Retiring to Mexico – Living in the Yucatan
Much has been written about retiring to Mexico but there is not much information on retiring to places in the Yucatan. Chelem is a small fishing village that we spent a year in when we retired to Mexico.
Chelem is a very small fishing village on the Gulf of Mexico, which makes a perfect retirement destination with lots of expats from N. America.
Chelem (Cheh-lem’) which means “under the magpie”. This is an older fishing village, with a range of services, stores, shops, restaurants, collectivos (buses). The only ATM however is on the Navy Base and can a struggle to get to without a car, apart from that ATM the nearest ones are in Progreso. Chelem is literally cheek by jowl with Chuburna and is a favourite expat enclave with most of the restaurants and bars being run by expats who have retired here.
The homes, that are pretty much wall to wall, are modest. Prices in this area for rent and purchase are cheaper than some other areas and range between $300 and $1500 USD a month for rentals. To get here you do not enter Progreso, but head west on the overpass before entering Progreso.
In most small villages like Chelem and Chuburna there are collectivos or small transit buses that will take you into larger centres such as Progreso from where you can grab a bigger bus to Merida.
From Merida you can take all kinds of transport to other areas and cities. In Chelem the collectives pass by virtually all corners in the village and then end up back at the main square where you can catch one to Chuburna, Chixculub, Yuculpaten or Progresso. The collectivos cost around 9 pesos and you pay when you exit the bus.
There are plenty of taxis in Progreso in particular around the main square in the centre of town or at the stores like Bodega where many expats shop. Taxis are always plentiful here and the cost to Chelem is in 2015, $90 pesos. There are no taxis in Chelem itself but you can order a taxi and there are
several that are English speaking, or some expats
offer shuttle services for shopping and other needs.
There are quite a few services in Chelem from the Rubber Ducky Lavanderia where you can have all your washing done at $15 pesos a kilo, to Tochas’ Pool Supplies and a hardware store.
In fact there are several Tlaperias in Chelem where you can find pretty much any hardware supply you may need. There is a Farmacia, bakeries, tortillerias, the SIX stores which are somewhat similar to a variety store, fruit and Veg stands and a Thursday Market across from the main square near the church.
Several restaurants and B&B’s operate in the Chelem area and expats operate several restaurants where you can get your onion rings or hamburger fix when required.
Real Estate and Rentals in Chelem
Lots of options with Real Estate, but buyer beware there are some very trustworthy reputable brokers and dealers, but we suggest you ask around for references and check out Yucatan Beach Friends Facebook page for more information. These are a few of the ones that we would heartily recommend:
Toma Mexico: A property management organization, great list of rentals and also offers a concierge service. Martie and Veronica speak English and Mexican and are extremely reliable.
This is run by Ben and Julie Tinkey a more reliable couple you need to meet. Ben and Julie have been in the area for over 9 years and know all the ins and outs of buying and building in the area.
Homes for Sale in Yucatan: Bobby and Christine are a lovely couple who sell properties and lots from the beach to Merida. Great reputation and they speak Spanish and English
Finding a place to live in Chelem
If you are looking for a place to stay while checking out the area take a look at these private vacation rentals.
Casa Pajaro is run by Ben and Julie Tinkey. You couldn’t ask for nicer hosts and the apartments are newly built and superb. Oh and you can’t pass up Julie’s cooking if you get a chance she provides catering services and meals cooked daily in her beautiful outdoor kitchen.
Right on the beach as you enter Chelem, Casa Rosa is owned and operated by a couple of British ex-pats Tony and Karen. The apartments are really pretty and Tony and Karen live on the premises and can help with groceries, airport shuttles, and they are a true encyclopedia of knowledge about the area.
The Rio Mare apartments are run by Jill and Martin and they are located directly above the Bull Pen restaurant, they are lovely little one bedrooms and some single hotel style rooms. There is a lovely little swimming pool and there is no worries about noises from the bar but there are tons of events to take part in and get to know the local ex-pats.
There are a number of private rentals available in Chelem and Chuburna check on the Yucatan Beach Friends Facebook page for recommendations and lots of information about the area.
Restaurants in Chelem
These restaurants are all run by ex-pats in the Chelem area and are great for good food and even better company. There are several smaller local restaurants in the Chelem area. Check with any of the ex-pats here for their favourite local places.
American and Mexican food, from fish tacos to BBQ’d ribs, Calle 19, across from the ball field, Chelem, Tuesdays through to Fridays from 5pm. From January to April open Saturday nights from 5pm to 8pm
Serving a variety of dishes from home-cooked meatloaf, Tuesday Rib Specials, specialty wine tasting evenings and lots of refreshments. Great hosts Jill and Martin originally from Colorado and Mexico City very family friendly and good home cooking. Wonderful wine tasting nights held alongside an Artists showcase where you can see local artists selling their work. A great place to meet expats and chat with residents.
Mexican/American Eatery serving breakfast and lunch. Open Wed-Sat 9am -2 pm – Sun 9am – 1 pm.. Located in Chelem, Calle19 directly behind the ball field. Great food prepared and cooked by Trevor from fish & chips to tortilla salads. Trevor and Belinda are originally from Saskatchewan. No liquor license as they only serve lunch and breakfast.
Calle 17 #75 x 24 y 26 This place recently changed hands and the new owners are making some fabulous changes. The menus sound just excellent and include some authentic Mexican dishes to some North America favourites. They have a fantastic range of martini’s margaritas and mixed drinks the beer is cheap. There is also karaoke and live music, you will find a real friendly bunch of expats and locals here.
Calle 13 (the main road near the large tope almost in the centre of Chelem) Open Friday , Sat, Sun, Mon , and Tuesday from 8:30 to 2:30
A fun little place for a good breakfast, lots of conversation and owned by Sarge and Star who are US expats. English spoken and another great place to meet local residents.
Calle 13, Chelem 01 969 935 428 Mon-Sun: 12:30 pm – 7:00 pm
A great restuarant right on the beach and a wonderful chef. Fresh seafoods and you can call ahead to enjoy their amazing Paella or steaks. At La Playa theres always something yummy for you! EAT DELICIOUS AND NOT EXPENSIVE! Just come in and ask Carlos to cook you what ever is his special of the day and he will indulge you.
Rosy’s a little fruit and veg stand is the perfect place to pick up your daily ration of fresh fruit and vegetables.
The Rubber Ducky on Calle 23 headed towards Chuburna, best place for all your laundry needs, much cheaper to have the lovely ladies here take care of that so you can spend time on the beach.
There are lots of ex-pats offering services in Chelem. Contact Alison for a great haircut and she also picks up people at the airport as well – she’s on Facebook click here, if you need some help with a car there’s Marina in Progreso you can contact her Progreso Autocare 999-233-5853 calle 94x35y37 , don’t forget to get to the Market at Natural Thangs they have a a great plant nursery and an awesome market you just can’t miss. Must not forget the best Cenote Tours ever with Yucatan Cenote Eco-Adventures.
How do I get to Chelem?
To get to Chelem you can either fly into Cancun and take the ADO bus to Merida or better yet fly into Merida. To get to Chelem itself which is around 40 minutes or so outside Merida on the coast you have a couple of options.
Read more about living gulf side here if you want to check out the Markets click here to see some great food vendors and then there’s the artists who live and work in the area click here to read about them.
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