2 September 2016

Laura Wilkinson - Expat in Cozumel, Mexico

Laura Wilkinson - Expat in Cozumel, Mexico

We’ve had the chance to talk to Laura Wilkinson, 46, an American expat who has moved to Mexico with her husband. Mrs Wilkinson, who has been living there for 14 years, now works as a journalist/publisher.

Read more about her experiences in the full interview below.


Q: Where are you originally from? 

A: New Haven, CT USA – where pizza was invented.


Q: What made you move out of the USA?

A: I graduated from college, couldn’t find a real job, decided to become a scuba instructor for a few months, and well, the rest is history.  I bumped around the islands for a bit, spent some time in Jamaica, and finally wound up here in Cozumel.


Q: Where are you living now?

A: Cozumel Mexico.


Q: How did you come to choose this new country of residence? 

A: I stopped here for a month vacay – where I had an old flame living – en route to a job offer I had in Belize. Never been to Belize, and the old flame is long, long gone.


Q: How long have you been living in Mexico?  

A: 14 years and counting….


Q: What has been the most difficult experience you've had when you were new in your host country? Learning the cultural mores and norms. 

A: Although Cozumel is an island, it’s still Mexico, meaning it’s old school polite. Strangers greet each other on the street, and my neighbor once offered to carry in my groceries for me. You’ll almost never catch anyone arguing or disagreeing in public. As the brash, loud mouth yankee, it was a bit of a culture shock.


Q: Would you say that formalities like getting visas or work permits and international health insurance were particularly difficult in Mexico? What was your experience with these?

A: When I came, 14 years ago it was still rather easy. These days, with this economy, you pretty much need to have your own business or work remotely, which is increasingly popular these days.


Q: Are you living alone or with your family? 

A: I live with my Mexican husband, two dogs and two cats.


Q: How are they adjusting to the Expat Lifestyle? 

A: The Fab-husband is from Mexico City, a giant metropolis, so we both are in the same boat.


Q: Was it easy making friends and meeting people? Do you mainly socialize with other expats in Mexico? How did you manage to find a social circle in Mexico? 

A: There’s a huge ex-pat community here, and they get together for game nights, poker, charity work, etc. I own/run Cozumel 4 You which is really the news source and facebook page for the gringo community. Although personally, most of our friends are “mixed” couples as well, one gringo, one Mexican, since they seem to get the “Spanglish” we speak at home better than most.


Q: What are the best things to do in the area? Anything to recommend to future expats?

A: Watersports and beaches. We pretty much rock that out.


Q: How does the cost of living in Mexico compared to your home?

  • How much is a cup of coffee?

A: 15 pesos.

  • How much is a meal in an inexpensive restaurant?

A: A comida corrida lunch is around 50 pesos.

  • How much is a meal in an expensive restaurant?

A: Dinner out at one of our nice restaurants, with a bottle of wine is about 1000 pesos.

  • How much is a bottle of wine? How about a pack of cigarettes?

A: Cigarettes are 50 pesos. Wine? Depends on your level of plonk. We have an excellent liquor store which is well stocked.


Q: How do you find the local culture and people in Mexico? 

A: Cozumelenos are polite even to a fault. 


Q: What do you think are the positive and negative sides of living in Mexico? 

A: Things happen much slower here, and I see a lot of gringos get angry and yell, which just makes the locals shut down, which creates a progressive cycle. I think there’s a lot of Ex-pats here who don’t learn the language which creates a barrier and then makes them stabby.


Q: Do you miss home and family sometimes? 

A: Not at all. This is my home.


Q: Do you have plans to move to a different country or back home in the future?

A: I consider every so often taking off for Uruguay or Costa Rica, but to be honest, I really like the “island” lifestyle.


Q: What has been the hardest aspect to your expat experience so far? 

A: Other Ex-pats.


Q: What tips can you give other expats living in that country? 

A: Have a great sense of humor. Watch a lot of sunsets during happy hour.


Q: Do you have favourite websites or blogs about Mexico? 

A: Cozumel 4 You, of course!!