If you yearn for warm weather in the winter, culture, diversity, and a cosmopolitan lifestyle, you might want to retire in Merida, Mexico. Located on the north coast of the Yucatan peninsula, inland and west of Cancun, Merida is a university town of just under a million people. The Spanish landed here in 1542 and used some of the ancient carved stone from the Maya to build up the city. This is not a quaint little village. Merida is a large city with many elaborate Colonial homes, cathedrals, office buildings and banks. It is the cultural and financial capital of the Yucatan and capital of the state.
As we said, this is a University town with several major places of learning and is considered the most educated population in Mexico. The strong Mayan influence is evident in the architecture. The historic city center has a treed plaza and is the centerpiece of Merida with museums, hotels, parks and festivals. The 200+ year old buildings include the San Ildefonso Cathedral built in 1561. The Paseo De Montejo is a beautiful example of Colonial grandeur and is the most fashionable district. Many of the old mansions have been converted to restaurants, hotels, shops and museums.
As we said, the weather is hot! The average high in January is 87 F and climbs to 97 F in May. (But Phoenix AZ is much hotter!) The area gets about 40 inches of rain a year. You can rent a home in the Santiago Plaza area for $750 U.S. a month, completely furnished, sleeps 4, with a plunge pool, terraces, and a new kitchen. A one bedroom apartment in the city center runs about $300 a month. We found a 2 bedroom, 2 bath modern home with a pool on the north side of town (gated community) for sale at $175,000. A 1500 square foot condo in the fashionable part of town is just under $100,000. Internet is widely available.
The crime rate in Merida is very low. Over 95% of the residents (on a 2014 survey) felt safe walking alone during daylight and 81% at night. Every type of crime is rated low.
This is a big city and is reputed to have the best medical care in Mexico.
One of the best experiences in the Yucatan are the Vaquerias festivals with music and dance unique to the region. A traditional feast is served with Mayan and Spanish dishes and is held in honor of the patron saint of the town (or village, or hacienda). Fiestas last for several days and includes centuries old traditions, costumes, fireworks and maybe even a bullfight. Food includes traditional regional dishes made with corn, chocolate, wild turkey, squash, chiles and tomatoes. Many of these dishes are not available in other parts of Mexico.
The Merida people are friendly. The culture, architecture, Mayan ruins, festivals, and food are amazing. We think this Merida definitely rates high as a place to retire in Mexico. Close to home, all the modern conveniences we are used to, a beautiful interesting city with many attractions and things to do. And a really fun thing to do is drive up to the coast and see the flamingo reserve! Millions of pink birds! Stay for the seafood!
What a great place to retire, if only for the winter!