Merida is one of the cities with the highest qualities of life in Mexico. It's combination of amenities, safety, low cost of living, history, and tropical climate are its big attractions. Thus, people from all over the country and the world are converging on this once quiet city on the Yucatan Peninsula. Before taking the plunge and moving to Merida, you'll probably want to visit first. In this article, we'll be taking a look at the various neighborhoods from this perspective; a first time visitor that is potentially interested in staying in the city long term or even moving there.
The Best Neighborhoods for First Time Visitors
While there are dozens of great neighborhoods in Merida, there are two that stand out if its your first time visiting the city:
Around these two areas, you'll find plenty of Airbnbs, hotels, restaurants, and tourist attractions. These two areas are designed for tourists and first time visitors. They are the perfect launch pad for getting to know the city and later on beginning your search for long term accommodation.
While you can't go wrong anywhere in Centro, the closer you are to the Plaza Grande (the absolute center of the city) or Calle 60, the better. There's also generally more amenities on the northern side of the Plaza Grande than there are to the south.
Centro can be divided further into subdivisions which are named after the parks which are the centerpieces of these divisions. The most popular and therefore expensive being:
That being said, even these areas will seem cheap when compared to the US or Canada or even other parts of Mexico. After these three, the next most popular is Mejorada. Remember, you can't go wrong anywhere in Centro. These are just guidelines to help you make the best decision.
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Paseo Montejo, while technically not a neighborhood, is another great area to stay in for first time visitors to Merida. Paseo Montejo is the main avenue of Merida, you could call it the Champs-Elysees of Merida. It features wide streets, wide sidewalks, beautiful greenery, and cafes and restaurants lining it sides. The middle of the avenue features various monuments relating to the city's history.
When choosing a place to stay near Paseo Montejo, the closer to the avenue the better. However, a caveat to that point, is the further south (and thus closer to Centro), the better. For example, I would rather have accommodation three blocks off Paseo Montejo on its southern end than a place one block off its northern end.
Getting a Little Tired of Tourist Central?
So you've spent time in Centro, and you're ready to see what else is out there, maybe a little less touristy, a little more local. Don't worry if you're still enjoying Centro. Many expats choose to live in Centro full time, and that's not a problem!
However, if you're ready to branch out, there's three neighborhoods I recommend:
These neighborhoods are just to the north of Centro, about a 10 minute Uber ride into the heart of the Centro. All three are affordable and generally a little bit cheaper than Centro. There are plenty of great restaurants in these neighborhoods and other amenities that you may need during your stay.
The advantage of these neighborhoods (other than being away from the tourism), is that they are centrally located between Centro and the more affluent and newer northern section of the city. We'll get into the northern part of the city in the next section, but in general, that's where all the new malls and high end restaurants are located. These neighborhoods also put you about 10-15 minutes closer to the beach.
The downside is that they are little less walkable than Centro, but you can easily get by without a car with walking, biking, and Uber.
The northern section of the city is the most affluent and newer part of the city. In general, the further north you go, the richer the neighborhoods. However, prices are still affordable here. You will find higher end restaurants, but as in all of Merida, it will be tough to spend more than $30 a person on a meal.
You'll also see more chain restaurants in the North, many from the United States. The North of the city is very similar to the suburbs of many cities in the US. As a result, you'll definitely need a car if you decide to live here.
If you're wondering why this area is so popular, it's because of its proximity to the beach. Many affluent families in Merida have a house at the beach and in the city. Living in the North of the city puts them only 20 minutes from beach, while still having the amenities of the city. On top of that, they're still only about 20 minutes from Centro.
Although technically not in Merida, many that decide to move to the Merida area, decide to live at the beach.
The main beach town is Progreso, and although Progreso boasts more restaurants, services, and amenities than the other beach towns, I don't recommend living there. It's too busy and to be blunt, ugly. Most foreigners from the US and Canada opt to live in Chelem and Chuburna, two towns just to the west of Progreso.
Most Mexicans opt to live in Chicxulub, just to the east of the Progreso. Don't let these stereotypes stop you though, you should check out both sides and decide for yourself which you prefer.
Ready to Make Your Move?
If your're ready to make the move down to Merida, Mexico to live full time, be sure to check out "The Starter's Guide to Mexico."
The guide covers:
How to move to Mexico on a tourist visa
How to buy property
How to open a bank account
And much more!
This guide is indispensable if you're planning to move to Mexico. Click here to get your guide now!