What’s It Really Like Living In Puerto Escondido, Mexico As An Expat

Discover what it's like living in Puerto Escondido as an expat: where to live, what to do, the lifestyle and how much it costs.

Do you love surfing, beautiful beaches and prefer a simpler life? If yes, Puerto Escondido is a perfect location for you.

Puerto Escondido is situated on the Pacific coast of Mexico in the state of Oaxaca.

Famous for its spectacular backdrop of the Sierra Madre mountains, and ‘Mexican pipeline' surfing beaches with thunderous waves and a laid-back vibe, the town exudes traditional Mexican authenticity and a casual vibe.

Is Puerto Escondido a good place to live?

Puerto Escondido is definitely a great place to live thanks to its bohemian free-spirited vibes. It offers a great lifestyle for those looking for something off the beaten track. 

Living in Puerto Escondido
Puerto Escondido in January

Amenities and transport links are good, there’s an airport and a bus station with links to Mexico City and long-distance buses serving Mexico and other parts of Latin America to Panama.

There are plenty of markets with local products such as fresh fish, artisanal products, and locally sourced items.

The weather is tropical with a hot and humid season between June and November, and a dry season, which is cooler and less humid, between November and May.

When the tourist and surfing crowds leave Puerto, the dry season can be good for expats to enjoy the peace and quiet of the surroundings.

There are many expat hubs in the area, such as Bacocho, La Punta, Brisas de Zicatela, La Barra. If you would like to embrace the traditional way of Mexican life and have the amenities of a world-class surfing beach nearby, this is the place for you.

You’ll find artisan markets in El Adoquin, and the catch of the day on Playa Principal.

The main market in town – Mercado ‘Benito Juarez' – is great for produce, from locally made hammocks to fresh fish and small pop-up restaurants with daily local dishes.

The infrastructure of Puerto Escondido is under development, and the Oaxaca-Puerto Escondido highway is due to be finished in 2022, making most journeys much quicker.

Puerto Escondido is family-friendly, safe, spacious, lush, and tropical. Better yet, it has a low cost of living being one of the best value-for-money beach destinations in Mexico.

You could either live on your own plot of land with plenty of garden and space or in a built-up area such as Los Tamarindos that still retains its village vibe.

The town attracts expats and Mexicans alike. There are Argentineans, Mexicans (especially from Mexico City), Canadians, and Americans living in Puerto Escondido.

Cafecito on Playa Zicatela that faces the beach, is a great place for expats and Mexicans alike to meet, network and share experiences. It is a simple café with a palapa style roof – great for simple food options such as pancakes or coffee, as well as red snapper and rice.

There is a thriving expat community that hosts events from bingo nights to live jazz, blues music, and cooking classes.

Is Puerto Escondido safe?

Puerto Escondido is safe if one takes the usual precautions, such as not wearing flashy jewellery or having a mobile phone and wallet on display.

Living in Puerto Escondido, Mexico
Surfing in the pipeline of Playa Zicatela in Puerto Escondido

There have been incidents of motorcycle drive-by robberies, whereby they will pass close by to you on a motorbike and take your bag if they think there is something of value in it. 

Such incidents occur especially on the Andador Escenico, a scenic walkway that runs from Playa Principal to the lighthouse, as it can be quiet.

In terms of the beaches, Zicatela is known for its sharp undercurrent, so there are plenty of lifeguards on hand who can help and give advice.

If you’re not a professional swimmer or surfer, it is important to be cautious especially in La Punta and Zicatela.

The more sheltered bay, Playa Carrizalillo, is better for less experienced swimmers. It’s set at the bottom of a series of steep steps in the Rinconada area.

Walking alone at night on the beaches in Puerto Escondido is not recommended, as there are stretches of the beach with no street lighting.

A good measure to avoid the risk of dengue or Zika virus is to wear long clothing in the rainy season and use insect repellent with DEET.

Beware of crocodiles in the lagoons, rivers, and estuaries around Puerto Escondido. Swimming is not recommended on the coast of the Oaxaca river unless supervised.

How much does it cost to live in Puerto Escondido?

It depends on location, and sometimes is a matter of negotiating a price when renting or buying a property.

Rental properties can vary in price from $500 to $800 USD per month, and by season. In the low season, between November and May, you can negotiate a lower rate for a yearly or 6-month rental.

Living in Puerto Escondido, Mexico
Puerto Escondido street market.

However, in the high season, where there is more demand than supply, a rental contract could cost almost double and can be harder to negotiate or you could be charged a daily rate during the peak weeks of the season.

Puerto Escondido is a less expensive destination compared to Mexico City or Baja California.

A one-bed apartment is around 400USD per month and houses can be around 800USD per month.

House prices can vary depending on the plot of land and location.

A small lot of land or a rustic casita (a small house) can start at around 5,000USD and may have basic amenities, while a fixer-upper with a large plot of land may start at around $425,000 USD.

Properties located on a secluded strip of the beach can be around  $825,000 USD.

There are gated communities that attract a higher price. 

Plots of land in new urbanisations, such as the Chakoo development of La Barra, are priced at 300USD per square metre. 

Daily expenses

Eating out is around $137a month, and food shopping is roughly $326. If you take public transport, expect to pay $71 on a monthly basis. Internet is priced at around $30 depending on the provider.

Is Puerto Escondido a party town?

Puerto Escondido is well known for its laid-back vibe. It gets lively during the surfing season, but this kind of activity is centred in Zicatela beach, where there are a few nightclubs and restaurants. 

During Mexican festivals, such as Semana Santa, the place can feel quite busy and lively, as one should expect during the season.

However, many places offer a much quieter vibe, such as Los Tamarindos, Bacocho, La Barra.

Hospitals and healthcare

On the whole, if you need extensive healthcare, you will find Puerto Escondido somewhat wanting in this regard.

There's a private hospital in the town, The Ángel del Mar Medical Clinic where you can go for some specialised treatment or emergencies. It's however quite a small hospital and not all the services can be found there.

There is also a public hospital, The Hospital General de Puerto Escondido, which offers more services than The Ángel del Mar.

To find a well funded private hospital with a wide range of facilities and treatments you will need to go to Oaxaca City or Salina Cruz.

The private healthcare costs are higher than in a public hospital but less expensive than in the US or Canada. Many expats take international health insurance plans to cover them both in Mexico and in their home country.

The best areas to live in Puerto Escondido

Playa Carrizaillo and the surrounding urbanisations are quiet, relaxed and have a thriving expat community. There is a sheltered cove beach, which is accessed by a steep stairway of 157 steps. It is a safe residential area with local amenities.

Living in Puerto Escondido
Playa Carrizalillo

Brisas de Zicatela and Los Tamarindos are within walking distance of the main vibrant Zicatela beach, but are quieter and more residential, great for long walks, or to access the main Zicatela beach.

La Barra is a developing area around 10km from the centre of Puerto Escondido, set facing the open sea with access to the beach and with views of the Sierra Madre mountains.

It is a desirable location for expats and is currently expanding rapidly with numerous plots of land or new urbanisations taking place.

La Punta attracts a lot of Canadian and American expats who enjoy surfing. They surf in the morning at la Punta or walk down to Zicatela to catch the surf there.

This area features traditional palapa roofs and has a very laid back, rustic and more natural style of living.

Living in Puerto Escondido – summary

Puerto Escondido offers something different to the norm in comparison to Cancun, Puerto Vallarta, or Mexico City.

If you are moving to Mexico and looking for a more traditional Mexican lifestyle, you should consider Puerto. It has more of a Mexican feel to it, and the products are local to the state of Oaxaca.

The hidden port is becoming a more popular destination for tourists and expats alike and may turn into a Playa del Carmen or Tulum in years to come.

You should enjoy your lifestyle here thanks to the beaches and good vistas; it’s possible to have both whether you live in a more remote location or in the town itself.

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Jasmina Nevada

A self-published author of the Mexican Duena, content planner and content writer for various publications, Jasmina is a passionate traveller and has lived as an expat in several locations in Latin America, the Caribbean, Europe, and the USA. She is planning to relocate back to a tropical location in Latin America again as an expat very soon.

You can contact Jasmina on Mack Ruck: Jasmina Nevada