first day, we fell so deeply in love with it that we’ve decided to look into monthly rentals.
    Do you have any recommendations of how to find a place for longer terms? What website or service do you guys use to find apartments?
    Any advice would be highly appreciated!
    Thanks a lot;)

    1. Hello Vlada – thanks for your kind words!
      We also started in Mahahual with Airbnb, and then asked around town about a longer-term rental. That’s how we found it – literally went asking people who worked along the malecon. Sometimes apartments are tucked behind a business, as our was with the bakery.

      If you are only staying a month, Airbnb usually has great discounts from some owners who like monthly tenants – so that might be another option.

      You should know that since we were there more than a year ago, the particular rental we had now costs a lot more. When we go back (and we eventually will) it’s likely we will simply try in the casitas neighborhood. It’s a little far from the malecon / ocean, but it’s quick with a bike or car (not sure of your situation).

      Also, in the casitas area, there is a real estate agent. Sometimes in Mexico, agents can also work with rentals, so perhaps try that route as well. I believe the office was on the main road through the casitas on the way to the cruise ship dock.

      I’m glad you love Mahahual – I do, too! And, I think it’s only a matter of time before more people start going… just like Tulum.

      Good luck!

  2. Love reading about your adventures! You are such an inspiration to me. Working my plan to make my way to Mahahual. Until then keep writing 🙂 and I will keep dreaming!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top