Is It Really Cheaper To Live In Mexico?

Touchy question here in Los Cabos

This paper was contacted by Chuck Bolotin, who wrote the book on Best Places In The World To Retire. He wanted our readers to help him with the survey on southern Baja so we passed his questions on to you. What do you mean you don’t remember being consulted? Well, maybe you weren’t and maybe you were and just weren’t paying attention. Anyway, many of you participated.  Bolotin didn’t write specifically on Baja but he did incorporate us in his book.

More than 600 independent “experts” (Bolotin doesn’t define expert), have posted more than 9,500 answers and 250 expat stories, providing their insights and experiences. But then he went further, for an additional survey, one that would provide greater context, trends, and either validate or challenge the most basic assumptions. That’s why his team created their series of surveys. They asked a statistically significant quantity of ex-pats the same questions about their hopes, their fears, their expectations, and how everything turned out. Here are some of the findings.

And here are the winners, in order, of places in Mexico where our ex-pat respondents reported a cost of living of 50% or less than in their home country:

Baja California Norte: 74.2% Greater Mazatlán area: 63.1% State of Yucatan, including Merida: 59.1% Greater Puerto Vallarta area: 49.4% Greater Lake Chapala area: 46.2% Greater San Miguel de Allende area: 45.8% State of Quintana Roo, including Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Tulum, etc.: 45.5% Baja California Sur: 33.2%. We are dead last on that list. Also, we came out this week winners of the most expensive hotel rooms in all of Mexico. Average room is around $300.

However, even those areas in Mexico with the least decrease in cost of living were significantly less expensive than the expats’ home country. For example, in the results for Baja California Sur, only 8.9% reported the cost for equivalent goods and services were “about the same” or “more”. This means that a full 90%+ of ex-pats in Los Cabos experienced lower costs of living, many of them by quite a bit.

“Compared to California prices my rent is probably 1/3 of what I would be paying,” a 65 year old widowed female from the US living in the Puerto Vallarta area for more than 10 years.

“The cost of living here can be greatly influenced by one's choice to buy local or imported goods. If you must have all the food items/clothing brands/laundry and cleaning products that you use in your home country, your cost of living will reflect that in higher prices. If you're willing to use local products and eat and shop where the locals do, the savings can be very high!”

Frankly, living on a pension, I don't think I could live half so well in Canada,” said a 65  year old, living in Baja California Sur for more than 10 years. “Groceries, most services, internet, restaurants, entertainment and travel are all about half the price of Canada's. Plus, we save on heating bills and car expenses while living here. On the other hand most electronic and electrical items are more expensive in Mexico.”

“It all depends on if you are working here and earning pesos or you are here working for an international company or living from your saved money in euros or US dollars. Life is expensive if you earn pesos, but it is much cheaper if you are living on euros or US dollars,” said a  44 year old married female working part time from Europe.

“It is crazy how cheap you can live here,” said a 34 year old female American living in Baja California Sur. She must be eating rice and beans.

“I receive Social Security of $1,000 per month and I am now saving at least $200 of it,” Said a  65+ year old female living at Lake Chapala area for more than 10 years.

“A nice cart of groceries at our local supermarket in Cabo is about 50% of the cost in Sonoma County. And the fish is fresh” said a semi-retired American living in Baja California Sur for more than 10 years.

“I can afford a housekeeper, pool man and yard maintenance once a week, so I have much less chores,” said a 70 year old divorced female American living in Baja California Sur less than 2 years.

“I could get a cleaning lady to come for 50 pesos ($2.50 USD) an hour, but that just makes me feel like I am being lazy. Plus, I live in a 400-square foot trailer,” said a fully retired American living in Baja California Norte less than 2 years.

“You can really have the champagne and caviar lifestyle here in Mexico on a tuna fish budget,” said a married female from the US living at Lake Chapala for less than 2 years.

Finally, 80% said if they spent the same amount of money in their home country as in Mexico they would experience a better lifestyle over all. This is the most significant result, as all things being equal, for the same cash, a lower cost of living should purchase a better lifestyle. The lopsided results were very consistent with previous results, with only 2.5% reporting that their lifestyle would be better in their country of origin if they spent the same amount of money as they did in Mexico.

To see details on this poll, go to.