During the course of our travels around the world, we spent a total of six and a half months living in Mexico. It was interesting experiencing somewhat of an expat life in Mexico. But what surprised me was how inexpensive it was for us to live there. Even for one month in Mexico, life here for a family was quite affordable.
We knew that Mexico was affordable, but we didn’t really know how affordable it actually was. After being in Mexico for as long as we did, we had a better idea of the prices in Mexico in comparison to other parts of the world.
Prices in Mexico are a fraction of what they are in the United States. For families wanting to save a bit of money on a family vacation, Mexico is a great affordable option!
This post was updated on July 27, 2021.
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Experiencing expat life in Mexico
As a full-time traveling family, even though we’re passing through places relatively quickly, we’re still living somewhat of an expat life in Mexico.
We’re renting places in residential areas, rather than staying at hotels. We are frequenting local markets and grocery stores, rather than only eating at restaurants. And when we can, we are taking public transportation.
All of these habits are giving us a good idea of the prices in Mexico. And they provide us a chance to experience what living in Mexico is like.
Read this post to see why we love Mexico so much, and why we think families will love it too!
Our typical costs for one month in Mexico
For the most part, living the expat life in Mexico has been relatively easy. Our typical costs for one month in Mexico have ranged from $4,100 to $5,700, depending on the city.
Airfare into and out of Mexico from the United States will add about $1,600 to those costs. So our overall cost in Mexico is about $5,900 for one month.
Prices in Mexico are much cheaper than other North American countries, as well as European countries. But you’ll find that most things you need are readily available. Especially in the major cities.
Going into and out of Mexico
When it comes to airfare, the prices will depend on where you are flying from. For our family, we flew into Mexico at the end of October.
Our one way tickets in and out of Mexico cost us around $750 coming in and $830 coming out. This was for a family of four.
If you’re planning to spend one month in Mexico, think about the time of year that you will be traveling. Airfare costs tend to rise in the spring and summer. But flying in the fall and winter months may yield you cheaper prices. For our family, airfare in and out of Mexico cost us around $1,600.
Explore all the amazing destinations in Mexico for families here.
Crossing the border by land
One tip to decrease the cost of airfare, if you’re traveling from or to the United States is to make use of the Cross Border Express (CBX) between Tijuana and San Diego.
Crossing the border via CBX costs $16. And then you would need to purchase domestic flights to/from Tijuana and to/from San Diego. In some cases, this tactic may help save you money on international fares.
Alternatively, if you are using a car to enter Mexico, you can make use of the land borders as well. You’ll need to apply for a visitor’s permit (FMM), which costs $22. You can find more information about Mexico-US border crossings on the US State Department website.
Lodging for one month in Mexico
The next big ticket cost if you’re planning on spending one month in Mexico is lodging. You can certainly spend your whole month staying at hotels.
Hotel prices in Mexico can be as cheap as $30 a day, or as expensive as $300. You can get a feel for how much hotels might cost by researching in your guidebook.
You can buy a copy of the Lonely Planet Mexico guide book online via Amazon.
Our family is really keen on experiencing the expat life in Mexico, so for us, that means staying at vacation rentals, primarily Airbnb. As with the hotels in Mexico, you can certainly splurge on gorgeous Airbnb properties that can be upwards of $250-$350 per night.
But for our family, we tend to go with more budget-friendly options. Our daily costs for lodging have ranged between $37-71, depending on the cities we’ve visited. Overall, for budget travelers like us, you can expect to pay around $1,540 for lodging for one month in Mexico.
Click here to see how families can make affordable world travel possible, not just for Mexico, but for other countries as well.
Groceries, snacks, and restaurants
If you’re not eating out at five star restaurants every day, you’ll actually find that food prices in Mexico are pretty reasonable. We’ve been able to feed our family of four for as little as 120 pesos (or $6) at a taco stand.
Of course, we’ve also spent over 1,200 pesos (or $60) when we splurged on a dinner of fresh oysters and artisan burgers!
One of our tips for keeping food costs down is to shop at the markets or grocery stores and cook food at home. We tend to limit our restaurant outings to once per day.
If you’re planning on doing a lot of grocery shopping while in Mexico, take along one of these foldable grocery bags.
Here are a few of my favorite ones:
Chicobag Reusable Grocery Bag
Samsonite Foldable Shopper’s Tote
BeeGreen Reusable Grocery Bags
For snacks, street vendors tend to be cheaper than convenience stores like OXXO. Our daily food costs have ranged from $34 to $55 per day. For one month in Mexico, we spend about $1,180 on food.
Buses and in-country flights
For the buses, aim to arrive between one hour to thirty minutes before departure. But for flights, you should plan to be at the airport at least an hour and a half before take-off.
Many of the cheap domestic airlines have long lines during check-in, so you don’t want to accidentally miss your flight. Depending on where you plan to travel while you’re in Mexico, you can expect to spend around $290 for buses or domestic flights.
If you are traveling with sustainability in mind, getting around Mexico by bus is definitely the way to go as it creates lower carbon emissions than traveling by airplane.
Click here for more ideas of how to travel more sustainably as a family.
Local transportation (within cities)
Within cities, it’s sometimes a toss up between taking taxis or taking Ubers. In bigger cities, Uber is much cheaper than a taxi. But in smaller cities, sometimes you’ll end up waiting upwards of twenty minutes for your Uber to come.
Another option can be to take public transportation. We enjoyed riding the subway when we were in Mexico City. And we’ve tried the public buses in both Guanajuato and Puerto Escondido.
On average, we spend between $3 to $9 per day on local transportation. This includes a combination of taxis, Uber, and public transportation. If you’re going to be spending one month in Mexico, expect to spend around $170 for local transportation.
Supplies and miscellaneous expenses
Since we’re living in Airbnbs while we travel, there are occasional supplies that we need to buy to make our stay more comfortable. This could be a stool for my son so he can reach the sink, or extra pans and cooking utensils so we can cook.
As I mentioned before, it’s not that hard to find the things you need for your expat life in Mexico. This is true especially if you’re in a city with a relatively large expat population.
We end up spending around $9 to $27 a day for supplies, but it really depends on the location and the vacation rental property we’re staying at.
These costs can also include any medical costs you might need, as well as new clothes or games for your family. You should expect to spend about $360 on supplies and miscellaneous expenses.
Activities and entertainment for one month in Mexico
The last set of costs to think about are for activities and entertainment. Even if you’re planning on living the expat life in Mexico, it doesn’t mean that you can’t take advantage of all the fun things the country has to offer.
Prices in Mexico vary when it comes to activities and entertainment. If you’re on a budget, you can limit yourself to free or cheap museums, and local activities like going to the movie theaters (they’re so much cheaper than theaters in the US!).
But if you’re willing to splurge, you can spend a few hundred dollars per person on activities. On average, we spend between $15 to $35 per day on activities and entertainment. If you’re a budget travel family like us, you can expect to spend about $760 on activities and entertainment.
Here are some easy ways to incorporate learning and worldschooling into your Mexico activities.
Taking advantage of cheap prices during your one month in Mexico
We’re all about getting the best value out of our experiences. And this is no different when it comes to travel. For less than the price of a Disney Cruise, you can easily spend one month in Mexico with your family and have the time of your life!
If you want even more Mexico travel budget tips, take a look at the posts on my Mexico-focused blog, Mexico Family Travel.
For families wanting a memorable vacation this year, consider taking advantage of the cheap prices in Mexico and take your family to visit this beautiful country! You don’t have to fully do the expat life in Mexico. You can certainly do more tourist-focused things while you’re here. And you don’t have to stay for a whole month. Even a week in a city is enough to make your trip worthwhile.
Have you spent time in Mexico with your family? Share your thoughts on what it was like in the comments.
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