Living in Mexico. EVERYTHING you need to know (and then some)
how much money do you need to live comfortably in mexico?
September 30, 2019
It is one of the most commonly asked questions around these parts, how much does it cost to live in Mexico? Since only you know your wants, needs and daily living style, it is not possible for someone on social media, for example, to answer that question.
There are simply too many unanswered variables that need to be taken into consideration. So, if you are thinking of moving to Mexico and want to know what is the average cost of living in Mexico or how much it costs to live comfortably in Mexico, you need to know these answers first.
Will you rent or buy? What type of home will you want? If you’re buying a place then bills will be less since you won’t have monthly mortgage payments to deal with (foreigners cannot get mortgages in Mexico btw). If you are going to rent, then you will need to set aside at least 10,000 peso per month.
Will you live in the center of your city or town or do you prefer the suburbs? Living centrally easily costs twice as much as living in the burbs.
Are you a house, apartment or condo person? If you prefer a house, you will need to factor in things like water, gas and electric bills as well as gardener help. If you want something furnished, expect to pay a lot more each month. If you truly intend to reside here forever, it’s better to find a house that suits you and furnish it yourself.
If you’re in search of a basic apartment, you may have to factor in the utilities as well, depending on the rental property. Apartments are not necessarily less expensive than houses in Mexico. Some apartments will have on-site amenities, maybe a pool and security guard, which cost money that is paid by homeowners (renters) each month.
Keep in mind that 99% of houses and apartments here do NOT come with appliances. No fridge or stove let alone a washing machine or anything else. If they are equipped, the rent will be higher.
If you’re in search of a condo, then expect to fork out quite a bit of money each month regardless if it’s in the burbs or the town center. Condos are normally fully equipped with appliances and on-site amenities that tenants pay for.
Amenities such as swimming pool, a front desk lobby, maid service, secure parking, 24/7 security guards, garden and bbq areas all cost and add to the monthly expense. Those maintenance fees generally run several hundred US dollars per month above and beyond your rent.
Now that you’ve found a place, your first and last month’s rent are expected upfront along with the legal contract fees, which can sometimes also be the equivalent of one month’s rent.
Transportation is another factor. If you’re bringing your own non-Mexican vehicle with you, you need to pay an import fee at the border. It’s several hundred US dollars and needs to be renewed each year.
If you’re not bringing a vehicle, your options are to buy something in Mexico, use public transport or buy a bicycle. Scooters are a common option for getting around but are very dangerous. In most states, non-Mexican residents cannot buy and register a Mexican vehicle in their name.
In my state for example, temporary residents were able to buy a vehicle and register it. They were even able to get a local Mexican driver’s license. Over the past year, all that has changed.
Will you be moving to Mexico with school-aged children? If so, you need to set aside approximately 8,000 peso per month per child for school fees. Transportation, uniforms, lunches and school activities are all additional.
Immigration fees. If you’re going to be living here then you will need permission in the form of an immigration visa. The process costs around 3,000 peso each time you have to go, not to mention the cost of document preparation, notaries and lawyers, etc.
Medical insurance is expensive here. You can buy extended medical insurance from where you are before arriving to Mexico or you can buy a policy when you get here. For a single healthy female under the age of 50, with zero medical issues and a clean medical history, the Mexican policy still runs around 9,000 peso per year.
Vet bills. If you are traveling with pets, you will need certificates before they can enter the country. Once here, you will find veterinarian fees similar to that of Canada and the U.S., with a super-basic vet visit starting at around 500 peso.
How much does food cost in Mexico? The price of food is not much different in Mexico than anywhere else in North America, which says a lot since the average monthly salary in my state is around $550 US per month. Poor salaries are the main reason many live in poverty.
It is easy to get buy on a few hundred dollars a month if you stay mainstream and buy fresh fruits and vegetables and cook at home, however, if you’re a big meat eater (beef is extremely expensive here), like junk food, pre-packaged meals or import products like Jiffy peanut butter, you’re food budget will be very high.
Entertainment. Eating out here as a local is inexpensive. Two people can easily dine for less than 500 peso, but if you’re a big drinker and / or must eat in the tourist zones, you can expect that same tab to be in excess of 1,200 peso.
Mall shopping is expensive in Mexico with similar prices to that of Canada and the U.S. I’ve learned to avoid malls and shop at Mexican street markets and local shops instead.
What is the average cost of living in Mexico? The cost of living in Cancun and Playa del Carmen are not really comparable since Playa del Carmen costs a lot more. The cost of housing, food and gas are all higher than prices in Cancun.
In saying that, I will share my monthly Playa del Carmen expenses. I am a single woman with two dogs. My dogs are on a meat diet, so my food bill is quite high, but I still live very comfortably for under $1,000 USD per month.
Rent: 8,000 for a spacious 2-bedroom house with large yard in the burbs Maintenance: 700 (private gated community) Food: 4,000 Electric: 250 Water: 150 Internet: 350 Cell phone: Zero* LP gas: 50 (I refill my 20L tank every 7 to 8 months) Gasoline: 1,000 per month. Gas in Mexico is 21.14 per liter for premium and I work from home. No commuting. Auto insurance: 6,200 per year, so around 500 per month Entertainment, shopping: 2,000 per month (I’m a big saver, not shopper). Medical: Zero (I’ve never needed anything more than a quick local doc visit that was paid out of pocket for a few hundred peso) and I do not have a policy.
Total average per month for all-in living expenses: 17,000 peso per month (convert into your own currency).
*I pay as I go. When I need credit, I will put credit on my phone. Around the city, 100 peso will last me a month. All incoming calls and messages are free in Mexico. When you use What’s App for long distance calls and instant messaging, there is no charge. For these reasons, I do not need a phone plan.
Is it cheap(er) to live in Mexico? I do not believe it is cheaper at all to live in Mexico. That 17,000 peso is for one single woman with two dogs and no bad shopping, drinking or food habits let alone kids.
Add to that school kids, medical bills, frequent eating out, salon visits, daily commuting, etc. you’re looking at living expenses similar to what you’re likely spending now.