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Hi! After our enjoyable (but short) visit to Lakeside, Mazatlan, Colima, Cuyutlan, and Barre de Navidad, and some reflection, we're going to come back to Chapala next year for a 2 or 3 month visit and really road test life there. Chapala seems like the right mix of ******/native for us, and it's close enough to Ajijic for the resources there, especially Lake Chapala Society. We just fell in love with the lake itself. So peaceful.

In the meantime, I, as the numbers person of our duo, have been trying to wrap my brain around the cost of living in Mexico in general and Lakeside in particular. Yes, I've gone to Numbeo, the LCS website, and read a couple posts here and elsewhere on the subject. The trouble is from my perspective, it makes a significant difference whether one is renting or owning, and several other factors (vehicle or not, maid/gardener or not, etc.) that really contributes to the wide range of living expenses. Then some people state theirs in pesos, others in dollars, some monthly, others yearly.

So, I am asking all you residents to please describe your your living expenses for me. Since the best advice seems to be for newcomers to rent for at least a year, I'm asking for info from people who are renting rather than owning. Please include rent, food, clothing, transportation, health care, and entertainment, but not travel on vacations. (We have a separate budget for that.) One lump sum is fine.

Y'all are probably curious, so I'll divulge that our planned budget for living in Mexico is hopefully $20-$24K USD per year, with a desired rent of $600-$800 USD per month for a 2 bdr place.

Thanks! :)
 

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It really depends on your life style, if you are eating out often, using air conditioning, having a gardener, costs for rent and number of people, cost for car-gas, etc the more it will cost.......At 24K that is $65 USD a day, and inflation is high in Mexico..
 

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This is what I posted in reply to this question on another forum after someone posted that most of her costs, including entertainment, food, and housing, are identical to where she lived in the US:

Your cost of living in Mexico will depend on what you buy and where you shop. In my case, it is much cheaper overall for me to live in Mexico than it is in Canada and I have a much better quality of life.

For food, I buy very few imported food products. 900g of cheddar or mozzarella where I live in Canada is about 12CAD. I can get that much Chihuahua or Oaxaca here for half that here. Local produce is much cheaper than in Canada, but, of course, imported things cost are more expensive. I've learned to use chayote instead of zucchini, for example, and to eat fruit that is in season here. Meat is also much cheaper than what I'm used to paying for and I frequently get grilled or roasted chickens for at least half of what they cost in Canada. I drink local beer and that is cheaper than what I pay for beer back home.

As for entertainment, if I go out for a beer, it might be 1.75 to 2.25CAD here, but I can't go out for a beer for less than 5CAD back home. I stopped going to the movies in Canada when prices went above 10CAD for a matinée. Here, I can see a first run matinée for less than 4CAD. I can afford to eat out here as much as I want, but I go mostly to Mexican restaurants, so I'm paying 30 to 40 pesos for some tacos instead of 100+ pesos for a burger or a pizza at an expat-run place.

Driving here is crazy expensive (similar to Canada, much more expensive than the US), but public transportation and taxis are so cheap that I prefer to go with them then to drive whenever possible.

I haven't had to pay yet for utilities in Mérida, where I'm now living, so I can't speak to that, but in Mazatlán, where I lived before, the annual water bill for my house was something like 50 pesos and I paid 250 pesos per month for power (I did not run AC, only ceiling fans). Internet and telecom here are also so much cheaper than in Canada.

In Canada, I scrape by on about 2,500CAD per month (my income varies since I work for myself). In Mexico, I've had months where I only had 1,000CAD come in and I didn't even feel like I had to scale back my lifestyle that much -- and that was with paying rent, utilities, food, etc. before going out to have fun.

I've met all sorts of different expats and the ones who say that it is as or more expensive to live in Mexico as it is not living in the same Mexico as me. They're renting places at many times the market rate, buying groceries at stores that sell predominantly imported products and are not where the average Mexican shops, and are mostly eating at higher end restaurants, often run by fellow expats. On the opposite end of the spectrum is someone I knew back in Mazatlán who lives like an average working class Mexican citizen. I would be shocked if her total monthly expenditures were more than a few thousand pesos. I live somewhere in the middle -- I want a nicer house than I could afford in Canada, but I'm happy to forgo the foods I ate back home and mostly buy local products in order to save on my grocery bill.

This economic flexibility is one of the reasons I find Mexico so fascinating. Some folks eke out a living on a few hundred CAD a month while others spend thousands. What I tell people is if you can afford to live "back home" on what you make, you won't have any trouble affording life here and you will have a lot more choice as to what quality of life you get for your dollars.

Also, I've never paid more than 1,000 pesos for a cleaning and a filling at a dentist in Mexico. I can't even get a checkup for less than 200CAD at a dentist near me in Canada. Mechanical work on my truck is also way cheaper. A complete brake job cost me 300CAD, versus 1,200CAD at my local shop in Canada. I just had a repair done for 300 pesos that would have cost me at least 200CAD.

Household goods do tend to be more expensive here, but those costs are offset by how less expensive so many other things are.

I do know for a fact, from speaking with friends who live in the Lake Chapala area, that you're going to have a much higher cost of living than I would consider acceptable for Mexico because of the high "expat tax." But it may be much lower than what a comparable lifestyle would be for you in Canada.

All that said, I've only lived in Mexico for six month stretches and this is my first long stretch now that I have my residente temporal visa, but I have a good grasp of what it will cost me to live well here by my standards. My budget is going to be about 25,000 pesos per month (2,000CAD), including rent of no more than 6,000 pesos for rent on a 3-bed, 2 to 2.5 bath house, plus utilities, but I'm willing to stretch that to 7,000 pesos for a pool. The rest of my money will go to utilities (will likely have high power costs even if I don't run AC), groceries, eating out, public transportation, medical insurance (I'm youngish so that will be cheap), etc., but will not include retirement fund contributions.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
It really depends on your life style, if you are eating out often, using air conditioning, having a gardener, costs for rent and number of people, cost for car-gas, etc the more it will cost.......At 24K that is $65 USD a day, and inflation is high in Mexico..
Yeah, we noticed eating out often would be a budget killer. We also noted the gas prices when we filled up the rental car. High compared to North Carolina, cheap compared to Europe! No gardener, thanks, my sweetie is one. :)
 

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Yeah, we noticed eating out often would be a budget killer.
It really depends where and what you eat. I eat out as much as I want in Mexico, but I'm usually going to little mom and pop type restaurants with good home style cooking for less than 100 pesos. Meals at expat-run and "foreign" food restaurants can run to 200 or more in the place I've been to. Some of the best meals I've had in Mexico, with an innovative use of local fresh ingredients were at palapas on a beach. The same food at a restaurant that looks more sterile like you'd get NOB would be twice as much at least.
 

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Hi! After our enjoyable (but short) visit to Lakeside, Mazatlan, Colima, Cuyutlan, and Barre de Navidad, and some reflection, we're going to come back to Chapala next year for a 2 or 3 month visit and really road test life there. Chapala seems like the right mix of ******/native for us, and it's close enough to Ajijic for the resources there, especially Lake Chapala Society. We just fell in love with the lake itself. So peaceful.

In the meantime, I, as the numbers person of our duo, have been trying to wrap my brain around the cost of living in Mexico in general and Lakeside in particular. Yes, I've gone to Numbeo, the LCS website, and read a couple posts here and elsewhere on the subject. The trouble is from my perspective, it makes a significant difference whether one is renting or owning, and several other factors (vehicle or not, maid/gardener or not, etc.) that really contributes to the wide range of living expenses. Then some people state theirs in pesos, others in dollars, some monthly, others yearly.

So, I am asking all you residents to please describe your your living expenses for me. Since the best advice seems to be for newcomers to rent for at least a year, I'm asking for info from people who are renting rather than owning. Please include rent, food, clothing, transportation, health care, and entertainment, but not travel on vacations. (We have a separate budget for that.) One lump sum is fine.

Y'all are probably curious, so I'll divulge that our planned budget for living in Mexico is hopefully $20-$24K USD per year, with a desired rent of $600-$800 USD per month for a 2 bdr place.

Thanks! :)
For what it is worth, I live on way less than half of that (i.e. about $10,000 pesos a month or $500 US) for daily living expenses. That does not include travel, just utilities and food. Even when I was paying rent I lived on about the same amount. But as several have said, cost of living is strongly dependent on style of living. I am one person, rarely eat or drink out, have no car, and don't buy expensive or fancy foods. I go to movies often but with the senior discount that is about 45 pesos. Health care is mostly the Mexican system IMSS which runs around 7000 pesos a year or about 500 a month, plus an occasional private visit or dentist for 600 pesos a shot. A root canal last year was about 900 pesos ($50 US). I am probably underestimating total monthly costs but it is clearly not close to your budget. You could rent a 2 or 3 bedroom house for about half of your budgeted $600 to $800 depending on where you want to live. I had some friends who had a nice 3 bedroom house for 4200 pesos (about $233). That was a few years ago, but inflation hasn't doubled the cost of rentals.
 

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I tracked our expenses carefully in Mexico 2009 - 2013. As it turned out we needed to live back in the US for 3 years (2014 - 2017) and I continued to track expenses there in the same way. In the two countries we lived a roughly comparable lifestyle (if there is indeed a way to directly compare the two). Our monthly expenditures were roughly triple in the US compared to in Mexico.

Now, I think that is in part a factor of the current exchange rate between the USD and the MXP.
Back in 2009 when I first moved to Mexico the exchange was more like 10:1 instead of nearly 20:1 and my calculation was that it was costing me 1/2 of my US expenditures to live in Mexico. But... I was living alone in the US and there were two of us in Mexico.

As previous posters have said - it all depends. So many lifestyle factors come into play. YMMV, as the acronym goes.
 

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It really depends where and what you eat. I eat out as much as I want in Mexico, but I'm usually going to little mom and pop type restaurants with good home style cooking for less than 100 pesos. Meals at expat-run and "foreign" food restaurants can run to 200 or more in the place I've been to. Some of the best meals I've had in Mexico, with an innovative use of local fresh ingredients were at palapas on a beach. The same food at a restaurant that looks more sterile like you'd get NOB would be twice as much at least.
I agree, tr. For 65 pesos, I can get a complete midday meal at a small place in my neighborhood. At a slightly nicer place, I can have a lovely brunch with fabulous coffee for a little over 100 pesos. Both of these places are not part of a chain, either Mexican or foreign-owned, and are owned by Mexicans.
 

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My situation is very different. I have a lovely 1BR apartment in a Community Living residence. My goal in retirement was to enjoy a carefree life doing whatever I wanted everyday. Community living is a new concept in Mexico enabling independent living in an "all inclusive" resort type environment. I needed to do this strictly on my $1450 a month SS. Meals are prepared twice a day, six days a week and gardener, housecleaning, laundry, utilities, TV, phone, internet, pool and hot tub and even bottled water and toilet paper are included. My grocery list is tequila and dog food. I eat out on Sundays. Building maintenance and repairs are not my concern. My added expense is a weekly massage. I keep a savings acct. for medical needs, but at 68 I'm exceptionally healthy requiring no doctor visits or prescriptions. Could I enjoy this lifestyle in the U.S.? Not a chance and as long as my scooter stays upright, so will I.
 

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Hi ! We just got here to the lake a month ago. We are in ajijic. When we arrived housing was scarce. Everything had already been rented for the high season ( November to march) When we did find a yearly rental it was gone before we could look at it . And no one had any thing to show us. Our air B & B owners said You almost have to start a year before. I rented a beautiful one bedroom casita in ajijic for 650 but only until November . I will have to leave and come back next year . The owner gets 1200 for it on high season. I found it by driving around looking for for rent signs. This is only my experience with housing and I didn't look in Chapala. The cost of food is much lower and we use a taxi to get around. I went to the clinic here with bronchitis and the bill for doctor and treatment was 28.00. This is just our experience. My advice is start looking the minute you land here. It is a lovely place I just need to figure out where to go in November lol.
 

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Hi ! We just got here to the lake a month ago. We are in ajijic. When we arrived housing was scarce. Everything had already been rented for the high season ( November to march) When we did find a yearly rental it was gone before we could look at it . And no one had any thing to show us. Our air B & B owners said You almost have to start a year before. I rented a beautiful one bedroom casita in ajijic for 650 but only until November . I will have to leave and come back next year . The owner gets 1200 for it on high season. I found it by driving around looking for for rent signs. This is only my experience with housing and I didn't look in Chapala. The cost of food is much lower and we use a taxi to get around. I went to the clinic here with bronchitis and the bill for doctor and treatment was 28.00. This is just our experience. My advice is start looking the minute you land here. It is a lovely place I just need to figure out where to go in November lol.
Wow, that's a big difference in costs!
I am looking in Queretaro right now and $650 gets you a beautiful 4-5 bedroom house in a gated community with pool, gym, children's playgrounds and a garden usually with a gardener included. Or it gets you a nice 3 bedroom house in a good area right on the edge of the the centro.
$1200 practically gets you a full hacienda en el centro.

This is why these "how much does it cost to live in Mexico" threads can be very misleading. There are so many factors of location and lifestyle.
 

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My situation is very different. I have a lovely 1BR apartment in a Community Living residence. My goal in retirement was to enjoy a carefree life doing whatever I wanted everyday.
For me right now, at almost 40, your situation sounds like an absolute nightmare... but it is exactly the sort of retirement I am dreaming of. Even if I'd stayed at my government job with a guaranteed retirement, I could never have dreamed of being able to afford that kind of retirement. In Mexico? I'll probably be able to afford it in the next 15 years. Sounds like you're in a nice place. Good on you for finding a way to live your dream life!
 

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I found it by driving around looking for for rent signs. .
Finally, a credible rental market report! In my experience, whenever an expat says, "Oh, there's nothing available," that means there was nothing advertised directly at expats on a website or through a real estate agent, when there was a glut of rentals to be found if one would just drive around look for the "se renta" signs.

I know where I'm definitely not moving. :D
 

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Sorry , forgot to mention before you come down go on the lake chapala rental sites on face book. There you will see postings of rentals and for rentals wanted. That should give you a fairly accurate picture of the rental market. Again I need to stress this was just my experience. Also here if you go a few miles away it may have a big impact on rent so Chapala maybe totally different then ajijic. Good Luck and I am sure you will love it here.
 
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