Move to Cozumel – What You Need to Know When Moving to Cozumel
Moving to Cozumel is bound to bring feelings of excitement and anticipation. Your new home is a tropical paradise surrounded by the warm, turquoise waters of the Caribbean, teeming with colorful life. A place where you’ll find adventure and beauty, delicious food, and a friendly community.
But what do you need to know as you make the transition? Here are some key things to keep in mind.
Before you move
Before you pack your bags to move to Cozumel, what should you do?
Visa or no visa?
If you are not a Mexican citizen and want to stay in the country for longer than 180 days without leaving, you’ll need to apply for a temporary or permanent residency visa. In most cases, you will need to submit your application from outside of Mexico at a Mexican consulate.
Additionally, if you plan to work in Mexico, you will also have to gain permission to do so along with your residency. It’s a good idea to submit your application at least a month in advance.
Learn more about Mexico Visa and Residency Information
Many of our clients come in and out on a tourist Visa as well, so just choose what is best for your personal situation.
Where will you live?
Cozumel has a wide variety of housing from modern oceanfront condos and homes to beautiful traditional homes in the heart of the city.
Some families may want to start out their stay at one of Cozumel’s many hotels or AirBnbs and from there you can you can start your search for a rent long-term or buy. Just keep in mind that during high season monthly rentals tend to be hard to find.
You can start your search online for a monthly rental. Check the different real estate pages and Facebook rental pages if you are looking for that rental.
If you want to learn more about the island’s neighborhoods and homes, contact our team ahead of your move.
With over a decade of experience in Cozumel, we’ll help you find the perfect fit for you.
Bring vs. buy
Next, what will you bring with you when you move to the island? Cozumel and the neighboring cities of Cancun and Playa del Carmen have a wide range of stores to purchase pretty much anything you need from furniture and vehicles to sporting equipment. The question is, what can’t you part with from your home? Make a list of your must-haves. If you decide to keep more than you can bring via your mode of transportation to Cozumel, you will have to consider the shipping process and costs for your items. If you have any questions about the availability of products or services in the area, don’t hesitate to ask!
Brush up on your Spanish
While many people speak English in Cozumel, Spanish is the language of the island. You will be better able to get to know people, do business, and enjoy the depth of the community with the ability to speak at least some Spanish.
Plus, you’ll have a lot more fun once you can partake in the local humor.
Plan how to get here
Cozumel has an international airport so you can fly directly to the island. However, flights into Cancun, are often less expensive.
If you choose to fly to Cancun, you can then catch a puddle-jumper flight to Cozumel or you can do what many call the “bag drag,” The bag drag is where you drive, taxi, or hire a private transfer to get from Cancun to Playa del Carmen (1-hour drive) and then take a ferry ride from Playa del Carmen to Cozumel.
You can opt for the 35-or-so-minute ride on the passenger ferry or, if you have a vehicle, the hour-long ride on the car ferry.
Moving day to Cozumel
The big day!
Moving day can be hectic between travel, immigration, customs, and adjusting to new surroundings. Multiply that if children are in tow.
One thing to remember when you arrive in Mexico and go through immigration is to make sure that you are admitted according to your proper status. If you are entering on a tourist visa, you’ll fill out the visitor’s permit (FMM) and get a stamp. However, if you have been preapproved for residency and have a resident visa stamp, you will show that to the immigration officer. Ensure they tick “canje” on your FMM form and not “visitante.’
After that, you’ll go through customs and then will be on your way.
Once you arrive on the island and unload all of your luggage into your home, be sure to unwind after the long day. A cocktail at sunset usually does the trick! Luckily, in Cozumel, you will be greeted with many restaurants serving delicious dishes and cold cervezas, or whatever your refreshment of choice may be.
Most who arrive feel excited to finally be in Cozumel for good and will want to get acquainted or re-acquainted with their new home. We encourage you to take a drive around the island to take in both the city and the wild side. Enjoy a few meals out, go for a swim, and meet some people around town. Once you’ve given the island a proper greeting, it’s time to start settling into daily life. Here are some of the top-of-list necessities.
If you are going to stay in Mexico on a temporary or permanent residency visa (aka you are not a Mexican citizen and are not staying in Mexico on a 180-day tourist visa), you’ll need to establish your legal status in the country. Once here, you’ll need to visit the immigration office on the island (Instituto Nacional de Migración or INM) within 30 days to complete the process, exchanging your temporary visa passport stamp for your resident permit (a plastic card). It’s on the corner of Calle 5 Sur and 15a Avenida Sur.
**Tip: Local discounts: Once you have your resident card, you can use it to get discounts around town.
- Head over to the Fundacion De Parques Y Museos De Cozumel (FPMC) and you can get a local discount card that gets you free entrances into Chankanaab, Punta Sur Eco Park, San Gervasio Archeological Site, and the Island’s Museum.
- Show your card when eating at many restaurants to get a local discount.
- Visit the office of the ferry company of your choice and apply for the local discount plan (e.g.Ultramar. Winjet)
While Cozumel is a small island (about 30 miles long and 10 miles wide), it’s not that small. You’ll likely prefer having transportation of some sort.
You can get a bicycle which can be a great mode of transportation around town. A ride to the “other side” is at least 9 miles so that can be a trek if you aren’t looking for a workout. But it can be a great way to run to the store or meet a friend. Bikes are sold at full-service local bike shops like Ciclismo Sport as well as at most large grocery stores. You can also find many for sale by locals in the Facebook Marketplace.
Mopeds and motorcycles are other popular options, you could opt for an off-road vehicle, or, of course, you can buy a full-size vehicle from a private owner or from a dealer. Cozumel has Nissan, Chevrolet, and Volkswagen dealerships, and you cross over to Playa del Carmen for a wider selection. If you aren’t ready to buy, you can also rent from various local companies.
Additionally, there is public transportation in Cozumel via bus (Uniper), taxis, and the “colectivos” (a system of vans that follow routes each day transporting people to and from stops).
Ready to load up your new fridge? You will have many grocery stores to choose from. The largest stores are Mega by Soriana, the Chedrauis, Aurora Bodega, and Sam’s Club. However, there are many smaller markets around town. In time, you’ll likely find the one you like best.
If you are looking for more imported items, your best bets are the stores closest to the cruise ports, Chedraui and Mega on Melgar. Sam’s Club also has many imported items and sells in bulk. All your normal produce, meats, and pantry staples are available at all the stores. You’ll also often see fresh ripe fruits along the roadside such as papayas, mangoes, pineapples, and watermelons.
Activities and people
Cozumel has a very active community with events going on year-round. Almost any night of the week, you can find a restaurant hosting live music or a park full of food vendors and attractions. You will also find groups of locals who plan meetups regularly from women’s and men’s breakfasts to plant-based cooking circles to groups meeting for cocktails and dinners.
Then there are large annual events. Carnavale brings weeks of fun capped off by the three-night parade down Melgar in February-March (dates vary each year). Independence Day, Day of the Dead, and Christmas bring more community celebrations. Further, there are annual fishing tournaments throughout the year, and the must-see turtle nesting and hatching happens each year on the east side.
The island is also home to a variety of programs where you can learn anything from scuba diving and surfing to robotics and karate. Stay up to date with the latest happenings on local Facebook groups.
Next, as you settle in, allow yourself to adjust to the slower pace of island life. Take the time to say hello, to have a chat, and to share a meal. Go for a swim in the ocean,
take a nap in a hammock, and pick up a new hobby. People aren’t as wound up or in a rush here as in many parts of the world, and it can be rejuvenating.
Finding a forever home in Cozumel
Lastly, many islanders first move to the island and rent, giving them time to learn about the island and where they would like to live permanently. If you fall in love with Cozumel and decide you want to make it your forever home, our team can help you find a beautiful property that meets all your needs and wants.
We look forward to welcoming you to Cozumel!
Congratulations on your decision to move to Cozumel!
It is the beginning of a grand adventure, I can promise you that. Cozumel is a place where you can live a life of adventure, close to nature, that awakens the spirit and inspires health and happiness.
Karen Bloemhoff of Karen Cozumel Real Estate made the move to Cozumel over 15 years ago and never looked back.
She has been helping the community to buy and sell their homes for over a decade and knows the island inside and out.
If you have any questions or concerns during your moving process, don’t hesitate to reach out.
Hope to see you in Paradise soon!
Article written by Jessica Walrack