One of the most common questions asked is how much does it cost to live in Mexico? I am here to explain why this question cannot be answered to any degree of accuracy and also why it is a bit of a unrealistic question in the first place.
First of all, to ask such a generic question how much does it cost to live in Mexico is exactly the same as asking how much does it cost to buy a car. Why is it the same, you wonder? Because it too, is a generic question.
The price of a car, any car, is determined by numerous factors, the most basic of which are the brand. The cost of a car depends on the style, model, year and kilometers not to mention the add-ons and things such as taxes. Other factors such as maintenance, fuel and insurance are a whole other area of car expenses.
In getting back to the original question, how much does it cost to live in Mexico, this too is an extremely generic question because it depends on where in Mexico you are looking to move. Mexico is not a city, but is a country which is properly called the United States of Mexico.
With 31 state-living options and a Federal District, the costs of living in each are completely different. Home prices in Mexico City, for example, are comparable to those in Canadian cites, while home prices in Los Cabos or Playa del Carmen are similar to those found in Florida resorts.
Rent or Buy
When you are asking about the cost of living in Mexico, you need to take several things into consideration. First, are you asking about renting or will you buy a place. Note Mexican banks do not lend money to foreigners for homes. Mexican mortgages are reserved for Mexican nationals.
Legal Residency or FMM
When you live in Mexico, will it be to gain residency or will you be (illegally) “living” here on an FMM tourist permit? Why does this matter? Because if you’re intending to gain residency, that costs money and should be factored into your annual living expenses which can be upwards of 5,000 peso per person applying.
When you move to Mexico, how will you get around? Will you drive your current non-Mexican plated vehicle into the country to use until you become a permanent resident? If so, you will need to factor in the TIP fees to import your vehicle.
If you’re flying in, will you want to buy a car after your arrive? Not all states permit foreigners to purchase Mexican vehicles on FMMs or temporary residency visas. The state of Quintana Roo, for example, is one that does allow it.
If you are going to buy a vehicle after arriving, you need to adjust your cost of living to reflect what you intend to spend on a car. Then you can add to that the maintenance, gas and insurance expenses.
Public transportation is also an option, which is of course, much less expensive than owning a vehicle in Mexico. There is also the option of buying a scooter or bicycle to get around.
No one on social media knows if you have medical insurance, are in need of expat medical insurance or even want to bother with medical insurance when you decide to make your move to Mexico. While some arrive with medical insurance that covers them while in the country, many others buy into a policy after they arrive. Others such as myself, simply don’t need it and do the pay-as-you go method.
In all my years here, I’ve personally spent less than 2,000 peso on medical bills. I do not need medical insurance coverage and know of many, many more like me that simply pay for what we need as we need it. If however, you have conditions, it’s something else to consider and factor into your personal living expenses.
So, are you an apartment dweller or a house person? Houses cost more to live in normally, but an apartment with extras such as garden areas, onsite swimming pool(s), maintenance personnel, 24/7 security and private parking all cost extra money here. If you’re someone who wants the bells and whistles, you will pay for them.
If you are looking for beachfront, expect to pay premium dollars, not peso, but US dollars for that type of lifestyle. And don’t forget that these places also charge monthly maintenance fees to both renters and homeowners (for renters, it will depend on your contract whether the homeowner or the renter pays those fees). Maintenance fees for beachfront properties can easily average a couple of hundred dollars extra per month.
If you prefer a more basic lifestyle, then you can live cheaper. Having a quaint house, for example, in a city or town suburb will cost significantly less than living in the center. A house located in a gated community will still cost less and may come with features such as 24/7 security, garden areas and onsite pools.
Doing your own home maintenance or hiring “a guy” is also a much lesser expensive option and is a common way of doing things in Mexico.
Social media forum participants have no idea if you can cook, if you eat out a lot or if you’re a brand person, so again, asking about the cost of living in Mexico truly is a generic question. Let’s take into consideration that traditional Mexican cooking is very inexpensive since it’s made with basic fresh ingredients, so if you can cook, your monthly cost of living will be less.
If you are a brand person and HAVE to have specialized American food products, expect to pay an arm and a leg for them. Import taxes in Mexico add up. A $4 USD jar of peanut butter in the US will cost upwards of 225 peso here. That may not sound like much, but if you’re on a budget or worse yet, make a living earning peso, that 225 peso jar of peanut butter is a no-go.
For that same 225 peso, I can buy several bags of fresh produce and eat well for 2 to 3 days.
Are you a foody restaurant goer? If so, eating out where the tourists go is not cheap. I’ve seen burgers sold here by American chains for more than $17 USD. On my budget, forget it! I wouldn’t pay it regardless, because again, I can put that money to much better (and healthier) use cooking at home.
If you have children, understand that the public school system is not a good system and is utilized by the poor more than anyone else. Private schools are the way to go and they too, cost money. Depending on the level and type of private school, expect to pay several thousand peso per month per child on top of your current living expenses.
Other things to factor include your personal habits. Things such as shopping, smoking, drinking. What about other things such as gym memberships…or can you workout for free on the beach? Do you have to spend more than $100 on a haircut or will a 100 peso cut work just as well?
Constantly running an air conditioner will see your electric bill spike from an average bill of 700 peso to 7,000 peso for the same two-month period. If you’re adjustable and can learn to live with fans, again, your monthly cost of living will be significantly less.
Spa treatments, hair and nails, yoga classes, tourist entertainment (which is all in US dollars here) need to be taken into consideration to truly determine how much it costs to live in Mexico. With all this new-found information, you may want to rethink your generic question and do your own research into finding out YOUR true cost of living in Mexico.
Hopefully this sheds some light on why there is no one answer to how much does it cost to live in Mexico.