Our Favorite Place to Retire Early Cheap in Riviera Maya

In this report, we discuss Our Favorite Place to Retire Early Cheap in Riviera Maya.

During the last 3 years, we have spent more than 14 months exploring the Riviera Maya. And today, we would like to discuss what would be Our Favorite Place to Retire Early Cheap in Riviera Maya if we were to plant roots here today.

So what is the Rivera Maya?

The Riviera Maya is a name affectionately given for the coast of Mexico, full of white sand beaches, that stick out into the Caribbean Sea. Google Map


Which Places Did We Write Retire Cheap Reports About?

Today, we will rank our favorites place to retire early cheap in Riviera Maya. We will start with our least favorite and count down to Our Favorite Place to Retire Early Cheap in Riviera Maya, Mexico.  All of the places we visited personally and discuss in this report are circled on the below map of the Riviera Maya: Google Map

Our Favorite Place to Retire Early Cheap in Riviera Maya

Here is our favorite place to retire early in Riviera Maya Mexico. Here are our eight favorite places to retire in Riviera Maya starting with our least favorite and ending with our favorite place to retire in Riviera Maya.

Eighth. Cancun: Cancun is my least favorite place to retire early cheap in Riviera Maya. It is too crazy, too expensive, and too touristy, and too big. So I didn’t even write a retire cheap report about Cancun. There are just too many people to really relax ad enjoy the beautiful beaches.

Seventh. Chetumal: Chetumal is the capital of the state of Quintana Roo, Mexico. So it has plenty of resources that you would expect to see in a state capital, like malls, nice homes, schools, and public works. Chetumal is the last town in Mexico going south before you get to Belize. The Chetumal has a waterfront Malecon that faces Chetumal Bay but there are no beaches in the city. So it is missing some of the charms that other beaches cities in the Riviera Maya have. That is why I have it ranked seventh of my favorite cities in Riviera Maya.

Sixth. Playa Del Carmen: Playa is my sixth favorite city in the Riviera Maya now. On the one hand, it has all of the daily conveniences you would like to have in retirement. Restaurant and shopping choices. Live music, white sand beaches, scuba, snorkeling, ferry to Cozumel, and foods of the world in restaurants and stores. But Playa has sunk to my sixth favorite city in Riviera Maya now. The beaches are too crowded, the restaurants are too expensive, and the city keeps issuing building permits that seem to outpace the infrastructure. There are even reports from time to time of sewage smells along the beaches. Hopefully, the city management will begin to take growth management more seriously in the future. Playa is still more charming than Cancun, but if beach erosion continues and the environment is not properly managed, and prices continue to skyrocket, Playa will continue to decline in desirability.

Fifth. Bacalar: We visited Bacalar for the first time this year. It is a small village situated on a blue lagoon in the most southern part of Riviera Maya of Mexico. For a town of this small size, you will be surprised how great the food is in the restaurants. There is a beautiful castle here built by the Spanish to protect the town from Pirates that sailed up the river from the Caribbean Sea. The lagoon is surrounded by beautiful hotels and restaurants and the watercolor is light blue. So it is a beautiful peaceful place to come relax and visit for a week or so. But I have rated it the fifth-best place to live in Riviera Maya because there just isn’t much to do here once you have kayaked around the lagoon a few times and sampled the amazing restaurants in town.

Fourth. Isla Mujeres: Just a short ferry ride from the large city of Cancun is a small island called Isla Mujeres. I would look for a small apartment south of where the ferry drops you in the areas between Salina Grande and La Gloria. As usual, I would head there in the low season and look for a year-round lease. I would shop and cook mostly at home but eat in many of the more locals restaurants a few times per week and visit the white sand beaches with a cooler full of cold drinks and snacks so I wouldn’t have to pay the tourist restaurant prices. I would ride everywhere on my bicycle.

Third. Tulum: When most people think of Tulum, they think of the beachside hotels, restaurants, designer shops, bars, and beach clubs. While those are fun to visit once a week or so, I would not try to live in that area of Tulum. I would live 2 kilometers back from the beach in the village of Tulum. I would look for a small ‘local-style’ apartment on the west side of the village in the off-season and try to get a one-year lease. There are plenty of restaurants in the local areas where you don’t see as many tourists. Plus I love to cook. With that understanding about how to attack Tulum as an early retiree, I would just ride my bike 2 kilometers to the beach whenever the mood struck. That way of living in Tulum would rank as my third favorite place to live in Riviera Maya.

Second. Cozumel: Cozumel would be my second favorite place to retire early in Riviera Maya. In my retire-cheap report for Cozumel, I show you the part of the island where I would stay. There are great neighborhoods in Cozumel that have almost no foreign influence. Plus, there are great restaurants that are serving locals almost exclusively so the tourism has not affected some parts of Cozumel. Plus, the east side of the island has almost no development so the white sand beaches are likely to remain pristine. Whereas other parts of Riviera Maya where development is frantic have watched their beaches and coral reefs degrade substantially. Since Cozumel is an island and the undeveloped east sides are the hurricane facing side of the island, the lower level of development is likely to remain stable

First. Puerto Morelos: Puerto Morales would be my first choice of places to retire early for cheap in Riviera Maya. The city has been developed in two distinct sections. Puerto Morelos has a beachside and a Colonia side. Between the two is a large protected wetlands area that is about 2 kilometers wide. Since nothing can be built in the wetlands Puerto Morelos has not seen the continuous streets of development seen in Playa Del Carmen. Plus, there is a tendency for the locals to live on the Colonia side and the tourists to live on the beachside. So there are really two different economies that have developed, the beach is expensive and the local’s area is not. Plus, you are only a 10-minute bicycle ride from the beach if you live in the Colonia area. So the beach is nearby when you want but you don’t have to live with the tourists and the high prices. Since this is the best of both worlds, living in the real Mexico with white sand beaches just a short bike ride away, Puerto Morelos is my first choice to retire early for cheap in Riviera Maya.  Qiang Hui also ranked Puerto Morelos as her number 1.  

Here is Qiang Hui of Hoboventures.com’s Ranking

Eighth. Cancun (We don’t even go here.)  

Seventh. Playa Del Carmen

Sixth. Isla Mujeres

Fifth. Chetumal

Fourth. Tulum

Third. Cozumel

Second. Bacalar

First. Puerto Morelos

Conclusion. These are just my top ranking for the best places to retire in the Riviera Maya. They do not include any of the other twenty places we would love to retire early in Mexico. For a full understanding of my favorite places to retire early for cheap in Mexico and around the world, come check out my more than fifty retire-cheap reports all over the world at VagabondBuddha.com.

Thanks for checking out Our Favorite Place to Retire Early Cheap in Riviera Maya. While you are here make sure to grab a free copy of my eBook: How I Fired My Boss and Traveled the World for 14 Years.

This is Dan of Vagabond Awake, the YouTube channel for VagabondBuddha.com. The world is your home, what time will you be home for dinner?