Updated in 2022.
Leon, Guanajuato, Mexico.
A safe, affluent mid-large size city that is almost always overlooked by tourists.
Best known for their fine leather products. It’s also known for shoes – both leather and otherwise – and you’ll find entire malls in the city dedicated to them. It’s also one of the more progressive cities in Mexico; highly educated population, good infrastructure, and environmentally friendly. The city is the largest in the Bajío Region, ahead of Queretaro and Morelia. The city is a major university center and the population is dominated by university students. When you meet someone from Leon, just nod your nod and say ‘oh yeah, the university city’. They’ll look shocked and reply ‘how did you know?’.
POPULATION: 1,500,000 (but it doesn’t feel that big).
RENT AN APARTMENT IN LEON, MEXICO
$500. It doesn’t seem difficult to find a place to rent because there are a lot of university students here doing the same. I couldn’t get a handle on where the best place to live here is. You could do worse than around the center or around a university (Tec de Monterrey, Ibero and La Salle de Bajio all have campuses here).
BEST BARS & NIGHTLIFE IN LEON, MEXICO
This being somewhat of a university town, there are tons of places to go out here. Regrettably, I wasn’t able to find a cool, unique bar that would be good for meeting people. Most of the university students here seem to go to Prive or Barezzito, two places I hate.
My Latin Life recommends:
Barezzito: Probably the best known nightclub in Leon. Really social circle oriented so it’s quite hard to meet anyone.
La Martina León: Trendy nightclub spot along a main street. Good prices, good service, DJ, and dancing.
The Normal: Asia-themed nightclub with tables and standing areas. Pretty cool spot.
Red Mosquito Live: Well known spot for live music and stand-up tables. Theres a big bar selection and some simple food options as well. This place is more of a live music venue than a nightclub, but definitely a good time. If you like rock music in Spanish, this is 1000% your spot.
BEST CAFES IN LEON FOR DIGITAL NOMADS
The coffee shops in Leon are full of university students and young professional.
Cafes that My Latin Life recommends:
Ameno Cafe: Great cafe with wifi in the Jardines del Moral neighborhood.
Broga Bar & Coffee: Popular cafe in the Panorama neighborhood, not too far from Ameno.
Starbucks Las Torres: There are several Starbucks in Leon.
COST OF LIVING IN LEON, MEXICO
The following data is from Expatistan, a crowdsourced database of prices and cost of living around the world. In our experience, the data tends to underestimate cost of living, so take the following as the minimum you might need to live here.
*Figures are listed in USD
You’ll need a minimum of $949 USD/month to live in Leon, Mexico
IS LEON, MEXICO SAFE?
Leon is one of the safest big cities in Mexico, if not the safest. The city has mostly been spared the drug violence that plagues some parts of Mexico. Petty crime is rare, likely due to the city being relatively affluent. You should be fine here at all hours unless you’re doing something stupid like trying to buy drugs on the street.
HOW TO GET TO LEON
BEST TIME OF YEAR TO VISIT LEON
The best time of year to visit Leon is during the university school season. The city is much more alive and there are more events. The university schedule generally takes a break during the summer (May to September). I would avoid Leon in the summer both for the heat, the lack of beach, and the lack of university students. The best season to visit Leon is the spring or fall.
JOB OPPORTUNITIES IN LEON
It’s a really good place for teaching English. Pay isn’t horrible and there is demand. I met an English here working for a university with no more experience than a degree and a TEFL.
FINAL THOUGHTS ON LEON
Leon could be a great city. Great energy from the university students, safe, good infrastructure. Problem is, is that it is truly unremarkable from an aesthetic standpoint. Given all the amazing cities that there are in Mexico, I wouldn’t make Leon a priority. The center is OK, but other than that the city is pretty ugly. Not quite as Americanized as Monterrey, but it’s on that track. That being said, if you are looking for somewhere to get some work done, enjoy nice weather and enjoy an authentic Mexican city, you could do much worse than Leon. Digital nomads will appreciate the various cafes dotting the city as well. That being said, you should expect to get bored fast with nothing else to do.
OVERALL RATING: 6.75/10