Mexico City Vs. Guadalajara: A Gringo’s Go-To Guide

While Mexico offers world-class beaches and cuisine, many a digital expat will decide  between two massive cities when visiting the country for the first time. Which two? Well, that’s easy – Mexico City vs. Guadalajara.

As the two biggest cities in the largest Spanish-speaking country in the world, Mexico City and Guadalajara both have a lot going from them.

These cities are developed, filled with modern amenities, and offer more than enough nightlife and eye candy to feed the needy.

So, how can you choose which city to use and abuse? I mean, errr, which place should you base up for a few months and explore.

Well, that’ll all depend on your wants and needs. Mexico City and Guadalajara offer some similarities, but they’re certainly different.

To compare and contrast, we’ll take a look at:

  • City Size
  • Cost of Living
  • Weather
  • Safety
  • English & Education Levels
  • Nightlife
  • Dating
  • Food
  • Gringo Fatigue
  • Tourism & Stuff to Do

In my opinion, you can’t go wrong with either spot.

But that’s never good enough. Not here at Nomadic Hustle. Details make the world go round…

So, enough of my fluff.

¡Vamos!

– Mexico City Vs. Guadalajara –


City Size

Neither of these cities are small. In fact, both Mexico City and Guadalajara find their place amongst the top 10 biggest cities in Latin America (Source).

Of course, Mexico City is far larger. As one of, if not the, biggest city in all of Latin America – CDMX comes in at a staggering 23 million people.

It’s damn near impossible to wrap your head around how large this city truly is!

On the other hand, Guadalajara is no slouch. With just south of 5 million people living in the city, the 9th largest city in Latin America has more than enough action to keep you entertained.

Honestly, it all comes down to what you want and need in a city. Some people love mega-cities like CDMX. Others don’t.

  • Winner: Tie

Cost of Living

This one won’t be a tie, y’all. There’s a massive difference in costs between living in Mexico City and living in Guadalajara. Massive.

Mexico City is pricey, especially if you prefer to live in the neighborhoods foreigners like to frequent.

I’m talking places like Roma Norte, Condesa, and Polanco. All world-class neighborhoods. And you’ll pay to live in these areas.

A studio apartment or one-bedroom tends to run around $800-1,250 USD in these neighborhoods on a monthly rate through Airbnb.

Two-bedrooms are a little cheaper when split with a roommate, but rent will cost you a pretty penny when living in CDMX.

Food tends to be cheap in CDMX, as street tacos and Mexican food can be found for low prices all around the city.

While I won’t go too far into things here, Guadalajara tends to be at least 15-30% off when comparing housing costs and food costs – for comparable neighborhoods.

For example, finding an Airbnb one-bedroom or studio near Avenida Chapultepec, the best are of Guadalajara, can easily be done for around $600-750 a month.

You won’t find that type of pricing in Roma Norte, CDMX.

  • Winner: Guadalajara

Weather

Personally, I find weather plays a huge role in how I feel in a city.

Going to a city during rainy season or during the hottest month of the year can completely change your experiences. Trust me.

With that said, both CDMX and Guadalajara offer ideal weather most months out of the year.

Basically, June through September is rainy season in both CDMX and Guadalajara. As such, the cities aren’t exactly ideal during these times.

Guadalajara also gets insanely hot from the middle of April until July. So, that’s another consideration when choosing where to stay.

Overall, mid-September through the middle of April is ideal to check out Guadalajara. The other times of the year it’s too hot or rainy season.

Mexico City is pretty ideal from mid-September all the way until June. Although, December and January can get a little bit chilly.

  • Winner: Tie

Safety

When compared to other places in Latin America, like Colombia or the Dominican Republic, the nice areas of CDMX and Guadalajara feel pretty damn safe.

I had no issue whipping out my phone to take photos and videos in either city. There wasn’t anyone around looking to jack my phone on a motorbike or put a knife to me.

Neither Guadalajara or Mexico City are considered one of the more dangerous cities in Mexico – or Latin America.

For the most part, cartel violence stays away from these cities and petty theft isn’t as common in Mexico as it is in other Latin American countries. Knock on wood.

You shouldn’t have too many safety issues in these cities if you’re an experienced traveler. Hell, newbies should be alright.

Just use Uber. Grab a decent hotel or Airbnb. Then don’t walk around wasted at night in areas you’re unfamiliar with.

No extra safety precautions should be needed in CDMX or Guadalajara.

  • Winner: Tie

English & Education Levels

When talking Mexico City vs. Guadalajara, a case could be made for both cities.

In certain circles around CDMX, you’ll find exceptionally educated individuals. People who speak multiple languages fluently, work at international corporations, and more.

In Guadalajara, you’ll find more doctors per capita than just about anywhere I’ve ever been. The general populace seems highly educated, as well.

You do not need to speak Spanish to get by in either one of these cities. This is Ibague, Colombia – where you won’t find many an English speaker.

Speaking English is important to many Mexicans, as their close proximity to the United States offers many opportunities if they’re bilingual.

As CDMX and Guadalajara are the two most educated and largest cities in the country, you’re bound to find many educated English speakers.

That being said…

Speaking Spanish will go a long way, especially in social settings. Not everyone speaks English in these cities. In fact, the majority of people do not.

Thus, it’s well worth it to learn a little Spanish before you head down south.

I highly recommend you start studying Spanish with BaseLang. 

  • Winner: Tie

Nightlife

La rumbaaaaaa…

This one won’t be a tie, ladies and gentlemen. Not at all.

While I didn’t enjoy any nightlife in my short trip to Guadalajara, I’m sure the options are solid. Avenida Chapultepec seemed to offer a plethora of locales, bars, and clubs.

The city is massive and Mexicans know how to party. I have zero doubts that the nightlife in Guadalajara will suffice.

But it’s not CDMX!

Mexico City nightlife is damn good. I may or may not prefer partying in Bogota, Colombia. But make no mistake about it, the nightlife in Mexico City will keep you satisfied.

In fact, there’s so many clubs and bars in this massive city that it’d be impossible to even check out 10% of the venues.

Mexico City has something popping off every single night of the week. If you’re night owl with a penchant for partying, then CDMX should be on your list.

  • Winner: Mexico City

Girls & Dating

Every abject degenerate loves to talk about the women in any given city. Las chicas.

And I’m certainly no different. Ya boy certainly has a love affair with Latinas.

Luckily, the women in both Mexico City and Guadalajara are certainly up-to-par. Here’s the thing…

You can find pretty girls in both cities. For sure. But for different reasons.

In my honest opinion, the most attractive women I’ve seen in Mexico reside in Guadalajara. The Tapatías are known around the world for their beauty and sex appeal.

There’s good reason for that. The Guadalajara girls can more than hold their own with girls from any Latin American city I’ve been to – not named Medellin.

On the other hand, Mexico City has strength in numbers. You won’t find as many pretty girls walking around during the day in CDMX, but the stunners certainly come out at night in this massive city.

Plus, CDMX is insanely international. You can meet girls from all around the world here, including many a Venezuelan and Brazilian.

But, I’ve gotta say…

  • Winner: Guadalajara

Centro Historico, Guadalajara.

Food

It’s Mexican food, wey. Trust me when I say, it’s gonna be damn tasty.

Seriously, the food in Guadalajara and Mexico City is solid. I didn’t have many a disappointing meal in either city.

But, Mexico City has more options.

While the traditional Mexican food and torta ahogada in Guadalajara is incredible, CDMX has all the traditional Mexican food offerings – along with a smattering of international cuisine. Some of which is truly world-class.

Overall, you won’t be disappointed by the food in either city. But, there’s simply more options in CDMX.

  • Winner: Mexico City

Gringo Fatigue

You’ll find gringos and other foreigners all over Mexico City. The place is an international hotbed filled with hustlers, artists, and travelers alike.

Guadalajara isn’t nearly as popular with foreigners.

I saw a couple of fellow gringos during my time in Guadalajara. But honestly, there weren’t too many other travelers around.

But here’s the thing…

Mexico City is so damn big that there’s no such thing as gringo fatigue in the city. In a city of nearly 23 million people, you need a metric ton of pasty foreigners rolling around to “fatigue” the place.

And Guadalajara certainly isn’t suffering from any type of gringo fatigue. Even though there’s lots of old gringos living at Lake Chapala, they won’t bother young, digital expats living in the city.

Overall, I wouldn’t worry about foreigner fatigue in any of these cities. This isn’t Medellin, Colombia or Playa del Carmen.

  • Winner: Guadalajara

Tourism & Stuff to Do

You won’t be disappointed by the amount of things to do in either Mexico City or Guadalajara.

As massive cities, both offer enough tourist attractions to fill a solid few weeks or even a month of seeing the sites.

If you’re a museum person, then CDMX is absolutely ideal. For those looking to get away to the lake or beach for a weekend, Guadalajara offers quick trips like Lake Chapala.

However, I’m gonna have to go with CDMX here for one reason…

El gringo de tus pesadillas.

Teotihuacan.

Yes, I’m talking about one of the best archeological sites in the whole world. And it’s situated just 45 minutes from Roma Norte in Mexico City.

While Los Mexicanos certainly don’t like President Trump, that’s what I’d like to call a “Trump Card” for us travelers.

Teotihuacan is a MUST while in CDMX. Hell, if you’re in Mexico, it’s worth a visit. No matter where you are.

  • Winner: Mexico City

Mexico City Vs. Guadalajara: A Gringo’s Go-To Guide

So, where does that put us? Let’s take a look at the Mexico City vs. Guadalajara debate and put things to rest once and for all…

  • City Size: Tie
  • Cost of Living: Guadalajara
  • Weather: Tie
  • Safety: Tie
  • English & Education Levels: Tie
  • Nightlife: Mexico City
  • Girls & Dating: Guadalajara
  • Food: Mexico City
  • Gringo Fatigue: Guadalajara
  • Tourism & Stuff to Do: Mexico City

Hot damn! This one has been a close call.

And as per usual with me, things come out in a tie. Three Ws for CDMX. Three Ws for Guadalajara.

~ Overall, you truly can’t go wrong with either city! ~

If you’re looking for a little slower pace of life and cheaper prices, then Guadalajara is your spot.

If nightly nightlife is what you’re after along with an international crowd, then Mexico City is damn difficult to beat.

Just make sure to speak a little Spanish before you go!

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Jake D

Travel junkie turned blogger. Location independent. From the Midwest, but often based in Latin America. Big on beaches, rumba, and rum. Addicted to the gym. Committed to showing a different style of travel - one that involves actually interacting with locals and exploring different cultures.

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Andrew - October 6, 2018

Hey Jake, thanks for the easy to read but informative breakdown of these cities. Probably the best one I’ve read so far as I prepare to move to Mexico City at the end of September. Cheers

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