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How to Live Affordably in Mexico

by Brent May


As an expat and real estate agent for over 12 years on the Oaxaca Coast in Mexico, I am honored to be a part of the exciting decision-making process for people as they make the move to Mexico. I have heard many reasons for moving to Mexico. My wife, Erin and I decided to move to Mexico to escape the rat race and the harsh winters. We knew we wanted more than a once-a-year escape. We wanted something more lasting and financially secure.

Many people are simply looking for a better climate. Some want a slower pace of life. Many are in the know and have heard about how they can live a more luxury lifestyle on way less than what it takes up north. Some people are focused on being part of a community.

I have experienced this full journey and love helping others through the process. Now we have an incredible team in place with other real estate agents who have also chosen to move to Mexico for these same reasons. We have families as part of our team who have moved down, retirees and digital nomads. Read One Family’s Life-Changing Story.

Across all of these profiles, from our agents to our clients, everyone agrees on one common denominator. Everyone is here for a better quality of life. Of course that may mean different things to different people.  A slower lifestyle, more time for your kids, you can live on less. Without a doubt, life priorities have shifted during this pandemic. People have looked for opportunities to make life more meaningful for them and their loved ones.

This pandemic has changed and interrupted a lot of habits and economies. Inflation has gone up almost everywhere in the world during the past 2 years. Some places more than others. The U.S. and Mexico have gone up about 7%, Canada about 4.4% and the European Union about 5.8%. But however you look at it, life in Mexico is still very affordable. Read How To Advice if You’re Thinking of Making the Move to Mexico.

Goods and services cost less. You can afford more luxuries and services than you can up north. At the same time, many combine that buying power with a simpler lifestyle. On the Oaxaca Coast, for example, we need far fewer things than we need up north just to live our daily lives. We don’t need a winter wardrobe or snow tires or a heating system in our house. We also spend a lot of time outdoors doing things we love. Going to the beach, water activities, meeting friends out. Many of our homes have become less cluttered because of our outward focus.

One basic rule to making Mexico even more affordable than it already is, is to do things like a local.


Eat like a local.

We have access to quality groceries and fresh fruits and vegetables that are much more affordable here on a daily basis. Go to your local market. Get your groceries from the market or corner produce stand. Sure, you can find brand-name food products at the big box stores and sometimes that is truly convenient. But you can also almost never set foot in those stores and buy your food like a local.

This includes eating out. We tend to eat out and gather with friends quite a bit but a nice meal can be had for a fraction of what it costs in a nice restaurant back home. That said, there are many local eateries that we love that are even more affordable. Check out your local taco stands and pozole restaurants. You will find many small, neighborhood restaurants with fresh, homemade food. It even feels funny recommending these restaurants because they are things we don’t even think about any more. They just are part of our lifestyle.


Shop like a local.

Shopping in smaller shops around town will almost always get you better prices than the big stores. You may say that shopping like this is less convenient. Maybe. But besides being cheaper, it’s also more of an experience. You get to talk to people like the storekeeper and your neighbors. You will learn to barter for some things, always with a smile. This is just a way of talking, not an argument.


Live like a local.

Do you need a car? That will depend on your circumstances. Most towns in Mexico are walkable and public transportation is abundant, cheap and frequent. You might examine what you really need in terms of lifestyle. How do you use the AC? Electric bills are reasonable but if you use a lot of AC, your bill may triple in price. So you can try taking your time, getting accustomed to the climate and eventually using less AC, not cranking it down so much or using the natural breezes off the ocean and not using the AC at all. You can also examine your needs in terms of services.

How much “stuff” do we need? A lot of us are surprised to experience that once we’ve made the move to Mexico, we begin examining our former lifestyle and just why it was that we “needed” so much stuff. Managing all that stuff, caring for it, obtaining it and getting rid of it all make for a complex lifestyle. We found that Mexico gave us the opportunity to have less stuff and much more freedom.


Go to the doctor like a local.

Almost all towns in Mexico have good doctors. Check with the expats. You will find that healthcare is reasonable.  A typical generalist doctor appointment may cost between 250 to 500 pesos or $12 to $25 USD. Specialists are also much more reasonable than up north. A typical appointment may cost between 500 and 1300 pesos or $25 to $65 USD. Of course these are just examples, you will find a wider variety of pricing depending on where you are and what kind of services you need. And if you really want to do things like a local, you can visit a doctor at a pharmacy for 50 pesos. Read here about Getting Lab Work Done in Mexico. You will also be glad to know that quality healthcare in Mexico is available and affordable.


Get your visa and resident card.

Getting your visa to come to Mexico in your home country either as a retiree or an independent worker is straight-forward. You apply for a visa at the Mexican consulate or embassy in your home country by completing a basic application, providing proof of finances, copies of passport and marriage license, and have an interview with a visa officer. Once you’ve completed this process, you’re on your way to Mexico and once in the country, you will complete the process by going to the Immigration Office (INM) upon arrival. Check your consulate website for the complete list of documents needed. For more details, check out our article about How to Get a Mexican Visa.


Own your own home.

Not only is buying land and buying a home more affordable in Mexico, home ownership costs are lower than in the U.S., Canada, and Europe. Taxes, insurance, maintenance and utilities all cost less in Mexico. 


Just “BE” like a local.

If you want to live a more affordable lifestyle, examining your true needs will help. What is it you really need to be satisfied? If your examination leads to material simplicity, then your living costs are going to go down. You may also be attracted to a simpler lifestyle with a different focus than your previous lifestyle. Many people who move to Mexico come to create a simpler lifestyle, to simplify, to carve out more time for themselves, their families and friends. An affordable lifestyle is intimately linked with both simplifying your life and with freeing up your time.

Over the past two years, we have seen many working-age people moving to Mexico. We have good internet infrastructure now and people want to consciously create a different lifestyle. A lot of digital nomads or people who work independently have already made the move.

In this prioritizing of quality of life, they are searching for investments that will bring them joy for years to come. For many, that means turning to Mexico, where pressing “reset” and investing in prime Mexican real estate is still possible. The past 2 years of 2020 and 2021 have broken sales records.

We understand why. Abundant beaches, 340 days of sunshine, a low-risk hurricane zone, no-rain winters, and laidback Mexican charm, matched by safety (Oaxaca is one of the safest states in the country) and an award-winning commitment to the environment.

If you’re ready to move to Mexico and have chosen the Oaxaca Coast in Huatulco or Puerto Escondido or Yucatan State, get in touch. We will be happy to assist you in finding your new home.




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