Sunday, October 9, 2011
Yucatán still popular with Canadians, rather less so with U.S. citizens
The Yucatán has long been popular with Canadians. I’m told they “discovered” it before people from the United States did so. About 20 miles north of downtown Mérida, right on the Gulf, is the pleasant town of Progreso. There’s not much there, but of course it has a beach, boardwalk and ocean views, and it’s only a half hour drive from Mérida. Cruise ships from all over the world call at its large and modern port. Progreso is filled with restaurants offering decent fresh seafood at very reasonable prices. It’s a nice place to visit from time to time to decompress, enjoy the sunshine and most importantly, to knock back a few Sols or Dos XXs while reflecting on the meaning of life.
Canadians and U.S. citizens (from now on I’ll refer to the latter as “Americans,” but yes, I do understand that Canadians and Mexicans are likewise Americans, so you need not remind me) have bought a lot of real estate in Mérida and Progreso over the past couple of decades. Many (although not all) are retirees. Some live here full time, while others are snowbirds with dual residences. One of Mérida’s main newspapers, El Diario de la Yucatán, reported last week (October 6) that the area is still drawing Canadians, but fewer Americans, which is of considerable concern to the local real estate industry. Americans, said the Diario, are troubled by their own country’s economic uncertainties, and by spectacular accounts of the almost daily narcoviolence in Mexico. Why the latter factor apparently hasn’t deterred Canadians, the newspaper offered no opinion.
The Diario article also had an interesting (and very funny, although I’m sure it was not intended to be) statement, which I’ll quote in both languages: “Hay que tomar en cuenta que los retirados de Canada no gastan en la misma proporcion que sus homologos estadounidenses” – “It must be take into consideration that retired Canadians don’t spend like their fellow (visitors) from the United States.” It looks to me like the Diario was suggesting Canadians are a bit on the miserly side.
In future postings, but not today, I’m going to address two topics. First, why is the Yucatán so safe compared to the rest of Mexico? The horrible events which occur regularly in other parts of the country – including in neighboring Quintana Roo state (Cancun, Playa del Carmen), only a few hours east of here – have so far spared the Yucatán. Politicians and local law enforcement naturally want to take full credit, but in my opinion our local immunity to serious crime (my fingers are crossed) has much more to do with the peninsula’s natural geography than with any other factor. More on that in a subsequent post.
The second topic is real estate – especially of the residential variety. I’m probably going to ruffle a few feathers by saying this, but a lot of housing in the Yucatán is not the great value that many local sharpshooters would have you believe. In fact, much property in Mérida is ridiculously overpriced. It wasn’t so 20 years ago, maybe even a decade ago, but the market has been dramatically manipulated by all kinds of players determined to transfer a dollar (Canadian or American) from your pocket to theirs. Some of those responsible for this very calculated inflationary pressure are Mexican, but I believe the majority are expats themselves who are doing their very best to capitalize on business opportunities in their new (or second) country. One thing is sure: if you’re thinking of moving here, be prepared to stay for a very long time if home ownership is on your agenda. It’s as (or more) difficult to sell a ready-to-occupy home in Mérida as it is in the United States. There is a ton of property for sale everywhere, and most of it sits for a very long time, at all price levels. I’ll address these issues in greater detail in future posts.
at 12:18 PM