During the Coronavirus pandemic, a lot of people have been forced to work remotely or work from home for the first time in their lives. With Mexico’s borders open, the opportunity has opened for a lot of people to get a taste of the digitally nomadic lifestyle. I mean, why not? Turns out, a lot of employers don’t actually care where you work from as long as you get the work done. I moved to Mexico several months ago and haven’t looked back since.
Mexico has always been one of my favorite countries. Prior to making the move, I had visited Mexico six times, including a few longer-term backpacking trips. I fell in love with the country right away. Many people often have preconceived notions of what Mexico is like, and many of those aren’t exactly positive. I consider Mexico to be one of the most misunderstood countries in the world. Visit for yourself and see what I mean. With Mexican travel destinations in the spotlight now more than ever, many people are quickly realizing that many of those preconceived notions are unjust and completely wrong. Few countries can say they have it all, but I genuinely believe Mexico is one of those few countries. There is something for everyone here in magical Mexico.
Oaxaca de Juarez, Oaxaca
I can’t think of a single bad thing to say about Oaxaca. For the average traveler, you honestly don’t need to read much further than this. I can’t imagine anyone going to Oaxaca and not immediately falling in love with the city. For a taste of authentic Mexico with an infrastructure that caters to international tourists, Oaxaca is perfect. It’s like an intro to “real Mexico” outside of the beach resort destinations.
The city, the culture, the natural beauty are all amazing. However, the real highlight is Oaxaca’s cuisine. The food here is incredible. I honestly think they have a case for best street food in the world. You can’t go a block without stumbling into someone selling tacos, consomme, elotes, marquesitas or whatever else your heart may desire. It’s okay, you’ll do plenty of walking to burn it off. Oaxaca is very walkable. Staying in the main downtown part of the city makes everything easily accessible. You’ll be within walking distance to great cafes, coworking spaces, restaurants, bars, or wherever else you like to work from.
When you’ve got free time on the weekends, there are a multitude of weekend getaways or day trips. San Jose del Pacifico is a quiet little town in the mountains worth spending a weekend in. For longer trips, the coast of Oaxaca is one of the most underrated in the country. Puerto Escondido, Huatulco, Mazunte, and Chacahua are some paradise getaways when you need a break from the city. If you don’t have much time to get away, then visiting spots like Tlacolula, Teotitlan del Valle, Cuilapam, Benito Juarez, and other pueblos mancomunados close to Oaxaca are an option. The ruins of Monte Alban and Mitla are must-sees, as is the otherworldly petrified waterfall of Hierve el Agua.
There is so much to do within Oaxaca itself that you might not even want to leave the city. Like I said, the street food scene in Oaxaca is one of my favorites in the world. It is up there with places like Thailand, Vietnam, and Singapore. That alone is enough to keep me falling further in love with Oaxaca.
San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas
San Cristobal de las Casas is one of my favorite cities in Mexico, if not my favorite. Not only is it an absolutely magical destination, it is also incredibly budget-friendly. Sancris is the cheapest place on this list. You can truly feel like you’re living like a king while still being on a budget. I stayed in a private room at La Isla Hostel for $10 a night, and then in a shared dorm at Puerta Vieja hostel for $8 a night with dinner and breakfast included. Despite being relatively lesser-known, there was still a big community of digital nomads and remote workers in San Cristobal. Despite staying in hostels, I was able to meet plenty of people who were on the same work hard, play hard vibe as I was.
Once you find your spots in San Cristobal, it’s hard not to want to stay forever. I got into a great routine while I was here. I frequented the same spots all the time, something I hardly do while traveling. For the two months that I was there, San Cristobal truly felt like home. It was a feeling I hadn’t had in a long time, and have been trying to capture ever since I left.
As a digital nomad, you have so many options in San Cristobal. If you are looking for a quiet place to work with great Wi-Fi, you can check out Centralita Coworking Space. They’ve got rates at about $5 per day, or $40 per month, with other packages in between. If you’re more like me and prefer to work at cafes, you’ve got plenty of options here, too. Amor Negro had excellent Wi-Fi, amazing drinks, and a gorgeous setting on the top floor of the trendy Plaza San Agustin. Kinoki had rooftop views of San Cristobal that were second to none. I made it a goal of mine to try all of the teas at their tea bar. Although I visited at least two dozen times, I don’t think I even got close. La Antigua is a quieter cafe further away from the main plaza, but worth the visit for their hot chocolate and beautiful art. I find it essential to be surrounded by art and inspiration when creating my own, so La Antigua was a personal favorite that many may not know about.
Cancun – Playa del Carmen – Tulum, Quintana Roo
I’m going to lump these three together since they’re all within the same two-hour stretch in Quintana Roo. Cancun and Tulum are two hours apart, with Playa del Carmen almost right in the middle of the two. However, outside of all being along turquoise waters, they are all quite different.
Right now, these are probably the most introductory places on this list. Meaning, if you have no experience with Mexico, these might be where you want to start. Personally, I’m not a big fan of Cancun and Playa del Carmen. While I found Tulum to be objectively pretty great, its increasingly popularity has made it harder and harder to find your own space. There are a lot of crowds in Tulum. And like I said, Quintana Roo is basically Intro to Mexico. There are a lot of Westerners here, many of which are only here for vacation.
As a digital nomad, being surrounded by Chads and Beckies taking Insta pics at the cute cafe you’re trying to work at can be annoying. The Wi-Fi situation also leaves a lot to be desired. Tulum has started to look a lot like Bali, which I think has drawn a lot of digital nomads away from Bali and towards Tulum, especially during the pandemic. Well, Bali was closed and Tulum was open, so what can you do?
Unfortunately, Tulum still has a long way to go before reaching Bali’s level of perfection for digital nomads. Transportation is expensive, and unless you buy your own scooter, you’re looking at renting one daily for $15 minimum, which is 10x the price of a scooter rental in Bali. Oh yeah, and Wi-Fi. It’s really not great, considering how many digital nomads have started making Tulum their home. Coworking spaces are popping up, and there are undoubtedly some excellent spots in Tulum for work-life balance. There are plenty of great hostels in Tulum to choose from, as well.
I mean, you’re close to the beach, have dozens of cenotes and ruins to explore, and plenty of great cafes and restaurants to eat at. The main cons of Tulum is that it is pricy, crowded, and with less reliable Wi-Fi. Also, during the pandemic, Tulum is where everyone who doesn’t believe in the pandemic decided to go. You’ll deal with a lot of anti-maskers and people who otherwise do not give a crap about anyone but themselves. I even saw crowds of Trump supporters while I was here, which is a shock to me considering just how often Trump talked about Mexico as a sh*thole.
In short, if you want beach, a community of remote workers, and cheap Mexico prices, then Quintana Roo might be for you. It got old for me real quick, though.
The largest city in the Yucatan, Merida is an excellent home base for working remotely, while still having plenty of things to explore. I first visited Merida back in 2016 without knowing anything about it. My girlfriend at the time wanted a beach getaway, and not being much for beaches, we compromised and decided to spend half our time in Quintana Roo and the other half in the Yucatan. It was my first real trip to Mexico, and Merida played a huge part in me falling in love with the country. Merida is also widely believed to be the safest larger city in Mexico. If you are new to Mexico and want real, authentic Mexico without sacrificing your peace of mind, Merida is a great spot.
Merida is a very local city, although you will be able to find a community of digital nomads pretty easily. It’s become a popular place for expats due to its budget-friendliness, beauty, and excellent location for adventurers. Make sure to visit the ruins of Uxmal while you’re there. In my opinion, they were far more impressive than Chichen-Itza, which is also just a few hours away from Merida.
Guadalajara is arguably the cultural capital of Mexico. The capital of the state of Jalisco and one of the largest cities in Mexico, it is absolutely impossible to get bored in Guadalajara. It has excellent infrastructure for remote workers, allowing digital nomads to maintain a routine while having a variety of new things to do and places to try. This city of 5.5 million people is an absolutely sprawling metropolis though. It can be overwhelming if you’re new to the city.
I’ll admit, even I was overwhelmed when I got to Guadalajara. I was so used to getting to the bus station and being a 10-15 minute walk away from my accommodation. I took an Uber for the first time in Mexico, and it was still a 30-40 minute drive away from where I was staying. Guadalajara is big, vibrant, and lively. And I love it. It took some getting used to being in a big city again, but once I got my footing, Guadalajara quickly became one of my favorite cities in the world. It is a perfect city to settle down in, and I’ve never had an easier time making friends than when I was in Guadalajara. If you are a city person, then you will thrive in Guadalajara.
As a remote worker, you’ll probably want to stay in Chapultepec, Zapopan, or maybe even Tlaquepaque. Chapultepec is the main restaurant and nightlife district, so you’ll have no shortage of ways to wind down after a long day of working remotely. Wi-Fi will never be an issue in this part of town. Zapopan is the more high-class district of Guadalajara. If you’re working remotely and getting paid in dollars or Euros, that money might not mean a thing. Treat yourself. Tlaquepaque feels more like a small Mexican town than anywhere else in Guadalajara. If you like walking everywhere, this town is for you.
I stayed at Bohostel in Chapultepec my entire time in Guadalajara, and loved it. It was a great central location with amazing Wi-Fi and a good balance between social and chill. As far as hostels go, it is one of the best for working remotely.
Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca
For those of you who love the ocean and are willing to sacrifice work efficiency to be right by it, Puerto Escondido is the place for you. Your work frustrations will be amplified by the lack of good Wi-Fi and cramped work quarters at the places that do have decent Wi-Fi. I’m looking at you, Selina. The best way to tackle Puerto Escondido’s Wi-Fi situation is by getting a TelCel hot spot, since you’ll have full bars of signal throughout most of the city.
With that issue aside, I absolutely do love Puerto Escondido. As someone who is able to make their own hours, I didn’t really feel the Wi-Fi stress as much as other people did. If you’re working a 9-5 with solid hours and tons of video calls per day, it might be more of an issue. If not, then the quality of life in Puerto Escondido is undoubtedly superior.
Morning runs on the beach before work, evening surfs at Zicatela afterwards, gorgeous views all throughout, yeah, life is good here. While not quite at the level of Tulum (thankfully), there are also a number of trendy, new restaurants and cafes, especially at La Punta. You’ll have no shortage of options for good eating and nightlife in Puerto Escondido. It is one of the best party destinations in Mexico, which is great for those of you who want to unwind after a long work week.
Talk about a city that has it all. As one of the largest cities in the world, Mexico City often feels like dozens of cities in one. That is how you should approach it. Each little barrio needs its own time to explore and get accustomed it. The only people I know who hate Mexico City are the ones that didn’t give it enough time to find the spots they’d love.
My personal favorite barrios of Mexico City are Coyoacan, Roma Norte, Condesa, and Zocalo. As a traveler, these neighborhoods have a good balance between local and traveler-friendly. You’ll never have an issue finding good Wi-Fi or cell signal down here. Choose your hostel wisely, though. With a city as big as Mexico City, it can be overwhelming taking on the city alone.
My first experience with Mexico City was shocking. I had been told all my life that Mexico was a dirty, crowded, and unsafe place. When I got to Mexico City, I was met by one of the trendiest, cleanest, and modern cities I’ve ever been to. It isn’t like that throughout the entire sprawling metropolis, obviously, but it was a far cry from what American cinema would have you believe Mexico was like.
As a digital nomad, Mexico City is one of my favorite cities in the world. Take all the time you need to find your spots, and you’ll fall in love with the city as well.
Puebla and Cholula, Puebla
Puebla is arguably the most beautiful big city in Mexico. For remote workers and digital nomads looking for something a little quieter and more local, Puebla is a great option. The food here is among the best that you’ll find in Mexico. It is home to the famous mole poblano, a dish that is one of the country’s prides. There are no shortage of great restaurants, cute cafes, and rooftop bars to spend the days in.
As a big city, it has excellent infrastructure for remote workers. There will be great Wi-Fi and cell service throughout all of Puebla. Everything you’ll need, you’ll have easy access to it.
I can’t mention Puebla without mentioning the neighboring, smaller town of Cholula. I personally enjoyed Cholula more than Puebla, but I was also only spending a few days in each city. Puebla has much more to fill your time with if you plan on staying long-term. However, Cholula has a great small-town vibe that you might prefer if you aren’t one for the big cities. It is a student town, so it was perfect for me to make friends and go out in.
Taxco de Alarcon, Guerrero
I missed my bus to Mexico City and decided to take it as an opportunity for an adventure. I caught the next bus going anywhere, and it took me to Taxco de Alarcon, my first time in the state of Guerrero. Never have I fallen in love with a place so fast. As the bus pulled into the city of all white stacked upon one another into a mountain, I shed a couple of happy tears. This place was magical, and I absolutely loved the routine that I got into while I was here.
During the Coronavirus pandemic, Taxco is definitely more devoid of international tourists. If you don’t speak Spanish, you might struggle to make local friends. For solo travelers like myself, it might get lonely. However, I can’t really ask for much more from a city than Taxco. There are incredible views to be had all around, with a multitude of natural adventures just outside of the city.
Everything is within walking distance, albeit still a workout due to the copious amounts of stairs and hills you’ll have to deal with. I’m typing this right now from the rooftop of Hostal Casa Taxco, an incredible hostel right in the center of town with stunning views of the city. A little bit of morning yoga on the terrace, a quick walk to the market for breakfast, and then I am ready for the work day ahead. Taxco is stunning, affordable, and an absolute hidden gem when it comes to Mexican travel destinations.
San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato
Unlike Taxco, the city of San Miguel de Allende is far from a hidden gem. It is known as one of the expat capitals of Mexico, and a go-to for people who prefer the mountains to the beaches of Cancun or Puerto Vallarta. It’s gotten quite a reputation among Mexicans, and it isn’t always a great one. I often hear Mexicans say they “don’t want so-and-so becoming the next San Miguel de Allende”, and they definitely don’t mean that in a good way. That also doesn’t stop them from vacationing here in hordes anyway. I was in San Miguel de Allende during a big Mexican holiday, and dang near everyone was here.
It might be the only time of year when there are more Mexicans than Americans in San Miguel. But hey, if you’re working remotely, a big expat community and infrastructure set up for travelers can be a good thing. I heard mixed things about San Miguel, but decided to go anyway. There is no denying that it is one of the most beautiful cities in Mexico. It is also one of the more expensive places to live, and one of the least Mexican places in Mexico. I heard as much English spoken here as I did back in Tulum and Quintana Roo. Like I said, that could be a big positive. That existing expat community is definitely a big reason why more and more expats choose to come to San Miguel.
I’m very partial to mountain towns, and Guanajuato is no different. This city captured my heart immediately. It ticks off all the boxes for me. This is one of the most beautiful cities in Mexico. With a population of under 200,000 people, Guanajuato is a perfect-sized city. It isn’t too big, but definitely big enough where you’ll have access to pretty much everything you’ll need. Guanajuato is very budget-friendly, as well. I don’t think I spent more than 90 pesos for a meal anywhere, and most times, I’d just subsist off my 60 peso breakfast combo at the mercado, with a 30 peso torta to top me off at night.
I need to stop talking about food. Okay, aside from food, Guanajuato is an absolute dream. As a digital nomad, you can’t ask for much more from a city to work remotely from. It is exciting and full of art, music, culture, and history. There are plenty of museums and little plazas to visit in your free time, as well as a multitude of restaurants and bars. It’s also very centrally located in Mexico, so you’re never too far from new places to visit during the weekends. Not that you’ll ever want to leave Guanajuato. This city is just so gotdang beautiful.
For remote workers, I recommend settling in at Casa Lupita for a few days before trying to find a longer-term rental or Airbnb. Casa Lupita is a centrally-located hostel with great Wi-Fi and a good environment for working remotely. They have private rooms, as well, allowing you some privacy to get work done, but also the option to socialize with other guests in the common areas or common kitchen.
Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco
While personally not my vibe, Puerto Vallarta has become a popular place for expats and remote workers. It is a big city on the Pacific Coast of Mexico, and objectively, is pretty close to paradise.
The nice thing about Puerto Vallarta is that despite being a large city, there are plenty of smaller, more low-key beach destinations nearby. That means during the week, you can have your infrastructure you need for work, while still being by the ocean. Then, on the weekends, it’s not too difficult to go off the grid for a while and truly soak in the paradise vibes of Mexico’s Pacific Coast. Sayulita is a popular must-visit destination, but if you’re looking for something much quieter, then Yelapa might be the spot for you.
Morelia might be one of the best hidden gems in Mexico, internationally speaking. It is a large and lively city with an abundance of things to do. The modern Morelia is home to beautiful architecture, amazing food, and everything you could ask for from a home base. Best of all, for how big of a city it is, Morelia can be very budget-friendly.
The state of Michoacan often gets a bad reputation due to safety, but I visited several towns in Michoacan and felt no more at risk than anywhere else in Mexico. Michoacan truly is the soul of Mexico. From Morelia, a visit to Patzcuaro and Janitzio is a must. If you happen to be in town during the monarch butterfly season, then put a visit to the butterfly sanctuary at the top of your bucket list.
Mexico is a huge, diverse, and incredibly underrated country. Although I’ve traveled extensively through the country, there is still so much more that I have yet to see and yet to fall in love with. For those of you who are new to Mexico, these cities are an excellent starting point to help you decide where to work remotely from in Mexico.
If you are traveling during the pandemic, make sure to have travel insurance handy. I use SafetyWing which is a combination of travel and health insurance with some unbeatably great rates. For my fellow digital nomads and long-term backpackers, SafetyWing is honestly the best travel insurance for when you’re living long-term on the road. Their rates start as low as $40 a month and cover nearly every country in the world.
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My Complete Mexico Backpacking Itinerary
By popular demand… Here is the complete itinerary for one of my favorite countries in the world, Mexico. In this 68-page guidebook, I cover 30 of my favorite Mexican destinations, including how to get to each city, where to stay, and the best things to do in each city. I also include tidbits of useful information like things to know before going to Mexico, as well as my favorite party destina…
Also, be sure to check out my complete backpacking itinerary for magical Mexico, a jam-packed 60-page guide covering 25 of my favorite destinations in Mexico.