Mexico City is one of the largest agglomerations in the world and a fascinating mix of cultural might, contrasts, and Latin American charm. Apart from that, it’s an excellent destination for remote workers. Here is a complete digital nomad Mexico City guide.
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Welcome to Mexico City: a Bustling Latin American Powerhouse
Mexico City or “DF” (Districto Federal) or “CDMX” (Ciudad de México) is the largest city in the Americas (if you count the metropolitan area) with nearly 22 million inhabitants. Locals use the names DF or CDMX, so if you read those acronyms here, they all mean Mexico City.
The first city in this location was Tenochtitlan, the capital of the Mexica and later Aztec civilizations.
Tenochtitlan stood next to the vast Lake Texcoco. In this context, the indigenous people had various canals and dams to control the water. The city became a thriving cultural, religious, and commercial hub in Pre-Columbian times.
When the Spanish conquered Tenochtitlan in the mid-16th century, they drained the lake and destroyed most Aztec structures. As such, not much is left of the once flourishing Mesoamerican powerhouse of Tenochtitlan.
Between 1810 and 1821, the Mexican War of Independence raged across the country, and many significant events took place in CDMX. All over the city, you’ll find monuments commemorating the Mexican independence struggle. In that same vein, there is a never-ending panoply of history museums and cultural attractions that make Mexico City such a fascinating place to visit.
Today, CDMX is the economic and cultural heart of the country. The city is massive and can seem quite overwhelming at first, but it’s nonetheless an excellent destination for digital nomads. Here is why:
- You’ll never be bored in this city with its endless cultural and culinary offers.
- The price/quality ratio is exceptional.
- Mexico has liberal visa policies for most nationalities.
- It’s well-developed, and the infrastructure is comparable to other large cities in North America.
In short, Mexico City is a suitable destination for digital nomads who like both Latin America and megacities in general.
Its main downsides are the low English levels and the fact that you have to be wary of safety issues (see below).
On this basis, here is a complete digital nomad Mexico City guide.
Where to Stay in Mexico City as a Digital Nomad
Mexico City is massive, and the neighborhoods range from super-affluent to downright favela-like.
In this context, I would recommend four neighborhoods in my digital nomad Mexico City guide.
First, Condesa (around Parque España) is popular among ex-pats, upper-middle-class Mexicans, and digital nomads. The area is safe at all hours, brimming with bars and restaurants, and walkable. It’s a top choice for digital nomads in Mexico. The only downside is that it’s a 20-30 minute Uber ride from the city’s tourist attractions.
Secondly, you’ll find Roma Norte (around Mercado Roma) right next to Condesa. The neighborhoods are similar and equally recommendable.
Third, the Zona Rosa (around the Paseo de la Reforma skyscrapers) is also a solid option and close to Condesa and Roma.
Finally, Polanco is the city’s wealthiest neighborhood. You’ll find international luxury brands, endless fine dining options, and lots of upscale hotels here. In my opinion, it’s a bit too chic – or as the Mexican president says, “fifi.” Nevertheless, it’s an excellent place to stay if you have a higher budget and want a relaxing neighborhood with zero safety issues.
Cost of Living in Mexico City for Digital Nomads
Mexico City is generally an affordable place.
You can naturally dine at luxurious restaurants, stay in expensive hotels, and shop for international brands. If you, on the other hand, live like a local, you’ll get a lot of bang for your bucks, especially if you earn dollars or euros.
Here is a breakdown of one month of digital nomad expenses in August 2021:
- Airbnb in Condesa: 750€ (luxurious one-bedroom in an upscale building with a gym and a swimming pool)
- Food and drinks: 250€
- Public transport and Ubers: 45€
- Tourist activities: 80€
- Miscellaneous expenses like Sim cards and barber appointments: 25€
Total: 1,150€ (~1,360 USD)
You could get that budget down by staying in a cheaper place (Airbnbs go for as little as 400 USD per month, but be wary of the neighborhood and state of the place). Aside from that, I went on quite a few day trips and tours.
All in all, 1k to 1.5k USD is a realistic budget if you want to stay in a safe neighborhood and enjoy the city’s endless cultural and culinary offers.
Where to Work in Mexico City as a Remote Worker
Mexico City has everything from co-working spaces to libraries and cozy coffee shops. Here is a selection of digital nomad Mexico City workspaces:
- Centraal: stylish coworking space in Condesa;
- SmartWork: another remote working hub near Chapultepec Park;
- Nucleo 182: a hip and young coworking space in Condesa/Roma;
- Blend Station: excellent coffee shop in the Condesa neighborhood;
- Browns Caffeine Lab: a laidback coffee shop to sit all day with your laptop in Roma; and
- Borola Café: a chain of coffee shops with locations all over CDMX.
10 Must-Visit Attractions in Mexico City
The Mexican capital has so much to offer that it would take years to explore the entire megacity. For your first visit, here are ten must-visit attractions in Mexico City.
The Museo Nacional de Antropología is my favorite museum in all of Mexico. It celebrates indigenous culture, explains Mexico’s multifaceted ethnic landscape, and has some real Maya mummies.
Zócalo Square and Historic Center
Mexico City’s historic center is one of the largest in Latin America and a must on your trip to the Mexican capital. You’ll find some of the city’s most stunning colonial architecture here, including the National Palace, the Metropolitan Cathedral, the Bellas Artes Museum, and Zócalo Square. Be aware that the area can get sketchy after dark.
Chapultepec Castle and Park
Chapultepec is the largest and oldest urban park in Latin America. The park is home to Chapultepec Castle, a 19th-century colonial palace. Today, the castle houses the National History Museum.
Coyoacán and Frida Kahlo Museum
Coyoacán is like a small town within the boundaries of CDMX. You’ll find lots of traditional houses and markets here as well as the Frida Kahlo Museum.
Soumaya Museum and Polanco
Polanco is the wealthiest neighborhood in Mexico City and a hub for upscale shopping and fine dining. It also boasts the Soumaya, a stunning modern art museum.
Bellas Artes Palace
Completed in the early 20th century, the Palacio Bellas Artes (Palace of Fine Arts) is one of the most striking buildings in all of CDMX. It displays some of the best murals by famous Mexican painter Diego Rivera.
The Torre Latinoamericana was the first skyscraper in Latin America. Completed in 1956, the 182 m (597 ft) high skyscraper survived several earthquakes. Its observation deck offers breathtaking views over CDMX and also hosts two museums.
Xochimilco is a famous wetlands park with lots of markets and animals. Located south of Mexico City, it is one of the most popular Sunday excursions for CDMX families.
Guadalupe Basilica is one of the most famous churches in Mexico and an important pilgrimage site for Catholics. In this context, it holds the cloak containing the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
Day trip: the Pyramids of Teotihuacán
There are many day trip options for Mexico City digital nomads (like the cities of Puebla and Cholula), but Teotihuacán is arguably the best. The archaeological zone is famous for its two massive pyramids.
According to some sources, the Pyramid of the Sun is the largest in the world by volume. The Pyramid of the Moon is smaller but equally stunning. The structures date from the year 1 AD, but little is known about the Teotihuacános who built them. The Aztecs only took them over in the 11th century, creating a lot of mystery.
Digital Nomad Mexico City Guide: Know Before You Go
To complete our digital nomad Mexico City guide, here are a few useful tips for your stay in the Mexican capital.
Mexico City Safety Tips
Any potential Mexico City digital nomad will ask the following question: is Mexico City safe?
In all honesty, there is no definitive answer. Mexico City can be a supremely safe place, but it can also be dangerous. Everything depends on three things: the neighborhood, the time of the day, and – most importantly – your behavior.
On this basis, here are a few Mexico City safety tips that will help you avoid 99% of potential troubles:
- When the sun goes down, do not walk around except in select neighborhoods like Roma, Condesa, Zona Rosa, or Polanco. If you want to be extra safe, do not walk around at night – full stop.
- Avoid the historic center at night. During the day, it’s a safe neighborhood full of tourists, but that changes drastically after dusk.
- Don’t hail taxis from the street. Use Uber or call a taxi from a trustworthy company.
- Keep your belongings in a sling bag or keep your backpack in front, especially on public transport and in crowded areas.
- Be aware of your surroundings at all times, and don’t walk around aimlessly.
- If you are a photographer like me, keep your camera in a bag when not in use. The same applies to your cell phone.
- Before wandering into an unknown neighborhood, ask locals and tell them where you want to go. Sometimes, one particular part of an area can be dangerous while the rest is safe to visit.
- Only take as much cash as you need for the day and keep it in different pockets.
- Leave your expensive watch, jewelry, and wedding ring at home or in your Airbnb/hotel.
Most of these safety tips might sound like common sense, but it’s astounding to see how many tourists fall victim to petty crime as a result of not adhering to them.
All over Latin America, I’ve been using a PacSafe Sling Pack for my valuables, and I can say that it’s 100% pickpocket-proof. On this basis, if you are wondering which bag to use in Mexico City or other Latin American capitals, check out this sling bag.
For more info on Mexico City safety from the perspective of a solo female traveler, check this article by Trisha from PS I Am On My Way.
Sim Cards and Connectivity
You can buy a SIM Card at every OXXO convenience store. They have their own brand, and you pay 200 MXN (~10 USD) for one month of mobile data. Alternatively, Telcel is another recommendable brand. Their coverage is better than OXXO’s in the rest of Mexico (no difference in CDMX), and prices are similar.
Internet speed varies heavily in Mexico City. You can find world-class internet in some co-working spaces, coffee shops, and Airbnbs, but it’s hit or miss. Always check with your Airbnb host to avoid unpleasant surprises.
Mexico is a Spanish-speaking country and English levels are generally low.
There are many English speakers in Mexico City, especially those who work in tourism or international companies, but the overall standard is nothing to write home about.
As such, it’s best to learn at least basic Spanish before starting your digital nomad Mexico City adventure.
Getting Around in Mexico City
Mexico City has a vast public transit network consisting of metros, conventional buses, and the Metrobús (gigantic buses with their own lane on the streets).
Public transport in Mexico City is cheap and relatively efficient, but for some people, the crowds can become overwhelming, especially on busy metro lines.
Uber is my preferred choice to get around. Most journeys within the city’s core will cost less than 4 USD. CDMX’s infamous traffic can cause delays, but the comfort of a safe and convenient Uber makes up for that.