How I Saved $1800 a Month by Switching to Mexico
We’ve all heard the commercial about how customers saved 15% by switching to Geico, well, I’m going to show you guys how I managed to save over $1800 in monthly expenses by moving to Mexico.
Picture it. October 2017. Fresh off an almost 2 year stint abroad and off the heels of a last-minute decision to not return to my beloved Madrid, I decided to stay in Atlanta and…adult. It’s not a decision I regret making, but sometimes I ask myself, “But, why though?”. You see, I was very fortunate enough to have never had a car note, or insurance to pay and my cellphone bill was also covered, so these are three major bills I never had to worry about. But, when I made this decision to stay in the states, that also meant I was now amassing these responsibilities and was now a for real for real adult, at the ripe age of 32. Where is the unsubscribe button, because I wasn’t ready.
In lieu of rent and utilities I now had these big girl bills that totaled approximately $2548/month. This includes a guestimate on things like groceries, dining out, entertainment, miscellaneous expenses etc. I’m pretty sure I lowballed these estimates, because at one point I was definitely spending over $400/month on dining out alone. I have gotten a lot better in this regard, but it is still one of my favorite past times, so there’s that.
Some people may look at this amount and laugh, like “That’s it?!”
I will say, living in Atlanta, does afford a cheaper cost of living versus somewhere like L.A. or New York where rent for a 1 bedroom can easily be $2000 alone, but nonetheless, these were my monthly expenses living in Atlanta.
So, how did I save $1800 a month? Well, when I made the decision to leave America, for the second time, I knew whatever country I moved to, the cost of living had to be significantly less than that of Atlanta. After all, I was going out on a limb and moving with no job, aside from my freelance work. The currency exchange in Mexico is amazing. At the time of this post the peso is 19.58 to $1 USD. What does that mean? It means for every $1 I get 19.58 Mexican Pesos. Just to break it down even further, I can get tacos in Mérida for 16 pesos ($0.82). For $2.45 I can get 3 super filling, authentic tacos. Basically, the prices in Mexico shits on America’s coveted $2 Taco Tuesday. I can get three tacos for the same price. Take that ‘Murica.
Is living in Mérida, Mexico expensive?
If you are bringing in an income in American dollars, or Euros are even better, then your dollars will go far! I knew Mexico was super affordable, but after moving here I was completely shocked at just how affordable it was. I remember ordering a meal at a restaurant once that came with chicken, rice, a salad, soup and tortillas for 37 pesos. That’s $1.90!! All that food for less than $2! America could never.
Enough about food, because let’s be honest, I could legit talk about it all day. For this post, I documented every single peso I spent for three months straight. Here’s a breakdown of my cost of living as a solo woman in Mérida, Mexico:
What is the cost of living for housing in Mérida?
In Atlanta, I paid $1163 for a 725 sq ft apartment. In Mérida, I paid 6500 pesos (approx $332) for my first, fully furnished one bedroom apartment. I have since moved next door where rent is even cheaper at 5000 pesos (approx $255). I live in the center of town, so everything I could ever possibly need is at my doorstep. A five to ten minute walk in any direction and I have markets, restaurants, shopping, all my favorite coffee shops, my laundry lady etc. Even Walmart is only a 20 minute walk from my apartment. So, it’s a pretty awesome location.
Because I’m in the center of town, naturally, my rent is higher than what you may find in other areas. You can easily find an apartment for much less in areas outside the city center.
How much are utilities in Mérida?
The only additional utilities I have to pay for is electricity, which costs me about $22.18 per month. Internet, is included with my rent.
How much are laundry services in Mérida?
I don’t have a washer and dryer in my apartment. Living in South Korea, and then Spain, I was used to not having a dryer. But, no washer or dryer has been an adjustment for me. Luckily, there’s a laundry service 2 minutes walking from my apartment, so I drop my clothes off, she washes, dries and folds them for me and I pick them up the next day. This service is based on weight. Typically, I pay around 110 pesos/$5.60 (sometimes more, sometimes less) each time I drop off. On average I spend about $10.50/month for full laundry service.
How much are cell phones in Mérida?
I opted to go with a pre-paid plan when moving to Mexico with the local phone company, Telcel. My cell phone bill went from $125/month in Atlanta, to approx. $34/month. I usually buy 3 GB at a time for approx. $10. This fluctuates from month to month, depending on how bad my internet is acting. When I was in my old apartment, the internet SUCKED big time, so I relied on my data a lot. Now, not as much, so I use far less data and don’t have to refill as often.
Check out these other ways to stay connected while traveling abroad
Grocery Shopping Mérida
I usually do one big grocery shopping trip per month, one or two smaller ones and then shop the local markets for fruits and veggies throughout the week. My grocery costs typically add up to be about $135/month. This could be a lot cheaper if I strictly shopped local, but I like convenience, so I do my big grocery hauls at Walmart or Superama, a large retail grocer. I’m not in the business of running from here to yonder because one market doesn’t have what I need. I like a one-stop-shop, so I spend a little more for the convenience.
I also have a guy that delivers big five-gallon jugs of water to my apartment for 28 pesos (approx.$1.43) per jug, once every week and a half or so. The water in Mexico is not drinkable, and I was going through gallons so quickly, and not to mention how heavy those suckers are to lug home, so now I just have my water delivered and it costs me around $4.50/month.
How much is eating out in Mérida?
I cook quite a bit at home, but I also love dining out, plus Uber Eats takes ALL my coins. Delivery is suuuper cheap here! Like, 25 pesos ($1.28) cheap. You can’t beat it! As I mentioned before, you can get tacos for around $0.82 and meals from an economic restaurant for less than $2. For average restaurants, you can expect to pay around $10 or so. One of my most expensive meals was at an Italian restaurant where I had an entree, additional side and a glass of wine for $16. Not too shabby. I don’t party or drink too often these days, but I have met up with friends on a couple occasions and my mixed drink was 99 pesos (approx. $5), just to give you an idea. On average, I spend around $86.07 on dining out.
How much are coffee shops in Mérida?
I spend A LOT of time in coffee shops, not necessarily because I love coffee, but I like the change of scenery when working from home. I basically choose one and it becomes my office for the day. A cappuccino or other specialty coffee drinks will cost you around 45-65 pesos $2.50-$3.50. I typically spend about $32/month at coffee shops.
What is the cost of living for Transportation in Mérida?
I don’t have a car in Mérida, so that means I either walk everywhere, take the bus, or Uber. I typically walk most places since I’m so central to everything, but every now and then I venture to the North of the city or to the beach, around 40 minutes away, so I take an Uber or bus. Local buses around the city are insanely cheap at 7.50 pesos (approx. $0.38) per ride. When I venture to the beach it’s 21 pesos (approx. $1.07) one-way. Uber here is also cheap. My rides are usually anywhere from $1.50-$3.50. They may get up to around $4 if I’m going “far”, but rarely are they ever more than $5. Even the one time I took an Uber to the beach, it was only $20. Where can you take an Uber in Atlanta for less than $5? To the end of your driveway, that’s where. My average cost of transportation in Mérida is around $35/month.
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Are there any other Miscellaneous expenses I should expect in Mérida?
Of course I have my odds and ends spending. For example, I like to buy fresh flowers, get waxed monthly, treat myself to a spa every now and then, go see a movie or enjoy a luxurious glamping weekend in Mérida. And of course I like to wander and experience some of the local sites and attractions, so all those things I’m adding under miscellaneous. On average, I spend around $90.60/month on these odds and ends.
What is the cost of Healthcare in Mérida?
I have been fortunate enough to not have to utilize the healthcare system here, but from the various Facebook groups I’m in, the prices for healthcare are extremely affordable. One lady reported that her Mother-in-law’s diabetic medications only cost about $15 per month. My grandmother has told me on several occasions that for just ONE of my grandfather’s diabetes medications they easily pay $300 a month. INSANE! I’ve read that for healthcare costs, procedures, surgeries etc are at a fraction of the cost of that in the U.S. and you won’t be slapped with a five-figure bill for a five minute procedure.
Now, let’s look at a side-by-side comparison of my expenses in the United States versus my expenses in Mexico, to show you just how much cheaper the cost of living is in Mexico:
|Transportation||$610 (including car payment, insurance, gas)||N/A|
And folks, there you have it; how I cut my expenses by almost 300% and saved $1800 a month by moving to Mexico. The cost of living in Mérida is incredibly affordable. Of course, more popular, touristy cities will have a higher cost of living, but overall the cost of living in Mexico is significantly less than the U.S.; making it the perfect destination for anyone looking to experience the rich culture and live a luxurious life without breaking the bank.
Are you as surprised as I was by the cost of living in Mérida, Mexico? Would you ever consider moving to another country in order to save money? Leave me a comment below!
Thinking about Moving to Mexico?
- MexitPlans has an entire course that lays out everything you need to know about moving to Mexico. You can take the full course or month-by-month.
- Book your travel insurance with Safety Wing or World Nomads. You never know when you might need it. Lost luggage, trip cancellation, accidents. Better to be safe than sorry.
- Don’t forget these packing essentials
So dope. Inspiring. I wish more people took leaps like this that leave them ahead in the end. Love all of this.
Same! I think so many people think that it’s so much more expensive to live abroad, when in reality it’s likely a heck of a lot cheaper. Thanks so much for reading!
Hi great read, loved that you branched our to make a totally different and cost effective life for yourself as a black woman in a Spanish speaking country. With that said, I have a few questions if you don’t mind, how are black people perceived? What’s the social scene? Do you find it difficult to date ?(assuming you’re single) and finally what’s the crime rate in Merida?
Great read Colby. I’m not sure we are saving like you but our lifestyle is much less here than in Atlanta as well.
Thanks so much for reading, Monte! I think anytime you can save, lots or a little, it’s a win! 🙂