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3 Things You Need to Know About San Cristobal de las Casas, Mexico

San Cristobal de las Casas, Mexico may just be one of the best kept secrets among top locations for expats and investors today. Located in the central highlands state of Chiapas, in southern Mexico, this mountain community truly embraces the essence of its name – Jovel: a place in the clouds (in the native tongue of the indigenous Tzotzil and Tzeltal people).

Long valued as a tourist destination, the recent influx of expats has dramatically increased the investment potential, both in the town itself and in the surrounding area. One look at the properties on the real estate market provides a dramatic example of the possibilities that San Cristobal presents both now and in the foreseeable future.

san cristobal de las casas

Adrian Gallop

3 Things That Make San Cristobal de las Casas a Great Retirement And Investment Destination

This mountain town has a number of characteristics that expats need to know that demonstrate why San Cristobal de las Casas is so desirable. Whether you are considering a place to retire, a “Mexican hideaway,” or a place with high investment potential, the following items are important factors in making a life-changing decision.

San Cristobal Has a Unique Blend of Modern Infrastructure, Mayan Tradition, and Spanish Colonial Influence

  • Ancient Traditions. The area in and around San Cristobal contains one of the largest indigenous Mayan populations in Mexico. The Tzotzil and Tzeltal villages around the city proper bring the rich Mayan traditions to life; for those seeking to truly immerse in a distinct, local culture San Cristobal is the perfect place to settle.
  • Colonial Wonders. The stunning examples of Spanish Colonial architecture are a prime reason why the city has long been a desirable tourist destination. With facades that exhibit Moorish, Baroque, and Neoclassical influences, walking the cobblestone streets of the historical district is very much like entering a time machine and being transported to the time of Spanish influence and power.  By many estimates, San Cristobal may be one of the best preserved examples of the Spanish Colonial influence in Latin America. Lovers of architectural beauty, history buffs, and others looking for that someplace special will not be disappointed by the offerings of this highland community.
  • Timeless Yet Modern. Though steeped in history and ancient traditions, San Cristobal de las Casas is very much a modern location with the amenities one would hope to find in a developed city. Essential utility services (electricity, water, sewer, trash pickup, cable, and internet) are readily accessible in the central part of the municipality; over 96% of the homes in the greater San Cristobal area have electricity and over 86% have running water. With over 80 hotels and 2000 rooms, the infrastructure will continue to improve, attracting more visitors, expats, and foreign investors.
san cristobal de las casas


San Cristobal de las Casas Has a Comfortable Climate and Exceptional Location

  • Comfortable and Cool. One big advantage that San Cristobal has over other parts of Mexico is the climate.  With daytime temperatures in the high 60s to low 70s and nighttime temperatures in the high 40s to low 50s, outdoor activities are much more enjoyable and the sleeping weather at night is near perfect. Ironically, you might use a jacket or sweater far more than your air conditioner. This is also a significant value-added feature that translates into lower energy costs, an important consideration for retirees on fixed incomes.
  • Natural Wonders Equals Natural Beauty. There are a number of ecological attractions in the San Cristobal area that add to the natural beauty of its mountain location. The Rancho Nuevo, for example, is a cave system that has a single path leading 750 meters into the interior, which is illuminated in various colors.  There are also a number of campsites and horseback rides offered to really get a hands-on feel for the mountain environment. Additionally, the two ecological reserves, Cerro Huitepec Private Reserve and the Rancho Nuevo Ecological Conservation Zone in the area are just the kind of place that nature lovers will definitely enjoy.

Now Is the Time to Stake Your Claim in the Sky

As San Cristobal de las Casas continues to grow and transition from a tourist location to expat destination, the potential for growth in the real estate market will continue to increase. At the same time, the inventory of available properties will decrease.

There are a number of options that prospective buyers can consider in this Spanish colonial city. One of the most desirable is to find an historical property that can be restored. This may be the perfect choice for an investor looking for properties that can promise a high return on initial cash outlay. The historical district is an ideal location to find these colonial diamonds in the rough.

Like other municipalities that are enjoying the influx of expats and foreign investors, there are new construction projects that promise modern living with the rich cultural and historical backdrop that is so desirable in much of “old Mexico.” Individuals who want a turnkey ready residence would be drawn to these developments.

Lastly, the surrounding Mayan villages may be exactly right for someone who is seeking to truly immerse themselves in a traditional lifestyle while, at the same time, helping the local community by volunteering in any number of the social action projects that are run by various non-profit groups. Definitely far more rustic, nonetheless, properties here are less expensive; the trade-off for amenities is the opportunity to truly become a part of a traditional indigenous culture.

san cristobal de las casas

Karolina Lubryczynska

Getting There Can Be an Adventure Itself

Ironically, one of San Cristobal de las Casa’s main features, the remote location, is also one of the bigger drawbacks to life there. There are no direct passenger flights into the city; even the closest airport, Tuxtla Gutierrez, (located roughly an hour and fifteen minutes away) has no direct international service. The only option is to fly into Mexico City, take a domestic carrier to Tuxtla and then take one of the buses or taxis to arrive in San Cristobal.

A related problem is that being able to obtain certain items, such as electronics, computers, etc. may require a trip to one of the larger cities. The obvious work around is to bring these items back from the U.S. when visiting although attention should be paid to customs and import duties.

So What Comes Next

Learning about Mexico, its history, cultures, and regions is a great place to start your research. After that, there is absolutely no substitute for experiencing San Cristobal de las Casas for yourself. Go there, learn things, and discover the potential that this vibrant highland location has as a place to live and an opportunity to invest – both near and long term.

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One thought on “3 Things You Need to Know About San Cristobal de las Casas, Mexico

  1. 1

    Re: to truly become a part of a traditional indigenous culture.

    This has got to be a summit of sheer bullshit, in the technical and precise sense of the term. Why don’t you do a little less “marketing” and little more true “Informing”?

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