Living in Merida Mexico: Pros & Cons of Expat Life [2024]

living in merida HEADER IMAGE

Is Merida Mexico a good place to live?

As I live in Merida, you’ve come to the right place for information! This article is going to cover the average cost of living in Mérida Mexico, what it’s like being an expat in Merida, the weather in Merida (the city’s biggest dealbreaker), and more.

I have been in Mexico since 2018 and traveled around for a while before ultimately settling down in Merida in July 2019.

It is a beautiful, colorful city with fun cultural celebrations, great food, and plenty of day trips for the weekends. It’s also the safest city in Mexico! For me, Merida is obviously a good place to live. But will you love living in Merida Mexico?

In this article, I’m going to shine a light on life in Merida — the good and the bad — so you’re armed with enough information to see if Merida expat life might suit you.

Of course, the best way to see will be to visit, but until you can, I hope this article gives you a lot of guidance.

Living in Merida Mexico

Where is Merida Mexico located?

Merida is the capital of Yucatán State, one of the three states making up Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, which is in the southeastern part of the country.

It is the largest city in the Yucatan — the population of Merida, Mexico is about one million — and the 13th biggest city in Mexico.

Living in Merida Mexico

Merida Mexico Map

Want to see some maps of Merida that better explain the city, the best neighborhoods in Merida and more? Check out this article, Merida Mexico Map: Where is Merida Located?

Living in Merida Mexico

Is Merida on the beach?

No — Merida is further from the beach than many think! Puerto Progreso is the closest beach to Merida, and is located about 40 minutes away by car or bus.

palapas in progreso beach

It is one of several beaches near Merida Mexico, located on the Gulf of Mexico, and easily accessible on the AutoProgreso Bus for about $25 pesos ($1 USD) each way. These buses run every 30 minutes or so and are very convenient.

Living in Merida Mexico

15 Pros and Cons of Living in Merida Mexico

1. Pro: It’s the Safest City in Mexico

Merida Mexico crime rates are the lowest in the country, as it’s among the safest cities in Mexico.

In fact, CEOWorld magazine called Merida the second safest city on the continent after Quebec City, Canada — while not a single U.S. city made their Top 50 Safest Cities list!

Merida has also received other accolades from CEOWorld. In 2021, readers named it the #3 best small city in the world (San Miguel de Allende, Mexico was #1).

Similarly, Conde Nast Traveller magazine readers named Merida the #4 Best City in the World in 2022.

Living in Merida Mexico

2. Con: Merida Weather in Summer is HOT

cenote ik kil
The Merida cenotes are the best places to beat the heat and hot weather in Merida Yucatan Mexico!

As mentioned, Merida ticks a lot of boxes — but if you don’t like hot, tropical weather — it likely won’t tick your boxes.

To find out how you’ll do in the tropics, plan to visit Merida during the hottest months of the year, May to September. While this certainly isn’t the best time to visit Merida Mexico, it will show you Merida at its worst.

From May to September, even Merida locals dread the weather when daytime temperatures hover around 95°F (35°C). With the humidity, temperatures feel even a few degrees higher 🥵

During summer nights in Merida, expect about 87°F (30.5°C), so not a huge drop.

🌡 Weather in Merida: Temperature Averages

Average Merida Mexico weather chart
Average Merida Mexico weather. (Photo: Weather and Climate)

💡 Living in Merida Tip

Though it’s very hot in Merida, some homes don’t have air conditioning — many people, especially those native to the Yucatan, actually prefer to live without it.

If you need AC, like I do, make sure to pick a place that has it, and maybe even somewhere with a pool. Just check in any living in Merida Mexico expat forums and you’ll see how coveted a pool really is!

Living in Merida Mexico

3. Pro: Lots of Mayan & Mexican Culture

Mexican woman making tortillas a mano
Making tortillas a mano (by hand) at MUGY, one of the best restaurants in Merida Mexico.

Merida is known as the Cultural Capital of Yucatan and one of the best places in Mexico to immerse yourself in Mayan Culture.

Besides the Mayan Ruins near Merida, including Chichen Itza, one of the Seven Wonders of the World, the city itself hosts numerous cultural events.

🪅 Annual Festivals in Merida Mexico

temple at Dzibilchaltun Mayan Ruins Mexico
Temple of the Seven Dolls at Dzibilchaltun Ruins, the closest Mayan Ruins to Merida.

Each January, there’s Merida Fest, a citywide cultural and performing arts festival.

This large festival boasts live music, folk dancing groups, Mexican and international artists, visual arts events, and theater performances across several venues.

For the Spring and Fall Equinoxes, many gather at Dzibilchaltún Mayan Ruins to see the sun shine through the center of the Temple of the Seven Dolls.

In late October, there’s Hanal Pixan (ha-naal pick-shawn), the Mayan Day of the Dead Celebration and Paseo de las Animas, the Parade of Souls.

🎉 Weekly Events in Merida Mexico

Vaquería dancers performing the jarana
The Vaquería dancers performing the jarana and other folkloric dances in Plaza Grande.

On Monday nights at 8 pm, head to the Municipal Palace in Plaza Grande (Main Plaza) to see the Lunes de Vaquería Yucateca dance production of the jarana and other folkloric dances.

Each Saturday night, see a Pok Ta Pok Mayan ball game played in front of the Merida Cathedral in Plaza Grande at 8 pm.

On Friday nights at 7:30 pm, there’s Piedras Sagradas (Sacred Stones), a video-mapping show that tells the Mayan history of the Yucatan, projected on the front of the San Ildefonso Cathedral.

At 8 pm on Saturday nights, enjoy Diálogos del Conquistador (Dialogues of the Conquerors) video-mapping show projected on the front of the Museo Casa Montejo Museum — one of the best museums in Merida.

Also, in Plaza Grande, head to Domingo en Merida (Merida Sunday Market) on Sunday mornings to buy local Mayan honey, plants, handicrafts, clothing and more from vendors.

On Sunday mornings from 8 am-12 pm, the Paseo de Montejo shuts down for car traffic and is open only to bike riders during the BiciRuta, the Merida Sunday bike ride.

If you don’t want to bike, local artists and vendors line the sidewalks, selling everything from handmade art to vegan tamales.

Living in Merida Mexico

4. Con: Rising Cost of Living in Merida Mexico

If Merida’s starting to sound ahh-mazing to you — you’re not alone. In the three years I’ve lived here, I’ve started to see rents going way up.

With more and more people working remotely, many from the U.S. and Europe have moved to Mexico for a lower cost of living.

With this influx of digital nomads and people moving to Merida with their U.S. Dollars and Euros comes higher price tags. While this can vary from year to year, Merida rents often rise about 8% each year.

Living in Merida Mexico

5. Pro: You Don’t Need a Car in Merida

salt crystals collecting on a pole at a Las Coloradas pink lakes in Mexico
The Pink Lakes of Las Coloradas (yes, they’re real!) is just one of the great Merida day trips.

One of the things I absolutely love about Merida is that I can walk everywhere.

Now, I live in Centro Historico (Historic City Center), not far from Paseo Montejo, so I’m in a walkable area. For those in North Merida, you’ll need a car.

However, for those who want to live in Downtown Merida, there’s no need for a car. If you want to take one of these Merida day trips or even weekend trips, you can always rent a car in Merida, or take the ADO bus. For in-town trips, there’s Uber.

Living in Merida Mexico

6. Con: Mexican Government Bureaucracy

One of the things I’ve learned in Mexico is patience! Everything from getting the bill at a restaurant to getting a building permit for your house can take a while.

There’s a word in Mexican slang, ahorrita, which can mean something will be done in one hour or in four months. You just never know when you hear the word ahorrita.

When dealing with any government office, expect things to take even longer.

I recently got my Mexican Temporary Residency Card, and it took about 10 hours and two visits to the Immigration Office — though I met others while waiting who were on their third visit and had to come from a neighboring state.

Living in Merida Mexico

7. Pro: So Many Things to Do in Merida

campeche colorful sign
Colorful Campeche City Mexico is only about two hours from Merida, in Campeche State.

One of my favorite things to do is just walk around and take photos of the beautiful historic colonial buildings in Downtown Merida.

There’s also the charming Paseo de Montejo to take a leisurely stroll, fun cantinas at night, and plenty of museums and art galleries.

Besides the city itself, you have so many options for great day trips from Merida! Within 1-3 hours of Merida, there’s everything from Mayan Ruins, Merida beaches, swimmable cenotes, and even natural pink lakes.

You’re also near other great places in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, like Izamal, Valladolid, Holbox Island, Tulum, Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Campeche State, Bacalar Lagoon — and even more places!

Even if you don’t have a car, you can visit by bus or rental car.

Living in Merida Mexico

8. Con: Merida Water Sucks

If you’re wondering, Can you drink the water in Merida Mexico? The answer is no!

Mexico tap water isn’t safe for human consumption. However, shower water is also quite harsh, as it’s filled with sarro (calcium), which will dry out your skin. A few apartments and homes have water softeners installed, but it’s not the norm.

To combat skin dryness, I use this Palmers lotion, and go through a bottle every two months! Some people also say Merida water dries out their hair, but I haven’t experienced that.

Living in Merida Mexico

9. Pro: Yucatan Food is Amazing

queso relleno yucatan foods
Queso relleno (stuffed cheese) is one of the best Yucatan foods you can try at restaurants in Merida Mexico.

Mexico Fun Fact: The Yucatan used to be its own country, which was called the Republic of Yucatan.

After traveling to half the states in Mexico, I always tell people it should still be its own country since it’s quite different from the rest of Mexico.

One of the biggest reasons for this is most Yucatecans are of Mayan descent, versus Central Mexico and other parts of the country with primarily Aztec descent.

One such difference is the amazing Yucatan cuisine, which isn’t what many know as traditional Mexican food. The food definitely makes life in Merida Mexico more amazing.

Living in Merida Mexico

10. Con: Merida is Getting Touristy

Merida is one of the most up-and-coming Mexico travel destinations, so living here means sharing the town with tourists.

Tourists aren’t an issue per se, but it does mean things are more crowded (especially on weekends), and Merida prices will only continue to rise.

11. Pro: There’s a Merida Airport

exterior of merida airport (MID)
There are quite a few airlines that fly to Merida Airport, including Aeroméxico, American, Mayair, United, Volaris and WestJet.

Merida is pretty easy to get to, as you can fly into Merida International Airport (code: MID), located about 20-30 minutes from downtown. Keep reading for the con to the airport in Merida Mexico ⤵ 

Living in Merida Mexico

12. Con: Merida Airport has Limited Flights

Currently, there are only direct flights from Miami and Houston in the U.S., but the airport is currently expanding, so there should be more in the future.

If you can’t get a direct flight, the Mexico City and Guadalajara Airports have connections to MID.

Another option is to fly into Cancun International Airport (code: CUN), then head from Cancun to Merida.

It is a four-hour drive, and I recommend using Cancun Airport Transportation if you’re not planning on renting a car in Cancun for the drive.

Living in Merida Mexico

13. Pro: It’s Easy to Meet People

San Crisanto is one of the best beaches near Merida Mexico, and rivals even the Mexican Caribbean beaches.

Though it has a population of about one million, Merida still somewhat feels like a small town (ok, maybe a medium-sized town).

If you live and hang out in and around Downtown Merida, you’ll usually run into the same people when you go out — which makes it easier to make friends.

For a deep dive into this topic, head to the section on How to meet people in Merida.

Living in Merida Mexico

14. Con: Merida is Loud

Really, all of Mexico is loud! I live in Centro Historico, the colorful and historic part of town, so I definitely live in the loudest part of town.

If you want to be in the quieter, more tranquil part of town, opt for North Merida, which is more suburban — or just sleep with good earplugs.

Living in Merida Mexico

15. Pro: Good WiFi Speeds

As one of the digital nomads in Merida, I have never had any issues working online doing “normal” work or going to Zoom meetings, or even streaming Netflix.

If you’re working with big files and doing video rendering, Merida might be more hit-and-miss for you.

🗣 Want more living in Merida Mexico Reddit info? Head to the r/Yucatan subreddit!

If you want to read more about peoples’ experiences with Merida WiFi, this Reddit thread will give you a good idea of what to expect.

I just did a speed test from my house in Downtown Merida as I’m typing this, and I got 63.35 down and 40.73 up. We have Telmex internet.

Living in Merida Mexico

What’s the Average Age for Expats in Merida Mexico?

The Merida expat demographic skews in the 30s-50s range, which is a bit older than many digital nomad destinations.

woman at Monumento a la Patria Merida Mexico
The Monumento a la Patria is the best Merida monument on Paseo de Montejo.

As you might imagine, Merida is not really a party town. There are some cool cantinas and hidden speakeasies, but this isn’t an all-party night town.

Living in Merida Mexico

How do I meet other expats in Merida Yucatan Mexico?

I’m definitely an introvert, but the Merida social scene never felt very intimidating to me. People are generally nice, unpretentious, and curious about new people who move to town.

colorful tea and dessert at Marago Merida Cafe
I met a lot of people by simply frequenting the same place each day to work — Cafe Marago, the best cafe in Merida for digital nomads.

To help my fellow introverts out, here are some ways how to meet people in Merida. 

Living in Merida Mexico

Frequent the Same Places

I used to work from Cafe Marago most days of the week; it’s the best Merida cafe for digital nomads, hands down.

After a few weeks, I’d see the same faces of people also working online, and we’d naturally gravitate into conversations.

Living in Merida Mexico

Take Spanish Classes

Another place I met people very easily was in my Spanish classes. I went to La Casita, but I’ve also heard great things about La Calle and Hola — three of the best Spanish schools in Mérida Mexico.

Do I need to learn Spanish to live in Merida?

While you can get by with English (there’s even a Merida English Library), knowing how to speak Spanish makes living in Merida 1,000 times easier.

As you’d imagine, everyone in the classes were Merida expats, so there’s a social aspect to the classes.

As an added bonus, you’re also learning Spanish so you can better communicate while living in Merida while also connecting with expat communities in Mexico Merida.

Living in Merida Mexico

Merida Facebook Groups

Hacienda Yaxcopoil & Museum in Merida Mexico
Hacienda Yaxcopoil is one of the best Merida haciendas to visit, located about an hour away.

As with a lot of Mexico, Facebook Groups are the best way to network online. Here are a few recommendations for the best Facebook groups about Merida: Mexpats Mérida, Merida Mexico Expat Community and Expats In The Yucatán.

🗣 A note on Merida expat forums

They can be hit or miss, so take things with a grain of salt. I’ve got both great information from very sincere members of the Merida expat community and some of the rudest, most snarky comments from others.

Living in Merida Mexico

What’s the best area to live in Merida Mexico?

The best neighborhood in Merida depends on your needs and wants, and your deal breakers. However, the two most popular for expats are Centro Historico and North Merida.

living in merida map
Map of the best places to live in Mexico Merida.

If you want to be near all the historic buildings and colonial architecture, that’s in Centro (Downtown Merida). For a gated community and new construction home, that’s in Merida Norte (North Merida).

Living in Merida Mexico

What are the best neighborhoods in Merida Mexico?

The majority of expats in Merida either live in Centro Historico or North Merida.

Centro Historico, the Historic City Center or Historic Downtown Merida, is divided into smaller areas, and is about 25 minutes from North Merida. There are a lot of new construction buildings in the north, another popular area with expats.

Living in Merida Mexico

Best Areas in Colonia Centro

living in merida map
Some of the best expat neighborhoods Merida has to offer.

Nearly any part of Centro Historico is a great area to be in — and it’s actually where I live.

The map below highlights some of the best areas in Centro by name, including Paseo Montejo, Santiago, Santa Lucia, Garcia Gineres, Itzimna, La Mejorada and San Juan.

🏡 Colonias in Merida

Colonias (literally, “colonies”) are the older, historic areas of Merida. Centro Historico, for example, is in Colonia Centro — so if you see the word Colonia before a name, it’s one of the older parts of Merida.

Besides Centro, Colonia Mexico is also popular with Merida expats.

🏡 Fraccionamientos in Merida

Fraccionamiento (meaning “fractions,” and pronounced frac-see-oh-nah-me-en-toe) is the U.S. equivalent of a large subdivision or gated community.

All homes in the development are the same size, and all look similar. Nearly all Merida fraccionamientos are in the North.

Living in Merida Mexico

Average Merida Cost of Living

Art work outside Mayan World Museum
Besides new construction homes, all the best malls in Merida and the Mayan World Museum are also located in the north part of the city. (Photo: Howard Francisco Dratch via Flickr)

Is Merida Mexico cheap?

It depends on where you’re comparing it to, as Merida is definitely cheap compared to London, San Francisco and NYC. In fact, according to Numbeo statistics, Merida is 59.3% less expensive than New York.

If you want to know, Is Merida cheap compared to other parts of Mexico? Then, not really; Merida, Mexico cost of living is actually on the pricier side for Mexico.

If you want to be near Merida, you can always save some money living on the outskirts of town or in the pueblos (small towns) not far from Merida.

Some options include Izamal and Valladolid, two Mexico pueblos magicos (magic towns), as well as Uman, Motul and Espita.

As Merida is now the 13th biggest city in Merida, the cost of living isn’t what it once was.

However, in the places listed above, you can still find the Merida prices of 5-10 years ago — where you can live pretty comfortably at $800 USD per month. Currently, I recommend people have $1,500 USD per month for Merida.

Living in Merida Mexico

How much money do you need to live in Merida?

As with most answers to questions about living in Merida Mexico, this one is highly subjective. As a ballpark figure, you’ll want a budget of at least $1,500 USD per month for a single person or $3,500 for a family of four.

izamal church in yucatan pueblos magicos
Izamal Yucatan, known as the Yellow City in Mexico, is about 90 minutes from Merida.

I live on about $1,000 USD per month for everything, but my idea of a comfortable life might be uncomfortable for you.

🤑 To see my cost of living in Merida, jump to this section to read about what I pay to live in Merida Mexico.

Now, there are plenty of Merida expats who live on less per month than I do.

However, I’d say if you want a nice, comfortable life in Merida, plan for a budget of at least $1,500 USD per month. Once you arrive in Merida, you can adjust up or down from there.

Living in Merida Mexico

How much do you need to retire in Merida Mexico?

If you have no desire for creature comforts, you can live on $500 USD per month if retiring in Merida Mexico is your plan. In fact, according to Data Mexico the average Yucatan State salary in 2021 is just $5,150 pesos per month — which is about $260 USD.

salbutes at La Chaya Maya, best restaurants in merida mexico
Salbutes are a type of puffy taco that you’ll only find in Merida and the Yucatan Peninsula.

Since most will want some degree of comfort during Merida retirement, I’d recommend planning for at least $1,500 USD per month to cover the basics like your rent, bills, groceries and incidentals.

Once you get to Merida and get acclimated, your cost of living in Merida Yucatan Mexico may go down.

Living in Merida Mexico

Renting an Apartment in Merida Mexico

There are a few ways you can rent an apartment in Merida:

  • Airbnb or VRBO: The easiest place to find Merida Mexico rentals
  • Facebook groups, like Merida Casitas for Rent
  • Facebook Marketplace, in the “Rentals” section
  • Rental sites like Vivanuncions.com
  • Walking around in an area you like, looking for Se Renta (For Rent) signs, and calling the number.

Airbnb and VRBO seem the most expensive up front, but remember that those places are “move-in ready.” You just show up, it’s furnished, all utilities and the internet are turned on, etc. For the short term, these are great options.

If you’re confident in speaking Spanish, you can branch out to Facebook Marketplace, Vivanuncios and call homeowners directly.

Keep in mind that many non-Airbnb rentals will often want three months of rent upfront (first, last and security deposit).

Some even charge more if you don’t have an aval (pronounced uh-vall). This is essentially a co-signer for your lease and has to be a Mexican property owner who will sign for you, saying they will pay your rent if you fail to do so.

I found my apartment in a Merida Facebook group. In general, Facebook is the easiest way to network as an expat in Mexico and to find Merida apartments.

The best Merida Facebook group for rentals is Merida Casitas for Rent, but general groups, like Merida Mexico Expat Community, can be helpful for leads. 

Living in Merida Mexico

Average Cost of Apartments in Merida Mexico

The answer depends on what you want and what you need in a place and if you are looking for short-term or long term rentals Merida Mexico.

It also depends on where you find rentals in Merida Mexico, as Merida Airbnbs and VRBOs have gotten pricey after Mexico started imposing a 16% tax on rental properties, and Yucatan State charges another 5%.

🤑 To see my cost of living in Merida, jump to this section to read about what I pay to live in Merida Mexico.

If you’re renting on Airbnb, the average cost for a one-bedroom apartment in Downtown Merida is about $800 USD per month with all bills, taxes and fees included.

For renting a three-bedroom home in Downtown Merida with a pool, plan for about $2,500 USD per month on Airbnb.

Living in Merida Mexico

Buying Real Estate in Merida Mexico

pool area and pink walls of Rosas & Xocolate
If you’re going to rent a Merida hotel while you look for a place, there are none prettier than Rosas & Xocolate!

Can I buy real estate in Merida Mexico?

Yes — Expats in Mexico can buy Merida real estate. However, Merida Mexico real estate is something you’ll want a realtor to help you navigate the ins and outs of the system.

As I’ve never done so myself, I always refer anyone who asks me about buying a home in Merida to the Real Estate Course in the Yucatan with Neil, Restoring a Colonial Home in Yucatan Experience with Greg, and the Merida Casitas for Sale Facebook group.

The only exception I am aware of is that only Mexican citizens can buy property on any of the beaches in Mexico. However, if you have a fideicomiso (bank trust), foreigners can legally buy beachfront homes and land in Mexico.

Living in Merida Mexico

How’s the Healthcare in Merida Mexico?

Merida has several world-class hospitals and medical facilities, including Clínica de Mérida.

farmacia simi merida mexico
Pros and cons of living in Merida, Mexico; PRO: Merida’s healthcare is top-notch.

In fact, the Yucatan State Secretary of Tourism has positioned Merida as one of the best destinations for medical tourism in Mexico and all Latin America.

As you’ll read in this thread from a Yucatan expat life Facebook group, Merida has the best hospitals and health care in the Yucatan Peninsula.

Of course, some doctors are better than others, so you’d have to do your own due diligence.

🩺 Best Medical Insurance for Expats in Merida

For inexpensive, quality medical insurance for expats in Mexico, nothing beats SafetyWing. Their monthly plans start at just $42 USD per month (yes, you read that right!), so this is a no-brainer for basic coverage.

Get your FREE SafetyWing quote below ⤵

Living in Merida Mexico

Do I Need A Visa for Mexico?

No — U.S. Passport holders and anyone from almost all of North American and Europe do not need a visa for Mexico. If you’re unsure, you can check here to see if you’ll need a visa for Mexico travel.

For most visitors, you’ll get a 180-day (six-month) FMM Tourist Visa for free upon entering the country if you come by air.

If you’re driving across the border from the U.S., you’ll pay $594 pesos (about $30 USD) for your FMM.

💡 Note: More and more airports in Mexico are now doing away with the FMM card.

When you arrive in Mexico, you will either get the FMM card or a passport stamp; both are valid and serve the same function.

🚙💨 Driving from the U.S. to Mexico? Make sure you’re insured by Baja Bound — as you do need Mexican insurance to drive into Mexico.

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Living in Merida Mexico

Update for Mexican FMM Visas in 2023

In 2021, many visitors started receiving less than 180 days. In years past, it was assumed the 180-day (6 months) visa was a given. However, legally, Mexico only has to give seven days.

The best way to ensure you get the full amount is to come with proof of your booked Airbnb or Merida hotel, a bank statement showing you have enough money to be in Mexico for six months, and a return flight already booked.

After 3-6 months in Merida, you’ll have a better idea of what Mexico Merida living is all about.

It’s always a good idea to spend some time in the city before committing to your move — including a visit during the hot and humid summer months — to make sure Merida is right for you.

Living in Merida Mexico

My Personal Cost of Living in Merida

Paseo de Montejo things to do in merida mexico
Paseo de Montejo (or just Paseo Montejo) is the best street in Merida Mexico, with wide sidewalks, cafes, restaurants, shops and great people-watching.

As every question about the Merida Mexico cost of living is completely relative and has no definitive answer, I figured I’d just list what my personal cost of living in Merida looks like.

Best Medical Insurance for Expats in Merida

For inexpensive, quality medical insurance for expats in Mexico, nothing beats SafetyWing. Their monthly plans start at just $42 USD per month (yes, you read that right!), so this is a no-brainer for basic coverage.

Living in Merida Mexico

Merida Housing Cost

My apartment in Centro Historico is a large one bedroom/1 bath with a rooftop patio, with all bills included, for $650 USD per month. However, that is considered on the low end of rent in Merida.

For those who want a three-bedroom house downtown with a pool and large backyard, your rent would be closer to $1,500-2,000 USD per month.

🧾 Merida Bills

farmers market in merida
The Saturday Slow Food Market is the best Merida farmer’s market. (Photo: Slow Food Market Yucatan via Facebook, Yucatan Merida Mexico things to do)

In Merida, your bills should run pretty low.

If you watch your energy consumption and use the AC sparingly, plan for $50 USD per month for electricity. If you run the AC all day, plan for $200 USD.

Water bills in Mexico are very low, at about $10 USD per month.

For top-of-the-line WiFi in Merida, plan for $50 USD, though you can get plans for closer to $30 USD.

If you get a cell phone, your plan with calls and data should run $35 USD per month. Another option is to get a Mexico SIM Card, and pay as you go.

Is the MERIDA PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION good?

Merida does have public transportation, but it’s lacking. For a city of this size, the Merida population is one million, public transportation in Merida isn’t great.

As I don’t use it, there’s not much I can say — other than it exists, it leaves a lot to be desired, and buses are economical at about $10 MXN pesos ($.50 USD) per ride, depending on where you’re headed.

Living in Merida Mexico

Merida Transportation Cost

To buy a car in Mexico, you’ll need your Temporary Residency Visa (which is a Mexico Green Card).

However, renting a car in Merida for the weekend is easy, and you just need your passport and driver’s license. A weekend car rental with full coverage insurance costs about $75 USD.

I recommend, and use Discover Cars any time I’m getting a Merida rental car.

Find Your Rental Car

Many expats keep their cost of living in Mérida low by not owning a car, as it is a walkable city and Ubers don’t cost much (figure about $5 USD for a 30-minute Uber ride).

Personally, I walk, use Uber when necessary, and take buses for Merida day trips.

For eco-friendly, economical travel, the country has a great bus system. The largest bus company in Mexico, ADO, has a fleet of luxury-class buses that service the Yucatan Peninsula, and beyond.

For weekend trips from Merida, the ADO is a great option.

🌮 Merida Average Monthly Food Cost

people eating in mercado santa ana merida
You’ll save a lot of money by eating in mercados, local Merida markets, like Mercado Santa Ana instead of a restaurant.

Overall, food costs less than in the U.S., including groceries and food in restaurants.

I like to cook at home and spend about $200 USD per month on groceries. If you stop at local outdoor mercados (markets) over indoor grocery stores, you can save even more.

For cheap eats in Merida, visit the local mercados or pick up snacks from street vendors. In Mexico, nothing beats $0.50 USD tacos on the street!

When you want a nice dinner, there are plenty of great Merida restaurants to choose from.

💸 Extras: Cleaning, Laundry, Gym, Movies, Spa, Etc.

Muyal Ha’ Spa at Hacienda Santa Cruz
The Muyal Ha’ Spa at Hacienda Santa Cruz (Photo: Expedia)

As with many things in Merida, luxury doesn’t come with as high of a price tag as it does in many parts of the U.S.

🧖‍♀️ Merida Spas

Sadly, there are not a lot of spas in Merida — though this Mayan Spa is super cool.

For a spa day, Hacienda Santa Cruz is one of the Merida haciendas located just outside of Downtown. Rooms are about $100 USD per night a Muyal Ha’ Spa day pass is about $30 USD.

💇🏻‍♀️ Haircuts, Mani/Pedi

For hair services, some hair stylists come to your home and will charge about $500 pesos ($25 USD) for a cut.

If you go to a luxury salon, the price can double. A mani/pedi in Merida will cost about $25 USD in a nice salon.

🧽 House Cleaning in Merida

In Mexico, many have someone who comes and cleans their house weekly, biweekly or monthly. Cleaning services cost about $10 USD for three hours of work.

🧺 Laundry Service

There are no machines in my apartment, so I send my clothes out to a lavanderia. They pick up my clothes, wash, dry and fold them, and bring them back for about $5 USD per large load of clothing or sheets.

💪 Gyms in Merida

A nice gym in Merida will cost only about $10 USD per month and private studios closer to $25 USD for yoga and pilates classes.

For yoga in Merida, there’s Casa Conexion and private teachers you can find in Merida expat Facebook groups for about $7 USD per class.

🎥 Movie theaters in merida

I opt for Merida’s luxury movie theaters or VIP theaters with recliner seats. Tickets for the Merida VIP movie theaters cost about $6 USD per ticket, and the regular movie theaters cost closer to $2 USD.

🍸 Merida Bars & Drinks

Even in the most upscale of Merida cocktail bars, I’ve never paid more than $10 USD for a cocktail.

In bars and cantinas frequented by locals, you can enjoy a Mexican beer for $2 USD. However, the costs do go up a bit at bars where a lot of Merida expats hang out, like La Negrita Cantina.

Living in Merida: Frequently Asked Questions

Is Merida a nice place to live?

Yes — If you don’t mind hot weather, Merida is an excellent place to live. It is safe, affordable and charming, and a great place to raise a family. No wonder it’s so popular!

Living in Merida Mexico

Can foreigners buy property in Merida?

Merida and many parts of the Yucatan are in the Restricted Zone, which is within 31 miles of the coastline (50 km) or 62 miles (100 km) of the border. Foreigners can purchase property in the Restricted Zone with a bank trust (FIDEICOMISO) or a Mexican Corporation.

Living in Merida Mexico

Can Americans own property in Merida?

Yes — But there are restrictions. Under Mexican law, foreigners can’t own property outright within the Restricted Zone, which Merida is in. The easiest way to circumvent this is a bank trust (FIDEICOMISO).

Living in Merida Mexico

Is Merida Mexico safe?

For the vast majority of most travelers and residents, Merida is very safe. In fact, it had been called the safest city in Mexico thanks to its low crime rates.

merida crime statistics
According to Numbeo statistics, Merida is incredibly safe for travelers.

Longer answer: This question is tricky, as no place is 100% safe.

I do my best to address the Merida Mexico safety question in this article, Is Merida Mexico Safe for Travelers? Safety Tips from a Longtime Resident. I talked about crime in Merida Mexico, transportation, and many more!

But, in short, the answer to Is Merida safe to live in? — is Yes!

Merida has been ranked as not only the safest Mexico city, but one of the safest on the entire Americas Continent by CEOWorld Magazine. In 2022, Conde Nast Traveler Magazine named it the #4 Best City in the World.

Though Merida is considered safe, you’ll still want to follow the 10 General Travel Safety Tips below to err on the side of caution.

These safety measures — like taking Uber home at night — are the same ones you’d follow when traveling anywhere, and they should suffice in Mérida.

Living in Merida Mexico

What makes Merida so safe?

Merida and Yucatan State are known for having an honest police force and a small drug cartel presence.

Living in Merida Mexico

Why are people moving to Merida Mexico?

Merida is considered the safest city in Mexico, the safest city in Latin America, and one of the safest cities on the Americas Continent. It has a relatively low cost of living as well.

Living in Merida Mexico

Is English spoken in Merida Mexico?

Some locals in Merida speak English, especially those in the service industry. However, it’s still a good idea to know basic Spanish when you live in Mexico.

Living in Merida Mexico

How much money do you need to live comfortably in Merida Mexico?

This is a very subjective question, as no two people’s needs, wants, dealbreakers and budgets are alike. For a general answer, you should be comfortable with $1,500 USD per month for a single person.

Living in Merida Mexico

How much does an apartment cost in Merida Mexico?

Prices vary a lot depending on how many “American-style” amenities you want. On the lower end, basic 2-bedroom Merida Mexico apartments should cost about $700 per month, but for luxury, you can spend $1,500 USD or more.

Living in Merida Mexico

How much is a gallon of milk in Merida Mexico?

Prices will fluctuate, but figure about $97.47 MXN ($5.25 USD) for 1 gallon of milk; $30.88 MXN ($1.75 USD) for a dozen eggs; $33.06 MXN ($1.85 USD) for a loaf of fresh white bread; $11.09 MXN ($0.65 USD) for one pound of white rice.

Living in Merida Mexico

How far is Merida Mexico from the beach?

The closest beach to Merida is Puerto Progreso, which is about 22 miles (35 km) from Downtown Merida. The Merida to Progreso drive takes about 45 minutes in normal traffic.

Planning to visit some of the Yucatan beaches on the Gulf of Mexico? While Progreso Beach is the closest Merida beach, there are a few others nearby. Get the full list at 15 Best Merida Mexico Beaches in the Yucatan Peninsula.

Living in Merida Mexico

Is Merida at risk for hurricanes?

Located about 22 miles (35 km) from the coast, direct hit hurricanes in Merida are rare. However, hurricanes do hit the Merida area, and Merida does get tropical storms.

Living in Merida Mexico

Does it rain a lot in Merida Mexico?

Yes — Merida has a tropical climate, so you can expect heat, humidity and rain for much of the year. The Merida rainy season runs from about June to October, and you can expect daily rain.

Living in Merida Mexico

Do you need a car in Merida Mexico?

You don’t need a car, but they are very convenient. I lived in Merida for years without a car because I was in a walkable part of town (Centro/Downtown), and I used Uber when needed.

Living in Merida Mexico

Is Merida a walkable city?

Yes — Merida is walkable, and you only need to consider renting a car in Merida if you’ll be making a few days trips. Otherwise, Merida is walkable but also, very hot.

Living in Merida Mexico

Is it safe to walk around Merida at night?

For the most part, Merida is safe all day and night. However, it’s always a good idea to use Uber to get home if you’re traveling solo or have had a few drinks.

Living in Merida Mexico

Is there Uber in Merida Mexico?

Yes — There Merida Uber service as well as other ride-share apps like DiDi and InDriver. It is perfectly safe to use Uber in Merida, or any similar service, even taxis.

Living in Merida Mexico

Is there an airport in Merida Mexico?

Yes Merida International Airport (code: MID) is located only about 20-30 minutes by car from downtown. MID is a smaller airport and easy to navigate.

Living in Merida Mexico

Are there direct flights to Merida Mexico?

There are a limited number of direct Merida flights from the U.S. and Canada. For now, you can fly direct to Merida Mexico, from Miami, Houston and Toronto (seasonal flight).

If you can’t get a direct flight from the U.S. or Canada, you can fly to Mexico City International Airport, Tijuana International Airport or Guadalajara International Airport. From those, you can take a short, connecting flight into MID.

From the MID Airport, you can take a rental car, bus, taxi, or private transport service to your Merida hotel. Note: Uber is not allowed to do pick-ups at the Merida Airport.

Depending on where you’re staying, the drive is usually no more than 30 minutes, though it can be a little bit longer during rush hours.

🚌💨 Best Merida Airport transfers

Living in Merida Mexico

What’s the best time to visit Merida Mexico?

Winter — Merida has a tropical climate, and temperatures tend to range from hot to very hot. The winter months of December, January and February tend to have mild temperatures and low humidity.

Living in Merida Mexico

What is the hottest month in Merida Mexico?

May The months of May to October are hot and humid, to the point that it turns many off. However, of those five months, May is known as the hottest.

If you hate tropical weather, plan your Merida trip for November to April. This is also the busy season in Merida, but the weather’s cool and the humidity’s at bay. Of these months, January and February are usually the coolest.

Living in Merida Mexico

What is high season in Merida?

Wondering, What’s the best time to travel to Merida? The answer is the winter season. This is also the high season, with December and January being the business months in Merida.

Living in Merida Mexico

Why is Merida Mexico so popular?

Besides being called the safest city in Mexico, Merida is known as the Cultural Capital of Yucatan. It is one of the best places in Mexico to experience Mayan culture and enjoy Yucatan cuisine.

woman at chichen itza mayan ruins near merida mexico
Chichen Itza Ruins, one of the Seven Wonders of the World, is located about two hours from Merida.
Living in Merida Mexico

Is Merida touristy?

In the last few years, Merida has become one of the most popular Mexico destinations, and tourism has increased. You will see a lot of tourists in Centro Historico (Downtown Merida) and Paseo Montejo.

Living in Merida Mexico

Is Merida Mexico expensive?

In recent years, prices have increased in Merida. However, it is still less expensive than other Yucatan Peninsula destinations like Cancun, Riviera Maya, Playa del Carmen and Tulum.

Living in Merida Mexico

Is Merida worth visiting?

Most travelers will find Merida Mexico is worth visiting because there’s a lot to do in the city and surrounding areas — including Mayan Ruins, beautiful beaches and swimmable cenotes.

Final Thoughts: Cost of Living Merida Mexico

I fell in love at first sight with Mexico City on a visit in April 2018 and never left Mexico.

After traveling to half the states in the country, I settled down in Merida Yucatan in 2019. Not only is it one of the most beautiful cities in Mexico, but also the safest city in Mexico.

In the last few years, I have seen my share of expats and digital nomads come and go.

The main two reasons for this seem to be the overall slower pace of life in Mexico and the heat in Merida. Originally from Miami, I prefer warm water — though I will say Merida gets hot af! 

While no one place to live is perfect, Merida ticks many boxes for many people. This is probably why moving to Merida Mexico is on your radar.

Though it’s great on paper, the only way to know if you’ll love living in Merida is to try it out, and I hope this article prepares you to do just that.

If Merida Mx doesn’t seem like it’s for you, consider Puerto Vallarta, Cabo San Lucas, San Miguel de Allende, Ajijic (pronounced ah-hee-heek).

This is a popular town for expats in Mexico located on the shores of Lake Chapala in Jalisco State, not far from Guadalajara. It is one of the best places to retire in Mexico and the best places in Mexico for expats.

Merida Travel Planning Guide

Should I buy Mexico travel insurance?

100% YES! — With basic coverage averaging just $5-10 USD per day, enjoy peace of mind with a plan from Travel Insurance Master, one of the biggest names in travel insurance. (Read more)

Can you drink the water in Merida?

No — You’ll want to buy this Water-To-Go Bottle, which filters your drinking water so you don’t get sick from drinking water in Mexico, and helps keep you hydrated while traveling Mexico. (Read more)

Is it safe to rent a car in Merida?

Yes — Renting a car in Mexico is one of the best ways to see the country! I always rent with Discover Cars, which checks both international companies and local Mexican companies, so you get the best rates. (Read more)

Will my phone work in Merida?

Maybe — It depends on your company, so check with your provider. If you don’t have free Mexico service, buy a Telcel SIM Card. As Mexico’s largest carrier, Telcel has the best coverage of any Mexico SIM Cards. (Read more)

What’s the best way to book my Merida accommodation?

For Mexico hotels and hostels, Booking.com is the best site. If you’re considering a Mexico Airbnb, don’t forget to also check VRBO, which is often cheaper than Airbnb! (Read more)

What’s the best site to buy Mexico flights?

For finding cheap Mexico flights, I always recommend Skyscanner.

Do I need a visa for Mexico?

Likely Not — U.S., Canadian and most European Passport holders don’t need a visa for Mexico; but check here to see if you do need a Mexico travel visa. The majority of travelers will receive a 180-Day FMM Tourist Visa or passport stamp upon arrival.

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