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Cost of living halved for expats in Mexico

'In Mexico, you can live like a king for what it costs just to get by in the US'

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.

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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.

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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

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  • Russell Hill

    My cost of living has dropped by 90% while my quality of life has risen by 300%. The number 1 factor is health. My health costs have dropped 98% partly because my health has become perfect. I have not been sick in 3 years. I consider that to be 50% of my quality of life.

    • WestCoastHwy

      Mr Russel Hill,

      If you live with the Mexicans on the East side, drink boxed wine, do not dine out at fancy restaurants, shop at Mexican markets, ride a bike, don’t date Mexican woman and used cheap hookers, buy rut gut beer and mescal…..etc, you get the picture, then yes your percentages might be in the ballpark. My security guy is about $400 a month, the cleaning lady is about the same, I drive a gas guzzler, I date expensive hookers, my wine bill is taxed %50+, HOA’s are about $500 a month, I have medical insurance, car insurance, personal insurance, risk management insurance, and liability insurance, my pool maintenance because of the power consumption is oppressive, and every time I order items online I’m heavily taxed, pay excessively duties, and it usually arrives with an issue.

      So, Mr Russel Hill please understand that the standards of living are not equal among men and women and that is also par for the course of which I didn’t mention the out outrageous green fee’s.

      • kikipt

        You don’t say where exactly you live. Perhaps in a wine-induced haze you forgot. But you are the one who has chosen to live a consumerist and profligate lifestyle, I am sure it was not mandated on you, and it was not exactly ordained by god. But please do not dare to call taxes and duties “excessive” – it makes you like like a total fool. If you object to the rate of taxation, you are certainly free to take yourself somewhere that you would find less onerous.

        • WestCoastHwy

          I figured you out, your a JW!

          • kikipt

            Not even close, Sparky! You may go back to your drinking and whatever, or try to play the second round and see if you do better.

          • WestCoastHwy

            Not a JW Holden, how about a LDS?

          • kikipt

            Sorry, wrong again. But keep trying, and I’ll hang onto the prize until you finally come up with the correct answer.

          • WestCoastHwy

            Your just a TROLL and will always be a TROLL! So bug off TROLL kikipt!

          • kikipt

            Dear me, but that language usage thing is just getting in your way, isn’t it? You should have written “You’re” rather than “Your”. The former is a contraction of “you are” while the latter shows possession. Perhaps you didn’t get that far in school before your alcoholism took over, so I’m happy to help you out. When you get a chance, you might want to look up the word “troll” as well. It does have a current usage, and is not just a universal insult, as you seem to want to use it. But keep trying, and one of these days you may be able to write in complete and intelligible sentences – that is, if your promiscuity allows time for such pursuits.

          • WestCoastHwy

            TROLL!!>

          • kikipt

            Your use of repetition is a bit excessive, but it does show effort. Good for you, ma petit! And I like the extra exclamation mark at the end. It’s almost like you’re screaming at me! But you will need to be MUCH louder. I am on the other side of the country, after all.

          • WestCoastHwy

            TROLL!@#$

          • kikipt

            Not sure I get your drift. Could you say it few more times, Cupcake?

          • WestCoastHwy

            Blocked Troll

          • WestCoastHwy

            TRoLL TroLL

          • WestCoastHwy

            TrOlL

        • Mike S

          Don’t bother taking Westcoast seriously. Most of his posts are absurd and he drinks a lot- a real nutcase.

  • You have to run a survey to know it’s cheaper to live in Mexico? That’s like asking if the sun rises in the East.

    • CensorSheep

      since most Mexicans are paid one tenth of gringo wages, cost of living in Mx (IF IT INDEED WERE CHEAP) would be 10% of that up North, verdad?

      • Gabriel Heiser

        No, because the question relates to cost of living at the same lifestyle level as in the States. You can rent a cinder block hut in the middle of nowhere in the States, and live cheap there, too, but the comparison must compare not what the average Mexican spends but what the average American spends, at the same lifestyle level as before they moved.

        • CensorSheep

          seems like an inordinately complex research project tainted by infinite subjectivity

  • mae61274

    Maybe the new president would consider deporting retirees if things get worse with Trump.

    • WestCoastHwy

      No, the “Machete Law” will just get more vigilant so you will need to hire the security guy to sit out in front of your compound.

      .

      • kikipt

        But how much freedom does one really have if all you can do is hole up in an armed compound with your hookers and booze?

        • WestCoastHwy

          Well gee kikipt, what a killjoy! Did I say that the West side of the compound is beach front with a dock and that’s where the boat is for sailing around looking at all the birds on the beach with more hookers and booze? And of course my daily walks around the golf course takes most of my day. So hole up sounds like envy and freedom is a choice.

          • kikipt

            Not envious at all. My life is very full and interesting, and yours sounds depressing. But thanks anyway! As for freedom being “a choice”, such a comment demonstrates your lack of intellectual engagement with the world, but I’m sure aphorisms make you feel better about yourself. Cheers!

          • WestCoastHwy

            “aphorisms”, wow killjoy kikipt, I had to google that one. (a terse saying embodying a general truth, or astute observation, as “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely” (Lord Acton).)
            Don’t forget that you replied to my comment of which by the definition of “aphorisms”, you should feel better about yourself. Touche!

          • kikipt

            Sad that you know how to look up a definition, but not how to understand or apply it. The problem with aphorisms is that they are general, and NOT universally applicable, though most people apply them as if they were. They often tend to represent “common wisdom” and to be applied indiscriminately in contexts where they are not at all germaine. I realize, of course, that none of this is of interest to someone who had to look the word up in the first place.
            And feel free to call me a “killjoy”. I couldn’t care less. I have no doubt that my life is just as enjoyable, peaceful, and fulfilling as yours, though I may actually be more aware of it, since I am not always liquored up or worrying about STDs.

          • WestCoastHwy

            What a TROLL………..go catch some rye Holden!

          • kikipt

            A troll? No, that word is not applicable here. BTW, is that the ONLY book you’ve ever finished?

          • WestCoastHwy

            TROLL!!!!!

          • kikipt

            Good for you, Cupcake. You seem to have mastered rhetorical economy, even when expressing nothing of meaning.

          • WestCoastHwy

            TROLL!

          • kikipt

            Poor thing. Were his wittle feelings hurt? Try to control your anger, Cupcake. We all know what terrible things can happen when a drunk gets angry, and we wouldn’t want you to accidentally hurt one of your hookers or to topple your golf cart. But you are entertaining. Besos!

          • WestCoastHwy

            dick TROLL

          • kikipt

            Whatever that brilliant comment is supposed to mean! What a pity your vocabulary is so stunted that you have to be affronted by any word with more than a few letters. Probably a result of the DTs.

          • WestCoastHwy

            TROLL Dick

          • WestCoastHwy

            TrOll

          • WestCoastHwy

            Troll

          • WestCoastHwy

            TroLL

  • satman

    I’ve been living in Mexico for twelve years. The cost of living has risen every year with gasoline prices leading the way. This year their seems to be more “snowbirds” Expats who come down for six months and rent. In the Lake Chapala area, real estate is selling for the asking price and cheap ($500/mo) rentals are disappearing. Inflation is impacting the cost of living with everything going up. Compared to the US it’s clearly cheaper to live in Mexico but the margin is shrinking.

    • dj33036 .dj63010

      Chapala is very expensive compaired to where I live, Aguascalientes.

      • Crewlaw

        Chapala is very expensive compared to *most* places in Mexico.

        • Kagura

          Any place that is tourist-based or heavily populated like Mexico City are a lot more expensive than the rest of the country, geez you can live in very rural areas where Internet connection is a luxury with just 500 pesos a month or even cheaper if you own the house

  • DreadFool

    if you live on tamales and horchata, it’s almost free to live in Mexico, you can even listen to your neighbor’s premium channels sin costo

    • Crewlaw

      I’ve lived here for 19 years and I had to ask my wife what ‘horchata’ is. Also, I don’t hear anyone’s ‘premium channels’ but my own, and yes they are less expensive than what I would pay in the States, dick.

      • jesus christ

        Please for the sake of the Gods, watch your killer statements. The DreadFool is absolutely right in the fact that you can live like a Mexican, but I think the point is on your head and not over it.

        • Crewlaw

          The “point” was basically that if you live minimally, like eating beans and rice(or tamales and horchata?) and don’t buy cable(because your neighbors are so noisy you can listen to *their* television, get it haha) then you can live cheap in Mexico. It was uninformed snark, which apparently went over *your* head.

      • kikipt

        If you have lived here for nineteen years and didn’t know what horchata is you have not been paying the slightest bit of attention. It is the very definition of the ugly American to avail oneself of local advantages without showing understanding or appreciation. It is the epitome of self-entitlement and hubris, and a disgrace to humanity.

        • jdwfinger

          I can name 10 regional foods from the States that you never tasted and never heard of.
          Your remarks are racist and bigoted. You are obviously an uneducated Mexican that has a 3rd grade education and are from generations of illiterates. BUT you are very adept at corruption.

          • Peter Sutherland

            Trolling….

          • kikipt

            Please try to read your responses and edit for coherence. I will wait for your list of ten regional foods from the US that I would not have eaten – go ahead, just try, since I have been in more than forty states and am quite an open minded and adventurous eater. There is not one aspect of my comment that was racist or bigoted, since nothing I said had anything to do with race. (Hint: “American” is NOT a race) and evaluating a person’s actions objectively is not bigoted. I am from Kansas, so I am just as American as anyone else commenting on this site. Though I am not a Mexican, I choose to make Mexico my home, and in doing so I choose to be aware of the world in which I live, the foods that people consume, their way of life, and their needs. How the idea of corruption figures into this discussion is a mystery to anyone but you. Oh, and I have a doctorate with a 5.0 average – if you can top that, THEN we can talk about illiteracy.

        • Crewlaw

          Ha, “a disgrace to humanity” because I didn’t remember the name of a drink I don’t particularly like and haven’t had in years. Bombastic much?

          • kikipt

            No, Cupcake, that’s not it. It would be better phrased to say that if your cognitive skills AND your memory are that sadly impaired, it might be better not to try to comment at all.

          • Kagura

            Touche, actually not knowing what Horchata is it’s like not knowing what Eggnog is, even if you never have tasted it,

          • Crewlaw

            Hey angry little person, calling someone ‘Cupcake’ from behind a keyboard doesn’t make you a tough guy. Now excuse me while I go make good use of the ‘block this a**hole’ button…

          • kikipt

            Looks like you’re the angry little man, Cupcake. Perhaps you are unaware of that usage – a cupcake is something that seems to look interesting but is all fluff, with little inherent value or srtucture. One doesn’t have to be “tough” to point out your incompetence or lack of intellectual acumen – but then your profile shot suggests that you have issues. Cheers, anyway! Besos! 🙂

  • Crewlaw

    We have lived in northern Michoacan for 19 years now on a military retiree pension and have been able to put money in to savings all along the way. Every day purchases like chicken or milk might not be much less expensive, but rent/gas/electric are very low.

    • WestCoastHwy

      Mr Crewlaw, if you don’t live life to the fullest, you will not encounter this life again on the over side. So stop saving money if you’re retired and quite thinking like a Jar Head!

      • dj33036 .dj63010

        I include hooker cost in my budget and I’m still able to save money.

        • BB

          Ja ja ja!

        • WestCoastHwy

          Saving money on hookers is not a good idea. You get what you pay for and that could include a trip to the Medico Clinico!

      • kikipt

        What a shame that you need to debase other people in order to validate yourself and feel as though you have lived life to the fullest.

        • WestCoastHwy

          Wow kikipt, who are you, Holden Caulfield?

          • kikipt

            No, I just have a functioning brain.

          • WestCoastHwy

            Functioning brain? You must feel secure about yourself assuring me you have a functioning brain. Now go out there and be a catcher in the rye!

    • megaladon47

      Gas is double that of the US right now.

      • Crewlaw

        I was referring to natural gas for the house, which we spend a little over a hundred dollars a year for.

  • Banned by Wonkette

    If you earn dollars and spend pesos (at approx 18 or 19 / 1, yes of course it’s cheaper to live in Mexico. The few exceptions are all of the imported items that most ex-pays enjoy that make life more livable.

    However: home sellers, developers, and builders who spent pesos to build the property they want to sell to you in dollars will more than make up the difference.

  • Pesobill

    Yes it is always cheap to live in a third-world place. Duh. Lived there for years and maybe 20% cheaper but it was no way close to the lifestyle of the states Someone can live in South Texas small towns as cheap as Mexico or El Centro Lots of mexicanos too..

    • kikipt

      FYI, Mexico is NOT a third world country. Obviously you do not really know what that term means. By definition, this is not a third world country. It is not even an under-developed country, which is what you probably mean. And there are many places in Mexico with lots more to offer than small towns in South Texas, or many places in the US, for that matter, many of which are proverbial “shit holes” as much as are many towns here. I have lived in both countries, (including twelve cities in eight US states) and your comment about “20% cheaper” suggests that you just were not paying attention to your budget, or were living in needless extravagance. We live here on less than half what it cost us in Florida.

      • Banned by Wonkette

        Any areas in South Texas that are comparable to our unfortunate southern neighbor are due to the FACT that 20% of Mexico’s population has decided (much to the relief of the oligarchs in Mexico) that like in the US is worth risking life and limb to get here.

        These areas in South Texas (and California for sure) are terrible exactly because it has been over run by Mexican immigrants and their progeny.

        Because ya, Mexico is 3rd world.

        • kikipt

          OK, so here we go again having to explain what the term “third world” actually means for people too stupid to look it up. Third world is a political, not an economic designation. It includes countries such as Sweden Switzerland and FInland, which are hardly under-developed (which, BTW, Mexico is also NOT under-developed any more than it is third world, even if it does not meet your self-entitled, pretentious and snobbish views of what countries should look like.) Look it up, Cupcake. Clearly you have NOT been to a great deal of Mexico and have no idea what life here is like. Most of the expats here in Yucatán say unabashedly that their lives are far better here than they were in the US. And one does not even have to consider the border areas of Texas and Claifornia to find shit hole parts of the US. Many parts of West Virginia and other parts of Appalachia would qualify, and if you have never been to Picher, Oklahoma, a real treat awaits you there. The FACT is that immigration from Mexico has been on the decline for quite a few years as the economy here has improved, but that wouldn’t fit the (Fox-news induced?) coma in which you seem to live, so I’m sure you would call it fake news.

          • Banned by Wonkette

            So I guess you don’t have an argument then, just insults.

          • kikipt

            Do you ever bother to read?

          • Banned by Wonkette

            That’s not an argument

          • kikipt

            That is correct. The last statement was not, and was not meant to be, an argument. And nothing you presented constituted an argument from which to proceed. I see no point in wasting time on someone who refuses to read carefully or to process information. I prefer to spend my energy on intelligent people. Have a nice life.

          • Banned by Wonkette

            Sorry that your cognitive dissonance is hurting so much, my advice: go with it

          • Banned by Wonkette

            I will concede that I am using the definition of 3rd world that most Americans think of when they hear that term, rather than the self serving (for you) ultra narrow UN style definition you want to use rather than what how most people use the term.

            Also, I lived in Mexico for quite some time, and am quite familiar with the country. I am sure that retirees and snow birds enjoy the Yucatan, it has a lot of natural beauty, and the Peso trades at nearly 20/1.

            This makes for your retirement dollar really stretch, and people on fixed incomes really really really like this.

            Especially if they bought their house when the exchange rate was more like 12/1 or 14/1, as they most likely paid in dollars.

            So yes, I can certainly understand how this narrow segment of society benefits greatly and would have a hard time admitting anything else.

  • Fred Jones

    I don’t care how much money I could save I would not consider living in MX until the Mexican government changed the laws on weapons used for hunting and personal defense, Mexico needs to provide reciprocity carry permits for expatriates. I am not giving up my rite to bear arms. The Mexican government has used propaganda to strike fear among their people to think that guns are dangerous. I determined this from speaking with the citizens of Mexico.

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