Move To America’s Most Popular Expat Destination

A white sand beach in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

Move To America’s Most Popular Expat Destination

From The Sparkling Caribbean To The Crashing Pacific—Mexico’s Top Options For A Life On The Beach

Mexico is one of the world’s top options for beach living…

Indeed, it ranks #2 (just behind Portugal) in our annual Retire Overseas Index.

However, Mexico is a big country. The lifestyle options on offer are diverse.

Mexico’s dramatic coastlines, for example, have drawn more Americans and Canadians to the country than anything else Mexico has to offer.

Still, though, that’s painting with a wide brush. We’re talking about two long coasts—one along the Caribbean, the other spanning the crashing Pacific.

The options in Mexico for seaside living are so many and varied that you could actually specify a price point, a convenience factor, and a lifestyle, and still be spoiled for choice.

Let me try to help you break things down…

Here’s A Sample Of What We’ll See In The East, Along The Sparkling Caribbean Sea:


cancun mexico aerial beach view
Photo by Daniel Nieto from Pexels

Cancún—one of Mexico’s top two resorts—began in 1974 as a tourism project at a small fishing village. As it exploded into a tourist mecca of more than 700,000, the swath of development extended southward to Playa del Carmen… transforming it from a fishing village to a town of more than 150,000 today.

Playa del Carmen

playa del carmen mexico
Image Source: iStock/SimonDannhauer

Playa del Carmen (Playa) is just 57 minutes south of Cancún, and it has taken over as the region’s chic place to be (and the place to be seen). You’ll find vacationing Europeans and North Americans, as well as a sizeable number of expats in residence.

Playa del Carmen offers an enviable vacation lifestyle and excellent rental returns.

Just off the town square is the renowned Quinta Avenida (5th Avenue) running parallel to the shore, and offering more than 20 blocks of fine restaurants and shops. It’s almost as big a draw as the beautiful beaches.

A team from Live And Invest Overseas was dispatched to investigate the area in-depth and found Playa to be a great place for the income investor.

Specifically, rental yields are as high as 10%… combined with a 12% annual property appreciation. Playa del Carmen may already be “discovered”… but the investor should still pay attention.

The Riviera Maya

riviera maya mexico
Image Source: iStock/LUNAMARINA

The Riviera Maya is the section of Caribbean coast on the eastern side of the Yucatán Peninsula between Playa del Carmen and Tulum. It’s about 125 miles long.

Development in this area is moving slowly but surely southward from Cancún and Playa, as developers and pioneers seek unspoiled beaches and towns that remain convenient to Cancún’s international airport.

Mexico has dozens of well-appointed resorts… but it also has thousands of secluded, hidden beaches.

For example, just a few years ago, the town of Tulum consisted of a handful of cabins and a few fishing shacks. Today, the census counts over 18,000 people in Tulum, and it’s full of opportunity.

The Riviera Maya features warm Caribbean waters and pristine beaches. Also, the Great Mayan Reef—the second largest barrier reef in the world—is located offshore, providing world-class diving and snorkeling.

Another draw to this area is the presence of the best-preserved Mayan archaeological sites… plus a few world-class golf courses to round out the local attractions.

This section of coastline holds some of the best path of progress buys you’ll find today, as expats and investors buy in the path of mainstream developers’ southward progress.

High prices and existing development are found at the northern end of the Riviera Maya… while low prices, low development, and high opportunity lie to the south.

So you can choose between an established market with its chic lifestyle and good returns at Playa del Carmen near the north end… or invest for capital gains in a less-developed environment by buying in the path of progress as you move south.

Meantime, Over On Mexico’s Western, Pacific Coast, You Could Choose From:

Puerto Peñasco

The Purple Sunset In Puerto Peñasco, Mexico
Adobe Stock/Diego

Puerto Peñasco is the seaside resort that’s most convenient to the United States by car… just over one hour from the border. Also known as Rocky Point, it has been a playground for the western United States and Canada for almost 100 years.

Homeowners in Puerto Peñasco can drive over the border and head right for their seaside home without even stopping to register the car. Yet, the beaches are second to none.

Puerto Peñasco enjoys warm, calm waters all year, broad sandy beaches, lots of housing options, and low property prices.

Best of all, I found that two-bedroom condos on this beach start at just US$99,000. Perfect for a vacation home or a weekend getaway.


colorful houses in mazatlan mexico
Image Source: iStock/Allison Cherry

Mazatlán has rebounded from the 1970s and 1980s, when it was mostly forgotten as a resort, to become a sought-after expat haven.

Today, its 10 miles of beaches and boardwalks are once again as busy as when John Wayne and Gary Cooper were in town. And these past two years, Canadians have returned to the market with a vengeance, along with a handful of Americans.

Even better, the historic center has been newly renovated. Now it’s a fine example of Spanish-colonial America, with plenty of world-class restaurants, sidewalk cafés, and a beachfront promenade. Each time I return I’m amazed at the restoration progress.

In fact, I recently bought a condo in Mazatlán’s historic center that’s also right on the beach… allowing me to enjoy both worlds.

Puerto Vallarta

puerto-vallarta-mexicoPuerto Vallarta has been one of Mexico’s most popular resorts since the 1960s, although its rich colonial history goes back hundreds of years.

Unlike many resort areas, PV has a number of coastal sections with beaches interspersed among them… meaning different areas have their own unique character. For LGBT expats and travelers, PV could be especially appealing, as it’s the most gay-friendly destination we’ve found in Latin America.

Puerto Vallarta excels when it comes to ocean views. Here, you’ll find lots of properties perched on lush, green hillsides, and long views looking out to the ocean.

Baja Peninsula

Lovers Beach, Cabo San Lucas, Baja California
Adobe Stock/grinder82

Over on the Baja Peninsula, the first destinations that probably come to mind are Ensenada or maybe Los Cabos, both very popular areas.


Boats are docked at the port of Loreto, Mexico
Adobe Stock/bennymarty

But how about the small seaside town of Loreto? At first glance, it seems like a half-forgotten fishing village that’s on its way to becoming a resort and second-home destination.

But Loreto has two interesting twists. One is that it’s being promoted by FONATUR, the government agency that created Cancún.

And, perhaps more importantly, Carlos Slim—one of the world’s richest individuals—has purchased the struggling Loreto Bay Golf Resort and Spa, as well as its unsold lots and the undeveloped land.

With both FONATUR and Carlos Slim behind Loreto, it may just be a hidden investment gem.

Lee Harrison
Mexico Insider

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