What is the true cost of living in Mexico? While it can vary considerably depending on location and lifestyle choices, the vast majority of expatriates contacted for a new survey agreed that it is lower than in their home countries.
Is it Cheaper to Live in Mexico? A Research Study found that most people who relocated to Mexico paid less for goods and services than what they would pay in their country of origin and were therefore able to enjoy a more lavish lifestyle than they could otherwise afford.
Completed by 1,129 expats, the survey offers insights into the spending habits, opinions, experiences and concerns of people who have moved to Mexico to live, either to continue working or to retire.
The study was conducted and published by Best Places in the World to Retire, which also previously published a survey about expats’ expectations before moving to Mexico and the reality they experience once living in the country.
The overwhelming response to the central question in the latest survey — is it cheaper to live in Mexico? — was yes.
Almost half of those surveyed reported that with US $50 or less in Mexico, they could buy the same quality of goods and services that they would pay US $100 for in their home country.
In other words, things cost half or less here than where they previously lived, they said.
A further 36% said that they paid between 25% and 50% less for goods and services in Mexico, meaning that a combined 85% of expat respondents said they pay between half and three-quarters the price of what they would pay for the same thing back home.
Just under 5% of people said that they paid the same or more when shopping in Mexico.
The highest percentage of respondents who said that their cost of living was 50% or less than in their home country live in Baja California (74.2%), followed by Mazatlán (63.1%) and the state of Yucatán (59.1%).
At the other end of the scale, only 28% of Mexico City residents and 33% of Baja California Sur expats said that their cost of living was half or less in Mexico compared to their previous expenses in their home countries.
However, Chuck Bolotin of Best Places in the World to Retire pointed out that even results in the latter — dominated by respondents who live in or near Los Cabos — showed that 90% of expats there experienced lower costs of living, “many of them by quite a bit.”
One respondent who lives in the Puerto Vallarta area said that her rent is probably one-third of what she would be paying in California, while a resident of Mazatlán said “groceries, most services, internet, restaurants, entertainment and travel are all about half the price of Canada’s.”
Another Canadian expat living in Mazatlán pointed out that “the cost of living here can be greatly influenced by one’s choice to buy local or imported goods.”
A younger European expat said that life is expensive in Mexico for people who work here and earn Mexican pesos but for those who are paid salaries in US dollars or euros or live off their savings in those currencies, “it is much cheaper.”
The study also found that those who generated the most savings by moving to Mexico reduced their expenses the least.
However, the lower costs in Mexico meant that they were able to give themselves a significant lifestyle upgrade.
“In Mexico, you can live like a king for what it costs just to get by in the U.S.,” said one American expat who has lived in Mexico for the past 10 years.
A Canadian living in Mazatlán said the savings resulting from moving to Mexico meant that he and his wife could afford things like “front row theater tickets . . . four-star restaurants with live music [and] a personal trainer.”
The lower living costs also translated into less worry about money among respondents with 43% saying that they were much less concerned about their finances compared to when they were in their home country while 24% said they were a little less concerned.
In contrast, just under 10% said that they were a little or a lot more concerned about money while the remainder said they felt about the same.
“Because the cost of living is much lower in Mexico we spend a lot less time and energy thinking about money and just have fun without any guilt,” said a Canadian who lives in Mazatlán.
“For the average retired person money is and will likely always be a concern but that level of concern has been significantly reduced,” said an American who recently moved to Puerto Vallarta.
The study also asked respondents about how much time they spend doing chores in Mexico compared to their home country, contending that it too can affect living costs and quality of life.
Just over 60% of respondents said that they either do much less (41%) or a little less (20%) housework than when they were in their home country, while just over 10% said that they do a little or a lot more.
Increased ability to afford domestic help was cited by several respondents as the main reason why they were able to spend less time doing household chores.
“As Mexican labor is so reasonable, we feel using . . . [it] as much as we can affords us the opportunity to help in appreciation of their gracious acceptance of our being here,” said a Canadian resident in the Lake Chapala area.
Finally, the survey asked respondents where they would have a better overall lifestyle if they spent the same amount of money in Mexico as they would in their country of origin. The response was resounding.
A total of 80% of respondents said that their lifestyle would be “much better in Mexico” and a further 13% said that it would be a “little better in Mexico.”
“You can really have the champagne and caviar lifestyle here in Mexico on a tuna fish budget,” said one resident of the Lake Chapala area.
However, some respondents pointed out that having a better lifestyle in Mexico wasn’t just about having more money to spend or their money going further than in their home country, citing additional factors such as good weather and simplicity of life.
Residents of the greater Lake Chapala area were most likely to say that their lifestyle would be much better in Mexico than in their home countries by spending the same amount, with 93.5% of respondents indicating so, followed by expats in Mazatlán (90%), San Miguel de Allende (87%), Yucatán (86%) and Baja California (84%).
The full survey can be downloaded here.
Mexico News Daily