Sunday, January 05, 2014

moving to mexico? -- cost of living

I was positive that one of my posts in the "Moving to Mexico" series would have qualified as one of the most popular for my 2013 review. 

After all, moving to mexico -- the questions holds the distinction of being the fifth most viewed page since I started posting in 2007.

Most bloggers have discovered that any discussion of making the move to Mexico easier always generates a lot of interest.  People like to reduce the number of variables they will face in any new task.

Thus, the list of questions we all receive.  Inevitably, the first one is how much does it cost to live in Mexico.

I tackled that one in 2009 after I first moved here in hello, dollars.  I would pass on the same advice now as I did then.

It depends on the life you want to live and where you want to live it. You can live like a pauper. Or you can live like a king. It depends on what you want to spend.
I then boldly posted my budget to prove how a person's individual circumstances inevitably determine how they choose to live.  My 2009 budget struck me as being quite thrifty.

How things have changed.  Because my life has changed.

I waited until the end of the year to write this post because I wanted to have some real figures to work with.  To show how costs can vary according to personal tastes.

Kim was astounded when I said that I managed to save only about 10 to 20% of my Salem budget by moving to Mexico.  But I had cut my spending to the bone in Salem before I moved.

It turns out that after living in Mexico for five years, I have managed to increase my spending over what I spent in The States -- by a factor of 4 or 5.  The numbers themselves are not that important to make my point.  But the mix is.

Even though I track my spending daily, I was shocked at the final total.  And at the amount of some of the categories.

Both years, about 74% of my spending was in five categories: taxes, travel, charity/gifts, rent, dining out.  In that order.

Taxes, for everyone, is probably the largest category.  I have little control over that number.  But Uncle Sam takes his Big Bite before I see any of my own money.

And travel?  The fact that it is the second highest expense should surprise no one.  I take great pleasure in being able to travel where and when I want.  The day will be here soon enough when I cannot travel at all.

My rent is actually lower than it was in 2009.  That is because I am now in a long-term rental that is far smaller -- and better suited to my needs.  Who needs a 3-bedroom house on the beach when I am gone as often as I am?

The only category that I will economize on in the coming year is dining out.  I spent $6,000 each year at restaurants in 2012 and 2013 -- much of that north of the border.  Now that I am pretending to watch what I eat, that amount should decline as I start cooking at home for myself.  For what it is worth, my grocery bill for the past two years averaged $3,879.

Could I spend less?  You bet?  I was talking with a friend at dinner.  His budget is $900 a month -- both here and in Canada.  One-eighth of my 2013 average.

Could I do that?  Certainly.  All I would need to do is to learn to live small.  And maybe one day I will.

My point is that Mexico gives people the opportunity to match their budget with how they want to live. 

So, how much does it cost to live in Mexico? 

As much (or little) as you like (assuming you can meet the new Mexican qualifications for a visa -- but that is an entirely different story).

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