Choosing a Place to Live in Mexico: Underexplored Places

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 locations in Mexico that do not have significant numbers of foreign residents already established and are generally places ‘off-the-beaten-path’.  These locations may be of interest to potential foreign residents and retirees seeking someplace more traditional, unusual, and with a lower concentration of foreign residents living there.


Acapulco continues to attract a certain type of foreign resident; usually those who know Mexico well and enjoy the old-world charms of these lands. Acapulco offers coastal living in a port city with an authentic and traditional Mexican feel featuring a wide range of local services and amenities.

Some head to the ‘old town’ of Acapulco —more or less west from the downtown areas— where, in the 1950s and 1960s (and for most of the 1970s) the rich and famous had homes. Those properties, now looking dated and some also severely dilapidated and in need of restoration, may be acquired at value prices.

If you want something more modern and up-scale (with prices to match), head south-southeast around the bay to the Diamante area. On this coast road from downtown Acapulco toward Diamante, you’ll also pass residences overlooking the outstanding Acapulco Bay (it’s said that only Hong Kong can better it for style), but you’ll need deep pockets for those mansions—if one happens to be for sale when you’re looking.

Acapulco’s heyday is long past, although the new Diamante area, near the airport with a relatively new international expo center adjacent, high-end hotel resorts, and contemporary residential developments, is proving a popular choice with potential new residents seeking modern facilities, tranquil living, and easy access to the traditional downtown and old town areas of Acapulco.

The Diamante area of Acapulco is now connected via a (tolled) road tunnel that makes the trip faster and easier than the narrow (but picturesque) coastal road that has become increasingly congested in recent times, especially during weekends and holidays.

Learn more: Acapulco

Type: Beach (Pacific)

Nearby places: Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo, Taxco, Cuernavaca

Google map: Acapulco

Discover more: Acapulco on Mexperience


Campeche is a picture-postcard colonial city situated along the shorelines of Mexico’s Gulf coast. Relatively unknown, even by travelers, this ancient port city holds potential for foreign residents seeking a coastal lifestyle amidst a historic and visually attractive colonial setting.

Real estate developments have already begun to emerge here as the city begins to attract some attention from Mexican and foreign investors: high-end housing and condo communities are being built and sold across stretches of the beautiful coastline in this area.

It’s a city with a low concentration of foreign residents that attracts people seeking the ‘authentic’ feel of Mexico, without the commercialization and notoriety that has characterized some other coastal towns and cities.

Campeche is well served by an international airport offering connections to Mexico City and the USA and is also within an easy two-hour drive of the important and picturesque city of Mérida

Learn more: Campeche

Type: Colonial Mexico (on the shores of the Gulf Coast)

Nearby places: Mérida, Veracruz

Google map: Campeche

Discover more: Campeche on Mexperience

Comala and Colima

Comala offers semi-rural living in Mexico, off the beaten path, and ideal for foreign residents seeking a place to live that offers an authentic Mexican experience where you can fully immerse yourself in local culture and cultivate a traditional lifestyle integrated within welcoming and friendly communities.

This countryside idyll is situated just 20 minutes by road from the capital city of Colima; about a 2.5-hour drive southwest of Guadalajara —Mexico’s second largest city— and approximately 90-minute drive east of the commercial port and resort town of Manzanillo—on the shores of the Pacific Ocean.

When you’re looking for a place that’s far removed from the usual locations potential foreign residents tend to shortlist, amidst a rural idyll with easy access to urban services and amenities and good transport links, Comala can provide a countryside lifestyle amidst one of the most fertile and colorful regions of Mexico.

Learn more: Comala and Colima

Type: Colonial Mexico

Nearby places: Colima, Manzanillo, Lake Chapala/Ajijic, Guadalajara

Google map: Comala and Colima

Discover more: Comala and Colima on Mexperience

Ixtapa and Zihuatanejo

Ixtapa and Zihuatanejo are two adjacent and contrasting towns on the shores of Mexico’s Pacific coast, situated about 160 miles northwest of Acapulco. Most foreign residents and retirees who come here to live choose the traditional and quaint ‘village’ feel of Zihuatanejo instead of the modern ‘vacation resort’ of Ixtapa; although the latter offers a wider assortment of amenities on the doorstep. There is a good road connecting the two locations, which are only a few miles apart and the local airport offers connections to Mexico City as well as the USA (some flights are seasonal)

Learn more: Ixtapa and Zihuatanejo

Type: Beach (Pacific)

Nearby places: Manzanillo, Acapulco, Pátzcuaro, Morelia

Google map: Ixtapa and Zihuatanejo

Discover more: Ixtapa and Zihuatanejo on Mexperience

Puebla and Cholula

Puebla is a picturesque colonial city within easy reach of the capital by road, and well connected to the adjacent state of Morelos —home to Cuernavaca and Tepoztlán— via the spectacular Siglo XXI highway that offers unparalleled views of the Popocatépetl and Iztaccíhuatl volcanoes.

The heart of the old city is the most picturesque to live in; the rest of the city extends out and around from the historic center into a series of contemporary districts and neighborhoods more akin to the look and feel of Mexico City.

Puebla is one of Mexico’s more industrial cities (large corporations have offices and factories here) and some people who want (or need) to live near Puebla but want to be away from the city might choose the adjacent town of Cholula, famous for its churches, its university quarter, impressive views of the volcanoes, and host to one of the world’s largest pyramids (by volume).  Cholula offers a more serene and provincial feel; the town is also a popular tourist attraction that becomes busy during the weekends.

Learn more: Puebla and Cholula

Type: Colonial Mexico

Nearby places: Cuernavaca, Tepoztlán, Mexico City

Google map: Puebla and Cholula

Discover more: Puebla and Cholula on Mexperience

Puerto Escondido

Puerto Escondido, a surfers’ beach town and chic oceanside town is a ‘niche’ location for foreign residents and retirees considering places to live in Mexico.

This Pacific coastal enclave attracts surfers and the bohemians looking for rustic, authentic —often remote and undiscovered— Mexico by the sea. If you’re a surfer, an artist, a romanticist, or a hippy-at-heart (or for real), consider Puerto Escondido (and nearby Puerto Angel) as you scout for places to settle in Mexico.

Puerto Escondido is one of the more remote places you can choose to live in Mexico; you can fly here, but if you intend to move around on land, it’s a seven-hour drive to Acapulco; about a 90-minute drive to Puerto Angel, and an eight-hour drive to Oaxaca City over heavy mountainous terrain.

Puerto Escondido is one of those locations that attracts and retains certain types of foreign residents; if you’re attracted to alternative lifestyles, remote places, and stunning coastal scenery, a reconnaissance visit is essential to get to know the town, its people, and the surrounding areas.

Learn more: Puerto Escondido

Type: Beach (Pacific)

Nearby places: Oaxaca City, Huatulco, Puerto Angel

Google map: Puerto Escondido

Discover more: Puerto Escondido on Mexperience

San Cristobal de las Casas

San Cristóbal de las Casas is a highland mountain town, situated amidst the thickly wooded mountain jungles in the state of Chiapas in southern Mexico.

Like Pátzcuaro, its strong ties to traditional cultures and indigenous roots have kept its style and character very distinct to most other places in Mexico.  San Cristóbal is a place to consider when you’re looking for highland mountain living in a relatively remote area of Mexico.

The town is about a 90-minute drive from the nearest big city, the state capital city of Tuxtla Gutiérrez; and a two-hour drive to Comitán de Dominguez, a quaint and quiet colonial town very near the border with Guatemala.

San Cristóbal has a relatively low concentration of foreign residents and retirees, probably due to its remoteness; although for those who do choose to live here, the outstanding natural scenery, the strong indigenous heritage, and the rugged mountain-jungle terrain, are all an integral part of the attractions of this place.

It’s a location to consider when you’re seeking places off-the-beaten path amidst authentic and uncommercialized culture, and when you’re seeking to cultivate a local lifestyle among traditional indigenous highland communities.

San Felipe

San Felipe in Baja California has for many years been a favorite stopping point for travelers exploring the east side of the Mexican Baja peninsula.

Today, San Felipe is a retirement haven with significant investments in real estate projects that have created new infrastructure, services, amenities, and affordable retirement homes.

One of the key attractions for Americans with homes and families situated in the southern US is that San Felipe is just a two-hour drive south from the border (Mexicali) and its location offers an agreeable climate, an outstanding mountain backdrop, and attractive waterside living and leisure opportunities on the shores of the Golf of California (formerly known as the Sea of Cortés).

Learn more: Tepoztlán

Type: Beach (Gulf of California / Sea of Cortés)

Nearby places: Mexicali, Ensenada

Google map: San Felipe

Discover more: San Felipe on Mexperience


Veracruz is an important industrial port city on Mexico’s Gulf Coast. Although it may not strike most people considering places in Mexico for living or retirement as a potential location for a shortlist, the city offers certain charms of its own which are particularly attractive to people who know Mexico well and enjoy a fusion of Mexican and Caribbean cultures.

The historic center is frequently likened to pre-revolutionary Havana, and although its colonial buildings lack the majesty of those found in the Cuban capital, this remains a charismatic port city that attracts people seeking coastal living and authenticity away from the traditional tourist and foreign resident trails.

Veracruz city is situated less than four hours by road from the colonial city of Puebla, and about a five-hour hour road trip from Mexico City.

Learn more: Veracruz

Type: Colonial Mexico (on the shores of the Gulf Coast)

Nearby places: Puebla

Google map: Veracruz

Discover more: Veracruz 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 emerging locations to live in Mexico: summarizes locations that have, in recent years, been catching the attention of foreign residents and have fledgling or developing communities of interest present.

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