With its beautiful beaches, ancient ruins, and vibrant culture, Mexico has long been a popular destination for expats and retirees looking to stretch their retirement dollars. If you’re wondering whether it’s cheap to live in Mexico, the short answer is that it can be very affordable, especially compared to the United States and Canada.
This article will provide a comprehensive breakdown of the cost of living in Mexico. We’ll look at prices for housing, food, transportation, healthcare, and more across popular expat destinations like Mexico City, Puerto Vallarta, San Miguel de Allende, and beyond.
Read on for an in-depth analysis of what it costs to live comfortably in Mexico as an expat.
One of the major factors that make living in Mexico affordable is the relatively low cost of housing. Rental prices in Mexico can vary depending on the location, size, and condition of the property. In general, rental prices are significantly lower compared to many other countries.
For example, a one-bedroom apartment in the city center of Mexico City can cost around $500 per month, while a similar apartment in New York City may cost upwards of $2,000 per month. It is important to note that rental prices can vary between different cities and regions in Mexico.
According to a study conducted by Numbeo, the average monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Mexico City is about $650, while a three-bedroom apartment can cost around $1,200. In popular tourist destinations like Cancun or Playa del Carmen, rental prices tend to be slightly higher due to high demand from expats and tourists.
However, even in these areas, the cost of renting a property is still relatively affordable compared to many other popular tourist destinations around the world.
Buying Property in Mexico
Buying property in Mexico can be a cost-effective option for those looking to settle down or invest in real estate. The cost of buying property in Mexico can vary depending on the location, type of property, and market conditions.
In general, property prices in Mexico are more affordable compared to many other countries.
It is important to note that as a foreigner, there are certain restrictions and regulations that need to be considered when buying property in Mexico. It is advisable to seek professional assistance from a real estate agent or lawyer who specializes in Mexican real estate to navigate through the process.
According to the Point2 Homes, the average price per square meter to buy an apartment in Mexico City is around $2,000, while in popular beach destinations like Cancun or Playa del Carmen, the average price per square meter can range from $2,500 to $4,000.
These prices can vary depending on the specific area and amenities offered by the property.
Cost of Food
Groceries in Mexico are generally more affordable compared to many other countries. The cost of food items such as fruits, vegetables, grains, and meats tend to be lower, allowing residents and expats to save money on their grocery bills.
Local markets and tiendas (small neighborhood stores) offer fresh produce at reasonable prices, while larger supermarkets provide a wide variety of options for all budgets.
According to a study conducted by Numbeo, the average cost of groceries in Mexico is approximately 40% lower than in the United States. This means that individuals and families can enjoy a great selection of food without breaking the bank.
Whether you prefer to cook at home or enjoy home-cooked meals, Mexico offers an affordable range of grocery options.
When it comes to dining out, Mexico offers a plethora of affordable options. From street food stalls to upscale restaurants, there is something to suit every budget and taste. Street food, in particular, is a popular and inexpensive way to enjoy authentic Mexican cuisine.
Tacos, quesadillas, and tamales are just a few examples of the delicious street food offerings that can be found throughout the country.
For those who prefer to dine in restaurants, Mexico has a diverse culinary scene that caters to all preferences. From traditional Mexican cuisine to international dishes, the options are endless. It is worth noting that dining out in touristy areas or upscale establishments may be slightly more expensive compared to local eateries.
However, even in these areas, the cost of dining out in Mexico is generally more affordable than in many other countries.
Public transportation in Mexico is affordable and widely available, especially in big cities like Mexico City. The metro and bus systems offer an inexpensive way to get around, with fares costing around 5 to 10 pesos (25 to 50 cents USD).
Many metro stations are works of art themselves featuring amazing murals. Just be wary of pickpockets on crowded buses and metros. You can also take collective vans and buses between cities called “colectivos” which are a bit quicker than regular buses.
Taxis in Mexico are plentiful and inexpensive compared to the US and Canada. The start fare is around 10 to 15 pesos (50 cents to 75 cents USD) and prices go up by meter from there. An average trip within a city costs 30 to 60 pesos ($1.50 to $3 USD).
Be sure to only take official registered taxis and agree on a price beforehand if there’s no meter. Also, Uber operates in many major Mexican cities now as a safe alternative.
Gas prices in Mexico have risen in recent years but are still reasonable compared to North America. Current average costs are around 22 pesos per liter for regular gasoline (around $4.40 USD per gallon). Diesel fuel costs a few pesos less per liter.
If you’re road tripping in Mexico it’s wise to fill up when you see a station since some remote areas lack gas stations.
Bringing a Car to Mexico
If you plan to drive your own car into Mexico, be prepared to pay for a Temporary Import Permit which allows you to keep a foreign plated vehicle in Mexico for up to 6 months. This costs around $50 online or a couple hundred at the border.
You’ll also need to provide a deposit which is refunded when you leave Mexico. Driving in Mexico simply requires a valid license from your home country. However, road signs are often poor, so a GPS is highly recommended if driving there.
When considering the cost of living in Mexico, healthcare is an important factor to take into account. Mexico has both a public and private healthcare system, providing options for residents and expatriates.
Public Healthcare System
Mexico has a comprehensive public healthcare system known as the Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social (IMSS). This system provides healthcare services to Mexican citizens and legal residents who contribute to the social security system.
The IMSS offers a wide range of medical services, including consultations, hospitalizations, surgeries, and medications. The cost of healthcare through the IMSS is significantly cheaper compared to private healthcare options.
However, it’s important to note that the public healthcare system in Mexico may have longer waiting times and limited resources in certain areas. While the quality of care can vary depending on the specific hospital or clinic, the IMSS generally provides adequate healthcare services to the majority of the population.
For those who prefer more personalized and prompt medical attention, private healthcare options are available in Mexico. Private hospitals and clinics offer a higher standard of care and shorter waiting times compared to the public system.
Many private healthcare facilities have bilingual staff and are equipped with modern medical technology.
While private healthcare in Mexico is generally more expensive compared to the public system, it is still significantly cheaper than healthcare costs in many other countries, particularly in the United States.
Expatriates and retirees often opt for private healthcare insurance plans to have access to a wider network of doctors and hospitals.
The cost of prescription medications in Mexico is considerably lower compared to many other countries. Both generic and brand-name medications are available at pharmacies, and prices can be up to 70% lower than in the United States.
It’s important to note that prescription medications in Mexico can only be purchased at licensed pharmacies, and it’s recommended to consult with a healthcare professional before purchasing any medications.
Many expatriates and retirees in Mexico find the cost of prescription medications to be much more affordable, particularly for chronic conditions that require ongoing treatment. It’s also worth mentioning that Mexico has a robust generic medication market, offering a wide range of affordable alternatives to brand-name drugs.
For more information on healthcare in Mexico, visit the Mexperience website, which provides detailed insights and resources about healthcare options in the country.
Entertainment & Leisure
One of the great advantages of living in Mexico is the opportunity to explore its diverse landscapes and vibrant cities. Domestic travel within Mexico is not only convenient but also affordable. With a well-developed transportation system, including buses, trains, and domestic flights, getting around the country is easy and cost-effective.
Whether you want to visit the stunning beaches of Cancun, explore the ancient ruins of Chichen Itza, or immerse yourself in the colonial charm of Guanajuato, there are plenty of options for every budget.
According to a study conducted by Mexico Desconocido, a popular travel website in Mexico, the average cost of domestic travel in Mexico is significantly lower than in many other countries. For example, a round trip flight from Mexico City to Cancun can cost as little as $100, while a bus ticket from Guadalajara to Puerto Vallarta can be as low as $20.
These affordable travel options make it easy for expats and locals alike to explore the beauty of Mexico without breaking the bank.
Mexico is known for its rich cultural heritage and offers a wide range of activities for those interested in arts, history, and traditions. Whether you’re visiting world-class museums, attending traditional festivals, or exploring ancient archaeological sites, there is no shortage of cultural activities to enjoy in Mexico.
Many cultural activities in Mexico are either free or have a minimal entrance fee. For example, the National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City, which houses one of the world’s largest collections of pre-Columbian artifacts, has a modest entrance fee of around $5.
Similarly, attending traditional festivals such as Dia de los Muertos or the Guelaguetza in Oaxaca can be a memorable and affordable experience.
Additionally, Mexico’s vibrant street art scene and live music performances offer free entertainment options for those who enjoy exploring the local culture. Whether you’re strolling through the streets of Mexico City’s trendy neighborhoods like Roma and Condesa or enjoying a mariachi band in the plazas of Guadalajara, there is always something exciting to see and experience.
Mexico is famous for its lively nightlife, with cities like Mexico City, Cancun, and Playa del Carmen offering a wide range of bars, clubs, and entertainment venues. Whether you prefer dancing the night away at a trendy nightclub, sipping cocktails at a rooftop bar, or enjoying live music at a local cantina, Mexico’s nightlife scene has something for everyone.
What makes Mexico’s nightlife even more appealing is its affordability. Compared to many other popular destinations around the world, prices for drinks, cover charges, and entertainment in Mexico are relatively low.
For example, a bottle of beer can cost as little as $1, and entrance fees to clubs are often much cheaper than in cities like New York or London.
Moreover, Mexico’s nightlife is known for its vibrant and welcoming atmosphere. Locals and tourists alike gather to celebrate and have a good time, creating a sense of camaraderie and fun. Whether you’re dancing to salsa music, enjoying a tequila tasting, or simply soaking up the lively ambiance, the nightlife in Mexico is sure to leave you with unforgettable memories.
Taxes & Utilities
When considering the cost of living in Mexico, it is essential to understand the taxes and utilities expenses. Here is a detailed look at the different aspects related to taxes and utilities in Mexico.
Mexico has a progressive income tax system, which means that the more you earn, the higher the tax rate you will pay. The income tax rates range from 1.92% to 35%, depending on your income bracket. However, it is worth noting that Mexico offers various deductions and exemptions that can help reduce your tax liability.
To stay updated with the latest tax regulations and rates, it is advisable to consult the official website of the Mexican Tax Administration Service (www.sat.gob.mx).
In Mexico, there is a value-added tax (VAT) known as the Impuesto al Valor Agregado (IVA). The current standard rate is 16%, which applies to most goods and services. However, certain essential items like food, medicine, and education are exempt from VAT.
Some states in Mexico also charge an additional local sales tax, ranging from 1% to 3%. It is essential to keep these taxes in mind while budgeting for your expenses in Mexico.
Electricity, Gas, Water, Internet
The cost of utilities in Mexico can vary depending on the region and the size of your residence. On average, the monthly cost of electricity for a small apartment can range from $30 to $50. Gas costs can be around $20 per month, while water expenses can range from $10 to $30 per month.
Internet services are widely available throughout Mexico, and monthly plans can cost anywhere from $20 to $50, depending on the speed and provider.
It is important to note that these figures are approximate and can vary based on individual consumption and location. To get accurate information regarding utility costs, it is recommended to consult local service providers or ask for advice from expatriate communities in the area where you plan to live.
While costs are rising in many parts of Mexico, it remains an affordable place to live for most expats and retirees. With some budgeting and location scouting, you can comfortably live in Mexico for far less than what it would cost in the U.S., Canada or Europe.
The low cost of living combined with Mexico’s enviable climate and lifestyle makes it easy to understand why so many expats are drawn south of the border. Hopefully this breakdown gives you a better sense of what to budget for when planning your own expat experience in Mexico.