Playa del Carmen or San Pedro, Belize?
Updated: Jan 22
Because I've lived in both, I'm often asked to compare PDC with SP, Belize.
If you know me you know my answer - just for personal reasons I have to say Belize will always be my number one. The country and my friends there are very dear to my heart.
So, what are the differences between the two?
On the most basic level, you just don't have that island/jungle vibe, Mayan look and feel here in Playa that San Pedro offers. In the cayes of Belize you are never more than 2 short blocks from the Caribbean. Other than commercial vehicles, everyone gets around either with bikes or golf carts. Investing is easy, you just purchase your property directly there, even beachfront. The wildlife is abundant. We used to have a family of huge iguanas who lived in our sandy back yard and come up for some fruit every morning, parrots at our favourite breakfast joint, we'd watch the crocs at sunset, swim with sharks and manatees or play with the stingrays on our way home from the bank. Life just isn't that cool here haha it's a city not a jungly island. In playa we've found mostly big resorts or beach clubs on the water whereas San Pedro and Caye Caulker basically have their 5th avenue on the beach (although not nearly that busy). You can stroll along with your feet in the sand/water and stop in at dozens of little beach bars for a cold drink or delicious food. Belizean food beats out anything I've had in Playa. Piers line the coast, all accessible to the public. You can lounge in the sun, read a book, eat a bag lunch and take a dip in the calm crystalline water out beyond the seagrass. We used to walk them all daily when my kids were young. Fishing off each one until we bagged a barracuda for dinner. Those were the days.
So, why are we here in Mexico then you might ask... there are a few reasons. My senior mother moved down with us. She has health issues and needed to be near a tier 1 hospital which neither Ambergris Caye nor Caye Caulker have. Heck even the biggest hospital they have in Belize city isn't really equipped to handle serious cardiac emergencies although the country is really improving in that area as more foreigners move in. Living with a heart condition, my mom takes quite a few medications as well and they often aren't available in Belize, if they are they're expensive. The most recent event that steered us more in the direction of Mexico and away from Belize was their approach to covid. It was a bit over the top and I left Canada to find a more reasonable place to live. Since we've been here we've met some incredible people and now, despite the crazy driving, loud, dirty, touristy city with few good beach options, scarce wildlife and shitty food, we're home and loving it! On the upside we have UberEats, Amazon delivery, Costco runs and a Petco 5 minutes away.
If you are like me and love that small island vibe I'd recommend checking out Isla Mujeres. Cozumel is nice too but it's bigger. I hear a lot of Tulum bashing going on but I'd much rather live there than in any kind of city. It's got more of that jungle vibe that I love about Belize, narrow streets, bikes, quads (I just wish they'd do away with car traffic there altogether), cute little restaurants and shops and less crowded beaches. Being in real estate I'm not so bothered by the construction, it happens. I like to think it will be completed one day and the town will be as adorable as San Pedro. Well... close anyway.