Saunders 1865 | Moving to Mexico City

Moving to Mexico City

Are you moving to Mexico City? Mexico City is a megacity, amongst the largest in the world and has one of the largest metropolitan areas – roughly on par with São Paulo in Brazil and New York City.

It is the financial, political and cultural centre and the capital city of Mexico, with Spanish as its first language. This growing economy, with a large population of younger people and fast-paced work environment, benefits from an immense workforce.

Our free, in-depth Moving to Mexico City report includes info on:

• The best places to live
• Average monthly rental prices
• Details of the schooling system

Putting Mexico City on the Map

Mexico City, with its 16 boroughs, is located in the Valley of Mexico, at an altitude of 7,349 feet, in central-south Mexico.

Traffic here is a nightmare and many choose to take public transport in and around the city.  The average daily commute takes around 3 hours.  The metro is one of the cheapest in the world, with routes covering the entire city.  It serves around 5 million commuters per day along 12 lines.  A railcard or a ticket is required and is simply swiped at the barriers alongside the platform.

Above ground, the Metrobús provides an easy alternative to the metro for its average one million users.  It does, however, get just as crowded during peak hours.   There are six lines with fixed routes.  To use the Metrobús you will need a rail/metrobus card to access the stations at the turnstiles to the platforms.  Thereafter, the Metrobús uses the same card as the metro.

The Trolebús is an eight-line, above ground option and runs, on some lines, later than midnight.  It is similar to a tram and connects to a large number of key metro stations.

There are hundreds of buses throughout Mexico City but there are two major differences to look out for. .  Peseros, which is slang for buses, are generally crowded and look run down.  There are no timetables for these buses, but they travel with greater frequencies than others, so you just have to hope that yours comes by and you just need to wave it down and hope it stops.  You need to top up your metro and Metrobús rail card to travel this way.

The other option, the Suburbano, operates in the north of the city, connecting it with the bordering State of Mexico and is most used by workers travelling home, not expats.

The newest addition is the teleférico, a cable car.  It runs from the northern Indios Verdes metro station to the notorious Ecatepec.  It is not recommended that expats use this form of transport.

Driving is an option, but maybe not for newcomers.  It is advised to drive slower than the speed limit and follow the rules of the road, although this is in total contrast to how the locals drive.  The toll roads, or cuota, are the best option if you are a newbie or you don’t speak Spanish, but make sure you have pesos in the car as US$ are not accepted at the tolls.  Speed humps, known as topes, are very high and could damage the car unless taken very slowly and are found on both major and minor roads.

Cycling is much quicker but infinitely more dangerous, with few dedicated cycle lanes.  The weaving buses are a test of cycling proficiency and are difficult to understand.  The city has launched Muévete en Bici (Move by Bike) which provides a safe and family-friendly environment, with 55kms of streets closed on Sundays to encourage families to cycle together.  The aim is, eventually, to minimise the number of cars on the road, thereby reducing the alarming smog levels.  Ecobici is the city’s bike-share network, with 452 stations in 42 neighbourhoods, or colonias.  There are over 100,000 registered users and is particularly helpful for those coming by public transport from outside the centre to complete the last leg of their commute.

Benito Juarez International Airport, the city’s main airport, is the busiest in the country and second busiest in Latin America. It is situated 3 miles east of the city centre and taxis, metro and buses are available to and from downtown.

Most professionals tend to live in either Santa Fe or Polanco.

1 month’s deposit is required, the utilities should cost in the region of $300 per month and some do not include taxes, so check this out or it may be an additional charge.

Renters do not pay for agent fees, inventories or drawing up the lease agreement.

The Areas

Mexico City is a sprawling city with some lovely, and some not so lovely, suburbs or colonias.  Each has a distinct identity.


Located to the south of the centre, the meandering streets of this safe, bohemian and lush neighbourhood, with its upmarket shops and vibrant nightlife, is where one is likely to hear English and French being spoken and is often known as Expat Central.  Although this is a pulsating party colonias, La Condesa is a great place for families, with its variety of parks, jogging tracks, cycle lanes and pet shops.  The buildings are older, mainly neo-colonial and Art Deco, attracting writers and artists.


North of Condesa, this is the most upmarket suburb in the city, with proportionally higher rentals.  Located in the business centre of the city, many international headquarters are here, so very convenient for expats.  The centre of the suburb, Polanquito, has plenty of cafes and restaurants and luxury retail outlets.  Public transport is not good, so owning a car is probably a good idea.  Polanco is quieter than Condesa.


Santa Fe, west of the city, is another business district.  Relatively new, the suburb has been built on top of landfills, with a nice residential area, office buildings, good roads and several university campuses.  It is modern, with a massive shopping mall in the centre.  Rentals are high.  To reach Santa Fe you may have to drive through a poorer area which is not a safe district.


South of the city, this neighbourhood is the home of the rich and famous, known for its colonial architecture which, along with its artisans’ markets, has a distinctly Latin American feel.  With lower rental prices than Condesa, public transport is not good.


This trapezoidal shaped suburb is packed with popular bars, shops and restaurants and is a better and newer version of Roma, a hip district to the south.  It is, however, well served by the city’s arterial routes, Avenida Chapultepec, Paseo de la Reforma and Insurgentes, making it easily accessible to the city for young professionals.


Just south of Condesa, Napoles is the smallest colonias in Mexico City and has a World Trade Centre bang in the middle.  Very much a family neighbourhood, the transport links are excellent by bus, Metrobús or metro, the rental prices are fair and it is relatively safe.

Each of these neighbourhoods has banks and ATMs, chemist shops, supermarkets and many dozen laundrettes.  Close by are two types of market, one is permanent, opens daily and specialises in imported Colombian products.  The other two are weekend markets, one in Polanco, the other in Napoles, offering food, clothes, home supplies and street food.

Who Lives and Works in Mexico City

Mexico City is among the largest cities and metropolitan areas in the world, with around 20-million inhabitants.  Most expats in Mexico live here, not surprisingly.  Based on GDP, the country has the 15th largest world economy and is the most highly populated Spanish country.  This growing economy, with a large population of younger people and fast-paced work environment, benefits from an immense workforce.

Santa Fe is home to many international headquarters and Bolsa Mexicana de Valores, the Mexican Stock Exchange.  The city is the financial centre of Mexico, with the largest banks and insurance companies along with international financial services companies servicing Latin America.  One of the largest companies, Citigroup, produces three times the revenue of the balance of their 16 branches throughout Latin America.  Mexico City’s major industries are iron and steel, construction, plastics, furniture, cement, textile and yarn, as well as being the centre for the arts, culture and education.  On the whole, Mexicans are hard-working and diligent.  Starting in 2017, the economy showed large growth due to stronger exports to the USA.  The city is also home to the business accelerator StartupMexico, employing the technology-savvy younger population.

It is advisable that expats learn to speak Spanish, although English is widely spoken in business.

Mexico City offers exceptional medical facilities with high-quality healthcare, in contrast to one of the worst air pollution problems.  Healthcare is very affordable for expats, who mainly opt for private healthcare, despite the high standard and affordability of public healthcare.

The Best Bits

Dating back to the Aztecs it is hardly surprising that the city has a rich history.  It is also a centre for entertainment with a vibrant nightlife.

  • Chapultepec Castle is on top of Chapultepec Hill and is open to the public. It was home to the Mexican Empire/Presidency and was a Military College for a while.  It is a nice climb to reach the top of the hill and the views of the city are sublime, including the picturesque Chapultepec Lake.  Chapultepec Park is surrounded by a number of museums, including two art museums and the Mexican Anthropology   You can rent a paddle boat to steer yourself across the lake.
  • Reforma Street is totally closed off on Sundays to allow safe cycling and jogging. Bicycles are available to rent.
  • Fondas are small family-owned eateries offering a set menu of juice, two or three main courses and desserts.
  • The most imposing theatre in Mexico, El Palacio de Bellas Artes is decorated in Art Nouveau and Art Deco and displays work by Rivera and Siqueiros. The theatre is also home to the Folkloric Mexican Ballet.  Theatres include the Metropolitan, the Teatro de Los Insurgentes and the National Auditorium.
  • Promenade along El Paseo de la Reforma, an impressive European avenue running from the centre to Chapultepec Castle. The fountain of Diana the Huntress, the Angel of Independence and other iconic monuments line the leafy street.
  • Dead centre of the city, the Metropolitan Cathedral sits on top of the ruins of an Aztec temple. It is polite to remove headwear before entering.
  • There are an estimated 150 museums in Mexico City. More than enough to satisfy any culture-vulture.
  • There are many top-quality restaurants in the city and one is never at a loss for a quick street snack from stands selling tacos and burgers.
  • La Casa de los Azulejos (House of Tiles) is exactly that – the exterior is covered with Mexican tiles. And it is now a part of the local Sanborns chain so you can relax and enjoy traditional Mexican cuisine.
  • Pata Negra is a legendary local restaurant which offers free salsa classes on Wednesday and Saturdays.
  • The gourmet food market, Mercado San Juan, specialises in jumiles (stink bugs), gusanos de maguey (worms), escamoles (ant larvae). To eat.

El Museo de El Carmen has the distinct honour of displaying twelve mummified corpses, with horrific facial expressions.  The 17th-century corpses are said to be friars of a Carmelite order.

Bringing the Kids

There are four international schools in Mexico City, which offer the International Baccalaureate and tuition in English or even Japanese.  Although they can be expensive, they are ideal for short-term expats.  These include the American School Foundation, the Edron Academy, Greengates School, and The Japanese School of Mexico.

Private schools are not as expensive and many offer bilingual education with English being spoken half of the day, Spanish the other half.  They offer a very high standard of education.

Public Schools only teach in Spanish which is really only ideal for very young children, starting their school life.

Boasting some of Latin America’s best universities, this proves the success of the government’s increased investment in education, food and health over the past 20 years.  The oldest university in North America, the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, was founded in 1551.

Relocating to Mexico City

Although moving to Mexico may seem daunting to some, Mexicans are friendly people and welcome expats.  Great education, a good choice of places to live, a hard-working workforce and a fast-growing economy makes Mexico City an exciting and cultural destination.  Not forgetting, great weather and excellent travel destinations within Mexico, plus proximity to the USA and South America.  The language barrier may prove tricky but using the services of an expert relocation specialist will pave the way for school registrations, lease negotiations and other assistance, where needed.


City Centre
Good Schools
Natural Beauty
Average Monthly Rent - Mexico City
Apartment (1 bedroom) in city centre 10,911.73 MXN
Apartment (1 bedroom) outside of centre 6,600.00 MXN
Apartment (3 bedrooms) in city centre 21,109.09 MXN
Apartment (3 bedrooms) outside of centre 13,645.76 MXN
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