The Unfiltered Truth About the Mérida Mexico Cost of Living

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People are flocking to Mérida for quality medical care, slower pace, relaxed lifestyle and, most of all, cost of living. Honestly, the first time I visited this magical place, I fell in love. Once I discovered that I could afford the move, establish a new home AND create a new life, I was ready to make the move from Dallas to Mérida. In this post I want to share the unfiltered truth about the Mérida Mexico cost of living.

Have you ever felt like the older you get, the more expenses you have?

That’s exactly the way I felt too. Once I began comparing the cost of living in the U.S. to Mérida Mexico cost of living, the choice was obvious. It all comes down to this; my dollar would go much, much farther in Mérida, Mexico.

But in order for me to make a huge lifestyle change, I needed to know exactly what to expect, how to plan, budget and make adjustments. With the research, information and local perspective, I created this article to help with your lifestyle change too.

Are you ready to read the most comprehensive information you’ll find in one place about the Mérida Mexico cost of living? Since you are here, the answer must be YES!

The Unfiltered Truth About the Mérida Mexico Cost of Living

Want to know a secret? Regardless of your monthly income, your money will go farther in Mérida.

Food, services, housing, medical and health-related expenses as well as entertainment are all extremely affordable. The average couple can live very comfortably on $1,200 to $3,000 U.S. dollars a month.

The Unfiltered Truth About the Mérida Mexico Cost of Living

But first a warning . . .

Your particular lifestyle will dictate your expenses, fixed costs, and flexible costs. I highly recommend taking at least one or two research trips to determine and discover the actual costs for yourself.

You will be pleasantly surprised once you begin the comparison process.

The greatest thing?

  • You can live like a king.
  • You can live frugally.
  • You can live somewhere in the middle.
  • There is something here for everyone no matter how you want to live.

Most people will tell you it is incredibly affordable to eat out. That’s a true statement to some degree.

Anything is affordable in Mérida if you live like a local. Some of Mérida’s best-kept secrets are the local markets, restaurants, and shopping areas.

The Unfiltered Truth About the Mérida Mexico Cost of Living

But wait –

Before you get really excited, I recommend making a list and budget of needs and wants, like to haves and must-haves. At times, emotion can overtake the practical side. When moving, especially to a foreign country, practicality must be first.

6 overlooked considerations when moving to Mérida

  1. Travel:  will you need to travel to and from your home country (U.S., Canada, Europe, etc.)?
    *I planned on traveling back to Dallas 2 – 4 times a year. Airfare costs for different times of the year can vary dramatically.
  2. Business transactions:  will you have items that will require you to personally be present in your home country?
    *I still have clients in the U.S. that request my services. However, I decided to pass the cost of my flight and other related expenses to the client which they were happy to pay for.
  3. Cell phone:  will you keep your cell phone or will you convert to a Mexican number?
    *I kept my U.S. phone and purchased a Mexican phone with a monthly plan. I purchased a refurbished iPhone 6s through Amazon.com.mx and it cost $150. My monthly service with TelCel runs about $10 U.S. To further reduce expenses, I am considering canceling my U.S. service and using WhatsApp for all my contacts.
  4. Health insurance:  do you have health insurance and/or will you want health insurance in Mexico?
    *I don’t have health insurance because it was not affordable for me. I never went to the traditional doctor. Insurance did not cover any alternative or holistic treatments I utilize. Now that I live in Mérida, I am comparing different insurance plans and other resources.
  5. Transportation:  do you want to have a car in Mérida? If so, car purchase, insurance, and gas costs will need to be part of your budget.
    *I did not want a car. I was tired of driving and research showed that Uber was an extremely affordable alternative. Car payment, gas, insurance and maintenance costs would be alleviated and replaced with nominal Uber fees.
  6. Start-up/getting established costs:  are you bringing some things with you or do you plan to completely start over? Determining costs to purchase items vs. shipping or bringing them in suitcases should be factored in as well.
    *I decided to bring only what would fit inside suitcases. If this meant transporting goods over a period of time, I was satisfied with that. Once I determined this, then I had to figure in the costs of baggage fees and project how many “trips” I might need to make.

Having some information prior to your on-the-ground research will provide a great foundation when you arrive in Mérida.

Remember, emotions can get the better of us so having a list you can easily refer back to will help serve as a gentle reminder.

The bottom line . . .

It’s important to conduct your own research however having a place to start is helpful.

The Unfiltered Truth About the Mérida Mexico Cost of Living

6 things you must decide on when living in Mérida

  1. Location:  Are you within walking distance of a market or will you need to take Uber? Do some practice runs to factor in this cost.
    You may also find that going to the grocery store via Uber once a week with smaller items picked up at your local market within walking distance is more cost-effective.
  2. Household:  Do you need a washer and/or dryer? Or would you consider/prefer to take your items to the lavanderia? Weigh the cost of electricity vs. outsourcing your laundry.
  3. Electricity/Air-conditioning:  Many houses have mini-split A/C systems and are only air-conditioned in certain areas. Keep track of your usage, the temperature and time of year for a baseline of what these cost during the year.
    For electricity, if you go over a certain amount, your rate will increase exponentially. Take special care when running your electricity until you have a good baseline for usage.
  4. Other Utilities:  internet, gas, cable, trash. You will have a gas tank that will be filled based on your usage and the size of your tank. Internet costs will be based on speed. Regular trash pick up is non-negotiable!
  5. Service providers:  You will find that service providers here are extremely cost-effective. What would be beneficial to you as well as help someone else? Pool service providers, house cleaning, gardeners are the typical ones to hire.
  6. Water:  Drinking water from the tap is not recommended. Putting water into your budget may seem odd but you have many options when it comes to bottled water.

4 items that can dramatically affect your cost of living

  1. Personal services:  haircut, color, manicure, pedicure, etc.
  2. Alternative/holistic care:  acupuncture, massages, spa treatments.
  3. Restaurants/entertainment:  eating out, dancing, cultural experiences like museum entrance fees, city tours, etc.
  4. Clothing:  you may find you need to replace your clothing and shoes more often because of the harsh conditions of the weather. Additionally, lighter fabrics will help you stay cooler in the scorching heat of the summers where you will hear “mucho color” many, many times.

Everything You Need to Know About Neighborhoods in Mérida

Keep in mind, your actual cost of living will be determined by how you live. I always recommend keeping an itemized list of your expenses for a period of 90 days to determine exactly where you are spending your money.

It really is that simple . . .

Once you have the first 90 days under your belt then you can adjust as needed.

A “peace-of-mind fund” will help with emergencies and unknowns

In the beginning, you will have a few more expenses to get you established and up and running.

I also set aside a “peace-of-mind fund” for emergencies and unknowns.

This was quite helpful because I typically run a pretty tight budget.

Since I was moving to a completely new and unfamiliar place, I needed a little slush fund for the unknowns. Creating this fund had a tremendous impact on helping keep my stress low when I had unforeseen expenses pop up.

I had some rental issues, needed some new clothes for the hot weather, required a portable table for my computer, wanted a fan, and some other household items. Because I had money set aside for unforeseen expenses, it did not add any financial stress.

No matter where you live, your cost of living in Mérida Mexico is dramatically impacted by your lifestyle. You may choose to live like a local. You can also live a more luxurious lifestyle on a much lower budget than you’d pay in many locations in other parts of the world.

One of the main reasons I chose Mérida is because it has culture and arts mixed with gastronomic delights and modern conveniences (like Amazon…smile).

Mérida provides just about anything you’d ever want or need from goods and services to a wide variety of neighborhoods and housing choices. It is also close to the beach so you can escape the city for the quiet, serenity of the ocean waves just a few miles away.

Rental tips, costs, and services from a local

You will find a huge price difference depending on where you want to live and what kind of housing you desire. Living like a local in a Colonia or neighborhood will reduce your rent exponentially vs. living closer to the center of the city called Centro.

The price range can be $300 monthly plus utilities and services compared to $1800 monthly plus utilities. Services include housekeeping, pool cleaning, and gardening.

I highly recommend hiring a reputable company/realtor that you have fully vetted to help you with this process if you are unfamiliar with the market in Mexico. It is much different than anywhere else with sometimes strange rules and regulations.

Do not ever give anyone money up-front to hold a rental for you. Ensure you have fully inspected the property and have a contract in place with all the details outlined. Typically, the first month’s rent with a deposit is required.

The contract will have to be in Spanish to be valid. Ask for a copy of the contract in English so you can understand all the nuances of the information.

If you begin by searching for rental online, type in “casas en renta”. You will find more options in the native language. If you see a listing for a depo or department, that is the equivalent of an apt or apartment.

For more information, read this article on Long Term Rental Tips.

Exercise caution when purchasing a house

If you’re more interested in buying property, you’ll quickly realize prices are all over the board. There is no MLS system in Mérida so viewing comparable sales in different areas is just not possible.

You will find, however, that comparable properties in Mérida vs. other locations in the world are quite economical and will cost much less. A large majority of properties even include all the furnishings.

The Unfiltered Truth About the Mérida Mexico Cost of Living

As in the rental market, you will find that purchasing property in Mexico is quite different than anywhere else. Obtaining a loan for a property purchase is difficult if not impossible. Most properties are purchased with cash.

If you are considering purchasing real estate, I highly recommend that you rent for at least one year to become familiar with the different parts of the city, the lifestyle, and the culture. Many different types of properties can be found here from colonial to modern and simple to luxurious.

For more information, read How to Buy a House in Mérida.

Mérida cost of living price ranges for one person

Housing
Rent: $750 – $1500*
Electric: $75 – $200
*Includes house and pool cleaning, gardener, Wifi, gas, water, trash pick up

Transportation
Uber:  $120 – $200
Telephone
Monthly Cell Service: $10 – $30

Food
Groceries: $400
Eating Out:  $80 – $150

Tips
Grocery baggers, service providers, deliveries, etc:  $10 – $25

Service Providers include house cleaner, pool cleaner and gardener will cost approximately $150 pesos per week each. I always give a 20% tip.

$180 pesos = $9 USD (approx) per provider. I am happy to pay $108 (approx) monthly to have my house and pool cleaned, and garden taken care of.

Create a cost-of-living budget

Utilities such as water, trash, and gas are all a few dollars each per month with a total between $15 – $20. Wifi will cost $13 – $17 while electricity is completely dependent on how you use it.

Electricity here can be expensive and you will be charged exponentially if you fall into the “high consumption domestic service or DAC” rate as defined by the CFE (Comisión Federal de Electricidad).

This rate was established to keep people, namely extranjeros or foreigners, conscientious of their electricity usage. I have never fallen into the DAC category but I’m told that the fee can be close to the amount of a monthly rental rate.

For an average house, you can expect to pay $75 – $200/month depending on your usage and how many A/C units called mini-splits you have. Rule of thumb is to turn the mini-split on when you are in the room and off when you leave. Same thing with lights.

Internet averages $15/month and I highly recommend subscribing to online streaming channels such as Netflix or Amazon Prime.

Phone services will also depend on your personal preference. I kept my American phone for a few months and purchased another iPhone with a Mexican number. I wanted some overlap time to determine if I really needed to keep my American number or if I could eventually transfer the number to google voice and get rid of my Verizon charge.

I went to Telcel and purchased a SIM card with a Mexican phone number which cost me $80 pesos or $4 US (approx). I opt for the $300 peso/month plan which can be changed month by month depending on my usage. In total the phone costs about $15 – $25/monthly compared to $95 with Verizon.

Many residents, professionals, and establishments use WhatsApp. This is a perfect way to communicate with anyone worldwide as long as they have the app on their phone.


Transportation confession . . .

I did not want the expense of a vehicle in Mérida. Driving, parking, cost of gas, insurance and maintenance were too much to think about when Uber or taking the bus is so incredibly cheap.

Next confession . . .

I only use Uber.


Based on where you are and move around in the city, Uber is inexpensive. If I’m traveling within a 10-minute ride of my house, the fare is roughly $1.50 – $2.00. My acupuncturist lives in Cholul, a suburb of Mérida. I see her two to three times a month. It takes between 30-40 minutes to get to her house with a fare between $6.00 – $7.50.

If you can figure out the bus or van routes, you will save even more money costing roughly $.30 cents each way. Since I am not yet fluent in Spanish, I don’t have the confidence to ask questions about the route with the driver.

Food true confession, I am a LOVER of all things edible!

I spend about $100 – $125/weekly on groceries because I eat very, very healthy. I have a pescador (fisherman) that delivers fresh fish to me once a week which costs about $10 – $15 depending upon what I get.

I also treat myself once or twice a week to a nice lunch or meal at a restaurant. Again, depending upon the restaurant, I typically spend $20 – $50; the high side includes a bottle of wine.

But the truth?

You can spend much less depending upon the way you choose to live. Eat like a local and spend less vs. eating in a restaurant that caters to Americans.

Now I’m going to stop you right there . . .

Interestingly enough many people will tell you it’s cheaper to eat out than to cook at home. Of course, this will depend on what you eat, the time of day and the location. Many paquete specials are offered around the city include a meal with a drink or beer for $100 pesos or approx $5.00.

Excellent healthcare professionals and facilities are found in Mérida. Private clinics and hospitals feature modern facilities, state of the art equipment and are built to international standards. A few facilities do take American insurance however you will have to determine that up-front.

Rest assured, you will find the costs of a doctor’s visit, medicine, and other medical-related expenses are far, far less than what you would pay stateside.

For minor issues, seeing a doctor may not even be necessary. Most pharmacies have a doctor on staff who is able to treat the issue and prescribe medications for free or a few dollars. Prescriptions vary on a case by case basis.


As an example, I have one HRT medicine that I take. I needed a prescription for it in the U.S. and the cost was $375/month. In Mérida, I do not need a prescription and the exact same medicine costs $35. The best thing is I can walk right into the pharmacy, tell the pharmacist what I need and within a few minutes, I have my prescription. No waiting, no insurance verification and much, much cheaper.


For what it’s worth –

Personal services are exceptional in Mérida. Pamper yourself with a manicure, pedicure, and haircut…and pay less than $60 for all three plus tips. Massages cost between $20 – $40 per hour. Acupuncture is about $25 for one hour.

Annual property taxes, if you own a home, are incredibly low with an average between $200 and $500.

Entertainment per person includes movie tickets at $5, museum entrance fees at $4, concert tickets at $5, symphony tickets between $5 to $20.

The hot and tropical weather can be harsh on clothing and shoes. A clothing budget can be an important component to consider as you will need to replace items more frequently.

The Unfiltered Truth About the Mérida Mexico Cost of Living

Local products and services in MX Pesos (& USD) affect the Mérida Mexico cost of living

*Based on the exchange rate of $22.0055 MX Peso to $1 USD 

Basic local lunch with a drink:  $115 ($5.23)

Combo meal in fast food restaurant: $96 ($4.36)

500 gr (1 lb.) of boneless chicken breast:  $59 ($2.68)

1 liter (1 qt.) of whole milk:  $19 ($.86)

1 dozen eggs:  $26 ($1.18)

1 kg (2 lb.) tomatoes:  $26 ($1.18)

1 kg (2 lb.) potatoes:  $29 ($1.32)

500 gr (16 oz.) local cheese:  $71 ($3.23)

1 kg (2 lb.) apples:  $43 ($1.95)

1 kg bananas:  $11 ($.50)

1 kg Mexican limones:  $10 ($.45)

Philadelphia cream cheese:  $26.50 ($1.20)

3 kg (6.6 lb) bag Purina cat chow: $185 ($8.41)

4 kg (8.8 lb) bag Purina dog chow: $225 ($10.23)

Arm and Hammer (1.36 Gal.) Laundry Soap: $135 ($6.14)

1 lb. sugar: $18 ($.82)

Absolut Vodka (750 ml): $240 ($10.91)

6 pack domestic beer (Corona):  $80 ($3.64)

1 bottle nice red wine:  $210 ($9.54)

2 liters of coca-cola: $30 ($1.36)

40” flat screen TV:  $8,250 ($374.92)

Microwave 800/900 watt (well-known brand):  $2,150 ($97.71)

1 pair of jeans (levis 501 or similar):  $750 ($34.08)

1 summer dress (local boutique):  $850 ($38.63)

1 pair of sports shoes (Nike, Adidas, or equivalent):  $1,375 ($62.49)

1 liter (1/4 gallon) of gas:  $20 ($.91)

Cold medicine for 6 days (Tylenol, Frenadol, Coldrex, etc.):  $81 ($3.68)

1 box of antibiotics (12 doses):  $139 ($6.32)

Insulin (10ml):  $600 ($27.27)

Prozac (28 tablets):  $1,266 ($57.53)

Tabcin (Cold medication – 12 capsules): $53 ($2.41)

Tafil (Xanax – 90 .5mg tablets):  $1,020 ($46.35)

Viagra (1 – 100mg tablet):  $324 ($14.72)

Office visit for a private doctor (15 minutes):  $500 ($22.72)

Deodorant:  $42 ($1.91)

Hair shampoo:  $55 ($2.50)

4 rolls of toilet paper:  $46 ($2.09)

Tube of toothpaste:  $27 ($1.23)

1 package of Marlboro cigarettes:  $65 ($2.95)

Massage (one hour):  $600 to $800 ($27.27 to $36.36)

Reflexology (one hour):  $500 ($22.72)

Manicure: $160 ($7.27)

Pedicure: $210 ($9.54)

Facial (one hour):  $480 ($21.81)

Full body exfoliation (one hour): $600 ($27.27)

 

What it all boils down to is this . . .

When you purchase products from the United States they are considered imports and the price will be significantly higher. You’ll find brands like Sargento, Brianna’s and Kikkoman but you’ll pay a premium price.

In general, items will be cheaper in the local markets. Costs for fruits and vegetables will vary by season. Chickens, pigs, and turkeys, anything grown or raised locally will be even lower if you go to the local mercados, and even lower at the Lucas de Galvez mercado.

The cost of meat depends on where you buy it and the cut. Pork ranges from $60 to $100 pesos per kilo and beef from $70 to $150 pesos per kilo. Arracheras, a special beef cut, costs about $150 pesos per kilo.

I have all my seafood delivered by a pescador from Progresso. Shrimp is $250 pesos per kilo, red snapper is $200 pesos per kilo, scallops are $400 pesos per kilo.

But one thing’s for sure about the Mérida Mexico cost of living. . .

Low prices can be found all over the city. Some local markets will have cheaper fruits and vegetables while other markets will have cheaper meats. The savings in price has to be weighed against the time and money it will take to visit all the places to get all that you need.

The Unfiltered Truth About the Mérida Mexico Cost of Living

Final thoughts on the Mérida Mexico cost of living

The thorough information in this article can help you begin your research to see if moving here is right for you and if the Mérida Mexico cost of living fits into your budget. There are so many things to see, do, experience and enjoy here. I could not imagine living anywhere else. Come on over to my group and connect with others just like you…I’d love to meet you.

 

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