10 Safest Places To Retire in Mexico (And 5 to Avoid)

Unearth the hidden gems and dodge the pitfalls in Mexico's retirement landscape.

Senior couple relaxing at Lake Como
Updated May 28, 2024
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Mexico may be a great option for you if you’re planning to retire outside of the U.S.

The country is close to the U.S., so it’s easy to get back and forth. You'll also be able to keep more money in your wallet, as housing and everyday expenses can be lower than in the U.S.

However, some cities in the country may be better for retirees than others, especially if you seek safety. If you plan to retire to Mexico, check out some good places to live—and a few to avoid.

We begin with the good, safe options first.

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1. San Miguel de Allende

2B/Adobe senior couple enjoying at tropical resort

San Miguel de Allende is located in central Mexico and has a temperate desert climate that appeals to retirees who don’t want to deal with humidity and cold.

The city also boasts plenty of culture and art, including festivals.

You also won’t be alone as an expatriate, as many retirees flock here. And the relatively low cost of living can boost the odds of your doing better financially.

2. Mazatlan

Rawpixel.com/Adobe happy senior women working out outdoors

Mazatlan is located in the Mexican Riviera. Residents enjoy beautiful beaches and ocean views of the Pacific.

The area has plenty of activities for residents who enjoy the outdoors. You can go horseback riding along the shore or partake in water activities such as kayaking.

3. Puerto Vallarta

Adriana/Adobe senior man standing in busy street

Want to live on the Pacific coast? Try Puerto Vallarta, one of Mexico's most visited locations.

Enjoy the sandy, warm beaches for the day, or take in the romantic charm of the cobblestone streets in Old Vallarta. You can also wander the Los Muertos Beach Pier, which has become a well-known destination in the town.

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4. Guadalajara

Robert Peak/Adobe woman using smartphone for video chat

Guadalajara is renowned for its history. You can tour the city’s Metropolitan Cathedral or enjoy a show at Mexico’s oldest opera house, Teatro Degollado. You can also listen to the mariachi music the city is known for.

Guadalajara is also the capital of the state of Jalisco, which is known as the birthplace of tequila. Try different drinks on the Tequila Trail and learn more about how tequila is distilled in the area.

5. Ciudad Madero

Carlos David/Adobe senior couple having wine at winery

The town of Ciudad Madero on the Gulf of Mexico could be a great retirement option if you enjoy sandy beaches and city parks.

You can also check out the local canals or enjoy a soccer game at the city’s Estadio Tamaulipas if you like watching sports in person.

6. Campeche

WavebreakMediaMicro/Adobe senior couple enjoying tropical vacation together

Campeche, located in southern Mexico, has been recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Centre.

Wander the streets of the historic fortified town to see the unique buildings that makeup Campeche, or enjoy exploring nearby Mayan ruins.

7. Sayulita

EpicStockMedia/Adobe happy senior couple walking on beach

Sayulita is located along Mexico's Pacific coast, giving residents access to the beautiful beaches and ocean.

The fishing village has terrific restaurants and is a great tourist destination. It isn’t as busy and congested as other tourist-type towns, so you will be relaxed as you wander the streets.

8. Merida

Kawee/Adobe male friends playing chess at home

The Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico is home to Merida. The city has a culture and heritage influenced by the Mayan people.

Merida also has a reputation for being one of the safest cities in the country, so you can feel comfortable traveling around and enjoying the sites.

9. Tampico

Spotmatik/Adobe senior friends group sailing luxury yacht

Tampico gives you access to the Gulf of Mexico and is home to historical buildings.

Check out the Cathedral of Tampico or wander the historic streets to see the town’s city hall, cultural center, or old post office.

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10. Playa del Carmen

Song_about_summer/Adobe senior couple enjoying scooter ride

Playa del Carmen on the Yucatan Peninsula is known for its sandy beaches and beautiful weather.

There are plenty of outdoor activities for you to take in if you like water sports, so enjoy some time snorkeling or diving.

Cities to avoid

Jorge Ferreiro/Adobe suspicious woman in city at night

If you prize safety, there are a few cities in Mexico that you might want to avoid. The following places might be on that list.

1. Cancun

Photographee.eu/Adobe lonely woman scared while passing underpass

You may think Cancun is a safe tourist destination, but you’ll have to be careful as you move deeper into the city.

Crime has increased in the area, with criminals targeting tourists in particular. To protect tourists, the government has started imposing regulations on bars and Airbnbs.

2. Coatzacoalcos

luchschenF/Adobe woman walking alone on dark street

Coatzacoalcos has a rich history but has become more dangerous for residents.

The homicide rate is low in the area, but other crime is becoming an issue, including thefts and drug activity.

3. Tijuana

Rix Pix/Adobe mysterious man walking in fog

Expatriates from the U.S. might consider a town like Tijuana because it's located just across the border from California.

But while the town has a vibrant nightlife with bars and restaurants, it also has the highest number of homicides in Mexico.

4. Acapulco

Leo Lintang/Adobe faceless man in hood on rooftop

Acapulco used to be a well-known destination for tourists who wanted to visit the luxury resorts in the area.

However, the city has been taken over by violence due to the poppy fields that surround the area and the drug crimes associated with the crops.

5. Ciudad Obregón

Prathaan/Adobe crime scene tape in building

Ciudad Obregón, near the Gulf of California, has beautiful scenery and lush mountains nearby. The city itself is known for its delicious food.

However, the drug trade has taken over parts of the town, causing issues with safety.

Bottom line

bernardbodo/Adobe couple finalising budget for vacation

Mexico has great options for expatriates, particularly those who want to retire early on a modest budget. But for many people, safety is a key issue.

Most cities on this list are good choices for those who want a safe place to call home. However, you might want to steer clear of the last five cities on the list if staying safe is a priority.

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Jenny Cohen

Jenny Cohen is a freelance writer who has covered a bit of everything, from finance to sports to her favorite TV shows. Her work has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and FoxSports.com.