Chuck and Joanne Dueck
YL: When did you move to the Yucatan and from where did you move?
Chuck and Joanne: We lived in Winnipeg, Canada and first came to Progreso on a scouting mission in fall of 2007. We were here for six days and we put in an offer on our house. The deal closed on December 23, 2007 and renovations began. After returning to Canada to sell our house and get our kids into an apartment, we were back to live in Merida for six weeks, then moved into our house in Progreso in March 2008.
YL: Why did you move?
Chuck and Joanne: Chuck had been retired for six months, and we were looking for a change of scenery and a new adventure. We didn’t want to grow old rueing the things we hadn’t done. Our two kids were in university and we were in a position where we could do this. And the kids encouraged us to have the adventure!
YL: Why did you choose the city you now live in over other places in the world?
Chuck and Joanne: We had been in Mexico before and liked the places we had been. We didn’t want to be in a tourist area, nor in gated expat community. We have family and parents in Winnipeg, and we wanted a place from where we can get to them in a day if needed.
YL: Did you buy a house right away or rent first? Do you think you made the right decision?
Chuck and Joanne: We made the offer six days after we got to Progreso. We found the perfect location for us, and know we made the right decision on location and the house. Because we rent suites to tourists and visitors our location is perfect. Guests have privacy here but they can still walk to shops and the malecon is just half a block away.
YL: Are you doing now what you intended to do when you moved here? If not, why not?
Chuck and Joanne: Chuck had been retired for eight months, but that did not last long once we got to Progreso. We both work online for a Canadian company, Joanne part-time and Chuck full-time. We intended to have some tourist rental apartments, and we also have that now.
YL: What are the most interesting things about living here for you?
Chuck and Joanne: The different culture, and the opportunity to learn another language. After almost five years, there is still often a feeling of adventure and discovery about living here.
YL: What do you absolutely love about living here?
Chuck and Joanne: A laid back lifestyle, being able to drop in on friends without making an appointment, and not ever seeing snow.
YL: What do you miss from your "former life"?
Chuck and Joanne: Chuck is a car racing fan, and misses going to the local tracks. It’s generally too hot to golf here, so he misses that sometimes as well. The biggest thing that we miss is our kids. We miss them very, very much but generally we see them twice a year. Technology keeps getting better and better, so its easy to talk with them whenever we want. Household items we miss are Miracle Whip, Salt and Vinegar potato chips, and Canadian McIntosh apples.
YL: What don’t you miss from your "former life"?
Chuck and Joanne: The rat race and pressure to compete in the corporate world, who has the best car, best house, etc. And we don't miss the snow, cold and having to drive to work in winter.
YL: What is your favorite local food?
Chuck and Joanne: Camaron empanizado, sopa de lima, panuchos, and french fries with wiener florets.
YL: What is your favorite time of year here and why?
Chuck and Joanne: We love summer and fall. Summer is great because the town is so lively and all the vacationing Mexican families are having a good time together. We love to see that. Fall is great because it’s the calm between the storms of summer vacationers and snowbirds. In winter we look forward to seeing our snowbird friends back in town.
YL: Where do you take guests who visit you here to show them something really special?
Chuck and Joanne: Uxmal, or to a cenote or just to dinner depending on what their interests are or if we want to shake up their view of what Mexico is. For my Mom or female friends, we go shoe-shopping in Ticul. Sometimes a drive along the coastline from one end to the other... Chuburna to Dzilam de Bravo.
YL: The last time you went out to dinner, where did you go and why?
Chuck and Joanne: We went to Bruno’s Bistro Gourmet. We highly recommend it.
YL: How is the city where you live different for residents than it is for tourists?
Chuck and Joanne: There’s a different atmosphere when the cruise ships are in. There are people trying to make a living selling to tourists and while they are not aggressive, its quieter on days the ships are not here. We are at the point where people in the stores and restaurants know that we live here, so there is an acceptance of us as their neighbours.
YL: Do you have friends from the local community or do you pretty much hang with the expat crowd?
Chuck and Joanne: We know our neighbors and some other locals and would consider them friends. We have been to a few parties with local people. We primarily socialize with other expats living in the area.
YL: If you are working or own a business, what is it like owning and running a business here or working here? How is it different from doing the same thing in your country of origin?
Chuck and Joanne: We run our vacation rental business in Progreso. We rely on our accountant as he handles our business taxes. The main thing to be careful about is having a good accountant. We didn’t do this in Canada, so don’t really know how running vacation rental is different here.
YL: Do you find it more or less difficult to make a living here than in your country of origin?
Chuck and Joanne: We have a few apartment rentals here in Progreso, and with our on-line jobs, we are able to make a comfortable living. If we didn't have those jobs, we think it would be difficult as foreigners to make a living at the standard that we enjoyed back home.
YL: Are your work habits different here?
Answer: My work clothes are flip-flops and shorts instead of a suit and tie. I work from home instead of going to an office. Everything is different and better here. Joanne worked in a medical laboratory in Canada and while she is available to our renters on evenings and weekends, there is no real shift work.
YL: Did you speak Spanish when you moved here? Where did you learn Spanish (if you did)? Is the language barrier a problem for you in your daily life?
Chuck and Joanne: We did not speak Spanish, but a few months prior to moving, began listening to CDs. We took lessons for 3 years after we moved here. The language barrier is not an issue anymore, although conversing on the phone is very difficult. No problems in person though.
YL: What interesting Spanish word or saying have you learned lately? What does it mean and how did you learn it?
Chuck and Joanne: The latest Spanish word is not fit for publication!
YL: Are you a Mexican citizen? Do you plan to become one?
Chuck and Joanne: Chuck’s Dad was born in Mexico, so by rights, Chuck should be a citizen. However problems with the birth certificate issued in the 1920s prevent Chuck from claiming citizenship. We, and our attorney, spent months working on getting that right, to no avail.
YL: Have you traveled much within Mexico? If so, where and what has been your favorite location to visit? What did you see there that you liked so much?
Chuck and Joanne: Oaxaca is a great place to visit. We’ve been to other “tourist” areas, around the state of Yucatan, and are planning a trip to D.F. (Mexico City) in the fall. We plan to travel more and see more of the country in the future.
YL: How are you treated by Mexicans? Do you feel resented or welcome?
Chuck and Joanne: We have never felt anything but welcome here. Our neighbors are great, and we have never sensed resentment in the markets, stores, etc.
YL: How do you feel about the economic prospects of Mexico? Of the Yucatan?
Chuck and Joanne: Based on what we read in the news, we think they are good, and will be even better if the country can overcome the image problem of a perception of violence everywhere.
YL: What are some changes you are hoping for in the city in which you live? Do you see any progress towards these changes?
Chuck and Joanne: We were actually hoping for no change! While there are foreigners that come here for 6 months or even live here that like to meet the mayor and agitate for change, we liked what we saw when we first came, and have no expectations for change. Things have changed however. Progreso has done a good job of creating and fixing up parks, and there are a lot less dogs and garbage on the streets now.
YL: What are your plans for the future here?
Chuck and Joanne: We don’t have any plans to leave here, but we have learned to never say never. We don’t know what the future holds for us.
YL: What is the one most important piece of advice you would give someone buying property and/or planning a move to the Yucatan?
Chuck and Joanne: Take your time and don’t rush into it. While almost everything worked for us in buying within six days, we have seen a lot go wrong for others because they were in a rush. If you can, rent for a couple of months or more, and get to know the area and determine where you want to live. Get to know some people that have gone through what you a planning to do, and pick their brains. That’s whats we tell our renters when they are here scouting for property.
YL: If you could say something to all the people of Mexico, what would you say?
Chuck and Joanne: We don’t think we have the right to say something to all of the people in Mexico, but to those of us that have impacted us, we say “Thank you for making us feel welcome in your country!”
YL: If there is anything else you would like to add for our readers (people interested in or considering moving to the Yucatan, former Yucatecans, people planning to visit for an extended tour…), please add them here:
When we moved here Chuck was 50 and Joanne was 49. Most of the expat crowd was older than we were. We see that shifting now and more and more younger expats are arriving all the time. Life is short, expand your horizons, move here even if only for a short while - it is doable. Live your dreams!
Chuck and Joanne rent vacation rental units that you can view here: www.vacationrentals.com/vacation-rentals/15073.html