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A beautiful summer sunset over the mangrove in Puerto Morelos. The Sound of Ahhh.... Summer in Puerto Morelos

Sunset in Puerto Morelos

Summer in Puerto Morelos is best expressed by a sound, not a word. That sound is “Ahhhh….” Summers here are easygoing, carefree times. The days are balmy, sunny and warm with just the hint of a light breeze. The nights are calm, star filled and quiet with wonderful sunsets. The town is tranquilo and the margaritas are cold.

Hammock time, is time well spent. The Sound of Ahhh.... Summer in Puerto Morelos

Hammock time…

Hammock time, is time well spent. People move just a little slower as they walk down the streets. You smile and say “Buen Día” to everyone you meet.  And everyone you meet, is someone you know.  The tourists have left for the season and Puerto Morelos has reclaimed it’s laid-back charm.

Puerto Morelos, Mexico Malecon As seen from the dock.

Puerto Morelos, Mexico Malecon

The white, silky sand of the beach offers a great place for you to get away from it all. Grab a lounger at the local beach bar while you order a cerveza and turn off your cellphone. It’s a refreshing way to get away from the noise and pressure of northern life. There are plenty of fresh fish to eat and there are no line ups at the local resturants, no reservations required. The owners even have time to stop and share a drink. This time of year lasts from May to the middle of December, so don’t worry…you haven’t missed it. Now is the time to sneak away. There is still time to pop down for a visit so you can unwind and relax.

The Sound of Ahhh…. Summer in Puerto Morelos Video to Relax You
A pelican in Puerto Morelos, just hanging out.

Pelican in Puerto Morelos

So, until you can get here, take a minute out of your busy day and enjoy this video that will make you go “ahhh…” and relax you through to your core. It is amazing how different it is in Puerto Morelos in the summer. It will remind you of why we fell in love with this town and Mexico in the first place. Try an off season visit sometime. You just might like it.

 
Yucatan Jay in Puerto Morelos

Yucatan Jay in Puerto Morelos

Until the other day I had never seen a Yucatan Jay before. Now maybe I’m just not very observant, but I usually do notice birds. I have lived in Puerto Morelos since 2002. During these 15 years I have seen thousands of Common Grackles, lots of bright yellow and orange Orioles, a few bright green Parrots and even one very lost Keel-Billed Toucan after Hurricane Wilma. So it was quite a delight to see this young fellow hanging out in the Tejones Park.

You can tell that he is young male, probably about two years old, from his bright yellow bill. It will slowly turn black as he gets older. Younger Yucatan Jays usually have a yellow ring around their eye as well, which turns black as they get older, so this little guy is getting on in years.

Yucatan Jays are part of the crow family. They are native to the Yucatan Peninsula. Their diet consists of seeds, fruits and bugs. They particularly like to dine on ants, which is always a good thing. It was great to have a visit from this feathery friend.

Want to come visit us in Puerto Morelos? You can stay in one of our vacation rentals.

 

 

  

After 15 years we have decided to start a new chapter!

Alma Libre Books and Gifts has been sold. The new owners will take over on April 1, 2017.

We will continue to live in Puerto Morelos and I may have time to update this blog…we will just be living a lifestyle a little more like our customers!

The last 15 years have been great. We have met thousands of people from all over the world and have helped many discover our little town. We grew along with Puerto Morelos, and survived challenges like Hurricane Wilma.

As we head into our final Alma Libre month, we would like to sincerely thank you for your ongoing support and friendship over the past 15 years.

We feel the bookstore is an important part of Puerto Morelos, and we know that we are leaving it in very good hands. The new owners are from Canada and own a bookstore! They love Puerto Morelos and are making it their home.

Here is a link to the press release if you would like more details: Sold Final And if you would like to continue to receive information about the town be sure to follow us at InPuertoMorelos.

In 2002, not long after we bought the shop

The store after Wilma in 2005. The store came through pretty well, we were amazed to see the sign made it through just fine, and not a single pane of glass was broken. The store did have a fair amount of water damage inside, we lost about 1000 books.

Shelving…so much shelving. We have done a lot of it over the last 15 years. After a while, you start to forget the order of letters in the alphabet!

Cat in the shelves

Joanne in front of Alma Libre the day we bought it in 2002. That suitcase is full of books!

 
Beachfront condo for sale at $1,200,000.00 USD.

Beachfront condo for sale at $1,200,000.00 USD.

Location, location, location. The closer you get to the Caribbean and to the centre of town, the higher the price tag. As part of our continuing series, “What It Costs to Live in Mexico” we talked about the cost of real estate on the colonia side of Puerto Morelos. This time we will explore beach house prices.

Prices on the port side of the town, near the beach, generally start at over $200,000 USD. Due to the fluctuating Mexican Peso, prices are regularly quoted in US dollars. When we bought our home, the price was quoted in USD, but when the deal was signed the price was converted to Mexican pesos at the current exchange rate.

Here are a few examples of what you can expect to pay on the port side of Puerto Morelos. These prices would be similar for Playa del Carmen, Akumal and Puerto Aventuras.

Condos

Two bedroom condo off the beach.

Two bedroom condo off the beach.

The best deal in town right now is a 2 bedroom/2 bath, 123 m2 (1323 sq. feet), fully furnished condo with a common pool. This property is 1 block from the beach and about 4 blocks to the town square. The asking price is $210,000 USD. Because this is a condo, there are monthly fees.

Beachfront condo.

Beachfront condo.

The price jumps quite a bit when you go to a beachfront condo in the central part of town. There are cheaper ones, but they are much further from town square or on a less attractive part of the beach (near the port). This luxury condo is a slightly larger, more upscale 2 bedroom/2 bath condo at 150 m2 (1657 sq. feet), with a shared pool, monthly condo fees apply. The asking price is $579,000 USD.

Condo with a beach view.

Condo with a beach view.

A way to combat the price of the beachfront condo is to go with one that has an ocean view, like this  2 bedroom/2 bath, 149 m2 (1598 sq. feet) that is fully furnished, with a pool, steps from the ocean. It is listed at $349,000 USD plus monthly condo fees.

As you can see there is a big price difference depending on how close you are to the water.

Single Family Homes

Single family home on the port side.

Single family home on the port side.

Unlike some communities down the coast, there are several single family homes in Puerto Morelos. Again, location is the key factor in buying a house. People generally want to be close to or on the beach, plus close to the square. Single family homes off the beach usually starts at around $400,000 USD. A full lot (there are half lots in town) are about 11 m x 22 m. To give you an idea of houses on the market, this home is 4 bedrooms/5+ bath, 24.86 m2 (2677 sq. feet) with a pool. It’s asking price is $520,000 USD.

Beach front villa

On the beach, but out of town.

Currently there are no single family homes for sale, on the beach, in the most popular part of town. To give you an idea of what a home on the beach would cost, here is a home that is located in the north part of Puerto Morelos. This would require you to have a bike or car to get to restaurants and shops. It is a 5 bedroom/7 bath (I am not sure there are any small homes on the beach 🙂 ) 325 m2 (3500 sq. ft) on a large lot (900 m2) with a pool. The asking price is $949,000 USD. This is on the low end of the price scale for single family beach front homes.

Between rental apartments, homes in the colonia and the homes on the port, there is something for every budget. To learn more about the nuts and bolts of buying a home in Mexico, we suggest you take Mayan Riviera Properties weekly “Ask A Realtor” workshop. It is free and offered every Wednesday at 5 p.m. during high season. If you are not in town, you can take their online tutorial. It will answer many of your questions about buying real estate, living, working and retiring in Mexico.

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Did you miss our other posts on  “What It Costs to Live in Mexico” the price of groceries or liquor? Don’t miss a blog post again, subscribe today via email in the upper right hand corner of this page.

 
Houses

Traditional Mayan housing vs a beach mansion.

There are many different ways to live in Mexico, with homes to meet every budget. Above is an example of the extremes. In the Yucatan Peninsula many Mayan families live in traditional stick houses with palapa or tar paper roofs. While on the beach, you can find mega mansions.

We often get asked in the bookstore how much it costs to buy a house in Puerto Morelos. This is a bit of a loaded question. In our town you can buy an apartment for as little as $329,000 pesos (about $18,135 USD) or a beachfront villas in the millions of dollars. These prices are similar in other towns along the coast of Quintana Roo, such as Playa del Carmen, Puerto Adventures and Akumal. Here is an idea of what your money will get you.

Villas Morelos Dos

The owners have added their own touch of colour to these homes in Villas Morelos Dos.

The first thing you should know about our town, is that it is divided into two areas, the port side and the colonia. The port side is next to the ocean, we are then divided by 2.5 kms of protected mangrove and the main highway. To give you a better idea take a look at our map. The closer you are to the beach, the more expensive the homes.

Typical low cost Mexican kitchen

Appliances, tile, shelves and paint added by the owners.

Housing Prices in the Colonia

When you are buying “new construction”, you are basically buying a cement box. That means that there is no tile on the floors, no paint on the walls, no appliances, no kitchen cupboards, no window coverings, no light fixtures, etc. It is just a cement box with a toilet, plus utility sinks in the kitchen and bathroom. It is up to you to finish it the way you like. The cost of this is up to you and in addition to the prices listed.

Villas Morelos Dos Vet

This home has been turned into a business.

When you buy into an existing community, people have adapted their houses to meet their needs. This often means that a home is not just a house for a family to live in, but also a business. So you may have a great little taco stand or a convenience store or in this case, a vet, just a few doors down.

Villas la Playa apartments

New apartments, waiting to be purchased in Villas la Playa.

The least expensive places available are in Villas la Playa, about 3 to 4km from the beach. They are 2 bedroom/1 bath apartments, 57m2 (meters squared) with a brochure price of $329,000 pesos (about $18,135 USD). Not sure why, but the web price is higher at $25,000USD.  Please note the pictures on the website are of finished apartments, which would be an additional cost.

Villas la Playa: Coral Plus

Newly completed townhouses in Villas la Playa.

Next up is townhouse style homes in Villas la Playa called Coral Plus. The smallest and cheapest are advertised beginning at $390,000 pesos ( $21,500usd) and are new construction, 2 bedroom/1bath, 51m2. These two developments have an added bonus of having their own beach club on the main beach in Puerto Morelos.

Villas Morelos 1

Living room in Villas Morelos painted and tiled by the owner.

Villas Morelos and Villas Morelos Dos are older more established neighborhoods, so most of the homes have been lived in before. The advantage (or disadvantage) of this is that they are no longer new construction, so the floors are tiled, the kitchen completed and the walls painted.

Villas Morelos 1 dining room

Eating area in Villas Morelos home.

Some people have even added second levels to these houses or bought two side by side and combined them into one larger home.

Villas Morelos 1 backyard with pool

Villas Morelos backyard with pool.

Some people have even put in pools. The price of these homes starts at about $750,000 pesos ($41,000USD) and go up from there. Most are 2 bedroom/1 bath town homes starting at 74m2.

Palma Real

Two homes in Palma Real.

Palma Real is new construction town homes that are two stories with 4 bedrooms/2 baths, 127m2 beginning at $1,199,000 pesos ($66,000 USD). This community has larger homes and is designed to be a little more upscale.

This is just a sampling of what is available. There are other communities in the colonia, as well as new developments along the highway, like Residencial Regatta or Puntavista, plus homes the Pescadores (fisherman’s village), but this will give you a good idea of some of the less expensive options for living in Mexico.

In Part Two of “Housing Prices in Mexico” will we explore what it costs to live closer to the beach.

 

 
Sol in the afternoon

Nothing like an afternoon filled with Sol.

What It Costs to Live in Mexico

Last week we explored what it costs to eat in Mexico with our grocery price comparison. Now here’s what you really want to know, what does it cost to drink in Mexico? No shock, booze is cheap!

Don Julio

Don Julio White has one of the larges cost spreads.

This is an very informal survey and not necessarily the cheapest prices (which can usually be found at Costco in Mexico). We chose the most common beverages, not the necessarily the ones we drink. For Rob’s favourite beers you can click here. We compared costs in Texas, using HEB and Specs, in Alberta, using Liquor Depot, and here in Puerto Morelos, we used our local Super Aki and Chedraui. Our research was done on February 8/9, 2016 using regular pricing, not sale prices. We used this currency converter.

Beer Comparison

Price comparison of 3 similar beers in their country of origin.

Beer Origin USA Canada Mexico
Budweiser USA $12.28 $17.07 $228.00
Molson Canadian Canada $20.43 $28.41 $378.00
Dos Equis Lager Mexico $4.86 $6.75 $90.00

To give you a quick start comparison, we will use an average case of beer (that’s 12 beer for everyone in the world, except our friends in Ontario who think a case is 24), brewed in its home country, served in bottles, with tax and no deposit. We found that if you were from the USA you would be saving over $7 USD for every 12 beer you drink. And if you were from Canada, you would be saving over $10 CDN a case.

Liquor Price Comparison

Alcohol

Size

USA

Canada

Mexico

Beer

 

 

 

 

Corona Extra

6pk bottles

$8.95

$16.99

$74.00

Bud Light Beer

6pk cans

$6.85

$17.85

$79.00

Dos Equis Amber Beer

6pk bottles

$8.95

$17.49

$90.00

Liquor

 

 

 

 

Bacardi Anejo Rum

750mL

$16.73

$33.99

$112.00

Smirnoff Classic No. 21 Vodka

750mL

$14.41

$24.99

$130.00

Jose Cuervo Especial Gold Tequila

750mL

$18.09

$25.29

$98.00

Don Julio Blanco Tequila

750mL

$46.31

$71.99

$299.00

Jack Daniel’s Black Label Old No. 7

750mL

$22.52

$32.95

$309.00

Chivas Regal 12 Year Old Scotch

750mL

$42.99

$59.99

$509.00

Johnnie Walker Red Label

750mL

$24.83

$30.99

$273.00

Johnnie Walker Black Label

750mL

$36.20

$47.99

$569.00

Baileys Original Irish Cream

750mL

$23.46

$26.95

$225.00

Kahlua Coffee Liquor

1 Litre

$30.73

$36.44

$134.00

Wine

 

 

 

 

Concha y Toro Reservado Merlot (Chile)

750mL

$16.98

$23.99

$75.00

Barefoot Pinot Noir (USA)

750mL

$4.97

$9.99

$83.00

Frontera Chardonnay (Chile)

750mL

$3.99

$12.29

$123.00

Las Moras Reserva Malbec 2014 (Argentina)

750mL

$7.35

$16.49

$175.00


 

Total

 

$334.31

$506.66

$3,357.00

Taxes (no deposit) 

 

8.25%

5.00%

included

Total with Tax

 

$361.89

$531.99

$3,357.00


 

Total in USD

 

$361.89

$382.55

$181.31

Total in Canadian Dollars

 

$503.16

$531.99

$251.84

Total in Pesos

 

$6,703.00

$7,086.00

$3,357.00

The individual prices do not include tax or deposit in the USA and Canada. We have added the tax at the end. In Mexico all taxes are included in the prices.

Jack Danial's No. 7 Whiskey

We’re not just all about the tequila.

It doesn’t matter if you are spending dollars or pesos, when it comes to booze, Mexico is a bargain. In our area, it works out to be over a 48% savings in Texas and almost a 53% savings in Alberta.

Merlot

Californian and French wines tend to be more expensive. For your best deals in Mexico, stick to Argentinean and Chilean wines.

We found that finding liquors and cervezas that were sold in all three countries was easy, but finding wine that is sold in all places proved to be more of a challenge. The wines we ended up using were not based on our taste, but on the fact that we could find pricing for them in all locations.

Montejo on sale

Two caguamas (1.2L each) and 1 can of beer for 54 pesos ($2.91USD/$4.05CDN) What a deal!

Again this is a very unscientific study, but it will give you a general idea. At these prices, we’ll drink to that.

Salud!

 
Juice and Fruit from Puerto Morelos

We started our day with 1L of fresh squeezed OJ and fruit. Cost 25 pesos ($1.38USD/$1.93 CDN).

What It Costs to Live in Mexico

Welcome to our new series on “What It Costs to Live in Mexico” beginning with a grocery price comparison. In the bookstore and at our rental suites we often get asked about what it is like to live here and what it the costs. Over the next few posts we will try to give you a snapshot of what the cost of living is like here compared to the US and Canada.

Dairy case used for our grocery price comparison.

This is the dairy case in our local Chedraui.

We thought we would begin with a very informal grocery price comparison. We knew food costs were lower here and that the produce is much fresher, but we were really surprised by just how much cheaper groceries are in Mexico vs Canada or the USA. The other surprise was how close prices are in the USA vs. Canada. We always assumed that the pricing in the USA would be much cheaper. We found that when we did our survey, it is only about 7% cheaper in Texas vs. Alberta.

Produce section.

Apples used to be hard to get. Not anymore.

The following compares grocery prices between Calgary, AB Canada, Texas, USA and our own little grocery store here in Puerto Morelos during the month of January, 2016. It is just a snapshot of what prices are like. The comparisons are between similar grocery outlets (not necessarily the cheapest). We used Calgary Co-op, HEB and Chedraui.

Grocery Price Comparison
Item Size Co-op (CDN) HEB (USD) Chedraui (pesos)
Butter, salted 454 g  $  2.99  $  3.88  $  57.80
Milk, Skim 1L  $  2.33  $   2.15  $  15.00
Eggs, large 1 dozen  $  1.99  $   2.47  $  22.00
Bananas 1 kg  $  1.96  $   1.06  $  12.50
Black Beans, canned 540mL/15oz  $  1.79  $   0.72  $  10.55
Tomatoes, canned 796mL/29oz  $  2.09  $   1.38  $  22.00
Lean Ground Beef 1 kg  $  9.90  $   7.41  $  79.90
Pork Tenderloin 1 kg  $  9.90  $   8.73  $  69.90
Chicken Thighs, bone in w/skin 1 kg  $ 12.10  $   2.02  $  43.50
Apples, Fuji 1 kg  $  5.05  $   2.97  $  49.30
White Mushrooms, bulk 1 kg  $  5.49  $   4.33  $  59.95
Avocado each  $  0.99  $   0.48  $    4.50
Green Leaf Lettuce each  $  1.99  $   1.58  $  12.90

Total in Currency of Country    $ 58.57  $ 39.18  $459.80

Total in Canadian Dollars    $ 58.57  $ 54.74  $  35.46
Total in USD    $ 41.90  $ 39.18  $  25.38
Total in Pesos    $759.00  $709.00   $459.80

The data for Calgary Co-op was found here. The data for HEB comes from their website. And the data for Chedraui comes from our local store here in Puerto Morelos. Again this is a very unscientific study, but should give you some food for thought.

Bakery

The bakery is getting a jump on Valentine’s Day. Sweet.

 

Footprints

More bird footprints than human ones

“Nobody on the road, Nobody on the beach…” Don Henley could be talking about Puerto Morelos in the summer.  From May to October our little town is very quiet.  And that is the best things about it. You can have the beach to yourself, sandía and mangos are in season, the whale sharks will soon be here plus accommodations start at as little as $57usd/night for a fully equipped apartment. 

Pelicans

So if you are thinking about a place where you can spend your days lying on a quiet beach, chatting with the locals, getting a great seat at a wonderful restaurant of just lying in a hammock, Puerto Morelos is the place for you right now. And as for your vacation here…

Empty Chairs

“I can see you, Your brown skin shining in the sun.
I see you walking real slow
Smiling at everyone.”

Thanks Don Henley.

 

 

Sunset in Puerto Morelos

Sunset over the mangrove in Puerto Morelos.

The sun has set on our short tourist season here in Puerto Morelos. The beach is quiet, the shops are empty and you don’t need a reservation to get into Al Chimichurri. It is a great time to visit. But with the grass turning green up north, people no longer think about us when they make their vacation plans. So, as our friend Eric says, “Now is the time we rest.”

It is relaxing to walk down the streets of our little beach town, saying “Buenos Dias” to everyone, as you only pass people that you know. The tourists and the snowbirds have left. And with this end to the season comes the closing of Alma Libre Bookstore. (Please note the bookstore is the only business that closes during the low season, the rest of the town is open for you.) Alma Libre will close at the end of April and reopen in mid-November. We will still be here to help with rentals and bookings via email. Puerto Morelos is a wonderful place to visit during the low season when rental prices are cut almost in half and the weather is still lovely.

Puerto Morelos Temperatures

So hurry back! In the meantime, here is a music video that will keep you missing Puerto Morelos. It is by the Spanish group, La Oreja de Van Gogh (The Ear of Van Gogh) and was shot here a couple of years ago. And if you look close, you may recognize a certain little bookstore in the background. Enjoy!

 

Puerto Morelos Beach Easter 2014

Puerto Morelos Beach Easter 2014

We are currently in the calm before the storm and I am not talking about hurricane season. I am talking about Semana Santa (Easter week). Semana Santa or Pascua is possibly the most celebrated holiday in our little Mexican town of Puerto Morelos. With about eight-nine percent of Mexicans being Catholic, Semana Santa is a religious holiday, but even more important to most, it is a family holiday. Schools and businesses are often closed for up to two weeks and many Mexican families take this time to go on holiday. Here in Puerto Morelos, that means the beaches are full of people, but don’t worry, we have enough beach for everyone.

Viernes Santo

The Stations of the Cross in Puerto Morelos

Observances of Easter begin on the Thursday with a mass that mainly focuses on offerings of peace. On the morning of Good Friday, Viernes Santo,  you can often see a recreation of the Via Crucis (the Way of the Cross). Since we moved here, the lot beside our house has been fortunate enough to be one of the stations of the cross. Every Good Friday we get to see the recreation of Christ carrying the cross through the streets of Puerto Morelos. This is followed by a mass. There are masses again on Saturday, to celebrate the Solemn Vigil and on Sunday, to celebrate the Domingo de Gloria.

Easter egg hunt

When we first moved to Mexico thirteen years ago, there was not an Easter egg, bunny or bonnet to be found. Slowly over the years, as with Christmas and Halloween, we are seeing the U.S.A./Canadian style of holiday traditions creep into Mexican culture. Although I have still not seen a chocolate bunny here, you now see chocolate eggs and a few decorations. Here in Puerto Morelos an annual Easter Egg hunt is held in the square for the local kids courtesy of Frank Reams and some of the local ex-pats.

Beach at Easter

But the real joy for Mexicans during Semana Santa is the time they get to spend with their families. And what better place to do that, than at the beach. Families from all over the country flock to Puerto Morelos to enjoy a slice of the Caribbean.

Feliz Semana Santa a todo!