Cheapest Beach Towns To Live In Mexico

Beautiful beach towns, tasty food, friendly locals, and a big ex-pat community. Those are only some of the reasons why Mexico has become one of the main destinations for people looking for a new home.

With that success, beach towns in Mexico have also seen an increase in prices and a higher cost of living. Rent costs in the most popular destinations are now as high as those of some U.S. cities, at least in the tourist areas.

Thankfully, there are still plenty of hidden gems that are just starting to get discovered where it is still possible to live near the beach with a high standard of living on a budget.

In this article, I’ll be taking a look at the cheapest beach towns to live in Mexico. These are all great opt option for people looking to retire on a more affordable country or digital nomads that are looking for a non touristy experience.

Most affordable beach towns in Mexico to live or retire on

1. Puerto Escondido

Puerto Escondido, Mexico
Puerto Escondido, Mexico

The monthly cost of living in Puerto Escondido is

UtilitiesGenerally included with accommodation
Food$300 per person
Total (range)$750 – $2000
Estimated cost of Puerto Escondido. Prices in US Dollars

Puerto Escondido literally means “hidden harbor” in Spanish and that is actually a very accurate description of this small 30,000 people town in Oaxaca. It is located in the southwestern part of the country and has 7 public beaches just a short walk away where you will find everything from big mansions overlooking the ocean on top of a hill to hidden spots with no urban development around it.

Despite its small size, Puerto Escondido has all the perks of a much larger destination. It has its own airport, only 1 kilometer (0.6 miles) away from the city, it has hotels that range all the way from 2 stars to 5 stars and a few modern resorts.

You will not find much of a nightlife in Puerto compared to other tourist spots in the country except for a few bars. This is more of a surfer/hipster/fishing kind of town. That can be an advantage or a disadvantage depending on who you ask.

Oaxaca, the state where Puerto Escondido is, has a lot to offer and many places to visit. You can do ecotourism, sightseeing, visit the pyramids in the archeological areas, check out other beach towns like Huatulco, and tour five “pueblos magicos” (magic towns), which is a Mexican designation for towns with a lot of history. All of this is a short drive from Puerto Escondido.

The one thing Puerto Escondido is missing is variety when it comes to long-term accommodation if you don’t want to stay at a hotel. There are LOTS of small, cheap studio apartments, hostels, and one-bedroom places that are great if you are traveling alone. On the other end, there are plenty of huge houses up for rent for groups of 8+ people with pools and all the amenities you could want. However, those in the middle like families of 4 or a couple looking for a two-bedroom might have a harder time finding something for them, or will at least have to wait a few weeks for something to become available. Thankfully this is starting to change as the town has seen some development over the past few years, but it’s something to keep in mind.

Around 20% or 30% of the locals speak English and it won’t be too hard to find another ex-pat or digital nomad who has been there longer than you who will help you with all the tips and tricks you’ll need to know. Communication will not be a major problem, but it’s always encouraged to learn at least some Spanish if you are planning a long-term stay.

Puerto Escondido pros and cons

Excellent pricesFew nightlife options
Delicious seafood specialtiesLimited accommodation options for long-term stays
Not too touristyOccasional seismic activity
Small, quiet townSlow internet
Lots of nearby places to visit

2. Puerto Morelos

Puerto Morelos, Mexico
Puerto Morelos, Mexico

The monthly cost of living in Puerto Morelos is

UtilitiesGenerally included with accommodation
Food$350 per person
Total (range)$850 – $1700
Estimated cost of Puerto Morelos. Prices in US Dollars

The Mexican Riviera Maya in the southeastern part of the country is famous for its beauty. This is the corridor where you will find all the Mexican beaches you have heard about like Cancun and Tulum. Because of their popularity, these towns and cities have also become the most expensive destinations in the country.

Thankfully, not every town has been filled with casinos and huge resorts, there are still some places that have kept their charm and prices. Enter Puerto Morelos, the hidden gem of the riviera.

Puerto Morelos is a town located 30 minutes away from Cancun. This place has managed to keep the character and the calm, relaxed atmosphere of a fishing town but has also seen enough development to have plenty of things to do and see.

Here are some of the activities you can do in Puerto Morelos and their prices:

  • Go swimming in underground caves known as cenotes – Some are free during the offseason
  • Snorkling – $20
  • Visit one of the two nearby adventure parks with rappel, bungee jumping, horse riding – $30 to $60
  • Hiking, sightseeing – absolutely free

The ex-pat community in Puerto Morelos is still small but rapidly growing. This is a town that has seen fast development over the past decade. Just for reference, it had a population of barely 10,000 in 2010 but the more recent figures estimate a population of 21,000.

While Puerto Morelos is a bit lacking when it comes to urbanization, the good part about being so close to Cancun is that it gives you access to all the benefits of a much larger city without having to live in it. In Cancun, you can find modern hospitals, schools, shopping malls, nightlife, etc., and it is all just a short drive away.

There are plenty of options for long-term accommodation. However, just like in any other beach town, if you want to live there on a budget, you will need to look deeper into the town as the beachfront properties are considerably more expensive. The good news is since there aren’t that many resorts and hotels yet, there’s a wide array of houses and apartments of all sizes up for rent. Airbnb is a good place to start your search to lock something up, but once you are there, you will want to look in the local sites like metros cubicos for more affordable long-term options.

Puerto Morelos Pros and Cons

Access to all the riviera MayaQuickly developing. Might become a more expensive, touristy town soon.
Short drive away from Cancun and its airportLimited options for schools
Calm, friendly, fishing townHurrican season between September and November
Plenty of things to do, especially if you are into adventure and ecotourism
A high percentage of people speak English

3. Sayulita

Sayulita, Mexico
Sayulita, Mexico

The monthly cost of living in Sayulita is

UtilitiesGenerally included with accommodation
Food$300 per person
Total (range)$600 – $1800
Estimated cost of Sayulita. Prices in US Dollars

Sayulita is the best-kept secret in the western part of Mexico when it comes to beach towns. It is a tiny place with an official population of only 2,300 people, however, in reality, that number is much larger because it doesn’t account for all the digital nomads and retirees that are making Sayulita their new home.

It is located only 30 minutes away from the much larger, much bigger, and much more expensive tourist ciy of Puerto Vallarta, and is only a couple hours away from Guadalajara, one of the larger cities in Mexico.

The first thing you will notice when you arrive is a lot of electric golf carts riding down the cobblestone streets. It is a very popular form of transportation because of the stone streets, narrow passages, and short distances. Having or renting a regular car is not very efficient in Sayulita unless you want to explore the nearby towns.

Despite its small size, Sayulita is full of life and colors. The town lights up at night with all the bars, dance clubs blasting salsa music, and restaurants that serve huachinango fish, a type of red snapper native to the area.

Sayulita is also a very popular surfing destination. It is also a short (but a bit challenging) hike away from la lancha, a secluded beach that surfers love.

Finding a place to rent long-term in Sayulita can be a bit of a challenge as most places get snatched quickly, so expect to have to stay at a hostel, hotel, or Airbnb for a few weeks while you look for something that fits your needs.

If you need to go shopping, or you want to go to the movies, Puerto Vallarta is only 30 mins away by car or bus as Sayulita doesn’t really have a shopping mall. What you will find instead are plenty of farmers’ markets and Plaza Papelitos, a street adorned with artwork made of papel picado (paper cutouts) where you can shop for local crafts, clothes, and food.

On paper, Sayulita shouldn’t be one of the best places to live, especially when its right between two of the most popular beach towns in the country, Puerto Vallarta and Manzanillo, but there’s just something magical and charming about it that makes everyone that visits it want to stay to live there.

Sayulita Pros and Cons

Close to the U.S. (2.5 hours flight to Texas)Limited housing options
Close to larger citiesNo English speaking schools
It doesn’t get too overcrowded during spring break/summerMaybe too small for some people
Vibrant nightlife
A high percentage of people speak English

4. Mazatlan

Mazatlan, Sinaloa
Mazatlan, Sinaloa
UtilitiesGenerally included with accommodation
Food$300 per person
Total (range)$800 – $2600
Estimated cost of Sayulita. Prices in US Dollars

If you are looking for a more city-like experience that still has the unique feature of having a coast line that goes for miles and is not that crowded, then Mazatlan might be the right place for you.

Located in the state of Sinaloa, Mazatlan is a resort, vacation spot that also has all the perks of a larger city. This is the only place on the list that has, not one, but two stadiums where the local soccer team, Mazatlan FC, and the baseball team Venados (Mazatlan Deers) play regularly. It is also the only place on the list where you will find Mcdonald’s, Starbucks, and every other American food chain just a walk away. And yet, that doesn’t take away much from its charm and Mexican culture feel as you will still see Mexican music bands playing along the beach while taking a walk.

The city has a large expat community that has been rapidly growing over the past few years. It currently has a population of 440,000 people and it main economic activities are fishing and of course, tourism.

Thankfully, Mazatlan is still cheap compared to other tourism destinations in Mexico. You can live with a good quality of life for $800 USD, but if your budget allows, there are many options for you to live much larger.

Of course, when you mention a place in Sinaloa you need to talk about the elephant in the room, which is safety and cartel activity. While it’s true the crime statistics in Sinaloa are above the Mexican national average, they mostly happen in concentrated bubbles and hot spots. Tourists and the general population are left alone.

There are many things to do in Mazatlan. You will always find plenty of activity in the town square known as Plaza Machado as well as excellent restaurants for all kinds of food. From tacos to sushi which Mexicans do like to add their own mark to. You will also find nightclubs, bars, casinos, and everything you could expect in terms of night entertainment.

If the nightlife isn’t for you, there is plenty to do too by the day. You can check out many of the nearby beaches or hiking trails.

Close to the U.S. (2 hours flight to San Diego)Slightly more expensive than the other towns in the list
Every amenity you could possibly wantGets crowded at certain times (holidays, spring break, etc)
Lots of entertainment optionsNot many cities or areas to explore around it
A high percentage of people speak English