Our first week living in Merida; I still can’t believe those words are coming out of my mouth or that we live here. It feels like just yesterday Mathieu and I were watching the first snow fall in Toronto and talking about what it’d be like if we moved to Mexico. To be honest- it seemed like another one of those dreams we’d just push away, because we’ve been doing that quite a bit since we became parents. Constantly fearful and stressed at the thought of changing Joshua’s routine, surrounds, friends, even diet. We got to this unrecognizable place where we lost any excitement for a new adventure and replaced it with this belief that our family couldn’t handle the change. We got comfortable, too comfortable, and that realization is what finally pushed us to take this leap of faith.
Our flight to Merida was seamless. We took a WestJet direct flight, less than 4 hours, straight to the city. Because these flights are only offered in 3-4 cities in North America, and most only for a couple months a year, we made sure to check ahead of time that this month would be available, and sure enough, it was the last Tuesday they offered it for the whole season. Joshua did incredible on the plane, there was only a one hour time change upon arrival, and we brought all of our belongings in 3 suitcases.
At first glance, Merida was beautiful. We drove around the cobbled streets for 20 minutes before we arrived to our home. The architecture is rich in history, the city so clean, and the people overwhelmingly kind. We booked a private transfer and they took a longer way home to give us a little tour of the city highlights. He was so nice and gave me a list of places to go, where to eat, what to do, and even some excursions we should take during this season.
When we arrived home we were so incredibly thankful at how beautiful and functional the place was. I found this rental by searching Air BnB and finding their separate websites in the “home description” (i.e. our rental was on airbnb but not for the correct days and also at a much higher price. When you visit their website you can see more photos, and get a better price for the rental. You can also communicate with the owner so much better.) Our house is located in Centro, amongst the cobbled streets and colorful buildings. We have a 2 bedroom + 3 bath home, with a large full size kitchen, spacious living room, and gorgeous courtyard with private pool. In the back there’s also a indoor parking space + laundry room which has been amazing! )
Our host Dominique was incredible from the start. She kept our dates saved without a deposit as we were still trying to figure out when we would arrive. She also sent us videos and chatted with us in deeper context about the home, location, and season. She had a locksmith come put new locks on every single door in the home just for Joshua, which was beyond thoughtful of her. There’s also a cleaner that comes every week, pool keeper, and wifi within the home. We expected to just stay a month or two until we figured out where to go next but we adore this place so much it looks like we’ll be extending for the whole summer.
Some things we were pleasantly surprised with in Merida :
- The huge list on Uber Eats (and the small $1.50 fee for delivery!)
- The safety- we knew it was safe, but I never thought it would be THIS safe. I feel more comfortable walking on the streets here than I do in Downtown Toronto.
- Everyone’s face lighting up when they see a child. The latin culture is so loving in general, but it warms my heart every time someone walks past Joshua and starts a conversation with him. Pats his head, shakes his hand, even hugs. It’s so not like North Americans, but here it’s so normal. Now Joshua doesn’t walk past anyone without saying Buenos Dias or Buenos Tardes, he always says Hola, Como Estas, or Gracias Adios, and it’s amazing to see how nice he is to people because he feels their warmth.
- The Uber. Our average wait time in the city or up north in the suburbs is 3-4 minutes. It’s also ridiculously cheap (like 4 dollars for a 20 minute trip), the cars are super clean and new (usually Nissan Versa), and the people are so friendly and mostly bilingual!
- There’s no mosquitos! Even in this 100 degree weather, which is amazing.
- There are so many malls- maybe too many. They are HUGE and way nicer than the malls in Chicago or Toronto like we’re use to. They have all the American stores + European ones too.
- The indoor kids areas. This one really took me by surprise. Pretty much every large restaurant has a kids play area, every single mall has a whole wing dedicated to kids and at least 3 mini kids areas throughout, and there are so many activities at all the parks in the north (10-15 mins from centro). Joshua is already signed up at kids and has a class everyday + will start summer camp soon! The employees are so educated and sweet, and the facilities are incredibly clean and modern.
- Finally- the heat, which is what I was really getting nervous about leading up to the trip. The truth is that even at 103 degrees, it’s so dry it feels like a summer day of 85 in Toronto. Our body adjusted in only a couple days and last night when we had a cold front (of 88 haha) we were literally all in sweaters on our walk. Definitely nothing to be afraid of!
Somethings that have been a little tough so far :
- Grocery Shopping. I thought that we would get most of our stuff from local farmers markets and get big bulk items from Costco. Turns out, it’s not all too safe or easy to do it this way. If you get food from markets or places like Walmart where they aren’t individually packages, you have to soak them in a special solution for 15-20 minutes and then rewash (and re-soak if you want). So we’ve just been getting all of our stuff from Costco, which is a lot more expensive. Just weekly food (not including the fact that we eat out often too) costs about $300 usd. There’s no such thing as a store that is just food like Loblaws, or Frys, or Jewel, it’s just either Costco, street vendors, or the little section in Walmart.
- Washer & Dryer. We (thank goodness) have a washer in our home, but most people don’t. It’s a little time consuming having to hang so many clothes out to dry, especially because of how much you sweat here (sorry tmi), you go through a couple shirts or outfits a day. I spend the first 40 mins of each morning just doing laundry which isn’t all too fun.
And that’s pretty much it! I honestly can’t believe how easy the adjustment has been and what a well developed city this is. They have everything you can think of. So many children’s indoor play parks, malls nicer than the ones I’ve seen in Canada, incredible restaurants, kind honest people, and a beautiful historical city to spend your time in. So far? We’re pretty much in love with Merida. I already dread the day we’ll be leaving.