Mexican Cities that are cheap to live in & offer a high Quality of Life

cheapest cities to live in Mexico

In this post we’ll look at some of the best and cheapest cities to live in Mexico. Safety concerns are a major factor for anyone thinking of moving to Mexico and below we have five options which offer a higher than average quality of life and generally speaking rank amongst the safest cities in the country.

We also have a cost of living table at the bottom with estimated monthly costs for 20 different Mexican cities. This was updated in 2023 to account for recent increases in the cost of living in Mexico.

Table of Contents

5 of the Best Cities to Live in Mexico

Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco

beach living in Mexico
Puerto Vallarta via Robert Stinnett, CC BY 2.0

First up, we head to the state of Jalisco and the city of Puerto Vallarta. Located on Mexico’s Pacific Coast, it’s a good option for anyone who wants the beach lifestyle and an international feel, but also wants to live in a proper city and not just a tourist resort.

With around 400,000 people living in its metropolitan area, Puerto Vallarta certainly is the former but tourism does unquestionably play a major part in its economy. Its growth into one of the most popular seaside destinations in Mexico has come thanks to its pristine beaches but also its safe reputation.

Widely considered to be one of the safest places to live in Mexico, Puerto Vallarta has become one of the most popular locations in North America for digital nomads and remote workers. It may particularly appeal to younger nomads due to its status as something of a party town while Puerto Vallarta is also often referred to as Mexico’s gay capital with plenty of LGBTQ Americans and Mexicans having set up businesses in the city or along the beachfront.

North America Living Cost Index – 20,000 Mexican Pesos per month ($1150)

Merida, Yucatan

Living in Merida

Over 2,000 km to the east of Puerto Vallarta, we head to Merida, the 12th largest city in Mexico with a population just shy of one million. While it is not a coastal city, Merida is only 35 km from the Gulf of Mexico and Playa Chuburná. It will come as a surprise to many, that Merida was actually voted the second safest city in all of the Americas back in 2019, beaten only by Canada’s Quebec City which features in our rundown of the best places to live in Canada.

The city is notable for its large indigenous population with the Maya making up around 60% of Merida residents. That has a big impact on its cuisine which features Mayan, as well as Spanish, and Caribbean flavours.

It’s a pretty laid back place with mostly hospitable people and the region isn’t swamped with visitors, even during the more popular tourist seasons. However Merida is large enough that there’s enough going on to keep you occupied. Many people and nomads moving to the area from overseas opt to base themselves in the nearby beach town of Progreso.

Living Cost Index – 18,500 Mexican Pesos per month ($1050)

Mexico City, Mexico City

Mexico City

If big city living is really your thing, then there’s generally not much point looking anywhere beyond Mexico City. While the capital is certainly not one of the cheapest cities to live in Mexico, it’s still affordable in comparison to the majority of major global cities.

With over 20 million people living in its metropolitan area, Mexico City is enormous and it is the beating heart of life in this country. Certainly anyone looking to find a good job in Mexico will most likely have more luck here than elsewhere and it’s also the place with by far the widest range of options when it comes to everything from culture and arts to cuisine and sports.

It would be an exaggeration to suggest Mexico City is an ultra safe haven. Few cities of its size are and you need to keep your wits about you, particularly if you look obviously foreign. There are many pickpockets and many districts that are best avoided but if you do your research, you can find some good areas that are considered safe to live in.

Living Cost Index – 21,000 Mexican Pesos per month ($1200)

Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo

If the beach lifestyle is more your thing and you want a more international experience than you find in most Mexican cities, Playa del Carmen may be your best option. This popular tourist resort south of Cancun is growing rapidly but at heart it remains a vibrant beach town which attracts visitors from far and wide.

Most come for its beaches and its party vibe with Playa del Carmen coming alive most nights thanks to its array of bustling bars and nightclubs. Average daily highs hover between 28 and 33°C throughout the year and even at night, it remains warm making this a truly year-round destination (that’s not the case in all of Mexico, with cold nights pretty common in areas at altitude such as Mexico City).

Away from the main party district, Playa del Carmen has plenty of character with street vendors and excellent restaurants dotted throughout the town, while there are loads of great options for day trips with plenty of historical sites and quieter beaches in the wider region.

Living Cost Index – 20,000 Mexican Pesos per month ($1150)

Guadalajara, Jalisco

cheapest cities to live in Mexico

Finally, we move to the state of Jalisco and the city of Guadalajara, the seventh largest in Mexico with the third largest metropolitan area which is home to some five million residents. For anyone looking to avoid the more touristy, typical expat destinations, this could be a good option.

Guadalajara is one of the most developed regions in all of Latin America. In some respects it eclipses even Mexico City in terms of its status as an important centre for finance and business in the country, having grown into one of the biggest tech hubs south of the US-Mexico border. It’s far from a dull city to live in though and its range of cultural sites and festivals throughout the year contribute to its status as one of the best places to live in Mexico.

Compared to the other major ones, Guadalajara also ranks as one of the cheapest cities to live in Mexico. According to our calculations, it’s quite possible to live on around $1050 each month, making it a more affordable place to be than several cities which in truth don’t have as much to offer in terms of living standards or opportunities.

Living Cost Index – 18,500 Mexican Pesos per month ($1050)

Mexico Cost of Living Calculation Explained

The cost of living index estimates for the five Mexican cities in this post (and those in the table at the bottom) are loosely designed to cover the living costs for a single person. That includes the cost of rented accommodation, although the figures are more designed for budget-minded people who want a comfortable standard of living but don’t intend to go overboard on expenditure.

Overall, the figures should be seen more as an index and a means of comparison rather than an accurate estimate of what you might spend, as everyone’s situation and idea of a comfortable standard of living will be different. You can easily spend far more than these figures if you are planning to have a very active social life or want a modern private apartment in one of the best neighbourhoods.

We used numbeo’s cost of living comparison tool to help calculate an estimate for the cost of living in each case. This should at least give you an overall impression of how living costs compare across Mexico.

Note that travel or health insurance costs are not included in these figures, as they will vary a lot depending on your age and other factors. Get a quote in less than a minute from SafetyWing for an idea of how much travel medical insurance for Mexico costs.

Cost of Living – What are the cheapest cities to live in Mexico?

CityCost of Living Index (Monthly in US Dollars)
San Miguel Allende1350
Mexico City1200
Puerto Vallarta1150
Playa del Carmen1150
Ciudad Juárez950
At the time of writing, $1 = 17.50 Mexican Pesos, €0.93 and £0.81.

The table above features 20 Mexican cities including most of the biggest ones in the country as well as a few smaller places which tend to be popular with expats, digital nomads, retirees and remote workers in Mexico.

This covers just about every major Mexican city. Arty San Miguel Allende in the Central Highlands ranks as the most expensive city to live in Mexico according to our research with Guanajuato, Monterrey and Mexico City not far behind. However, even those places are still much more affordable than the cheapest places to live in the United States.

Even Aguascalientes, right at the bottom of the list, does not have the outright lowest cost of living in Mexico but you’ll struggle to find a cheaper place without losing a lot in terms of your overall quality of life or compromising your safety.

This post on the best and cheapest cities to live in Mexico was last updated in May 2023. Comments and questions are welcome but please note we are not experts on Mexican immigration laws nor local job markets.

Mexican Cities that are cheap to live in & offer a high Quality of Life

17 thoughts on “Mexican Cities that are cheap to live in & offer a high Quality of Life

  1. I’m outside of Monterrey as i came for rock climbing and had made Mexican friends here and Saltillo. I’m finding definitely can still get housing cheaper for the space i need but buying decent produce and fruit blows my budget. Organic lettuce from US that’s not negotiable. i like at least thinking my food are not gassed, pesticided and herbicided horribly. I would rather be in the valley where the Mexican organic food is grown. I got beautiful Mexican organic blueberries and blackberries at Costco. I don’t even know how much they were. My phone is US with iPad data. 100. I do have a small storage still in Texas in case…. I bring or return. Another hundred. Health bill sharing.

    I also use a lot of my budget on my cats. Having animals with enough space for them and decent food is expensive. And if the starving or sick animals don’t brother you it’s a plus. I’ve spent huge amounts now rescuing and vetting animals on this property. And here a car is a necessity here which i haven’t found yet. Gas is now about 5.00 gallon. And of course the dollar is worth less. So 1850/ month in my case isn’t cutting it. Retired life is stressful right now!! 😩. May 2023.

  2. Hi Rebecca, I am in the same position as you and looking for the same thing but I will be moving May 1, 2023. How did things work out for you and where did you end up?

  3. Hello,

    I have multiple sclerosis and heat and humidity are intolerable for me. I live near Savannah, Georgia. I’m still mobile. My wife and I are retired. I think that Ajijic is too expensive compared to other areas. Anyone familiar with Aguascalientes? It looks very nice and the climate would be agreeable for me, I think. Are the people friendly? Is it costly to live there? Are people happy? I realize that the central portions of Mexico are less humid and more cool. So, I guess cities like Leon, Morelia would be good too. I’d like to hear back from people who moved to any of these cities and their experiences with the city.

  4. I am a retired widow with a male and female companion. We are interested in retiring in Mexico on the Pacific Coastline in a smaller village of family oriented communities. We are requiring a 2 or 3 bedroom house furnished completely down to the cookware, dishes , bedding, and bathroom essentials. We would like 2 0r 3 Tvs and of course internet. We are accustomed to living in a small town with all the immediates. Local restaurants and taxis for travel. We would like a maid at least 3 days a week. Our intentions are to locate a hacienda preferably with a centrally located veranda. We would also prefer a fenced property with the fence 6 to 8 feet tall and wood slats for privacy. Would also be interected in a home with a private pool or hottub or jacuzzi tub. Extras are appreciated yet not required. Intentionas are ti settle in a home and live out our retirement there. Probably the most important desire is a nice home very close to the ocean. Thank you ahead of time for your assistance. Projected date of relocation is approximately October or November at the latest. Due to the fact of our intent to live out our lives there we would be happy to pay a year in advance and of course recieve doscount for continued occupancy there for several years to come.
    Debra James

  5. hello, im looking at moving from cancun asap as ive been here a week now and the rent is bloody expensive, aas is tulum and playa del carmen, do you know where there is cheaper rent in a costal safe area of mexico? with a retired population and a small village type?

    cheapest rent in the safe areas in playa del carmen is still $450 and thats too high. are there any average monthly rentals $150-$300 and cheap property or land to buy too?

    1. Hi Dan,

      In that general part of Mexico, maybe you could look at the Merida area. Rents are 40% lower in Merida than Playa del Carmen according the Numbeo data, that article is based on. Obviously that’s not directly on the coast but it’s close – maybe you could look at Progreso (not sure how the rents are there).

      The Oaxaca coastline may also be worth looking into more. The Mazunte-Zipolite area for example? but it depends how small a place you’re looking for and what you expect from your accommodation as $150-300 won’t get you very much in a safe, coastal neighbourhood.

  6. I wish i could find those types of prices, i’m in Puerto Vallarta right now and in order to live on my budget, I’ve had to do hostiles at least 6 days out of the month to afford some nice places through out the rest of the month. Lowest prices I’ve found for renting including utilities has been a minimum $700 a month and that just for housing. The cost is low in comparison to many other countries, but, don’t kid oneself, to live in nice parts of town, you must have some serious huting skills to land such a deal for under $700 for housing cost and this goes for a few other areas mentioned. I’ve live in a number of places in Quintana Roo, there were some great airbnb deals for a while but, all cost have dramatically risen over the past several months especially. And when I say nice, I dont’ mean luxurious, just nice, safe, clean areas. Before 2020 things were cheaper, not today, those under $400 rents are long gone till you more farther and farther away from the more favorable sections. But if someone can point me into the direction of a $400 rental, let me know.

    1. Thanks for your comment Rosalyn. The figures are based on data from Numbeo as cited in the article, but it’s possible they have quite a small number of contributors for Puerto Vallarta and any recent changes may not be fully accounted for yet. 1 bedroom apartments in Puerto Vallarta are approx $570 in central area & $330 away from centre according to their data. That would be for a normal rent as opposed to an Airbnb but it sounds like it may be inaccurate according to what you’ve said.

    1. Hi, the figures are estimates for the total cost of living for one person, i.e. rent + groceries & other typical living expenses. Obviously this will vary a lot depending on lifestyles etc.

      If you have a larger budget, you could also easily spend the figures quoted, just on rent if you want a nicer apartment in a really good area.

      1. My wife and I retired to Culiacan Sinaloa.wr drive and walk all around the city. Except for the crazy drivers we have never felt threatened. Contrary to what is written about this place it is very safe. Haven’t bumped in to many English speakers. Fully furnished 3bdr house in quite safe neighborhood cost us 4800 pesos (246 dollars) which includes water and electric utilities. Food is about 300 a month. Multiple picturesque parks, museums, botanical gardens, in a clean modern city of about 750,000. In two + hours I can be on San Diego from the airport. I have no regrets here

        1. Thanks for your comment Greg and for sharing your costs. Sounds like great value. Glad you are enjoying life there!

        2. Hi Greg. I’m interested in learning more about Culiacan since you mentioned it. Would you be able to recommend some safe areas similar to yours. Around the same price range preferably? Thank you in advance.

          1. I’m looking for a two bedroom two bath apartment or condo in Mexico with indoor outdoor living. I would like it totally furnished and then walking distance to a town and market. I’ve been looking at all different places in Mexico and still trying to figure out which place would take me best I am single no pets ready to move in four months. Any suggestions or ideas.

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