Understanding Mexico Lifestyle and Cost Of Living Choices
The actual cost of living in Mexico will vary depending on the location and the level of the lifestyle you choose. Our scale is based on four “lifestyles” choices that represent specific budget ranges of typical “living expenses” in Mexico. We have provided some reference material and tools to help you figure this out, including a graphic chart, with details broken down in a data table and a downloadable Excel spreadsheet to tailor your own budget. Before you get to that budget form, it’s best to understand some of the Mexico cost of living expenses and lifestyle options you will have in Mexico!
How much money do you need to live comfortably in Mexico?
Everyone’s idea of comfort is a little bit different, so in order to answer that question you will need to define the lifestyle you want to live in Mexico first! The following are estimated monthly household budget lifestyles, based on expenses for 2 people.
The four lifestyle levels are (D – A) with D being the most modest, to A being the highest levels of comfort, luxuries and convenience. These tools serve as part of the information in your decision-making formula to be used on our “Best Places to Live in Mexico” location pages. Each place, city or town we feature for living in Mexico is also coded for the average lifestyle rating ranges.
Level D: Monthly Budget $1400-$1650 USD: Houses or apartments rented in this level are likely to be rather modest by American standards. They will likely not have air-conditioning, and kitchens and bathrooms will be “spartan.” The only water expense you will have is for bottled drinking water, if with city water services it will add about $10 per month. Remaining utilities will be negligible to low, unless you’re a gourmet cook and in the kitchen cooking all the time (which could raise your gas expense to $20 per month). This level assumes the use of public transportation, minimal entertainment/travel expense and, at most, hired help for only 4 hours each week (maid or gardener). The Allowance for savings/medical/unexpected expenses (“Allowance”) is between 40-52% of living expenses based on the assumption that no health insurance is carried, and that the “allowance” will be used to cover medical costs.
Level C Monthly Budget $2000-$2650 USD : In this level, one or two of your bedrooms may have air-conditioners and your bathroom(s) will likely be more modern, but the kitchen will probably have “open” shelving (no cabinets) and a single “tub” sink. Again, it’s easy to keep utilities to a minimum with a modicum of attention – use the hot water heater and air-conditioners only when necessary, keep lights and appliances turned off unless being used. In the mid-to-high level of “C,” it would be possible to have and use an automobile of your own provided you are not prone to day-trips several times a week. You can afford a maid, or gardener (or both), once or twice a week, and the Allowance percent is based upon an assumption of no health insurance or major medical only, and is estimated from 27-35% of income.
Level B Monthly Budget $2800-$3400 USD: Things loosen up at this level. Your two-three bedroom house/condo will definitely have AC in the bedrooms, and in common areas, too. Your bathroom(s) will be modern and large, and the kitchen will likely have some cabinets and a modern sink. Utilities naturally rise in this environment, but with judicious use can still be kept low. Expenses for an automobile are covered in this lifestyle level (although, public transportation can be used, too, to help mitigate the expense). Hired help is covered for several times a week. And, some medical insurance is assumed at this level, so the Allowance percentage goes down to 23-27%. There is a more generous allowance for entertainment and travel here, too.
Level A Monthly Budget $3500-$4500+ USD: Live like the Rockefellers! Never has so little money gone so far. You can easily have a home or condo with total air-conditioning. Your kitchen will have modern appliances (though they may be smaller than you’re used to), your bathrooms (at this level, there will be more than one) and kitchen will be modern and spacious, and you may very well have a pool, or access to one. Utilities will be higher, but with care can still be kept lower than you pay in the U.S. A car, travel and entertainment are integral parts of this lifestyle, as are a maid and/or gardener four to five days a week. Some type of medical insurance coverage is assumed at this level, so the Allowance is 15-21% of total living expenses. If you have this much net income each month, you can enjoy a lifestyle in Mexico that compares to that of well-off Americans.
The A to D Mexico budget model makes the following assumptions:
- No monthly payments for credit cards
- No automobile payments (budget contains an allowance for insurance, gas and maintenance)
- You are a couple (for a single person, some expenses will be lower)
All figures shown are estimates in U.S. dollars and represent the cost of living based on average expenses for 2 people or a couple living in Mexico.Whats the average cost of living in Mexico?
When you start considering the average cost of living in Mexico, it is going to be significantly less than it is in the U.S. or Canada, virtually no matter where you choose to live in Mexico. On average with the daily cost of living factors taken into account you will save from 30-60% on your monthly expenses. Your location and lifestyle choices will affect those savings numbers.
Is it cheap to live in Mexico?
Compared with the U.S. and Canada along with most of Europe, absolutely, Mexico is indeed a cheap place to live and stretch your dollars to pesos. Keep in mind, that your cost of living style is a personal selection of choices – you may want more comfort in your home, but not require convenience (city versus country living), more security (total medical insurance coverage versus no medical insurance) – it’s not a black and white process.
MEXICO IMMIGRATION TEMPORARY RESIDENCY INCOME REQUIREMENTS UPDATE 2020
Married couples qualifying income is approximately $2,500 USD per month for temporal and $3,350 for permanente. Complete Mexico immigration requirements.
*These income requirements were last updated through the INM website March, 2020.
Cost of living is as variable in Mexico as it would be in different parts of the U.S. or Canada. For example, the cost of living in San Francisco, California is much higher than in Little Rock, Arkansas.
If you want to get into the details of setting a budget for life in Mexico, and see where your budget fits into the lifestyle in your Mexico destination of choice, dig in! Check out the budget estimates below, set your priorities and go from there using the forms on our “Budget Form” page.
Expense amounts reflect “living” expenses ONLY. They do NOT include health insurance which is highly variable and will have to be configured to meet your individual needs/resources and added into your budget. They also do not include payments of any kind, including credit cards, mortgages, auto loans, etc.
Other notes on expenses in Mexico to consider.
- If your “Transportation Expense” is an automobile, the “allowance” covers only estimated insurance, maintenance and gas.
- The “unexpected” expense allowance can be used as a kind of “Medical Savings Account,” and for that reason, reflects a higher percentage of total expenses in lower net income brackets based on the likelihood that those individuals are more likely to be uninsured.
Reviewing our average budgets for Mexico, your expense amounts are also interchangeable and variable at the detail expense level, based on your priorities. For instance, you may have a C income, but pay rent at the A or B level, and have less for entertainment or other expenses, i.e. urban living or being close to town may lower your transportation and/or auto expenses.
The table below shows the estimated expenses for the column chart above (USD):
For your own “Lifestyle” level, use our “Budget Forms“ which also allows you to estimate a budget based on your net income, tweak and compare a “Mexico Lifestyle” to your current expenses.
We believe that you will find the financial rewards of living in Mexico! With all of the calculations and budgeting forms, we can also offer you a general calculation that if you are comparing like areas in the U.S. as compared to Mexico, the savings can be substantial.
Don’t like to make detailed budgets? Here’s your short-cut!
As a GENERAL example; if you are seeking a Mexico beach front, lakeside, or small town in the mountains, living at the same standard of living in those “U.S. places,” generally you will save about 50% on your overall cost of living expenses in Mexico.
If you move from a low cost of living area in the U.S. to a beach-front tourist town in Mexico, you will not save as much, but you will typically save money on your monthly budget – improving your quality of life in the process.
Those savings are in addition to the, priceless hidden benefits of a Mexican lifestyle – healthier eating, more exercise, immersion in an ancient, interesting culture and friends and neighbors who are warm, caring, positive and upbeat – more than worth the transition.