Are you thinking of moving to Merida, Mexico? Many people are, it's one of the fastest growing cities in Mexico. People from all over Mexico and the world are flocking to the beautiful colonial city. It's quickly becoming the premier expat destination in Mexico, surpassing the likes of San Miguel de Allende and Chapala. Why? For starters, it's the safest city in Mexico and the weather is great year round (that is if you like tropical weather!). The city is beautiful and is located just 30 minutes from the beach.
Personally, my favorite part of Merida is that it has all the amenities you would want from back home. There are enough restaurants here to last a life time and you can find just about any cuisine from around the world. All this sound great right? The best part? It's also one of the cheapest big cities in Mexico. You can find one bedroom apartments for less than $500 a month. Typical meals cost about $3-5, or if you really want some high end dining, you might have to dish out $20.
So how do you move down to Merida and start living the good life? It's as easy a booking a plane ticket.
Do you need a Visa?
You do not need any special type of a visa to live in Merida or anywhere else in Mexico. There is no need to apply for any sort of special permit or visa beforehand. You can just arrive at the airport and you can stay up to 6 months. After 6 months, you'll be required to leave the country. However, you can just come back after a few day and get another 6 months. Some people even just leave for the afternoon and come back. You can theoretically do this indefinitely. However, down the road you might find it convenient to apply for residency, but that's a topic for later on.
Booking Your Ticket and Arriving at the Airport
A handful of US cities have direct flights to Merida, such as Houston and Miami. If your city does not have direct flights, you have a couple options. Book a flight with a connection and arrive in Merida or take a direct flight to Cancun (most US cities have frequent flights to Cancun).
If you're arriving in Cancun, you should take ADO bus to Merida. Before exiting the airport, I recommend withdrawing some Mexican pesos from the ATM. Once exiting the airport, you'll see the red ADO buses to the right. Just walk past all the vendors trying to sell tours and transportation. Tell the ADO attendant you want to go Merida and the ticket should cost around 400 pesos or $20. The ride is about 4 hours, the buses are safe, comfortable, and have AC. Once arriving in Merida, be sure to have your hotel or Airbnb address on hand to give a taxi or order an Uber. We'll get to finding accommodation later on.
If you're arriving at the Merida airport, you'll also find ATMs near the exit to withdraw pesos. You may have trouble ordering an Uber from the airport (many Uber drivers are afraid of the taxis at the Merida airport). However, Uber works great in the rest of the city. You can give Uber a shot, but if you have no luck, just get a taxi. A taxi to Centro should cost about 60-80 pesos.
Where to Stay
If it's your first time in Merida, I recommend staying in Centro or the area around Paseo Montejo. There's plenty of other great neighborhoods in Merida, however these two are the most first-timer friendly.
Another option is living at the beach. If your heart is set on the beach, your best options are Progreso and Chelem. However, keep in mind there are far fewer services and amenities in these towns than there are in Merida.
Remember that Merida is only 30 minutes from the beach. Therefore, you could live in Merida for the amenities and go to the beach when you desire. On the other hand, you could live at the beach and easily go to Merida for something you can't get in Progreso.
Regardless of where you choose to stay, I highly recommend Airbnb. The past couple years, I exclusively use Airbnb while traveling. If I'm staying in a place for longer than a month, I like to book a week with Airbnb while I search for a local apartment after arriving. For stays of one month or shorter, I just book the whole thing on Airbnb. There's often a discount for booking more than a week or a month. Click the banner below and you can get $40 off your first stay on Airbnb.
Ready to Take the Next Steps?
Now that you've learned all about Merida, it's time to take things to next level with the The Starter's Guide to Mexico. The guide goes over how to purchase property, obtain residency, and citizenship. Additionally, it covers how to start a corporation open a bank account. The Starter's Guide to Mexico is essential for anyone considering living or investing in Mexico. You can even get a free preview of the guide which covers purchasing property in Mexico as a foreigner completely free, just click the link below.