Mexico is on the rise for becoming one of the top digital nomad hotspots in the world. While the most popular places for digital nomads in Mexico lie on the postcard-perfect Riviera Maya, there are many underrated cities in Mexico that are perfect for digital nomads that have yet to be fully explored.
Sure, there isn’t fast wifi wherever you go in Mexico, but the options are still aplenty. After living here for 3 years as a digital nomad and expat myself, I can attest to just how much Mexico has grown as a digital nomad paradise. It’s not comparable to Bali or Thailand just yet, but I’d argue that it will be in the next coming years.
Mexico offers a cheaper cost of living (depending on where you go in Mexico, of course) coupled with a laidback lifestyle that most digital nomads chase. Add in a few margaritas, beaches, cute mountain towns, good wifi, coworking spaces, street food, vibrant festivals and holidays, and everything else that’s lovely about living in Mexico, and… BAM!
But of all the perks, perhaps the most attractive thing about being a digital nomad in Mexico is the easy 180-day tourist visa upon arrival. As I said earlier, we’ve been able to come in and out of Mexico for the last three years with just the free visitor’s permit that you automatically get upon arrival. Mexico is also one of the easiest countries to move to as a digital nomad if you travel with pets full-time, as we do with our cat!
In this digital nomad guide to Mexico, I’ll share everything I’ve learned over the past few years to either convince you to move or to help you ease into your digital nomad lifestyle here.
Here’s the ultimate digital nomad Mexico guide!
The Ultimate Guide to Mexico for Digital Nomads
Cost of Living for Nomads in Mexico
You can live fairly cheaply in Mexico if you want, but there are many laptop lifestylers who splurge. Ultimately, your budget and where you base yourself will determine how much your cost of living in Mexico is.
Average costs of living in Mexico at a glance in USD:
- Housing: $500-800 USD ($10,000-16,000 MXN)
- Restaurants/Bars: $1-3 for street food, $10-20 USD for a restaurant meal. Drinks in a bar $2-4 USD for beer, $5-10 for cocktails.
- Groceries: $50-100 USD per week
- Transport: $1-5 public/local colectivos, $25-50 USD inter-city bus tickets, bike rentals $5-10.
- Activities: Mayan ruin sites $4-20 USD, beaches (free), museums $4-10 USD, cenotes $3-15 USD, guided all-inclusive tours $30-100+, etc.
USD to MXN: The exchange rate is always fluctuating, but $1 USD usually converts to around $19 pesos. I always round up to $20 in my head for the sake of simple calculation. So it’d go: $1 = $20 pesos, $5 = $100, $10 = $200, $50 = $1,000, and so on.
For example, we have lived on both the Pacific coast in the Riviera Nayarit (San Pancho) and the Caribbean coast in the Riviera Maya (Tulum) and now we live in the Central Highlands (in Chiapas). The lowest we have ever paid for housing as a couple of digital nomads in Mexico was $8,000 MXN pesos/month (or roughly $400 USD), while the most expensive we’ve paid has been $17,500 MXN ($880 USD).
The average we pay for accommodation in Mexico is between $10,000-12,000 pesos. That works out to be around $500-600 USD per month, or $250+ per person (since we are a couple). We know digital nomads who have paid up to $25,000 MXN/month ($1,300 USD) for their accommodation in popular places such as Tulum, Playa del Carmen, or even Puerto Vallarta.
Housing is always our big expense. Then it varies based upon our eating out frequency, activities, and general lifestyle.
Groceries & Restaurants
Craving mouth-watering street tacos? Mexico has got you covered! But, of course, that’s not all there is to eat here. Actually, we’ve had some of the best international food in Mexico, including incredible pizza, sushi, pasta, – even French food. Restaurants in Mexico can vary from $1 per meal to $100 USD and above.
Mexico City is a glutton’s paradise with pulsating cantinas, hidden courtyard cafes, and upscale bars. Oaxaca is like tasting the very origin of Mexico with incredible mole and mezcal. And both the Riviera Nayarit and Maya serve up fresh seafood and regional specialties, including unique indigenous dishes. I mean, there is certainly an attraction to Mexico thanks to its world-class cuisine!
As for the cost of food/groceries in Mexico, it’s definitely affordable. If you shop for produce at local markets, you will save tons of money on food. There are big markets, like Chedraui, Mega, Wal-Mart, Sam’s Club, etc, as well if you need more shelf staples and goods. When we shop at the supermarket, we usually spend around $2,000 MXN for 1 week as a couple. That’s about $100 USD a week and I should note that we usually shop in the organic and international aisles (so the cost is higher).
Once you’re based in a city or small town in Mexico, you can usually get around pretty cheap by bike or public transport (colectivo/local bus). As soon as you purchase inter-city bus tickets or long-journey bus rides, the cost will go up to $50 USD. We usually base ourselves in walkable-friendly places, so we don’t need to make daily commutes to go to cafes, downtown, or coworking spaces via public transport or taxi.
There are so many things to do and places to see in Mexico that you’ll want to discover during your time here as a digital nomad. Many of the digital nomad cities in Mexico are close to nature reserves, natural parks, Mayan ruins sites, lakes, waterfalls, beaches, mountain towns… You name it! That said, you’ll want to consider saving just a tad for fun weekend trips to bucket list-worthy destinations in Mexico.
Total: As a couple, we spend around $1,500 USD ($30,000 MXN) per month to live as digital nomads in Mexico. That number varies but that’s about our monthly average cost. To break that down, that works out to be $600 USD/month for accommodation, $400 for groceries, $200 for restaurants, $100 for cafes/coworking spaces, and $200 extra for miscellaneous (i.e. shopping, transport, activities).
Do You Need a Visa to Travel to Mexico?
One of the best things about being a digital nomad is Mexico is immigration. Upon arrival in Mexico, you’ll receive 180 days (aka 6 months) which allows you to stay in Mexico up until that date visa-free. That means you don’t need a visa if you stay for less than 180 days. The visitor’s permit is free and all you have to do is fill out the tourist information card (FMM) which the immigration official will stamp and sign.
Note: Be careful to keep the visitor’s permit in your passport as you need to return it when you exit Mexico. If you lose it during your time here, you will be charged a $40 USD fee to replace it or if you try to leave the country without it.
If you want to stay in Mexico for more than 180 days, you have two options.
- Exit Mexico temporarily (i.e. go visit family or travel for 1-3 weeks) and then return. Most immigration officials don’t care if you already have a Mexico stamp from your previous stay.
- Apply for a Temporary Resident Visa.
If you want to stay longer than 180 days without exiting, then you can request a Temporary Resident Visa which allows you to stay beyond 180 days in Mexico but not more than four years. If you want to move to Mexico after those four years and become a Mexican resident, then you can apply for a Permanent Residence Visa.
You’ll need one blank page per stamp. Check the Travel.State.Gov website for more details.
Does Mexico Have Fast Wifi?
Mexico is not particularly known for having fast wifi, but don’t that deter you from working remotely here. There ARE cities in Mexico with ultra-fast wifi with speeds just like you’d find in popular digital nomad cities around the world.
Mexico City will have the best wifi speeds for digital nomads who require plenty of Mbps. If you want to escape to Mexico’s beaches, however, wifi can be a little less reliable.
For instance, in the Riviera Maya, the best wifi will start at Cancun, then Playa del Carmen, then Tulum (and will get spottier as you travel south). Those three cities are the top digital nomad destinations along the coast.
But go inland, to up and coming cities like Valladolid and Merida, and you’ll find back your high internet speeds along with a bunch of cafes with wifi and coworking spaces. However, if you’re adventurous and don’t need that fast of speeds, you could even work remotely from Bacalar and its lagoon of seven colors in the south of Quintana Roo, near the Belize border.
If you’re in the Riviera Nayarit, Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco (the “gateway” to the Riviera), will have the fastest internet speeds since the infrastructure is well-developed. Then the wifi slowly gets worse as you travel north to the hippie resort towns and sleepy pueblos.
Sayulita is a popular destination for surfers and digital nomads because they have Sayulita Wifi which is satellite-based, whereas San Pancho (where we lived for 2 years) doesn’t have fast speeds because the internet companies in Mexico haven’t extended their fast wifi lines there (yet). Then there’s Lo de Marcos – an expat and retiree hub – that isn’t exactly wifi-reliable.
How much does the wifi in Mexico cost? Many times, your accommodation will already include the cost of wifi per month. In some cases, you can choose to “power up” your line for an extra fee. This was the case for us in both San Pancho and Tulum. The upgrades usually cost between $25-100 USD extra per month for ultra-fast, fiber optic speeds. In some places, there may be an extra installation fee.
Getting a phone SIM card for back-up internet: There have been times, for example during storms in the rainy season, when the internet or power cuts off in the entire town. Sometimes it can take a few days for the lines to start working again in your home. We’ve found that having a Mexican SIM card, from Movistar or Telcel, has proved to be internet life-savers in times of need. Getting a SIM card is cheap and the data (GB) packages are fairly affordable and fast.
Bottom line: Mexico often gets a bad reputation for having sucky wifi. But many digital nomads get by just fine here, even with limited upload/download speeds. Also, it varies depending on your apartment and in which neighborhood you live. In Tulum, we got by on 3 MB and now we have 70 MB in San Cristobal.
Check out these other cities and states in Mexico that are popular among digital nomads!
Best States, Cities, & Towns in Mexico for Digital Nomads
Quintana Roo lies on the Caribbean coast off the eastern coast of the Yucatan Peninsula. It is one of the most visited states in Mexico, thanks to the tourist-hubs of Cancun, Playa del Carmen, and Tulum. Life here is laid-back. You have both stunning white-sand beaches lined with swaying palm trees and mesmerizing cenotes hidden in the Mayan jungle.
If you’re hesitating between Cancun, Playa, or Tulum, then consider the following.
Cancun will have the best wifi speeds but it’s overrun with gringos and is extremely developed. On the plus side, it’s more convenient to get to/from and it’s also cheaper than its southern neighbors.
Playa is a bit smaller and chicer, but still very populated and has a buzzing nightlife scene. It’s also got a strong digital nomad community, perhaps more than Cancun or Tulum (although both are becoming more digital nomad-friendly).
Tulum, even further south, gives off a more boho vibe but it’s fiercely becoming saturated with party-goers and “woke” yogis. It does have lots of nature, awesome restaurants, and a growing digital nomad community. But it also has a few wifi issues, and not to mention the passing hurricane or two from August-October. It is also more expensive and capitalizes on rich tourists.
Summary: Quintana Roo is probably one of the most convenient places to move to for digital nomads, but it can also be one of the most expensive and crowded destinations year-round. The state and cities are generally safe (a part from petty scams and theft). With all the comforts it offers, it’s no wonder why so many flock to the Riviera Maya’s shores.
Templo de Santo Domingo in Oaxaca City
Culture vultures will love living in the state of Oaxaca in southwestern Mexico. Oaxaca is famous for its textiles, mezcal, mole, biological diversity, and indigenous populations (there are around 16 ethnic groups in Oaxaca alone). This state basically oozes Mexico and digital nomads and travelers love to explore its natural environs while eating and shopping their way through the city streets.
You may have heard of Oaxaca before, but you just didn’t know about it! Puerto Escondido, one of Mexico’s most famous beach towns (and surfer’s mecca) is located in Oaxaca on the Pacific coast. To this day, Puerto Escondido remains one of the best digital nomad cities in Mexico thanks to its chill atmosphere, backpacker community, surf break, and overall vibe. We meet fellow digital nomads who say they just came from Puerto Escondido a lot!
Oaxaca City is the second-best digital nomad city in the state of Oaxaca. With endless activities and nearby attractions, it’s a city abuzz with color and culture that’s ideal for the digital nomad seeking out a place to both work and play.
Yucatan at the tip of southeastern Mexico is one of the most well-known of all the Mexican states, thanks to its famous Mayan ruins (i.e. Chichen Itza, Ek Balam, Uxmal). Merida, the capital and adored “White City”, is a digital nomad and expat haven bursting with cafes, coworking spaces, art galleries, bars, and anything else a digital nomad could ask for.
Then, of course, there’s the lovely and warm Gulf of Mexico with its diverse marine life and paradisiac islands like Isla Holbox which are popular among barefoot nomads who don’t mind weary wifi connections in exchange for the tropical island life. Add a few popular coastal towns to the mix, like Progreso, and you’ve got one incredible state that’s very safe and attractive for digital nomads.
Overall, the Yucatan state of Mexico remains a popular choice among nomads because of its conveniences and proximity to beaches, Mayan ruins, and charming Spanish colonial towns. Plus, traveling both in-state and around the Yucatan Peninsula is fun and affordable and offers the chance to check off many Mexico bucket list adventures.
Indigienous Huichol woman of Nayarit
“Que lindo es Tepic, y todo Nayarit!” Nayarit is arguably one of the most beautiful and underrated states in Mexico. The Riviera Nayarit spans over 200 miles of pristine coastline along which dozens of hidden magic towns and fishing villages call home. Nayarit is the first state of Mexico we ever moved to and it ended up keeping us there for over two years. I can whole-heartedly say it represents the best of Mexico with oh-so-friendly locals, charming pueblos, grassroots associations, indigenous communities, and whimsical towns bursting with color and festivities.
The magic town of Sayulita is perhaps one of the best locations for digital nomads to seek out. Although the town is amock with tourists year-round, it remains authentic and true to itself. It has a low-key hippie vibe with a huge surfer and expat community which many digital nomads find attractive. Plus, it’s one of the best towns in Nayarit in terms of wifi, without feeling too much of a city like Puerto Vallarta.
An alternative town to seek out is San Pancho (here’s the story of why we moved there), however, the wifi is not that great. However, it will get better in a few years and I expect this town to grow beyond its own capacity. It’s my hope that it retains its Mexican pueblo charm and eco-friendliness and I expect that to be the case thanks to the support by its community center, Entreamigos.
Zona Romantica in Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco
Jalisco is the next up and coming state in Mexico with its claim to fame being steeped in the origins of both mariachi music and tequila. Indeed, Jalisco is a place to explore with the senses. It has both sprawling cities and gorgeous coastlines, mountain towns, and mesmerizing agave fields in between.
Puerto Vallarta is one of the better, more attractive cities of Mexico for digital nomads and that’s thanks to its affordable cost of living, fast wifi, and unique position along the Bandera’s Bay. You can reap the benefits of both the sea and the mountain, which allows for plenty of adventures!
Go whale watching, watch the sunset dip over the Pacific, escape to the hidden village of Yelapa, go ziplining in the jungle, hiking, or drink and dance the night away in one of the city’s dizzying salsa bars. PV has yet to be placed on the map as the “digital nomad go-to” city in Mexico (unlike Playa del Carmen), so you have a much higher chance of immersing in the local culture rather than just hanging out with fellow gringos.
If you want an even more cost-friendly place to live as a digital nomad in Jalisco, then you should seek out the hip yet the colonial capital city of Guadalajara. Guadalajara has yet to be fully discovered on the international traveler’s scene but it’s brimming with opportunity. There is an existing digital nomad scene already, complete with cafes with wifi, coworking spaces, and a slew of activities, cultural attractions, and fun day trips. Your pesos will also stretch farther in Guadalajara should you choose to live here as opposed to on the more touristy coast.
Palacio de Bellas Artes, Mexico City
The state of Mexico’s major digital nomad city is none other than Mexico City! Although I have never lived in Mexico City, fellow digital nomads frequently tell me about their adventures there. If you are a big tech nomad or want to be in the city environment equivalent to that of New York or Bogota, then Mexico City is a great place to base yourself for several months. Granted, it’s not as enticing as the warm sandy beaches, but if you are a creature of comfort and desire the best wifi there is in Mexico, then you can’t go wrong with Mexico City.
A great alternative to Mexico City, while staying within central Mexico, is the state capital of Toluca de Lerdo. This enigmatic city lies in the heart of the country and is abuzz with gastronomy, colonial cathedrals, gardens, history, and surrounding national parks, volcano craters, and lagoons.
Guanajuato is both a Mexican state and its capital bears the same name (Guanajuato City). Guanajuato has two major digital nomad and expat cities to live in. San Miguel de Allende is perhaps one of the most popular cities in Mexico for expats, retirees, and artists. So much so, that the communities are now spilling over into the Mexican/European colonial city of Guanajuato City.
We have explored both Guanajuato City (check out our 4-day itinerary) and San Miguel on a trip to the state. There is definitely a growing number of digital nomads in Guanajuato City and already a very well-established community of remote workers and internationals in San Miguel. If you want something a little more hidden, GC will be the better option than SMA which receives millions of tourists each year to see its famous pink neo-Gothic church.
Baja California Sur
Baja California Sur is booming with tourists each year who make the voyage down to Caba San Lucas. And although Cabo certainly does have its amenities, it might be too much on the tourist trail for the down-to-earth nomad. If that’s you, then there are several towns about one hour outside of Cabo that offer a more laidback vibe while retaining some of the digital nomad must-haves like good wifi, cafes, and a cool community. For that, check out the magic town of Todos Santos 45 minutes north of Cabo that’s popular among hippies, artists, and surfers looking to ride some waves Baja-culture-style.
Magic Town of Bernal, Queretaro
Queretaro is among the 2-3 underrated states in Mexico for digital nomads. It has everything you could need to work remotely while enjoying the culture and daily lifestyle of central Mexico, with the Sierra Gorda mountain range at your doorstep. Both the state and the capital city is rich in multiculturalism, history, and things to do. Work M-F, or as your digital nomad schedule allows, and then take to the weekends to go on adventures to biodiverse regions, plus half a dozen official Magic Towns, including Bernal, Jalpan, and the colorful hillside town of San Joaquin.
San Cristobal de Las Casas, Chiapas
Last but not least on this list for where to live in Mexico as a digital nomad is the southernmost state of Mexico called Chiapas. We have recently moved to Chiapas as digital nomads and are so far loving it. We are based in one of the most beautiful and alluring mountain towns – San Cristobal de Las Casas – which is also one of Mexico’s 100+ Magic Towns.
While there’s no beach here, we are enjoying the semi-mild mountain climate, charming cobbled streets, and surrounding pine-tree-covered hills. The cost of housing here has turned out to be more or less the same as in other cities, but we have really noticed the difference in price for food/groceries and eating out/shopping. Taxis and other attractions are also much more affordable here (in comparison to Riviera Maya, for example).
There are many sights to see and adventurous things to do in Chiapas for digital nomads.
Within a few hours bus ride, you could be standing under the world’s largest natural rock arch at the Arc of Time, boating through 3,300-ft tall canyon walls at Sumidero Canyon near Tuxtla, or roaming the ancient Mayan ruins site of Palenque in the jungle of Chiapas.
How to Find Accommodation in Mexico
Our apartment in San Cristobal, Mexico (ft. Yoda our cat)
If you want to move to Mexico as a digital nomad, the first thing you should search for is housing. Here are some tips for finding your ideal accommodation!
To find LOCAL housing, your best option is to search destination-specific Facebook groups. A few weeks or months before we move, I join the Facebook group and post a listing asking for apartments suitable for us – a couple and a cat – and our budget. Most of the time, we are able to find our accommodation through this method and by reaching out to the locals via Whatsapp. If not, we sometimes wait to search in person when it’s easier to see the houses in person and not through the internet.
Airbnb can sometimes yield awesome results, even in places where’d you think there’d be zero chance of landing a sweet apartment at an affordable price. That’s the thing with Airbnb – you don’t want to book through the platform because the Airbnb fees + rates will be way too high. Instead, try to reach out to the landlord/owner privately through messenger. Once you show interest in renting monthly at a reduced rate, you can then move your conversation offline and strike a deal. Only do this if you are comfortable navigating/researching online. We always make sure to never send money before we arrive and get checked in.
As a couple, we always rent privately. But I understand that if you’re traveling solo in Mexico that you may want to find a housemate or rent a room in an established co-living place, such as CoLive Selina (there are others). Selina has several co-living locations across Mexico, including Mexico City, Tulum, Cancun, Oaxaca, Sayulita, and San Miguel de Allende.
How’s the Weather in Mexico?
Part of what makes Mexico such a good country for digital nomads is the weather. While the weather – and altitude – varies all over and ranges from high to low with the rise and fall of the mountains, deserts, and beaches, it’s fair to say that Mexico has pockets of pleasant weather year-round.
On both sides of the coasts, you’ll have mild winters with hot and humid summers, whereas in the Central Highlands and humid subtropical regions you’ll have fairly colder yet humid climates.
If you are based on either the Riviera Nayarit or Riviera Maya coast, you’ll enjoy the dry months between November-April, but might suffer a bit from the heat between May-October during the wet season.
Is Mexico Good for Digital Nomads and Remote Workers?
I wouldn’t have been living here for nearly three years if Mexico wasn’t a good country for digital nomads (or expats or remote workers). I think there is SO MUCH to discover about Mexico, even after a couple of years here, so my resounding answer to this question is: Yes! Mexico is a great place to live for a few months as a globetrotting digital nomad.
Is Mexico safe for digital nomads? Mexico is safe for digital nomads and travelers alike. I know that everyone has encountered various scams and even police stops in Mexico, but if you are cautious and keep your wits about you (i.e. don’t go on nightly road trips, don’t be obnoxiously drunk in public, etc.), then you will be very safe in Mexico. As a female traveler, I have felt safer in Mexico than in other parts of the world, including in my home country – the USA.
Final Expat Tips for Temporarily Living in Mexico
Palo Voladora ceremony in Mexico City
Do Your Research: When in doubt and in need of advice, check forums and threads like “digital nomads in Mexico” on Reddit, Facebook groups, and other expat networks to find an answer to your question. Chances are someone has asked it before and has been in a similar situation to you.
Learn Spanish (or at least try): Many tourists come to Mexico without knowing a lick of Spanish, which is fine you are planning to stay cooped up inside an all-inclusive Cancun resort, but I always recommend digital nomads to try and immerse themselves in the culture and learn the language. Sometimes knowing Spanish can really get you out of a tricky situation and plus it’s just nice and fun to get to know people in their own language.
Travel Responsibly: Yes, Mexico is amazing but it’s not without its own issues. Many states and governmental officials do profit from a corrupt system, and it’s our job as travelers to not contribute to that. Always do your research about who/what your supporting, reduce your consumerist and plastic waste, and travel mindfully and with the awareness that your footprint is leaving an ecological and cultural impact on the communities in which you are integrating as a digital nomad.
Overall, Mexico – with its unique location in North America but just a hop away from Central and South America – is an up and coming digital nomad hub for those looking to immerse into a vibrant culture teeming with adventurous activities and diversity. If you are planning on becoming a digital nomad, do give Mexico a serious thought! You won’t regret it!
I hope this digital nomad guide to Mexico has answered any of your questions about life here! Please do let me know in the comments below if you have any more questions or curiosities about the digital nomad life in Mexico. I’ll be happy to get back to you!
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