Cost Of Living In Mexico

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Mexico Lifestyle Cost Of Living Facts

Our baseline is four “lifestyles” based on specific ranges of “living expenses.” We have provided a graphic chart, detail broken down in a data table and a downloadable Excel spreadsheet to tailor your own budget.  The four lifestyle levels (D – A) with D being the most modest to A with amenities similar to those in your life north of the border, serve as part of the information for decision-making purposes on our “Places to Live” location pages.

Bear 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.  First, see the guidelines below, set your priorities and go from there using the forms on our “Budget Form” page.  All the figures are based on US dollars.

cost of living mexicoExpense 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.  If your “Transportation Expense” is an automobile, the allowance covers only 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.

The table below shows the numbers used as the basis for the column chart above (US dollars):


As of November 2012 the minimum monthly income requirements for temporary residency in Mexico has been stated to be closer to $2000 US per month per person or $3000 per month for a married couple.  You CAN still live in Mexico for less than these stated income requirements (as shown on our cost of living chart below) but you may be required to leave and re-enter the country at least every 6 months which allows you 180 days under a tourist or visitante visa.  For more Mexico immigration details and income requirements, please visit our Mexico Immigration page.

Level D: Houses or apartments rented in this level are likely to be rather primitive by American standards.  They will not have air-conditioning, and kitchens and bathrooms will be “spartan.”  But, if your landlord uses ground water, the only water expense you will have is for bottled drinking water, and your other utilities will be negligible to low, unless you’re a gourmet cook and in the cocina 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: 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 gardner (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 runs from 27-35% of income.

Level B: Things loosen up at this level.  Your two-three bedroom house/condo will definitely have a/c in the bedrooms, and possibly (but, not probably) 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:  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 intregal 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)

The strata are interchangeable at the detail expense level – for instance, you may have a C income, but pay rent at the A or B level.  This, of course, frees up income to be used in other areas which may be more important to you.

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, in addition to the hidden benefits of a Mexican lifestyle – healthier eating, more exercise (walking is a necessity because parking lots are not a “given”), immersion in an ancient, interesting culture and friends and neighbors who are warm, caring, positive and upbeat – more than worth the transition.  Think 1950s values, 2007 technology, and you’re there.