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Find The Top Cities For Retiring In Mexico

Author: Christopher Jackson

Mexico is home to a growing number of retirees from around the world, including those from the United States, Canada and Europe. Known for its pleasant climate, rich Indian and Spanish culture, and abundant natural beauty, retirees also get access to affordable healthcare, a robust retirement benefits program and a lower cost of living (see How Much Money Do You Need To Retire in Mexico?).

At nearly 2 million square kilometers, Mexico offers a wide range of lifestyle choices for retirees – from quaint colonial villages to vibrant beach towns. If you're thinking about Mexico for your retirement destination, here are five cities/regions worth considering.

Lake Chalapa Region

Lake Chalapa is the largest freshwater lake in Mexico, and the climate is regarded one of the best in the world. Low humidity and year-round, spring-like temperatures help make the numerous towns along the coast of Lake Chalapa popular retirement destinations. The area also has a low cost of living, a strong sense of community for both locals and expats, and a safe and secure environment. Good-to-excellent medical care is available in nearby Guadalajara, and Guadalajara International Airport (GDL) is about 30 minutes away, making travel back home relatively easy. Direct flights to Los Angeles (LAX) take about three and a half hours.


Merida is a Spanish-colonial city and is the largest city of the Yucatan Peninsula, with a population of nearly one million people. Despite hot summers (temperatures can get above 100° F during the summer months), more and more expats are heading to Merida for its excellent infrastructure, modern amenities, museums, markets, arts and fine cuisine. Retirees will find an excellent healthcare system, with numerous public and private hospitals. A flight out of Merida airport (MID), with a layover in Juarez International in Mexico City (MEX), will get you to LAX in about seven hours.

Puerto Vallarta (Nuevo Vallarta)

The Pacific coast town of Puerto Vallarta has long been a popular destination with tourists and retirees alike. In addition to beaches, lush jungles and waterfalls, Puerto Vallarta offers a hip downtown scene with great restaurants, world-class shopping and lively street performers. English is widely spoken. Because it is a tourist destination, prices are generally higher here than you might see in less-visited areas of Mexico. The city's well-rated hospitals and modern medical care make Puerto Vallarta a medical tourism destination. A direct flight out of Gustavo Diaz Ordaz International Airport (PVR) in Puerto Vallarta to LAX takes just over three hours.

San Cristobal de las Casas

San Cristobal de las Casas is situated more than 7,000 feet above sea level in the Central Highlands region of Chiapas, close to rainforests and ancient Mayan ruins. While a bit on the chilly side compared with other areas, the climate is generally regarded as pleasant, with warm summers and cool winters. The city is designed for walking and features Spanish colonial architecture, cobblestone streets, red-tile roofs and iron balconies decorated with colorful flowers. A flight out of Tuxtla Gutierrez (TGZ; a 90-minute drive from San Cris), with a layover in Mexico City (MEX), will get you to LAX in about eight hours.

San Miguel de Allende

San Miguel de Allende is one of Mexico's colonial silver-mining cities, located three hours northwest of Mexico City. Considered one of the prettiest small towns in Mexico, San Miguel is set amid rugged mountains and has warm summers and cool winters. You'll find a friendly, small town atmosphere where beautiful architecture, rich history, and plenty of culture abound. The local healthcare system is considered good and affordable. Nonstop service out of Del Bajio Airport (BJX) in Leon (about two hours away) gets you to LAX in about three-and-a-half hours.

The Bottom Line

There's been a lot in the news about safety in Mexico. While the cities bordering the U.S. and a few other places are extremely dangerous, most of Mexico is reasonably safe, particularly in well-known tourist destinations and resort areas. Of course, just like any city at home, there will be areas that are more desirable than others. If you don't know where to look, it can be helpful to visit first, speak with expats in the area, and work with a qualified real estate agent when it's time to rent or buy. Read Find Latin America's Safest, Cheapest Countries for more about safety. Also avoid areas with active travel alerts and warnings (see the U.S. Department of State's Alerts and Travel Warnings).

Note: To make sure you are up to date on visa and residency requirements, local taxes and U.S. tax regulations for expats, work with a qualified attorney and/or tax specialist before you leave. For more, check out Plan Your Retirement Abroad and Things To Consider Before Retiring Abroad.

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