One month from today, I will have been living in Mexico City for exactly one year. This has caused me to do some reflecting. While I wasn't as productive as I would have liked, I have taken steps in the right direction: I'm proficient enough in Spanish to handle myself in almost any situation, I've increased my online income stream and I've had my most successful year with women to date.
And, perhaps most importantly, I'm much happier than I was last year.
Originally, my plan was to stay in Mexico for one year before moving on. But as I approach the 12 month mark, I'm thinking about staying a little longer. I've come to appreciate what Mexico has to offer in comparison to other Latin American countries.
Before I commence my list and try to convince you why Mexico might be the best country to live in Latin America, I must offer a disclaimer: Mexico is not my favourite country in Latin America. As I've mentioned before, it holds the respectable third spot behind Brazil and Colombia. However, there are several reasons why I would rather put down longterm roots in Mexico instead of the aforementioned nations.
I'll get into those reasons now.
5 Reasons Why Mexico Might Be The Best Country To Live In Latin America
1) Mexico has the best food in Latin America
Although you can get a hearty Bandeja Paisa in Colombia for no more than about $3 USD and a meat buffet for less than the price of a McDonald's meal in Brazil, Mexico by far offers the best quality, variety and value in terms of food. You can eat like a king here for $10 a day and with all the different options available, you'll never get sick of the food.
2) The Cost of Living is Low
As I write this, I'm sitting in my comfortable 900 square foot, 2 bedroom apartment in Condesa, one of the most affluent neighbourhoods in one of the biggest cities in the world. I'm living with a good friend from South Africa and we're two blocks away from a beautiful park and walking distance to many of the best restaurants, cafes, bars and markets that Mexico City has to offer. My rent is $250 USD a month (unfortunately, I earn Canadian dollars...but still!). My grocery bill is $25 USD a week, and I shop at an expensive grocery store because it's the closest one to me. The metro and metrobus system will take me anywhere in the city for 35 cents. But, if you hate public transit as much as I do, taxis are cheaper here by far than any major Latin American city I've ever been to (Mexico City has the largest taxi fleet in the world - competition keeps the price low). If you're afraid of getting kidnapped, UBER will take you anywhere in the city and you will never pay more than $10 USD. Around the corner, I can get 5 delicious tacos for $1.67. Convinced yet? Keep in mind this is the most expensive city in Mexico.
In Brazil, I wouldn't even attempt to live in a major city on less than $1000 USD a month. Here, you can live comfortable for almost half.
3) It's Safe (relatively)
The security situation in Mexico is wildly exaggerated by western media. Does terrible shit unfold here? Of course. Will you be a victim? Probably not, as long as you are not looking for trouble. Mexico has a bad reputation for security for two main reasons: first, there are some legitimate no-go zones in this country. Highways in the states of Tamaulipas, Guerrero and Sinaloa are almost indescribably dangerous to drive at night. See this most recent story before you plan a road trip. Second, not long ago Mexico City was truly a frightening place to be. Express kidnappings were commonplace, and general impunity was at an all-time high. However, thanks to a couple good mayors and an uptick in the economy, the security situation in Mexico City has improved greatly. Crime is mostly restricted to seedy barrios where the average traveller wouldn't consider living. In my neighbourhood, it is relatively safe to walk around at all hours of night, and I commonly see young women walking dogs alone past 10pm.
Compare this to Brazil, which has 19 cities on the list of the 50 most dangerous cities in the world (I know, I don't pay much attention to these lists either but it is a sinister statistic, all things considered). Even in Colombia, I felt that cities like Bogota, Cali and parts of Medellin were dodgier than Mexican cities of comparable size like Monterrey, Guadalajara and Mexico City. Bottom line, if I had to choose, I'd rather be stranded alone at night in Mexico City's Centro than in Bogota's Candelaria or Rio's Santa Teresa.
4) The Girls are Sexy (more or less)
I know - this will be a tough sell. I'm not going to try and convince you that the girls in Mexico are hotter than the girls in Brazil, Colombia, Argentina or even the Dominican Republic...or Cuba. All I'm going to say is that I'm confident that if you come to Mexico, the girls will be much better than you were expecting. I know I was pleasantly surprised. It's important to remember that the Mexican girls you see in the United States are by no means representative of what you will see here in Mexico. I don't have to walk too far from my apartment to see plenty of stunners lounging in cafes and patios or running around Parque Mexico. This is not Ecuador or Guatemala - there is an ample amount of young, good-looking women here to keep you busy. Most importantly, they're not hard to bed. It's just as easy to hook-up with sexy women here as it is in Colombia - you just have slightly less to choose from.
5) There Are Plenty of Great Cities
This is probably the main reason that Mexico could very well be the best city to live in Latin America. This country has so many phenomenal cities that are easy to access. It's no coincidence that Mexico has the most city guides out of any country on My Latin Life. Pacific and Caribbean beaches, deserts, mountains, jungles, modern metropolises...whatever your geographical taste, Mexico can satisfy it. Best of all, domestic travel is cheap due to competitive airlines and a comprehensive bus system. As much as I love Colombia (it's a beautiful country), there are only a handful of cities that I would return to, and fewer that I would living. Brazil has a ton of amazing cities, but domestic travel is expensive. Same goes for Argentina. I loved Panama, but I only vibe well with Panama City - Colon is too sketchy, David is too sleepy, and Bocas del Toro is an unforgivably foul shit hole. In Mexico, there are at least 10 cities that I'd love to return to, and at least 5 I could be happy living in. I can't say the same for any other Latin American country.
And there you have it. Don't think I'm trying to sell you on Mexico as the end-all-be-all Latin American destination. There's a reason why I titled the post "5 Reasons Why Mexico Might Be The Best Country To Live In Latin America." We're all different. Shit, if I was making a bit more money and spoke a bit more Portuguese, there's a good chance I'd start packing for Rio de Janeiro or Sao Paulo right after publishing this post. But, taking all factors into consideration, I still think Mexico is the place for me.
For now, at least.
For more information about some of the great cities in Mexico, check out the Mexico city guides.