Cuernavaca has been the city of choice for discriminating travelers since it was established by the Olmec, the mother culture of Mesoamerica, approximately 3,200 years ago.
It has long been a favorite escape for Mexico City and foreign visitors because of the warm, stable climate and abundant vegetation. Beginning in 1300, the Aztec emperors had summer residences here. Now replaced by the wealthy Mexico City residents and famous people from around the globe the city continues in its popularity. Just a 1½-hour drive from Mexico City, Cuernavaca traditionally has been a center of Mexican society and glamour, with many of the country’s wealthy citizens owning sprawling mansions and haciendas in this cultural haven. Cuernavaca is also host to a large foreign resident population, including large numbers of students and staff from the largest corporations in the world, who come to study the language.
While the city was nicknamed the “City of Eternal Spring” by Alexander von Humboldt in the 19th century after spending only a few days in Cuernavaca, the name has remained true even as global warming has left other, less fortunate, cities drenched in summer heat.
Recently an article was written by a local gringo resident of Cuernavaca that painted the city in a poor light and that it is no longer the City of Eternal Spring. That Cuernavaca used to be one of the “hot spots” in Mexico for American and Canadian retirees, followed by not a small number of British. And, that it is no longer as attractive as it was once.
The article incorrectly blamed the decline of expat retirees on a new socialist presidency, the drop in oil prices, the lack of tourism marketing, the glut in real estate, that other cities were more attractive, the protection racket, and more.
As much as I like the author, I believe the article is not indicative of the true sense of Cuernavaca. We often tend to forget that most authors are giving only their personal view of the subject of their writing. And, of course, we each have a difference of opinion. Those who write occasional pieces, such as this, do a poor job of writing for others, and tend to get far too personal in their scope. The article was biased at best.
Those of us who live in Cuernavaca, each have our own viewpoint of the city. While some will always take the high road and sing praises of the wonderful attributes of the place in which they choose to live — others will take an opposite view and find all the things that are unpleasant.
Yes, there has been a decline in the number of expat retirees living in Cuernavaca. Some of it is attributable to the fact that people eventually die. Some have chosen to return home as they get older and need more medical attention, especially if they can take advantage of Medicare or National Healthcare in their home country. Some miss their family and friends, especially as they get older. Thus, the number of expat retirees is constantly reduced. Without attrition, it will continue to do so.
The reason that the number of expat retirees moving to Mexico, in general, is due to the decreasing birth rate worldwide. In 1950-55 the world birthrate was 37.2 births per 100,000, and it has steadily declined to 19.4 births per 100,000 in 2010-15. Not once in those years has the birthrate increased. There are fewer people reaching retirement age each year and the attrition rate cannot possibly keep up with the decline.
The decline of expat retirees has nothing to do with the attractiveness of Cuernavaca. The attractiveness of Cuernavaca has everything to do with how the city has been able to retain its small town culture, while growing tremendously. Every where you look, the city is growing with new plazas and malls, new housing opportunities, and more jobs are created.
Yes, with the growth, and the inability of the land-locked city being able to expand, there will be problems. More traffic, less water, and higher costs for utilities. But, we no longer have to travel to Mexico City to shop for what was not available in Cuernavaca before. And, there are more taxis available. We now have 2,000 more taxis than New York, which has more taxis than any other USA city.
The parks and landscape have become more beautiful, the sun is still shining and the weather is still responsible for Cuernavaca being the City of Eternal Spring. So, please do not allow one person’s view – those of other writers or my own – sway you from making your own personal choices in life. You are, of course, your own person.