I spent nine months living in Colombia. When it was time to leave, I wasn’t quite sure where to go. I knew I wanted to stay in Latin America – I like the culture, and I wanted to keep studying Spanish.
So, I decided on Mexico City.
I’ve been here for eight months now. I love it. It’s addictive. There’s an endless variety of things to do. Always something new to see. Every time you leave the house, it’s a brand-new adventure. You could literally explore Mexico City every day, for years, and still not see all of it.
But my relationship with el DF is complicated. Yes, I love Mexico City. But at the same time, I fucking hate it too, sometimes. It’s like 90% love and 10% hate. And if you’ve ever lived here, you probably know exactly what I mean. I’ll write about the bad parts another time.
Today we’ll focus on the positive.
So Why Do I Love Mexico City?
1) The Food
The cuisine in Mexico City is excellent. Chilangos (Mexico City residents) love to eat, and they go to restaurants all the time. This leads to cut-throat competition. If a place has bad food, it won’t last, because there are so many options. It’s capitalism at it’s finest. And the food is also inexpensive. Sure, you can find pricier comida at the nicer restaurants. But if you’re on a budget, you can eat delicious street food for just a few dollars a day.
2) The Barrios & Buildings
There are dozens of different neighborhoods in Mexico City. Each one has a distinct flavor, each barrio is like a separate small town. Some are poor, ugly, filthy, and dangerous. But others are hip, tranquil, and full of grand old buildings. Think shady tree-lined avenues, bubbling fountains, and lush green parks. Juarez, Roma Norte, La Condesa, Hipódromo, Polanco, Coyoacan, San Miguel Chapultepec, San Angel, and Chimalistac are all great places to live in or explore.
3) Mexican Culture
Mexican culture is rich and loud and colorful. So it makes sense that it’s the dominant culture in Latin America. Sure, there are some parts of the culture here that really rub me the wrong way. But as an American, I mostly just find it fascinating.
4) Central Mexican History
For a history buff like me, the Valle de Mexico is a perfect place to live. Mexico City was built right on top of an ancient civilization. Even today, every time someone starts new construction or renovations, they almost always find new Aztec or Spanish ruins.
5) Pyramids & Ruins
My favorite part of Mexican history is the archaeology. And there are eight pyramids or ruins located inside Mexico City limits. The spectacular ancient metropolis of Teotihuacan is just outside el DF. Other amazing places like Cholula, Tula, Teotengango, and Calixtuahuaca, are also close by.
6) Great Parks
The City is full of beautiful parks. Parque Chapultepec is the largest and most famous. But there are also gorgeous Art Deco parks from the 1920’s like Parque Espana and Parque Mexico. Parque Hundido is like an outdoor museum – it’s full of real Aztec sculptures. And there are many others scattered all over the city.
7) Museums, Art, & Galleries
Mexico City has around 150 museums – one of the highest concentrations in the world. You can see the iconic Aztec Calendar stone at the world-class Museum of Anthropology. Or magnificent Diego Rivera murals at the National Palace or the Education Building. Visit Frida’s Kahlo’s Blue House in Coyoacan. Or check out the Casa de Luis Barragan, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. And that’s just a few, clearly there are too many to describe here.
8) Cosmopolitan Flavor
Mexico City attracts visitors from all around the world. Some are tourists, but many of them (like me) live here. There are foreign embassies scattered all over the City. You can find all kinds of food, from dozens of countries. In some neighborhoods, you’ll hear people speaking English, French, Portuguese, Castilian Spanish, even Korean.
9) The Women
So what’s the truth about the women in Mexico City? I’d say about 10% of the Mexican women here are genuinely hot. Another 10% are very pretty or cute. After that the quality drops off. But there are also tons of foreign women here, too. Besides the Mexican girls I’ve dated, I’ve also hooked up with a Canadian, an Uruguayan, and a girl from Argentina.
10) Low-Cost, High-Quality
Mexico City is cheap when compared to other massive global cities like London, Tokyo, Los Angeles, Paris, or New York. And if you stay in the nicer neighborhoods, the quality of life is about the same. You can live like a king here – as long as you stay in the right barrios.
11) The Weather
The weather here is great. It’s like Medellin – a consistent spring-time climate year-round. Mexico City is high in the mountains, so it never gets too hot. There’s a short rainy season though. And it gets chilly at night and in the mornings during the winter.
12) Relaxed Pace
The City can be stressful, especially if you drive a car. But if you have relaxed frame of mind, and you don’t have to travel around too much, you’ll find that el DF is a very relaxed place. People take their time here. And you can do the same – the City will wait for you.
13) Central Location
Mexico City is a great jumping off point for travelers. It’s located in the center of Mexico, so it’s convenient if you’re planning on exploring the country. And because of its central location between the two continents, it’s also relatively close to Canada, the States, and South America (by plane.) And there are plenty of direct international flights to other places as well.
14) Good Public Transportation
Public transport here is great. The Metro (subway) or MetroBus are both incredibly efficient. There’s also a public bicycle program called EcoBici – it’s perfect for shorter distances. Avoid using public transportation during rush hour (7-9 AM and 7-9 PM). And Uber is everywhere, if public transport isn’t your thing.
15) It’s Huge
Until you’ve seen it for yourself, it’s hard to fathom how big this City is. When you fly over it, it, you literally can’t see where it ends. Over 20 million people live here! But the massive size is a big part of what makes the capital so damn compelling.
16) It’s Exciting
If you want to live in a super-exciting city, you’ve found it. There is always something happening, always something new to do or see. It can be overwhelming for first-time visitors, especially if you’re used to living in quieter places.
17) It’s Safe
Some people are scared of coming to Mexico City. They think it’s super-violent or run by cartels. Those fears are way over-blown. Most violence in Mexico happens on the border or in the south. Sure there are dangerous barrios in el DF, like any other big city. But you can use common sense and stay out of those areas. Stick to the nicer neighborhoods and you should have very few problems with crime.
So now you know why I love Mexico City.
Are you an expat who wants a new home base?
Or a tourist looking for a cool new place to discover?
Mexico City is a great choice.
Come on down, and you’ll fall in love, too.
Have you been to Mexico City? What did you think?
Read More: How To Start A New Life Abroad (Part I)