Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Canadian realtor in Yucatán: foreigners with big bucks are a myth; most have limited budgets, less to spend

Beach town rental market feels the effects of poor world economy, as snowbirds tighten the belt

*Updates below*
Mérida, Yucatán -
Twenty miles north of this capital, the White City as it's known, lays the quiet beach town of Puerto Progreso, long a haven for American, and especially Canadian, snow birds. Some will tell you that Progreso, and the entire peninsula, were "discovered" by Canadian travelers three decades or more ago. But today it's popular with many, both locals and those from abroad. Cruise ships pull in weekly, dropping anchor for 12-24 hours. Mexico's next president even stops by occasionally.

But a Canadian real estate agent, in published comments to a local news service, reports that things are not as rosy as local property owners would like them to be.

Cinthia Matson told that the worldwide economic downturn has resulted in fewer winter rentals, and a smaller number of Canadian visitors along the Yucatecan coast.

That puts pressure on local property owners whose costs are fixed, she said. Some of them raise rents to make up for the lack of business, an approach which usually doesn't work.

"When we talk about foreigners, the presumption is that they have huge economic resources, but in reality most have a rent budget of about a thousand dollars per month," noted Matson.

The upside of the local rental economy is that even though fewer Canadians are arriving than in hardier times, those who do come to the area tend to stay for a year or two, instead of several months. Yucatán's reputation for security, and the friendliness and warmth of the local citizenry, frequently are cited as reasons for the coast's enduring popularity, according to Matson.

She said that about 700 Canadians are full time residents of Progreso. During the winter high season, in January and February, there may be more than 5,000 who have fled bitter cold and snow far to the north.

Matson used the interview as an opportunity to ask city government for more bi-lingual personnel in emergency services departments. Most Canadians encounter "great difficulty" trying to summon assistance in Spanish, she noted. "It's a waste of time to seek help if the person on the other end of the line doesn't understand you."

Dec. 17 - Cruise ship passenger traffic through Progreso fell more than 12% in 2012
Oct. 15 - Yucatán tourism continues to languish, after "Mayan effect" prophecies fail to materialize
Dec. 7, 2011 - Update on Canadian couple who drowned at Progreso - tragic end to dream vacation
Dec. 4, 2011 - Two found dead on Progreso beach after drowning

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