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The Cost of Living in Mexico - A Guide by Remote Year

7. Mar. 2023

The Cost of Living in Mexico

Key Takeaways

  • The cost of living in Mexico is 45.7% lower than in the U.S. You can thus get by on $600 to $2,000 a month. From rent to groceries, utilities to an internet connection, and dining out to transportation, everything is more affordable in Mexico compared to the U.S.

  • Rent is typically everyone’s biggest monthly expense. By living in Mexico, you can save up to 71.2% in rent.

  • Healthcare is 50% less expensive in Mexico than in the US. Though public hospitals offer the cheapest healthcare, it’s recommended to get international healthcare insurance for access to better doctors and facilities.

  • Because of its cheaper cost of living, it’s possible to have a better quality of life in Mexico than in the United States. Many foreigners enjoy luxuries such as private transportation, house help, better healthcare coverage, dining out more frequently, etc.

  • If you’re planning your first trip to Mexico or just want to have a Community immediately to tap into, Remote Year offers 1 month trips to Mexico City. We’ll set you up with a coworking space, accommodation, a group of 15-30 remote workers like you and you’ll have access to local staff for all the best tips. 

The allure of living in Mexico… Where do we begin? From its small-town feel, gorgeous beaches, perfect weather, friendly locals, historic architecture, and spicy street food, there are countless reasons why this North American country is such an attractive place to live.

The fact that it offers a reasonable cost of living only means that it’s possible for Americans, Brits, Canadians, Germans and many others to live here on a modest budget. Relocating to sunny Mexico may even save you a couple of hundred dollars, pounds and euros each month!

We’re probably not the first to tell you that Mexico is affordable, but what exactly does that mean in terms of actual figures and your budget? Today’s your lucky day because we’ve researched the cost of living in Mexico for you! This will help you decide whether moving to Mexico should be your next move as a digital nomad.

Why Live in Mexico?

U.S. and Mexico share a border, making it easy to travel between the two. 

Remote workers, digital nomads and expats who have steady, remote jobs in their home country can live a good life in Mexico. The country is known for offering a top-tier nomadic lifestyle even for individuals with relatively lower incomes in the United States.  

But is Mexico safe?  

It is if you are a smart traveler and take the normal precautions. Mexico has drug and cartel violence, but it rarely affects digital nomads and foreigners. So, if you’re not involved in anything drug-related, you should have a safe stay here. Just make sure to do your research when looking for accommodation, as some cities are safer than others

So, How Much Does It Cost To Live in Mexico?

What is the cost of living in Mexico?

We’ve got the tea on it. 

Generally, the cost of living in Mexico is considerably cheaper than in the U.S. in terms of rent, groceries, utilities, transportation, and more. For example, rent can be as much as 71.2% cheaper in Mexico, while overall prices are 50% to 100% less. 

Most Americans who make a good income in the US can live comfortably in this country, especially when you consider that the average cost of living in Mexico entails a budget of $600 to $2,000! Of course, this will fluctuate depending on how frequently you eat out, what activities you indulge in, and if you choose to hire help for household chores ($3 to $4 per hour). 

It’s a tempting prospect, isn’t it? But before we go on, let’s first tackle the all-important questions.

Do I Need a Visa To Live in Mexico?

U.S. passport holders can live in Mexico for up to six months on a visitor permit, but the length of stay isn’t guaranteed, so make sure you register at the Mexican consulate. You can restart the clock on your six-month allowance by simply crossing the border out of and into Mexico as many times as you want during its validity.

Mexico offers short-term and long-term visas:

  • Temporary and digital nomad visas that are valid for up to 4 years

  • Permanent visas let you stay in Mexico as long as you like

To be eligible, you’ll have to meet specific income requirements:

  • Maintained a balance of at least $4,300 over the past 12 months

  • Minimum monthly income of $2,595 from the past 6 months

  • Be an owner of Mexican property that’s worth at least $346,000

Applying for a visa is pretty straightforward:

  1. Visit the Mexican consulate near you to schedule an appointment. 

  2. Collect the necessary documents — including those that support your financial status. Be sure to carry them in English and Spanish. 

  3. Fill in the paperwork.

  4. Pay the $40 fee and attend the visa interview. 

Or, to save yourself time and energy, you can also use a visa service to help you easily research visa requirements and navigate the visa application process as needed.

You can be given a visa for up to 180 days. However, to get a permanent or temporary visa card, you’ll have to travel to Mexico, pay the fees ($150 to $350), and go to the National Institute of Migration

Since most of the documents for the visa application are in Spanish, many applicants choose to hire Spanish-speaking immigration lawyers/facilitators. Their services cost $400 to $700 - not a small amount - but they can make the entire process so much easier.

Cost of Rent in Mexico

What is the average cost of living in Mexico if you’re renting? Housing is the biggest expense wherever you go, and while Mexico has reasonable rent prices, you can still expect it to comprise a big chunk of your budget. 

How much you can expect to pay for rent will depend on where you want to live.

One-bedroom apartments in the city cost around $509.87 a month. This could be lower at about $310.82 a month if you rent accommodation outside the city center. If you’re traveling with family, you could end up paying between $636.73 to $895.64 per month. This will be more if you want amenities like WiFi, air conditioning, and a furnished kitchen. 

Utility Costs in Mexico

Utilities for an 85-square-meter apartment can cost you an average of $57.62 a month. Of course, the size of your apartment and how much you use your utilities will affect this figure. Most utilities (water, electricity, heating, etc.) are included in this cost, but some areas charge an additional $30 to $40 a year for garbage pickup.  

If you think this is too much, you can still bring your cost down. 

You can install solar water heaters, which can reduce the cost of gas. In addition, you can apply for subsidies to cut down on your utility bills by half — 54%, to be precise. This may come as a relief for people who want to live in Mexico’s hotter cities since they’ll be using more electricity to keep their homes cool in the summer. 

WiFi and Cable

Standard WiFi packages cost $28.29 per month. This will vary based on your internet provider, speed, and where you stay. Cable plans, on the other hand, start at $35 a month. Note that English-language programs are rather limited. You can solve this issue by paying $10 a month for Netflix services or get a combination of the two with Telmex.

Telmex offers 10Mbps internet packages, landline services, and free long-distance calls for as little as $20 a month. 

Cost of Transportation in Mexico

Mexico is largely walkable, with pedestrian sidewalks and pedestrian-friendly city streets. But there are also different modes of public transportation available depending on the size of the town. 

For example, if you’re staying in a touristy city like Cancun, you can use the bus to get around. A one-way fare costs $0.50, and you can get a monthly pass for $14 to $17. However, if you’re staying in a smaller town, you may have to walk or use a bicycle to get from point A to point B.  

Taxis are also an option. The base fare starts at $2.18, while every kilometer after costs $1.10. If you’d rather buy your own car, a Volkswagen Golf can cost $19,061.93 plus an additional $150 a month for maintenance and upkeep. 

Cost of Healthcare in Mexico

Healthcare in Mexico is accessible and affordable. There are two types of hospitals in the country: public and private.

Public facilities are crowded and have Spanish-speaking doctors who may not be able to understand you correctly. In contrast, private hospitals — which naturally cost more - have English-speaking, US-trained healthcare professionals as well as better facilities and amenities. 

You can expect to spend 50% less for healthcare than you’d pay in the U.S. 

For example, a doctor’s visit could cost you as little as $3 to $4, $20 to $35 for a specialist, and $30 for competent and efficient dental services. The same applies to medicines - most of which are manufactured in Mexico! For example, you can get prescription antibiotic refills for as little as $11.  

With such huge differences in cost, it doesn’t come as a surprise that Mexico offers medical tourism. Still, even if healthcare in Mexico is affordable, remember that costs can quickly pile up.

If you’re not enrolled in the Mexican healthcare system or the IMSS (a plan for foreigners employed in Mexico), you have to pay out of pocket. You can find health coverage with monthly deductibles between $500 and $600. 

However, we suggest you get insurance for nomads, a travel and medical incident insurance built specifically for digital nomads. It can be purchased while already abroad, covers home trip visits and operates like a monthly subscription. Monthly costs for international insurance vary around $45, depending on coverage.

Cost of Food in Mexico

Food is relatively affordable in Mexico whether you eat at home or dine outside. 

This is great news for foodies because Mexico’s gastronomic experience is the chef’s kiss. Groceries can come to $200 a month if you shop from local stores and farmer’s markets. If you’re amenable to giving street carts a try, you can get home-cooked food for as little as $8 a day. 

Alcohol is also affordable at $1.09 to $1.63, so that should lift your spirits!

Cost of Groceries in Mexico

Grocery in Mexico is very affordable. Thanks to the ideal growing conditions in Mexico, you can get a wide range of fresh produce at lower prices than in the U.S. For example, eggs cost $1.91 a dozen in Mexico, less than half of what they cost in the U.S. ($4.03). 

A 1.5-liter of water can cost $0.88, while a 0.33-liter can of Coke or Pepsi is a little over a dollar.

If you’re a picky eater, you’ll be happy to know that you can find branded products in Mexico, but you’ll probably pay more due to importation costs and just because they’re branded. 

You can bring your grocery expenses down by shopping at local markets and chain supermarkets like Walmart. By doing so, it’s possible for one person to live on $25 worth of food for the entire week!

Cost of Eating Out in Mexico

You’ll want to know how much it costs to eat out in Mexico due to the incredibly varied and interesting dishes that can be had here.

A meal in an inexpensive restaurant costs $8.17 per person, but you can find street food like quesadillas and tacos for way less - as little as $1 to $3! You can also get a combo meal or a large pizza for $6 to $7. Expect the cost to go up to $32.68 for a three-course meal that’s good for two in a mid-range dining establishment.

As for beverages, expect to pay $2.07 for a half-liter of local beer and $3.54 to $25 for a bottle of imported beer. 

What It’s Actually Like Living in Mexico

Mexico isn’t a stranger to expats. Thanks to its growing tech scene and remote-friendly infrastructure, it’s also emerged as a hotspot for those who want to become digital nomads.

Let’s take a look at what you can expect when moving to Mexico:

Low Crime Rates

Mexico is actually much safer than most U.S. cities. As long as you keep a low profile and practice regular precautions for visitors, you’re good to go.

Varied Landscapes

From rugged mountains and dry deserts to tropical forests and deep cenotes, Mexico’s diverse landscapes are as beautiful as they are diverse. 

You’ll find that certain cities are attractive places to live for different reasons:

  • Mexico City is one of the best places to work remotely due to its bustling business and commercial districts, vibrant nightlife, and remote-friendly infrastructure. 

  • Merida is the safest city in Mexico

  • Guadalajara is the ultimate expat haven. 

It pays to do some research on the best places to live in Mexico so you can get the best of everything: safety, low cost of living, access to co-working spaces, and more. 

A Vibrant Nightlife

For a healthy dose of YOLO, you can explore Mexico’s vibrant nightlife even if you’re on a budget. You can get beer for as little as $2 and a glass of wine for $3. You can also go to a concert with your friend, which typically costs $5 per person. 

Laid-back Lifestyle 

If you enjoy a laid-back lifestyle, Mexico can offer you this too. Explore monuments and parks, enjoy a movie night ($4.36 + concessions), meet up with a friend at a coffee shop (cappuccinos cost $2.70 in nice neighborhoods), or get some vitamin D at the beach.  

Friendly People and Like-Minded Expats   

Mexican people are friendly. They go out of their way to help foreigners. To get the most out of this cultural experience, learn some Spanish so you can interact with locals on a whole new level.

A great way to connect with fellow digital nomads is to join one of our (Remote Year’s) work and travel programs and go on one of our day trips from Mexico City that include group itineraries.

Agreeable Climate 

When you think of this tropical paradise, it’s easy to picture the ultimate beach lifestyle - the sun warming your face as you lounge beside clear waters with a drink in hand. Puerto Vallarta, Tulum, and Playa del Carmen are some of Mexico’s coastal cities that offer this tropical and idyllic lifestyle. 

However, you may be surprised that some regions in Mexico are cooler. For example, San Miguel de Allende, at 6,200 feet above sea level, experiences mild winters!

Most Importantly, It Has Everything You Need 

The country offers all the amenities you can get in the U.S. You can even keep using your current AT&T and Netflix plans! Plus, if you’re craving home-style meals, it has American chain restaurants like Pizza Hut and Olive Garden, where you can indulge in your favorite dishes. 

Overall, Mexico is a great bargain and worth getting a digital nomad Mexico visa for!

Final Thoughts 

Let’s recap. How much is the cost of living in Mexico? For $600 to $2,000, you can comfortably settle in the country. Prices are overall 45.7% cheaper than in the United States, so you don’t have to sacrifice the quality of life you’re currently enjoying.

In fact, it may even be better. Whether you prefer a laid-back lifestyle or a faster and more exciting pace, Mexico, with its long list of natural and commercial attractions, can keep up with your tastes, budget, and recreational preferences.

Budget is often one of the biggest aspects that one considers before moving to a new country. We hope that this guide has given you a more concrete idea if a move to Mexico is in the cards for you.

If you want to experience Mexico without extensive planning, Remote Year is ready to do the heavy lifting for you. Our work and travel programs are specifically designed for digital nomads who want to see new places while working remotely. We take care of your accommodations, itineraries, logistics, and working areas, so all you have to do is show up and enjoy. 

Frequently Asked Questions