Saturday, July 20, 2024

Introducing MND’s Where to Live in Mexico 2024 Guide

It’s one of your life’s most consequential decisions. It will tug at your sense of self, rationally and emotionally. You’ll have to run the gauntlet of disbelief and incredulity from your best friends and closest family members: the decision to live overseas. Honest information and thoughtful self-evaluation can liberate, enhance your quality of life, rejuvenate your curiosity about our world, and break you and your family out of a financial future riddled with uncertainty and doubt.

Mexico News Daily, in partnership with Jalisco-based Choosing Mexico LLC is publishing the first definitive Where to Live in Mexico 2024 Guide, a comprehensive exploration of viable long-term living locations (cities, resorts, and towns) across many of Mexico’s 32 states, using a unique six category rating system. Created by Choosing Mexico in close consultation with MND, this initiative explores everyday living essentials using a one to five “rating” designed to reveal criteria you can use in your move to Mexico deliberations. As this editorial series unfolds, you’ll have thought-provoking guidance, steering you toward a short list of viable Mexico locations (perhaps a village in the sun?) and hopefully opening your curiosity about places you are not presently considering.

Where to Live in Mexico: Los Cabos
Will you choose stunning oceanside living, or head for the cities? (Shutterstock)

While no one has the real figure, embassies estimate that 1.6 million Americans and 400,000 Canadians now call Mexico home, alongside thousands of Europeans. 

Our rating system is not a “ranking” designed to convince you one place is better than another. Rather, this series will examine over 30 locations across over a dozen Mexican states. It will include old standbys like Lake Chapala, Merida, San Miguel de Allende and Puerto Vallarta — places that put Mexico on the tourism map. It may also include up-and-coming locations you’ve never heard of. 

We won’t discuss the cost of living (which is dependent on your lifestyle), “safety” (which is determined by your actions and personal vigilance), or the living standards in urban areas versus resorts versus towns/villages (which is a personal preference).

So, what really matters when it comes to picking a place? Here are six ways to embrace the realities of Mexico living. All six speak to one core, existential question about moving to Mexico: “How will you live and spend your daily life?” 

Where to Live in Mexico: Guanajuato
Culture lovers will find paradise in some of Mexico’s grand colonial cities, such as Guanajuato, pictured here. (Dennis Shrader/Unsplash)

Climate: Perhaps the MOST IMPORTANT consideration for year-round living under a Mexican sun. Climate determines (in ways big and small) your daily routine. You’ll need to understand Mexico’s “dry” versus “rainy” cycles, the impact of altitude (over half of Mexican territory is above 4,000 feet) and how latitude determines summer highs and winter lows. Rainfall increases (generally) the further you go south. Places with a year-round, stable climate translate to minimal need for either A/C or heating, a cost of living factor. Consider also that in some locations, there are hurricanes, rising sea levels, deserts, tropical jungles, inland temperature spikes or drought. Our ratings will help you pin down the advantages and drawbacks across Mexican coastal and inland locations.

Connectivity: The relative ease of getting here and getting around can help you maximize one of Mexico’s key advantages: proximity to the U.S. and Canada. West Coast U.S. residents might find the Mexican Caribbean a tad too far, and East Coasters might write off Baja locations for similar reasons.  There’s also the question of access to inter-city bus and air transportation. If you are somewhat isolated by a northern location (like is the case with the Baja and border states), distances to central Mexican cultural attractions may be a factor. Central Mexico has the country’s best air and bus transportation systems.

Culture: After climate and connectivity, culture and community are the next two key criteria for selecting your new home in Mexico. Culture and community affect the critical question, “How will you spend your time?” Whether you are coming to Mexico for retirement or working remotely, free time will accumulate and may challenge your overall happiness — unless you take time to find a place that “speaks to” you. Consider that if you’re in your 60’s and retiring you’ll likely have 25-30 years to embrace a fulfilling life. In my experience, the happiest foreigners in Mexico are the ones who find a genuine interest in local culture and express their appreciation via active engagement. Mexico excels like few nations when it comes to cultural diversity and complexity. It’s a fascinating laboratory of cultural evolution unfolding across one of the world’s most biodiverse landscapes.

Community: Community, of course, means different things to different folks. Having Spanish language skills opens a host of places where you can find commonality with locals. For non-Spanish speakers, community can mean finding areas of Mexico that have hosted foreigners for decades. These places can be home to cultural centers, service clubs, religion, performing arts, volunteering opportunities, animal rescue, sports clubs, and more ways to stay busy that you may have experienced back home! Communities of the recently migrated coalesce and congregate in surprising ways. Our rankings will reveal some surprising pastimes and socialization opportunities.

Where to Live in Mexico: Morelia
How you feel about the weather might also play a major role in where you choose to live in Mexico. (Jezael Melgoza/Unsplash)

Care: Medical care in Mexico means medical services and “wellness,” in the broadest sense. Private medical care gets high marks from expat residents. Where you find the best hospitals, you’ll access specialists, diagnosis, surgical procedures, disease management, medications, nursing, and post-operative recovery. Senior care is slowly getting prioritized by the private sector. Home care (including doctors who make house calls) and Mexican nursing care are available for a fraction of the cost of the U.S. Many North American migrants will often cobble together home-country services with Mexico care. Having surgeries in Mexico is by no means rare; however, many foreigners choose to do more extensive procedures under their back-home medical policy. Wellness means eating less processed food, fast food, and more seafood, vegetables, and fruits. And (let’s hope) more exercise! 

Costco: Am I joking? Sort of. Decades ago Mexico was the land of sacrifices and scarcity when it came to consumer goods. Obtaining your favorite food items, personal care products, clothing brands or kitchen necessities meant packing them into a suitcase when you headed south. This all changed with the signing of NAFTA in 1995. By the early 2000’s, the US box store invasion was taking hold across cities, resorts and even smaller towns. So, if you need a semblance of your back-home lifestyle (don’t underestimate this need), today’s Mexico residents can get almost anything via either retail or online stores. Overnight door-to-door delivery has been answered by fleets of delivery vans and motorcycles that will get your new Birkenstocks at your front door fast and reliably. There are currently 39 Costco stores across Mexico. 

This editorial series promises a chance to find your very own village in the sun. So buckle up and follow us as we reveal which of the 32 cities in this series is right for you.

Author Greg Custer lives in Jalisco. He’s worked for over 40 years in international tourism, educating travel advisors around the world about Mexico and other Latin American destinations. He helps folks explore Mexico for living at www.mexicoforliving.com

 

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