Sunday, December 13, 2015

moving to mexico -- food budget

"You must save a lot living in Mexico."

It is an assertion I hear repeatedly when I am up in the northern colonies.  The most recent was a guy sitting at the next table in our favorite eggs benedict restaurant in Bend.

The moment I said I lived in Mexico, he assumed I lived there to cut my costs.  At least, it was a far more positive response than the far-too-frequent: "Is it safe?"

I suppose Mexico is one of those places where people can live if they want to save money.  There are lots of northerners who live here primarily because they see Mexico as the Walmart of retirement havens.

I am not one of them.  There is no doubt I have saved a lot of money here.  My home purchase is a perfect example.

If I needed to, I could save a lot of money on my food purchases.  And I do on most items.  Even though food prices have increased markedly since I have lived here, my staples cost far less than they do in Oregon.  Vegetables and fruits still look like bargains to me.

But a lot of my purchases are imports.  And, for that, I pay a premium -- just as Mexicans do in the United States for prepared food items imported north.

Look at the photograph at the top of this essay.  Everything came from my favorite grocer in San Patricio -- Hawaii.  Alex, the owner, has a sixth sense for marketing to middle class Mexicans, as well as northern tourists and expatriates.

All of that marketing comes at a cost.  Most of the imports come from the United States.  With a strong dollar, the prices have increased.  That is the price we pay for wanting some tastes of home.

The groceries came home in two shopping bags.  At a cost of $797.50 (Mx).  About $46 (US) at today's exchange rate.  (About 17.4 pesos per dollar.)

That total is inflated by the imported items.  For instance, a small can of Hormel chili without beans costs $98 (Mx) -- $5.63 (US).  That is high.  But I had a hankering for a chili dog.  And it was well worth the cost.

So, here's the bottom line.  If you want to save money on food (and most other costs), Mexico offers the opportunity. 

When I first visited Mexico in the 1970s, the local grocery stores offered very little variety.  Things greatly changed when I moved to Mexico in 2009.  And they are still changing.  That photograph is evidence of just how things have changed.

And that is Mexico's beauty.  It offers something for everyone.

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