Home Cost of Living in Mexico How to Calculate Your Daily Cost of Living in Mexico

How to Calculate Your Daily Cost of Living in Mexico

by Brent May

For many considering a move to southern Mexico, the allure of a lower cost of living has long been a primary draw, often rivaled only by the region’s exceptional climate. While it’s undeniable that inflation rates, influenced by post-pandemic factors and Mexico’s flourishing economy, have seen an uptick, there are many reasons beyond affordability to choose Mexico as your new home.

As of March 2024, the exchange rate hovers around 17 pesos to 1 US dollar, or 12.50 pesos to 1 Canadian dollar. For those on fixed incomes or diligently managing monthly budgets, the appeal of southern Mexico remains strong, offering a favorable comparison in both cost of living and quality of life against North American or European counterparts. Despite price increases, the region maintains its allure with its exceptional climate, superior food quality, quaint small-town advantages, stunning beaches, diverse recreational opportunities, and a welcoming local community.

While expenses vary depending on location and individual lifestyle preferences, southern Mexico often presents significant savings in some areas.

In this article, we delve into the actual costs of everyday essentials in southern Oaxaca state, providing insight into budget considerations for those contemplating a move here. Whether you’re drawn by affordability, lifestyle, or cultural immersion, Mexico continues to offer many reasons to call it home.


For the purposes of this article, we’ll use a couple different online sources as well as a basic currency convertor to demonstrate costs in US dollars. As most Canadians are aware, you can add 25% to 30% to calculate prices in Canadian dollars. Of course there will be regular fluctuations in the conversion from pesos as national currencies take regular rises and dips, but this should give you a general idea of what to expect when considering a budget.


Something else to note is that if you settle into a smaller community in southern Mexico, you will likely end up doing a lot of your regular shopping at smaller family-owned tiendas and specialty shops. Prices in these places will likely be a bit higher than if you were to settle in Huatulco or Puerto Escondido, for example, where you have access to larger, national-chain stores like Chedraui and Soriana. These kinds of stores basically offer “one-stop shopping”, where you can purchase groceries, but also a wide range of other goods, from housewares and clothing to appliances and motor oil.


On the other hand, most small towns in Mexico have at least one dedicated market day, where vendors set up temporary booths and sell all kinds of produce at good prices. Part of the fun of living in Mexico is to explore what your community has to offer, visit various shops and markets, and find your favorites.


For Americans, it should be noted that Mexico uses the metric system for weights and measurements. One kilogram converts to 2.2 pounds, while 1 litre is just over ¼ of a US gallon.

Daily Food Costs in Mexico

You’ll get up in the morning to yet another beautiful, sunny day and want to put on the coffee. When it comes to water, most people have drinking water delivered to their homes in 20 litre (or 5 gallon) plastic bottles called a garrafon. To buy a new full bottle costs $2.50 US, but afterward you simply exchange the empty bottle for a full one for the cost of around $2.00.

You can find excellent coffee in specialty shops in southern Mexico, and can expect to pay around $9.00 for a kilo. If you add milk and/or sugar, a litre of 1% milk is $1.59 while a 600-gram bag of sugar is roughly the same.

For breakfast, you can find a loaf of freshly baked artisanal bread for $5.00 or sliced commercial bread for $2.25, a small jar of jam will set you back about $1.50 while a single stick of butter also runs about the same. If you’re the kind of person who likes to bake their own bread, 1 kilo of wheat flour is around $1.00. A dozen eggs will set you back $2.72, while a 250-gram package of smoked bacon (10 slices) is around $4.00

If you enjoy fresh fruit in the morning (one of the many perks of living in Mexico) a kilo of bananas costs $1.31or oranges cost $1.84, while apples are around twice that price.

When it comes to lunch and dinner, you of course have the option of eating out or cooking at home. In a medium-priced restaurant, a meal for two people with a couple of drinks will be in the $35.00 range. Or you can eat like a local at a small comedor and get a plate of tacos and a cold beer for around $7.50.

To cook your Mexican food at home, a half-kilo of fresh corn tortillas (about 30) is a mere $0.83, while a 10-pack of the flour variety cost the same. Make your own salsa with tomatoes and jalapenos for $1.88 per kilo. A kilo of white onions will be around $1.93.

Top off your tacos – or anything else – with crumbly queso fresco cheese, sold in a small round cake for right around $3.00, or buy a 600-gram pack of very popular Mexican-style Manchego cheese for $4.00. A kilo of dried black beans is only $1.50 cents, while the canned variety are generally about $1.00 cents for a 500-gram tin.

If you get a hankering for making a pizza at home, you can even find pre-shredded mozzarella in the larger grocery stores for about $4.90 for a 600-gram package.

And what if the kids are demanding a classic grilled cheese for lunch? You can even get Kraft American-style packaged cheese slices at $2.00 for a 8-pack, or whip up a tuna fish sandwich at $1.25 per can, depending on the brand.

Poultry in southern Mexico will cost around $6.00 for two large (and we mean large) bone-in chicken breasts. If you prefer to have someone else do the cooking, find a small rotisserie chicken restaurant and take out a complete meal for 2 or 3 people – a whole chicken, veggies, rice, tortillas and salsa – for around $13.00.

When it comes to beef and pork, prices are a bit higher. A local butcher may charge $11.60 for a kilo of beef round. One kilo of pork roast will be about $10.00, while a kilo of baby-back pork ribs will be about $20.00.

Tuna or mahi mahi filets or steaks will cost about $10-$15 per kilo to prepare at home.

Liquor, Wine and Beer Costs in Mexico

Having covered some basic food items, we can look at some other products you’ll be needing or wanting on a regular basis. If you enjoy watching the sunset with a drink on the patio, or entertaining at cocktail hour, you can whip up a pitcher of margaritas for $9.50 for a 1-litre bottle of Jose Cuervo (or other popular brands) tequila, and a same-size bottle of Controy orange liqueur for $9.00. Limes are sold by weight at about 90 pesos per kilo. Grab a bag of ice from a local convenience store for about $1.90.

If you prefer hard liquor, a 750 ml bottle of Johnny Walker Red Label whiskey can be found in larger grocery stores for around $19.00, while the same size of a 12-year-old Chivas Regal is $34.00. A 1-litre bottle of Absolut vodka will be $17.00.

As for mix, a 3-litre bottle of Coke is $2.00, a 2-litre bottle of soda water is about the same. One litre of fruit juice for $1.50.

For wine drinkers, the most popular brands of reds and whites from Chile or Argentina can be found everywhere for $11-15.00 per bottle, while higher-end imports from Spain or France can run up to $20.00 or $30.00 per bottle.

When it comes to beer, the bottle variety of ubiquitous Corona typically sells for $1.00 to $1.70 each. This is usually the price you would find at smaller tiendas, (where the cost includes the deposit on the bottles, which you receive back when you return them) but discounts can be had if you shop at larger grocery stores. Prices for drinks will be more expensive in restaurants.

A more premium brand of beer such as Bohemia (dark or light) will run you $8.00 for a six-pack at a grocery store, $1.65 at most tiendas. More and more craft beers are becoming available in Mexico but they are more expensive at $3.00 to $5.00 per bottle, depending on the brand.

Toiletry and Cleaning Products Cost in Mexico

Of course, on a day-to-day basis you’ll need other products such as toiletries and cleaning products. A 16-pack of toilet paper can be bought for around $5.00, a bar of soap such as Zest is 80 cents, a brand such as Pears will be just over $1.00. Popular brands of toothpaste such as Colgate or Crest are just over $1.00 for a tube, but a more specialty brand like Sensodyne is more expensive at around $4.50 for a tube.

A 400 ML bottle of shampoo such as Pantene costs right around $2.50, a 700 ML bottle of Head & Shoulders will be $7.00. Disposable razors for both men and women are curiously expensive in the grocery store, running around $5.00 to $6.00 for a three-pack.

As for cleaning products, Fabuloso is the go-to product for mopping floors, and a 1-litre bottle is $1.60. Clorox bleach is used for everything, and costs a mere $1.90 for a 2-litre bottle. White vinegar, which in Mexico is used as a cleaning product more than a cooking product is around $2.68 cents for a 4-litre jug. A 2-litre bottle of detergent of various brands for washing clothes is $5.00.

The Cost Of Pets in Mexico

If you have a pet, hard kibble for dogs or cats can be found either in grocery stores pre-packaged or in most tiendas in bulk for $2.50 to $3.00 per kilo. Canned pet food can usually only be found in large grocery stores where you’ll pay about $1.70 for a tin of cat food, twice as much for a can of dog food double the size. Cat litter can only be found at large grocery stores and costs $5.00 for a 7 kilo bag.

(Pro tip – if you’re bringing a pet cat to Mexico from Canada or the US, also bring along a litter box and scooper, as such things basically do not exist in most places in Mexico. In fact, most Mexicans find the whole idea of litter boxes for cats very odd. Cats are supposed to live and do their business outside.)

Cost Of Daily Transportation In Mexico

When it comes to daily transportation, the most economical way to get around is to ride in a pasejero, which is a small truck with a covered box and benches running along the sides. Typically a 30-minute journey will cost around $1.50. You can also choose to wave down a collectivo taxi, which is a regular taxi, but which will stop and pick up and let off other passengers as you go – in other words you are ride sharing. The same 30-minute journey by collectivo taxi will be around $2.00.

Read more: How to Live in Mexico Without a Car

If you choose to take a private taxi, you can expect to pay about $19.00 for the same 30-minute trip. As a word of caution, taxi prices can fluctuate widely and most taxis are not metered – always ask the price to your destination before you get in.

Finally, if you happen to have your own car, gas in Mexico as of March 2024 is selling for around $1.42 US per litre, or roughly $5.68 for a US gallon. Gas is one product where the cost has risen fairly steeply over the past few years (almost 50% in the last five years or so), and like everywhere else in the world this increase is one of the prime drivers of higher costs for other products that have to be transported to market.

Basic Health Care Costs

While doctors’ appointments and services can vary widely, a typical general medical doctor’s appointment will cost between $30 and $40. A basic appointment with a Specialist will cost between $30 and $60. General laboratory exams including having blood drawn and testing for cholesterol, glucose, etc., could cost around $20.

Read more: How To: Review of Health and Medical Insurance Options for Mexico

Car Maintenance

If you’re buying a car in Mexico or bringing your own, generally basic checkups and repairs are cheaper than up north. An oil change will run about $15 including a liter of oil, having the wheels aligned about $20, replacing a windshield will cost about $100 while replacing a side mirror about $7.

Read more: How to Buy a Car in Mexico


Generally speaking electricity costs are lower but if you’re using a lot of AC or a clothes dryer, cost will rise significantly. A 45-kilo bottle of propane costs $25.00. 

Fiber optic internet and landline service from Telmex costs $21 or more per month depending on the package you choose.

It’s important to recognize that the costs outlined here are not universal and can vary significantly based on your chosen region, city, and individual lifestyle preferences. While this overview may not encompass every aspect of living expenses, it serves as a foundational guide for budgeting your income in comparison to your North American or European lifestyle. Whether you’re enticed by Mexico’s affordability, favorable climate, or rich culture, the decision to make it your new home extends beyond financial considerations. Embracing the diversity, warmth, and richness of life in southern Mexico can be a transformative experience, offering a blend of quality living and cultural immersion that transcends far beyond affordability.

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Mark Thompson May 5, 2020 - 3:41 pm

Good afternoon,
My wife and I are 3 years away from retirement and have been tossing back and forth about long term rentals verses all inclusive. After reviewing your site, it seems to us that the rental might be best suited to our needs, but would welcome input on advantages there may be to purchasing. We will definitely be visiting Huatulco for vacation in the near future, with a plan to view some properties.

Mark and Sandra

Erin May May 5, 2020 - 4:08 pm

Hey Mark!

Thank you for taking the time to read our blog and to leave a comment. We are delighted to hear you have found interest in the Huatulco area. A member from our team has reached out to you with further information regarding rentals and properties in Huatulco.

Sunny regards!


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