With nearly 6,000 miles of coastline, Mexico has plenty of beaches—and beach resorts where you can lie in the lap of luxury. But what if you’re on a budget? No worries… Mexico still has some very affordable beach destinations. Whether you’re looking for someplace to live fulltime—or just a tranquil beach where you can chill out for a while—here are three of your cheapest Mexico beach options.
Yucatán Gulf Coast: Some of the best beachfront bargains in Mexico
This 50-mile stretch of coast, running north and east of Mérida in the Yucatán Peninsula, offers some of the best beachfront bargains in Mexico. Merida’s Mexican population has been vacationing on this coast for several generations, and these days expats have joined the trend.
On this coast, you’ll find everything from small, 30-year-old beach houses in established communities to empty beach lots waiting for development. Due to the area’s increased popularity, prices are rising. But compared with many other beach areas in Mexico, this coast is very affordable. In an established community like Chelem or Chuburná, for instance, you can find two- to three-bedroom beach homes for as little as $80,000. These homes will be a row or two back from the beach—but in these small towns no place is far from the water. Condos can cost even less.
Starting in the low $100,000s you can get larger homes, or small ones right on the beach. And beachfront lots large enough for building a home can run well under $50,000.
By-the-week rentals in this part of Mexico start at about $350. Furnished monthly rentals start at about $500 and go up from there, depending on a property’s size and how close it is to the beach.
The towns on this coast are small, quaint fishing villages. Here you can buy your freshly-caught fish right at the dock and get to know your neighbors by name. However, you won’t find trendy restaurants, discos, bars or shops at hand, if these matter to you. All these amenities—plus an international airport—are in Mérida…which, depending on where you locate along this coast, is as little as half an hour away.
Mazatlán: Mexico’s most affordable beach resort
This Pacific coast city, Mexico’s oldest international beach resort, is making a comeback. Originally popular in the late 19th century, it faded from glory when the newer resorts of Puerto Vallarta and Acapulco were developed in the mid-20th century. But about 15 years ago, locals who loved the city began a series of urban renewal projects—spiffing up Mazatlán’s historic opera house and main square, for instance, and opening chic new restaurants.
Today Mazatlán is arguably Mexico’s most affordable beach resort. The city has miles of beachfront, an international airport, and plenty of casual restaurants. It also has a World Heritage centro histórico, with a beautifully-restored opera house and blocks of neoclassical buildings, many of which have been restored as homes or condos.
Mazatlán is very popular with snowbirds, with expat numbers swelling to as high as 9,000 during the winter. (Many of these snowbirds are loyal fans of Mazatlán, returning year after year.) But many expats also live here full-time in small gated communities or in houses in neighborhoods a few miles from the ocean.
In Mazatlán you can find small condos for as little as $50,000. Villas or townhouses in gated communities near the ocean, with common garden areas, a pool, and often a party palapa, will run you $150,000 or less. And $200,000 to $300,000 gets you a large three- or four-bedroom suburban-style home in one of Mazatlán’s upscale neighborhoods.
Mazatlán rental rates vary depending on location and how long you plan to stay. They can be as low as $400 a month for smaller properties and condos to $1,000 and up for large modern homes with all amenities.
Manzanillo: An oceanview condo from $250,000
Also on the Pacific coast, Manzanillo is a busy port city that also happens to have miles of beach. Two five-mile bays lined with beaches, to be exact.
Manzanillo has a cheerful, casual atmosphere, plenty of seaside restaurants, a raffish downtown, and an international airport with direct flights to the U.S. This city feels very Mexican—yet you can find plenty of locals who speak English.
Like Mazatlán, Manzanillo is popular with snowbirds (especially Canadians), although the number of full-time expats is also increasing.
Today beachfront homes are hard to find in Manzanillo—but beachfront condos are plentiful. Long stretches of beach are lined with condo buildings, where you can buy a two- to a three-bedroom condo overlooking the ocean for $250,000 to $350,000.
Looking to spend less money? Choose a two-bedroom condo on the opposite side of the street—just across the road from the beach—and pay as little as $60,000 to $75,000. You’ll have several buildings to choose from in this price range. Townhomes a few blocks from the beach can cost you as little as $70,000, while you can get 1,000-square-foot single-family homes in the low $100,000s.
If you prefer to rent, how about the $500-a-month range for one-bedroom apartments? Or single-family homes starting at about $650 a month? You can find prices like these in Manzanillo.
So don’t let a tight budget prevent your Mexico beach life… The options are out there.
By Glynna Prentice International Living Mexico