• Joel K. Adair

Island of Legends Isla Mujeres Real Estate

Over the years, while vacationing on the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico, I’ve hit most of the popular destinations for tourism. I’ve stayed in Cancun, The Mayan Riviera, Playa Del Carmen, Cozumel and Tulum…. which by the way, I still have a soft spot for. But my recent trip to the Yucatan took me in a different direction. After landing in Cancun, I got on a boat and headed due west for about 15-20km until I reached the island of Isla Mujeres.   

Isla Mujeres is an Island of beauty and of legends. Like the legend of the Mayan Goddess Ixchel, who is known as the Goddess of the Moon and Fertility. The Mayan women who worshiped her would make a pilgrimage to a sacred cave on the south end of the island to give birth. There’s another very interesting legend of a pirate named Mundaca. Mundaca would have done anything to win the love of one very special young Mayan woman, including buying up most of the island, to win her affection. But ultimately, he could never reconcile with her for his misdeeds in the slave trade and would die alone of a broken heart. 

The remains of these legends can still be found on the island today and the pirate Mundaca, who at one point in history managed to accumulate ownership of the majority of the island, now has a museum located on his former estate. And the biggest real estate brokerage on the island now bares the name of the former land baron, Mundaca. 

Isla Mujeres is one of the smaller real estate markets I’ve ever had the chance to explore. Real estate agents here don’t need a licence and basically there’s no such thing as a mortgage broker because mortgages are basically almost nonexistent. However, real estate sales people still need to trade real estate through a brokerage that is licensed. Therefore, the more business that brokerage does, the more likely you are to get a good result as a buyer or seller. But let’s face it, on an island with a population of only fourteen thousand people, there’s only so much real estate you can sell in a day. The island is very charming. It’s safe. It has solid infrastructure with municipal water and electricity that comes across the ocean floor from Cancun. The food is incredible and there’s amenities, parks, entertainment, stunning beaches, culture and history. There’s even a tiny little recreational airport if you want to fly in privately. Resorts are much more boutique in style and have a very different feel from the monster all-inclusive style resorts you find in Cancun or the Mayan Riviera. I was invited to stay as a guest at Zoetry Villa resort which has been frequented by guests like Bono, Tony Blair and Richard Branson. So there is definitely a luxury vibe to parts of the island, particularly the south eastern shoreline. Raw land on the island has become extremely rare and limited. As the word continues to spread the demand for property on the island seems to increase more and more every year. Despite the scarcity of land, you can still enter the market with about three hundred thousand dollars in liquidity. Of course, spending three million for a private residence wouldn’t be uncommon either and because buyers here are paying cash and likely own multiple homes or vacation properties in other parts of the world, the market tends to remain stable and relatively insulated. 

Most buyers can typically be sorted into 2 different buckets. You’re likely either an investor who is highly interested in the numbers like annual appreciation and rental income, but still might want to take a vacation and visit your property once or twice a year or you’re the less common brand of buyer who is looking to permanently relocate and is going to put more emphasis on lifestyle, health, community, environment, and weigh out your decision to purchase based on what you think is truly going to make you happy in life. Essentially this type of buyer is a dreamer who is chasing a lifestyle and trying to once and for all escape the rat race of potentially a big North American city. 

One such buyers name is Todd Pierce. Todd is a cultural anthropologist by trade who relocated to the island about eight years ago with his wife after spending twenty years in the daily grind of Washington DC. These days Todd refers to himself as the Island’s Anthropologist, who also sells real estate. As a cultural anthropologist who sells real estate, he is very interested in human behaviour and understanding variations in culture. Every summer he runs a field school where students from around the world come to learn how to apply Anthropological research in the field as they study and treat the island as their patient. The school is called the “Isla Mujeres Ethnographic Field School” and his students do a great deal of work to apply their science to the island helping to improve and create programs that impact things like housing, environmental conservation and economic development. I spent several hours touring the island. In Todd’s golf cart, of course!! Because, that is just how they do it in Isla Mujeres. But after about two hours, we ended up in a bar, drinking margaritas and discussing what it’s like to live on a tiny island, his decision to move there and the incredible work that he and his brokerage are doing to positively impact the local community. Listen as I debrief with Todd Pierce from Mundaca Real Estate following my showings on the island of Isla Mujeres. 

Real estate can be very symbolic to different people. It can symbolize a lifestyle. It can symbolize status, security and wealth. Or it can represent a dream or a new way of life or even all of the above. Today’s vlog is obviously much more about lifestyle and priorities and less about analytics and numbers. As much as I enjoy traveling and bellying up at the bar listening to the stories of people who have the guts to take a leap of faith and move to an island paradise in pursuit of a healthier, simpler lifestyle, I know that I’m not ready to follow in those footsteps just yet. But spending time with Todd, I find myself examining my own culture and my own behaviour, wondering if the big city still needs me? For now, it’s still a resounding yes! My calling is still in the big city. But Todd was definitely helping to feed the dreamer inside of me and the day I had to leave the island knowing it would only be a matter of time before I would be back to the grind in Toronto, made me wonder. What if!?

Adair Real Estate https://www.adairrealestate.com

Mundaca Real Estate


Zoëtry Villa Rolandi Isla Mujeres Cancun


The Little Yellow School House - Amor A La Niñez


Todd G. Pierce, Ph.D.

Mundaca Realty