Retiring in Mexico City – Pros and Cons

Retiring in Mexico City

If you're considering retiring in Mexico City, you're in for a treat! As one of the largest and most vibrant cities in the world, Mexico City offers a unique blend of history, culture, and modern amenities that make it an ideal destination for expat retirees.

Mexico City, also known as Ciudad de México, is the capital and largest city of Mexico. With a population of over 21 million people, it is definitely considered a large, urban city. The city has a rich history that dates back to the Aztec Empire, and its cultural heritage is evident in its beautiful architecture, fascinating museums, and lively arts scene.

Pros of Retiring in Mexico City

  • Affordable Cost of Living - One of the most appealing aspects of retiring in Mexico City is the relatively low cost of living. Rent, utilities, groceries, and healthcare are all more affordable than in many US cities, allowing retirees to enjoy a comfortable lifestyle even with a modest budget.
  • Weather - Because of Mexico City’s elevation, the weather is fantastic. Usual summertime highs peak around 80°F (26.6°C) while the winter lows rarely dip below the 40° F (4.4°C)
  • Rich Cultural Scene - Mexico City is known for its vibrant arts and culture scene, with numerous museums, galleries, theaters, and music venues. Retirees can immerse themselves in the local culture and enjoy a wide range of cultural experiences.
  • Excellent Healthcare - The city offers high-quality healthcare facilities, with many doctors and specialists speaking English. Public and private healthcare options are available, and medical costs are generally lower than in the US.
  • Amazing Restaurant Scene - Mexico City is a food lover's paradise, with a vast array of dining options ranging from traditional Mexican cuisine to international fare. Street food is also popular, offering delicious and affordable meals.

Cons of Retiring in Mexico City

  • Traffic and pollution - Mexico City is notorious for its traffic congestion and air pollution. Although the government has implemented measures to improve air quality, it can still be a concern for those with respiratory issues.
  • Noise - As with any large city, noise can be an issue in Mexico City, particularly in busier neighborhoods. Light sleepers may need to consider this when choosing where to live.
  • Altitude - Mexico City is situated at an altitude of 7,350 feet above sea level, which can cause some people to experience altitude sickness. It may take a few weeks to acclimate to the altitude. Higher elevations can also worsen certain heart and lung conditions.
  • Crime - While Mexico City has made significant strides in reducing crime, it is still a concern in some areas. Retirees should be vigilant and take appropriate precautions to ensure their safety just as you would in any big city in the U.S.
Palacio Nacional Mexico City

Palacio Nacional, Mexico City

What are the Best Neighborhoods for Expat Retirees?

This upscale neighborhood is known for its tree-lined streets, luxurious residences, and high-end shopping centers and museums. With a variety of restaurants and cultural attractions, Polanco offers a comfortable and secure environment for retirees.

Condesa is a trendy neighborhood with a bohemian vibe, featuring art deco architecture, cozy cafes, and lush parks. It's a popular choice for expats due to its walkability and relaxed atmosphere.

Steeped in history, Coyoacán is a charming, village-like neighborhood with cobblestone streets and colorful houses. The area is home to the Frida Kahlo Museum and offers a peaceful retreat from the bustling city center.

Cayoacan Colorful Houses for retiring in Mexico City

Colorful buildings of Cayoacan

What is the Culture Like in Mexico City?

Mexico City's culture is a vibrant blend of pre-Hispanic, colonial, and modern influences. Its rich history is evident in the city's numerous archaeological sites, museums, and historic districts. The city is also known for its lively arts scene, with a wide range of galleries, theaters, and cultural centers offering diverse performances and exhibitions. Additionally, Mexico City's residents are known for their warmth and friendliness, making it easy for expats to feel welcomed and integrated into the community.

Can I Get by with English Only?

The official language of Mexico is Spanish, and while you'll find many people in Mexico City who speak English (particularly in tourist areas and among younger generations), it's a good idea to learn some basic Spanish phrases to help you navigate daily life more easily. However, many expats do manage to get by with just English, especially in areas with a high concentration of expats and international businesses.

What is the Weather like in Mexico City?

Mexico City has a mild, temperate climate with warm days and cool nights. The city enjoys a pleasant, spring-like climate year-round, with average temperatures ranging from 54°F (12°C) in the winter to 70°F (21°C) in the summer. The rainy season occurs from June to September, with brief, heavy afternoon showers being common.

Is it Safe in Mexico City?

Mexico City has experienced a decrease in crime rates in recent years, but it's still important to remain vigilant and take necessary precautions. As an expat retiree, it's important to choose a safe neighborhood, avoid displaying valuables in public, and be aware of your surroundings, particularly at night. Staying informed about local news and consulting with fellow expats can help you maintain a safe and enjoyable lifestyle in the city.

Do I need a Car in Mexico City?

Mexico City has an extensive public transportation system, including buses, a metro system, and a light rail. Taxis and rideshare services are also widely available. Due to the city's notorious traffic congestion and the availability of public transportation, many expats find that owning a car is not necessary. In fact, some neighborhoods, like Condesa and Polanco, are particularly walkable, making it even easier to get around without a car.

Retiring in Mexico City Cost of Living Chart



1 Bdr Apartment in City Rental

$820 per month

1 Bdr Apartment Outside City Rental

$470 per month

Average Utilities: 1 Bdr Apt
electricity, heating, cooling, water, trash

$50 per month

Median Apartment Price in City 

$260/sq ft

Meal for Two, Mid-Range


What is There to Do in Mexico City?

There is no shortage of activities for retirees in Mexico City. Some popular pastimes include exploring the city's numerous museums and historical sites, such as the National Museum of Anthropology, the Templo Mayor, and the Palacio de Bellas Artes.

Outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy Chapultepec Park, one of the world's largest urban parks, which offers walking paths, botanical gardens, and cultural attractions. Additionally, retirees can partake in language classes, cooking courses, and various workshops to enrich their lives and connect with the local community.

What are Some of the Best Local Foods in Mexico City?

Mexico City is a gastronomic paradise, offering a diverse range of traditional and contemporary Mexican dishes. Some must-try local foods include:

  • Tacos al Pastor (marinated pork tacos)
  • Chiles en Nogada (stuffed poblano peppers)
  • Tamales (steamed corn dough with various fillings)
  • Pozole (hearty hominy and meat soup)

Street food is also popular, with vendors selling delicious and affordable treats like elotes (grilled corn on the cob) and fresh fruit with lime and chili.

Elotes street food in Mexico City

Street vendor making elotes. Mmmm!

Do I Need a Visa to Retire in Mexico City?

If you want to retire in Mexico City, you will need a visa. There are three main types of Mexican visas for expats looking to stay in the country short-term or long-term:

Tourist Visa: This visa allows you to stay in Mexico for up to 180 days, making it an easy choice for short-term visits. No special requirements are needed other than a valid passport, and this visa is typically granted upon arrival.

Tourist Visa Long Duration: This visa lets you stay up to 6 months. 

Temporary Resident Visa (Visa de Residente Temporal): For long-term stays and retirement, you'll need a Temporary Resident Visa. This visa is valid for one year and can be renewed annually for up to four years. To qualify, you must meet certain financial requirements, such as proving a steady income or having a specific amount of savings. After four years, you may apply for a Permanent Resident Visa (Visa de Residente Permanente) if you want to stay in Mexico indefinitely.

To get the most up-to-date info and detailed instructions, consult the Mexican consulate or embassy in your country.

Retiring in Mexico City Bottom Line

Retiring in Mexico City offers a unique and vibrant lifestyle for expat retirees. With its rich culture, affordable cost of living, and diverse range of activities, it's no wonder that many people are choosing to call this bustling metropolis their new home. By considering the factors outlined in this guide, you can make an informed decision about whether retiring in Mexico City is the right choice for you.

If you're looking to stay in Mexico and safety or elevation are concerns, perhaps Retiring in Mérida would be for you. It's typically named the safest city in Mexico and is in the flat, Yucatán Peninsula. You can also listen to our recent podcast interview with a Mérida expat discussing why the Best Place to Retire in Mexico is Mérida!

About the Author Guest Blogger

Our guest bloggers are retirees or residents living in cities around the world. They're giving insider perspective to what it's like to live and retire in various places.