The cost of living in Mexico is super-cheap, right? So, living in Mexico on $500 a month is easy, right?
That’s all a misconception. The reality is that while it certainly can be more affordable, it depends entirely on your lifestyle.
So how much does it cost to live in Mexico? Let’s unpack it.
Adjust Your Lifestyle, And Your Budget Will Follow
Before we get into the nitty-gritty of the cost of living in Mexico vs. the US, there is one major caveat to how much you spend monthly.
If you are trying to replace your lifestyle from the US with the exact same things in Mexico, you will pay more. If you want your Mexican life to look exactly like the one you left in America, you might blow your budget.
You are moving to Mexico for a reason. So why not embrace a lifestyle change? I’m not suggesting you go without the important things in life or skimp on essentials, but I’m suggesting that if you just tweak things a bit, your life will be that much more affordable.
If you only drink imported wines and want the same brands of clothing, furniture, and cars, expect to pay more. Imported goods come at a cost. But if you go local, you’ll save a pretty penny. You’ll still have an incredible lifestyle and want for nothing.
Let me explain a little more…
Housing: (The Most Significant Factor Affecting The Cost Of Living In Mexico vs. The US)
Housing is generally more affordable in Mexico than the US. But. And that comes with a big but. It depends on where you are coming from and moving to.
If you live in New York City and move to Playa del Carmen, your money will go much further. What you pay for a shoebox in NYC might afford you a 3-bedroom condo, 2 blocks from the ocean.
On the other hand, if you come from a small town and plan to move into the same 3-bedroom in Playa del Carmen, it’s likely to cost you more.
That being said, there is something for every budget in Mexico. Want an old casita? A rustic place to escape your modern life? You can find those in Mexico. Want a villa on the beach where you can land your helicopter? It’s there too. Thankfully, you can find everything in between as well.
There are rentals for $300, but also $5,000.
For $300, you can get a studio or one-bedroom without air-conditioning in Puerto Vallarta. And not in the most desired neighborhood.
Conversely, for $5,000, you can find multi-bedroom condos with security, fitness centers, pools, large private balconies, parking and all the amenities you could dream of. Or a house with a private pool and garden in a gated secured community, steps from the beach.
So, is it less expensive to rent in Mexico? Yes. Because that same $5,000 condo in the US will cost you $10,000. You do get more for your money. Even if you decide to live directly on the beach in Cabo San Lucas and spend the same amount as you do in the US, you’ll get a lot more for it.
Of course, all of this depends on the town or city you choose and the location within that town. Just like in the US, the further away from the city center or beach, the less money you’ll spend on rent. Want to live on the beach in Puerto Vallarta? That will cost more than if you live within a 20-minute walk to the beach.
If you want more detailed info about the cost of living in Mexico, sign up for
Mexpat: Cost of Living in Mexico 2022
6-Part Live Online Workshop Series in September and October for People Interested in Moving or Retiring to Mexico
A 6 part live online series where expats and realtors from 6 popular expat destinations in Mexico – Puerto Vallarta, Cabo San Lucas, Merida, San Miguel de Allende, Mazatlan and Playa Del Carmen – share the current cost of living, real estate market, experiences, surprises, hacks, and lessons learned. Attendees will get a chance to ask their questions live.
Electricity costs vary greatly, but it’s relatively expensive in Mexico. However, it’ll cost much less than in the US.
If you live in San Miguel de Allende, where the elevation is higher, and there is little need for air-conditioning, it’ll be pretty low, under $30. In contrast, if you live in a beachfront condo in Playa del Carmen and have the a/c blasting all summer, it could easily cost in the hundreds.
In some places, gas is used for cooking, clothes dryers, and hot water heaters. It’s very affordable and delivered to your home. Expect to spend about $20-25 a month.
In many places in Mexico, you’ll be able to find all your favorite American products. From Jiffy peanut butter and Tillamook cheese to Tide and California wines. But they come at a higher cost because they are imports.
Yes, certain towns have a Walmart and a Costco to make shopping super convenient, but the prices usually aren’t as low as the local supermarkets, which are just as good but don’t have all the imported products.
If you are determined to eat only organic food and exactly how you ate in the US, it’s likely to cost you more.
Go local, and your food bills will drop dramatically.
For produce, head to the local market, sometimes called a tianguis or mercado. 2 pounds of avocados will cost you the same as one lone avo in the US.
A fantastic bottle of tequila will cost you less than a cheap bottle of California red. Drink local beer instead of artisan ones, and your budget will remain intact.
In most popular areas, the internet is high-speed (fiber-optics) and more affordable than in the US. Telmex is a major provider, and their home packages start at $18. The same beginner internet package in the US is more than double.
Just like in the US, the faster and larger the package, the higher the rate.
Although many Mexican towns are very walkable, public transportation is very affordable in Mexico. Bus fares are usually well under a dollar, even for longer intracity distances and taxis and Ubers are far less than in the US.
Long-distance bus travel in Mexico is luxurious and affordable compared to the US—think his and her toilets and private TV screens. On some long-distance bus routes, the first-class seats (you read that right, first-class bus seats) will fully recline. And always at a fraction of what it would cost in the US.
If you are moving to Mexico with temporary or permanent residency, you can sign up for the country’s nationalized health care system, IMSS. Prices vary by age but start at about $500 per year for someone in their 40s and $550 for someone in their 50s.
Regardless of your residency status, healthcare is laughably affordable compared to the US. For example, a doctor or dentist visit will only set you back $20-30 if you pay out of pocket. And prescriptions are pennies on the dollar.
You can’t even walk into a minute clinic in the US and pay under $100.
For a fine dining experience, expect to pay around $30 a person for 2-courses and a couple of drinks. While that may be expensive in Mexico, it’s a fine dining fancy restaurant.
In the US, a Big Mac, fries, and a soft drink are $10, and you get to sit in your car and eat that meal. You couldn’t find a fine dining restaurant anywhere in the US and spend $30 for 2 courses and a couple of drinks.
It’s also easy to find $1 street tacos and small restaurants serving super affordable local meals, think $5-10 for a lunch or dinner set.
So, How Much Does It Cost To Live In Mexico?
When people ask, “What the average cost to live in Mexico is?”
The answer really is, “It’s complicated.”
If the question was, do you get more for your money in Mexico, more bang for your buck? The answer would be a resounding yes
Mexico’s cost of living vs. the US can definitely be lower if you do it right.