Being an Expat in Yucatán: Here Are the Basics

Merida, Yucatan, is a city of around a million people, with expats living mainly in the 3.5-square-mile Centro Histórico, a series of neighborhoods near the Plaza Grande, or main square where the government and cathedral preside. Just how many? There is no official count, but certainly, expats here number in the thousands.

More recently, younger arrivals are making themselves at home in good neighborhoods north of Centro—Col. Mexico, Campestre, and Montebello, for example. Foreign residents with kids are particularly keen to live in the more modern northern neighborhoods.

Foreigners from the U.S., Canada and many other countries live along the Gulf Coast, about 25 minutes away, a straight shot up the Merida-Progreso highway.

No matter where they’ve settled, they are finding lower daily costs and access to excellent health care a huge incentive to pull up stakes and live here either full time or when it suits them. (“Snowbirds” tend to flock between November and March. April and May are very hot in Yucatan, but many of us stick it out nonetheless.)

Stories about Merida’s growing popularity have been published in numerous travel magazines and newspapers. The New York Times Travel Section and its Fashion Magazine supplement have also shared differing perspectives on the capital of Yucatan state.

A recent survey says that 90% of expats in Mexico say they are happy with their lives there, compared to 72% globally. Mexico is considered the top destination for expats, ranking first out of 68 for personal happiness. Expats say it’s easy to adjust to the culture and find housing, and they enjoy the country’s leisure options.

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