Thinking about living in San Cristobal de las Casas?
Let me start by saying: Great choice!
When we became digital nomads, we wanted to explore cities or destinations that were popular but we also really wanted to explore those hidden gems.
The fact that you’re reading this is a sign…you’re onto the hidden gem that is San Cristobal de las Casas.
We spent 2.5 months being San Cristobal de las Casas digital nomads so we learned the ins and outs of what it’s like and this blog will give you a detailed description of a day in our lives there.
You’ll also learn where to get sim cards, how to get from the airport to the beautiful mountain and even simple things like where to get groceries or how fast the wifi was in the coworking space.
What’s Living In San Cristobal de las Casas Like?
If I had to sum up what it was like living in San Cristobal de las Casas in three words it’s
I know. I know. Some pretty big words for a small, colonial town in the southern state, Chiapas, Mexico. But if you ever do visit, you’ll see why.
There are a lot of things that need to be understood before living in San Cristobal – things like the weather there (it’s cold FYI), how much it costs for a 1-month stay and which neighborhoods to stay in.
I’ll share all you need to know about living in San Cristobal de las Casas but I’ll be doing it a little differently. I’m going to take you through our first week of living in this colonial town and share every little detail.
Let’s get started!
Tuesday – Landing in Tuxtla Gutierrez Airport & Settling In
After being Playa del Carmen digital nomads, we wanted an entirely new experience and everyone kept recommending San Cristobal de las Casas. They simply said it was a magical town (ironically it’s also called a Pueblo Magico) – that was enough to convince us!
We booked Viva Aerobus and flew from Cancun Airport to Tuxtla Gutierrez Airport. We paid around $244 USD combined for both of our tickets including 2 checked digital nomad luggage. Originally, we were going to take a bus all the way from Playa del Carmen to San Cristobal de las Casas but quickly bailed on that plan when we decided the 25-hour bus journey was going to be too painful.
How to get from the Angel Albino Airport to San Cristobal de las Casas?
You have a couple of options to get from Tuxtla Gutierrez Airport to the city center of San Cristobal de las Casas. Here are your 2 best options:
ADO Bus – The Cost-Effective Option:
Once you exit baggage claim, there is a ticket stand just before you exit the terminal to buy ADO bus tickets to San Cristobal de las Casas.
If your flight gets in late at night (like ours did) – the bus isn’t a great option because departure times are limited and you might have to transit in Tuxtla Gutiérrez.
Taxi – The Convenient Option:
This is the option we took! It wasn’t as daunting as we were expecting and the best part – there was no haggling! You get given a ticket and the price is 800 MXN ($40 USD) and you simply hop into the next taxi in the line and you’re off! If you’re feeling up to it, you can ask someone that’s traveling alone if you could share the fare and that way you need only to pay for half the cost!
So…we made finally made it and we were excited to be San Cristobal de las Casas digital nomads! We were so tired – we just crashed in our hotel room and slept through the night. We booked a gorgeous hotel called Sombra del Agua for our first night and it was right in the middle of the colonial town!
Wednesday – Where To Stay, Getting a SIM Card & Coffee Shops
It was our first morning in San Cristobal de las Casas and if you know us – you know what we’re on the hunt for:
If you didn’t know this mountain town and its state Chiapas is known worldwide for providing some of the world’s best coffee beans. Another reason we chose to live in San Cristobal de las Casas!
What are the best cafes in San Cristobal de las Casas?
I had a quick search of the best cafes in San Cristobal de las Casas and we decided to head to La Frontera Artisan Cafe and Food. We also met our dear friends, Paul and Bri, for the first time at this cafe and it certainly didn’t disappoint.
The coffee came with a little card that tells you all about where the beans came from and they have pretty good brunch food too – we had a fruit bowl and bagel sandwiches! Coffee isn’t your thing? Definitely get a hot chocolate here – it tastes delicious!
Here are some great cafe options if you want tasty coffee or simply a cafe to work from:
- Cafeologia: Best coffee – hands down!
- La Frontera: Great cafe to work from (wifi can be unstable but friendly staff)
- Amor Negro Cafe: Beautiful atmosphere and premium coffee
After meeting our friends, it was time to check in to our Airbnb. Disclaimer: We booked a special Airbnb 15 minutes from town because we wanted to spend Christmas there but for this blog – I’ll just mention the Airbnb we ended up staying in immediately after the holidays.
Where To Stay While Living In San Cristobal de las Casas?
When you’re in a small town, location matters!
You don’t want to stay somewhere that’s too long of a walk for you to actually enjoy the place right? You might want a place that’s close to a coworking space, lots of restaurants and/or simply a safe area.
If you’re wondering where to stay in San Cristobal de las Casas, here’s a quick summary of the best neighborhoods we recommend (in order):
- Barrio de El Cerrillo
- Barrio de Guadelupe
- Barrio de los Mexicanos
- Zona Centro
- Barrio de la Merced
The best neighborhood for digital nomads is El Cerillo because of the close proximity to all the coworking San Cristobal de las Casas has to offer and it’s still close to the main walking street, Real de Guadelupe which has some of the best restaurants.
Where you decide to stay is crucial to how much you’ll enjoy living in San Cristobal de las Casas. You need to choose your neighborhood wisely and well in advance before arriving in San Cristobal de las Casas.
We lived in the Barrio de Los Mexicanos neighborhood and it was a 15-minute walk to the center which wasn’t too bad but we quickly found out we weren’t near many restaurants so we had to make that walk daily (sometimes multiple times a day)!
Now we just needed to get some SIM cards and/or data!
Where To Buy a SIM Card in San Cristobal de las Casas?
Such a simple thing to do but it’s so important and it must be done as soon as possible. Even after being digital nomads since 2018, we absolutely hate being without data anywhere we go in the world.
These are the 3 telephone companies in Mexico:
- AT&T Unidos
We recommend Telcel. I asked my Mexican friend which one had the best coverage in all of Mexico and it turned out to be Telcel. While it might be a couple more pesos than Movistar – at least you’ve got the best coverage (which is needed in San Cristobal de las Casas).
You can buy a SIM Card at an OXXO or any Telcel shop in town. The plan for 1-month costs us around $300 pesos each and it gets you 3GB of data plus unlimited social media usage.
Our phones are sorted and now we need to get hydrated…
Can You Drink The Tap Water in San Cristobal de las Casas?
Quick Answer: No.
We don’t recommend drinking tap water in Mexico in general. However, we did find it okay to brush our teeth with tap water. This is was the same case with drinking the water in Playa del Carmen.
You can buy the big blue gallons from the convenience store, OXXO, for around 20 pesos per refill and that should last you a couple of days.
Thursday – Grocery Shopping How To Get Around and Safety
We made it to day 3 of living in San Cristobal de las Casas!
Are we enjoying it here so far? Totally – walking the narrow cobblestone streets, drinking amazing coffee and getting settled has been easier than we expected!
But we’ve got to figure out how to get groceries done because we can’t eat out for every single meal!
Where To Get Groceries While Living In San Cristobal de las Casas?
Groceries are always one of the first things we do when we arrive at a new digital nomad destination. We just like to be able to cook our own food so we can try to eat a little healthier because it’s very easy when you travel full-time to just eat tacos all day long!
There are 2 big groceries in the area that you’re likely to frequent if you live in San Cristobal de las Casas.
- Chedraui: Our favorite was Chedraui! We chose this for 2 reasons – it’s easy to get a taxi back home and it’s cheaper.
- Walmart: We only went to Walmart if we wanted to get something special. It wasn’t easy to get back because the taxis outside were very few. One time it took us 30 minutes to get one…
Along the Real de Guadelupe street, on the further end, there are small stalls where you can buy the basic necessities like onion, potatoes, carrots, etc. We just did a big shop on a Sunday and bought for the week/fortnight.
Taxis can be tricky in some areas – but not all!
How To Get Around San Cristobal de las Casas
Getting around this city was pretty straightforward, easy and we always felt safe for some reason. You’ve got about 3 transport options while living in San Cristobal de las Casas:
- Walking: The entire town is very walkable! You can get from one end to the other in about 45 minutes. We always walked!
- Taxi: We got taxis whenever we needed to do groceries. They are very fair in San Cristobal and aren’t likely to rip you off. Pro Tip: Never pay more than 50 pesos for a taxi anywhere around San Cristobal de las Casas.
- Colectivo: These are basically shared shuttles – you’ll find them all around Mexico. Unless you can speak Spanish pretty well, we wouldn’t recommend taking them.
It took us a couple of tries with taxis in the area but as long as you are confident, they rarely try to rip you off – something we really loved about San Cristobal de las Casas. We’re starting to get a hang of things at this point and it’s time to get into some work!
Friday – Coworking, Safety & The Language
Matthew and I rented a 1 bedroom apartment on Airbnb. It came with 1 bathroom, a living room, an outdoor patio, and a full kitchen. While our place had a table in the kitchen – it was very old and dingey. Our wifi also wasn’t the best…we got around 3 Mbps and had to buy a wifi booster just so we could stream Netflix.
So…we had to find a solution! There was no way we were going to be productive at that kitchen table. Thankfully, there are 3 great coworking spaces in San Cristobal de las Casas for digital nomads:
Centralita Coworking El Cerrillo:
Centralita has 2 locations – this one is our favorite. It’s much quieter, has a big window with a stunning mountain view and a relaxing garden area.
The internet speeds were consistent at around 30+ Mbps and it had great natural light throughout the day. To book any of the Centralita Coworking spaces, you can simply walk in and sign up on the same day!
Centralita Coworking Centro:
The OG space is the Centro location. This is definitely more widely known and therefore more busy with people (so it can be hard to get a desk you want).
The wifi is pretty much the same at 30+ Mbps and it’s important to note – it was very noisy at this location.
Co.404 Coliving & Coworking
Our friends’ hosts started this coliving and coworking space! They turned this space into a boho-chic dream with the most welcoming digital nomad community.
How Safe Is It In San Cristobal de las Casas?
We felt very safe during our whole 2.5 months living in San Cristobal de las Casas. The people here were so friendly – we couldn’t pass anyone without hearing a ‘buenos dias’ or ‘buenos noches’. While there is the presence of Zapatistas, we never really had to worry about it.
Do You Need To Learn Spanish When Living In San Cristobal de las Casas?
If you want an easy life living in San Cristobal de las Casas, then learn some Spanish! We took 2 months of Spanish classes while living in Playa del Carmen and they helped us so much when we got to San Cristobal.
You don’t need to be fluent in Spanish while living in San Cristobal de las Casas but it’s important to know the basics just to help your travels go smoothly.
Finally…it’s the weekend and time to explore all the places to eat and things to do in San Cristobal!
Saturday – Things To Do & Best Restaurants To Try
This small, colonial time has a lot to offer and it was hard for us to get bored here even after living in San Cristobal for 2.5 months. There are plenty of things to do in San Cristobal de las Casas, whether that was within the town itself or traveling a couple of hours away to the famous Lago de Montebello.
Here are some of our favorite things we did while living in San Cristobal de las Casas:
- Visit the indigenous communities of San Juan Chamula and Zapantan.
- Take a boat ride along the Sumidero Canyon and be in awe of the natural beauty
- Day trip to the Montebello lakes and Cascada de El Chiflón waterfall
- Go on the free walking tour and learn about the rich history of San Cristobal de las Casas
After all the exploring, you’ll probably want to try the best restaurants San Cristobal de las Casas has to offer right? These are just our 5 favorite restaurants of the 28 spots we visited:
- Tok Tok Wok
- Trattoria Catanzaro
- Lum by Hotel Bo
- Casa de Ahn
You’d be shocked at the variety of cuisines you’ll find in San Cristobal de las Casas and the quality is actually not bad! We were surprised and delighted that there were so many Korean restaurants – we just loved the restaurant scene here! There was much more variety than just eating all those tacos in Playa del Carmen.
Sunday – Best Time To Visit
Now we’ve got a feel of what it’s like living in San Cristobal de las Casas in December, January and February, we had to ask ourselves…
…Was this the best time to visit San Cristobal de las Casas?
In our honest opinion: No.
We wanted a colder Christmas so we decided we could deal with the cold weather and we were pretty much over it by the end of month 1.
The best time to visit San Cristobal de las Casas is March, April and May…if you want to experience the sunshine, longer daylight and warm days. This is typically the dry season and it’ll give you the chance to do all the outdoor activities stated above.
Avoid visiting San Cristobal in June – it’s the start of the rainy season and when it rains…it pours!
Monday – Cost of Living in San Cristobal de las Casas & ATMs To Trust
We made it to the end of the week living in San Cristobal de las Casas! If you’re thinking about moving there and think it’s going to be a complicated and inconvenient move – we’re here to tell you it’s not!
But now to the nitty-gritty question…
…What’s the cost of living in San Cristobal de las Casas like?
While I am writing this blog with a week’s perspective in mind – I wanted to tell you the cost of living in San Cristobal de las Casas for 1 month. This is a more accurate and realistic depiction of what it really costs to live there.
The total monthly cost of living for 2 people came out to $1,825 USD.
Need an ATM you can trust in San Cristobal de las Casas?
We always used the ATM at Chedraui – HSBC seemed to be the cheapest fee! Watch out for the withdrawal fees, they can get really high in Mexico. While we were Merida digital nomads, we almost (and quickly took our card out) paid $150 pesos ($7 USD) just in withdrawal fees…uhm no thanks!
Living in San Cristobal de las Casas Is A Great Destination For Digital Nomads!
That’s a wrap of what a week living in San Cristobal de las Casas looks like!
You get to walk colonial streets around the town, you’ve got Mexican culture everywhere you look and so many things to eat/do! It’s honestly hard not to love San Cristobal de las Casas and we see why so many friends recommended it to us.
While we enjoyed living here for 2.5 months…we have to be honest – we were both over the cold weather. If you choose to visit, make sure you pick the best time that suits you and consider things like temperature, weather and events/holidays.
And if you’re thinking about becoming a San Cristobal de las Casas digital nomad, we highly recommend it – at least for a month! It’s such a unique and wonderful place in Mexico, you can’t miss it!