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Living in Mexico

The Cost of Living in Mexico

Is it expensive to live in Mexico? The answer is simple: it’s not. With an attractive average cost of living in Mexico, it is no wonder this vibrant country is an expat haven for urban, beach and country adventures. In this section, you will learn about the financial aspects of residing in this popular expat destination.

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At a Glance

  • Even though the average cost of living in Mexico City (known locally as CDMX) is higher than most other locations in Mexico, it is still lower than the average cost of living in the neighboring US.
  • In Mexico, the basic cost of living is lower than in places such as the US, Canada, and Europe, and even many Latin American countries. Food staples, such as fruits and vegetables, baked goods, and non-imported grocery items are particularly cheap.
  • The country’s economy is centralized. This means that the majority of Mexico’s economic activity centers around Mexico City and its surrounding areas.  So, in comparison to the rest of Mexico (with the exception of touristy beach towns), the capital, CDMX, is more expensive.
  • Mexico City (CDMX), currently nº 144 in the Mercer Cost of Living city ranking. This means it is cheaper than many US and Canadian cities, such as Dallas, Boston, Vancouver, and Toronto. It’s also cheaper than a lot of Latin American cities, such as Montevideo, São Paulo, and Guatemala City.
  • Living expenses also include personal hygiene products, household cleaning products, home decorating items, and clothing. For these items, prices vary significantly in Mexico. If you choose to buy international brands, prices will be similar to the US. If you go for local-brand products instead, you can save a lot of money and your overall spending will decrease significantly.

Is it Expensive to Live in Mexico?

If you are thinking of moving your entire life there, one of the main things in your mind will be how expensive it is to live in Mexico. We have good news for you: Many expats are choosing to relocate to the Land of the Aztecs as it is becoming a haven for better living. For starters, the produce is much cheaper, with fresh fruits costing around 22 MXN (1 USD) per kilo. Just north of the border, the same kilo can cost you 4-5 times the price. In terms of services and tradesmen, luxuries, property, and entertainment, your money will go further in Mexico.

The key to cheaper living in Mexico is shopping in local markets and avoiding the imported brand names you are familiar with. This gives you the perfect opportunity to properly immerse yourself in Mexican culture and start trying local products. You will be pleased to know that Mercer’s Cost of Living Survey 2020, ranked Mexico City at nº144 and Monterrey at nº187. This means that it is much cheaper to live there than in cities such as New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, London, Montreal, and even many Latin American capitals like Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires, San José, and Santiago.

Living Expenses in Mexico

One of your most significant living expenses while living in Mexico will be your rent. It can range from 5,500 MXN (250 USD) for a furnished studio apartment to 8,700 MXN (400 USD) for a house in a normal area. In an expensive area, the prices range from 11,000 MXN (500 USD) for a studio to 18,500 MXN (850 USD) for a house.

Food costs can be relatively low, especially if you eat like a local and shop at farmers’ markets instead of huge brand supermarkets. Electricity can inflate living costs but as Mexico is a sunny nation, you can reduce these costs by fitting solar water heaters and electricity.

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Grocery Prices

In Mexico, grocery prices can be anywhere from 10 to 130% cheaper than many other nations worldwide. There market stalls everywhere, which brings higher competition, in turn lowering prices. Moreover, many items tend to be grown in Mexico and do not need to be imported, which reduces costs. If you choose to shop like a local and avoid going to name brand supermarkets, you can save a lot of money on produce.

Some costs of everyday items in comparison

Chicken 1 lb. 54 MXN 2.99 USD
Eggs 1 dozen 33 MXN 1.50USD
Tomato 2 lb. 23 MXN 1.10 USD
Cheese 1 lb.. 68 MXN 3.15USD
Bread for 2 people 20 MXN 0.90USD

Food & Alcohol Prices in Mexico

Eating in Mexico can be very cheap. Escaping the hot sun with a cold beer is as affordable as can be; you can find beers from around 22 MXN (1 USD) per bottle. If you prefer something fancier, head downtown to a cocktail bar where you will find cocktails from around 130 MXN (6 USD). Snacks from street venders are plentiful. You can pick up delicious asada or tacos al pastor for around 22MXN (1 USD) a pop. If you prefer shrimp or seafood tacos, they are just a few extra cents, at around 25 MXN (1.20 USD). This is part of the reason why Mexico has such a thriving nightlife: The weather is nice, and it doesn’t break the bank.

Eating out in Mexico

Eating out at restaurants in Mexico can be a regular occurrence for either breakfast, lunch, or dinner. It won’t ruin your finances, if you choose the right places.

  • For breakfasts you can have a delicious traditional pastry and coffee, which shouldn’t cost more than 110 MXN (5 USD).
  • For lunch, you can easily find meals for two people for around 325 MX (15 USD), or if you head to street vendors you could have some of Mexico’s world-famous food and spend less than 175 MXN (8 USD) for a feast.
  • For dinner, keep in mind that Mexico has some of the world’s best restaurants. Incredibly, these options will cost you around 650 to 870 MXN (30 to 40 USD). Cheaper options can cost you as little as 175 MXN (8USD), and can be just as delicious

Utility Costs in Mexico

You will be pleased to know that utility costs in Mexico are not very expensive.

Below you can find a table with estimates for monthly utility bills.

Electricity/ gas and water

For 2 people

1243 MXN 57 USD
Internet 379 MXN 17USD

Bear in mind that these are rough estimates, as many variables come into play. For instance, if you can afford to invest in solar panels, you can reduce your electricity costs by as much as 70%. Electricity costs will significantly vary from one household to another, depending on factors such us air conditioning usage.

Gas is usually used for heating and cooking. In several areas of Mexico (mainly the Colonial Highlands), it is usual for expats to install solar water heaters. These can reduce gas usage to a third or less, meaning that the annual gas costs can be as low as about 3,300 to 4,400 MXN (150 -200 USD) for two people.

There are internet and telephone services providers in Mexico. The main provider is Telmex, which offers packages for highspeed internet, including a landline, that starts at around 440 MXN (20 USD a month).

Cost of Education in Mexico

Mexico has a public schooling system that is free for grades one to twelve. The only costs you will have are uniforms, textbooks and extracurricular activities. In Mexico, depending on the quality and the category of the school, school costs can be anywhere from free to 70,000 MXN (3,200 USD) per month. Public schools are all free, although sometimes you need to pay for books or extra activities. Mexican private schools ask for an inscription fee that can range from 6,000 MXN (275 USD) to 16,000 MXN (735 USD), as well as a monthly payment of around 4,000 MXN (185 USD) or 7,000 MXN (320 USD) or more.

For higher education, fees vary significantly between public and private establishments. Even so, even the pricier options are still significantly cheaper than in the neighboring US.

For undergraduates, public universities are very cheap. It can cost as little as 380 MXN (17 USD) for one year, whereas an undergrad in a private institution can pay anywhere between 1600 MXN (74 USD) and 16300 MXN (747 USD) per semester. For more detailed information on this topic, read our Comprehensive Guide About the Education System and International Schools in Mexico.

Health Care Costs

The overall quality of health care in Mexico is quite good. Expats may enroll in the employment based public healthcare system called Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social (IMSS): the cost for this is around 7000 MXN (320 USD) per year. If you don’t have formal employment (e.g. retirees), you can still enroll on the IMSS on a voluntary basis. While the service you will receive is of a high standard, in the public sector wait times are very long, as the system is overcrowded. If you prefer and can afford it, opt for private health insurance for around 37,000 MXN (1,700 USD) a year. Find all the information you need on this topic, on our section: Health Insurance and the Healthcare System of Mexico Explained.

Without insurance, or as part of the national health system, some average costs are:

Routine Doctor Visit 265 to 330 MXN 12 to 15 USD
Routine Dental Exam 550 to 1095 MXN 25 to 50 USD
Specialist Exam 880 to 1095 MXN 40 to 50 USD
Complete Blood Work 1095 to 1755 MXN 50 to 80 USD
X-ray 525 to 660 MXN 25 to 30 USD
MRI 6,575 to 10,960 MXN 300 to 500 USD

Travel and Transportation Cost

The efficiency of public transportation varies widely depending on location. For example, in Ciudad de México (CDMX), public transportation is useful but challenging. Traffic is hectic, so you will want to avoid it. Therefore, public transportation will be a great option for you. Be aware that the metro network in the capital is huge and learning at least some basic Spanish is a must.

Cost of Public Transportation in Mexico:

  • Buses:The cost will depend on the route, the distance, the type of bus and the ticket class that you purchase.
  • Metro: Rides cost a flat rate of 5 MXN (0.20 USD). You can also purchase a tarjeta (smart card) for 10 MXN (0.50 USD). You can recharge your tarjeta with up to 120 MXN at a time.
  • Metrobus: The fare is 6 MXN (0.25 USD), which you pay by tapping your tarjeta at the barrier. There are cash-only machines to buy or top-up the smart card in all stations.
  • Colectivos: are essentially shared taxis or vans. They don’t have an official timetable, take passengers on a fixed or semi-fixed route, and stop anywhere to pick up or drop off people. Fares may vary depending on the route and schedule.

For all the ins and outs about transportation and everyday life in Mexico, read our Practical Guide to the Way of Life in Mexico.

The Most Expensive and Cheapest Cities: Monthly Expenses and Rent

Los Cabos, Mexico City, and Cancun are three of the most expensive cities in Mexico. Oaxaca and La Paz are the among the most affordable. All five cities are popular with expats. Tijuana has the largest community of US expats, simply because it is right on the border of California, which allows for a cheaper cost of living close to home.

Below is a look at the cost of living in each city. Prices include the average monthly expenses plus rent, and the average rent for one- and three-bedroom homes. For a closer look at renting or purchasing property, see our section on Everything You Need to Know About Finding a New Home in Mexico.

Cost of Living in Mexico by Province & Cities

To calculate the average cost of living (including rent), we considered a one-bedroom flat for a single expat and a three-bedroom flat for a family of fours.

Los Cabos: Known for its beaches and the sea arch, El Arco de Cabo

Average Monthly Expenses with Rent
Single expat 22,380 MXN 1,030 USD
Family of four 43,950 MXN 2,025 USD
Average Monthly Rent
Single expat 9,870 MXN 450 USD
Family of four 14,700 MXN 670 USD

Mexico City: Has over 160 museums, the most of any city in the world.

Average Monthly Expenses with Rent
Single expat 25,950 MXN 1195 USD
Family of four 47,450 MXD 2185 USD
Average Monthly Rent
Single expat 9,870 MXN 450 USD
Family of four 17,550 MXN 800 USD
Cancun: Best known for its white sand and near perfect weather.
Average Monthly Expenses with Rent.
Single expat 21,000 MXN 950 USD
Family of four 44,150 MXN 2035 USD
Average Monthly Rent.
Single expat 8,550 MNM 390 USD
Family of four 17,350 MXN 790 USD

Mexico’s Most Affordable Cities

Oaxaca: The gastronomical capital of Mexico.
Average Monthly Expenses with Rent
Single expat 16,400 MXN 755 USD
Family of four 36,600 MXN 1,685 USD
Rent Only
Single expat 6580 MXN 300 USD
Family of four 12,065 MXN 550 USD

La Paz: Known for its long beach, beautiful sunsets, and La Paz Carnival

Average Monthly Expenses with Rent
Single expat 17,750 MXN 820 USD
Family of four 37,150 MXN 1710 USD
Rent only
Single expat 8,775 MXN 400 USD
Family of four 11,200 MXN 510 USD

 

Updated on: October 01, 2020
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