Why I’m moving to La Amada in Cancun, Mexico

Why I’m moving to La Amada in Cancun, Mexico
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I’ve lived abroad for seven years now, relocating to places like Costa Rica, Nicaragua, then Vietnam, Cambodia, and finally, the Philippines. But on a recent trip back to visit family in the U.S. I took what I thought was a short side trip down to Mexico and it led me to an epiphany: I’m moving to Cancun.

Actually, the community that I stumbled upon and quickly fell in love with is called Playa Mujeres, a secluded 7-mile strip of white sand beaches, lush jungle, and nature reserve marshlands north of Cancun.

To be honest with you, I never thought I would move here. I'm not a big fan of crowds, rampant tourism, or commercialism and, in my mind, that's what Cancun represented. But from the moment I arrived and my friend – who recently moved down there for a job and has settled in nicely with her family – picked me up at the airport and started showing me around, I was amazed at how relaxed and welcoming the vibe was.

Only a few miles up the peninsula towards La Mujeres, and I felt like I was in a completely different place, the real Mexico. In fact, that strip is one of the treasured locations for luxury tourists and expatriates alike, with four of Mexico's top-rated resorts meandering up the coastline.

My friend now lives in La Amada, a private community of 215 residences sitting on the nicest stretch of beach in Playa Mujeres. I was starstruck from the moment we pulled in, as the community's main "street" was a green grass avenue – something I've never seen before anywhere in the world.

Likewise, wandering around the grounds, I was impressed with its regal palm trees, manicured lawns, tufts of wild grass and sunbaked stone paths, leading me to the beach. Ahhh the beach! Not only is the powdery expanse of sand and aquamarine ocean postcard-worthy, but we also could get wet in one of their infinity pools that overlooked the sea. The property of La Amada even has its own adjacent marina, where I strolled around, window-shopping among multi-million dollar yachts with flags from all over the world.

Apparently. I was only looking at the "Before" pictures because La Amada is in the midst of an extravagant transformation, doubling-down on luxury with new 5-star restaurants, a health club and spa, grass tennis courts, an impressive clubhouse, and one of the nicest beach clubs in all of Mexico.

I met a few nice expats and new La Amada residents there that invited me to play a round of golf with them on the Greg Norman 18-hole course, but I chose to be a beach bum and spend the afternoons eating fresh seafood at local restaurants, filled with well-off Mexicans and foreigners alike.

One afternoon, we browsed several art galleries in town then ended up taking in the El Meco Ruins ruins at sunset. Of course, Chichen Itza is the most famous Mayan ruin near Cancun among many, a UNESCO World Heritage site that draws 1.5 million visitors every year. But El Meco was right down the street from La Amada, a surprisingly uncrowded and intimate look into ancient Mayan civilization thousands of years old.

There were also plenty of other options for things to do, like fly fishing so good, anglers frequently came from the U.S. and Canada just to try their luck in the lagoons around Playa Mujeres, snorkeling, SCUBA diving, kiteboarding, paddleboarding, taking a ferry to nearby Isla Mujeres, and even swimming with whale sharks!

But I was already exhausted from the traveling and the sun, so wanted to relax in the home I was renting at La Amada. When I first went inside, I thought there must have been some sort of mistake because the sprawling villa was something out of a movie, an immaculately designed three-bedroom unit befitting an international business tycoon.

Built by HAMAK, a world-renowned luxury hotel designer, I spent a full hour meandering around the vast floorplan admiring the gourmet kitchen, luxurious marble floors throughout, custom wood cabinetry and doors, and plenty of sliding doors and large vistas that brought the gentle sea breeze into my room.

After inquiring, I found out that they do have penthouses for sale up to $1.2 million. They even gave me a tour of one, and I was instantly jealous of the floor to ceiling windows with views of the ocean and the nature preserve, and rooftop pools. But the units at La Amada start for a very reasonable $300,000; in my opinion a pittance for the quality of the spaces, lifestyle, and amenities they offer.

Over the rest of the weekend visiting my friend, I reflected on the reasons why people move abroad; and why I became an expat so many years ago, too: the cheaper cost of living so there was less financial stress; the heavenly climate that keeps sun on your face all year; being immersed in a rich and exotic foreign culture but still having access to modern healthcare and other amenities; incredible food and a healthy lifestyle; and even the ease of travel to and from the ‘states.

As I sat with my new friends at La Amada, dining on delectable Mexican food prepared right there by their in-house chef, sipping wine and conversing among kind and interesting people from all over the world who had chosen a better life there in Playa Mujeres, it dawned on me: La Amada was more than just a place I wanted to be on vacation, it already felt like home.

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