The sweeping landscape of Mexico’s central highlands (also known as the Mexican Altiplano) is home to some of Mexico’s most picturesque and agreeable colonial towns and cities which offer an abundance of character and culture—and the benefits of mountain living.
Mexico offers a variety of environments to choose from when you’re seeking places to live, work or retire here. This article explains options for living in Mexico’s highlands, including the key benefits, considerations, and a list of places for you to explore in more detail.
The Benefits of Mountain Living in Mexico
Ideal climates – year-round temperate, low-humidity, climates created by a combination of Mexico’s latitude and an average altitude around 6,000 feet above sea level which make it a pleasure to live and be outdoors, and enjoy active outdoor activities.
Lots of daylight – at least ten hours of daylight every day of the year, with no short daylight hours in the winter, and you also enjoy extended light into the evenings during the spring and summer months.
Highland air and views – crisp, fresh, mountain air which complements the magnificent views from local vantage points, and altitudes that can aid your good health and general well-being without being too high so as to become uncomfortable.
Good infrastructure and local amenities – Mexico’s colonial highland towns and cities offer provincial living with plenty of local fresh food and produce markets, (much of it grown locally), independent shops and boutique traders, in addition to popular big-brand stores, outlets, and supermarkets. Most colonial cities also have adequate-to-excellent healthcare facilities locally; in smaller towns, more extensive facilities are readily available in larger nearby cities.
Well-connected places – you’ll discover that the highland towns are well connected by modern roads, and some also have airports nearby. High-speed internet access is available in your home, as well as wireless data over advanced mobile networks which form part of Mexico’s extensive communications infrastructure.
Real communities – you can discover authentic neighborhoods and real local community spirit in these areas, offering opportunities to integrate with local lifestyles and community groups, and forge long-term friendships.
Considerations for Mountain Living in Mexico
Mountain living isn’t for everyone. Some people yearn to be near the ocean with year-round warmth, whereas highland towns tend to be cooler—and may even get cold at times during the winter months. A very small number of people find that they can’t adjust to higher altitudes, while others find the mountain towns too remote, rural, or provincial for their lifestyle preferences or intentions.
An ideal way to determine if mountain life in Mexico will suit you is to invest in a trial period—perhaps six months to a year—and see how you respond to the experience. You’ll discover thriving communities where, when you’re prepared to integrate, local people will come to know and greet you by name, you’ll cultivate appreciable relationships, you’ll give and receive value as you trade at the local markets through transactions which feel human and personal… and over time, you become the community you seek.
When you look with care you’ll also find the very best of Mexico in these places—people, culture, climate, food, amenities, and real local communities. For some, Mexico’s highland towns become exceptionally special places to live.
As with other places you may consider moving to in Mexico, you’ll need to plan and prepare for your new lifestyle, you might need to acclimatize to the higher altitude, and you’ll need to be prepared to forge your own story here. Hundreds of thousands of foreign residents enjoy a good life in Mexico; with some considered choices and forward planning, you can as well.
Explore Highland Towns and Cities in Mexico
The Colonial Heartland
Queretaro, Guanajuato and San Miguel de Allende for traditional colonial highland cities; Aguascalientes for a more contemporary living lifestyle; and Zacatecas if you’re seeking a mountain city off-the-beaten-track and on the edge of a mountain frontier.
Cuernavaca, Tepoztlan, Taxco, and Puebla. These traditional provincial highland places are situated conveniently close to Mexico City and yet are far enough removed from the congestion of the capital to enjoy a genuine provincial atmosphere and feel.
West of Mexico City
The highland lakeside towns of Chapala, Ajijic are home to the largest community of foreign residents in Mexico; the city of Morelia offers old-world colonial elegance, and the ancient highland town of Patzcuaro offers an attractive blend of colonial indigenous cultures amidst an intimate colonial setting. If you’re seeking an urban lifestyle at altitude, Guadalajara offers vibrancy, culture, and all the benefits of a large metropolitan city.
South and Chiapas
Oaxaca City remains one of the most authentic and cultured colonial cities in Mexico; and further south, in the breath-taking state of Chiapas, you’ll find the highland mountain town of San Cristobal de las Casas—somewhat off-the-beaten-track and close to the traditional indigenous mountain communities of San Juan Chamula and Zinacatan.