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An Expat Travel Guide To Mexico

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Mexico is a popular country with retirees, featuring a community of over one million expats, many of whom come seeking a new life with exotic cultures, friendly people and an opportunity to live in a beautiful place. Popular areas for expats to set up include San Miguel de Allende, Ensenada and Lake Chapala.

IMAGE >>> https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/de/El_Malec%C3%B3n_Puerto_Vallarta_%28228717327%29.jpeg <<< Photo by Terry Lucas // CC BY 3.0

Caption: The beautiful shoreline of Puerto Vallarta

It’s great to make a base and build community in one place, but travelling further into Mexico can also be an incredibly rewarding experience, one that can help you to better understand the country that you now call home. This guide offers tips on getting around Mexico, as well as a few suggestions on where to go.

Getting Around Mexico

Mexico is an incredibly large country of nearly 2 million km squared. It would take around 40 hours to drive in a straight line from top to bottom, and weeks to drive to several destinations across the country.

That doesn’t mean road trips are impossible. Actually, driving around Mexico is one potentially awesome way to see more of the country. Gas prices tend to be cheaper than in the USA and most of the highways are decent. Toll roads and local roads can vary in quality and upkeep, but it’s rare that established routes present a problem to drive on.

You are advised to drive mostly during the day time. Some roads may have potholes combined with poor lighting, and packs of stray dogs can wander down dimly lit streets. It’s much easier to navigate these roads in the daytime.

Internal flights may well be the solution to travelling long distances. You can get across Mexico for as little as $50 using low cost domestic airlines. Public transport, such as buses and trains, can be used for shorter journeys between cities, or you can hire cars following longer flights.

Where To Travel

Mexico City… a bit like New York in the 1970s?

Mexico is a wonderful country with too many destinations to possibly list here. Ultimately, you will need to create your own travel itinerary based on your own preferences for how to travel and what to see.

Often avoided for being a little rough around the edges, Mexico City has a gritty charm that has to be experienced. It’s a stunning mix of modern and ancient, with Aztec ruins standing side-by-side with towering skyscrapers. You can check out the Teotihuacan ruins and visit trendy areas like Roma and Candesa in the same day.

As with most capital cities, you will also find a heady blend of nightlife in Mexico City, from late night Cuban music to cinema and classical performances. Recent changes in policy mean that you will find casinos and gaming machines throughout the city; but if it’s major poker tournaments you want then you’ll have to head further afield. European cities like Barcelona tend to attract the biggest games.

If Mexico City proves to be a bit too rough and ready, Guadalajara provides a less international and much more Mexican vibe. Wander around the historic centre and the San Juan de Dios market, and be sure to eat out at local food vendors and restaurants. Less tourists equals better service and local prices.

Only one hour away from Guadalajara is the famous Lake Chapala, unrivalled in beauty and with a lush hot-by-day, cool-by-night climate. It’s little wonder the area has the highest concentration of US expats in Mexico.

If it’s gastronomy that tickles your tastebuds, Oaxaca is the city for you. The colonial centre is known for excellent cooking classes, food markets, mezcal bars and delicious restaurants. In between dining out, be sure to visit the ruins of Monte Alban and the tule tree, known as the biggest tree in the world.

Of course, busy cities are not for everyone. If you are done with the hustle and bustle, there are several coastal destinations that could offer the perfect travel break.

Puerto Vallarta has been an expat city for over 60 years, and as such has every convenience you could imagine, all within a delectable port and beach setting. Stay at the south end of town for a more small town Mexican feel, or ‘Nuevo Vallarta’ for the Westernised resort style vacation. The nearby Sierra Madre mountains are ideal for hiking and biking, while the Bay of Banderas is perfect for water sports and whale watching.

Travelling through Mexico can bring you ideas about where to live, but also more knowledge about how other people live. If you are an expat living in San Miguel, it’s a great idea to visit more of the country.

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