As a person who lived in both countries for some time, I can tell you that the country offers a rich tapestry of experiences. From bustling cities to tranquil beaches, Mexico has something for everyone. In this blog post, I’ll share my insights on the best places to live in Mexico as a Canadian. Whether you’re looking for a retirement haven, a vibrant cultural scene, or a mix of both, read on to find the perfect spot for you.
Places For Canadians
Campeche, a port city on the Yucatán Peninsula, often gets overshadowed by more popular tourist destinations. But let me tell you, this hidden gem is worth your attention. With a UNESCO-listed city center, Campeche offers a blend of history and modernity that’s hard to find elsewhere.
Why Campeche is Special
The city’s walled center is a visual treat with its well-preserved mansions and pastel-colored buildings. While the historic center may lack the hustle and bustle of daily life, stepping outside the walls reveals a different story. Here, you’ll find a lively market, a serene boardwalk, and old fishing piers that add to the city’s charm.
When it comes to food, Campeche will surprise you. The cuisine here is unlike any Mexican food you’ve had before. Influenced by pre-Hispanic and Mayan traditions, the food also features a lot of fresh seafood, thanks to the city’s coastal location.Pan de muerto will surprise you also.
- Regional Cuisine: Restaurants in Campeche offer a unique blend of Mexican and Mayan flavors.
- Seafood: Given its coastal setting, seafood is a staple in Campeche. Don’t miss out on dishes like “Pulpo Campechano” (Campeche-style octopus).
Cost of Living
Living in Campeche is relatively affordable. According to Numbeo, a one-bedroom apartment in the city center costs around 5,833 pesos per month. If you prefer to live outside the center, the rent drops to about 2,625 pesos.
- Eating Out: A meal at an inexpensive restaurant will set you back around 87.50 pesos. For a more upscale experience, a three-course meal for two costs about 250 pesos.
- Property Prices: Buying an apartment can cost you around 9,000 pesos per square meter in the city center and 6,250 pesos outside it.
9. San Miguel de Allende
San Miguel de Allende is another fantastic option for Canadians looking to settle in Mexico. Known for its colonial architecture and vibrant arts scene, this city is a hub of creativity and culture.
Why San Miguel de Allende is Unique
The city is a UNESCO World Heritage site and offers a plethora of activities for residents. From art galleries to music festivals, there’s always something happening here. The cobblestone streets and colonial buildings add to the city’s allure, making it a popular choice among expats.
Art and Culture
San Miguel de Allende is a haven for art enthusiasts. The city is home to numerous art galleries and hosts various art festivals throughout the year.
- Art Galleries: Places like “Fabrica La Aurora” are must-visits for art lovers.
- Music Festivals: The city hosts several music festivals, offering a range of genres from jazz to classical.
Safety and Healthcare
One of the biggest concerns for expats is safety and healthcare. San Miguel de Allende scores high on both counts. The city is considered safe, and there are several high-quality healthcare facilities available.
- Safety: The city has a low crime rate and is generally considered safe for expats.
- Healthcare: Facilities like “Hospital de la Fe” offer top-notch healthcare services.
If you’re a beach lover, Tulum might just be the place for you. Known for its stunning beaches and ancient ruins, Tulum offers a laid-back lifestyle that’s perfect for those looking to escape the hustle and bustle.
What Makes Tulum Stand Out
Tulum is not just about beaches; it’s a lifestyle. The city offers a unique blend of natural beauty and modern amenities. Whether you’re interested in water sports or just want to relax by the beach, Tulum has got you covered.
Tulum’s beaches are its biggest draw. The white sandy beaches and crystal-clear waters make it a paradise for beach lovers.
- Water Sports: Activities like snorkeling and scuba diving are popular here.
- Beach Clubs: Tulum offers a range of beach clubs where you can relax and enjoy a cocktail.
Yoga and Wellness
Tulum is also known for its wellness culture. The city offers numerous yoga retreats and wellness centers that focus on holistic well-being.
- Yoga Retreats: Places like “Yoga Shala Tulum” offer various yoga and meditation classes.
- Wellness Centers: For a more comprehensive wellness experience, centers like “Coqui Coqui” offer a range of treatments from massages to herbal baths.
Guanajuato is a city that’s like a page out of a fairy tale, with its colorful buildings and narrow, winding streets. Nestled in a narrow valley, this city offers a rich cultural experience and is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
The Magic of Guanajuato
What makes Guanajuato special is its vibrant atmosphere. The city is famous for its underground tunnels, historic theaters, and lively plazas. It’s a place where you can feel the pulse of Mexico’s rich history and culture.
Festivals and Events
Guanajuato is a city that loves to celebrate. From the Cervantino Festival, one of the largest arts festivals in Latin America, to local fiestas, there’s always something happening.
- Cervantino Festival: This event attracts artists and visitors from around the world.
- Local Fiestas: Neighborhoods in Guanajuato often have their own unique celebrations, offering a glimpse into local culture.
Cost of Living in Guanajuato
Guanajuato offers a cost-effective lifestyle without compromising on quality. According to Numbeo, the cost of living here is about 20% lower than in Mexico City.
- Housing: Rent for a one-bedroom apartment in the city center is around 6,000 pesos per month.
- Groceries: Basic groceries for a month can cost around 1,500 pesos.
6. Puerto Vallarta
If you’re looking for a place that combines the beauty of the beach with a bustling city life, Puerto Vallarta is the place to be. Known for its stunning coastline and vibrant nightlife, this city offers the best of both worlds.
The Allure of Puerto Vallarta
Puerto Vallarta is not just a tourist destination; it’s a lifestyle. With its beautiful beaches, high-end restaurants, and cultural landmarks, the city offers a well-rounded experience for those looking to relocate.
According to Vallarta Adventures Puerto Vallarta is an adventurer’s paradise. From water sports to hiking, the city offers a plethora of outdoor activities.
- Water Sports: Activities like jet-skiing and parasailing are popular here.
- Hiking: The surrounding mountains offer excellent hiking opportunities.
Nightlife and Entertainment
When the sun sets, Puerto Vallarta comes alive. The city offers a range of nightlife options from casual bars to high-end clubs.
- Bars: Places like “La Vaquita” offer a laid-back atmosphere.
- Clubs: For a more upscale experience, clubs like “Strana” are the place to be.
Mérida, the capital of the Yucatán state, offers a unique blend of colonial history and modern living. Known as “The White City” for its clean streets and white limestone buildings, Mérida is a city that captivates everyone who visits.
The Charm of Mérida
Mérida is a city where tradition and modernity coexist. With its colonial architecture, Mayan ruins, and modern shopping malls, the city offers a diverse range of experiences.
Mérida is rich in culture and history. The city is home to several museums, art galleries, and historical sites.
- Museums: The “Gran Museo del Mundo Maya” is a must-visit.
- Historical Sites: Don’t miss the ancient Mayan city of Uxmal, which is just a short drive away.
Safety and Healthcare in Mérida
Mérida is often cited as one of the safest cities in Mexico. It also offers excellent healthcare facilities, making it a popular choice among expats.
- Safety: Mérida has a low crime rate and is considered safe for both tourists and residents.
- Healthcare: The city offers several high-quality hospitals and clinics.
4. Playa del Carmen
Playa del Carmen is a coastal resort town along the Yucatán Peninsula’s Riviera Maya strip. Known for its palm-lined beaches and coral reefs, this city is a hotspot for tourists and expats alike.
The Appeal of Playa del Carmen
What sets Playa del Carmen apart is its cosmopolitan atmosphere combined with a laid-back beach vibe. Whether you’re into water sports, nightlife, or simply soaking up the sun, this city has something for everyone.
Beach Clubs and Resorts
Playa del Carmen is famous for its luxurious beach clubs and resorts, where you can enjoy a day of ultimate relaxation.
- Mamitas Beach Club: Known for its lively atmosphere and excellent amenities.
- Coralina Daylight Club: Offers a more upscale beach experience with DJs and gourmet food.
Cost of Living
Living in Playa del Carmen can be more expensive compared to other Mexican cities, but it offers a high standard of living.
- Rent: A one-bedroom apartment in the city center can cost around 12,000 pesos per month.
- Dining: Expect to pay around 150 pesos for a meal at a mid-range restaurant.
Querétaro is a small city that’s big on culture, history, and quality of life. Known for its well-preserved Spanish colonial architecture, it’s a place where history comes alive.
The Uniqueness of Querétaro
Querétaro offers a blend of the old and the new. The city is rich in history, but it’s also one of the fastest-growing cities in Mexico, offering modern amenities and a robust job market.
Querétaro is a city steeped in history, and you’ll find many sites worth exploring.
- Aqueduct: The city is home to a massive 18th-century aqueduct.
- Museo Regional: This museum offers a deep dive into the region’s history.
Quality of Life in Querétaro
Querétaro is often ranked as one of the best cities to live in Mexico, thanks to its high quality of life.
- Safety: The city is considered very safe, with low crime rates.
- Healthcare: Querétaro offers excellent healthcare facilities, including modern hospitals and clinics.
Oaxaca is a city that captures the essence of Mexico, from its vibrant street markets to its colonial architecture. Known for its rich cultural heritage, Oaxaca is a city that celebrates its traditions.
The Spirit of Oaxaca
Oaxaca is a city where ancient traditions come to life, whether it’s through its world-famous cuisine or its colorful festivals. It’s a place that offers a truly authentic Mexican experience.
Cuisine in Oaxaca
Oaxaca is often considered the culinary capital of Mexico, known for its unique and flavorful dishes.
- Mole: Oaxaca is famous for its seven varieties of mole, a complex sauce made with numerous ingredients.
- Mezcal: This alcoholic beverage, similar to tequila but smokier, is a must-try.
Festivals and Traditions
Oaxaca is a city that loves to celebrate its traditions, and there are numerous festivals throughout the year.
- Guelaguetza: This annual event is a celebration of Oaxacan culture, featuring traditional dances, costumes, and food.
- Day of the Dead: Oaxaca offers one of the most unique and elaborate Day of the Dead celebrations in Mexico.
Monterrey, often referred to as the “Sultan of the North,” is Mexico’s third-largest city and a major industrial and business hub. Known for its stunning mountainous backdrop and modern skyline, Monterrey offers a different flavor of Mexican life.
The Dynamics of Monterrey
Monterrey is a city of contrasts. It’s a place where you’ll find cutting-edge technology and traditional Mexican culture coexisting. With its numerous parks, museums, and shopping centers, Monterrey offers a cosmopolitan lifestyle that’s hard to beat.
Monterrey is surrounded by mountains, making it an ideal location for outdoor enthusiasts.
- Chipinque Park: This natural reserve offers hiking trails and stunning views of the city.
- La Huasteca: A popular spot for rock climbing and rappelling, offering challenges for all skill levels.
Business and Career Opportunities
Monterrey is one of Mexico’s most important business centers, making it an excellent choice for career-oriented individuals.
- Job Market: The city is home to numerous multinational corporations and offers a robust job market.
- Networking: Monterrey has various business events and conferences throughout the year, providing excellent networking opportunities.
Cities to Avoid as a Canadian in Mexico
While Mexico offers a plethora of wonderful places to live, there are some cities that may not be the best fit for Canadians. Below, we explore three such cities that you might want to avoid.
Once a glamorous resort destination, Acapulco has seen a decline in recent years. Known for its beautiful beaches and nightlife, the city has unfortunately gained a reputation for crime and violence.
Why Acapulco is Risky
Acapulco has one of the highest crime rates in Mexico, including violent crimes like homicide and kidnapping, making it a risky choice for expats.
Safety is a significant issue in Acapulco, with frequent reports of armed robberies and assaults.
- Travel Advisory: Many governments issue travel advisories against non-essential travel to Acapulco.
- Nightlife: Going out at night is generally considered unsafe due to the risk of crime.
Acapulco has seen economic decline, affecting the quality of life and available amenities.
- Tourism Drop: The decline in tourism has led to business closures.
- Limited Healthcare: The healthcare facilities are not up to the standard you might be used to.
2. Ciudad Juárez
Located near the U.S.-Mexico border, Ciudad Juárez is a city known for its industrial importance. However, it’s also infamous for its high crime rates.
Why Ciudad Juárez is Not Ideal
The city has been plagued by drug cartel violence and has a high incidence of crimes like kidnapping and extortion.
Ciudad Juárez is considered one of the most dangerous cities in Mexico.
- Drug Cartels: The city has been a battleground for drug cartels.
- Border Issues: Being a border city, it faces additional security challenges.
The city’s economy is unstable, making it a less attractive option for expats.
- Job Market: Limited job opportunities, especially for those who don’t speak Spanish.
- Quality of Life: The city lacks many of the amenities and cultural activities that other Mexican cities offer.
Another border city, Tijuana is known for its busy border crossing and vibrant nightlife. However, it also has its share of problems that make it less than ideal for Canadians.
Why Tijuana is Not Recommended
Tijuana faces issues similar to Ciudad Juárez, including high crime rates and economic instability.
Safety is a significant concern in Tijuana, especially for foreigners who may be targeted.
- Petty Crime: Incidents of pickpocketing and scams are common.
- Violent Crime: The city also has a high rate of more serious crimes like assault.
Lack of Community
Tijuana doesn’t have a strong expat community, making it a less appealing option for Canadians.
- Social Life: The lack of an expat community can make it harder to socialize and find support.
- Cultural Barriers: Without a strong community, cultural differences can be more challenging to navigate.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
What is the Visa Process for Canadians moving to Mexico?
Canadians can enter Mexico without a visa for up to 180 days as tourists. However, if you plan to live in Mexico long-term, you’ll need to apply for a temporary resident visa before moving.
Is Speaking Spanish Necessary?
While many people in tourist areas and larger cities speak English, learning basic Spanish will make your life easier and enrich your experience.
How is the Internet Connectivity?
Internet connectivity varies by location. Larger cities like Monterrey and Mexico City offer high-speed internet, while in smaller towns, the speed may be slower.
Can I Use Canadian Health Insurance in Mexico?
Canadian health insurance is generally not valid in Mexico. It’s advisable to get local health insurance or an international policy that covers you in Mexico.
Is Mexico Pet-Friendly?
Yes, Mexico is generally pet-friendly, especially in larger cities. However, it’s essential to check the pet policy if you’re renting a property.
What’s the Driving Like?
Driving in Mexico can be different from what you’re used to in Canada. It’s crucial to be aware of local driving laws and conditions.
Whether you’re drawn to the cultural richness of Oaxaca or the business opportunities in Monterrey, Mexico offers a diverse range of living experiences suitable for Canadians. Each city has its unique charm, making Mexico a mosaic of possibilities for your new home.