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  • Writer's pictureNik Valcic

So how much does it cost to live in Mexico?

Not everyone is looking at Mexico as a retirement option. Increasingly and as a result of COVID, people have become much more portable with their work and that is certainly true in our case since we are not retired.

We have met many future ex-pat couples where moving to Mexico would allow only one of them to continue working, that is - only one of their jobs is portable. Which leads to the situation where a couple might be left with a significant difference from what they would be earning in Canada or the USA. One must always keep in mind the lower cost of living in Mexico. However, the lower cost of living is not just about the fact that some items cost less. It's about HOW you live your life.

Before we moved, we had two really nice cars, one was brand new. We lived in a nice neighborhood, and enjoyed going into San Francisco for Baseball or theater, trips to Napa or Tahoe were also regular. You get where I'm going with this, sizable mortgages/rents and car payments, "keeping up with the Jone's" gets expensive fast. Don't get me wrong, we lived well, we both worked in healthcare at careers we enjoyed, and yet there were months where it was a struggle and long-term there was uncertainty.

"If You Can’t Win the Game You’re Playing, Find a New Game"

Like many reading this, we had been to Mexico before and fell in love with the country. For us it was Isla Mujeres, we sat on the beach working from our laptops and even talked about moving someday.

Sitting in Walnut Creek California, talking about "what's next" we literally checked the flight schedule in the middle of our discussion and booked a flight to Puerto Vallarta. We then sold, donated or discarded a large percentage of our belongings, the rest we put in storage, but frankly, we don't miss those items and we have given them to a family member since. For those who don't recognize the photo it is the Bay Bridge in San Francisco on any given morning. Um, no thanks!

We chose PV because of it's proximity to California and Vancouver where we have family and work ties and because it is a large and thriving city with plenty to see and do.

After a short time we realized that this was the place for us and we returned to the US and applied for and were granted resident visas at the Mexican Consulate. You can read about that process in another one of our blog entries.

We ended up buying a condo a block away from the beach and a car. We now live 100% debt free for the first time in our adult lives.

The lack of debt combined with the low cost of living in Mexico, has made it easy for us to live very well here. We enjoy a higher quality of life than we did in the U.S. and we have plenty of disposable income to enjoy our lives to the fullest.

Many future ex-pats ask us "What do the numbers look like?" and "What does it actually cost?" which can be a difficult question to answer as many of these terms are pretty subjective, so here is an actual breakdown of some of the basics.:

We have medical insurance through a private company. We chose a plan that with a $5,000 USD deductible. Since routine healthcare is not very expensive in Mexico, we generally pay for things out-of-pocket. A visit to an orthopedic surgeon, with X-rays and a radiologists report is less than $40 USD. I've spent time doing some work inside a local private hospital and can say that I was very impressed with the level of knowledge and the top notch equipment.

People often ask us about the cost of groceries, eating out, entertainment and even gasoline. I didn’t list those in the chart because they are all variable expenses that we can easily control by modifying our behavior. We lump those all into the category of disposable monthly income.

For example, we can choose to splurge and stay at an all-inclusive resort for a few days and then slow down by eating at inexpensive restaurants or at home for a few days. We have even found some rather fancy beach clubs and restaurants that give us a locals discount, and we have found several places where it is cheaper for us to eat out than cook at home.

Looking through the various Facebook groups, you will often see the question:

"How much money will I need a month to live in Mexico?"

That magic number depends on three important factors: 1) where you want to live, 2) the amount of debt you have, and 3) the type of lifestyle you’re looking for.

In our case, we kept our monthly costs low by buying a car and condo. Since our reoccurring expenses are generally less than $600 USD a month, we have enough disposable income left over each month to live a very active lifestyle (e.g. travel, eat out, visit local attractions etc.).


Interested in moving to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico? As a Canadian citizen and a US expat and a real estate professional, I can show you how easy it is to own and invest in real estate here in Mexico. Contact me. Selling your home? Contact us to find out ho much your home is worth.

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