Cost of Living in Mexico

Hispanic couple walking on cobblestone stree
 Jeremey Woodhouse / Getty Images

If you're thinking about moving and living in Mexico, one of the first things you'll need to know is how much it will cost to live in Mexico.  Knowing the cost of living in another country is essential to planning your move. There are stories of people living in smaller Mexican cities on as little as US$350 a month. But so much depends on your needs, your lifestyle and whether you buy or rent your home. Even though it's cheaper to live in Mexico than other areas of North America, some people still spend as much or more than they do back in the US or Europe.

Get More Purchasing Power for the Peso

Regardless of how much you need to live well in Mexico, the fact is, you'll get more for your money than in other areas of the world. It isn't surprising when one considers that the median household income in Mexico is not much more than a tenth of that in the US. In general, just about everything required for your daily living needs costs more in the US, Australia or Europe, with the exception perhaps of luxury items like brand name products such as designer label jeans and other upper-end clothing items or other imported goods.

Cheaper Groceries and Food

Grocery items are anywhere from 10% to 130% lower in Mexico than other countries, mostly due to the fact that a lot of products are grown there and don't need to be imported. My sister who has been living in Playa Del Carmen since January 2011, which is also a more expensive location, being on the Caribbean coast, still shakes her head in wonder each time she sees the total bill after a grocery run. She figures she spends slightly over half what she used to on groceries.

You also have greater access to smaller markets and vendors who'll deliver to your door, often cheaper than going to a big name grocery store.

If you're willing to eat as the Mexicans do at the plentiful little stalls that serve tasty and ludicrously inexpensive food, you can eat out all the time for the same or less than what it costs to cook at home. My sister tells me she is stunned by how little the Mexicans charge at these stalls, wondering how they can cover costs. 

Cheaper Transportation and Housing

Public transportation is almost 200% more in the US than in Mexico. Gas prices tend to be cheaper, too, and if you're living in a smaller town, there are a lot of public transportation options such as commuter vans and buses.

Housing is also less expensive by approximately 200% as well. Take a look at the recent data compiled by Numbeo, an excellent detailed cost-of-living comparison between Mexico and the US.

Overall Costs You Can Expect

The cheaper cost of living is a key reason more people are finding it tempting to move to Mexico.

For between US$1,000 and $2,000 a month, there are people who live very rich and fulfilling lives there. When my sister was scouting out a place to move to in Mexico, she first looked at Merida, the culturally vibrant capital city of the State of Yucatan. There, she and her husband met a man who has been doing just that—living very well for just about that amount of money. Paul eats out as much as he wants, has enough to fly home to the US periodically, takes in the cultural events offered in the city (many are free), and, in short, lives the kind of life many only dream of. His blog provides a look at living in Mexico, including details on the cost of living in Merida (and an outlook on living fully). Check out Hammock Man.