The Best 20 Expat Cities and Communities in Mexico

Updated December 12, 2023

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Welcome to our comprehensive guide to the best cities and communities for expats in Mexico.

The following 20 reviews covers a wide range of climates, service availability and cost of living.

Below you’ll find all the different options:

Contents

bowl of tortilla chips
Part 1

Cancun, Quintana Roo

Cancun is known for its beaches, nightlife, and resorts. It attracts a mix of tourists and expats. Cost of living is higher than other parts of Mexico due to tourism, but affordable compared to the US. The climate is tropical with year-round warm weather. Cancun has a small, but growing expat community. The international airport makes it easy to travel abroad. There are several private hospitals and clinics with English-speaking doctors.

Safety

Safety varies by area, with tourist zones generally secure but some outskirts less so. Violent crime rates have risen in recent years but are still lower than many large US cities. Taking basic precautions is advised.

Cost of Living 

Cost of living is higher than other parts of Mexico due to tourism, but affordable compared to the US.

Climate

The climate is tropical with year-round warm weather.

Expat Population

Cancun has a small, but growing expat community.

Travel Connections

The international airport makes it easy to travel abroad.

Health Care

There are several private hospitals and clinics with English-speaking doctors.

yellow sun
Part 2

Cozumel, Quintana Roo

Cozumel is an island off the coast of the Yucatan Peninsula in Quintana Roo, Mexico. It is known for its coral reefs, beaches, and scuba diving. Cozumel attracts a mix of tourists and expats drawn to its tropical climate and Caribbean lifestyle.

Safety

Cozumel is very safe compared to mainland Mexico, with low violent crime rates. Petty theft aimed at tourists can occur. There is a small police force on the island.

Cost of Living

Cost of living on Cozumel is higher than mainland Mexico but more affordable than tourist hotspots like Cancun. Imported goods are pricier but housing is reasonable.

Climate

Cozumel has a tropical climate year-round, with warm temperatures and humidity. The dry season is January to May, with slightly cooler weather.

Expat Community

The expat community on Cozumel is small but welcoming. Many foreigners own businesses catering to tourists. English is widely spoken.

Travel Connections

Cozumel is accessible by ferry from Playa del Carmen on the mainland. Playa del Carmen has an international airport 45 minutes away. Cozumel also has a small regional airport.

Health Care

There is a small hospital in San Miguel along with several clinics on the island. Serious cases get sent to Cancun. Many doctors speak English.

green cactus
Part 3

Ensenada, Baja California

Ensenada is a coastal city located on the Bahía de Todos Santos about 65 miles south of the US-Mexico border. It is the largest city and cultural hub of Baja California. Ensenada is known for its beaches, seafood, wine region, and proximity to outdoor adventures.

Safety

Ensenada is generally safe, especially in the downtown and tourist areas. Petty crime does occur so normal precautions should be taken. Violent crime is relatively rare.

Cost of Living 

The cost of living in Ensenada is low compared to the US and Canada. Long-term rentals average $400-600/month. Groceries, dining out, and other basics are very affordable.

Climate

Ensenada has a Mediterranean climate with warm, dry summers and mild winters. Daily highs reach the 70°F in summer and 60°F in winter.

Expat Community

Ensenada has a small expat community, mainly American and Canadian retirees who winter there. The expat scene is minimal compared to other Mexican towns.

Travel Connections

Ensenada is located about 1.5 hours south of the Tijuana airport and San Diego. It has an international cruise ship terminal and is a popular short cruise destination.

Health Care

Good private health care is available in Ensenada through English-speaking doctors and clinics catering to expats and tourists. Public hospitals can be under-resourced.

Mexican poncho
Part 4

Huatulco, Oaxaca

Huatulco is a planned resort town located on the Pacific coast of Oaxaca. It is known for its beautiful bays, beaches, eco-resorts and opportunities for outdoor adventures.

Safety

Huatulco is considered very safe, especially compared to other parts of Mexico. Violent crime is rare. Petty theft can occur in tourist areas.

Cost of Living

The cost of living in Huatulco is low compared to the US and Canada. Long-term rentals start around $500/month. Groceries, dining and utilities are very affordable.

Climate

Huatulco has a tropical climate year-round, with average temperatures of 82°F. The dry season is November to April. The rainy season is May to October.

Expat Community

There is a small but growing community of expats from the US, Canada and Europe. The expat community is centered around outdoor activities and volunteering.

Travel Connections

The closest international airport is in Oaxaca City, about 5-6 hours away by car. Huatulco has a regional airport with some domestic flights.

Health Care

Health care options are limited in Huatulco. Many expats go to Oaxaca City or Mexico City for serious medical issues. Doctors in tourist areas often speak English.

Mexican pinata
Part 5

Lake Chapala, Jalisco

Lake Chapala is Mexico’s largest freshwater lake, located in the state of Jalisco about an hour south of Guadalajara. It has been a popular retirement destination for North Americans drawn by the beautiful setting, mild climate, laidback lifestyle, and low cost of living. The area around the lake is home to an estimated 30,000 foreign residents.

Safety

Safety varies by area. The towns of Chapala and Ajijic are considered very safe by Mexican standards with little violent crime. Petty theft does occur so normal precautions are advised.

Cost of Living

The cost of living around Lake Chapala is significantly lower than the US and Canada. Long-term rentals start around $500/month. Groceries, dining, and other basics are very affordable.

Climate

Lake Chapala enjoys spring-like weather year-round due to the high elevation. Daily highs are in the 70s and 80s F. Winters are dry with cool nights. Summers have occasional rain.

Expat Community

There is a large, established expat community of retirees from the US, Canada, and Europe. The Lake Chapala Society provides many resources and activities for foreigners.

Travel Connections

The area is an easy one-hour drive from the international airport in Guadalajara. Many direct flights are available to the US and Canada.

Health Care

Good health care is available locally and in Guadalajara for very reasonable costs, including English-speaking doctors. Serious cases may get sent to Guadalajara or the US.

green and yellow candy
Part 6

La Paz, Baja California Sur

La Paz is the capital city of Baja California Sur located on the Sea of Cortez side of the Baja Peninsula. It has a laidback, small town vibe and is popular with expats drawn to the sunny climate, outdoor activities, and lower cost of living.

Safety

La Paz has relatively low crime rates. Petty theft can occur, so normal precautions are advised. Police presence is strong in tourist areas.

Cost of Living

Cost of living in La Paz is lower than the US and Mexico City. Long-term rentals start around $500/month. Groceries, dining out and utilities are very affordable.

Climate

La Paz has a warm, dry climate year-round with average highs around 90°F. The cooler months are December-March.

Expat Community

There is a small but active expat community, centered around sailing, fishing and outdoor activities. Many businesses cater to American and Canadian tourists.

Travel Connections

La Paz’s international airport does not offer direct flights to the US but to several destinations within Mexico, including Mexico City. La Paz is about 1,000 miles from the US border.

Health Care

Good health care is available through public hospitals, private clinics and English-speaking doctors. Serious cases may get sent to the US or Mexico.

maracas
Part 7

Los Cabos, Baja California Sur

Los Cabos is a popular tourist destination on the southern tip of the Baja California Peninsula, known for its stunning beaches, luxury resorts, and vibrant nightlife. It attracts many expats and visitors.

Safety

Los Cabos is generally safe for tourists, but petty crime can occur. Exercise caution, especially at night in tourist areas. Violent crime is relatively rare.

Cost of Living

Cost of living in Los Cabos is relatively high compared to most of Mexico, due to tourism. Long-term rentals average $1,000-2,000 per month.

Climate

Los Cabos has a desert climate with hot, dry weather year-round. Daily highs average around 90°F.

Expat Population

Los Cabos has a sizable community of American and Canadian expats attracted to the beaches, fishing, and resort lifestyle. Many are retirees.

Travel Connections

Los Cabos International Airport has direct flights to many US cities. The airport is located 19 miles northeast of Cabo San Lucas.

Health Care

Good quality private health care is available from English-speaking doctors. Hospitals cater mainly to tourists and expat.

red flower
Part 8

Manzanillo, Colima

Manzanillo is a port city on Mexico’s Pacific coast in the state of Colima. It is known for its beaches, seafood, and sport fishing. Manzanillo attracts some expats but has a much smaller foreign population compared to other beach towns.

Safety

Safety is a concern in Manzanillo – violent crime rates are higher compared to many parts of Mexico. Petty theft is common. Tourist areas have police presence but caution is advised.

Cost of Living

Cost of living in Manzanillo is lower than the US and Canada but rising. Long-term rentals start around $500/month. Groceries and dining out are affordable.

Climate

Manzanillo has a tropical climate year-round with hot, humid weather. The dry season is December to May. The rainy season is June to November.

Expat Community

There is a very small expat community in Manzanillo. Most foreigners are snowbirds who winter in Manzanillo but don’t stay year-round.

Travel Connections

Manzanillo has an international commercial shipping port and an airport with some domestic flights. The closest major airport is Puerto Vallarta, 4 hours away.

Health Care

Health care options are limited in Manzanillo – serious cases need to go to Colima or Guadalajara. Few doctors speak English. Private health insurance is recommended.

decorated, Mexican skull
Part 9

Mérida, Yucatán

Mérida is the capital of the state of Yucatán and a cultural hub of the region. It is known for its colonial architecture, thriving arts scene, and proximity to ancient Mayan ruins. Mérida attracts expats drawn to the warm climate, affordable cost of living, and rich culture.

Safety

Mérida is considered very safe by Mexican standards with relatively low rates of violent crime. Standard precautions against petty theft should still be taken.

Cost of Living

The cost of living in Mérida is lower than the US and Canada. Long-term rentals start around $500/month. Groceries, dining out and other basics are very affordable.

Climate

Mérida has a tropical climate year-round, typically hot and humid. The most comfortable months are December-April when it is drier and slightly cooler.

Expat Community

There is a small but growing expat community in Mérida, with many Americans and Canadians. The community is close-knit and active.

Travel Connections

Mérida has an international airport with direct flights to Mexico City, Miami, Houston and other major hubs. The city is a 2.5-hour drive from Cancún.

Health Care

Good quality health care is available in Mérida’s private hospitals and clinics, many with English-speaking doctors. Serious cases may get sent to Cancún or Mexico City.

yellow candle
Part 10

Mexico City

Mexico City is the bustling capital and largest city in Mexico. It is a major cultural and financial center with a blend of modern and historic charm. Mexico City attracts expats with its vibrant culture, arts scene, and abundance of job opportunities.

Safety

Safety varies greatly by neighborhood. Wealthier areas are quite safe while poorer parts can have high crime rates. Taking normal big city precautions is advised.

Cost of Living

Mexico City has a very broad range of costs. Generally housing, dining, and other basics are very affordable compared to major US cities.

Climate

At 7,200 feet elevation, Mexico City enjoys mild, spring-like weather year-round. Winters are dry with average highs in the 70°F. Summer rainy season runs June-September. 

Expat Community

Mexico City has the largest expat community in Mexico with vibrant neighborhoods popular with foreigners. Many resources exist to help expats integrate.

Travel Connections

Mexico City has one of the largest airports in Latin America with nonstop flights across the globe. The metro system provides easy access around the massive city.

Health Care

Mexico City has excellent health care facilities and specialists of all kinds. Private hospitals and clinics cater to expats and medical tourism. Air pollution can be a concern for some.

red and yellow candy
Part 11

Oaxaca, Oaxaca

Oaxaca is a colonial city in southern Mexico renowned for its indigenous cultures, artisan traditions, and stunning landscapes. Oaxaca attracts expats with its mild climate, affordable cost of living, and vibrant cultural scene.

Safety

Oaxaca has lower crime rates than many parts of Mexico. Common sense precautions should still be taken in tourist areas where pickpocketing occurs.

Cost of Living

The cost of living in Oaxaca is very low, especially housing. Long-term rentals can be found for under $500 per month. Groceries, dining, and other basics are inexpensive.

Climate

Oaxaca enjoys a warm, dry climate year-round due to the high elevation. Average temperatures are in the 70s and 80s F. The rainy season runs from May to September.

Expat Community

There is a small but active expat community drawn by the cultural offerings. Many expats own businesses catering to tourists.

Travel Connections

Oaxaca has a small international airport with flights to Mexico City, Los Angeles, Houston and other hubs. First-class bus connections are available around Mexico. 

Health Care

Good private care is available in Oaxaca through clinics catering to expats and medical tourism. Public hospitals can be under-resourced. Air pollution is moderate.

green lime
Part 12

Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo

Playa del Carmen is a popular beach resort town located along Mexico’s Caribbean coast in Quintana Roo. It is known for its white sand beaches, coral reefs, lively nightlife, and proximity to eco parks and Mayan ruins.

Safety

Playa del Carmen is generally safe, but petty crime aimed at tourists can occur. Violent crime is rare, but basic precautions are still advised. The tourist areas have a strong police presence.

Cost of Living

Cost of living in Playa del Carmen is higher than most parts of Mexico due to tourism, but still affordable compared to the US and Canada. Long-term rentals average $800-1,200/month.

Climate

Playa del Carmen has a tropical climate year-round, with hot, humid weather and average highs of 89°F. The dry season runs December-April.

Expat Community

There is a small but growing expat community in Playa del Carmen, mainly centered in the tourist industry. English is widely spoken.

Travel Connections

Playa del Carmen is 45 minutes from Cancun International Airport. It has ferry access to Cozumel Island and bus connections around the Riviera Maya.

Health Care

Good private health care is available in Playa del Carmen, including clinics catering to tourists. Public hospitals can be under-resourced.

pan flute
Part 13

Playa Zicatela, Oaxaca

Playa Zicatela is a long stretch of beach near Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca known for its epic surfing waves. The northern part called Zicatela has massive waves for experienced surfers. The southern end called La Punta has calmer surf for beginners.

Safety

The strong undertows make swimming very dangerous except in La Punta. Petty theft can occur, so guard valuables. Violent crime is rare.

Cost of Living

Cost of living in Puerto Escondido is very affordable. Budget hotels and dining are available. Long-term rentals average around $400/month.

Climate

Playa Zicatela has a hot, tropical climate year-round with temperatures in the 80s and 90s F. The dry season is November to April.

Expat Community

A small community of expats are drawn to the surfing lifestyle. English is spoken in tourist areas.

Travel Connections

The closest international airport is in Oaxaca City, 5 hours away. Puerto Escondido has an airport with limited domestic service. Buses connect along the coast.

Health Care

Medical care is extremely limited in Puerto Escondido. Serious illnesses or emergencies need to go to Oaxaca City. Many surf injuries occur.

Part 14

Puebla, Puebla

Puebla is a colonial city located about 70 miles southeast of Mexico City. It is known for its well-preserved Spanish architecture, delicious mole poblano cuisine, and proximity to the famous ruins of Cholula.

Safety

Puebla has lower crime rates compared to other major Mexican cities. However, petty theft aimed at tourists can occur, so normal precautions should be taken.

Cost of Living

The cost of living in Puebla is very affordable compared to Mexico City or the US. Long-term rentals average $400-600/month. Groceries, dining, and other basics are inexpensive.

Climate

At 7,000 feet elevation, Puebla enjoys a year-round temperate climate. Daily highs reach the 70s F most of the year. Winters are dry and mild while summers have some rain.

Expat Community

Puebla has a small but growing expat community attracted by the mild climate, colonial charm, and affordable lifestyle. Many expats work remotely.

Travel Connections

Puebla has an international airport with direct flights to the US. It is centrally located about 2 hours from Mexico City by bus or car.

Health Care

Good quality health care is available in Puebla’s private hospitals and clinics. Many doctors speak English. Air pollution can be moderate.

yellow sun
Part 15

Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco

Puerto Vallarta is a popular beach resort town located along Mexico’s Pacific coast. It is known for its beaches, outdoor adventures, nightlife and LGBTQ-friendly atmosphere. Puerto Vallarta attracts many expats and foreign visitors.

Safety

Petty crime aimed at tourists is common in Puerto Vallarta. Violent crime has risen in recent years but remains lower than many US cities. Tourist areas generally have a strong police presence.

Cost of Living

The cost of living in Puerto Vallarta is relatively high compared to most of Mexico, due to tourism. Long-term rentals average $800-1500/month. Groceries and dining can be pricey.

Climate

Puerto Vallarta has a tropical climate year-round, with daily high temperatures averaging 89°F. The dry season runs December-April. Humidity is high.

Expat Community

Puerto Vallarta has a very large expat community, especially from the US, Canada and Europe. The city is popular with retirees and digital nomads.

Travel Connections

Puerto Vallarta’s international airport offers direct flights to many US and Canadian cities. The airport is only 5 miles from downtown.

Health Care

Good private health care is available, including clinics catering to tourists and expats. Public hospitals can be under-resourced. Pollution is moderate.

green cactus
Part 16

Punta Mita, Nayarit

Punta Mita is an upscale resort area located on a private peninsula just north of Puerto Vallarta in Nayarit, Mexico. It is known for its luxury hotels, beautiful beaches, golf courses, and gated communities.

Safety

Punta Mita is very safe compared to most parts of Mexico, with 24/7 security and very low crime rates. The private peninsula is gated and guarded.

Cost of Living

Cost of living in Punta Mita is quite high, given its status as an exclusive resort. Long-term rentals average $2,000-5,000/month. Groceries and dining out can be expensive.

Climate

Punta Mita enjoys a tropical climate year-round, with average highs of 89°F. The dry season runs December-April, making it very comfortable.

Expat Community

The expat community is small but affluent. Many foreign residents are retirees or remote workers associated with the travel industry.

Travel Connections

The closest international airport is in Puerto Vallarta, about 45 minutes away. Punta Mita has a regional airport for private jets.

Health Care

Nearby hospitals and clinics cater to tourists and expats. Medical care is very good, especially for a remote region of Mexico.

Mexican hat sombrero
Part 17

San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato

San Miguel de Allende is a historic colonial city located in Mexico’s central highlands. It is renowned for its well-preserved Spanish architecture, thriving arts scene, mild climate and large expat community.

Safety

San Miguel has relatively low crime rates, especially in the historic centro and expat neighborhoods. Standard precautions against petty theft should still be taken.

Cost of Living

The cost of living in San Miguel is generally affordable compared to the US and Canada. Long-term rentals start around $500-800/month.

Climate

At 6,200 feet elevation, San Miguel enjoys spring-like weather year-round with average highs in the 70s-80s F. Nights can be cool. The rainy season runs June-September.

Expat Community

San Miguel has one of the largest expat communities in Mexico, with about 10% foreign residents. Many resources exist to help expats integrate.

Travel Connections

The closest international airport is in Leon, about 1 hour away. Alternatively, Mexico City is a 3.5-hour drive/bus ride away.

Health Care

Good health care is available in San Miguel’s private hospitals and clinics. Many doctors speak English. Air pollution is moderate.

bowl of tortilla chips
Part 18

San Pedro Garza García, Nuevo León

San Pedro Garza García is a city and municipality located in the state of Nuevo León, in northeastern Mexico. Known for its high quality of life, it is considered one of the most affluent areas in Latin America.

Safety

San Pedro Garza García is known as one of the safest cities in Mexico. It has a well-funded police force and a low crime rate compared to other parts of the country.

Cost of Living

The cost of living in San Pedro Garza García is high by Mexican standards, reflecting its status as a wealthy suburb. You can expect to pay a little less than $1,400 for an average one-bedroom apartment in the city center and another $500 per person per month for things like groceries, transport, eating out and entertainment.

Climate

The city has a semi-arid climate, with hot summers and mild winters. Rainfall is scarce, mostly occurring in the late summer.

Expat Population

While not as large as in some other Mexican cities, there is a growing community of expats in San Pedro Garza García, particularly from the US and Europe.

Travel Connections

The city is served by Monterrey International Airport, which offers flights to several US cities and other destinations in Mexico.

Health Care

San Pedro Garza García has several high-quality hospitals and clinics, and many doctors speak English. Health insurance is recommended.

Mexican pinata
Part 19

Sayulita, Nayarit

Sayulita is a small beach town located about 45 minutes north of Puerto Vallarta on Mexico’s Pacific coast. It is known for great surfing, a bohemian vibe, yoga/wellness scene, and vibrant nightlife.

Safety

Petty crime aimed at tourists can occur in Sayulita. Violent crime is relatively rare but standard precautions should be taken, especially at night. Police presence in the town center is strong.

Cost of Living

The cost of living in Sayulita is higher than most parts of Mexico due to tourism, but more affordable than the US and Canada. Long-term rentals average $800-1500/month.

Climate

Sayulita has a tropical climate year-round, with average highs around 89°F. The dry season runs December-April making it very comfortable.

Expat Community

Sayulita has a small but growing community of expats, mainly retirees and remote workers drawn to the laidback lifestyle.

Travel Connections

Sayulita is located about an hour north of the Puerto Vallarta International Airport which offers direct flights to many US cities.

Health Care

There are private clinics in Sayulita catering to tourists. Serious or complex medical issues may require going to Puerto Vallarta or Guadalajara.

green and yellow candy
Part 20

Tulum, Quintana Roo

Tulum is a popular beach town along the Caribbean coast of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. It is known for its well-preserved Mayan ruins, eco-chic resorts, and bohemian vibe. Tulum attracts many expats and digital nomads.

Safety

Tulum is generally safe, especially within the gated resort areas. However, petty crime aimed at tourists is common. Violent crime is rare but standard precautions should be taken.

Cost of Living

The cost of living in Tulum is relatively high for Mexico, due to tourism. Long-term rentals average $1000-2000/month. Groceries and dining can be pricey.

Climate

Tulum has a tropical climate year-round with hot, humid weather. Temperatures average around 90°F. The dry season runs November to April.

Expat Community

Tulum has a small but growing community of expats, drawn by the healthy lifestyle, yoga, and surfing. English is widely spoken in tourist areas.

Travel Connections

Tulum is about 90 minutes from Cancun International Airport which offers direct flights to many US and Canadian cities.

Health Care

Good private health care is available in Tulum’s clinics catering to tourists and expats. Public hospitals can be under-resourced.

Final Words

At the end of the day, there’s no “best” place overview; there’s only what’s “best” for you. You’ve been presented with quite a few options with a focus on level of safety, cost of living, climatic condition, expat community and availability of health care.

Will you consider these locations or will you forge your own path?

Either way, we’re here to help you as we can. Please don’t hesitate to reach out.

Thanks for reading! And good luck!

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