Cost of Living in Mexico

The Cost of Living in Mexico
Depends on Your Lifestyle
When You Live or Retire in Mexico

If you have been researching and planning to retire in Mexico, you may have noticed that it’s hard to get solid information about the cost of living in Mexico.

I have good news. You can breathe a sigh of relief because you’ve just found a useful source of information.

The cost of living in Mexico is quite varied. Imagine trying to tell someone from Europe what the cost of living is for the entire United States. Well, it’s that hard to describe the cost of living in Mexico — yet it’s crucial information for anyone planning to live or retire in Mexico. Additionally, there aren’t the same sources of information on the Internet as there are for the U.S. and other similar countries. Getting solid information about Mexico is a little like reading the paper through a glass of water.

To help my readers I have devised a unique way to elucidate the cost of living in Mexico. I describe three levels of lifestyle (low, medium, and high) and give prices — as references — at Cuernavaca prices. These three “lifestyle levels” provide a snapshot that will allow you to imagine how you would like to live in Mexico once you retire here. You can then use them as starting points to plan accordingly for your retirement.
e-book
You wouldn’t buy a car without first researching its safety, comfort, reliability, and gas mileage.

DON’T MAKE THAT MISTAKE WITH MEXICO.

There’s NO NEED to make planning to retire in Mexico like reading the newspaper through a glass of water when you can have REAL ANSWERS. Treat yourself to a book which will clear up your doubts.  Click here to learn how.

The prices I give are estimates that will give you ballpark ideas of how much it costs to live a certain way. Keep in mind that in addition to your lifestyle, the cost of living in Mexico also depends on where you live. We all know that it costs less to live in Virginia than it does to live in San Francisco, California. In the same way, it costs less to live in Morelia, Michoacan than it does to live in Mexico City or Cuernavaca.

Keep in mind that really touristy areas, such as Los Cabos and Cancun, cost much more. Also keep in mind that if you don’t need to work and can handle a less “modern” city, you can find lovely places in Mexico with much lower prices. If you do need to work, you need to consider the amount of industry or tourism in the area.

Once you get serious about living in a particular area, you can use the ideas on this page and in my e-book to investigate the actual prices and cost of living in your area of choice.

The Cost of Living of the “LOW” lifestyle Level in Mexico:

This lifestyle is rustic in many ways compared to life in the US, but covers the basic needs (you have to actively define your basic needs). See letting go of materialism for a simple lifestyle to read about peeling your lifestyle-onion.

This lifestyle costs a total ballpark figure (in Cuernavaca) of about XX,XXX to XX,XXX* pesos per month for two people.

e-book
*To see the prices and read lots of important information about life in Mexico that’s not available anywhere else, read the e-book called “detailed and thorough” by the owner of mexicoadventure.com.

At this lifestyle level, eating out consists of tacos and comida corrida, with a very occasional trip to a more expensive restaurant. It involves eating very few packaged foods and shopping for fresh meats and vegetables at the market, rather than in a supermarket. It does not include many movies, nor many trips in a taxi. It might include having one economical car per family and may include one or two extras such as exercise or language classes, but the extras have to be prioritized. For example, “Do we want cable TV or dial up internet service?”

Housing:

Housing at this level costs between X,XXX and X,XXX* pesos per month, with X,XXX* being most common. You’d have to get lucky to find something for less than X,XXX*/month. At this lifestyle level, features of the housing are considered separately. It is possible to find the ones that are most important to you, but probably not all of them together (that would jump you up to the medium level).

e-book
*To see the prices and get the information you need about real life in Mexico, read the e-book Mexico: The Trick is Living Here.

“I bought a copy, and I think I struck a wonderful bargain.” — Michael Greene, Online Instructor.

Note: at this level of lifestyle you have to buy ALL of your own appliances—even your shelves and cupboards. Small, less expensive stoves and refrigerators are available.** You will have a wider range of appliance options than are available up north. If you can purchase these, then it represents a one-time purchase rather than a cost that would otherwise be included in the monthly rent.

Features to consider are the following:

1.  There may be asbestos in the roofing or water tank

2.  A separate sink in the kitchen and bathroom

3.  Hot water to the kitchen

4.  An outside area to put a washing machine (covered vs not covered)

5.  Private area to hang clothes to dry

6.  A private vs. shared patio area

7.  Space for plants in a patio area

8.  Closets

…* 

20. Other kinds of pollution, such as smells from food stands

21. Safety of neighborhood

22. Frequency of bus service (I recommend that it come by at least every 15 minutes because this lets you get by without a car)

23. Protected off-street parking for a car (room for two may be too much to ask for)

24. Stores within walking distance

e-book
*To see the rest of this list and read lots of additional information about life in Mexico that’s not available anywhere else, read the e-book Mexico: The Trick is Living Here.

The Cost of Living of the “MEDIUM” lifestyle Level in Mexico:

This lifestyle is simpler in many ways compared to life in the US, but doesn’t force you to peel your lifestyle-onion down very much.

This lifestyle costs a total ballpark figure (in Cuernavaca) of about XX,XXX to X,XXX* pesos per month for two people.
Conveniences at this lifestyle level often include….

e-book
*Don’t stay blind to the realities of living in Mexico. To read the rest of this section get the all new Second Edition of Mexico: The Trick is Living Here.

The Cost of Living of the “HIGH” lifestyle Level in Mexico:

This lifestyle can actually be more luxurious than life in the US….

*To read the rest of this section get the all new Second Edition of Mexico: The Trick is Living Here.

“…forthright and entertaining…” –Michael Greene, Online Instructor 

**To see some of the variety in appliances available, click here. When you get to the site, click on Electra.com, then where it says “buscar” type in the words “Estufas” and “Refrigeradores.” It’s not really easy to see, but some stoves don’t have an oven under them, and many of the fridges are actually slightly bigger than our mini-fridges (you know the ones college students have in their dorm rooms).

You can also find out the value of Mexican pesos in your own currency.

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29 comments

  1. Doug Stewart May 21

    Bought, read and enjoyed your ebook. A lady-friend here in central Texas, originally from Guadalajara, has spoken highly
    of Guanajuato. I’ve also read a couple of Doug Bowers’ books on GTO. In reference to the three lifestyles shown,(I really like what you have done here)how do you think Guanajuato compares re: cost for three std of living examples given for Cuernavaca? Any thoughts on GTO. Know there are fewer
    gringos and will have to know spanish. I see there are relocation consultants offering services for a fee. What is your opinion of their value?

  2. Julia Taylor May 23

    Doug Stewart,

    I’m really pleased that you enjoyed my e-book. I put my heart into writing it. I was also really excited when I received your comment because it is the FIRST one!

    In order to answer your question, I went right to the source. I wrote to Doug and Cindi Bower in Guanajuato and asked them if the prices in Guanajuato seemed similar to those that I describe in Cuernavaca. The short answer is yes, they are similar. Below is Cindi’s more descriptive and informative answer, which she has given me permission to use in this comment.

    “The cost of living in Guanajuato seems to be about the same as in Cuernavaca, depending, of course, on what one needs.

    “For a single person who has few needs, there are furnished rooms for rent for less than $1000 pesos. Sometimes there is a private bathroom, sometimes not. Some have a kitchenette or kitchen privileges. Utilities are usually included in the rent.

    “If a person has his or her own furniture and appliances, small apartments can be found for around $2500 pesos (or less) a month. The renter normally pays for all the utilities. As you pointed out, there may not be cupboards, counters, appliances, or even light fixtures. There may not even be a water heater.

    “If a person does not want the hassle of bringing furniture and appliances from the US (or wherever) and doesn’t want to tie himself down by buying furniture and appliances, there are furnished places available. These places can range from around $3000 pesos and up (one house close to us rents for $12,000 pesos a month completely furnished).

    “Our first apartment had two bedrooms (one decent size, the other just large enough for a single bed and a small desk), a dining room, a small kitchen, teeny bath, a small terrace, and a private laundry sink and clothesline. With utilities included, the rent was $3300 pesos (four years ago). It was furnished, but no phone or cable or washing machine. And, it was in an extremely noisy neighborhood.

    “A friend who is currently looking for a furnished apartment says a decent furnished place (one bedroom) is $4000 pesos or more. I can believe it as prices have gone up quite a bit in four years.

    “I don’t think a couple could live on $8000 pesos a month in Guanajuato unless they were very frugal or owned their house outright. Of course, now that I’ve said that, someone will write and prove me wrong!

    “I don’t think Doug and I could live on $8000 pesos a month unless we gave up our phone and internet, never ate in restaurants, gave up our once-a-week maid (which the landlady insists we have to make sure the place is kept up), and stopped taking our laundry to the lavandería (there is a shared laundry sink and clothesline available to us, but I really don’t like washing jeans and towels by hand!).

    “I would say your estimates for medium and high levels are pretty close to Guanajuato, though Guanajuato might be a bit higher.

    “Just like anywhere, there are deals to be found in Guanajuato. Depends on what one needs and what one is willing to put up with. Some people we know would not be comfortable living in our apartment because there is no washer, no patio, no terrace, etc. We find it adequate for our needs.

    “You might tell the guy who wrote the comment that Guanajuato has a weekly newspaper called “The Chopper” that has lots of rental ads. The paper has a web site (in Spanish).”

    Cindi,
    http://www.mexicanliving.access.to

    As to your second question about relocation consultants, I guess that is up to you. They probably charge prices that they consider worthy of the “rich” people up in the U.S. You’d just have to decide if you want the adventure of finding your own place, which may mean staying in a hotel for a week or two, finding a “temporary” place for the first year, then finding just the right place for you, or if you want some help. It’s OK to want help.

    I don’t have any personal experience with relocation services so I can’t tell you how trustwrothy they may or may not be.

    By the way, Doug Bower says that there are more and more people from the U.S. moving to Guanajuato. If you are looking for the real Mexican experience you can find a place in a neighborhood that is not being considered by many Americans.

    I’m sure that this answers your questions. Feel free to ask any more that you may have. Enjoy your adventure!

    Julia

  3. doug stewart May 23

    Julia Taylor,
    I am overwhelmed by your prompt and thorough response. Also appreciate the Bowers’ input. Incidentally, having been born in Olympia, Washington I got a kick out of your comments (ebook) re: sensitivity to warm weather.
    Thanks again,
    Doug Stewart

  4. Julia Taylor May 23

    Doug,

    Yes, I moved from paradise and unlike most people who move to Mexico, I’m not actually happy with the new weather. It’s especially hard during May!

    Julia

  5. doug stewart May 23

    Julia,
    The local librarian and I are completely striking out on finding the website or anything, for that matter on The Chopper weekly referred to by Cindi Bower. Any assistance would be appreciated.
    Thanks/Doug

  6. Julia Taylor May 23

    Doug,

    Here are some ideas:
    http://guanajuatocapital.com/espanol/Smedios.htm (This one says that it is a weekly paper that comes out on Saturdays. It gives a phone number, but no web site.)

    http://www.mexico-with-heart.com/rlestate/gto-re.html (This one is a personal story of someone who is looking for real estate in Guanajuato.

    I found one place on a forum where someone states: “I would heartily disagree with the [statement by another person] advising THE CHOPPER. The Chopper is very much a weekly rag where, on occasion, one can spot a property for sale but is usually very much downscale in bad neighborhoods.”

    I think this means it’s a great place to look. We pay reasonable rent because we live in a mixed neighborhood and have “poor” neighbors (by U.S. standards, not by Mexican standards). Our neighbors have been wonderful friends since we’ve moved here and are a continuous source of support, information, and fun. I personally would not want to live next to rich Mexicans with their hired drivers and 15 foot high walls. There’s no bus service to rich neighborhoods and they never walk to the store so you would never get to see them and say hi.

    Anyway, I’m not having any luck finding a web site for the Chopper, either. I guess you’ll just have to go to Guanajuato and buy it on a Saturday!

    I personally wouldn’t buy anything without being there to oversee every single step of the process. Business in Mexico must be conducted IN PERSON.

    Julia

  7. Cindi May 27

    Hi Julia and Doug,

    I apologize. The Chopper does not have a web site as I said in my comment. I thought someone once told me it had a site, but obviously it does not from your previous comments.

    However, it does have an e-mail address: choppergto@prodigy.net.mx

    One can e-mail the paper (in Spanish) with questions and/or to get a subscription. I don’t know the cost of the subscription, but since it is mailed, it will take two weeks (or longer) to arrive.

    Our web site (http://www.mexicanliving.access.to) has a link to a business run by a Mexican-American woman. She provides translation services and will help with real estate negotiation, among other services. She runs a B&B as well.

    Julia is right about living in a neighborhood with rich Mexicans (and expats). Everyone drives, there may or may not be bus service, and it is difficult to become acquainted with neighbors.

    We live in a Mexican neighborhood. Fewer than 10 expats live in this area. We have become acquainted with our neighbors and the shopkeepers. They have accepted us as part of the community. We have been invited to birthday parties and fiestas.

    Recently, we took a trip for a couple of weeks. When we returned, many of the people in our neighborhood asked if we were ok, where we had been, and told us they missed us.

    Of course, living in a Mexican neighborhood means you have to speak at least a little Spanish. Your neighbors most likely will not speak English.

    Cindi

  8. Gerry Heaney Jul 19

    Hi,
    Interested in comments about the Chopper–i found a house in Gto advertised in it a few mths ago and subsequently bought it.
    It is in a real Mex. neighbourhood and close to El Centro.I wanted authenticity not San Miguel style living.
    There are few good realtors in Gto but am very happy with mine and would recommend him highly.
    Gerry Heaney

  9. Julia Taylor Jul 19

    Gerry,
    I’m interested in your experiences–especially as someone interested in an authentic experience.
    How long have you lived in Mexico?
    Why and how did you choose Mexico?
    Did you rent first or buy right away?
    Do you speak Spanish?
    What’s your favorite thing about living in Mexico?
    What else are you inspired to say about Mexico?
    Julia

  10. Gerry Heaney Jul 28

    Just recently purchased in Gto–wil live there part time.
    Chose Mex. for many reasons–
    Economy and consumer prices very affordable.
    Climate–pleasant all year,predictable,hours of sunshine
    People -friendly,genuine,hard working ,,passionate people
    Culture -rich,varied,authentic,good mixture of
    folk arts,dance,music,sports,literature,film,cuisine.
    Lived in Europe,Honduras,Guatemala,Costa Rica,US,Canada and Mexico compares favourably.
    Lived[rented] in Mexico at different times for short and long vacations–time to buy.
    Speak some Spanish.Favorite thing–people.Hope it stays same

  11. Julia Taylor Jul 28

    Gerry, Thanks for giving us the summary.I’m sure you will continue to enjoy Mexico’s people. People here place other people high on their priority list. You can’t fail with that kind of environment!
    Julia

  12. Anne Aug 22

    Nice website.

    I’ve been living in Mexico for 12 years and it’s good to see someone write realistically about the costs of living in Mexico.

    My husband and I live in an expensive area, Cabo San Lucas. Over the years we have learned how to reduce our expenses and now spend about 10,000 pesos a month, but we do live very modestly.

    Our house is in a very Mexican working class neighborhood, which we love because we are within walking distance to all sorts of stores and have great neighbors. O fo course the streets aren’t paved and people keep chickens and sometimes goats in their yards!

    We spend 2,500 for rent: the house is actually fairly good sized with a yard and several trees. The roof leaks badly when it rains, but rain is rare here, so we deal with it.

    500/month for telephone and prodigy infinitum (dsl)
    400/month electricty
    100/month water/sewer
    400/month Sky TV
    330/month Medical insurance (IMSS)
    400/month pet food
    100/month propane
    Groceries: We rarely buy imported food, don’t eat much meat or fish, pretty much cook everything from scratch so our weekly bill is about 800 pesos.

    We have a small car, but rarely drive it, mostly either walking, taking the bus (6 pesos) or a taxi from time to time.

    Recreation is mostly getting together with friends at their homes for potlucks, although we do go to the movies a few times a month (35 pesos for the Tuesday matinee) or splurge on a pizza.

    We don’t spend much on clothes since we are retired. I mostly shop at second hand stores for clothes or have them made, a simple sundress costs about 300 pesos including labor and fabric.
    We speak good Spanish

    It’s a very simple life, but quite satisfying and healthy for us.

    I agree the the costs of living in Mexico is entirely dependent on expectations and our lifestyle is certainly not for everyone.

    Anne

  13. Julia Taylor Aug 22

    Anne,
    What a perfect comment. It will be really helpful for other readers. Thank you so much for putting it up.

    Your house sounds like ours. Our roof leaks too. The trick is leaving the pots out in the right places if you go away for a few days!

    Also, I always recommend living in a working class neighborhood. You get to enjoy one of Mexico’s best features, the neighborliness of the people.

    How much does a kilo of bananas cost in Cabo? Do you have tunas (cactus fruits)? If so, how much do they cost? I had heard that fruits have to be brought in from the mainland and are therefore more expensive. Is that true?

    In Cuernavaca you can buy bananas for 3-5 pesos a kilo at the market and 8 pesos elsewhere. Tunas cost about 10 pesos for 2-3 kilos when they are in season.

    Sincerely, Julia

  14. Anne Aug 23

    Julia,

    Here are some prices from my grovery reciept 8/2/07

    bananas 9.90/kilo
    potatoes 10.90/k
    dozen eggs 13.40
    bunch of basil 3.40
    onions 15.40/kilo
    chicken legs (with thigh) 18.80/kilo
    roma tomatoes 11.90 kilo
    pears 16.60/kilo
    ground beef (the cheap kind) 33.40/kilo

    Yes we get tunas here but I don’t remeber the price and also a similar native cactus fruit called pitahayas. Not very expensive when in season, you can buy them from the backs of trucks along with locally grown corn, melons, papaya, strawberries and mangos. Even though this is desert, there are areas well suited to agriculture where there are natural springs. Our mango season is just finishing up, we’ve been gorging on them for 3 kilos/10 pesos.

    Anne

  15. Cy Bolinger Sep 16

    Having just finished Cindi and Doug Bower’s book, “Guanajuato, Mexico…” I can sense their depth-ridden, sincere admiration for the city of Guanajuato –coupled with good writing and well described personal reflections. As a published writer and journalist myself, it was refreshing for a change to read truthful ruminations and not “boiler plate” about the country of Mexico and its central area state and city of Guanajuato. So many writers about Mexico, Central America and South America are motivated by the prospects of having their palms greased by crass American developers, “service people” and various hucksters who charge exorbitant fees to weasel American “expat relocation services” and tours. I have experienced a number of popular web-site blogs who sell their lists for gain. I have found many books and articles loaded with outright lies and contradictions, written by so called “experts”, particularly about Mexico and Costa Rica. Finding the truth is a monumental chore. Cindi and Doug Bower are proof that living in another country can be quite rewarding within the boundaries of that country’s language and culture. Also, the Bowers have pointed out how ugly Americans, with their SUVs, trips to gigantic malls and utter crassness are trying to force the supercilious “American dream” on citizens of a country that has an ancient culture of tradition, elegance and values. Bravo Cindi and Doug!

  16. Julia Taylor Sep 16

    Cy, I wholeheartedly agree.
    I’ll pass it on to Cindi and Doug.
    Julia

  17. allen alexander Oct 21

    Hi Julia. I purchased your book last night, finished it and really enjoyed it. It gave me direction on how I want to go about looking for that special place in Mexico. I especially liked the parts about cost of living and healthcare. I am sure there will be many roadblocks in my search but you have given me alot of information on what to do and not to do. I am looking forward to a new experience and will now go about it better prepared………………Allen

  18. Julia Taylor Oct 21

    Allen,
    I’m touched that you wrote to say how much you liked the book. I’m glad that the sections on cost of living and healthcare gave you useful information and I’m really pleased that you feel that the book will improve your overall experience in Mexico.

    Thanks so much for putting up a comment to say that you liked it.

    Enjoy Mexico! There is so much to learn and do here!

    Julia

  19. William Conklin May 17

    It is interesting to read so much about Guanajuato as that certainly a favorite place but one that gets little recognition on expat blogs. We live about 1.5-2 hours away so we don’t get there as much as we like but the views coming in on the “high road” from Dolores Hidalgo are spectacular. I’m also really impressed with the public facilities that are being built and is great that they are out from centro.
    One of my most “interesting” experiences this year was having my car die at the glorietta where the road to Pipila connects to the main entry road. Lucky for me, a mechanico was about 100m away. Not only did they get me out of the glorietta, they were able to find a taxi driver with the phone contact for a rental car company that delivered a car. Also, they were able to scour Mexico for parts for a 2000 car and although it took them a week, they did a great job and it works like a charm.
    I’m also very interested in price/cost discussions. The closest think that we have to a supermercado is a Flash mini-mart so I feel a lot like being in New York when I grew up. We go from tienda to tienda to find the best meat, chicken, fruits/vegetables and dry goods. We are often asked what we would see as comfortable living and I basically agree with International Living where they named Mineral de Pozos as one of six places that you can live comfortably in Mexico on $1500/month

  20. Julia Taylor May 17

    William, Your comments are like gold. Thank you!
    Regards, Julia

  21. Sam Wodson May 20

    I usually don’t post in Blogs but your blog forced me to, amazing work.. beautiful �

  22. cindi o rose Sep 20

    I am looking to relocate to a sweet city of Gunajuato. Probably in 2011. I sur would like to connect with people of that area. Cindi

  23. Tom Aug 14

    My wife and I are planning to retire to Mexico in 2 years. We love the culture and the people we have met, and see retirement there as a good option especially since our income will be about $2000 USD a month. This winter we will be coming to Guanajuato for a week–our first time there. This is one of the places we are considering. We want to relax and enjoy and city, its people and culture, and would also like to check out affordable and interesting neighborhoods, make whatever connections we can to both help us decide if this might be the place for us, as well as facilitate our move, if it is. Any advice you can give is appreciated.

  24. Julia Taylor Aug 14

    Tom,

    Thank you for your comment. I wish you the best on planning your exciting move.

    I think the best advice I can give is that one week won’t be enough to do all you would like to do. That’s OK, though. Do as much as you can and if you find you really love it there you can come back. Once you find a place you would like to live I recommend a few longer stays of one to three months before you try to make the final leap.

    Kindest Regards,

    Julia C Taylor

  25. Terrell Pulliam Dec 23

    Julia

    thanks so much for the website and the ebook-both are fascinating reading chock full of essential info. my question concerns cost of living. has it risen since the release of your 2007 edition of your ebook? If so, by how much approximately?

    thanks,
    Terrell in PDX, OR

  26. Julia Taylor Dec 30

    Terrell,

    Glad you like my book! The following is just a loose estimate, so please cross check with other sources: Gas prices are around 9 to 10 pesos a liter. Housing hasn’t increased much but food prices have increased around 40%.

    Kindest Regards, Julia C Taylor

  27. Will Jan 28

    my name is will and im 21 looking to get away and move to mexico. I just want to know what would be the best place to live with around 2000 usd

  28. Dina Moniz Dec 21

    Hello, yours was the only site that I found with some usufull info.
    I’d like to know, if it costs that much to live and work in Cabo San Lucas. Got a job offer there, I’m from Europe, it’s far, so I was hoping to get more info, before deciding!
    If u could help, I’d be very grateful. Thank u

  29. Julia Taylor Jan 2

    Dina, Thank you for your compliment on my web site. I worked really hard to put up useful information. Cabo San Lucas is more expensive than many other places in Mexico, but it can be done. For the most part, people earn more than in other areas. It all depends on how much you’d earn and how many hours you would get at your job.

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