Choosing a Place to Live in Mexico: Emerging Locations

Place is personal, subjective, and important—and as you consider places to live in Mexico, Mexperience helps you to consider your choices and shortlist locations that may suit your lifestyle needs.

This series of articles introduces you to a curated list of locations throughout Mexico that foreign residents consider to live, work or retire in Mexico.

Emerging places to live in Mexico

This article in the series introduces you to ’emerging’ locations in Mexico that have, in recent years, been catching the attention of foreign residents and have fledgling or developing communities of foreign residents present there.


Guanajuato is the capital city of the state of Guanajuato, and one of the most picturesque and well-preserved of Mexico’s historical colonial cities.

Situated about 50 miles (90-minute drive) east of the popular enclave of San Miguel de Allende, this city is experiencing an influx of foreign investment and, with that, interest from foreign residents seeking potential places to live and retire in Mexico.

The nearest airport to here is in the city of León, about an hour’s drive east of Guanajuato.  This a mountain city, with steep, sometimes narrow roads and alleyways; its history and culture make this one of the most attractive-looking places in Mexico to live, although you’ll need to feel confident negotiating its steep topography.

The city is also popular tourist destination and experiences a high influx of visitors at weekends, and during holidays.

Learn more: Guanajuato

Type: Colonial Mexico

Nearby places: San Miguel de Allende, Querétaro, San Luis Potosí

Google map: Guanajuato

Discover more: Guanajuato on Mexperience


Mérida is the capital city of the state of Yucatán, and quickly becoming one of the more popular destinations for foreign residents to live and retire in Mexico.

November through March in Mérida is pleasantly warm; although spring and summer temperatures soar to highs of 105-115F (40-45C) making this one of the hottest cities in Mexico. Notwithstanding the spring and summer heat, this city has experienced an enormous influx of foreign residents and is on the cusp of becoming ‘popular.’ (Some say that if it were not for the tremendously hot climate here between April and October, it would be the most sought-after place to live in Mexico.)

Mérida offers a lot to residents, who are attracted to its authentic Yucatecan culture and cuisine, its picturesque streets and neighborhoods, the wide array of local services and amenities available here, and its excellent transport links including modern roads and direct connections by air to the Mexico City and the USA.

It’s also close to many of the historically important ancient Maya cities (archaeology sites) and offers residents ready access to breathtaking natural environments—and plenty of leisure opportunities, including outdoor adventure, swimming in natural cenotes, nearby coasts, and a collection of beautifully restored haciendas converted into fine restaurants or hotels.

Mérida is among the most remarkable and culturally rich provincial cities you’ll find anywhere in Mexico and is likely to continue to attract and draw-in foreign residents who can cope with the summer heat or decide to overwinter here

Learn more: Mérida

Type: Colonial Mexico

Nearby places: Campeche, Cancún/Riviera Maya

Google map: Mérida

Discover more: Mérida on Mexperience

Morelia and Pátzcuaro

Morelia and Pátzcuaro have been tucked away in the forested mountains of the state of Michoacán for years; but more recently these two places —Morelia, one of Mexico’s most elegant colonial cities; and Pátzcuaro, a charming and ancient highland town with strong indigenous roots— have been catching the eyes of a new generation of foreign visitors, as well as foreigners seeking unusual places to live or retire in Mexico.

Direct flights from the USA to Morelia have helped to make this area more accessible, and there is also a modern tolled highway between Morelia and Mexico City that enables drivers to traverse this mountainous region in just under four hours.

You can continue to drive across the mountains southwest from here and arrive in Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo, on shores of the Pacific Ocean, in less than four hours—offering a refreshing change from mountain life, and a repair away to instant warmth that can be especially agreeable during the coldest weeks of the winter.

Morelia and Pátzcuaro are two places worth exploring if you’re attracted to mountains, lakes, forests, and a genuine fusion of indigenous and colonial Mexico—and value easy access to the coastal plains of the Pacific.


Mazatlán, the northern-most ocean facing city on the ‘Mexican Riviera,’ has long been a favorite vacation spot for Mexican families.

The location’s key attractions include a cooler climate than other beach locations further south, ready access to excellent services and local amenities, and one of the best ‘value for money’ options on Mexico’s Pacific coast. In recent years, significant real estate developments have begun to emerge as foreign residents have flocked to Mazatlán for living, working, retirement and second-home investments.

The port city’s excellent air/road connections and proximity to the USA, coupled with affordable living and an agreeable coastal climate are making Mazatlán an increasingly attractive option for people who want ocean-side living without the ultra-commercialization associated with beachside locations more widely populated by foreign residents.

Like Mérida, Mazatlán has become better known among foreign residents and those seeking places to live in Mexico that offer good local infrastructure and services along with some existing foreign resident communities and without the higher concentration of foreign residents now prevalent in the most popular locations.

Substantial investments in infrastructure and services, including ports, roads, and other economic initiatives, are funneling considerable sums of capital into this region, and this coastal city appears likely to become one of the more popular coastal locations for foreign residents in years ahead.

Learn more: Mazatlán

Type: Beach (Pacific)

Nearby places: Puerto Vallarta, Manzanillo

Google map: Mazatlán

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The port town of Manzanillo is situated on the Pacific coast about a four-hour drive from Guadalajara and a five-hour drive from Puerto Vallarta.

This authentic Mexican resort town has two principal areas: the resort bays either side of the Santiago peninsula, and the busy commercial area downtown, on the southside. Although Manzanillo is a busy and important working port town on Mexico’s west coast (it’s also host to an important Mexican naval base), it still retains a tranquil, laid-back atmosphere with an authentic Mexican feel.

Manzanillo is not well-known by foreigners seeking a place to live or retire in Mexico, although it does attract foreigners seeking a location that that doesn’t have a high concentration of existing foreign residents, and which offers a genuine Mexican flavor, style and feel.

It’s also one of the best value coastal locations anywhere in Mexico, offering a lower cost of living than popular resorts, and property prices that have not soared as they have in the most popular places like Los Cabos, Puerto Vallarta, and the Rivera Maya.

Learn more: Manzanillo

Type: Beach (Pacific)

Nearby places: Colima/Comala, Puerto Vallarta, Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo, Guadalajara

Google map: Manzanillo

Discover more: Manzanillo on Mexperience

Oaxaca City

Oaxaca city, capital of the state of Oaxaca, is sometimes termed as ‘the soul of Mexico.’  This is one Mexico’s most alluring and culturally rich cities; featuring a beautiful historic district, an international airport, and a modern tolled highway that connects you to Mexico City by road within six hours.

Nearby are important archaeological sites including Monte Albán and Mitla; and the nearby town of Santa Maria del Tule is home to Mexico’s oldest living tree. This highland colonial city offers a year-round temperate climate, ready access to modern services and amenities, and a moderate influx of foreign residents who love living here and being part of the local community.

Oaxaca state also borders the Pacific; the resort town of Huatulco is about a five-hour drive south, and Puerto Escondido an eight-hour drive south-southwest; both roads cross heavy mountainous terrain.

Learn more: Oaxaca

Type: Colonial Mexico

Nearby places: Puerto Escondido, Huatulco, Puebla

Google map: Oaxaca City

Discover more: Oaxaca on Mexperience

Querétaro and Tequisquiapan

Querétaro, northwest of Mexico City, is a thriving colonial city within easy reach of the capital by road. The center is beautiful and kept pristine. In recent years, some Mexicans seeking to vacate Mexico City have moved to find a new home and lifestyle in Querétaro.

The region is undergoing a period of significant investment, and the commercial and industrial growth is creating new jobs and new prosperity in the region. Querétaro is the southern gateway to Mexico’s central highland region (“El Bajio”) and has also become one of the country’s top wine producing centers.

Nearby, Tequisquiapan is a picturesque colonial town with character and charm that has been popular for decades as place to go for weekend get-aways, as well as a popular provincial town in the region for Mexican families to have homes in the countryside; it has the potential to become more popular among foreign residents, too.

Querétaro is a place to consider if you want to be away from, but within relatively easy reach of, Mexico City and you’re seeking a location with good infrastructure and amenities within an attractive colonial setting.

Learn more: Querétaro

Type: Colonial Mexico

Nearby places: San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, Mexico City

Google map: Querétaro and Tequisquiapan

Discover more: Querétaro on Mexperience


Nearby the colonial city of Cuernavaca is Tepoztlán, an ancient highland town situated in a valley surrounded by copper-toned mountain cliffs and outcrops.

The town has long been a draw for well-heeled Mexican and foreign residents, and today remains something of an exclusive enclave that combines all the attractions of a country idyll with the convenience of being close to Cuernavaca (the capital city of Morelos) and also within easy reach of Mexico City by road.

Tepoztlán is one of the most unique places in Mexico’s colonial highlands: foreign residents are attracted to the natural beauty of the area, as well as the peace, tranquility, and sanguine atmosphere to be found here.

Most people who visit Tepoztlán remark on its tranquil serenity, and some speak glowingly about its mystic allure, the prevalence of its ‘New Age’ culture, the mystery of the UFOs that are often sighted here, and how this ‘sacred valley’ compels them to return, time and again.

This is one of Mexico’s more expensive colonial enclaves to buy home in; the rental market tends to have limited choices and renters also pay a premium to live here. The town has a small but well-established community of foreign residents who organize a wide array of cultural, artistic, and trade initiatives locally. The café/bistro, La Sombra del Sabino, is a key focal and meeting point.

Learn more: Tepoztlán

Type: Colonial Mexico

Nearby places: Cuernavaca, Mexico City, Puebla

Google map: Tepoztlán

Discover more: Tepoztlán on Mexperience

Discover more places to live in Mexico

Connect to the other articles in this series and discover more places to live in Mexico:

  • Discover popular locations to live in Mexico: includes locations that have for a long time, or in recent times, garnered considerable popularity with foreign residents (retirees and others) and have active communities of interest established at the location.
  • Discover underexplored locations to live in Mexico: features places that do not have significant numbers of foreign residents already established and are generally ‘off-the-beaten-path’ for most foreigners considering Mexico for living and retirement. These places can offer attractions that may be of interest to some potential foreign residents and retirees seeking someplace more traditional, unusual, and with a lower concentration of foreign residents living there.

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