Updated: Sep 2, 2021
People from all over the world move to Mexico, either for work, to retire, or because of its amazing scenery and culture. One positive that almost every expat in Mexico will tell you about is the low cost of living in Mexico.
But how cheap is living in Mexico really? I live in the cental Mexican city of Queretaro, one of the top destinations for expats who come to live in Mexico (find out why here). It's not one of the cheapest cities in Mexico but compared to many other countries, its cost of living is still very attractive. I made a whole video breaking down my monthly expenses. Take a look here and read on for an item-by-item list.
As for most people, rent is the biggest expense in our monthly budget. We pay MX$10,000 a month for a small furnished 2-bedroom house right in Queretaro's historic center. That's around 500 US dollars a month. I know that most expats normally budget much more than this for accommodation and there are houses and apartments available across Queretaro for all price points. However for me, this seems like quite a lot to be paying. I think it's worth it to be right in the heart of the city, though.
If you want to take a look at our house, we made a video about looking for a house in Queretaro.
One of the best things about our house is that it's just 2 blocks away from a market. This means that we can get fresh food for really low prices.
We spend around MX$800 a week for 2 people. That works out to around US$160 in groceries each month for my husband and me. I thought this was pretty cheap until I did a challenge to eat for a whole day with just US$1 and found it was actually very easy!
We enjoy cooking and cook most of our own meals but sometimes we feel lazy, which brings me to my next line item:
Mexican food is famous all over the world for being delicious. It doesn't just taste good, it's also very accessible to eat out.
Queretaro is a very affluent city and has all of the fancy high-end restaurants that you would expect. It's still possible to get a very filling meal for just a few dollars, though.
Particularly around midday, look for menu del día or fondas. These are the most affordable lunches that you can find. You will normally get a drink, soup, main course, and a small desert for between US$2.50-5.
I made a video about some of my favorite restaurants in Queretaro, where you can eat well for less than US$5.
Around once a month, my husband and I like to treat ourselves to something a little special and go to one of the more upmarket restaurants. For this, we will normally spend between US$40-50 for both of us, including a few drinks.
We eat out 4-5 times a week and on average the cost is around US$155 per month.
I think that compared to other countries, utilities in Mexico are very cheap!
Our rent includes the cost of water, which otherwise would be around US$15/month.
We have to pay for our own gas and electricity, but these don't cost very much at all. We pay around US$10/month for gas and our electricity bill comes every two months and it's normally less than US$10 total!
In Mexico, electricity is subsidised if you don't use very much but as you use more, the cost increases dramatically. That's why for us, the cost is almost nothing but if you use a lot of air conditioning or other energy-hungry appliances, you might have a shock every 2 months!
Phone and Internet
Our internet speed in Queretaro is really excellent. We reliably have download speeds of 200mb/s and it hasn't dropped yet. For this service, we pay US$25/month.
When I hear how much people pay for their cell phones in the US and Canada, it seems crazy to me. In Mexico, data plans are much cheaper. The easiest and most common service is Telcel but it's not the cheapest. If you look around, you can find a much better deal. My husband uses Pillofon and pays US$8.50/month for 5gb of data!
When I made a video about my monthly expenses a few years ago, everyone was asking me about how much health insurance costs. At the time, I worked for a company and I had free health insurance with my job so I didn't know.
Now that I work for myself, I had to buy my own health insurance and I was shocked to find how expensive it is! My husband (32) and I (31) pay US$1500/year for private health insurance for both of us with a high deductible of US$1750. Let's hope we don't need it!
The Grand Total
I hope that the above costs are useful to you to get an idea about the cost of living in Queretaro. What I explained above are the essential costs but as always, there are small expenses which add up. For example, we don't use Uber very much because we live in the center of the city but we will probably take a few rides at $3-5 during the month.
Another expense that is difficult to quantify is travel. Since this is a totally voluntary expense that can vary greatly in cost depending on your tastes, I haven't included it above. As I make videos about Mexico for YouTube, we travel a lot; probably 2-3 times a month. All of this adds up, even if we're just going on a day trip to one of the nearby magic towns.
On average, we spend US$1,500-2,000 a month between us. As you can see, the essentials take up around half of this and the rest is used on travel, gifts, and other discretionary expenses.
I feel very lucky to be able to live this lifestyle and I don't feel that I need to limit myself in what I choose to do. I could easily spend a lot less if I cut back on travel and eating out.
For more information about cost of living in Mexico and other insights, check out my Youtube channel or my other blogs!