Each year, more and more people are relocating to Mexico to live as expats there. It’s great for its friendly locals, low prices and perfect weather. Furthermore, you are just a short flight away from the United States. But what if your budget is tight? Is it still possible to move to Mexico and live on, let’s say, $1,000 a month?

In Mexico, you can live a comfortable life on $1,000 a month. The average cost of living for expats, digital nomads and retirees varies between $600 to $2,000 depending on one’s lifestyle choices and their location. Baseline costs in Mexico are around $750 a month. 

In Mexico, digital nomads enjoy various types of landscapes, fantastic weather, food, culture, traditions and white beaches. Moreover, living in Mexico is super affordable. In this article, you will learn how one should budget $1,000 in Mexico, including the cost of living and the cheapest locations in the country. 

Mexico for digital nomads, expats and retirees

Mexico is one of the most popular travel destinations in the world, and a staple for Americans on holiday. Many people relocate to Mexico as a result of having a remote job, a location-independent business or a pension. Furthermore, long-term residence options make settling in the country easy for expats, digital nomads and remote workers. Are you trying to decide whether or not to make the move to Mexico too?

By doing so, you can greatly benefit from a warm climate, low cost of living, delicious food and the friendliness of locals. For digital nomads, remote workers, and anyone on a budget, knowing the real cost of living in Mexico is essential. 

Some cities like Playa Del Carmen and Mexico City became digital nomad hubs due to their affordable cost of living, but they aren’t necessarily the cheapest though. 

You can easily spend $1,500 to $2,000 in those cities if you’re not keeping an eye on expenses, compared to other locations where you can get by on less than $1000. 

Therefore, one of the most important parts of relocation to Mexico is picking the best place to live in order for your finances to breathe.

Can you live in Mexico on $1,000 a month?

One can live in Mexico on $1,000 a month or even less quite easily. In fact, locals live on much tighter budgets. As a foreigner, you will see that pretty much everything costs less than in your home country. Rent, food, transportation and healthcare in Mexico are much cheaper than in the US, Canada or Western Europe. 

Your money will definitely go much further in Mexico. Prices do however vary from city to city and region to region. Baja California and the Yucatan Peninsula for instance are generally more expensive than central Mexico. Large cities are more expensive than smaller cities or rural areas. But overall, Mexico is a pretty affordable place to live.

We’ve laid out for you below a plan for moving to Mexico with a $1,000 monthly budget.

Pick an affordable location

Major Mexican cities have a higher cost of living. Yet, you can live on $1,000 per month in large cities like Mexico City, Guadalajara, Tijuana, or Puebla, but you need to be more careful with money. In fact, you can get by on $800 if you’re frugal. 

Second-tier cities, rural regions or small (unpopular) beach towns will be significantly cheaper. In more off the beaten path places, you can live comfortably on $500-$1,000 per month in places like Oaxaca, Guanajuato, San Miguel de Allende, Puerto Escondido, etc. 

With a few sacrifices in terms of lifestyle, you could cut your living expenses down to $500 per month and live relatively comfortably if you are on a tight budget.

Asses major tourist destinations vs. less touristy ones

Places like Cancun, Cabo, Playa del Carmen and other popular beach destinations are slightly more expensive. For example, monthly rent for a 900 square foot apartment in Cancun might be $530 per month, and that price even spikes to about $1,370 in areas along the beach. The cost of living in Cancun for a couple, including housing and groceries, will likely be between $1,975 and $2,040.

So expect to spend closer to $1,500 per month in those popular destinations, although it is possible to survive on $1,000 if you’re very frugal.

Consider the necessary expenses

The most significant and first expense you will encounter is rent. To be on the safe side, calculate at least $450 for a livable one-bedroom apartment that has all necessities. 

For utilities, the electricity bill will likely cost between $25 to $50 a month. Gas will be about $25 a month, cable TV will be $30 and basic telephone service will be $20. 

Eating out in a nice restaurant will cost you up to $15 per person. Grabbing a quick lunch at a local cafeteria goes for $3 to $7. Street food is available for as little as $1. A kilo of fresh fruits like mangos or oranges costs around $1 in season. A kilo of avocados sells for about $1.25.

The Cheapest places to live in Mexico on $1,000 per month

As previously mentioned, living comfortably on $1,000 per month is more easily achieved by choosing a cheap place to live in Mexico. 

The top cheapest places in Mexico are: 

  • San Cristóbal de las Casas – average rent $290
  • Oaxaca City – Average rent $220
  • Cancún – average rent $250
  • Puebla – average rent $310
  • Santiago de Querétaro – average rent $330
  • Puerto Vallarta – average rent $332
  • Tulum – average rent $480
  • Mérida – average rent $350
  • Guadalajara – average rent $309
  • Aguascalientes – average rent $335
  • Monterrey – average rent $400
  • Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco – average rent $350
  • Merida, Yucatan – average rent $250

The minimal cost of living for expats in different Mexican cities:

CityEstimated Cost of Living (per month)
San Miguel Allende$1,000
Mexico City$900
Puerto Vallarta$850
Playa del Carmen$800

How much money do locals make in Mexico?

When budgeting for the cost of living, you naturally need to understand the standards of living in this country. That always depends on the income of residents. Places with high salaries have a higher quality of life, and hence a higher cost of living.

But you might be wondering, what are the average salaries in Mexico? Will $1,000 be enough to keep up with local levels?

Mexican salaries aren’t particularly high. In fact, they are low. Hence, someone coming from a developed Western country will benefit greatly from the local economy.

For example, about 11 million Mexican employees earn minimum wage, which is $6,81 (2021) per workday or $136 per month. That’s not even one fourth of the USA’s minimum monthly wage.

Yet, Mexico does have some careers that are paid quite well compared to the rest of the salaries in the job market. For example, web developers make an average of around $38,000 per year.

However, the average annual income in Mexico is about $10,500, or $875 monthly. But unfortunately, most citizens live on less than that. What that means for you, the expat, is that $1,000 will be above the average earner and you shouldn’t worry about whether it’s possible to survive on that budget.

Living in Mexico on $500 a month – is it possible?

Believe it or not, it is possible to live on $500 a month in Mexico. But the real question is, “Do you really want to do that?” The lifestyle with that budget won’t suit most people, and you might not survive long if you’re living that frugally. 

But if you are determined to live on $500 a month in Mexico, Merida in Yucatan will offer you the best value for that budget. Merida is one of the cheapest places in Mexico to rent an apartment. The price starts at $80. 

How much money do you need to live comfortably in Mexico?

Everyone has a different understanding of comfort. If for you it means having a place to live, cooking and eating out occasionally, plus using health care services from time to time, that can all be done for under $1,000 a month in Mexico. 

As we said previously, the cost of living varies depending on the Mexican state and city you reside in. In some places, you can live comfortably on a particular amount, but in others, it might be a challenging task. 

In the end, the average cost of living across Mexico varies from $600 – $2,000. We reiterate that on average, your baseline costs in Mexico will most likely be around $750 every month. 

And although housing will be the biggest expense, even Western-style apartments are affordable in Mexico. Ultimately, a single person rarely spends more than $1,000 per month while living a comfortable, modest lifestyle.

An example of a comfortable life in Mexico 

With a monthly budget of $1,000-$1,400, everyone will find their life comfortable in Mexico. You can rent at least a one-bedroom apartment with air conditioning in a good location. Moreover, you can even afford a maid once per week. They charge only $3-$4 per hour. 

The Cost of living in Mexico in 2022

Here are some rapid fire facts about the cost of living in Mexico. 

  • Family of four estimated monthly costs: $2,200 (Mex$ 45,559)
  • Single person estimated monthly costs: $1,062 (Mex$ 21,988)
  • The cost of living in Mexico is cheaper than in 69% of countries in Latin America (11 out of 16)
  • The cost of living in Mexico is cheaper than in 77% of countries in the World (56 out of 73)

Here are the top five most expensive cities to live in Mexico:

  • Los Cabos
  • Monterrey
  • Cancun
  • Cuernavaca
  • Guadalajara

Here are the cheapest cities to live in Mexico in 2022:

  • Tlaxcala
  • Zacatecas
  • Tepic
  • Guanajuato
  • Tuxtla Gutierrez

Examples of monthly costs breakdown for a budget of $1,000.

Monthly expenseU.S. $
Rent one-bedroom apartment400
Utilities (electricity, water, gas)50
Mobile phone10

Rent in Mexico

We touched on this a bit before, but let’s explore rent in Mexico further. Housing in Mexico is amazingly affordable, especially if you rent local accommodations that are not made for tourists. And here’s some good news for those who love to cook: houses and apartments come with fully equipped kitchens. 

Rent prices for one or two-bedroom apartments start at $450 in average-sized cities as long as you avoid tourist resorts and towns. You might pay double or triple that price when choosing a popular location. 

Moving to Mexico from the US is a great way to save money on rent. In sunny Los Angeles, the average cost of renting an apartment is about $2,500 per month, while renting the equivalent of that in Mexico City will be about $500. 

Food in Mexico

Let’s also look a little further on food prices in Mexico, which is by far the best thing about living in Mexico, right! You will be spoiled in many ways. For example, a cheap quesadilla costs 15 pesos (just over $1). A taco costs about 40 pesos (about $3.25), and a good meal in a solid restaurant will be between $10 to  $15.

For groceries to cook at home, $200 per month should be enough for one person. Moreover, you can save money by shopping at local farmer markets. Alcohol is also affordable in Mexico. Tequila can cost $8 to $25 for a bottle depending on the brand. Wines start at about $5 a bottle.

Expat Healthcare in Mexico

If you are moving to Mexico from the US, you will also save money on medical bills, and you can do that using international or local health insurance. The price ranges depending on your coverage, but the average is $500-$600, and up to $1,500 per year. 

These coverages also include a deductible that you need to pay in case of the use of medical services.  

Average coverage will have a deductible that is less than $500 and up to $1,000. The average copay is 10% of the service, whether it’s medical or dental. Should you have a cold or a simple health issue, you can go to any pharmacy and consult with a doctor for about $3. 

Yet, even visiting a specialist might cost you just $35. Furthermore, dental care is very affordable too.

How to get a remote job and relocate to Mexico 

If your goal is to move to Mexico and live on $1,000 you will need to earn this money somehow too. Most importantly, your employer must be compliant with the fact you are living and working from Mexico, and that’s not always easy.

But we are here to help. Support Adventure is known as the expat outsourcing company as we hire talented people from around the world who want to work online from anywhere. Apply for a remote job with us here

Categories: Lifestyle