Where to retire in Mexico: Yucatán


Moving to Mexico’s Yucatan State

There are two main areas of the state where expats like to live. Merida and the beach area, including Progreso and the surrounding area.

In Merida, you have thousands of fellow expats that have already blazed the trail for you and will be a great support group for your new adventure. This is the largest city in the Yucatan Peninsula with around 1,000,000 people. The city offers a wide variety of neighborhoods to choose from as well as history and culture. There are a lot of favorable things about this city and is why so many now call it home. You can see our first time visitor  guide and video to Merida here.

The pros are: Being that it is a big city with a lot of history, you have many styles of housing stock to choose from. You can have an old colonial house with high ceilings, a modern condo, an art deco home or even can live in a new sub development. So the choice of styles of houses and living arrangements are a plus here.

Shopping for everything is possible. Having a large city affords fruit and vegetable markets, local markets to big box stores like Costco and Home Depot. Everything you need to relocate can pretty much be bought in Merida.

Mérida, Yuc. (Archive)

Arts and culture are a big reason why Merida is such a popular place to live in. It seems like every day there is something going on. Merida boasts grand old theaters to modern dance companies and everything in between. There are weekly exhibitions of dance and every Sunday the main Zocalo is blocked off and dancing and concerts take place. Among the scheduled cultural events, many artists have chosen to live in this city and that adds to the vibrancy and cultural richness of Merida.

Merida has a modern international airport and a central hub for regional bus travel. It is also only about 20 minutes to the coast and spending time at the beach is an easy day trip. Having a good transport system and an urban center can afford you to live without a car.

The cons are: Merida is considered a hot city. It has a lot of concrete and crowded downtown. If you cannot take the heat or choose a home that is not situated the best, you are going to be hot and need to use the air conditioning a lot.

It is a big city and many parts of it offer nothing in the way of sightseeing or interest. The colonial charm might wear as you deal with the grit of a larger Mexican city.

Even though Merida has a nice airport, flights to the US are often more expensive and residents will sometimes fly into Cancun and take the 4-hour bus trip to Merida.

best places to live in Mexico

The other area of Yucatan State where people choose to live is the Progresso area and small beach communities. This gulf coast living is spread out among many small villages so we lump them together as a beach area.

The pros are: Living beachfront was never more affordable. This is one of the cheapest areas where you can actually own a beachfront home. The land is even cheaper if you choose to build. The quiet life awaits you here and you can spend your days eating fresh-caught fish and looking out over the Gulf of Mexico.

You are only about 20-30 minutes to the City of Merida. You can take in your culture and retreat to your quiet home afterward.

Progreso, Yuc. (Archive)

The cons are: This area can be a bit remote for some and the small village life can become boring after a while.

In the “summertime,” some popular communities can become the city escape for residents of Merida and homes are rented out to party-loving beach goes and there goes the neighborhood.

If you are thinking of building, be sure to understand ALL of the restrictions in Mexico for building oceanfront. There are very specific laws that have entangled many a foreigner with a dream of living beachfront.

Many expats are “snowbirds”, meaning they come for the winter and go back north for the summer. If you are looking to live year-round you might find yourself with fewer friends in the summertime.

You will most likely need a car unless you really want to be limited to colectivos or just live in the center of Progresso.

If you live in Progresso, it is a cruise ship destination and you will have your days where the town gets filled with tourists.

Moving to other smaller areas of in Yucatan State

Izamal is a small colonial village that is idyllic peaceful living. It is about 45 minutes from Merida if you need city life and shopping. You will find yourself just one of a few expats though if you live here. If you are an artist or writer then you just might find the peace and quiet life you need to be creative.

Izamal Yucatan Mexico
The yellow city streets of Izamal.

Valladolid is also a colonial town right in the middle of the Peninsula. It offers peaceful living with access to Cancun Airport in about 2 hours and Merida in about 2 hours. There are not a lot of colonial buildings left to fix up or live in but rent can be much cheaper here than other parts of the Peninsula. Not many expats have taken the step to live here but you just might be ahead of the trend if you move there since this town is getting more popular every year. Expect to see good things coming from here in the next five years. This place is on the up and up.

Valladolid, Yucatan (Archive)

Espita is a smaller colonial city that has been off the radar to foreigners but is secretly becoming a charming village to live in. It is smaller than what most people want but offers a central location and authentic Yucatecan town with not much distraction of tourism.

The Reserve at Celestun

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Source: everythingplayadelcarmen.com

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