The Working Grillos
Yucatan Living Expat Interview
YL: When did you move to the Yucatan and from where did you move?
E&A: We moved from Seattle, Washington to the Yucatan in the spring of 2016 and began managing Yucatan living shortly thereafter. We had been living on a sailboat in the city for several years before getting married and moving south of the border. We spent the first 6 months in Tulum before heading to Merida and then Cozumel.
YL: Why did you move?
E&A: The pace of life in Seattle and weeks of cloudy weather were motivators. We were ready for a change of latitude in that regard. Another influential factor was Almendra's dual citizenship, which smoothed out a lot of common immigration snafus.
YL: Why did you choose the city you now live in over other places in the world?
E&A: Safety, cost of living and temperament of the people. We currently split our time between Cozumel and Merida. It’s a nice balance between tropical vibes and city convenience.
YL: Did you buy a house right away or rent first? Do you think you made the right decision?
E&A: We've been renting, which works out nicely. It's what we're accustomed to and gives us opportunities to explore.
YL: Are you doing now what you intended to do when you moved here? If not, why not?
E&A: We are doing more than we intended and are quite happy about it. We have always wanted to write, design and work with organizations to develop their communications. Now we can do that through YL and Andérrez Design. Swimming with whale sharks, however, is still on the to-do list.
YL: What are the most interesting things about living here for you?
E&A: The people are incredibly earnest and outgoing, so we're delighted to have such warm and welcoming neighbors. The culture and history are also fascinating, especially if you love pirates and adventure.
YL: What do you absolutely love about living here?
E&A: It's the hidden treasures; cenotes tucked away in the thick jungle or the interior of a plain-looking Merida home which, on the inside, can be absolutely gorgeous.
YL: What do you miss from your "former life"?
E&A: Seattle is pretty great. We had Thai food on every corner, mountains and a ton of contemporary music venues to enjoy.
YL: What don’t you miss from your "former life"?
E&A: Mind-numbing traffic, grey skies and a lack of connection with folks on the street.
YL: What is your favorite local food?
E&A: The ceviche is unbeatable! We are also crazy about sopés.
YL: What is your favorite time of year here and why?
E&A: We enjoy the rainy season because the sound is so soothing. It is cool out and you can spend the day reading and writing.
YL: Where do you take guests who visit you here to show them something really special?
E&A: Grand Cenote is great because it is easily accessible and has some interesting wildlife. If they aren't swimmers, we go for a stroll in Izamal or the ruins at Uxmal.
YL: The last time you went out to dinner, where did you go and why?
E&A: We took some friends to a local Italian restaurant, Nueva Especias, which serves lionfish (an invasive species). They were out of stock, but told me, if I brought the fish, they’d prepare it for us. Challenge accepted.
YL: How is the city where you live different for residents than it is for tourists?
E&A: Most tourists see Cozumel during the day. After the sunset, when the cruise ships leave, the town is blessedly tranquil.
YL: Do you have friends from the local community or do you pretty much hang with the expat crowd?
E&A: Expanding our social circle has been a slow process, but rewarding process. We are accepting new friend applications all the time. Anyone who is nice, genuine and interesting is encouraged to apply.
YL: If you are working or own a business, what is it like owning and running a business here or working here? How is it different from doing the same thing in your country of origin?
E&A: Being busy is mostly the same everywhere, but the view is better here.
YL: Do you find it more or less difficult to make a living here than in your country of origin?
E&A: There is more opportunity here than in the United States because you can develop ideas without being immediately squashed by heaps of competitors.
YL: Are your work habits different here?
E&A: We can keep longer hours here because our surroundings are very pleasant.
YL: Did you speak Spanish when you moved here? Where did you learn Spanish (if you did)? Is the language barrier a problem for you in your daily life?
E&A: I spoke about 8 words of Spanish when I moved here. Luckily, Almendra is fluent in Spanish...and wild gesticulation.
YL: What interesting Spanish word or saying have you learned lately? What does it mean and how did you learn it?
E&A: Chismiando is a pretty good word. It means gossiping. That’s what I get for exclusively studying telenovelas.
YL: Are you a Mexican citizen? Do you plan to become one?
E&A: Almendra is a Mexican citizen and I recently became a temporary resident. Got a fancy plastic card.
YL: Have you traveled much within Mexico? If so, where and what has been your favorite location to visit? What did you see there that you liked so much?
E&A: I have really enjoyed Guadalajara and the area around Lake Chapala. That is where Almendra’s family is from and our visits there satisfy my need for Mariachi.
YL: How are you treated by Mexicans? Do you feel resented or welcome?
E&A: I feel more welcomed by locals here than in Seattle. The outpouring of warmth is incredible.
YL: How do you feel about the economic prospects of Mexico? Of the Yucatan?
E&A: Mexico in general is on the rise. The Yucatan in particular has an opportunity to become an engine of growth for the whole country. We are excited to be here.
YL: What are some changes you are hoping for in the city in which you live? Do you see any progress towards these changes?
E&A: For me, it’s important to develop sustainability education. We need to protect the natural resources of this area, which will be the foundation of economic growth. I’d also like to address the drug-trafficking issue. I see it hurting our communities and creating opportunities for violence.
YL: What are your plans for the future here?
E&A: To work with individuals and businesses in the Yucatan and bring greater prosperity to the area.
YL: What is the one most important piece of advice you would give someone buying property and/or planning a move to the Yucatan?
E&A: Take your time. We were shocked at how different each town is. Relationships in this area are of the utmost importance, so choose your neighborhood wisely.
YL: If you could say something to all the people of Mexico, what would you say?
E&A: Thank you for welcoming us to your country. Almendra and I look forward to learning from you. We will work hard to earn your respect and build a better future for all our children.
YL: If there is anything else you would like to add for our readers (people interested in or considering moving to the Yucatan, former Yucatecans, people planning to visit for an extended tour…), please add them here:
E&A: Thanks for your interest in the Yucatan! We are excited to share everyone’s observations and advice on life and business in this wonderful place.