I moved to Mexico in 2018 and have been hunting for the best places to live in Mexico since then. In this article, I will give you an insight into those places I know, plus I also traveled to all 32 states in Mexico!
According to the US Department of State, an estimated 1.1 million Americans were living in Mexico as of 2019. This number has likely grown since then, though exact figures are unavailable now.
Many of you ask, “why would you live in Mexico?! Isn’t it unsafe?”
The reason why I live in Mexico is because of practicality. I’ve traveled to many developed countries, and the Mexican economy is one of the most impressive for me.
It has seen periods of both stability and instability. Currently, the economy is experiencing a period of stability with consistent economic growth and strengthening consumer confidence.
Mexico is also making strides in developing its manufacturing sector, infrastructure, technology, and other industries that should bring greater long-term economic security.
As for costs, it generally is cheaper to live in Mexico than in the United States, although this will depend mainly on your lifestyle and which places you want to live in Mexico.
The cost of living varies significantly from city to region and region to region. In general, cities like Mexico City or Monterrey are more expensive than smaller towns or rural areas.
Basic goods such as groceries and utilities tend to be less expensive in Mexico relative to the U.S., while housing costs are typically higher.
Therefore, it pays for individuals planning a move across the border to understand their income prospects and local cost of living details before making a decision.
🧐 Questions about Mexico? Ask us on Tiktok.
🗺️ Best places to live in Mexico Map
Below is a map of the best places to live in Mexico. Feel free to look at it on satellite view or on a larger view to see what is around each destination (i.e. beaches, parks, shopping malls,etc).
🏢 Best places to live in Mexico: Cities
Americans love living in Merida because it offers a unique culture and lifestyle. It is a safe city with low crime rates, and the cost of living is very affordable.
The temperate climate year-round makes it an ideal location for outdoor activities. The city also offers plenty of attractions, such as colonial architecture and local mestizo markets.
Additionally, English-speaking expats are welcomed into the community with open arms – creating a culturally diverse atmosphere that Americans appreciate. You don’t necessarily need to speak Spanish when you move to Merida!
Activities, eating out, and entertainment can be enjoyed for a fraction of what Americans typically pay elsewhere.
Merida also has an extensive public transportation system with buses and taxis that can take you anywhere you need to go, even to Cancun or Quintana Roo!
The city is quite walkable and bike-friendly if you prefer biking or walking. Regardless of your preference – car, bus, bike, or taxi – getting around Merida is easy!
Finally, is safe to live in Merida. The city has low crime rates and offers a unique culture and lifestyle that Americans and foreign ex-pats love.
The locals are friendly and respectful of privacy – making for an enjoyable experience for all who choose to make Merida their home!
Guadalajara is one of the best places to live in Mexico, offering residents a variety of attractions and activities. The city boasts excellent weather year-round, with temperatures rarely dropping below 65°F (18°C).
It also features top-notch healthcare facilities, world-class museums, and galleries, plenty of parks and green spaces for outdoor recreation, vibrant nightlife spots featuring music and theater performances, delicious restaurants serving local cuisine from all over the country, plus numerous shopping opportunities.
The typical rent costs in Guadalajara range from $250 to $500 USD per month for a one-bedroom apartment in a mid-range area.
The public transportation system in Guadalajara is well-developed and reliable in this city, allowing residents to travel easily around the city and its suburbs.
Most areas are pedestrian-friendly and have plenty of ride-hailing options available if needed. Therefore, having a car is not necessary for living comfortably in Guadalajara.
It is generally considered safe to live in Guadalajara. The city provides a peaceful and tranquil environment for expats and locals alike, with a low crime rate compared to other Mexican cities.
Additionally, the city offers a variety of excellent amenities like world-class healthcare facilities, great schools, plenty of green spaces and parks, delicious food options, and much more.
Guadalajara is one of the best places to live in Mexico, with its relatively low cost of living and vibrant atmosphere.
#3: Mexico City
Mexico City offers a vibrant culture, great food, vibrant nightlife, and activities for all ages. There are plenty of job opportunities and excellent educational institutions to pursue.
It’s also one of the best places to live in Mexico due to its robust infrastructure. The city is full of history and stunning architecture and is home to numerous international businesses, making it a great place for expats looking to find work.
In addition, there are plenty of outdoor activities, such as hiking or taking day trips up into the beautiful mountain ranges nearby.
The typical rent cost in Mexico City can vary greatly depending on the area and the amenities you are looking for. Generally, rent costs range from $200 to more than $2,000 per month.
Several transportation options are available to those who choose not to use a car, such as buses, trains, taxis, and ride-sharing services. Uber is cheap in Mexico City!
Many areas have bike lanes and sidewalks that make walking or cycling an option for getting around. Ultimately, Mexico City offers enough public transportation options that it is manageable to live without a car if desired.
Living in Mexico City can be safe, but it is essential to take precautions. The best places to live in Mexico City are areas with lower crime rates, such as Coyoacán, Condesa, Roma Norte, and San Miguel Chapultepec. This is where foreigners typically live in Mexico City.
It is best to visit the areas you are interested in living in before deciding and ensure that safety measures such as locks on doors, alarms, and emergency contacts are in place.
It’s also best to avoid high-risk locations such as dark alleys or deserted streets at night. Polanco, Roma, and Condesa areas are OK to walk at night but not beyond that!
#4: Oaxaca City
Oaxaca City offers a unique cultural experience that includes historical sites, colorful markets, and colonial architecture.
Furthermore, its pleasant climate makes it a great choice all year round. Oaxaca City is affordable and provides a high quality of life with excellent healthcare facilities and transportation networks.
The typical rent cost in Oaxaca is around $300 to $700 USD per month, depending on the location and size of the home.
Oaxaca City also provides excellent public transport options, including buses and taxis. There are also bike lanes and sidewalks that make walking or biking a convenient option.
Oaxaca City does not use Uber as the taxi-sharing app but there is Didi, which will make it possible to live comfortably in Oaxaca City without owning a car. Didi is cheap and safe!
Oaxaca City has low crime rates and high quality of life, it is often praised by those who live there as one of the best places to live in Mexico.
Safety should not be a major concern when considering Oaxaca City as an option for living or visiting Mexico.
#5: San Miguel de Allende
San Miguel de Allende (SMA) is an excellent option for living in Mexico because it offers a vibrant and diverse culture, stunning landscapes, excellent food and hospitality, and numerous activities to enjoy.
San Miguel de Allende is often described as one of the best places to live in Mexico due to its low cost of living compared to other cities in the country, combined with its rich history and cultural attractions.
The average monthly rent cost in San Miguel de Allende is around $400 USD per month. However, it can vary depending on the type of accommodation you’re looking for and the location within San Miguel de Allende.
You do not need a car to live in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. The city is very walkable and has an excellent public transportation system.
Taxis are readily available for short trips around town or longer excursions further away, such as to nearby towns and cities (like Queretaro, Guanajuato City, or Mexico City).
It’s also possible to rent a car for a day trip or longer-term vacation needs. So regardless of your mode of transport, it’s easy to get around in San Miguel de Allende!
Lastly, San Miguel de Allende is a safe place to live. The city has low crime rates and is known for its friendly people. Most American retirees live in San Miguel de Allende.
Queretaro offers a great blend of old and new, with beautiful colonial architecture in its inner city areas and modern infrastructure like highways, excellent public transport, and state-of-the-art technology.
Queretaro also ranks as one of the safest places in Mexico due to its low crime rates, making it appealing if you’re looking for a secure place to settle down while exploring all this incredible country has to offer!
The average rent in Queretaro is around $400 to $800 USD per month, depending on the location, size of accommodations, and quality.
You can find furnished apartments for as low as $300 or luxury penthouses for over $3,000.
You can get around the city using public transportation options such as buses and Metrobús, which is a light rail system that runs through the city’s central areas.
There are plenty of taxis available if needed. Moreover, Queretaro is considered one of the best places to live in Mexico due to its low cost of living and high quality of life offerings such as parks and cultural events throughout the year.
Queretaro is generally a very safe and secure place to live, with low crime rates compared to other Mexican cities.
Queretaro provides its citizens with high-quality public services and utilities, making it one of the best places to live in Mexico.
As long as you practice common sense safety measures while out and about, you should have no problem enjoying life in Queretaro!
#7: Guanajuato City
Guanajuato City has an exceptional architectural heritage, with cobblestone streets, colorful buildings, and centuries-old churches. It is known for its vibrant culture, festivals, and events held throughout the year.
The cost of living in Guanajuato City is also affordable compared to other cities in Mexico, making it an ideal destination for those looking to enjoy life at an affordable price.
Generally, a 1-bedroom apartment can cost around $400-$500 USD per month, while a 3-bedroom apartment can range between $800 to $1000 USD per month.
Guanajuato City is one of the best places to live in Mexico, with its walkable historical center and modern bus system covering most of the metropolitan area.
Many people choose to bike or walk instead of relying on a car for transportation. Although you have to note that Guanajuato is hilly, some retirees don’t opt for Guanajuato City.
Guanajuato is generally considered a safe place to live. The city has lower crime and violence rates than other large cities in Mexico.
Monterrey, Mexico is the ideal place to live if you’re looking for a city full of culture, adventure, and great spring break spots.
Monterrey is a vibrant city that boasts many attractions such as indoor markets and plazas, museums, parks, and monuments that provide insight into its rich history.
Whether you’re looking to hit the beaches in spring or explore Mexican cuisine during your stay in Monterrey, there’s something for everyone!
The average rent in Monterrey is approximately $635 USD per month. Monterrey is generally considered one of the best places to live in Mexico due to its affordability and high quality of life.
You don’t need a car to live in Monterrey. Monterrey has an extensive public transportation system with buses and metro lines that can conveniently take you around the city.
Some of the best neighborhoods in Monterrey have bicycle lanes for cycling enthusiasts. You may also choose to use ride-sharing services for short-distance trips.
It is generally safe to live in Monterrey. This vibrant city and its surrounding areas have experienced a growth in population due to the strong economy, high quality of life, and low crime rate compared to other parts of Mexico.
🏖️ Best places to live in Mexico by the beach
Mazatlan has something for everyone, from the bustling nightlife of Zona Dorada to spectacular seafood restaurants along the waterfront promenade.
Plus, with the cost of living much lower than in many other metropolitan cities around Mexico, you’ll be able to take advantage of all the best aspects of this city without breaking your budget.
Mazatlan has many affordable housing options and is generally less expensive than other popular cities in Mexico, like Puerto Vallarta.
A one-bedroom apartment can cost anywhere between $400-$1000 USD per month.
Mazatlan has an efficient public transportation system with buses and taxis that can get you where you need to go.
Mazatlan has a low crime rate compared to other major cities and boasts beautiful beaches that attract tourists yearly.
However, like anywhere else, it’s best to take precautions when traveling around the city and be aware of your surroundings.
Mazatlan is located in the state of Sinaloa, which has a bad safety reputation because of the drug cartels and TV shows set in Mazatlan, Sinaloa.
Rosarito Mexico is a great place to live because it offers the best of both worlds: modern amenities and sophisticated culture within close proximity to gorgeous natural landscapes.
It has a vibrant arts scene, diverse dining options, beautiful beaches, and outdoor activities. Plus, the cost of living in Rosarito is affordable compared to other best places in Mexico.
On average, you can expect to pay around $150-$300 USD monthly for a one-bedroom apartment. Prices may be higher or lower depending on demand and location.
Public transportation systems such as buses and taxis are easily accessible, making it possible to get around without your own vehicle.
Many neighborhoods feature walkable streets with nearby shops and restaurants. As one of the best places to live in Mexico, Rosarito has something for everyone!
Rosarito, Mexico is generally considered a safe place for people to live in. The city has taken measures to ensure the safety of its residents and visitors with increased police presence and improved infrastructure.
While certain areas should be avoided due to high crime levels, Rosarito is an excellent place to live that offers ocean views and easy access to nearby cities in Baja California.
#11: Los Cabos
When it comes to living in Los Cabos, there is one important thing you need to ask yourself: do you want to live in Cabo San Lucas or San Jose del Cabo?
Choosing where to live in Los Cabos depends on your lifestyle and priorities. Cabo San Lucas is best for nightlife, parties, and a vibrant social scene, as well as many activities like fishing, golfing, whale watching, etc.
On the other hand, San Jose del Cabo is best known for its great beaches with calm waters perfect for swimming or snorkeling.
It is ideal if you’re looking for a quieter environment with less traffic and more natural scenery. Ultimately it’s up to you which city best suits your desired lifestyle!
The typical rent cost in Los Cabos is around $800 to $2,000 USD per month, depending on the size and location of the property.
Los Cabos is generally considered safe to live in. The crime rate is lower than in other popular tourist areas like Cancun and Puerto Vallarta, making it a good destination for those looking for a peaceful place to settle down.
#12: Puerto Vallarta
Puerto Vallarta has a bustling city life and is surrounded by stunning natural beauty, including beaches, jungle mountains, and historic colonial sites.
The weather in Puerto Vallarta is usually sunny, warm, and pleasant all year round, with a moderate climate that rarely sees extreme temperatures.
The local Mexican people are friendly and respectful, making it easy to form relationships with the neighbors as you explore your new home.
Puerto Vallarta’s affordable cost of living makes it an attractive option for those looking to stretch their budget further.
A one-bedroom apartment in Puerto Vallarta will cost around $900 USD per month, and a three-bedroom apartment can range from $1,400 to $2,600 USD per month.
You do not necessarily need a car to live in Puerto Vallarta. The city boasts excellent public transportation options, including buses and taxis for getting around town, so living without owning a car is possible.
However, having access to your own mode of transportation can help you explore the rest of the surrounding areas like Sayulita, San Pancho, Punta Mita, and other small beach towns in Riviera Nayarit.
Puerto Vallarta is generally considered safe for both tourists and locals alike. Crime rates in the city are lower than average, and the local police force works hard to protect citizens from any potential harm.
The city has a close-knit community of expats that live and work in Puerto Vallarta, which contributes to its overall safety. All things considered, Puerto Vallarta is one of the best places to live in Mexico!
#13: La Paz
La Paz Mexico boasts fantastic weather year-round, some of the best beaches on the Pacific Coast, excellent international cuisine, great nightlife, and entertainment options, plus plenty of outdoor activities like swimming and watersports.
La Paz is also home to some of the best medical care in Mexico and world-renowned universities and business opportunities. In short, living in La Paz gives you all the best things that Mexico has to offer!
Rent costs in La Paz Mexico can vary depending on the location. Generally speaking, rents for apartments start at $350 USD per month for a basic one-bedroom apartment.
You do not need a car to live in La Paz Mexico. The city is quite walkable and provides excellent public transportation options like buses and ferries.
The crime rate in La Paz Mexico is lower than the national average, and many visitors remark on how friendly and welcoming the locals are.
#14: Playa del Carmen
Playa del Carmen has a warm climate all year round, perfect for outdoor activities and beach exploration.
The cost of living is low compared to other parts of the world, making it easier to live there comfortably on any budget.
The Mexican culture is vibrant in Playa del Carmen and welcoming with many different activities and attractions that cater to almost anyone’s interests or needs.
With its stunning natural beauty and thriving economy, Playa del Carmen makes for one of the best places to live in Mexico!
Monthly rent for a basic studio apartment can start at around $450 USD per month. If you want more space or higher quality accommodations, monthly rental prices can range from $700 to $2,000 USD per month.
Playa del Carmen has great public transportation options that can get you around town efficiently and quickly. Many people opt for using buses or taxis as their primary mode of transport.
Renting a bicycle is also popular with tourists and locals who want to explore the city without needing a car. The city’s beachfront walkways provide safe travel from one side of town to another on foot if desired.
It is generally safe to visit and live in Playa del Carmen. It is one of the best places to live in Mexico due to its high quality of life, diverse culture, low crime rate, and excellent amenities.
The city also has a great nightlife scene and plenty of activities for tourists. However, like any other location, it is best to be mindful when visiting the area and take extra precautions when exploring on your own.
Living in Tulum Mexico is a great choice because it offers breathtaking views of the Caribbean Sea, white sand beaches, and ancient Mayan ruins.
The balmy climate makes it perfect for lounging at the beach or exploring the nearby jungles. Tulum has become a cultural mecca with its vibrant art scenes and local foods.
Rent in Tulum Mexico can range from $500 USD to $3,000 USD per month, depending on the location and size of the rental property.
Tulum has an excellent public transportation and is considered one of the best places to live in Mexico for those who do not own a vehicle.
There are ride-sharing services available throughout the city as well, which provide convenient alternatives for getting around town.
Finally, Tulum is generally considered a safe place to live in Mexico, but due to the tourism surge, there has been an increase in crime rates since 2021.
As with anywhere else, it’s best to exercise caution when venturing out at night or alone.
📍 Other areas for best places to live in Mexico
Ajijic is considered one of the best places to live in Mexico. Its peaceful atmosphere and small-town feel make it an excellent place for retirees and expats.
This charming town also boasts plenty of art galleries, restaurants, shops, and a bustling nightlife scene.
Ajijic has a low cost of living compared to other popular cities in Mexico and impressive housing options for all budgets – making it an ideal destination for anyone looking for an affordable yet luxurious lifestyle!
Generally, it ranges from around $400 USD per month for a one-bedroom apartment to over $1,000 USD for larger homes.
You do not need a car to live in Ajijic, Jalisco. It is considered one of the best places to live in Mexico due to its low cost of living and easy access to public transportation such as buses and taxis.
The city is also known for being walkable and bike-friendly, so getting around by foot or bicycle can be a great option for residents who don’t have their own vehicles.
Due to the warm climate, many expats prefer traveling short distances around town on bicycles or scooters.
Ajijic is considered a safe and pleasant place to live. Crime is generally low, and the town enjoys a high quality of life with good infrastructure and plenty of opportunities for leisure activities.
It’s best to take precautions when traveling around Mexico, but Ajijic is one of the best places to live in Mexico due to its safety and relaxed atmosphere.
Puebla has a rich cultural history, impressive architectural heritage, and art collections.
The city offers plenty of activities and entertainment options, such as music festivals, museums, theaters and parks.
It has excellent weather throughout the year with mild temperatures most of the year – making it perfect for outdoor activities.
Puebla is quite affordable compared to other cities in Mexico, providing an ideal cost-of-living balance. All these features make it one of Mexico’s best places to live!
The rent in Puebla, Mexico depends on the area and type of housing. But on average, renting a studio apartment can cost anywhere from $300 to $600 USD per month, depending on the size and amenities.
Public transportation is available, and the city is relatively easy to navigate on foot or by bicycle. Many taxi and ride-sharing services can help with transportation needs.
Puebla has developed into one of Mexico’s best places to live, featuring a cost of living significantly lower than other major cities like Mexico City and Guadalajara.
Puebla is generally regarded as a safe place to live. It has a low crime rate and is well-known for its beautiful colonial architecture, rich culture, and world-renowned cuisine.
Puebla is one of the best cities in Mexico for expats due to its affordability, close proximity to Mexico City, and strong community of international residents.
When living in Puebla, it’s essential to exercise caution as you would anywhere else to ensure your safety and security.
Many people enjoy living there and find it an excellent place to settle down with their families or pursue a promising career.
🚫 What is the safest place to live in Mexico?
The safest place to live in Mexico is generally considered to be the state of Yucatan. The city of Merida, located in this state, has a relatively low crime rate and a sound healthcare system.
This area is known for its great culture, archaeological sites, and beautiful beaches. For foreigners looking to move to Mexico or take a vacation there, Yucatan should undoubtedly be high on their list of places to visit.
💲 What is the cheapest place to live in Mexico?
The cheapest places to live in Mexico are generally smaller inland cities, such as Tapachula, San Cristobal de las Casas and Tlaxcala.
These cities have lower living costs than larger coastal cities like Cancun or Mazatlan. Areas like Oaxaca offer a unique cultural experience and an affordable cost of living.
🇺🇸 Where do most Americans live in Mexico?
Most Americans living in Mexico are concentrated around the larger cities such as Mexico City, Monterrey, Guadalajara, and San Miguel de Allende.
These areas offer higher levels of safety than some smaller towns and villages and a more comprehensive range of cultural activities. They often have high-quality medical care and educational opportunities for expats.
Additionally, these cities provide access to the business opportunities offered by one of Latin America’s largest economies.
💵 How much money do you need to live comfortably in Mexico?
The amount of money needed to live comfortably in Mexico can vary greatly depending on a person’s lifestyle.
Generally, a budget of around $1500/month should cover basic needs like housing, food, transportation, utilities and entertainment while leaving room for some extra spending money. However, people who want more luxurious lifestyles may need more money than this.
Areas with higher living costs such as Mexico City may require more funds to maintain the same lifestyle as other parts of the country.
🧾 Do I have to pay US taxes if I live in Mexico?
Yes, you have to pay US taxes if you live in Mexico. As a US citizen, even if you live abroad, you must report your worldwide income to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and file a U.S. tax return annually.
If your foreign income is over the amount specified for each filing status – single, married, filing jointly or separately – then you will need to pay taxes on that amount and any other US-sourced income.
Additionally, certain deductions may also apply while living abroad.
✈️ Why are Americans moving to Mexico?
Americans are moving to Mexico for various reasons, including the country’s warm and inviting culture, affordable cost of living, diverse landscapes, rich history, and stunning beaches.
Mexico also offers excellent opportunities for work and retirement. Many Americans find the quality of life in Mexico significantly better than what they can get at home.
There is no need to learn a second language as English is commonly spoken throughout most parts of the country, making Mexico one of the best countries to move to.
Trisha traveled to Mexico in 2018 and after a year, she found herself obtaining a 4-year residency visa in Mexico. She is the Editor-in-chief for our Living in Mexico Series which has helped over 3,000 Americans move to Mexico with ease. Trisha currently resides in Cabo San Lucas, Baja California Sur.