Mapping Out Mexico

Towards the end of November, Rachel and I are setting off to Mexico for two months to explore around the country in hopes of finding a place to long-term relocate and see how we enjoy living in a different country.

This post is both a place for us to corral all of our broad level plans as well as to share it with those who are interested.

What We’re Looking For

The country has been on our radars for a few years now and while we’ve visited the Yucatán peninsula a few times for vacation, we wanted to really focus in on a place we could see us spending day-after-day going through the menial life chores while also warranting the discomfort of leaving the current area we call home.

We’re not after an endless vacation of beach days and drinks with umbrellas in them. We just want a different style of life than we have in the mid-Atlantic. A slower pace to really enjoy each activity and sensation. A friendly community that isn’t all about ‘me.’ No more impatient road rage from people who are running late to their job. An escape from consumerism to put our energies towards what really matters to us in life.

Neither of us particularly enjoy the idea of living in large cities (we consider large close to our surpassing a million people), but we also understand the benefit to using them as a home base to explore the surrounding areas which is why we’ll be staying in medium to large cities (the smallest city we’re basing in as a population of 200,000 people.)

We’re also looking at weather. There’s a lot to be said about the mid-Atlantic and how it gets all four seasons (sometimes in one day) but I don’t do well in the cold. I turn into a giant baby if it drops below light sweater weather and the sun is blotted from the sky. Similarly, Rachel doesn’t like humidity. This has led us to omit certain areas, like the Yucatán peninsula, which was tough because Mérida, the capital of the eastern state, is highly recommended for expats and travelers. Looking at the map, we’re staying predominately in temperate and semi-arid areas.

Climate map of Mexico

We’re also trying to be conscious of the increasing digital nomad population popping up in Mexico where they can earn stronger USD currency online and spend relatively less in the local peso. We’re not targeting Mexico for cheap living. Quite the opposite. We’re targeting it to enrich our lives through daily routines that strengthen our skills and character and integrate into a receptive community that share our ideals.

A few other things that we’ll consider but aren’t current decision-makers include:

  • Access to Spanish education. We practice every day now, but feel like you can’t become truly fluent in a language unless you’ve immersed yourself in it.
  • Medical care. It’s no secret that health care in the United States is ridiculously expensive. Being that we need constant access to medication, I’d prefer local access rather than having to import prescriptions with us.
  • Ease of having a pet. Griffin is going with us.
  • Transportation. I don’t plan on bringing my car with me once we’ve found a place, so it would be nice to not need one.

So where are we going? We wanted to start off in one area and just figure it out, but prices have been fluctuating too much recently, and booking in advance saves you considerable money. While we have chosen our route and timeline in each area, we have left the actual time in each city open to explore different neighborhoods and the surrounding towns.

Oaxaca City

Population: 300,000

If you’re a long-time reader, you’ll know that Oaxaca has been on my radar for a very long time to visit. This was my no-brainer first pick for where we were going to visit as it is a perfect size city for me and acts as a gastronomic and cultural hub for the country. That sounds like a perfect place to really delve into another culture and how my preferred lifestyle may intertwine.

The weather is essentially perfect for us, spending most of the year between 48° and 78°F with about two months of warmer weather between March and May. While this is slightly cooler than my preferred temperature, it’s still great. Being closer to the equator, daylight doesn’t last as long as our Mid-Atlantic summer days, but it stays more consistent throughout the year. The humidity also stays at a comfortable level, only becoming muggy about 1% of the year.

I mentioned earlier that Oaxaca highlights an abundance of Mexican and Zapotec cultures which means there should be plenty of things to do in our free time, including a giant Día de Muertos celebration which we’ll just barely miss during this visit.

A Oaxacan street via Midjourney
Puerto Vallarta

Population: 220,000

Puerto Vallarta (or PV) is one of the most well-traveled beach areas in Mexico. Sitting on the west coast, it’s not quite as warm as Cancún or Tulum, but it also doesn’t have the Sargassum problem that the beaches on the Gulf/Caribbean coasts have had for a number of years.

Being near a beach town isn’t the most appealing to me, as it often comes with higher prices and a more tourist-centric shopping and dining atmosphere, but I’ve also seen that the city is art-focused and expats haven’t completely taken over. We debated over Puerto Vallarta vs La Paz for a little while before settling on PV because it’s much easier to get to from the rest of our itinerary.

Guanajuato City

Population: 195,000

The rest of the visit will lie on the states that surround Mexico City. The capital of the state with the same name, Guanajuato was the newest addition to our plans as we realized the popular city of San Miguel de Allende was probably not going to work out for our desires.

Home to the Universidad de Guanajuato, we believe the high population of young adults will share many of our (more global) beliefs and bring an energy and liveliness that we don’t currently see in our rural, mountainside town. The population size should offer plenty to do but still the opportunity to escape to a quieter section for peace.

Most of the city center’s traffic runs through underground tunnels rather than on busy streets, making it an extremely walkable city. As someone who would always opt for the long, foot-driven expedition to get somewhere, this is super important to me, as walking gives you the best chance to really see a city and offers solid exercise. The city sits in a valley between two steep hills meaning location of prospective neighborhoods must account for ease of movement to and from.

The valley over Guanajuato via DALL-E 2

Population: 1,000,000

Querétaro is the fastest-growing city in the country, thanks to an influx of money from Asian and European businesses opening their Latin American headquarters in the city. Ideally, this will translate into more opportunity for us to maintain a lengthy stay despite the potential for higher costs, as well as more modern conveniences.

The city, like most of the surrounding region, remains fairly warm/hot year round with little humidity. Winters are mild and short. The summers can get fairly rainy, however, with July being the wettest month.

Mexico City

Population: 9,200,000

The fifth-largest city in the world, Ciudad de México (CDMX) would normally not make a list of places we’d consider moving, but this place is different. Having seen a huge boom in population since the beginning of the COVID-pandemic, CDMX is incredibly popular with the digital nomad community.

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, we are aware of the concern of incoming gringos and over-gentrifying the city, a concept that Marko Ayling touches on in one of his newest posts. We want to ensure that we retain an opportunity to add value to our new community; we don’t want to cause any resentment.

As a melting pot of history and modern influence, Mexico City will have no shortage of locations to scope and things to do once there. This will allow us to delve deeper into the country’s roots, its people, while still offering a chance to easily return to visit our friends and family in the Mid-Atlantic.

Inside a mezcaleria via Midjourney

As the trip gets closer, I’ll keep you informed on how we’re approaching each city and what our initial thoughts are. Do you have any recommendations? Leave a comment below and make sure to subscribe to keep up to date. Thanks for reading!

3 thoughts on “Mapping Out Mexico

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