The Top 10 Cities for Expats in Mexico

An increasing number of Americans and Canadians are considering countries like Mexico for its weather, lifestyle and relatively low cost of living. Last month Far Homes conducted our 7th annual survey of expats where we asked folks questions such as why they decided to move to Mexico. Weather and climate were the most common reasons (86%) followed by cost of living (80%) and Mexican culture & lifestyle (76%). 

Our survey revealed ten cities to be most popular with expats in Mexico. Each city we feature below boasts Mexico’s incredible weather, culture and laid-back lifestyle. Given the findings of our survey, we’ve ranked the top destinations by a combined metric of overall affordability, popularity with expats, and insights from our agents.

Top Cities for Expats in Mexico

Cost of living has been listed as a top reason for expats moving to Mexico since we began conducting the survey in 2018. In that year, just 7% of expats listed cost of living as their top concern. That number increased to 26% by our 2021 survey and today, 80% say cost of living was a top reason for expatriating in our latest survey conducted last month.

“80% of Expats Point to Lower Cost of Living in Mexico as a Reason for Moving”

The economy and other financial concerns are and have been, many American’s’ top concern for at least the past year, according to Gallup’s ongoing survey. As prices continue to remain high in the US, some retirees and other North Americans, including Canadians, are looking to Mexico for a more affordable lifestyle.

We compared the cost of living in various Mexico cities to New York City as a reference point.  In this cost of living index, New York City has a score of 100. That means that Merida, which has a relative cost of living score of 32, would be about three times less expensive to live in than NYC  if you consider rent and all other expenses. This relativistic way of thinking about cost of living allows you to calculate an estimate of your own possible savings. Each of the places that made our list has a cost of living that is substantially lower than most major US cities.

The cities below are attractive to investors, adventurers and retirees beyond monetary considerations. All of the below cities are incredible, historically significant and culturally vibrant communities. Our survey found that expats have chosen to live the rest of their lives in these places for a myriad of reasons:

Moving to another country is not a decision people make lightly. Each migrant has their own, unique set of reasons for moving to another country. Here’s our list of the best places in Mexico for expats based on affordability and popularity, according to our latest survey.

#1 – Oaxaca


couple in oaxaca mexico

Oaxaca de Juárez is a vibrant city renowned for its rich cultural heritage and stunning colonial architecture. It’s the state capital of the Mexican state, also named Oaxaca. It offers an immersive experience in traditional Mexican life. The city’s colorful streets, dotted with artisanal markets and museums, reflect its deep indigenous roots and artistic flair.

When it comes to cost of living, Oaxaca stands as the most affordable place our surveyed expats moved to. Rent for a comfortable apartment is significantly lower, almost 1/3rd the price of a home in a city like Vancouver BC, Canada.  Daily expenses such as groceries and dining out at local restaurants are much more budget-friendly. For example a three-course meal for two at a mid-level restaurant in Phoenix costs about $80 whereas in Oaxaca, you can get great food at that level for under $30 USD or 500 pesos. Enjoy a taste of traditional Mexican life in one of the most affordable yet desirable cities in Mexico for expats.

#2 – Lake Chapala

Mexico’s largest freshwater lake, Lake Chapala is a haven for expatriates and retirees, drawn by its tranquil environment and pleasant climate. The lakeside town is characterized by its laid-back lifestyle, scenic beauty, and vibrant expat retiree community.

The cost of living in Lake Chapala is notably lower compared to North American cities and even other Mexican cities as the area is still a bit of a hidden gem. Housing, whether renting or buying, is affordable, and the overall expense for groceries, dining, and leisure activities is considerably less. The expat community here is strong as Lake Chapala was the #1 location our recently surveyed expats were from (14% of respondents).

#3 – Puebla


Puebla, known for its culinary delights and exquisite pottery, is a city where history and modernity blend seamlessly. Its UNESCO-listed historic center boasts a wealth of colonial architecture and cultural landmarks.

Renting a spacious apartment is quite affordable at about $1,400 per month for a 3 bedroom condo in the city center, and the cost for groceries and eating out at local restaurants is reasonable, about a third of the cost of those in a US city like Phoenix, AZ.

Public transportation is easily accessible and much cheaper than the American cities, making Puebla an attractive option for those seeking a more economical lifestyle.

#4 – Queretaro


Queretaro, a rapidly growing city, combines business opportunities with a high quality of life. Known for its well-preserved historic center and booming industries, it’s a blend of old-world charm and modern conveniences.

Queretaro’s cost of living is lower compared to major North American cities with rent, groceries, and dining at restaurants just costing less here. The cost of a beer in Queretaro is about $2.20 where, in Seattle, WA you’re paying about $8 for a domestic pint, on average.

Querétaro’s architecture has evolved from indigenous and Spanish colonial styles to neoclassical, modernist, and now contemporary designs, so you’re sure to find a home that catches your eye here.


#5 – Merida

Merida Village

Merida, the cultural capital of the Yucatan Peninsula, is famed for its colonial history, Mayan heritage, and vibrant cultural scene. Its tropical climate and friendly locals add to its charm. The cost of living in Merida is quite economical, especially when compared to cities like Vancouver, BC.

Renting a 1 bedroom apartment in Merida is significantly cheaper at an average of $650 per month in the city center. If you’re coming from New York City, that’s an 84% difference in rent alone. Everyday expenses such as groceries and dining in local eateries are also very reasonable, as they are throughout Mexico.

Merida is one of the fastest growing areas in Mexico for expats due to its relative affordability and overall safety, it still feels like an undiscovered Mexican gem.

#6 – Mexico City

Mexico City, a bustling metropolis, is a tapestry of history, culture, and modern urban living. It’s known for its expansive museums, culinary scene, and vibrant nightlife. It’s one of the biggest cities in the world, by population and the capital of the nation of Mexico so there’s something interesting going on in the city.

Despite being a major world city, the cost of living in Mexico City is surprisingly affordable, especially when compared to somewhere like New York City or Vancouver, Canada.  Rent varies across neighborhoods but is generally lower, and the cost of groceries, dining, and entertainment is much more manageable. Public transportation is extensive and inexpensive, offering an economical alternative to the transport costs in cities like Phoenix, Arizona and certainly more affordable than NYC.

#7 – Puerto Vallarta

Puerto Vallarta, with its stunning beaches and lively resort scene, is a popular destination for tourists and expats alike. The town offers a perfect blend of traditional Mexican culture and modern amenities. Living in Puerto Vallarta is surprisingly affordable, with the cost of living substantially lower than in North American cities like Vancouver, BC.

Renting a beachfront property is more accessible, and daily expenses like groceries and dining out are reasonably priced. Local transportation is also cost-effective, making it an appealing choice for those seeking a tropical lifestyle on a budget.

#8 – Los Cabos

Los Cabos, known for its luxury resorts and breathtaking landscapes, offers a unique blend of desert and sea. This exclusive destination provides a high-end lifestyle but at a cost of living that’s still competitive with cities like Phoenix, Arizona.

While rent for premium properties is on the higher side, it’s balanced by the comparatively lower cost of groceries and dining out. Transportation, including car rentals and public transit, remains affordable, making Los Cabos an attractive option for those seeking luxury at a more reasonable price point.

#9 – Tulum

Tulum, famous for its pristine beaches and ancient Mayan ruins, is a tropical paradise that blends ecological living with a laid-back atmosphere. The area, which is in close proximity to the world-famous Cancun and Playa del Carmen, has been growing rapidly in popularity over the past decade.

The cost of living is a bit higher when compared to other Mexican locales but it’s still more affordable than most major cities in the US. Day to day expenses are also much lower in Tulum, you can still grab a cold domestic pint for $3.24 in Tulum where the same drink might cost $8 USD in Toronto or Vancouver, Canada.

Real estate is mostly new construction in Tulum with some very interesting developments opening every year. There are also massive transportation upgrades on the way, including Tulum’s very own airport that will have a major impact here. Browse real estate listings in Tulum to get a sense what’s offered.

#10 – San Miguel

San Miguel de Allende, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a picturesque town known for its well-preserved colonial architecture, vibrant arts scene, and cultural festivals. With its cobblestone streets and panoramic views, the town exudes a romantic and historic charm.

The cost of living in San Miguel de Allende is relatively modest but is actually the highest cost of living Mexican location we’ve listed. It still made our list because prices are half that of major US cities like New York but also still notably less expensive than mid sized retiree locations such as Phoenix, AZ as well.

Looking for a home in San Miguel? Reach out to Erick and Sarah at CDR | Forbes Global Properties San Miguel!


The findings in this report are based on Far Homes’ 7th annual survey of expats, conducted in the last quarter of 2023. The survey targeted American and Canadian expatriates residing in various Mexican cities. Participants were asked a range of questions regarding their reasons for moving to Mexico, with options including weather and climate, cost of living, and Mexican culture and lifestyle as well as the ability to notate their own reasons, which were then categorized into one of the categories noted above.

The survey data was then cross-referenced with cost of living indices from, a leading global database of user-contributed data about cities and countries worldwide, Numbeo’s users provided the baseline for comparing the cost of living in Mexican cities with major North American cities like New York City, Phoenix, Arizona, and Vancouver, BC. This comparative analysis offered insights into the relative affordability of each Mexican city in terms of rent, groceries, dining, and transportation.

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