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Mexico, known for the gorgeous beaches and low cost of living, definitely sounds like a great place to live. The seasons in Mexico are not consistent enough to classify throughout the whole region. In the South, there is rainy season (May-Oct) and dry (Oct-Apr). The climate itself does not vary much throughout the year however, the amount of rain throughout the year is the biggest factor.  

However, to the North there is Spring (21 Mar- 21 Jun), Summer (21 Jun – 23 Sept), Autumn (23 Sept – 21 Dec), and Winter (21 Dec – 21 Mar). In winter in these northern parts, temperatures can get down to zero and just below negative.

The currency is the Mexican peso (MXN). However, in tourist areas you can pay in US Dollar. 1 USD is equivalent to 20 MXN. (Let me know your currency in the comments so I can add them in).

1. Playa del Carmen, Mexico

Recommended by: Corritta from It’s a Family Thing

My family and I became expats when we moved to Playa Del Carmen, Mexico, in August 2020. Playa Del Carmen is one of the best cities for expats, especially expats with kids. The cost of living depends on your lifestyle, but we’ve managed to live on $1,000USD per month as a family of three. If you adapt to living like a local, the cost of living is less than expected.

Depending on your lifestyle, an expat can live on $1,500USD a month. You can’t beat the weather in Playa Del Carmen. It is sunny most of the time about 30°C (86°F), even during hurricane season. When it rains, it doesn’t last too long on most days. The sun is out within an hour or two. A drawback for some people is the humidity. It gets hot during the summer, so you need to drink a lot of water.

The best way to travel around the city is by walking, taxi, or collectivo. Taxis can be tricky, so you have to haggle with the drivers. The price should never be more than 60 to 80 pesos. So if they are trying to charge more than that, walk away. We typically walk most places.

If you live in Centro, everything is within walking distance. Traffic isn’t a concern, especially if you are using a taxi or collectivo. Collectivos are local buses/vans that have different stops throughout the city for only 10 pesos. Although they are the most affordable option, they take longer because you must wait for them to fill up. 

If you want to move to Playa Del Carmen, the best time to go is during the low season. You can negotiate lower rental rates in the low season because there are fewer tourists.

We negotiated a rate of $8,000 pesos ($350USD at the time) for an apartment that’s only a 10-minute walk from the beach.

Other expats were paying nearly twice that for a smaller space, so negotiate. Owners are more likely to lower the price if you place to stay long-term.

2. Cancun, Mexico

Recommended by: Alexander and Cynthia from Travel your Memories

Cancun is the provincial capital of Yucatan, one of the most beautiful provinces in Mexico to discover. We found Cancun perfect because you have all facilities in this city. In Cancun, you have supermarkets, chopping centers, cinemas, sports clubs, beaches, restaurants, and more.

You don’t have to leave the city to have a good time. In the city itself, you can easily move around by using a taxi or bus. The taxis have fixed prices and are great to use. The buses are highly recommended and more economical. The traffic in Cancun isn’t bad.

The biggest advantage of Cancun, in our opinion, is that it is perfect to discover more of Mexico or other countries close to it.

The airport of Cancun has good flights to many different destinations. You can easily discover the Yucatan province with the ADO buses. The most beautiful destination that you can easily visit from Cancun is Isla Holbox. During a stay, you can do the best things in Isla Holbox and enjoy this tropical island.

The weather in Cancun is great. Throughout the year the temperatures are around 30°C/86°F. In the summer months there is regular rain, these showers are very short.

The cost of living in Cancun varies from person to person. If you want to rent an apartment you will need to spend about $450-$700 per month. Food is $150 per person and transportation $30 on average. Other costs are very person dependent.

In our opinion, Cancun is a great city because the weather is awesome and you have everything close by. Additionally, you can quickly move to other places because of the buses and the airport! Ideal for an expat to see a lot of the area!

3. Valladolid, Mexico

Recommended by Peta and Jonas of Exit45 Travels

Valladolid is centrally located in Mexico’s popular Yucatán region and has a rich history and Spanish colonial heritage. It is vibrant and unique and is authentic Mexico at its best! We found Valladolid to be very safe and never had any concerns getting around the city at any time of the day.

The city is large enough to provide good shopping options. Also, a great selection of restaurants offering authentic Yucatan cuisine. In addition, the climate is comfortable throughout most of the year. Temperatures are normally in the mid to high 20’s (°C) / 80’s (°F). But can get into the high 30’s (°C) / 90’s (°F) for a few days in the Summer months of May to July.

The town of Valladolid is very small and easy to get around by foot. However, if you are planning to live and explore further out of town, there are many other transportation options including taxis (plentiful and cheap), and car / scooter rentals. For those that choose to ride a scooter or drive a car, traffic is usually not too hectic with very few delays.

You can comfortably live in Valladolid for under AUD$2500 / USD$2000 per month. Your largest expense will be your accommodation cost. Groceries and dining out will be your next biggest cost. There are so many things to see and do in Valladolid and it provides easy access to many nearby cities such as Merida, Mayan ruins, cenotes, and the beach towns of Playa del Carmen and Tulum are only two hours away.

Ensure you allow enough money in your budget to visit these nearby attractions and towns and immerse yourself in the authentic Mexico!

4. Merida, Mexico

Recommended by Shelley of Travel To Merida

Merida, known as the safest city in Mexico and the Cultural Capital of the Yucatan Peninsula, is one of the best places for expats in Mexico. As the 13th largest city in the country, there’s plenty of things to do in Merida, Mexico.

For culture and history buffs, you’re near many Mayan Ruins, though Merida itself has weekly cultural events and larger annual festivals. The city is located just 30 minutes from the nearest beach, Puerto Progreso. There are also numerous cenotes (sen-no-tays), or sinkholes you can swim in to combat Merida’s very hot summers.

As someone who’s lived in Merida since 2019, I would recommend this city to anyone who’s looking for a slower pace of life and has an interest in Mexican and Mayan culture.

Unlike other expat cities in Mexico, Merida still feels culturally connected to its roots — and learning Spanish here definitely helps.

Depending on your lifestyle, you can spend as little as $650USD for groceries, Uber/public transportation, rent and bills at a one-bedroom apartment in Centro Historico (Historic Downtown).

Merida is on the inexpensive side, but there are luxurious accommodations available. Personally, I don’t own a car and don’t want one. Merida is a walkable city, and Uber is inexpensive and readily available. To take a weekend trip, you can rent a car for about $35USD per day with full coverage insurance.

Traffic in Merida isn’t bad, but accidents are sadly common occurrences. The one piece of advice I’d offer for living in Merida is you must love hot, tropical weather.

Merida is very hot for most of the year, and the humid summers average about 38°C (100°F) each day. In fact, many people simply stay indoors in the summer afternoons.

5. Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

Recommended by: The Discovery Nut

Located along Mexico’s Pacific Coast, Puerto Vallarta is a popular place with expats because of its year-round sunshine, great outdoor opportunities, and affordable cost of living. Puerto Vallarta is a fairly compact city where you can easily get around by taxi or Uber

Puerta Vallarta has a lot of pedestrian areas to get around on foot also. In addition, the city boasts a great restaurant scene with many places to eat in Puerto Vallarta. Also, its close proximity to Mexico’s second largest city, Guadalajara, which makes for great educational trips. 

In Puerta Vallarta, there are some lovely neighbourhoods to live including, but not limited to, North Hotel Zone, Versalles, and Marina Vallarta.

The entire state of Jalisco where Puerto Vallarta is located has great culture and outdoor scenery with stunning mountains and coastline with lush vegetation. Some popular day trips from Puerto Vallarta are Sayulita, Islas Marietas and Tequila. The latter is a small town that is a birthplace of the famous Mexican drink.

Puerto Vallarta is one of the most LGBTQ-friendly destinations in Latin America. There are many bars, clubs and other establishments catering to members of the LGBTQ community. 

If you decide to move to Puerto Vallarta, you should know that it can get pretty hot in summer with temperatures reaching to 38°C (100°F). This is also a low season along Mexico’s Pacific Coast when there’s not as many tourists as during winter months. 

6. Oaxaca, Mexico

Recommended by: Shelley of Travel Mexico Solo

Located about 275 miles south of Mexico City, is Oaxaca City — known as one of the best places for expats in Mexico. This city, the capital of Oaxaca state, is known for rich culture, elaborate festivals, amazing weather and one of the top foodie destinations in Mexico. Another 100 miles south of the city, there’s all the best Oaxaca beaches, like Puerto Escondido, Huatulco and more.

Oaxaca City attracts artists, creative types, foodies, digital nomads, and expats alike. Compared to other cities in Mexico, Oaxaca’s amenities are comparable in that the internet is generally fast enough for most to work online, there are hospitals, public transportation, mercados (markets), grocery stores and an airport. I lived between Oaxaca City and the beaches of Oaxaca, without a car of my own.

Many places in Oaxaca state are walkable, especially Oaxaca City. The city has a desert-like climate, so warm to hot days (28°C/82°F), and cool to cold nights (15°C/59°F). As a desert, it rarely rains, though the rains do tend to come down pretty hard from June to September.

Oaxaca City has a population of about 275,000, so traffic isn’t so bad if you do want or need a car. There are public transportation buses as well as taxis. Uber isn’t legal anywhere in Oaxaca state.

Keep in mind that if you do want to own a car in Mexico, you first need a Temporary Residency Visa (AKA Green Card).

The cost of living for a one-bedroom apartment, bills and food in Centro Historico (Historic Downtown) is about $600-800USD per month. To save some money, my advice would be to look into living just outside of downtown.

7. Xalapa, Veracruz, Mexico

Recommended by Janine of Janine in the World 

Xalapa is the capital of the state of Veracruz in south-eastern Mexico. Despite boasting a population of over 700,000, Xalapa maintains a quaint, small-town feel that welcomes visitors like a warm hug. Xalapa has a vibrant arts scene, a thriving cafe culture, and is situated in a beautiful mountainside setting known for its coffee farms.

Additionally, Xalapa is a university town, meaning there are always lots of fun events to take in, from art shows to music and theatre performances, sports, and beyond. I lived in Xalapa for 3 years and while it’s off-the-beaten-path, it has a lot going for it as a base for expats.

For those who want to live like a local, rather than hole up in an expat enclave, Xalapa is the perfect place.

There are a few expats in Xalapa, but not enough to prevent you from immersing yourself in the local culture. Xalapa also has a very low cost of living compared to many other cities in Mexico.

A one-bedroom apartment in a central neighbourhood would rent for $5,000 to $8,000 Mexican pesos ($250-$400 USD) a month. A 2- or 3-bedroom house in a desirable neighbourhood would rent for $7,500 to $10,000 pesos ($375-$500 USD) per month.

Another appealing aspect of Xalapa is the mild climate. In the summer, the average temperature hovers in the 80s (°F/27°C). It can be cold in the winter (47-65 °F/ 8-18°C), especially since most homes don’t have indoor heating (space heaters are a must). This is a great time to take a beach vacation! 

Another great thing about Xalapa is that it’s easy to get around. Taxi is the best method of transportation, and they are plentiful and cheap. A taxi from one side of the city to the other will cost about 65 pesos. The average taxi ride within the city is 50 pesos or less.

For frequent travellers, Xalapa can be a bit of a nuisance because there is no airport. However, the Veracruz airport is just 2 hours away and the Mexico City airport is 4.5 hours away by direct bus. So, while it’s still easy to reach an airport, it does add a lot of time to your travel day. 

8. Puebla, Mexico

Recommended by Dan of Layer Culture

After spending time searching for the perfect cities to live and work in Central America and Mexico, I had Mexico City at the top of my list. After getting tired of the big city I decided to add Puebla to my Mexico City itinerary one day, I ended up spending an extended period of time working here from my laptop.

What I found was a decent selection of coffee shops that made it super easy to get connected and a group of like-minded individuals that were all working towards a similar goal. The weather in Puebla was warmer and it can pretty get to about 25°C/77°F around midday. This is pretty consistent year-round. However, it’s not the type of place where you need AC as it cools down during the evenings.

With the Popocatépetl volcano in the backdrop, Puebla is a lovely city to sit back in or stroll around. If you want to get around the region and visit smaller towns such as Cholula, you can use Uber or the public buses.

You can find apartments for less than $500USD per month and if you can tap into the local expat community, you’ll find a roommate or flat-sharing opportunities which can bring your cost of living down even further. 

All in all, if you want to position yourself close to Mexico City without actually living in the city, Puebla is 2 hours away from Mexico City airport and makes a great place to reside.

9. Mexico City, Mexico

Recommended by Victoria of Guide Your Travel

One of the biggest advantages of moving to a place like Mexico City is definitely the relatively low cost of living. True, it is higher than the cost of living elsewhere in Mexico, but still much lower than the average U.S. Another big fat plus — you don’t need a car!

Actually, as is true for any big capital, you’d be better off without a car. Keep in mind the 8.855 million population when trying to imagine the level of traffic. The metro is most people’s go-to option. Alternatively, you can always take a bus. Mexico is known for its effective inter-country bus system that allows easy travel to any part of the country.

A subtropical climate entails warm and temperate days (22 to 27°C/71 to 78°F year-round) and cool nights. The coldest it gets in winter is on average, 3°C (38°F). Winter daytimes are generally nice and pleasant. With the reasonably steady year-round temperature and lack of extreme ranges, I think it’s fair to say that it’s the best kind of climate one could ask for.

If you told me you haven’t heard of Mexico’s fame for its exquisite cuisine I won’t believe you. It’s my own personal favourite. Enchiladas, chilaquiles, pozole, burritos, fajitas; there is so much to choose from.

To make it even better, I can tell you that—due to its climate—Mexico City also has constant access to fresh produce, fruit, and vegetables. It’s also a very affordable place to get high quality food options.

10. Queretaro, Mexico

Recommended by Isabella of Boundless Roads

Queretaro is an underrated city in Mexico for Expats. The city is brimming with many museums and things to do, besides the incredible colonial architecture of the historical center which makes it look like an open-air museum. 

Santiago de Queretaro offers an incredible quality of life, being relatively cheaper compared to popular tourist towns in Mexico.

However, offering much more, including modern infrastructures, great Wi-Fi service and a variety of restaurants. Also catering to the vegan community that is significantly growing. Even if you venture out of Queretaro’s historical center, you can find pretty safe neighbourhoods that are close to nice commercial areas and parks.

Housing is relatively cheap, and you can find cute apartments and homes. In fact, an entire home on Airbnb in Queretaro start from$500 USD per month, depending on the kind place you are looking for. 

As for the weather, with the exception of some cold weeks in winter with temperature that can get close to 10°C (50°F), and some very hot summer days, going up to 30°C/ 86°F, weather is generally quite pleasant pretty much throughout the year with very little rain.

If you don’t have your own car, going around Queretaro by local buses is easy and all the major areas are very well connected. Uber is also available and very affordable as well. 

But also, if you love to explore, Queretaro is strategically located at a close distance to some of the most attractive Mexican destinations,

including the Sierra Gorda for the outdoors lovers and interesting cities such as Mexico City, San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, to name a few of the most popular. Queretaro is in my opinion one of the most incredible places for expats to move.  

11. La Paz, Baja California Sur, Mexico

Recommended by Trisha of P.S. I’m On My Way

I consider La Paz as one of the best places to live in Mexico. Baja California has been an attractive destination for Americans and Canadians because of its close proximity to these two countries. I’m not saying that you’ll only have North American neighbours here.

La Paz still has that deep Mexican culture compared to other areas in Baja. You can easily live in La Paz for less than $1,000 USD per month. I pay $600 USD for my rent (just because I live with 2 big dogs). But if living by myself, I can get a $300 USD apartment close to the beaches and the city center. There are major supermarkets like Walmart, Chedraui, and Soriana.

I spend about $75 USD for 2 weeks’ worth of groceries. Eating out is super cheap, too. You can get a nice meal at a hip restaurant in the center for less than $10 USD! When I came to La Paz, everyone has a car because public transport is a little bit complicated here.

There are not enough Ubers and the wait time for a driver to confirm is 15 minutes. I have tried the public transport which is only 10 pesos ($0.50 USD). But the busses or what we call ‘colectivo’ in Mexico do not come frequently. They pass by bus stops every 30-40 minutes.

La Paz is safe and nice to walk around. There are no stoplights here and cars always prioritize pedestrians. Bear in mind that La Paz is in the Baja California peninsula so expect desert weather.

There is a really dry heat during the summer around 35°C/95°F (June to mid-October). And super cool weather from November to May about 26°C/78°F.

I lived on the Pacific Coast of Mexico for 2 years where they experience humid heat and I actually prefer dry over humid! Expats usually only live here during the winter and when the weather is extremely hot, they go to their second homes. Summer is also a low season in Mexico so prices are lower for an apartment rental or hotel stays. 

Conclusion

Each of these cities have so many different qualities that it all depends on what you’re looking for. What works for someone else, may not work for you. And that’s why other bloggers have shared their experiences to help you decide which is best for you. There is so much to see in Mexico, it would be absolutely amazing to have explore with a 2 week Mexico itinerary.

Tell me in the comments, which city is your favourite in Mexico?

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17 thoughts on “11 Best Cities in Mexico Including Cost of Living

  1. This is a great collection of cities and jam packed with useful information. I don’t see us moving to Mexico in our future, but there has been talks of moving to Arizona, so I’m sure many vacations could be spent in some of these great places!

  2. I already had Mexico on my mind and now I want to go even more. I’ve already been to a handful of these but would really like to check out Oaxaca and La Paz. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Pretty much all of our travel has been to the Cancun and Cozumel area so it was great to read about some new areas in Mexico to explore. So much variety in the spots to visit. One day I need to make it to the great beaches on the west coast.

  4. This was good to learn about other places in Mexico that I had not heard of in depth. I think Merida is the place for me to check out because of the cultural and histrorical significance.

  5. I’ve looked into Merida recently as a longer trip, and it looks and sounds so wonderful! I’d love to look into Oaxaca as well, it sounds wonderful.

  6. Not planning on living in Mexico any time soon, but I have always wanted to visit, including many of the cities you mention. For an almost first time visitor interested in culture, would you recommend using any of these places as a base for about 14 days? I am drawn to Merida and Oaxaca (flights to Cancun are most accessible from where I live in Europe) but would love to see some architecture in and around Mexico city as well

  7. I am hoping to go to Mexico as soon as I can as it has been high on my list for a while now. This list is super useful and has made me consider a few places I hadn’t before. I can’t wait to visit now!

  8. I think Oaxaca and Xalapa are my favorites of this list and very original! Thanks for putting this list together along with those gorgeous photos!

  9. Mexico looks like such a beautiful country! I love how colourful Merida looks! I’d love to visit Cancun too, it looks magical! You’ve fueled my Mexico wanderlust! Thanks for the great guide!

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