Mexico- a popular destination for obvious reasons; the plentiful sun and sand, superbly tasty cuisine, and the genuinely welcoming people.
We totally get why travelers flock to beachfront homes in Mexico, to villas in the highlands, to quaint apartments amidst the country’s architectural wonders.
The truth is, there’s something for every kind of traveler in Mexico. The regional diversity is staggering for the overall size of the country. Lush jungles, simmering volcanoes, cactus-strewn deserts and over 10,000 kilometers of sparkling coastline. Mexico is a never-ending adventure for the senses.
There are a few different things that help us decide on the countries and cities we want to learn more about, regional diversity is one of them.
We have a list of priorities as well (low cost of living, house sitting opportunities, ease and affordability to travel to and from, and weather). And then we consider the opinions of others; friends, family, and people we know in the travel community.
Overall, Mexico fits our priorities to a tee.
It has a very low cost of living- According to Numbeo (the cost of living site we use most to compare prices in Canada to other countries around the world), Mexico comes in over 100% cheaper for things like rent and groceries.
It’s easy to travel to and from- There is a choice of affordable carriers to travel easily and affordably to and from Canada and other places in the world that interest us.
Also, as Canadians, we can spend up to 180 days in Mexico visa free.
We plan to spend six months traveling in Mexico, here are the places we can’t wait to learn more about:
Located on the Mexico’s west coast, Puerto Vallarta stretches perfectly along the shimmering blue Baíha de Banderas (Bay of Banderas). The city is a real stunner, with jungly palm covered mountains in the back and romantic views of the Bay in the foreground. Puerto Vallarta is sunsets on the Malecon and frenetic outdoor adventure along the coast and up in the hills, all rolled into one!
Why do we want to go?
We’ve had first-hand experience there. We have family that lives in Vallarta part time and when Rob needed some expensive dental work done they recommended visiting to see the dentist there. Getting his tooth fixed in Mexico cost a fraction of what it would have if he’d had had the work done in Canada. While he was in Puerto Vallarta he had the chance to check out different things that make it such a popular destination for tourists and expats alike.
- The authenticity that still exists there- A lot of the really popular tourist destinations in Mexico are largely modernized (developed for tourism). Puerto Vallarta is being developed more and more, but right now it still has a lot of authentic Mexican charm. Cobblestone streets, the smell of taco stands, and a plethora of colorful street vendors make you really feel like you’re in Mexico not a place done up for tourists. The great thing is, the modernization of Vallarta is still in progress. It’s 5-10 years away from being as developed as other destinations like Cabo or Cancun.
- The variety of accommodation- A healthy choice of all types of accommodation; something to fit every budget and preference.
- Great scores (via Nomad List) for walkability, safety, and friendliness toward foreigners.
- A bustling city with close proximity to mountains, jungle, and the coast; Puerto Vallarta offers easy access to cultural experiences and a whole array of exciting outdoor activities.
Mérida is located on the Southeastern side of the country, It is the capital of the state of Yucatán and the largest city of the Yucatán Peninsula. A refreshing departure from neighboring Quintana Roo’s rowdy resort towns, Merida is delightfully metropolitan. Picture narrow streets, sprawling plazas, and arguably the best museums in the region.
Why do we want to go?
A few people we know in the travel community have lived and/or spent considerable time in Mérida. We’ve learned that the city is architecturally stunning, loaded with delicious cheap eats, thriving markets, and lively community events happening almost every day of the week. Mérida is hailed as the cultural capital of the entire Yucatán Peninsula, an alluring cosmopolitan city long steeped in colonial history.
- The rich mix of cultures. Winner of the prestigious Cultural Capital of the Americas for 2017, Mérida has strong Mayan, Spanish, French, British, and (a dash of) Dutch influences that blend together into something extraordinary. Mérida’s rich diversity perforates the incredible cuisine, community events, and local markets that exist throughout the city.
- Mérida offers a lot for a lot of different types of people. Retirees, expats, families with young kids; wealthy jet setters, pensioners, and the extremely budget conscious can all find food, activities, and accommodation to suit their preferences.
- Mérida is a tourist town, but lucky for everyone, it’s too big to be a tourist trap! Also, it’s architectural beauty and an endless list of cultural experiences draws crowds of visitors but it’s safe, and it’s neighborhoods are easily walkable.
San Miguel de Allende
San Miguel de Allende is located in the state of Guanajuato in central Mexico. Known as a Mexican Disneyland for foreigners, some say San Miguel has a bit of a fairy tale ambiance. Sounds pretty interesting to us! like Mérida, it has remarkable architecture and is overrun with excellent restaurants. Its markets are brimming with quality Mexican handicrafts and regular festivals, fireworks, and parades add to the amusement park feel.
Why do we want to go?
Friend’s we have in the travel community have spent time and/or lived in the city. What we’ve learned about San Miguel is, it’s home to a large expat community. A year ago, that would have have been a bit of a turn off for us but now we find that prospect interesting. Access to an engaged expat community would be a refreshing change to trying to figure out the nuances of a potential long-term location for this expat experiment.
- San Miguel de Allende ranks high in cities that are great for digital nomads to get work done. Access to great places to work, the friendliness to foreigners, and overall ease to just get things done makes San Miguel really appealing. San Miguel has most of the things we look for (at first glance) in a potential long-term destination.
- The abundance of authentic cultural experiences despite the large expat influence.
- The temperate climate. San Miguel has a milder more consistent climate due to its central location.
The bottom line on Mexico
Mexico has never been a consideration for a long term stay for our expat experiment. After over 1000 days exploring and 13 different countries, our preferences have changed. Now Mexico meets the mark on a lot of our priorities. The three cities listed above are not set in stone but all of them seem like great places to start our research.
Do you have opinions on Mexico? What cities do love, and why? please, share your feelings in the comments below.