Raising family in Cozumel : A Wonderful Community for Families
Have you ever gone on a family vacation somewhere beautiful and thought, “I wish we could live here…” Many families are making that wish a reality in Cozumel.
Cozumel is a little piece of paradise nestled in the Caribbean Sea, 12 miles off the coast of Playa del Carmen. It’s an island with a population of around 100,000 people that stretches about 34 miles long and 11 miles wide. Many have found it to be the perfect place to raise their families because it’s postcard beautiful, safe, slow pace, and has a diverse and vibrant community of people from all around the world.
Could your family be the next ones to make the move? Here’s what makes Cozumel a great family destination.
About the Island
For starters, the island is surrounded by beautiful turquoise waters which hold a coral reef belonging to the second largest in the world. Half of the island (the west side) is developed while the other side (the east side) is left wild and mostly untouched. The shores along the west side are mostly rocky, although you will find a few sandy beaches, mostly in the south west beach clubs.
The east side is a mix of sandy beaches and rocky coastline. You’ll come across a restaurant or beach club every couple kilometers as you drive along the oceanfront road. The Northeast side is closed off to traffic, although you can venture in with a 4WD vehicle. And, all around the island you will frequently encounter iguanas along with occasional coatis, raccoons, pigs, and many kinds of birds.
Every year you also can see the sea turtles hatch on the east side of the island!
Next, what can you do with your leisure time? The hardest part is deciding where to start. Whether you want to take up a hobby or lessons, there’s plenty of options. For example, a local, Nacho Gutierrez, has been surfing for several decades and is passionate about the sport. He and his wife Katie run Cozumel Surfing where they offer lessons, board rentals, and run a clinic for local kids every Saturday.
This is just an example. Children and adults alike will find many things to get involved in such as scuba diving, snorkeling, spearfishing, swimming, paddle boarding, music, art, cycling, karate, soccer, dance, gymnastics, aerial silks, Triathlons and more.
The island is truly like a playground. Not only can your family develop new skills, but you can also make friends in the community through shared interests.
A Safe, Family-Oriented Community
What are the people like here? Cozumel has a small town dynamic where people look out for each other. Part of that is rooted in the Mexican culture, where family comes first. Sundays and holidays you will see large groups spending time together throughout town, in the parks, and on the beaches.
On a day-to-day basis, you’ll find a slower pace of life where people have time to share a smile and a chat in the street. It’s small enough where you will often see someone you know when out running an errand. There are also community events throughout the year like Carnaval and IronMan, where the streets are filled with people all celebrating and having fun together.
The community is truly a melting pot with each culture bringing something great, new, and vibrant.
Making an Income
How do people make money here? There are a few common scenarios.
First, some people start businesses. There is the local community with many needs you can serve. Further, Cozumel is home to the fourth-largest port in the world, welcoming 3.5+ million annual cruise ship passengers so you can cater to tourists as well. As long as you adapt to the culture and go into it with the mindset willing to work with the system, you can become very successful.
Next, you can run a seasonal business back home. Some families come for the majority of the year and enjoy their time work-free, and then go back for a few months to make their income.
Third, you can get a work visa and work here. There are lucrative opportunities in property management, tours, etc.
Another option is to work online. Some families have businesses where they provide online marketing, design, programming, teaching, etc., and others have remote jobs for companies in the U.S., Canada or even as far as Europe.
As you can see, there are many ways to support an island life.
Access to Things You Need
What about necessities?
The main town on the island of Cozumel is called San Miguel. This is where the majority of the population lives, works, and shops. You can find pretty much everything you need from grocery stores (Chedraui, Soriana, Mega, Super Aki, Sams’ Club, and Aurora Bodega) to mechanics, florists, and seamstresses.
If you can’t find something you need or want, Playa del Carmen is a 40-minute ferry ride away and has a large variation of stores. Besides that, the infrastructure is decent enough, providing reliable water, gas, electricity, and internet service.
Let’s Talk Food!
Like to enjoy a bite out to eat? You are in for a treat. The island is full of great places that will suit any taste preference. Many expats have settled here and opened restaurants to share flavors from their homelands. Food styles include Indian, Greek, Venezuelan, Italian, Argentinian, Chinese, Japanese, and the list goes on.
Then, of course, there’s plenty of delicious Mexican food. The place you choose just depends on whether you want casual or fine dining, a beach view or the in-town feel, music and fun or a quiet little nook.
If you’re a foodie, you won’t be disappointed.
With children, parents are probably wondering, “What about education?” There are private and public schools, and some parents choose to homeschool. Three of the most popular options for expats are:
Instituto Gardner (Kindergarten to High School) (Bilingual: English and Spanish)
Colegio Julia Ambros (Kindergarten to 6th grade) (Montessori) (Spanish)
Instituto Cumbres (Kindergarten to High School) (Catholic) (Spanish)
These schools often have students from Mexico as well as from countries around the world so children will get exposed to different cultures.
How about healthcare? Can you get checkups for the kids, dental exams, access to optometrists, orthodontists, medications, and emergency care? Yes, healthcare in Cozumel is available, high-quality, and affordable. There are many doctor and dentist offices around town where you can walk-in or call and schedule an appointment. In fact, some people travel here just for the medical care!
If you or your child is sick, it will cost in the ballpark of 400 pesos (about 21 USD) to see the doctor. If you need medication, he or she will write you a prescription and you can usually go next door to the pharmacy to pick it up. Need braces or glasses? Don’t worry, those services are available, too.
While foreign insurance will not always work here, care is very affordable in most cases. Further, you may also be able to get insurance through the Instituto Medicina de Seguro Social (IMSS) or Mexican Social Security if you are a legal resident. Of course a there is also private medical insurance. It covers routine care, medicines, tests, and surgery for a low annual fee. Below, you will find a list of dentists and hospitals on the island for your reference.
picture courtesy of pediatrican at CMC CostaMed
Cost of Living
It is affordable to live in Cozumel when comparing it to the U.S. and Canada. See estimations here. You could rent a local style apartment in the ballpark of $300 per month, a high-end luxury condo for $2,500 per month, or something in between.
Note that costs do fluctuate with the tourist season so you can find better deals in the off-season from May to October.
Further, the costs to buy are affordable. (of course, I can help you find a great deal!)
An Overall Wonderful Place to Raise a Family
Cozumel is a really great place to live because there is enough going on to support life with a family, but not too much to lose sight of what’s important.
You’re never far from a breathtaking view or the calming sounds of the ocean.
You can spend your mornings handling business (like work and school) and your afternoons swinging in a hammock or going for a swim. Every evening you can unwind and watch the sunset. Even take off on a boat to El Cielo for the afternoon to swim with starfish in the clearest, most beautiful water you’ve ever seen.
Cozumel is a beautiful and wonderful place, and my love for it only grows with time. I am thankful to share this beautiful island and all its treasures with my son as he grows. For those of you looking for a place to make the most out of life as you raise your children, I encourage you to come check out all Cozumel has to offer.
For those already here, be sure to share your favorite things about Cozumel life below!
pictures courtesy of MiknDrik Photography and proud parents!