Living in Mexico and retiring to Mexico has become immensely popular over the course of the last few decades. Here are some of the more popular options that Expat Exchange members have lived in and taken the time to share their thoughts about.
In a discussion among expats living in Merida, the following advice was shared:
"This is a FABULOUS city with lots of expats from Canada, U.S. and Europe. The centro district is where all the action is and it is packed with cultural events daily and nightly...Try not to rent too far South of the centro. There is an English Language Library, live theater, symphony, fabulous restaurants, churches galore, parks in every neighborhood and, of course, the zocolo. Not to bore other readers, you can feel free to contact me with a private message for any future questions. As for safety...it's perfectly wonderful! Take off your "worry cap" and enjoy, enjoy!"
"The most important advice I can give you is to make certain any rental you choose has an air conditioner in your bedroom and fans in other rooms. This is a tropical climate and we are now into summer weather."
"Merida and Yucatan is the safest state in Mexico, I have lived here since 2008 and have never had a problem."
"We would be happy to show you around and let you see why we love it here so much. Just know that May is the HOTTEST month of the year, so you will be getting the most oppressive weather we have!"
"We just returned from travel to Merida in April and were not deterred by the heat! For my husband, not terribly fond of hot weather, to feel so strongly about this place, took me aback. It surprised us both. We expected to like it, but not to utterly love it."
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Ensenada, Mexico is a beachfront city with a population of over 500,000 that lies about 2 hours south of San Diego in Baja Norte. "Ensenada is just 3-5 degrees warmer at most than San Diego. Nice in winter and not even noticeable in summer as we always have a very strong breeze coming off the Pacific in the afternoons. You can rent a small home for less than 500 USD per month. There is a large expat community just south of town at Punta Banda," said one expat in Baja. Another expat described Ensenada saying, "But as soon as I arrived I loved it. It has lots of culture, great restaurants many Americans & Canadians, Germans etc..."
"Another expat in Ensenada wrote that "Housing does cost more in this part of Mexico, being close to the states, 90 miles away. The average cost compared to, let's say California, is a lot less."
More Information about Ensenada, Mexico
San Francisco Chronicle: This Baja wine region is the Napa Valley of Mexico - "Mexico's wine capital is just an hour south of Tijuana in valleys around Ensenada, and it produces nearly 90 percent of the country's wines."
New York Times article, "In Ensenada, Cheap Mexican Charms Await"
Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico
Nuevo Vallarta is a popular expat area just north of Puerto Vallarta. "We have a beachfront condo in the north end of Nuevo Flamingos and love it. The area is continuing to grow, is gated and safe, and has easy access to medical, grocery, banks, restaurants, both inside Neuvo and 1 mile away in Bucerias. Restaurant food is very good and reasonable. Nuevo beach is the best -- flat and good for swimming and some boogyboarding. Nuevo Marina has water ferry to downtown and Rythyms of the Night, plus whale watch. Las Cruces, and Punta de Mita are close and have good restaurants and watersports. Love it all," described one expat living in Nuevo Vallarta.
An expat living in Manzanillo said, "we have a small but active ex-pat community. We have a ladies lunch group once a month to hear speakers on local issues and meet other expats, plus keep up on what is happening in town. We have a couples group that has dinners every Thursday at different restaurants also to meet the other ex-pats. We have golf groups, tennis, bridge, cards, a church service or two in English. We also have a new Gold's gym."
"Manzanillo is a stretched out strip of a city, with an old town & commercial port section to the south, and a more modern residential area with some tourist sections to the north.. It is not a big tourist destination, but does have a modest expat population, primarily in the northern parts. It is hot & humid in the summer, but quite nice in the winter months."
An expat who moved to Manzanillo
wrote: "I could not begin to live in either Canada or the USA on my pension, but here I have enough to save for "extraordinary expenses". And Mexican medical services cost zero, and the doctors and technical people are trained just like those in expensive hospitals. I've been quite well cared for."
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An expat living in San Miguel de Allende described his life there saying, "I've lived in San Miguel de Allende for five years at altitude of 7000 ft. above sea level. Dry, warm, cool nights. Mostly sunny. In a small community 45 minutes from San Miguel with about 5000 people and around 75 expats. It is quiet, safe and has a wonderful Wild West vibe. Horseback riding, biking with a new 30 km bike trail through the desert mountains and old ruins. Veggies and fruits at any number of tiendas across the street. Shopping at a new mall 45 minutes away called Antea is the largest in Latin America with a MAC store, and countless other name brands from around the globe. We have high speed internet and just about anything you would need within an hour. Healthcare and hospitals are plentiful and inexpensive."
One expat in Sayulita said, "I'm in Sayulita on the mainland, 45 minutes north of Puerto Vallarta, on the coast at the beach. The crime seems to be happening inland where the cartels are growing or making their contraband, and then of course the border towns where it is shipped to the ever-consuming USA. We have no major crime of persons here; only petty theft from homes that are unlocked during the day/night, being a tourist-driven town. The weather here is fabulous, even in the summer. The rains cool things off and as long as you have a good ceiling fan and floor fan you don't need A/C unless you want it. I'm from the rather cooled-off Bay Area in CA, which seems to have less and less summer weather and I don't like the cold. I'm 65 and retired here and LOVE, LOVE, LOVE IT! Try the West Coast, you'll love it! Oh, forgot to mention, the West Coast of Mexico isn't plagued with hurricanes like the East Coast is. North of Puerto Vallarta the hurricanes don't seem to get past the point of Punta Mita, which Sayulita and San Pancho are North of."
An expat in Lake Chapala described the area saying, "let me tell a little bit about where I call home or my little piece of paradise. There are several villages on the North West edge of Lake Chapala. Yes, villages. This is not a metropolitan area. Guadalajara is about 30-40 minutes away with an international airport -- so that is a plus. We are at about 5000 ft. between the mountains and the lake, and have wonderful weather. Right now we are experiencing a cold snap, but this is very unusual. There are many expats in the area. About half are snowbirds. The houses are very quaint. You will see cars, many buses, trucks, horses, donkeys, cows and scooters. And that might be in one day. The pace of life is much slower, but we are kept quite busy." Another expat said, "fresh food--veggies, fruit everywhere. Street markets that have everything you need, and the smell of cooking.
An expat in Puerta Vallarta I've lived in Puerto Vallarta for about 2 years and it's indeed inexpensive and safe. I and my friends have homes and would be more than happy to assist in anyway. There is a huge expat community here. By the way, I'm in the residential area, which is about a 10-15 minute ride to downtown central and the famous romatica zone and 5 minutes from the cruise pier and marina area.
An expat in Puerto Vallarta shared: "The hotel zone is a strip of resorts and modern shopping centers. These two areas resemble southern California or Florida. Centro is downtown Puerto Vallarta where the famous malecon boardwalk is located- loud, popular with tourists, fast paced Old Town Puerto Vallarta is slower paced, trendy, more traditional with cobblestone streets, residences, bars/clubs- this is also the popular gay area and has become quite stylish. Mismaloya is farthest south with different areas along the way, marked by "the crescent beaches." This area is lush in tropical jungle and lined with villas and luxury condominiums overlooking private beaches and the ocean."
One of the lesser known options for expats seeking a beach-loving lifestyle is Zihuatanejo and its resort city Ixtapa. An expatexchange member described the area in a post on our Mexico Expat Forum:
"Hi, my husband and I own a condo in the marina in Ixtapa which is a tourist destination just outside of Zihuatanejo. We have been vacationing there for the past ten years. I would highly recommend a visit and either stay in Ixtapa or may I suggest La Ropa beach in Zihuatanejo which is quite picturesque and walking distance to downtown 'Zi'."
Cabo San Lucas is an extremely popular destination for expats. What many people describe as "Cabo San Lucas" is actually Los Cabos, which is at the southern end of the Baja California peninsula. The two towns of San Jose del Cabo and Cabo San Lucas and the 20 mile "resort corridor" that links the two.
An expat in Cabo San Lucas advised that Cabo San Lucas, and Los Cabos in general, has a strong English influence and has for over 30 years. Mainly American and Canada, however over the last couple of years we have seen a European influx. The local Mexican population embraces the growth knowing it strengthens their economic future.
The development in Los Cabos continues to be rapid and likely will be for some time. It's a great place to go and visit even if you elect to move to another one of Mexico's fabulous options.