Famous for its pristine coastline, year-round warmer weather, tropical nature, and upscale resort cities, Mexico is currently one of the most popular digital nomad havens, drawing in millions of remote workers each year, particularly from the U.S.

Surprisingly, the safest and cheapest destination in Mexico for digital nomads is not where a majority of them are headed, mainly because it isn’t coastal, and most foreign visitors want one thing, and one thing only: to live it up by the overpriced Caribbean seaside.

It may not be within walking distance of an unspoiled beach, but we wouldn’t count beautiful Merida out as a nomad hub:

Merida Is One Of The Safest Cities In The Americas

Merida, Mexico

Merida is the capital city of the state of Yucatan – not to be mistaken for the wider, same-titled peninsula that also includes the neighboring state of Quintana Roo – and it’s listed by the leading digital nomad platform Nomad List as the most affordable, safest ‘workcation’ spot south of the border.

You may be wondering why that is, seeing a majority of larger cities in Mexico, with over a million inhabitants, have long-standing issues with tackling crime and rising violence rates, and even a number of them feature on the United States’ list of no-go zones.

A Group Of Mexican Police Officers

Merida is very low-risk, however, and with its inclusion on the State Department’s Level 1 Travel Advisory, it can even be considered just as safe as (mostly) crime-free countries like Iceland, Finland and Japan – that’s Washington officials’ own classification, not ours.

Though crime does occur, it’s on a smaller scale than other Mexican states, and it’s no secret that, for years now, Yucatan has developed a reputation for being the safest region in all of Mexico, thanks to robust anti-crime regulations and reinforced police checks.

A Police Officer and a Police Car in Mexico City

The city of Merida – and its state – take security very seriously, and the local police chief has always taken a zero-tolerance approach towards criminals, making Merida one of the least dangerous cities not only in Mexico, but the whole of North America.

Yeah, there may be some pickpocketing around, but violent crime is exceedingly rare, and tourists – nomads included – are seldom affected.

It’s A Lot Cheaper Than The Mexican Caribbean

A Young Tourist Holding Mexican Pesos In Hand, Mexico, Latin America

Contrary to popular belief, the highly sought-after Mexican Caribbean – or more specifically even, the Cancun-Playa Del Carmen-Tulum powerhouse trio – are not exactly great value for money, nor do they feature among Mexico’s safest destinations.

Don’t get us wrong, they’re pretty safe, with hundreds of thousands of nomads having based themselves there in recent years without any major issues, but U.S. authorities still consider the state of Quintana Roo, which encompasses these coastal spots moderately risky, and they’re expensive.

Beach Resorts In Cancun, Mexican Caribbean, Mexico

Like any resort destination, Cancun caters almost exclusively to big spenders, and you may struggle to keep your costs under $2,587 living in the city; Playa is just as prohibitive, with its dollarized prices and scandalous taxi rates soaring rent, and don’t get us started on gentrified Tulum…

Why Choose Merida As A Digital Nomad?

It does not have a beach, but it does house a high concentration of historical landmarks – it is one of Mexico’s oldest European-built cities, after all – and its colorful colonial Old Town, dotted with Baroque treasures and 16th-century monuments, is one of the most beautiful in the country.

Corner of white government building in center of city Merida

In fact, Merida’s historic center is distinct for being one of only two surviving ones in the Americas to still be (almost) completely surrounded by city walls, as designed by Spanish settlers, the other being the French-built Quebec City in Canada.

There’s never a shortage of beautiful spots to visit in Merida, from Instagram-ready cobbled lanes lined by ornate building facades to hidden patios, storied signorial palaces, and imposing churches—it even has its very own European-style fortified walls.

Busy Road In Old Town Merida, Mexico, Latin America

Though it is not coastal, it’s still within short driving distance of beautiful Gulf beaches – Puerto Progreso is only 39 minutes away – crystal-clear cenotes nestled in dense jungles, and even Mayan ruins, such as off-path, fascinating Dzibilchaltún, a 19-minute drive from Downtown Merida.

It’s also located on the Maya Train route, offering railway links to a host of other picturesque colonial towns, such as yellow-washed Izamal and laid-back Valladolid, the world-famous archaeological complex in Chichen Itza, and as far away as Tulum in the Mexican Caribbean.

Merida, Mexico. Hispanic colonial plaza and church in Parque Hidalgo

Unlike other Mexican cities with similar cultural offerings, Merida is a lot cheaper to live in.

How Much Does It Cost To Live In Merida?

Based on Numbeo estimates, a single person’s monthly expenses in Merida sit at around $779 without rent, with low prices observed for food, groceries and a majority of consumer prices. On average, restaurant prices are 11% lower than in Cancun.

Month-long rentals in Merida on Airbnb start from as cheap as $311 for a private room in a family home, while a fully-furnished apartment in Centro with verified fast WiFi and a dedicated workspace will set you back by $787.

Digital Nomad Woman Working on Laptop

Rent is also 6.9% lower than in Cancun, with a one-bedroom apartment in the city center costing an average of $690.98 per month, bringing total expenses to $1,469.

This estimate is from Nomad List, which claims nomads can live in Merida for between $1,069 and $1,851 monthly.

Merida’s lower prices are attributed to its diverse economy – contrary to Cancun, international tourism is not the only driving force behind local jobs, nor was it built exclusively to host beachgoers – and competitive market.

It is historical, perfectly safe, and even cheaper to live in. It’s been soaring in popularity with nomads lately.

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