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Mitch Keenan of Mexico International Real Estate – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Mayan women laughing and talking in Yucatan, Mexico – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingYes, you can get by with English here in Yucatan. The great thing about the people here in Yucatan is that everybody wants to help you communicate. Even if you cannot quite figure out what you want to say, they will find a way to help you by letting you point at it or tell them what it sounds like. Does it “oink like a pig or does it “quack like a duck?” If you are trying to tell them something about your car, you could point and tell them the noise that your car is making. Point to a part of your body or to the food that you want and they will help you communicate.
 
Overall, the language that is most spoken in the Yucatan Peninsula is Maya. Maya is the predominant language of Yucatan. The entire peninsula is populated with little Mayan pueblos so they are everywhere. In fact, we have an employee who just started with us. I went to his pueblo last weekend to get some documents that he needed and his family was there. They all conversed in Maya; everybody in the pueblo converse in Maya. When they talk on the phone, his mom talks in Maya, and doesn’t even understand any Spanish, even though his dad did.
 
Spanish is the second most spoken language in Yucatan. The third would be English because everybody who goes to any kind of school learns how to speak some English. Here in Merida, where you have all the colleges and tech schools, there is an enormous young population of people who speak at least some English.
 
Dealing with day-to-day life here Yucatan, you are going to need to learn some Spanish words. I found that it is really important to know how to say “baño,” which means “restroom” because when you got to go, you got to go and you need to know where the baño is! It also helpful to know how to say some food items and household items especially if you have a maid or a gardener who doesn’t speak any English, which is usually the case maids or gardeners. They are not well-educated, so they do not know how to speak English so in order for you to communicate, you have to know how to say some household items in Spanish. You can also point to the thing that you are talking about.
 
Overall, once you are able to start communicating with the people here, you would be able to build a relationship with them as well and relationships are important. These are a relationship-type of people, so learning some Spanish is a good idea and maybe you could also learn so speak a little Maya, too.
 
(Pictured: Mayan women laughing and talking in Yucatan, Mexico.)
Doug Willey of Doug Willey, Independent Real Estate Consultant – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
 Dzilam de Bravo, Yucatan, Mexico – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingIn Merida (the largest city in the state of Yucatan in the Yucatan Peninsula), you would probably be okay with just speaking English unless you go to a restaurant that is totally owned by a Mexican family and it’s not on a main street. If you go there, you would need to know a little bit of Spanish and you would need to be able to read the menu in Spanish. 
 
One of my favorite restaurants in Merida is Trotters. They have a couple of people who speak English. They have the Spanish menu and the English menu. 
 
In contrast, if you go where I live now in Dzilam de Bravo (an extremely small village in the beach areas around Merida), there are only five expats who live in the village and only around 2% of the people here speak English. Dzilam de Bravo would not be for the average person just coming into Mexico but my wife and I chose to move here in order to get more time for ourselves. The menus are not in English so you need to understand what the foods are in Spanish. When they bring you your bill, it will be in pesos so you need to know how to count your own money.  
 
But if you are in other beach places in the Merida beach area, such as Chelem, you won’t have a problem getting by with just English because even the restaurants there would have one or two people who speak English and they would almost always have an English menu. If you happen to go to a restaurant that didn’t have an English menu, then they will make sure, as a favor, that they would translate the menu to you. They will explain to you that what’s on the menu is breaded fish, shrimp and garlic sauce, for example. 
 
In the state of Quintana Roo (also in the Yucatan Peninsula, and where the more well known expat and tourists areas are such as Cancun, Cozumel, Playa del Carmen and Tulum) in the more tourist areas, you could easily get by with just English. This is the reason why, when I moved to Chelem and I told the people here that I had already been in Mexico for 7 years, they asked, “How could this be?  You hardly speak any Spanish.”
 
They were right. The reason is that living in Playa del Carmen and in Cozumel, I didn’t need to learn Spanish, so I didn’t concentrate on it. But when I first got here to Chelem, it was a whole different story because all of the gringos hadn’t bought in here yet. There were only around eight other expat couples that lived here when I moved here. There was hardly anyone here that spoke English because they didn’t need to since they hardly ever saw a gringo. All of that has changed now, though. Now there’s so many expats in Chelem that pretty much everybody here also speaks English.  
 
(Dzilam de Bravo, Yucatan, Mexico, pictured.)
Wade Yarchan of Yucatan Beach Homes – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Jesus Berzunza Pinto blilingual realtor, Merida, Mexico – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingWhen we first got here, my goal was to speak fluent Spanish in six months. Three years later, I am probably 60% fluent.
 
You can go days at the beach here without ever having the need to speak Spanish. The expat community is that big here. In Merida, you will learn to speak Spanish a lot quicker than you will here at the beaches in Yucatan.
 
In Cancun, you can go weeks at a time and never speak Spanish because most everybody that works in Cancun speaks English. It is really kind of funny! The main language in Mexico is Spanish. Mayan is a very big language so sometimes you will meet people who speak a mix of Mayan and Spanish. The locals talk between the two languages and understand each other very well. So even when you learn to speak Spanish, your proper Spanish doesn’t always get you by but between charades and what you know of the local language, considering that Yucatan is so different than Mexico City, everybody here just wants to help you. They want to communicate. They want you to learn and there is always a smile on people’s faces. It is a very easy place to go.
 
If you do not know how to speak Spanish, come and learn Spanish and the locals will teach you but if you move into an expat community, you are going to wind up like everybody else who deals with expats most of the time. Your need for Spanish isn’t as great until the ending services, at which time you need to learn Spanish or have someone who will help you. There are always people here who are willing to help, whether local or expats.
 
(Jesus Berzunza Pinto, bilingual realtor for Yucatan Beach homes, Yucatan, Mexico , pictured.)

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