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The Best Places to Retire in Mexico

The Best Places to Retire in Mexico

Mexico is one of the most magical countries in the world. It makes sense that you would consider retiring in Mexico and of course, you’ll want to find the best places to retire in Mexico before you make the move!

I have been living in Mexico for five years now. I’ve traveled the country widely (just check out all of the destinations on the above “Mexico” tab!). I have spent sometimes 3-4 months in some places that I thought would be the perfect place to live in Mexico. That’s the knowledge I will try to share in this article.

Is it Cheap to Retire in Mexico?

While a decade or so ago, Mexico was significantly cheaper to live in than the USA, things are changing. 

Mexico’s real estate economy continues to boom. As the cost of living in the USA and Canada skyrockets, many people are heading south and they’re taking their strong currencies with them.

This means that finding a house by the beach for under $100,000 is basically impossible unless it needs to be torn down and built up again from scratch.

Of course, there are still bargains to be had. And for many people, $250,000 USD for a 2-bedroom house by the beach is an absolute steal. 

Or maybe, like many people who retire in Mexico, you’re simply looking for a plot of land that you can build your dream retirement home on.

Whatever you’re looking to do with your retirement in Mexico, I hope this article helps give you some ideas about what sort of city or town would be best for you in your golden years.

The Best Places to Retire in Mexico 

There are a lot of different options when it comes to choosing one of the best places to retire in Mexico. 

Of course, “the best” is totally subjective.

To me, the best place to live is a medium-sized city with great coffee shops, a good restaurant scene, and easy access to nature. Hiking or at least walking is one of my favorite weekend activities and it means a lot to me to be close to a variety of parks and trails.

However, maybe to you, the best place to live is by the beach. Maybe you love the heat and want year-round summer. Perhaps you hate the heat and want to live somewhere that feels more like year-round spring.

If you are planning to retire to Mexico, it’s likely that you’re looking either for great weather (whatever that means to you) or a cheap location, or both. I have broken down the list of the best places to retire by a few different sections; mountains, beaches, and budget. Some fit into several categories but will be in the one that is most relevant.

It’s important to note that if you want to be by the beach, you will hot. If you want to be in a temperate climate, you should look inland in the central mountain region. Inland is also where you’ll get the best deals.

Want information about buying land or a house? Read this article to get familiar with all you’ll need to know about buying in Mexico.

It’s not possible to write a completely exhaustive list of the best places to retire in Mexico. There are SO many wonderful places to choose from. This is a list of some of the most popular places to start your search.

There are also some places on here that I believe are wonderful places to live if you want to be part of both an expat and a local community. 

mexico mi amor sign with cactus

Mexico is the sort of place that pulls people in. You visit once and you know it won’t be the last time.

Don’t Rush Into a Decision

I know you have waited a long time for this dream. To retire in Mexico is something many people spend decades thinking about.

It may seem obvious to many, but for others, the dream in their minds is far different than reality.

If you have never lived in another country before, it is incredibly different than spending a few weeks on vacation there.

You will need to navigate setting up services like the internet in a foreign language. What visa will you qualify for? Will you spend the whole year in Mexico or will you be a snowbird?

There are so many questions you need to ask yourself before you even consider the best places to retire in Mexico.

Have you looked at other countries to move to for Americans?

Have you visited several different places in Mexico at different times of year so you know exactly what the weather will be like?

All I want to ensure is that you know exactly what you are getting yourself into before you sell everything you own and retire to Mexico.

Do your research, and that includes visiting Mexico as many times as you are able to before committing to a full-time move.

Another thing I recommend doing is speaking to expats who have been living in the city or town you want to move to. Thanks to Facebook this is relatively easy.

There are so many Facebook groups to check out including Expats in Mexico. You can start here and try to find people who live where you want to live.

If you already know you want to go to Puerto Vallarta or Cabo San Lucas, search for those groups on Facebook. There is a huge community of expats in these places and they can tell you what they wish they’d known before retiring to Mexico.

hiking in mexico

Being close to the great outdoors is one of the things that is most important to me when I look for a place to live.

Best Places to Retire in Mexico in the Mountains

The central mountain region of Mexico has some of the best climates in the country if you enjoy temperatures in the low-mid 70’s Fahrenheit (low-mid 20’s Celsius).

There are two main seasons in the mountain regions of Mexico; wet and dry. 

From November to June you experience beautiful sunny blue skies almost every single day. It’s rare to see clouds, never mind any rain. Humidity is extremely low. 

From mid-June to mid-late October, temperatures rise, humidity increases, and the rain arrives. You are likely to have a mid-afternoon storm almost every single day. In this region of Mexico, it’s actually cooler in the afternoons after the rain in September than it is during the day in January.

These are the best places to live in Mexico if you want to have temperate days, easy access to hiking, and tons of history and culture.

1. Guanajuato

Guanajuato is one of my favorite cities in Mexico.

There are cobbled streets and colorful colonial architecture. They have a rich history and a booming arts community. Whether you enjoy the theater, live music, fun festivals, Guanajuato has all of that and more.

It’s a small and easily walkable city. You’ll just want some study shoes to tackle all of those cobbled streets. There are thriving locally-owned small businesses in Guanajuato. You’ll find artisans selling freshly roasted coffee beans. There are bakeries with homemade sourdough. There are bars making their own pulque.

Guanajuato has both a huge community of expats as well as locals. 

Guanajuato is a college town. It has one of the country’s best universities which brings students from around Mexico and the world to study here. 

I spent so much time in this small city over the years, that I wrote a guidebook about it! You can grab a digital copy of it here and a paperback copy on Amazon here.

I’ve also written extensively about what to do in Guanajuato and all of the best places to eat in Guanajuato.

If you are considering a move to this mountain town in Mexico, check out Tim Leffel’s blog for more details. He and his wife have been living in Guanajuato for over a decade. 

views of Guanajuato Mexico, one of the best places to retire in mexico

The views over Guanajuato City when you hike up (or take a cable car) to the top of the city’s lookout point.

2. San Miguel de Allende

Located in the same state as the city of Guanajuato (which confusingly is also called Guanajuato), San Miguel de Allende has been attracting expats for decades.

Known best for its booming art community, San Miguel de Allende is a wonderful place for those that are looking for that during their retired years. You’ll find painters, sculptors, writers, and more in this creative town.

Each year they host tons of different events including a writer’s festival, a film festival, and a music festival. There is an art school here that attracts international artists year-round.

It’s also a truly beautiful city, so it’s no wonder it inspires so much creativity in its residents.

You’ll have everything you might need if you retire in San Miguel de Allende. From incredible restaurants to easy access to nature. The surrounding area is one of the best places to hike in the entire country.

Read more about San Miguel de Allende here.

3. Queretaro

Queretaro is a small city in the state of Queretaro. It has quickly gained a reputation for being one of the safest cities in Mexico and is attracting more and more expats as well as Mexicans looking for a safer place to raise their families.

It has a small historic city center with cobbled streets, colonial architecture, and fantastic bars and restaurants. You’ll enjoy temperate weather for most of the year 

The cost of living is creeping up in this popular mountain town, so don’t wait too long if Queretaro is the place for you. You’ll want to secure a lease with monthly rent prices currently sitting around $500 USD per month for a two-bedroom near the historic center.

If you want to learn more about what it’s like to live in Queretaro, follow along with Alex of the Backpacking Brunette on YouTube. She posts weekly videos about life in Queretaro as an expat. She shared everything from cost of living to things to do.

Read more about Queretaro here.

hiking in Mexico

There are actually places in Mexico that get cold! Especially in the mountain regions in Mexico like Chihuahua, Nuevo Leon and Zacatecas!

4. Guadalajara

Mexico’s second-biggest city, Guadalajara is a wonderful place to live.

If you aren’t looking for a change of pace, but rather a beautiful warm city to call home for your retirement, I highly recommend Guadalajara.

Roughly 1.5 million people live in Guadalajara, but it is quite a sprawling city and there are tons of different neighborhoods to choose from. 

Some of my favorites are Americana, Vallarta, Centro Historico, and Tlaquepaque (although technically its own “city”). 

Guadalajara has so much to offer. You are half an hour from Lake Chapala. There is the historical site of Guachimontones.

The lungs of the city, Bosque La Primavera is just to the west of the city. Here you can swim in hot springs, hike through the forest, or go mountain biking on different trails.

There is the cantina culture of the Centro. Guadalajara has two football (soccer) teams for those who want to get involved with local sports teams. There are restaurants everywhere.

It’s also incredibly affordable for such a big city. You can live in the center of Guadalajara in a nice neighborhood for about $600 a month. This would get you a large one-bedroom in a modern building or a smaller two-bedroom in a more colonial-style building. 

Read more about Guadalajara here.

the cathedral of Guadalajara Mexico

The main cathedral in Guadalajara with its famous spires!

5. Lake Chapala

Laka Chapala is an attractive option for retiring in Mexico for many people.

It has perhaps the largest contingent of expats in all of Mexico. There are more than 20,000 foreigners who call this region of Mexico home.

The lake itself is the largest freshwater lake in Mexico. Although not so fresh you want to swim in it. It’s actually incredibly polluted as the towns around the lake grew too quickly to sort out waste management properly.

The most popular expat town around Lake Chapala is Ajijic. Simply driving through the town you’ll know you’ve arrived. There are American BBQ restaurants. Almost all of the shop signs are in English. 

This is a huge comfort to many. It means that they can be around other expats who have experience living in Mexico. This is especially helpful if you’ve never lived abroad before.

If you want to be close to the expat community without living in Ajijic (which also happens to be the most expensive place to live around the lake) there are other towns to choose from.

The town that you first reach when you get to the lake is also called Lake Chapala. The town has a cute waterfront where you can walk along the boardwalk. There are several local restaurants here. Wherever you live in Lake Chapala, you are likely to head here for the markets and shops.

Another large town around the lake that has more of a local feel is Jocotepec. There is a beautiful waterfront park where families come to play in the playground or fly kites. It has a long boardwalk that is popular with girls to come and take Quinceñera photos.

The town is one of the larger ones around the lake and has excellent local food and much lower rent prices than Ajijic.

Watch this video where I take you around Lake Chapala

colorful sign of Jocotepec in Lake Chapala

The colorful sign at Lake Chapala in the town of Jocotepec, one of my favorites!

6. Tepoztlan

Located about an hour and a half south of Mexico City, Tepoztlan is a growing expat enclave.

This little town is tucked into the surrounding mountains. The climate is temperate year-round.

The surrounding area is an excellent place for hiking. You are quite literally tucked right at the base of an hour-long hike up to a historical temple. It’s said that the surrounding hills have healing powers.

There is a nice mixture of locals who love to live on these cobbled streets surrounded by mountains and expats who want to be part of the community.

If you are looking to learn Spanish, be part of a small mountain town, and get to know your neighbors, it doesn’t get much better than Tepoztlan.

It’s close to neighboring Cuernavaca which is a beautiful market town. With a car or by bus, you can get there in about 30 minutes to do your shopping or go to more international restaurants. You’re not far from Mexico City airport which can connect you to almost any corner of the globe.

Read more about Tepoztlan here.

7. Cuernavaca

Cuernavaca’s nickname is the eternal spring.

The name Cuernavaca comes from the Nahuatl (Aztec language) for “surrounded by or near trees.”

This is where wealthy Chilangos (people from Mexico City) have their weekend houses.

This is where people from around the central region come to get married. If you live in Mexico City, you have definitely been to a wedding in Cuernavaca.

It’s because you can almost guarantee that the weather is going to be perfect. That, and it’s seriously beautiful here.

Even conquistador Hernan Cortés loved it here. In the city center, you can visit the Cortés Palace which used to be one of his residences in the 16th century. It is now a museum featuring several murals by Diego Rivera.

8. Taxco

Taxco has grown hugely in popularity in the last few years.

Watch this video of Taxco to get an idea of why so many expats are falling in love with it. 

Taxco is most well-known around Mexico for its high-quality silver. When the Spanish arrived in the city in 1521, they were looking for tin. They found what they thought was tin, which they would mix with copper to make canons.

After some testing, they realized it was silver. For the next 200 years, Taxco was one of Spain’s largest and most financially prosperous mining communities. 

While the mines are mostly depleted now, Taxco remains home to the most silver artisans in North America. Come here and you’ll be able to have any silver jewelry design specially made by hand. 

You’ll also be able to enjoy temperate weather, colorful colonial architecture, and a very low cost of living. 

tacos in Mexico

One of the most exciting things about exploring different parts of Mexico is discovering local foods like green chorizo in Toluca or birria in Jalisco!

9. San Luis Potosi

San Luis Potosi doesn’t get enough attention.

Located north of Guanajuato, it’s located in the Central mountain region of Mexico. It’s a wonderful place to retire if you want to be surrounded by nature and really engage in a Mexican community.

There are not a huge number of expats here, but there is a growing population of foreigners who are visiting the city and falling in love with this region of Mexico.

If you are looking for a city with access to some of the most untouched natural beauty in Mexico, get yourself to San Luis Potosi to check it out. About two hours from the city of San Luis Potosi is the Huasteca Potosina. 

Watch this video to see how incredibly beautiful Huasteca Potosina is.

Besides the Huasteca, there are tons of parks and greenspace that surround the city. It sits at 1,800 meters (6,100 ft) above sea level. There are mountains that surround this old mining city and the air is about as fresh as it gets.

Thanks to the fact that it’s still not particularly popular with foreign visitors, it is easy to find apartments and even two or three-bedroom houses for well under $600 USD per month.

Best Places to Retire in Mexico By the Beach

Of course, the beach is the most popular place for people to look when searching for the best places to retire in Mexico.

That also means that it is usually the least affordable place in Mexico to retire.

If you are simply looking for a place that is maybe 20-30% cheaper than your life in the USA or Canada, then these are good options.

Like I mentioned above, the days of bargain-basement beachfront property prices is long gone.

But these are still very affordable places to live in Mexico and offer up large communities of expats. 

puerto vallarta beach mexico

Puerto Vallarta beach is a popular vacation spot and an even more popular place to retire in Mexico.

10. Puerto Vallarta

This is one of my favorite beach towns in Mexico.

Puerto Vallarta is a city with nearly 300,000 residents. It’s estimated that about 40,000 of those residents are from the USA and Canada.

There are people of all ages in Puerto Vallarta. In Puerto Vallarta, you’ll meet Mexicans and foreigners who have chosen PV as a place to raise their families. There are excellent private schools here. 

There are plenty of people who have chosen to spend their retirement years here. It’s also a popular spot for snowbirds.

The city is growing rapidly and expanding into several neighborhoods leading even into the neighboring state of Nayarit.

The draws of Puerto Vallarta are that it’s well connected to airports in the USA and Canada. It has excellent healthcare options. There are dozens of private hospitals, specialists of every type, and all of these doctors speak excellent English.

Besides having a great expat community, it also has all of the amenities that make living somewhere easier. There are huge supermarkets like Costco and Walmart.

You’ll find craft beer bars next to cheap spots selling bottles of Pacifico for about $1 USD. There are fish taco stalls and high-end seafood restaurants and everything in between. The city even has a nice selection of international food options there as well like sushi, Italian, and plenty of places to get a great burger.

Read more about the best things to do in Puerto Vallarta, the best restaurants in Puerto Vallarta, and where to stay in Puerto Vallarta (a neighborhood and hotel guide).

mole in Mexico

Be sure to sample all of the different types of food there are in Mexico. It’s more than just tacos. This was a plate with three different distinct types of mole!

11. Barra de Navidad or Melaque

I spent a summer living in Barra de Navidad and I really enjoyed it.

I’m only 33, so it was a little too slow-paced for a full-time move. But I understand why a lot of people think that this is one of the best places to retire in Mexico.

Barra de Navidad and Melaque are two small and sleepy beach towns that are located at the southern edge of the state of Jalisco. It’s about 30-minutes north of Manzanillo, which is also the nearest airport.

The nice thing about Barra de Navidad and Melaque is that they offer a great small-town vibe while being close enough to a bigger city to be able to get affordable groceries and excellent healthcare.

I’ve personally had excellent medical attention in nearby Manzanillo. It’s actually a very popular place for medical tourism in Mexico. The doctors are excellent, speak English, and charge a lot less than other cities around Mexico. 

Barra and Melaque are incredibly popular with expats, especially Canadians. You can check out the expats in Barra and Melaque Facebook group here.

An I heart Barra sign in Barra de Navidad Mexico

It’s hard not to fall in love with the little beachside town of Barra de Navidad.

12. Bucerias

Located about 25 minutes north of Puerto Vallarta, Bucerias is a smaller city in the state of Nayarit.

Bucerias has been a popular spot for expats who want the proximity of a bigger city (and better airport) while also having a quiet place to relax by the beach.

The beach here is very long. The waterfront area is being built up very quickly. This is where you will find brand-new condos and apartments both for sale and for rent.

There are some great restaurants around the beachfront area. At some of them, you can enjoy a taco and a margarita with your toes in the sand. There is also a cute souvenir market in front of the beach.

On the other side of the beach road is the small downtown area of Bucerias. Here you’ll find large Mexican supermarket chains like Chedraui and La Comer.

You can briefly see some of Bucerias in this video or this video of Bucerias by the Kinetic Kennons

Colorful Bucerias Mexico sign

The colorful sign in Bucerias, right by the beach!

13. Puerto Peñasco

Puerto Peñasco is a popular retirement spot thanks to its proximity to the US border. It’s only an hour from the border with Arizona, three hours from Tuscon, and about four hours from Phoenix.

It’s located on the Gulf of California (sometimes called the Sea of Cortez). The color of the water here is turquoise and clear. The water is warm nearly year-round, much like you would get on the Caribbean side of Mexico. 

It’s certainly not one of the cheapest places to retire in Mexico, but it is one of the best if you want to be close to the border, be surrounded by a large community of expats, and have great weather 365 days of the year.

It is still very possible to live cheaper here than in the USA or Canada. If you are willing to live a few minutes drive from the tourist area or the waterfront, you can definitely still find a great deal. 

Puerto Peñasco has excellent hospitals and doctors that speak both Spanish and English. There are large supermarket chains here. There are golf courses and fishing charters available. 

14. Zihuatanejo

Zihuatenejo is something of a secret among the Mexico expat community. The people that live there have been coming and going from this stunning slice of paradise for decades.

It lost a little bit of its pull because of the violence going on elsewhere in the state. It’s located in Guerrero, one of the more active places for drug cartels in Mexico.

However, Zihuatanejo and the neighboring resort town of Ixtapa are some of the most beautiful places in Mexico.

They also happen to still be incredibly affordable despite the growing expat population there.

You can rent in Zihuatenejo for about $500-600 USD per month and get a great one bedroom a few blocks from the beach.

Although it faces the Pacific Ocean on the west coast of the country, it is in a bay. This makes the beaches perfect for swimming, launching a paddleboard, or getting out on a kayak.

Walking through the vineyards in Valle de Guadalupe Ensenada

Walking through the vineyards in the winter months in Ensenada where it’s still warm enough, even in January, to wear just a sweater and jeans.

15. Ensenada

Only two hours from the border with San Diego, Ensenada is often named as one of the best places to retire in Mexico.

Far enough away from any border troubles in Tijuana, Ensenada is a safe small city. You’re 20 minutes from the best wine region in the country. One that is growing into a competitor for Napa not only in wine but in beauty and boutique hotels, too.

Ensenada is home to some of the best seafood in the country. It is a short distance to great beach towns like Rosarito, Playas Tijuana, and quiet little bays south of Ensenada.

There are so many things to do in Ensenada to keep you busy. Whether you like hiking, swimming, fishing, or just lounging by the beach. There are cool sights to see and great bars to frequent.

todos santos street with colorful flags

The town of Todos Santos is one of the most beautiful in Baja California Sur and one you may want to consider when retiring in Mexico.

16. Baja California Sur

It’s totally cheating to name an entire state, but I couldn’t possibly narrow it down to just one place.

You have the laid-back Todos Santos which is full of expats and locals. It’s still possible to get a bargain here, but it is one of the more expensive places to invest in the state because it’s such a great place to live.

Then there’s my beloved San Jose del Cabo. I lived in San Jose del Cabo for three months and almost decided to make it my home for longer.

Both San Jose del Cabo and Cabo San Lucas (read about the difference here) are amazing places to retire. They have a strong expat community. In general, the entire area of Los Cabos is a bilingual place.

There are amazing beaches, top-quality restaurants, excellent hospitals and dentists, and so many different outdoor activities.

In general, the state of Baja California Sur is perfect for people who want to retire in Mexico and spend most of their time outside. 

You are close to hiking in the Sierra de la Laguna in both Todos Santos and Los Cabos. You can go wind surfing in Los Barriles or La Ventana.

For those that want a more Mexican city, there’s La Paz. Want something smaller but still with a great expat community? Check out Loreto and Mulege.

I have spent many months exploring this incredible state and have written about it extensively on this blog and in my Baja California Sur guidebook. You can also see tons of videos about Baja California Sur on my YouTube channel

view of the water in todos santos

The view from one of my favorite hikes in Todos Santos. You’ll want to have a car when you move to Baja California Sur, so that you can access all of the amazing hiking trails!

17. Merida

I have talked about this beautiful city so much on YouTube and on this blog. I have also written a guidebook about Merida.

Over the last five years, I have spent about four months in Merida.

It’s one of the best cities in Mexico to retire, to live as a digital nomad, to visit and learn about the history and culture of the Maya people.

If you want to be in a city that is packed with history. So much history that you are living it in the present. Then you need to retire in Merida.

My friend Cassie has been living in Merida for years with her family and has written extensively about it on her blog as well as her book about moving to Merida.

It’s not technically a beach town. But it is less than 40 minutes from the coast, which is why I have put it in this section. 

Merida consistently ranks as one of the safest places to live in Mexico and is, for now, still relatively affordable. You can rent a two-bedroom house in the popular northern suburbs of Merida for between $600 and $800 depending on exactly which neighborhood and the state of the house.

Living in the center of town can be more expensive. You can pay about the same, maybe slightly less, but you will only get a one-bedroom apartment for this price.

Merida has excellent hospitals. The city is well connected by bus and air to the rest of the country as well as a few international airports. However, you are only two hours from Cancun, which has a much larger airport where you can connect to destinations further afield.

18. Puerto Morelos

The only town on the Riviera Maya on this list.

You can, of course, choose places like Cancun, Playa del Carmen, or Tulum. However, they are some of the most expensive places to live in Mexico.

Safety can be a concern in these places and before committing to these beach towns, I highly recommend spending time there (as you would with any of the places on this list).

I don’t personally recommend them as places to live. For me, they are wonderful places for a vacation, but I do not want to live in a place where 20-somethings are constantly looking for the next best party in town (amongst other things).

Puerto Morelos is just south of Cancun on the way to Playa del Carmen. It’s a small fishing village that has turned into something of an expat hideaway.

There are two parts of the town, the beach side and the town side. Most expats choose to live on the beach side where things are newer, cleaner, and more expensive. The town side is where you can find some bargains and it is literally a few minutes away from the beach.

colorful building and flags in san jose del cabo

One of my favorite colorful streets in San Jose del Cabo, a small city in Baja California Sur that I think is one of the best places to live in Mexico.

Best Places to Retire in Mexico on a Budget

Now onto the places where you’ll get the most bang for your buck. If you are looking to retire in Mexico on a budget, these are the places you’ll want to check out. 

Some of them are by the beach. Others are in the mountains where it’s cooler most of the year (but they still get hot!).

19. Oaxaca

Oaxaca is beginning to grow in popularity amongst foreign tourists. However, it is still relatively unknown among the expat community.

Oaxaca state is one of the poorest states in Mexico and Oaxaca City is the state’s capital. It’s a beautiful historical town packed with history and full of indigenous people. 

There are 16 different indigenous groups in Oaxaca alone. However, even within these groups, there are different cultures, traditions, and languages. 

Oaxaca is one of the cultural and culinary capitals of the entire country. It’s the home of mole. It’s where famous Mexican chef, Enrique Olvera of Pujol, learned the magic of tortillas and mole.

The markets here are home to some of the most delicious food you will ever eat in your life. Head to the outskirts of the city for archaeological sites and artisan workshops. 

The cost of living in a home in Oaxaca is perhaps some of the lowest you’ll find while still being in a nice city. Some of my friends live in a one-bedroom split-level house in a northern suburb and pay as little as $100 USD per month. They have a patio and a back garden that they share with the couple who live next door.

You could easily rent an apartment in the downtown area in a beautiful colonial building for $400 USD per month. 

The downside is that it doesn’t have the best specialist medical care. If you have a condition that requires you to see a doctor regularly this probably isn’t the best place for you to retire in Mexico. There are still excellent doctors here, but there aren’t a ton of them because the market for specialist doctors simply doesn’t exist here at the moment. 

However, if you are fit and active and want a cheap place to retire in Mexico, this is a wonderful option.

Read all of my Oaxaca articles here.

Colorful sign in Manzanillo Mexico

Manzanillo is a very popular spot to retire in Mexico.

20. Manzanillo

This affordable beachfront city is a great option for retiring in Mexico on a budget. 

Manzanillo is a popular vacation spot for Mexicans. It has several stunning beaches. The bays are quite sheltered, making swimming pleasant, despite the fact that it faces the rough Pacific Ocean.

It has warm winters and hot, humid summers. It has an immigration office right in the city, making getting your temporary residency very simple.

There is a nice group of expats here and it is a popular spot for snowbirds. There are incredibly affordable condos and apartments near the beach. You can rent for as little as $400-500 a month for a one-bedroom a few blocks from the beach. 

There are excellent hospitals here, a decent-sized airport that connects you to hubs like San Francisco and Houston.

It’s small enough to navigate easily by foot or public transportation (or bicycle!). But it’s large enough to have big supermarket chains, a nice mercado for fresh produce, and plenty of restaurant options.

See some of my experiences in Manzanillo here.

21. Progreso

Progreso is the first beach town that you reach after you leave Merida. It’s about 40 minutes away from downtown Merida by car. It’s slightly longer if you take the local bus (but it also only costs about 50 cents!).

It is located on the Gulf of Mexico which perhaps isn’t as blue as the nearby Caribbean. However, the beaches here are quiet and much more affordable than the neighboring Riveria Maya.

This article from XYU and Beyond is the best resource I have found on the internet for information about moving to Progreso. 

palm trees with a sunset

Sunsets by the beach in Mexico, especially on the west coast, are truly magical.

22. Huatulco

Located in the state of Oaxaca, Huatulco is a beach resort that was funded heavily by the government, but that never really took off as a destination.

So what you have are excellently paved roads, a fantastic network of affordable taxis and buses, a quaint little downtown, TONS of beaches (nine bays! over 30 beaches!), and you will have it all almost to yourself.

I spent a few weeks in an Airbnb in Huatulco. I studied Spanish in the mornings and then went to a different beach every afternoon.

It was early July and I had each of the beaches almost completely to myself. And yet I never had to worry about whether or not there would be a taxi in the parking lot to get back to town. There always was.

The town has a few restaurants and one very busy bar. When the sun goes down, locals gather in the plaza. Someone plays live music. Everyone dances together. 

You have access to excellent food. The Huatulco airport connects you either to Oaxaca City or to Mexico City where you can fly onward to almost anywhere in the world.

There is are two large chain grocery stores here. There is a private hospital as well as a public hospital (available if you are a permanent resident). For more specialized care, the larger city of Santa Maria Huatulco has a few more hospitals and is only about 20 minutes away.

mazatlan sunset

Walking or jogging along the Malecon in Mazatlan was one of my favorite thing to do on the warm November evenings we experienced while visiting.

23. Mazatlan

This is one of my favorite places to live in Mexico.

I spent about 2 months living in Mazatlan. I had planned to move there in early 2021, but it became so popular with expats that I couldn’t find a place to live in my price range without physically going there.

Want more info about how to rent in Mexico? Watch this video for all of the best tips and places to look.

I rented a one-bedroom, fully-furnished apartment in downtown Mazatlan for $350 USD a month. This included all bills. I was three blocks away from the malecon (boardwalk).

Mazatlan is a bustling city with a beautiful colonial old town. There are a few different beaches offering up great swimming, incredible seafood, good surfing, and plenty of space to walk.

Mazatlan has a huge boardwalk that spans nearly the entire length of the city. There are party neighborhoods and quiet neighborhoods and expat neighborhoods. There are condo complexes, apartment buildings, stand-alone houses with backyards. 

The Mazatlan airport connects you to a few international hubs.

The healthcare here is top-notch. Much like Manzanillo, Mazatlan is something of a medical tourism spot. That means you’ll find specialists, great dentists, and surgeons here for a fraction of the cost of the US.

24. San Cristobal de Las Casas

Located in the state of Chiapas, San Cristobal de Las Casas is a small mountain town that attracts a lot of expats. Here you can be neighbors with a French couple, have wine at the local tapas bar with a man from Italy, and then head over to a restaurant where the chef is from Switzerland.

San Cristobal de Las Casas has, for some reason, become an incredibly popular spot for expats from around the world to congregate. There are young people from Argentina here. You’ll meet retired people from Canada here. There are young families from France here. 

Chiapas is the poorest state in Mexico. This means, like Oaxaca, it won’t have the best medical facilities. But of all of the places in the state of Chiapas, San Cristobal has the best hospitals and doctors. 

Your nearest city is the state’s Capital, Tuxtla Gutierrez. It is about an hour away by car. There are regular buses and colectivos (shared mini-vans) to the capital.

This is where the bigger hospitals are and where you’ll find more specialist doctors. This is also where the airport is which connects you mostly just to Cancun or Mexico City. 

It doesn’t have a ton of amenities, which is why it’s such a cheap place to live. But it offers an incredible culture that you won’t find elsewhere in Mexico. It is close to some of the most stunning natural beauty in the country.

See all of the sites and photos of things to do in Chiapas here. 

sunsets at the beach in Mexico

When I lived in Barra de Navidad for three months, I made a pact with myself not to miss a sunset at the beach for the entire trip (only missed two when we have a tropical storm!).

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John

Thursday 19th of August 2021

Very complete list, Laura! You've been busy. For those interested in your #1 pick, Guanajuato there are two Facebook groups providing up to the minute info for those looking for things to do, transportation, tours, housing rentals, arts and entertainment, etc. The first is GuanaWhat which lists art, music and entertainment events: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1587748181247376 The other is the expat community Facebook group called GTO TQM: https://www.facebook.com/groups/gtomx. Saludos!

Laura Bronner

Thursday 19th of August 2021

Thanks for adding these resources, John! I appreciate you sharing more information with people :)