The Climate in Mexico: You’ll Never Guess the Biggest Benefit
One of the many benefits that has made Mexico a long-time expat destination is the diversity of climates. Ranging from the tropical wetness found on both coasts to the arid desert of the interior, the seven variations of the climate in Mexico are a veritable bounty for expats to choose from.
Much like the various regions in Mexico, each micro-climate has distinct characteristics that can influence where you might want to retire or invest. The properties in Mexico also reflect these climatic differences and provide a wide range of prices and amenities for potential buyers to examine.
Climates in Mexico – From Very Wet to Very Dry
Mexico is unique among Latin American countries in that it has seven distinct micro-climates within its borders. These micro-climates can be grouped into three categories: tropical, dry, and temperate.
- Southern Veracruz, Gulf Coast Plain, Tabasco, Oaxaca, and Chiapas highlands are tropical and wet with average temperatures over 64° F and at least 2.4 inches of rain every month.
- The Pacific Coastline as well as central and northern Veracruz are tropical wet and dry, with less than one inch of rain during the dry season; usually from November to May. This pronounced “dry season” is one reason why the Yucatan Peninsula is popular with expats.
- Baja California (which is actually in Mexico) and Western Sonara have a dry, desert climate similar to the Sahara Desert with less than 10 inches of rain a year. The Sierra Mountain Range, in the center of this Mexican state, is the heart of Mexico’s wine producing region. Temperatures are still moderate with highs in the high 70s and nighttime in the low 50s.
- Central Plateau, northern Yucatan Peninsula and the western Sierra Madre have slightly more rain (10-30 inches per year). The southern part of this region also has higher temperatures than the northern area.
- Tijuana’s climate actually resembles the Mediterranean coast with dry summers and rain only during the winter months.
- Guadalajara is the quintessential example of a temperate climate with the best combination of mild temperatures, low humidity, dry winters, and low summer rainfall. It is little wonder that this former pueblo town is one of the fastest growing metropolitan areas in Mexico and a prime investment option.
- Eastern Sierra Madre is considered a temperate climate, although the humid, subtropical weather here is closer to the tropical zones with higher humidity and rain throughout the year.
With So Many Choices, Which Climate in Mexico Is Right for Me?
Deciding which climate in Mexico fits your lifestyle, health, and long-term vision for retirement and/or investment opportunities involves some soul-searching. What is your definition of a Latin American paradise? Rural or cosmopolitan, beach or jungle, multi-unit or standalone? Applying that first “filter” can help you narrow your focus on the location that best suits you. Here are some areas expats have been focusing on in recent years.
Puerto Vallarta and Guadalajara
Puerto Vallarta is one of the most established expat communities, not only in Mexico, but throughout Latin America. Nestled along the Pacific Coast, its tropical vibe, a comfortable dry season, and modern infrastructure all contribute to its continued status as a prime retirement location.
Guadalajara, with its moderate temperatures, lower humidity, and less rain, is rapidly gaining ground as a place to retire or invest. The growth of the city itself has also led to improvements in infrastructure and more residential options being available.
Merida and Cancun/Riviera Maya
For those whose love of the beach is irresistible, the area around Cancun and Riviera Maya has long been a drawing card for investors and expats alike. The warm, tropical temperatures of the Gulf of Mexico, a dry season that matches perfectly with winter in the U.S., and a large expat presence, make this the prime area for anyone wanting to live by the sea.
An up and coming location, also in the Yucatan Peninsula, is the town of Merida. Lying along the trade wind belt close to the Tropic of Cancer, it has a similar tropical wet and dry climate, although its average daily temperature – around 91°F – is warmer than the coastal areas.
In the southern Mexican state of Guerrero, lies one of Mexico’s oldest tourist destinations, Acapulco. Long favored by Hollywood royalty, such as Elizabeth Taylor and Frank Sinatra, this city is seeing revitalization after the difficulties of the early part of the 21st century. Although technically having a tropical wet and dry climate, Acapulco’s temperatures are more moderate than the resort areas in the Yucatan with the average daily temperatures running in the low to mid 80s.
The Tropic of Cancer
Mexico also has the distinction of having the Tropic of Cancer run right through the heart of the country. This is the northernmost latitude when the sun can appear directly overhead on the Summer Solstice. It is no surprise, then, that sun lovers have been choosing Mexico as the best place to retire and prosper.
Starting the Journey
If you’ve never been to Mexico, now is the best time to go. Visit the country, immerse yourself in Mexican culture, and learn where you seem to fit in best. Keep in mind that the seasons in Mexico are likely to be far different than those where you live.
Talking to people who have relocated there, whether permanently or as “snow birds,” is another good way of discovering where the best places to relocate might be. Don’t be afraid to ask questions; the answers you receive can be invaluable.
Lastly, keep in mind that the “climate” in Mexico is also a state of mind as well as meteorology. Knowing what you want, and where to find it, is the key to opening the door of your Mexican destination.
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Need a cooler (not cold or hot) lower humidity climate for my wife who has advanced MS. She is also wheelchair bound and need daily or live-in help. Want to live where it is beautiful and lush but affordable, and can rent it out (assuming we buy there) for a great return. I want to invest where it is growing fast and can produce a great return, maybe use my IRA (401k right now). I am looking at Yucatan Tulum land (land banking), Costa Rica for living in cooler area with great views, Panama for Mango plantation investment, Uruguay for farm land. I want great reduction in taxes, safe area.
This is probably to late for Brent, but perhaps it will be useful to other readers.
The Yucatan peninsula as a whole would be a poor choice, given your preferences. Very humid, often suffocatingly hot, esp. in the summer, and lots of bugs.
The Costa Rica highlands are a better choice, but beware that the rainy season is very long and also buggy. Ditto for the highlands everywhere in Central America. If your heart is set on Costa Rica, and given your wife’s needs, I’d vote for Escazu, next to San Jose and very good medical facilities. Lots of expats too for support, and Spanish, while always helpful is not an absolute here.
In Mexico, consider the Chapala area, where there are many expats–hence helpful neighbors–great climate, and near Guadalajara, which has first-rate medial services. If you can live in two places, Vallarta is very pleasant during the Winter, but heat and humidity set in early, by mid-May. Time to return to Chapala. San Miguel de Allende would be another good pick, but I’d still pick Chapala for its proximity to Guadalajara and better climate (somewhat lower altitude–actually almost perfect). However, in Chapala I think you’d need car, whereas in San Miguel you could get by easily with the inexpensive taxis. I’d forget Guanajuato–too hilly for your wife, and also not a great investment possibility. There are other attractive central Mexican colonial cities, but it would really be almost imperative to know some Spanish.
Much further away, Chile, in Vina del Mar. which is near Santiago. It has a very agreeable Meditarranean climate, a bit cooler than Chapala. But you would need to know some Spanish. Same goes for farmland in Central Chile. Good investment and climate, but Spanish is pretty much a must.
I’d forget Uruguay. The winters are cold and wet. The summers are warm to quite hot and humid.
You should have distinguished between Northern and Southern Baja. Winters in the latter vary from pretty brisk around Loreto to very pleasant at the tip, in Los Cabos and La Paz. Summers everywhere in the south are brutal from say, mid-July to mid–October more or less. Brutal means hot and increasingly muggy from August through mid-October. A/C is a must.