Own a Colonial Home in Mexico from $126,000

Mérida is one of Mexico’s most incredible colonial cities…

I’ve always been enchanted by this city of sparkling clean avenues and leafy cobbled plazas, art-filled galleries…live music…amazing restaurants…

I really don’t talk about Mérida enough, especially given how well members of my Real Estate Trend Alert group have done buying property on the coast close by.

Ranked by CEO World in 2024 as the second safest city in North America after Quebec, Mérida is also incredibly clean, art-filled, renowned for food, and stunningly beautiful.

So, where is Mérida?

It’s on the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico. You can catch direct flights from the U.S. and Canada, and many folks do. Mérida has a big expat population, particularly folks coming for a few months at a time to escape the winter and soak up the sun, culture and experiences offered by a base in this city.

This is easily one of Latin America’s most beautiful and vibrant colonial cities. Take a look at this travel guide I came across on YouTube:

If you like colonial architecture, art and culture, Mérida really is among the most inviting places on my global beat.

Mexico’s well-heeled flock to Mérida to do business, go to school, raise their families…it’s a booming business hub. That’s clear wherever you go, thanks to its ultra-modern malls, smooth roads, neat parks, clean streets, fancy restaurants and sleek hotels.

Between November and March tens of thousands of Americans and Canadians escape the cold for Mérida and the beaches nearby.

Every Sunday afternoon the historic center of Mérida is closed to traffic. Families and friends stroll amid food stands and along arched colonnades. Musicians occupy street corners, and life is very good indeed, especially with an ice cream on a shady plaza.

Mérida is a great strolling city as it’s mostly flat and you’ll see a lot of public art and sculpture. Plus there are numerous cafés for a pitstop.

The art scene is big in Mérida, with dozens of galleries and artists from all over.

Museum lovers are always impressed and usually run out of time on their first visit to the city. There are museums of anthropology, popular art, contemporary art, the national music center, the city museum…even the lobbies of boutique hotels offer you an incredible atmosphere.

Mérida’s historic center is the third largest in the Americas after Mexico City and Havana. It’s also one of the best preserved.

A Historic Enclave of the Wealthy

For generations money poured into Mérida. At the turn of the 20th century there were more millionaires living in the city than anywhere else in the world.

Powerful families spent their money on palatial mansions. Grand civic buildings and splendid parks appeared as the city grew. Mérida dominated the henequen trade—a type of succulent plant used to make highly prized rope.

For a long time geographically cut off from the rest of Mexico by mountains, Mérida became a major Caribbean trading hub. The long-lasting European influences are obvious, with for example, floor tiles from Spain and Italy. Until the 1950s, it was easier to go to Havana than most of the rest of Mexico and you’ll see a lot of men wearing the classic guayabera shirt.

All this is in addition to the rich Maya heritage…

There was a city here long before the Spanish came—the ancient Maya city of T’hó. Friar Diego de Landa writing in the 16th century described T’hó’s buildings as reaching a “frightening” height. The Spanish dismantled it, and the great Maya temples surrounding the main square were used to build the grand colonial palaces and churches you see today. If you have the right guide or know where to look, you can find the clues. (Some of the stairs at the back of the municipal palace are made with temple stone.)

Designed to resemble the sacred Ceiba tree, the Museum of the Maya is close to Mérida’s convention center and just one of the city’s strikingly modern buildings. For the “real thing” you’ll find Maya archeological sites all around the city.

Over the last few decades Mérida’s historic core has undergone large-scale restoration, driven by the many North American and European expats.

Yet Mérida was never one of those colonial towns that went to sleep wrapped in faded grandeur.

The locals are entrepreneurial and forward-looking. That’s a big reason their city today has modern infrastructure and first-class services attractive to investors and expats.

It’s an incredibly vibrant and pleasant place to be, with something of a European vibe. Things work, streets are spotless, police are polite and help old ladies across the road.

Mérida’s been earmarked as Mexico’s “smart city.”

That basically means you use information and communication technology to improve how the city is run. That impacts everything from traffic and hospitals to power plants and waste collection. The most famous global examples of “smart cities” are places like Amsterdam and Copenhagen (often ranked among the best cities in the world to live).

Mérida ranks among the top cities in the region for quality of life in the U.N.-Habitat survey. That survey looks at productivity, infrastructure, quality of life, equity and social inclusion, environmental sustainability, governance and urban legislation.

It feels like a European city on the Mediterranean, with kids playing on the streets, families relaxing in the parks, culture-hungry tourists strolling around…an easy, outdoors lifestyle.

And it’s safe…so safe that Mérida…..

And it’s safe…so safe that Mérida is ranked the second safest city in North America. (The first one is Quebec.) In a 2024 rankings by CEO World the city holds the 30th spot on the worldwide list, ranking safer than cities such as Copenhagen, Denmark, and Geneva, Switzerland.

This is the stuff of virtuous circles. Safety and a high quality of life attracts investors and entrepreneurs, who invest…

Me on the left with developer Eloy Cáceres on the right. He’s showing me a spreadsheet with big gains for RETA members in a community in Playa del Carmen, on Mexico’s Caribbean coast. Many of the biggest developers on Mexico’s Caribbean coast, called the Riviera Maya, are actually from Mérida. It’s a true hub of innovation and entrepreneurial spirit.

Before the pandemic the Yucatán economy was growing at three times the national average. Since the pandemic it’s been back to the races.

Big things have been happening in Mérida. There’s an economic vibrancy fueled by young educated people flocking to the city from all over Mexico and the region. Hundreds of major conventions and conferences are held here each year. You’ll find major universities and centers of research.

A Snowbird’s Paradise

Mérida has been on a tourism tear in recent years.

Mérida airport is second only to Cancun as the busiest airport in the south of the country. The most recent direct flight route to the U.S. opened just last month on June 5. American Airlines now fly from Dallas/Fort Worth and it takes just two hours and 40 minutes.

Record numbers of people are visiting Mérida and three more international flights were recently announced connecting Merida with Orlando, Miami and Atlanta.

And now the Tren Maya, or Mayan Train, has arrived. This vast, $29 billion project is one of the largest infrastructure investments in Mexico’s modern history. In time, it will connect cities right across the Yucatan Peninsula.

For right now, only one section of the train has opened. That’s the stretch connecting Cancun, and its international airport, with Mérida.

This project will help further build interest in Mérida among snowbirds.

Every year, tens of thousands of North Americans come to Mérida and the Yucatán coast to escape snow and ice. They begin arriving in November, and they start leaving around March—a six-month window.

Most of them first came on vacation. Then started staying longer…

I predict we’ll see many more of them in the coming years as more discover Mérida and the work-from-anywhere trend accelerates.

The expats who come here will tell you about the amazing food scene. It’s a big draw. The cuisine of the Yucatán is famous and sophisticated and hearty in equal measure. It features a lot of pork and turkey. Cochinita pibil is a famed and tasty braised pork dish. For those days you don’t want to eat local you can do steak and burgers, sushi or Italian…pick up a French pastry, go to a gourmet bistro…

Mérida has something for every taste.

And then, only around 30 minutes’ drive away, you have a stunning beach town…

Here’s a headline from Architectural Digest March 2021. Mérida’s grand old haciendas and colonial mansions make for good boutique hotels and charge anywhere up to $250 a night.

The Booming Beach Town of Progreso

In recent years, a Path of Progress has rolled north from Mérida to the coast at Progreso.

A Path of Progress is anything that improves the accessibility of a piece of real estate or makes it more desirable. In this case, it was a new four-lane highway leading to the port town of Progreso as well as a new marina project launched there called Yucalpeten.

The modern road from Mérida to Progreso is straight and smooth, and makes traveling between the two cities very easy.

Progreso is the closest beach area to Mérida. It’s just a 30- to 35-minute drive from the city.

This town is well-known to residents of Mérida. Along the town’s boardwalk, you’ll find rustic restaurants with fresh seafood served local style. The wide, white-sand beach that fronts the town gets crowded in the summer.

This is the place where Mérida families, especially the well-to-do, come to spend long weekends, and holidays like Easter, even the whole summer season when Mérida is at its hottest. It’s close enough that anybody still working in the city can commute to Mérida from Progreso.

Yucalpeten, which includes a residential component and a 110-berth marina, has been big news for the region.

The developers behind Yucalpeten Marina include Eloy Cáceres and his SIMCA group. Hailing from Mérida, they’ve been delivering superbly designed communities for generations. And they’ve been instrumental in forging this Path of Progress toward Progreso…building a host of stunning projects out from the city to the coast.

Eloy and SIMCA are well known to members of my Real Estate Trend Alert group. We’ve been working with them for years through a host of incredible deals in Playa del Carmen and Tulum on the Riviera Maya, Mexico’s Caribbean coast. To give you some examples…

Boost of $225,609 in Playa del Carmen—In 2017, RETA members got an off-market deal to own in a project they developed in downtown Playa del Carmen called Siempre Playa. Members could own two-bed condos for $193,800. In November 2023, retail prices for two-bed condos in this community started from $419,409…that’s $225,609 more.

$309,018 More in Playa—In 2021, RETA members had the chance to buy two-bed condos from $265,304 in a community they developed in Playa called Singular Dream. In early 2024, a two-bed condo in Singular Dream was listing for $574,322.

$234,900 Uplift in Tulum—In 2019, I brought RETA members a deal in the chic beach destination of Tulum. Members could own two-bed condos in a community by Eloy and SIMCA called Gran Tulum from just $175,000. Late last year, two-bed condos there were listing at retail for $409,900.

The yellow dots are SIMCA projects. Eloy and his partners specialize in being ahead and doing unique communities. For example, they bought land ahead of the Path of Progress in Playa del Carmen meaning they could pass on big savings to RETA members.

The first condos at Yucalpeten Marina were launched in the summer of 2020 and it was an insane success. Wealthy locals snapped them up.

It would have been easy for Eloy and his partners to keep selling, but they deliver on their promises. They and I had agreed to a RETA deal in principle in Progreso way back. In recognition of the long-term role our RETA group buying power has played in their business, Eloy and his partners kept the condos I handpicked exclusively for RETA members.

Those condos started from a RETA-only $209,800.

This was a sensational deal…

Recently, a two-bed condo in one of the first two finished buildings in Yucalpeten was retailing for $560,000. While this condo isn’t identical to the ones that RETA members could buy (this two-bed condo is slightly bigger), it gives an idea of the demand for condos in Yucalpeten…and the price growth.

This video shows the ongoing development of the stunning Yucalpeten Marina project. RETA members got a sensational off-market deal here…and are sitting on huge uplifts.

Since this Yucalpeten deal, which I brought to RETA members in 2021, I’ve been keeping a close eye on developments in both Progreso and Mérida and staying in close touch with my contacts there. I’ve yet to zero in on a deal as good as this…but I’ll keep looking.

In the meantime, Mérida and Progreso are stunning destinations and an incredible lifestyle play. And you can own incredible colonial homes in these destinations for far less than you might imagine.

Here’s some my team found… (Note, we haven’t visited these properties or done any due diligence on them.)

Large, Lovingly Restored Colonial House for $379,000

This centrally located home in Mérida comes with a pool and large rooftop terrace.

This colonial home is perfectly located three blocks from Paseo de Montejo, a central street in Mérida named for Francisco de Montejo, the Spanish conquistador who founded the city in 1542. This street is home to some of the city’s most iconic buildings and monuments.

Recently updated, the spacious, 3,000-plus-square-foot house has two bedrooms, 2.5 baths and air conditioning throughout. In the back, there’s a pool. And the home has a roof terrace with views of the city. It’s on the market for $379,000.

Two-bed Modernized Colonial for $339,000

This updated colonial home is in central Mérida and comes with a small outdoor pool.

This two-bed, 2.5-bath restored colonial is in the eastern part of Centro, the buzzing heart of Mérida. It spans more than 1,500 square feet across two floors and comes with a small outdoor pool.

The home is modern, but maintains many of the historic features of the original design, including high beamed wooden ceilings. It’s just a five-minute drive from the new La Plancha Park and a seven-minute drive from Mérida Cathedral. It’s on the market for $339,000. Listing here.

Fixer-Upper within Walking Distance of Major Attractions for $126,000

This colonial is in need of restoration, but it’s in the heart of the action in Mérida.

This two-bed, two-bath fixer-upper is in Barrio de la Mejorada, easy walking distance from Mérida’s cathedral, Museum Casa Montejo, restaurants and numerous hotel boutiques.

Spanning almost 1,000 square feet, the house has a living room, dining room, a kitchen, a storage room, two bedrooms, a full bath and a backyard with enough space to add a pool. It’s in need of restoration, but the potential is apparent. It’s listed for $126,000.

Large, 7-Bed Home with Pool and Garden for $313,513

This large home is in the eastern region of Mérida’s Centro district and sits on a large plot.

Spanning seven beds and seven baths, this home in central Mérida offers a lot of bang for your buck.

It’s in need of some updating, but the house spans more than 6,000 square feet and comes with a large pool area that has a terrace with a grill and bar. In the garden there are grapefruit, sour orange, nanche and other fruit trees.

The home also has a covered garage with enough space for three cars. The master bedroom on the top floor has a jacuzzi. It’s listed for $313,513.

Partially Renovated Two-bed House for $235,900

The exterior of this home has been restored, while work remains to be completed in the interior.

Spanning 1,320 square feet, this partially renovated two-bed, two-bath is in the San Cristobal neighborhood of Mérida, one of the oldest and most central parts of the city.

The house has been partially renovated, with all new wiring and an updated exterior. Work has also commenced on excavating a pool. It’s on the market for $235,900. Listing here.

Four-Bed Villa With Pool in Progreso for $340,000

This large colonial-style home in downtown Progreso was built in 1950.

To own in coastal Progreso, prices generally start in the $300,000 range.

Spanning 3,200 square feet, this four-bed, four-bath colonial-style villa is in need of some updating and modernization, but it comes with a pool and is set in the heart of Progreso, near one of the city’s larger parks.

It’s also just a short drive from the beach. It’s on the market for $340,000. Listing here.

Updated Colonial Steps from the Beach for $365,000

This restored colonial home is on a corner plot, less than two blocks from the coast.

Set over 1,600 square feet, this restored colonial home has two beds, two baths and a small pool in its backyard. It also has a large modern kitchen with high ceilings.

The real attraction of this home is its location. It’s just a block and a half from Progreso’s malecon (seafront promenade) and the beach. Step out the door and you’ll see views of the Gulf of Mexico. It’s listed for $365,000.

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