Best Places to Retire in Mexico

Mexico has wonderful retirement destinations for those who want to enjoy the local scenery and culture. Those who prefer cooler climates should look at destinations like San Miguel de Allende, as well as Lake Chapala and Ajijic, which sit at high elevations. Sun worshippers will like well-known expat hotspots like Puerto Vallarta and the Riviera Maya towns of Playa del Carmen and Tulum. 

Here is a deeper look at some of the best-loved retirement destinations across Mexico:

Riviera Maya: Playa del Carmen and Tulum

Tulum, Quintana Roo
Tulum, Quintana Roo

These communities are a great starting point for individuals first dipping their toes into expat waters. They offer American-style amenities, access to shopping, and pristine beaches.

Some of the best local and international food that Mexico has to offer can be found here. First-time visitors who don’t speak Spanish will have little trouble because many locals in tourist districts can speak English quite well. 

The stunning cenotes (spring water sinkholes) that dot the local landscape offer a cool respite and much-needed shade on a hot day. The area is also home to a range of scuba diving activities and ancient cultural sites waiting to be explored.

Puerto Vallarta

Nestled between the mountains and sea, Puerto Vallarta has both natural beauty and modern amenities due to its long-standing popularity with tourists. While sunny like its cousin Riviera Maya, Puerto Vallarta has substantially cooler temperatures in the evenings. This is because the Pacific Ocean currents drag cold water from Alaska. The cool ocean breeze is trapped by the surrounding mountains and keeps overnight temps in the 70s. 

Puerto Vallarta Mexico
Puerto Vallarta Mexico

Culturally, the city is rich in art. The boardwalk offers impressive sculptures to marvel at while out for a stroll. During the tourist high season, art galleries are now open in the evenings for visitors as part of the city’s Art Walk initiative that showcases local artists. The nearby Sierra Madre Mountains have plenty of outdoor activities to keep adventurists busy for years to come.


Many people have no idea that much of Mexico’s vast interior sits on a massive plateau roughly a mile high. This elevation means temperatures are nearly perfect year-round. With daily highs in the 80s and overnight lows in the 50s and 60s, the climate is similar to many places in the Rocky Mountains. 

Ajijic is one of the best places to retire
Ajijic is one of the best places to retire

Situated on Lake Chapala, Ajijic is popular with retirees and expats precisely because it isn’t a tourist town. There are no massive shopping malls, condo high-rises, or cruise ships. Ajijic offers a quiet life in a small Spanish colonial town. However, it also has plenty of amenities such as international food and regular expat meetups to keep everyone active and engaged. 

San Miguel de Allende

Another quiet Spanish colonial getaway, San Miguel de Allende is popular with Europeans, Americans, and wealthy Mexicans. If you’re looking to choose a location where you feel secure, this may be the right place. 

San miguel de allende best places to live
San miguel de allende best places to live

The small-town vibe means residents know each other and crime isn’t a problem like it can be in some larger towns and cities. Much of the city is walkable and it has many open-air cafes and a rich cultural history. Like Ajijic, the climate is also comfortable due to its higher elevation.   

Need Additional Help? 

If you’re serious about taking the leap and moving to Mexico, there is a lot you should know. To help navigate it all, the Mexico Relocation Guide offers general and location-specific information and resources for retirees and expats that cover the best cities, healthcare, retirement communities, and more. Let us help make your move to Mexico as convenient as possible!

Mariana Lange

Mariana Lima-Lange was born in Mexico and immigrated to the U.S. when she was a child. She spent every summer visiting family throughout Mexico and is very knowledgeable about Mexican culture, lifestyle, and traditions. She is fluent in both Spanish and English.

Reader Interactions


  1. Dominic Bailey says

    Hello Miss Mariana,
    I’m looking for more information on residency in beautiful Mexico.
    I’ve already had a bad experience with lawyers in Mexico while trying to get my residency.
    So I do have a few questions but I would rather do that over the phone or a consultation versus emails

    • Mariana Lange says

      Sorry, but I don’t offer 1:1 consultations or phone support.
      I have however made a free guide on Residency Visas in Mexico that will help answer some of your questions.

      Once you determine if you qualify, then I would suggest working with one of our recommended immigration facilitators. They do offer phone support/Consultations to help guide you.
      If you need our list of recommendations check out our complete Mexico Relocation Guide

  2. Spencer Aaronson says

    Hi Mariana!

    I’m wondering if you might be able to assist. I’m considering perhaps buying property in Morelia or Patzcuaro. I currently own property in San Miguel De Allende, and, while the town is obviously beautiful, to be honest, I’m just getting increasingly uncomfortable with the number of Americans coming to town to visit or live. (I am aware of the irony of my saying this given that I am from the US myself. But the sort of people that are coming to town are increasingly less sophisticated or knowledgeable about Mexican culture.) I probably don’t need to explain, but I feel some of the authenticity of the town is being lost with all the English being heard in the street and all the development
    and everything. Anyway, I’m hoping to find a place where I won’t encounter this as much. I spent a little time in Merida, and, while I enjoyed the town very much, I’m a bit concerned about the weather and I saw some of the same things happening there with the influx of Americans. For this reason, I thought about Patzcuaro and Morelia. Can you speak to whether this is happening there as well or whether this area tends to be a bit quieter and free from those concerns? I’m currently looking at a property in the El Calvario neighborhood. I would want something that would appeal to renters as well. Do you happen to know anything about that area?

    In any case, any information you might be able to provide would be much appreciated. Thanks so much in advance!

    • Mariana Lange says

      San Miguel de Allende has always been a tourist destination since many magazines and publications gave it 30 years ago. So, the amount of English spoken isn’t new by any means. But I still think it is authentically Mexico if you live outside the city center. If you love San Miguel, maybe consider living outside the tourist center, and maybe that will change your perspective.

      Having said that, Patzcuaro and Morelia are certainly less touristic as of right now. But that can always change in the future.
      I recommend visiting in person because my opinion and perception will be different than yours. So, I highly recommend visiting those cities to get an idea if you can see yourself living there 😊
      No one can perceive a place like you will.

      If you want to take a relocation tour, we have a couple of excellent recommended locals in both towns who can show you around.
      If you want to learn more check out this page

      Un saludo!

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