Amelia And JP’s Unconventional Life Blog

Amelia And JP’s blog covers a wide variety of topics related to the Unconventional Life. You’ll learn about moving abroad, living abroad, travel and working online.

Colonia Americana: Coolest Neighborhood in the World! (Guadalajara Mexico)

We were so excited to take our first trip to Guadalajara, Mexico. We decided to stay in Colonia Americana (map) and were even more excited to visit the area after it was named the “Coolest Neighborhood in the World” by Timeout.

We stayed in a 2-bedroom, 2.5-bathroom condo we found on AirBnB and the location was fantastic! We arrived after dark so we were a little apprehensive about walking around since we didn’t know the area, but we felt more at ease when we saw a young woman walking her dog alone. After that, it felt safe for us to find a place to eat.

Col Americana Mexico Hato RamenWe stumbled across Hato Ramen, an Asian restaurant located a few blocks from our condo. We paid $38.75 for dinner, which included an appetizer, two entrees and drinks. The restaurant had a cool vibe, and the food was excellent.

After a restful night’s sleep we woke up feeling supercharged and ready to explore.

One of the first things that captivated us was the beautiful Spanish colonial architecture. We were pleasantly surprised by the one-way streets and bike rental stations and the neighborhood’s commitment to a greener and more active lifestyle. 

The neighborhood exudes personality, with its colorful buildings and a fascinating mix of architectural styles. We loved the wide streets with the mature trees. 

Colonia Americana is the home to Templo Expiatorio, a Neo-Gothic Catholic temple. Construction on this began on August 15, 1897, and concluded in 1972—taking 75 years to complete. It is considered one of the most important works in Mexico and definitely worth visiting.

After exploring the square around the temple we walked over to the neighborhood grocery store, Soriana. It reminded us of Tía in Ecuador. We bought some groceries and took an Uber back to our Airbnb.

Col Americana Mexico HousesAfter resting a bit (we walked a lot), we set out once again to explore more of the neighborhood. We noticed that walled courtyards, which are common in Ecuador, were less prevalent here. Instead, we admired several upscale high-rise condo buildings, adding a modern touch to the neighborhood’s architectural tapestry.

Guadalajara, like Ecuador, had its fair share of sidewalk hazards. However, we had become accustomed to navigating around them from our 5 years of living in Ecuador, so it didn’t faze us.

We were surprised and impressed by the wide variety of food trucks, street food, and restaurants. There was so much to choose from! There’s also a lot of bars and nightclubs.

The area has a fun, party vibe, especially on the main road, Chapultepec Avenue, which is considered the heart of the area. 

Even though we aren’t drinking much anymore, we couldn’t resist indulging in a pint of Guinness at a local pub. As we sat there, savoring our drink and people-watching, we noticed something remarkable—many single women confidently strolling by themselves, engrossed in their phones. When we went out for dinner later that day we noticed more single women walking alone. That gave us an extra sense of security and safety.

Is Colonia Americana truly the coolest neighborhood in the world? We loved its charm and it was “cool,” but we can’t make a definitive judgment just yet. After all, there are other neighborhoods on the list we have yet to explore.

Nevertheless, we can definitely envision ourselves spending more time there, soaking up the unique blend of history, culture, and vibrant street life.

Watch Our Video from Colonia Americana in Guadalajara, Mexico


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Subscribe to our free weekly newsletter and get immediate access to The 5 Countries Report: A review of our top 5 picks for best places to live, work and retire in Latin America. Find out if one of these amazing countries can check off all your boxes and be the ideal place to live your Unconventional Life!

PLUS, you'll get several other free perks we think you'll enjoy!

Medellín vs Cuenca: Comparing Two Popular Expat Destinations in Latin America

Medellín, Colombia and Cuenca, Ecuador have become increasingly popular destinations for expats, digital nomads, and retirees.

Both cities offer a unique charm, vibrant cultures, and an array of attractions that cater to various lifestyles and preferences.

In this comprehensive blog post, you’ll learn about the many facets of living in these two amazing cities, including the pros and cons of each, comparing aspects such as living conditions, cost of living, infrastructure, and safety.

Hopefully, this will help you make an informed decision about which city might be the ideal destination for your next adventure or new home abroad.

Medellín, Colombia: A Jungle With a City In It

Medellín ColombiaMy first impression of Medellín, Colombia was that it’s a jungle with a city in it.

Medellín is nestled in the Andean mountains, but the elevation is low enough that it has lots of tall trees and tropical greenery, which provides an amazing backdrop for the bustling city life.

Pros of Medellín Colombia

Medellín is a fascinating blend of modern comforts and jungle-like surroundings. It has a lot of great things going for it, such as:

  • Scenic beauty: Surrounded by mountains and lush greenery, Medellín offers a stunning landscape.
  • Pleasant weather: With a year-round spring-like climate, Medellín is known as the “Land of Eternal Spring.”
  • Lower elevation: While still at 4,900 feet / 1,495 meters, it’s much lower than Cuenca so it’s warmer and the air is easier to breathe.
  • Vibrant culture: The city is known for its colorful murals and diverse population of Colombians and other South Americans, plus tourists, digital nomads, and expats from around the world.
  • Cleanliness: In the neighborhoods we visited, streets were well-maintained, and dogs were on leashes.
  • Modern infrastructure: Medellín has drinkable tap water and a wide variety of restaurants catering to all tastes and dietary needs.
  • Transportation: Affordable taxis, buses, and a metro system are available throughout the city, along with Uber.
  • International airport: Direct flights to some locations in the United States and other countries make Medellín easily accessible.
  • Affordability: Housing, food, and restaurant prices are comparable to Ecuador and much lower than the United States or Canada.
  • High-quality healthcare: Colombia is known for its excellent healthcare facilities and is consistently ranked high by CEOWorld Magazine.
  • Housing options: While high-rise living is popular in Medellín, townhomes and single-family homes are available if you’re willing to venture further out. Check out our Medellín Colombia Real Estate Tour for more about housing in Medellín.
  • Kaime Medellin ColombiaExcellent restaurants: We ate at a variety of amazing restaurants in the Zona Rosa tourist area of El Poblado. You’ll find everything from street vendors to high-end gourmet restaurants, and the prices are very affordable compared to the US.
  • Service culture: Compared to Ecuador, Colombia has a high-quality service culture. Restaurant servers, drivers, tour guides, cashiers, etc. are attentive and care about the quality of service you receive.

Cons of Medellín Colombia

We enjoyed our time in Medellín and plan to go back, but a few things make it less than perfect:

  • Crowded city: With a population of more than 2.5 million people, Medellín can feel quite congested.
  • Colombian Peso: Conversion rates may be tricky for those used to the US dollar and the value fluctuates a lot.
  • Heavy traffic: The city has heavy traffic and swarms of motorcycles, which might be concerning for some. After getting moto-robbed in Guadalajara, Mexico, the swarms of motorcycles had us constantly looking over our shoulders.
  • Safety concerns: Moto-robberies, pickpocketing, kidnapping, and other safety issues are a significant concern. It’s important to be cautious and avoid certain areas, especially at night. It’s also common for sex workers and Tinder daters to lure foreigners to a restaurant or hotel room where they are roofied and robbed.
  • Tax residency: Staying in Colombia for more than 183 days per year might make you a tax resident, so consult a tax professional before moving there long-term.

Cuenca, Ecuador: A South American Gem

Cuenca Ecuador View from Mirador Turi

Cuenca, Ecuador is a charming UNESCO World Heritage city with a rich history and stunning architecture. Like Medellín, it is also known as the “Land of Eternal Spring” for its pleasant weather.

While much smaller and about 1,000 miles / 1,600 kilometers south of Medellín, Cuenca shares some similarities with its Colombian counterpart in terms of cost of living, quality of life, and available amenities.

However, they differ in population size, safety levels, and currency (Ecuador uses the US dollar).

Comparing these two cities is a valuable exercise for those considering a move to Latin America.

Pros of Cuenca Ecuador

Cuenca offers a slower pace of life, a welcoming expat community, and a unique blend of culture and nature that make it an attractive destination. It’s also much smaller than Medellín with a population of roughly 500,000 people.

Here are a few things we love about Cuenca:

  • Cuenca Ecuador New CathedralUNESCO World Heritage Site: Cuenca is rich in history and architecture, with Inca ruins right in the city.
  • Beautiful rivers and linear parks: The city has 4 rivers running through it, and numerous parks that offer scenic trails and relaxing spots to sit and read a book.
  • Land of Eternal Spring: Known for its mild temperatures, Cuenca offers pleasant weather throughout the year.
  • Walkable city: Most of the city can be explored on foot, with taxis required only occasionally for longer distances or heavy loads.
  • Incredible restaurants: Cuenca boasts a wide array of affordable, delicious, and beautifully plated food options. Check out Popular Expat Restaurants in Cuenca Ecuador for our recommendations.
  • Diverse expat community: The city is popular among retirees, families, and singles of all ages from around the world.
  • English speakers: Cuenca has a larger population of English speakers compared to Medellín, and a large number of Ecuadorians who speak English, making it easier for non-Spanish speakers to settle in.
  • Quality healthcare: Ecuador (especially Cuenca) is known for its excellent and affordable healthcare; CEOWorld Magazine consistently ranks it higher than the US. It’s easy to schedule appointments with high-quality medical professionals, and many speak English. Check out Our Ecuador Healthcare Experience for more details about healthcare in Ecuador, including costs and quality of care.
  • Affordable living: Housing prices in Cuenca are comparable to Medellín, with the overall cost of living being similar and about one-third of the cost in the United States.
  • Drinkable tap water: The tap water in Cuenca is safe to drink and tastes better than in Medellín (it’s not so heavily chlorinated)
  • Ecuador's Unique USD CoinsEcuador is on the US Dollar: The official currency in Ecuador is the US dollar, making it convenient for US American expats. It’s the exact same currency (except for a few special coins minted in 2000 that are not legal tender back in the US). Check out Money and Banking in Ecuador for more on this topic.
  • No tax on foreign income: Foreign residents do not pay tax on their foreign income, although it’s essential to consult a tax professional for accurate and up-to-date advice.

Cons of Cuenca Ecuador

Like any place, Cuenca is not without its challenges:

  • High elevation: Cuenca is located at 8,400 feet / 2,560 meters above sea level (almost twice the elevation as Medellín), which can result in cooler temperatures and thinner air.
  • Limited international flights: While there is a semi-direct flight to Miami, Cuenca’s airport is small, and all international flights require a connection in Quito or Guayaquil.
  • Increased crime rates: Petty theft and robberies have become more common in Cuenca and throughout Ecuador, so it’s essential to be cautious.
  • Laid-back service quality: Ecuadorians have a more relaxed attitude toward service, which can be both a blessing and a challenge for expats adjusting to the local customs. At restaurants, you may need to find your server to take your order or bring the bill. And we often find that they deliver the courses in the reverse order (entree, appetizer and then drinks) so we have learned to order one thing at a time so we get things in the proper order.

Final Thoughts

Both Medellín and Cuenca are beautiful cities with their unique qualities.

Medellín may be better suited if you’re seeking a larger, modern city with great service, lower elevation, and direct flights to the US.

On the other hand, Cuenca might be the right choice if you prefer a smaller city with a slower pace of life, great restaurants, cooler temperatures, a higher safety level, and the convenience of spending in US dollars.

And remember, visiting each city before committing to a move is always the best way to get a true feel for what life there would be like.

Watch Our Video Comparing Medellín Colombia to Cuenca Ecuador


Get Our Weekly Newsletter from JP (and Amelia)

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Subscribe to our free weekly newsletter and get immediate access to The 5 Countries Report: A review of our top 5 picks for best places to live, work and retire in Latin America. Find out if one of these amazing countries can check off all your boxes and be the ideal place to live your Unconventional Life!

PLUS, you'll get several other free perks we think you'll enjoy!

Buying Real Estate in Colombia: Process & Tips

We had the opportunity to interview Juan Camilo Villegas on our recent trip to Medellín, Colombia.

Juan is an experienced real estate agent and shared some valuable information about buying real estate in Colombia, the unique process, and the essential steps for foreigners looking to invest in the country.

In this blog post, we summarize the main points of our conversation with Juan to help you successfully navigate the Colombian real estate market.

Understanding the Colombian Real Estate Process

The Colombian real estate market operates differently from other countries. There is no MLS and no real estate agent licensing, which means anyone can work as a real estate agent. That makes it even more important that you work with an experienced professional like Juan.

Negotiations can be lengthy, and the transaction process can take anywhere from one to three months.

Watch Our Interview w/ Juan About Buying Property in Colombia

Tips for Foreigners Buying Property in Colombia

Here are a few important tips that Juan shared about buying a home in Colombia:

  1. Rent before buying: Juan recommends that foreigners rent properties in various neighborhoods to get a feel for the area before committing to a purchase.
  2. Open a brokerage account: This is the first step for entering the Colombian financial system and will help keep track of your transactions.
  3. Work with a local lawyer: A lawyer will help you legally bring your money into the country, register your property, and perform due diligence on the property.
  4. Secure a permanent residency visa: If you plan to stay in Colombia for an extended period, you will need to apply for a permanent residency permit.

Homeowners Insurance and Earthquake Safety

Colombia offers homeowners insurance, but it is not yet a widespread practice. Juan recommends purchasing insurance for protection against theft and damages.

Medellin is not prone to earthquakes, but landslides can occur in some areas.

Construction and Building Codes

Colombian construction must adhere to strict building codes that ensure safety and earthquake resistance. Codes are updated regularly, and new constructions must meet higher safety standards.

Homeowners Association (HOA) Dues

In Colombia, HOA dues are called “administration fees.” They cover expenses related to security, common areas, and property management.

On average, the cost is 90 cents per square meter or 12 cents per square foot.

Final Thoughts

Juan Camilo Villegas and Amelia Medellin ColombiaBuying real estate in Colombia can be a complex process, but working with an experienced agent like Juan Camilo Villegas can help ensure a smooth transaction.

By understanding the local market and customs, foreigners can successfully invest in Colombian real estate and enjoy the beautiful country for years to come.

Check out this article next: Medellín Colombia Real Estate Tour: 4 Amazing Properties.


Get Our Weekly Newsletter from JP (and Amelia)

5 Countries Report Cover
Subscribe to our free weekly newsletter and get immediate access to The 5 Countries Report: A review of our top 5 picks for best places to live, work and retire in Latin America. Find out if one of these amazing countries can check off all your boxes and be the ideal place to live your Unconventional Life!

PLUS, you'll get several other free perks we think you'll enjoy!

Kristen Shares Her Story About Living In Ecuador as a Single Woman from the United States

We’re often asked, “Do single women live in Ecuador?” Yes, they do, and we’re excited to share Kristen’s story because she is a single retired woman living in Cuenca, Ecuador.

We met Kristen through Amelia’s belly dancing studio when we lived in Cuenca. She is one of those people who lights up a room when she enters it. She never meets a stranger and makes everyone feel welcome.

If you’re a single woman considering a move to Ecuador, you’re certain to appreciate Kristen’s perspective. Here’s her story…

Living Single In Ecuador Kristen Shares Her StoryYou’re Moving Where?

In 2014, my dear friends, David & Juan, moved to Cuenca, Ecuador and opened a business called “Cuenca Car Share”.

Why, Cuenca?”, I asked David.

He said, “You need to come down and see for yourself.”

So I did.

In 2015, my sister Kelly and I flew to Quito, Ecuador and then on to Cuenca for our first visit. We stayed ten days and in that time I lost my heart to Cuenca and the surrounding Andes Mountains.

I told my friends, “I think I could retire here!”

Six months later, David and Juan called and asked me if I was serious? It was completely out of the blue.

They said they would be willing to pay my round trip flight, I would have eight weeks to be alone in Cuenca and really see if that’s where I wanted to live.

I just had to house and pet sit, and run their business. How could I refuse?

I was certain I would be bored out of my mind, but I was delightfully busy!

I went on walks every day along the Yanuncay River with the dog. I went to Bingo on Wednesday afternoons. I met a lot of expats through Cuenca Car Share and some of them I developed personal friendships with that have lasted to this day. I played volleyball in Parque Paraiso; which I still do every Sunday.

I started reading Gringo Post every day to see what’s happening around town. I wandered around El Centro and checked stuff out.

Tribal Fusion Hafla 2019 Cuenca EcuadorCuenca is a beautiful, clean, tranquil city and my love for it grew deeper. I went to free symphonies! Who wouldn’t love that? I explored the cathedrals, domes, shops and mercados.

Two months went by in a blink and it was time to go home. I returned to LAX and was waiting about ten minutes at the curb with my luggage; the plane and city fumes began to fill my lungs and by the time my ride showed-up I got in the car and said to my neighbor, “I’m moving to Ecuador!”

She said, “You’re moving where?”

I said, “Cuenca, Ecuador!”

“When?” she asked.

“I’m going to take a year and get rid of everything, retire, start collecting my social security and then go in March 2017,” I told her.

And I did exactly that.

Eight Weeks Told Me All I Needed to Know

Unlike so many people who move to Ecuador, I did very little research.Kristen Julio Belly Dance Cuenca Ecuador

I mean, I did a little research for the purpose of allaying the fears of my relatives and friends who all thought I was crazy!

Cuenca, Ecuador was in the top ten places in the world to retire. The currency is the US American Dollar. The language is Spanish. And at the time I moved here I thought I spoke pretty fair Spanish! Ha!

In Cuenca, the weather is mild. I would honestly say that the weather here is like all the seasons, every day! It doesn’t snow here, so for me coming from Southern California that’s perfect!

Usually it is sunny in the morning and then in the afternoon around 3 or 4PM comes what I like to call, “The Witching Hour,” when it often rains.

Of course, it could rain at any time, even when the sun is shining! Which is why I learned to always to carry an umbrella in my bag. It doesn’t necessarily get cold when it rains, so the umbrella is a real lifesaver and I’m never without it.

The biggest thing I had to learn (besides actually how to speak Spanish) was how to slow down.

I opened fifty-three restaurants around the world during my career and I was the Food and Beverage Director for CBS Studios for twelve years.

I only had one speed: Fast!

In the eight weeks of living in Cuenca on my own, I was busy all the time, but never rushing everywhere until I passed out at night from exhaustion.

The pace of life here is so much more laid back. Granted, being retired makes it a whole lot easier, but I still had to work long and hard to change from constantly “doing” to “being”. It made a huge difference in my ability to not get fidgety and impatient in lines at a bank, for example.

I tend to walk a lot more than anywhere in the States, especially Los Angeles where you drive everywhere and the only walking you do is going back to your car. Since I opted to not have a car here, I either walk or take a taxi.

I keep pretty good records of my spending and would say on average unless I have something big, like a trip to Guayaquil when I hire a van or a private driver, my average monthly transportation expenses are usually under one hundred dollars.

There’s a plethora of activities for anyone interested in participating. You can always find a class to take and I’ve taken quite a few. Things I’d always been interested in learning but never had the time.

Just recently I took a stained-glass class and loved the process and was delighted with my piece, which now hangs in my living room!

I found a place called “Cuenca Soup Kitchen” run by some wonderful people: Des, Bill and Smith. With my background in food I thought it would be a great fit for me to volunteer.

It was one of the best things I’ve done since I’ve been here. They feed 175 families every week! I’ve helped fill food bags and sort donated clothing and I can tell you there’s nothing better than doing something for those unable to do for themselves. I’ve met so many friends there because they’re like minded people interested in giving back to the community we live in.

Beyond that, the clever Directors started “Abuela’s.” It’s a group of men and women who are willing to get a cake and gift for a child who otherwise would not have a birthday cake. I signed up immediately and can only tell you that every cake I make is a love letter. There’s very little that beats the random photograph we receive of our designated child smiling holding their cake and gift bag!

Also, I joined another offshoot called “Heart-Strings” where we knit or crochet hats, scarves, blankets and the like for when the temperatures drop here in Cuenca. Again, it warms you in a way you can’t imagine.

After Five Years Here

In the five years I’ve lived in Cuenca, I’ve managed to take full advantage of how much this country has to offer.

I’ve never felt scared or afraid for my well being. This could be because I don’t walk along the rivers alone at night or because I lived in Venice Beach, CA. where gunshots were a common sound at night. I’m groomed to be aware of my surroundings at all times; wherever I am.

My sister Kelly and I went on an eight-day trip to the Galapagos Islands, which was unimaginably wonderful! We also took a bus to Peru! We took a gorgeous train ride train to Cusco, Machu-Picchu and Sacred Valley.

Kristen Crawford Hummingbirds Mashpi LodgeMy friend Rocco and I took a trip to The Amazon for New Year’s! We experienced The Amazon river up close and personal! However, I would suggest going at another time of year.

When we woke up on New Year’s Day, we realized the river had dried up and we had to walk 100 yards in deep mud to get to our boat! The following day it was 200 yards. Beyond that, it was magical!

The Amazon is like nowhere else in the world. From pink dolphins, red-eyed Caiman, blue, green and yellow Military McCaw’s, many types of monkeys, anacondas, piranha, spiders that look like sticks, spiders that look like spiders, and so much more, the Amazon is a world unto itself. We spent four days there and learned how little we knew about living without the outside world and technology.

We’ve gone to Ingapirca, Loja, Cajas, Cotopaxi, Izhcayluma, Vilcabamba, Biblian and plenty more.

We’ve been to and adore the coast: Guayaquil, Montañita, Olón and Puerto Lopez.

The capital city of Quito is rich in history and has lots of things to do and see.

Kristen Crawford Ecuador ShamanOne of my personal favorite adventures was to Mashpi Lodge, which is one of the 10 Most Amazing hotels in the World! I highly recommend a trip there if you can swing it! The price is high, but they often offer discounts and you can call and negotiate with them.

Rocco and I went for one night that seemed a lot longer. We were picked up in Quito and driven the three hours to the cloud forest. The last hour of the ride was so bumpy that when we stopped, I said a prayer of thanks before exiting the van!

After I stepped out of the van, the past hour vanished in the beauty of the grounds. We went inside and were treated to carefully prepared refreshments. This hotel lives up to its reputation for being amazing! All meals are included and we had a wonderful buffet lunch and three desserts to share!

We were taken to our room on the second floor and our guide told us about the room and said, “Let me turn on the TV for you.”

She pushed a button and the blinds that covered the windows began to rise. The ceiling to floor windows revealed the heart of the cloud forest and we both whispered, “Wow!”

We freshened up and joined our naturalists to choose our afternoon activity. It was pouring rain, but we still elected to visit the hummingbird sanctuary. They took us in a van and by the time we arrived the rain had decreased to almost a fine mist.

There were 10 huge hummingbird feeders and plenty of hummingbirds bouncing between the feeders. None of them seemed concerned with us.

The guides brought out bananas and peeled them and stuffed the fruit into large cracks in logs stationed about six feet off the ground. Very soon all types of birds appeared for lunch. It was amazing!

We decided to stop at the bar before dinner and I was treated to the best, most painstakingly prepared, Bloody Mary I’ve ever had! It took the bartender 15 minutes to craft this drink!

Then, on to dinner in the elegant dining room. Rocco is a professional photographer and he marveled at the lighting in this room. It was extraordinary! We made our dinner selections and once again, our meal didn’t disappoint.

Kristen Crawford Mashpi Lodge DragonflyBefore heading to our room, we decided to see if we could book a trip for the next morning on the Dragonfly, which is an aerial gondola taking you above the canopy of the cloud forest.

After a delightful night’s sleep and a wonderful buffet breakfast we took our ride on The Dragonfly. The gondola seats six with three rows of benches.

Our guide sat in the last row and gave us more history on how this hotel came to be built, which is an amazing story! He told us what we were looking at as we traveled over the cloud forest answering all our questions.

Then, after about 45 minutes he said, “Okay, I’m going to let the cloud forest tell you the rest of the story.” He never said another word for the remainder of the trip which was about another 45 minutes. Crazy amazing!

Every year that I live here, I fall more in love with this country and its people. It may not be for everyone, but for me: It’s the smartest decision I’ve ever made to come here and I’m so thankful for this beautiful life!

7 Easy Side Hustle Ideas for 2023 (Non-Technical Skills)

A thousand dollars a month. That’s all you need to earn from working online to completely change your life!

The side hustles in this article do NOT require technical skills so pretty much anyone can do them as long as you have a computer and a reliable internet connection.

You’ll learn how easy it is to get started doing each of these side hustles, how long it will take to hit that magic $1000 per month milestone, and how you can use that money to set yourself free and change your life forever.

#1 Writing

Freelance writing platforms such as and offer opportunities to write for a variety of clients and niches.

You can also find writing gigs on platforms like Fiverr and Upwork, and get paid to create blog posts, articles, social media content, and more, depending on your skills and interests.

Starting a blog may be the best place to start because it not only allows you to showcase your writing skills, but a blog is a great way to earn online income. You can promote affiliate products and services, sell ad space to sponsors, or use it to promote your book, eCourse or coaching program.

I just started writing on Medium and made $80 in the first month with very minimal effort. If I had more time to devote to it, I’m confident I could make $1000/mo after 6 months or so. Some writers make a lot more than that on Medium.

NewsBreak is another website that works like Medium. You write content and they pay you for it based on reads.

A lot of writers are freaking out right now because of Artificial Intelligence (AI). The chatbots can write content very quickly, but they lack the personal touch only a human with real world experiences can give.

I’m able to write a lot more content now than I ever have because I’m using AI as a junior level writing assistant.

ChatGPT helps me with outlines and rough drafts for our blog posts and Twitter threads, but my personal stories, observations and unique voice that I add are what make the content valuable.

Medium requires you to disclose if you use AI to help write articles, so I write all of those from scratch without the chatbot.

The average pay for freelance writing work is $20 to $50 per hour, but rates can vary depending on your expertise and how fast you write.

You can certainly work full time as a writer, but working around 50 hours per month, or about 2 hours per day, could help you reach $1000/month after 3 to 6 months of consistent effort (you might want to work on it a lot more in the beginning because it will build over time).

Watch Our Video About 7 Easy Side Hustles

#2 Copyediting

As a copyeditor, you can find work opportunities on websites like and

Your job is to review and correct written content for grammar, punctuation, syntax, and overall readability.

Fact checking is probably the most important skill for a copyeditor in the AI era. The chatbots are really good at creating content quickly, but they don’t always get the facts right and humans are still the best sanity check for AI-generated content.

The average pay for copyediting work is around $20 to $30 per hour, depending on your experience and the project

Working around 50 hours per month or approximately 2 hours per day could help you make $1000/month after 3 to 6 months.

To begin, create a profile on your preferred platform and showcase your copyediting skills through a strong portfolio

#3 Teaching English Online

Online teaching platforms like, and offer opportunities to teach English to students from around the world.

You’ll need a strong command of the English language and an engaging teaching style to be successful in this field.

We know several people who fund their pre-retirement lifestyle in Ecuador by teaching English online and they really enjoy it.

The major downside is that your students might be in the eastern hemisphere, which means you might have to stay up late or get up really early to teach.

The average pay for teaching English online is between $15 and $25 per hour, but this can vary based on your experience and qualifications.

To make $1000/month, you’ll need to work around 60 hours per month or about 2 hours per day.

To get started, sign up on the teaching platform of your choice and complete the required registration process. The platforms provide the curriculum for you so you just need to login and follow the teaching plan.

You might also want to look into get a TEFL certification because some platforms require that.

#4 Online Tutoring

Websites like, and provide opportunities for online tutors in various subjects.

You can share your expertise in subjects like math, science, history, or any other area you know well.

Let’s face it… The US school system is failing our kids.

According to all of the meaningful stats, our kids are way behind the rest of the developed world, especially in math and science.

That means a lot of concerned parents are turning to online tutors to supplement the classroom and get their kids better prepared for college so the demand for online tutoring will continue to grow.

The average pay for online tutoring ranges from $15 to $30 per hour, depending on your subject and experience.

To reach $1000/month, you’ll need to work around 60 hours per month or 2 hours per day.

Start by signing up on a tutoring platform and completing their registration process to showcase your skills. Some platforms require a college degree or teaching certification, but some don’t.

#5 User Testing

Websites like and will pay you to test software.

You get paid to use websites and mobile apps and record your experience, thoughts, problems, etc.

Back in my technical manager days, I had a team of software testers who tested the software my developers wrote. Nowadays, companies outsource that testing to their users; people like you.

The average pay for this type of work is $30 to $45 per hour.

It’s not a full time job so don’t expect to work 40 hours per week doing this because they normally don’t have enough tests to keep you that busy, but you only need to work 30 hours per month or roughly 1 hour per day to make $1000/month.

And you can get started right after signing up and completing their registration process.

#6 Voice Over

If you have one of those voices that melts butter, you could make good money doing voice over for commercials, podcast intros, phone systems, training materials, documentaries, audio books, etc.

You can find voice over clients on websites like Fiverr and Upwork. It will take a few hours to create your profile, record a few samples and upload them to your portfolio

Alice Everdeen makes $15,000/month doing voice overs for companies like Amazon, Southwest Airlines and OnlyFans. You need to be good and it can take awhile to build up to that level, but it’s possible to make at least $1,000/month with a good voice and consistent effort.

You can expect to earn about $20/hour doing voice over work, but the really talented people make over $100/hour, especially after they’ve built a reputation over time.

At $20/hour, that means you need to work 50 hours per month or about 1.5 hours per day to make $1000/month

#7 AI Prompt Engineer

As an AI Prompt Engineer, you’ll use chatbots like ChatGPT to create content, and Midjourney to create images for clients or to sell.

There are a lot of other AI systems to choose from, but in my opinion, these two are the best for content and images.

The engineer title makes it sound more technical than it is, but it’s really a non-technical job.

Knowing how to give the AI tools the right directions to get the desired outcome has more to do with your language skills and creative thinking than your technical skills.

The average pay for this type of work is around $20 to $35 per hour and the best place to find clients is on Fiverr or Upwork.

You can also sell AI prompts on websites like It only takes a few minutes to sign-up and you keep 80% of the revenue.

Some of the Midjourney prompts are incredible! If you can get the AI to create mind blowing images, this could be a nice passive income stream.

To make $1000/month, you’ll need to work about 50 hours per month or around 2 hours per day.

If you haven’t been using the AI tools yet, that’s the best place to begin. Play around with them and start creating content and images to learn how they work.

You can also download some free prompt guides to speed up your learning process.

Once you’re comfortable with your skills and have some good examples for your portfolio, post a gig on Fiverr, apply for jobs on Upwork, and create a free account on to start selling your prompts.

Online Income eCourse

Online Income eCourseWe go into a lot more detail about side hustles and working online in our Online Income eCourse.

It has a lot of links with more in depth information to help you get started quickly, including a bunch of new Quick Start Checklists I just added.

How $1000/month can set you free!

Earning $1000/month through online side hustles can be a game-changer if you want to improve your quality of life because it will allow you to move abroad.

Moving to a country with a lower cost of living not only allows you to stretch your budget further but also provides an opportunity to explore new cultures, languages, and environments.

In countries like Thailand, Vietnam, Ecuador, Colombia or Mexico, $1000/month can provide a comfortable lifestyle if you’re single.

If you’re a couple and you both earn $1000/month, you can live a very comfortable lifestyle in a lot of countries.

You can also stack side hustles to increase your income. That just means you do more than one thing and work more than a couple hours a day to speed up the process, figure out what works best, and make more money.

By living abroad in a country with a lower cost of living, you’ll not only maximize your income, but also enrich your life experiences and personal development.


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Subscribe to our free weekly newsletter and get immediate access to The 5 Countries Report: A review of our top 5 picks for best places to live, work and retire in Latin America. Find out if one of these amazing countries can check off all your boxes and be the ideal place to live your Unconventional Life!

PLUS, you'll get several other free perks we think you'll enjoy!

Medellín Colombia Real Estate Tour: 4 Amazing Properties

If you’re a real estate enthusiast like us, you’ll definitely enjoy this post about our recent real estate tour in Medellín, Colombia.

We had a blast exploring four amazing properties with a range of prices to fit almost any budget.

As an added bonus, we’ll also compare these Medellín homes to similar properties in Denver, Colorado, where we used to live.

Spoiler alert: Medellín offers some incredible value!

Property 1: Sabaneta Condo with Stunning Views

Sabaneta Condo ExteriorOur first stop is a beautiful 11th-floor condo in Sabaneta, a township on the south end of the Medellín metro area.

The Sabaneta Edificio Living high-rise condo building offers breathtaking views, and the surrounding area is filled with awesome amenities and a picturesque park.

This safe and authentic neighborhood offers a real taste of local living.

Sabaneta Condo Details:

  • 3 bedrooms
  • 2 bathrooms
  • 958 sq ft / 89 m2
  • HOA approx. $77/mo
  • Asking Price: $102,000
  • Price per sq ft: $106
  • Map

Comparable Condo in Littleton, Colorado (Suburb of Denver):

  • 3 bedrooms
  • 2 bathrooms
  • 1,072 sq ft / 100 m2
  • HOA $325/mo
  • Asking Price: $397,500
  • Price per sq ft $371 (3.5x more)
  • Zillow Listing

Watch Our Medellín Colombia Property Tour

Property 2: Terraza Grande – A Spacious Oasis in El Poblado

Plaza Manzanares Condo ExteriorNext up is a roomy first-floor condo in the gorgeous Plaza Manzanares complex, located in El Poblado, walking distance to the popular Zona Rosa tourist district.

This property has a huge terrace, lots of natural light, and is close to various restaurants, bars, and other attractions.

It is move-in ready, but there is potential for updating the kitchen and baths if desired.

Plaza Manzanares Condo Details:

  • 3 bedrooms
  • 3 bathrooms
  • 1,500 sq ft / 153 m2
  • HOA approx. $160/mo
  • Asking Price: $182,000
  • Price per sq ft: $121
  • Map

Comparable Condo in Downtown Denver, Colorado:

  • 2 bedrooms
  • 2 bathrooms
  • 998 sq ft / 93 m2
  • HOA $632/mo
  • Asking Price: $385,000
  • Price per sq ft $386 (3x more)
  • Zillow Link

Property 3: Rincón del Aguacatal – Avocado Plantation Corner

Aguacatal Condo Exterior Medellin ColombiaOur third destination is a 14th-floor condo in Rincón del Aguacatal (Corner of the Avocado Plantation).

This condo is also in El Poblado, but it’s closer to Santafé Mall and El Castillo, and not walkable to Zona Rosa.

The views from this property were simply incredible, and the natural light that filled the space was a huge plus.

Aguacatal Condo Details:

  • 3 bedrooms
  • 4 bathrooms
  • 2,206 sq ft / 205 m2
  • HOA approx. $159/mo
  • Asking Price: $243,000
  • Price per sq ft: $110
  • Map

Comparable Condo in Greenwood Village, Colorado (Suburb of Denver):

  • 2 bedrooms
  • 2 bathrooms
  • 1,658 sq ft / 154 m2
  • HOA $1,276/mo
  • Asking Price: $1,049,000
  • Price per sq ft $633 (almost 6x more)
  • Zillow Link

Property 4: Casa Blanca – A Dreamy Single-Family Home

Casa Blanca Exterior Medellin ColombiaFinally, the final property is a charming single-family home in Urbanización San Sebastián De La Alameda, on the eastern edge of El Poblado in the El Tesoro neighborhood.

This stand-alone house in a gated community has an incredible garden, high ceilings, and three balconies. The third level features an attic space with an additional bathroom, making it a unique and versatile property.

Casa Blanca House Details:

  • 3 bedrooms + attic
  • 4.5 bathrooms
  • 4,036 sq ft / 375 m2
  • HOA approx. $155/mo
  • Asking Price: $370,000
  • Price per sq ft: $92
  • Map

Comparable House in Wash. Park (Denver, Colorado):

  • 4 bedrooms
  • 3 bathrooms
  • 2,977 sqft / 277 m2
  • No HOA
  • Asking Price: $1,850,000
  • Price per sq ft: $621 (almost 7x more)
  • Zillow Link

A Special Thanks to Juan Camilo Villegas

Juan Camilo Villegas and Amelia Medellin ColombiaWe couldn’t have experienced this real estate tour without the help of Juan Camilo Villegas, who graciously showed us these properties.

Finding homeowners willing to let us film their homes for YouTube isn’t easy, and Juan’s expertise and organization made our tour a success.

Please note that we took this tour in January 2023, so these specific properties might not be available anymore, or the prices may have changed (especially with the currency fluctuations). However, Juan can definitely help you find other amazing homes in Medellín.

You can connect with him through his Facebook Page, and be sure to tell him you saw our post!

The Amazing Value of Medellín Colombia Real Estate

Our tour of these four properties left us in awe of the incredible value that Medellín real estate offers compared to Denver, Colorado!

It’s hard NOT to fall in love with the beautiful homes, vibrant neighborhoods, and stunning views that this Colombian city has to offer.

For a deeper dive into Medellín’s neighborhoods, check out our previous video: Where Expats Live in Medellín Colombia.

And don’t forget to let us know in the comments which property was your favorite. Happy house hunting!


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Subscribe to our free weekly newsletter and get immediate access to The 5 Countries Report: A review of our top 5 picks for best places to live, work and retire in Latin America. Find out if one of these amazing countries can check off all your boxes and be the ideal place to live your Unconventional Life!

PLUS, you'll get several other free perks we think you'll enjoy!

Best Expat Countries (According to Expats)

Every year, conducts a survey to see what current expats think about their home away from home. The results are tabulated and ranked to determine the Best Countries for Expats.

Most of the countries that made the top 10 expat country list for 2022 shouldn’t be surprising, especially the number 1 country for expats, but a few might be considered controversial.

No countries from Central or South America made the list this year, which I thought was very surprising!

Best Expat Countries According To ExpatsBefore diving into the top 10, let’s take a quick look at the factors the survey considered:

  • Quality of life
  • Ease of settling in
  • Working abroad
  • Expat essentials, such as housing and language

Additionally, I’ll share rankings from the Vision of Humanity Global Peace Index and the CEO World Quality of Life Index & Healthcare Index as a sanity check for the InterNations survey.

Now, without further ado, let’s start with number 10!

#10 Singapore

Singapore might be a small island, but it packs a big punch. The country is expensive, but it has excellent education, is very clean, and has reliable public transportation and a variety of expats from all over the world.

English is widely spoken, and you can even watch your gold and other precious metals via a webcam after sto

ring it in one of Singapore’s many bank vaults.

Singapore ranks 19th on the CEO World Quality of Life Index and 24th for healthcare.

#9 Australia

Australia is an outdoor lover’s paradise with amazing wildlife, watersports, and the Great Barrier Reef.

Although it’s more expensive than other countries on this list, it has a strong economy and lots of job opportunities.

The education system is excellent, and you can easily settle in since English is the primary language.

Australia ranks 27th on the Global Peace Index, 17th for quality of life, and 6th for healthcare.

#8 Thailand

Thailand is one of the most visited countries in the world and has an amazing history and culture. The cost of living is low, and the food is fantastic.

Bangkok, Phuket, Hua Hin, and Chiang Mai are popular with expats, and the country has some of the best hospitals in the world.

However, Thailand ranks 103rd on the Global Peace Index, 38th for quality of life, and 13th for healthcare.

#7 Vietnam

Vietnam has a sizable expat community, and the cost of living is low. It’s a safe country with a growing economy, and luxury rentals are affordable.

Da Nang, Hoi Chi Min, and Hanoi are popular with expats, and the infrastructure is improving.

Vietnam ranks 44th on the Global Peace Index, 62nd for quality of life, and 66th for healthcare.

#6 United Arab Emirates (UAE)

The United Arab Emirates is a stable and modern country with a wide variety of expats from all over the world. The cities are incredible, and the beaches are beautiful.

However, the cost of living is high, and it has a conservative culture with different laws than what you may be used to in your home country. Plus, the different emirates have different laws, so be careful!

The UAE ranks 60th on the Global Peace Index, 30th for quality of life, and 20th for healthcare.

#5 Spain

Spain is a European country with a laid-back vibe, history, and culture. However, it’s not as affordable as other Spanish-speaking countries, and petty crime can be a problem.

Madrid and Barcelona can be expensive, but areas such as Seville and Valencia are more affordable.

Spain ranks 29th on the Global Peace Index, 20th for quality of life, and 8th for healthcare.

#4 Portugal

Portugal is a popular choice to visit and relocate. It has a vibrant culture, history, and great food and wine.

The country is very affordable, but energy costs have increased, and housing has become more expensive in popular expat areas. Portugal has four seasons, and there are many outdoor activities to enjoy.

The country ranks 6th on the Global Peace Index, 23rd for quality of life, and 22nd for healthcare.

#3 Taiwan

Taipei is popular with expats, and there are more English speakers than in other parts of Taiwan. The people are friendly, and the infrastructure is solid, with a superior public transportation system.

However, the major cities are crowded, and there is more air pollution. The ongoing dispute with China over its sovereignty is also a major long-term safety concern.

Taiwan is ranked 20th on the Global Peace Index, 15th for quality of life, and has excellent healthcare, ranked 2nd in the world.

#2 Indonesia

Indonesia is the largest archipelago in the world, with five major islands and about 30 smaller groups of islands. It has a low cost of living, lots to do, and diverse wildlife.

The country is extremely popular with tourists because of its famous beaches, volcanoes, and islands such as Bali and Komodo Dragon island. However, Indonesia has a high level of pollution, and theft is an issue.

It ranks 47th on the Global Peace Index, 58th for quality of life, and 52nd for healthcare.

#1 Mexico

It should be no surprise that Mexico is the most popular country for worldwide expats again this year. It’s close to the US, making it an attractive choice for Americans who want a change of scenery but don’t want to be too far from home.

It is known for its rich culture, awesome beach destinations, and great food. Mexico has a slower pace, and the weather is fantastic with mountains and beaches.

The country is ranked 137th on the Global Peace Index, 46th for quality of life, and 29th for healthcare.

The US and Canada

Now, let’s take a quick look at how the US and Canada rank in terms of global peace, quality of life, and healthcare.

The US ranks 129th on the Global Peace Index, 16th for quality of life, and 30th for healthcare.

Canada ranks 12th on the Global Peace Index, 12th for quality of life, and 23rd for healthcare.

Final Thoughts

These are the top 10 expat countries for 2022, according to InterNations’ survey. It’s important to note that each country has its unique advantages and disadvantages, and what works for one person may not work for another.

Make sure to do your research and consider all the factors before making any decisions. And we HIGHLY recommend taking an exploratory trip before you move.

Watch Our Video About the Best Expat Countries


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PLUS, you'll get several other free perks we think you'll enjoy!

Manta Ecuador Pros & Cons

Amelia and I had always dreamed of living in a high-rise condo on the beach with an ocean view, and that dream came true when we moved to Manta, Ecuador.

The breathtaking views from our balcony were something we cherished, spending many evenings sitting out there, sipping on mocktails, and watching the sunset.

We marveled at the flocks of pelicans soaring by, the sunsets over the ocean, and the occasional kitesurfer. Our front-row seat to the swimming portion of the Manta Ironman competition was the cherry on top.

Overall, we enjoyed the year that we lived in Manta, but no place is perfect so we ended up leaving.

In this article, we’ll share the pros and cons of Manta Ecuador to help you decide if it’s the right place for you.

About Manta Ecuador

Manta EcuadorManta is one of the fastest-growing cities in Ecuador and a popular destination for expats.

With a population of about 250,000, it’s one of Ecuador’s largest port cities, welcoming cruise ships regularly.

The city has undergone significant redevelopment since the 2016 earthquake, especially in the popular tourist area of La Playa El Murciélago near Mall del Pacífico where most of the high rise condos are located.

Pros of Manta Ecuador

The beautiful weather in Manta sets it apart from other coastal towns, offering sunnier, drier, and less humid conditions.

The city offers modern conveniences and a variety of goods and services, thanks to its development. You’ll find beach condos, a new Malecón, the high-end Mall del Pacífico, Megamaxi, MegaKywi, and nice hotels like Hotel Oro Verde.

Condos For Rent in Manta EcuadorRenting or purchasing an oceanfront condo with panoramic views is possible, although the inventory is limited so you’ll pay more for housing than other parts of Ecuador.

Manta’s walkable city layout features wide sidewalks, pedestrian overpasses, and crosswalks, making it similar to Cuenca. Wheelchair accessibility is a priority in Manta, with sidewalk ramps, elevators, and wheelchair boardwalks to the beach.

An active lifestyle is encouraged, with cycling lanes, beach workout equipment, volleyball, soccer fields, and surfing is an option.

Comprehensive hospital services, including a new private hospital, IESS hospital, and free hospital, are available, as well as full veterinary services.

Manta is a clean city with less plastic pollution and is quieter and more tranquil than Guayaquil or Salinas.

Lastly, the airport offers direct flights to Quito, which provides international connections, as well as flights to Guayaquil, Cuenca and Loja.

Cons of Manta Ecuador

A Real Day in Manta EcuadorDespite its many advantages, Manta has a few drawbacks.

The smell from tuna factories on the northeast side of town and occasional sewer problems can be unpleasant. When people visit Manta for the first time, they usually comment on the smell.

Earthquakes are common due to its location on the Ring of Fire, and the city can be quite windy, which may be uncomfortable for some.

Limited real estate availability, especially for oceanfront properties, can result in more expensive housing.

Murciélago Beach, though popular, is not the best beach in Ecuador, with its rocky, small, and crowded nature. Surfing conditions are not ideal, and the lack of green spaces and parks might be disappointing to some.

There are fewer English speakers compared to other cities like Cuenca, so it may be a rougher adjustment if you’re not fluent in Spanish.

You won’t find many cultural activities like museums or symphonies. Cuenca and Quito are far better options if you’re looking for those types of activities.

Crime has increased considerably since the pandemic due to economic challenges and drug trafficking through the port.

Final Thoughts About Manta Ecuador

Manta, Ecuador, offers a beautiful coastal lifestyle with modern conveniences, making it an attractive destination for expats.

While there are some drawbacks, such as occasional smells and limited real estate options, the city’s growth and development promise a bright future.

Living in Manta allowed us to experience the joy of oceanfront living, and we encourage anyone considering a move to visit first, and weigh the pros and cons before making a decision.

Watch Our Video About the Dark Side of Manta Ecuador


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PLUS, you'll get several other free perks we think you'll enjoy!

Are We Moving to Mexico? Comparing Mexico and Ecuador for Expats

Lately, we’ve been getting tons of questions asking if we’re moving to Mexico since we started sharing videos from our adventures there.

So, we thought it would be a perfect time to compare Mexico and Ecuador head-to-head and see which one comes out on top for factors that matter most to us (and maybe you as well!).

Mexico VS EcuadorThe Allure of Mexico

Mexico has a lot going for it, especially for expats from the United States and Canada. It’s super close, making traveling to and from home a breeze, with multiple international airports and even the option to drive there!

Pros of Living in Mexico:

  • Developed infrastructure (highways, housing, internet, etc.)
  • Cheaper goods and more variety (Amazon Prime!)
  • Delicious food
  • Friendly locals
  • Diverse housing options
  • Good healthcare (ranked 29th globally by CEOWorld Magazine)
  • Rich culture and plenty of things to do

The Not-So-Great Side of Mexico:

Of course, no place is perfect, and Mexico has a few drawbacks too:

Ecuador: An Expat Paradise?

Ecuador, a hidden gem tucked away in South America, has been gaining popularity among expats over the past 10+ years. But is it truly an expat paradise?

In this section, we’ll dive into the various aspects that make Ecuador a fantastic destination for those looking to start a new adventure abroad, as well as some of the challenges that come with living in this beautiful country.

Pros of Living in Ecuador:

Ecuador also has a lot going for it, particularly for those from the United States:

  • The US dollar is the official currency
  • Fantastic climate
  • Walkable cities and towns
  • Amazing fruits and veggies (high quality and low cost)
  • Affordable, high-quality healthcare (ranked 25th globally)
  • Low cost of living
  • Reliable internet
  • Safe drinking water in some metro areas
  • Outdoor activities galore
  • Friendly locals
  • Easy to obtain visas (we have permanent visas!)

Ecuador’s Imperfections:

Ecuador isn’t without its flaws:

  • Farther from the US (flights are more expensive and longer)
  • Expensive and limited international travel options
  • Increasing crime/drug activity (Ecuador ranked #79 on the safest country list in 2022)
  • Smaller expat communities compared to Mexico
  • Not-so-great beaches (more like the Pacific side of Mexico, not the Caribbean)
  • Expensive imported goods and limited variety

Our Verdict: Are We Moving to Mexico?

So, what’s the verdict? The main benefit Mexico has over Ecuador for us is its proximity to the US and our families back home.

However, we think Ecuador ranks higher on a few aspects that matter more to us than a shorter plane ride, like high quality healthcare, better air quality and drinkable tap water (where we live).

Plus, we have permanent visas in Ecuador so we don’t have to worry about being legal or making visa runs!

Although we love to travel and may consider applying for a visa in another country at some point, we’re not moving to Mexico. We’re staying in Ecuador.

Both Mexico and Ecuador are fantastic options for expats and have a lot to offer. If you’re looking to escape the daily grind and try something new, you can’t go wrong with either destination.

Watch Our Video Comparing Mexico and Ecuador


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PLUS, you'll get several other free perks we think you'll enjoy!

Playa del Carmen Mexico Pros & Cons

Today, we’re going to take a trip down memory lane and revisit our decision to move to Cuenca, Ecuador rather than Playa del Carmen, Mexico when we left the United States.

As some of you may know from watching our older videos, Ecuador wasn’t our first choice. We had our sights set on Playa del Carmen because it was familiar to us and much closer to home. However, we ended up ruling it out for various reasons.

After traveling throughout Ecuador, Mexico, and Colombia, we felt it was time to reevaluate our decision and answer the burning question: Did we make the wrong choice?

Playa Del Carmen Pros And ConsPlaya del Carmen, Mexico: Our First Choice

Initially, we had our hearts set on Playa del Carmen, Mexico. We were both familiar with the area and enjoyed our time there on prior vacations, making it the easiest option.

But, after extensive research and weighing the pros and cons, we opted for Cuenca, Ecuador instead. So, let’s dive into the details of Playa del Carmen and discuss whether we still believe we made the right call.

Our Playa del Carmen Experience

We were quite surprised upon our arrival in Playa del Carmen. Despite the airport being only 34 miles (55 km) away, traffic made the drive feel like an eternity.

We stayed in a nice Airbnb outside of the main tourist area, which was peaceful, close to the grocery store, walkable, secure, and clean. It was very small and the kitchen could use some more gear, but it was super affordable and our host was fantastic and even recommended drivers for us.

Pros of Playa del Carmen

Playa del Carmen has a lot going for it that make it a popular home for expats and digital nomads.

Playa del Carmen Mexico Pros & Cons

  • Scenic 5.2 km walking area along 5th Avenue that’s mostly flat
  • Pedestrian and pet-friendly
  • Great for people-watching
  • Popular among digital nomads, retirees, and singles
  • People from all over the world and lots of languages spoken
  • Vibrant Mexican culture
  • Amazing food and restaurant variety
  • Numerous options for different dietary needs
  • Abundance of shopping options, including grocery stores, malls, Walmart, Home Depot, and local tiendas
  • Pharmacies carry a wide range of prescription drugs

Cons of Playa del Carmen

No place is perfect and Playa del Carmen has several drawbacks that could make it a challenging place to live full time.

  • Hot and humid
  • Extremely crowded in tourist areas, especially during peak season
  • More concrete and less beach than before
  • Seaweed (sargassum) problem on the beaches – it was really bad
  • Walking the gauntlet on 5th (persistent salespeople)
  • High prices in tourist areas, comparable to US costs
  • Can’t drink the tap water (water filter bottles recommended – we used the Katadyn BeFree Bottles)
  • Can’t flush the toilet paper (at least not in the AirBnB where we stayed)

The Verdict: Cuenca vs. Playa del Carmen

We could have definitely lived in Playa del Carmen, especially as expat newbies.

The abundance of English speakers and expat-oriented services would have made the transition easy. We also loved the bustling vibe and numerous activities.

However, we don’t think we would have wanted to live there long-term. The constant influx of tourists, heavy traffic, and hot, humid weather might have eventually worn us down.

In the end, we still believe Ecuador was the right choice for us, considering our lifestyle preferences.

For more on this topic, check out this article next: Top 10 Reasons Why We Chose Ecuador.

Watch Our Video About the Pros & Cons of Playa del Carmen


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PLUS, you'll get several other free perks we think you'll enjoy!