Living our Dream

Retiring in Tulum, Yucatan . Fun, sun, Paradise

Permaculture home design. Living off­grid in the jungles of Tulum, Yucatan.

House exterior completedWho in their wildest dreams would attempt this. Of course Canadians from Alberta, Canada. You can do it too.

When we first started searching for property we travelled everywhere. Living in Canada power is increasing daily. We needed to find a retirement place where we could live comfortably on our pensions and not depend on increasing costs as we are on a fixed income.

International Living Magazine ( is a publication that specifically chooses developments or areas that they have investigated and chosen as a safe investment. We took the chance and decided to travel to for a chill weekend. This development is located 12kms from Tulum, Yucatan where you find the most incredible beaches in the world. Never having visited before it was a wonderful adventure.

As soon as we drove into the development we knew it was home. Each lot is 5 acres and abundant wildlife and birds. Toucans flying overhead with spider monkeys swinging in the old jungle. Natural flowering trees and mayan honey bees.

Natural sand roads intertwine between 220 lots. You are only allowed to build on 5% so the jungle is preserved. You have a bank trust and a title. So your land is safe and can be sold at anytime.

Permaculture is a sustainable design science rooted in observation of nature. Our zapote logs, that are the main structure of our home, were harvested and dried before the full moon. All the rocks on our walls came from our land, carried by our mayan workers.
With our architect and Permaculture teacher Carlos Alamillo, we designed and completed our home in 3 years. We are totally self sufficient and have not harmed the delicate jungle environment.
There are 3 areas needed for living off grid in the jungle.

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1. Solar Energy.
This is the most important thing living off grid. To have enough power for the essentials of life. We needed to be in comparison to what we are used to in Canada. Living in Mexico has cut our desires back for the better.

Yes we have 3 fridges, hair blowers and AC in the 2 bedrooms. But we have designed our house to use mother nature. The Permaculture way.

All the ceilings are 14 feet high. Our ceiling fans operate 24/7 in every room on both levels. There are 10 foot screen doors with cross ventilation. We rarely use the AC. Living in the jungle the temperature is 10 degrees cooler. Open the doors at night and close during the day. Lots of LED lighting and an internet tower on our roof. We have better internet than our home in Canada on our acreage.

Our experience was to get the best person to design our system. We talked to a lot of people who had problems with their builders who included solar in their quotes. At the end they called upon our designer Tamara Lashbrook to fix their lack of energy. We had a wish list which was about 3x the amount we could afford. Tamara came with her experience and we developed our energy rated on usage. We have 18 solar panels with 16 batteries. We never run out of power. But do have a backup generator just in case.

2. Septic Wetlands.
Our development requires you have a septic system that does not pollute the jungle.
Either self contained tanks which need to be pumped out or our type of Humidales. This is a system with low flush toilet ( you can use toilet paper) which empties into a dry compost tank of wood chips and coconut fiber. It breaks down to a wonderful rich black earth with no smell. The wet refuse drains goes into a cement run with layers of rocks, wood, old plastic, with natural plants such as elephant ears, birds of paradise, banana trees which are planted in soil, topped with gravel. At the end of run you have a pipe that drains out almost pure water. Amazing. There is never any smell and the plants get so huge. Like a tropical garden.

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26 humidales completed

3. Rain Water Collection

During the rainy months in Mexico you can collect a lot of water. These tanks are called cisterns and made out of cement and rebar with a lid. As long as there is no sunlight and sealed properly, so no frogs or snakes get in , the water stays cool, fresh and usable for any daily activities like bathing and watering and if you have reverse osmosis drinking. Mold will not grow without sunlight.

We have 2 (10,000 gallon) tanks. They are located under our back deck with a pump system that allows all the rainwater to collect on our clean rain water collection area, the top roof patio. It then drains down hidden pipes into the cisterns. When they are full there is an overflow onto our fruit trees.
We never run out of fresh rain water and so soft for your skin and bathing.

6 cisterns after

Living off Grid is a process. You learn how to respect mother nature and still have all the luxuries of life. This is a sustainable life living in Mexico.


  1. Cool, I’m researching permaculture for a book series. This is awesome.

  2. Wow!! My dream is living in a self-sufficient manner without reliance on one or more public utilities. I loved the water system!! Great job!

  3. Wow!! My dream is living in a self-sufficient manner without reliance on one or more public utilities. I loved the water system!

    • The septic wetlands is designed by our builder and is a work of art. Not only gorgeous plants but no smell and it runs through the plants which clean the waste and comes out at the end almost pure water. Amazing and no smell.

  4. That sounds amazing!! I live in Mexico City, and your idea of retirement is very appealing to me. Who wouldn’t want to live in paradise? Congratulations on your decision! I should retire like that someday 🙂

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