One of my most popular Youtube videos is about the cost of living in Mexico City and for some strange reason, I’ve never thought about making it into a blog post. Well, now I have. This post is meant to help anyone who is considering moving to Mexico City or just anyone who is curious about how much my bills are.
If you’re a “digital nomad” and you’re planning on spending some time around Mexico, I highly recommend Mexico City as a stop on your itinerary. There is so much to love about this city and the cost of living is pretty low (especially compared to other major cities around the world).
Cost of Living in Mexico City
How Much Does Rent Cost in Mexico City?
Rent can be slightly more expensive than you might have originally thought. If you want to live in one of the more popular expat suburbs like Condesa, Roma, or Polanco, you can expect to pay upwards of 10,000 pesos per month to have your own one bedroom apartment. With the current exchange rate (as of October 2017), that equals about $530 USD. This doesn’t include any bills and most apartments around the city have a monthly maintenance fee of about 1,000 pesos (roughly $50).
Those are just starting prices and while you can definitely score a place for much less, and if you’re willing to have a roommate, you can get it for even cheaper, you can also pay a lot more. I know someone that lives in a brand new apartment building in Roma Norte. It’s two bedrooms, it is on the top floor so they have sole access to the rooftop and all of the appliances are shiny and new. They pay almost 30,000 pesos a month including maintenance, but not including bills. That’s about $1,500 which is a LOT in Mexico City in my opinion, but they do have an incredibly nice apartment. I can’t even imagine how much that same apartment would cost in New York or London.
I live just west of Polanco in the State of Mexico. On a good run, it takes me about 20 minutes to get into the city center. I live in a three bedroom apartment with a large living room and a good-sized kitchen. Our building doesn’t have an elevator, so we have to walk up four flights to get to our top floor apartment. It costs 9,900 pesos per month. That’s just shy of $530.
We also have a maintenance fee that costs an additional 1,200 pesos (about $60). So in total our rent every month is $600 split between three people.
How Much Do Bills Cost in Mexico City?
Certain bills, as in any city, cannot be avoided. You have to pay for water, you have to pay for electricity, and you have to pay for gas. The first two are government owned and operated and are, in my opinion, relatively cheap.
My water bill comes every two months. It fluctuates a little bit depending on how hot it is and how many showers we take. In April and May, when it’s muggiest here in Mexico City, our water bill was about 1,200 pesos. At that point, four people were living in this apartment, so that was a lot of showers and dishes to wash. Although it’s important to note – I don’t have a dishwasher and I have a brand new washing machine which wastes a lot less water. My water bill for July and August was only 600 pesos.
My electricity bill. So, this is a hotly debated topic amongst expats in the city. I have tons of comments on this YouTube video telling me that there’s something wrong with my meter because my bill is TOO cheap. The first thing you need to know is that the government heavily subsidize electricity here in Mexico. If you use less than a certain amount, you receive a huge discount. If you go over that amount, you get hit hard and your electricity bill can be quite expensive.
I also want to point out a few things – I don’t have air conditioning. I don’t even own a fan. I open my windows. Where I live is very cool and mountainous and even when it’s very hot, there’s usually a breeze. We have one TV in the apartment and we only watch it at night time. We don’t have a microwave, our oven and stove are gas as is our hot water heater. We have one lightbulb in every room and we only turn them on when it’s too dark in the room. We get excellent natural light in the apartment, so light isn’t really needed until it’s dark outside.
Okay – now that I’ve laid all of that out. My monthly electric bill is usually between 50 and 80 pesos. That’s about $3-$4 USD. I know. It’s insanely cheap. My friends who use more electricity or live in other parts of the city say they average about 200-300 pesos per month ($10-$15), which I think is still pretty cheap.
Gas is one of my most expensive bills. Like I mentioned above, it’s used for just about everything in the apartment. There are currently three people living in my apartment and last month’s bill (September) was 954 pesos (about $50). That’s on the high side for us. It usually sits at about 800 pesos ($40).
Extra bills include our internet, which is fiber-optic and gives us 30MB per month. It costs us 450 pesos per month (about $25). It’s super speedy. I work from home on this internet every day and never have a problem uploading videos, downloading images, or streaming Netflix.
We used to have Sky TV, but we canceled it because we didn’t really watch it and it was quite expensive. If you want Sky TV which gives you movie channels in both Spanish and English and all of the sports channels, you’ll pay about 1,500 pesos per month (about $80). You pay extra if you want more than one TV to have those channels.
How Much Do Groceries Cost in Mexico City?
This totally depends on what you eat and where you shop. Every neighborhood in Mexico City has a weekly market (kind of like a farmer’s market) called a tianguis. I shop at my local tianguis every Tuesday and I buy tons of fruit and vegetables to last me for the week. It usually costs me about 350 pesos to buy enough food for two people for a week. That’s about $18.
Tianguis don’t just have fruits and vegetables. You can buy dried beans, rice, fresh tortillas, fish, meat, cheese, and house plants.
Every two weeks my boyfriend and I go to the large supermarket (La Comercial is the biggest chain in the city) where I stock up on things like pasta, frozen fruits, hummus, Asian noodles, toilet paper, oil, and other sorts of international stuff that I can’t find at the tianguis. This shop usually costs me about 1,300 pesos (about $70).
So in total for one week (for two people), we spend about 1,000 pesos on groceries, or just over $50.
How Much Does Transportation Cost in Mexico City?
Public transportation in Mexico City is crazy cheap. You can take the metro for 5 pesos (about 25¢) and most buses cost less than 10 pesos (about 50¢). Ubers are really affordable in Mexico City, too. If I take an uber from my apartment to the city center it usually takes about 25-30 minutes with traffic and costs me about 120 pesos (roughly $6).
If you’re planning on buying a car in Mexico, the price will vary greatly depending on what you want and where you buy it from. If you head to a dealership, you’ll likely spend almost the same in Mexico on a car that you would in the U.S. If you are happy to buy a car second-hand from someone here in Mexico City, you can save a ton of money. Just be sure you test drive it and have it looked at by a mechanic before saying yes. A friend of mine recently sold is Chevy Corsa which was in pretty good shape (the car was about 5 years old) for 20,000 pesos or just over $1,000.
Just know – driving in Mexico City isn’t for the faint-hearted. Lane discipline is non-existent, no one knows where their indicators are, and traffic is insane. That being said – it’s also much more convenient to get around, especially if you plan to live outside of the city center and not anywhere near public transportation.
Other Costs You’ll Incur When Living in Mexico City
In addition to your monthly expenses, of course, there are other things that you’ll probably want to spend money on.
- Water: You can’t drink the tap water in Mexico City, so you’ll need to either boil it, get a steripen or lifestraw, or buy your water. I buy big 20L bottles of water every few days. You return the bottle which gets reused and buy the replacement. 20L of water lasts my boyfriend and I about 3 days (we drink A LOT of water). These bottles cost about 40 pesos (about $2). If you are out and about and want to buy a regular 1L bottle of water you can spend between 6 and 10 pesos (between 30 and 50¢).
- Beer: Beer in a grocery store or convenience store costs about 15 pesos per bottle. If you go to a bar and order a regular domestic beer, you’ll pay about 40 pesos ($2). Craft beer is much more expensive and in a bar can cost anywhere between 70 pesos and 100 pesos ($3-$5).
- Tacos: Tacos are crazy cheap. One small taco at a taco stand is usually about 7 or 8 pesos, less than 50¢. Read this post if you want to know more about Mexico City street food.
- Coffee: There are so many great cafes around Mexico City, but even I still end up at Starbucks every now and again. The price of an espresso style coffee around the city is about 50 pesos (sometimes more, sometimes less).
- Phone Bill: I still use my American phone number and phone plan here since it’s my business number. I am with Sprint and I don’t pay any extra to use my phone service here in Mexico – I’m on an international plan. My boyfriend, however, does have a Mexican SIM card with Telcel. He pays 300 pesos ($15) every 40 days and it includes data and unlimited calls and texts. You simply top it up at a 7-11 or Oxxo when the credit runs out.
- Meal Out: If you want to go to a restaurant and have a meal, it’s still relatively cheap. A meal at a nice restaurant (Nico’s or Fonda Fina come to mind), you’ll pay about 250 pesos for a main (just under $15). Drinks can be pretty expensive though. There are defintely items on the menu that cost more, but there are also many items that cost less. A meal out for two people with one drink each should cost, with tip (10%), about $35-$40.
In my experience, the cost of living in Mexico City is much lower than any other place I’ve lived (the UK, the US, Korea, Australia, and New Zealand). It’s a vibrant city with all of the cosmopolitan amenities that you could ask for at a fraction of the price you’d pay elsewhere.
That being said, Mexico City can also be really expensive. If you buy all of your groceries from small international shops, if you buy all of your clothes at the big expensive malls, if you eat out frequently in places like Condesa or Polanco, if you buy a new car, or want to live in a gated community in Las Lomas, you’ll be spending the same if not more than you did back “home.” It’s all up to you.
Want to read more about living in Mexico City? Check out these posts:
- A Guide to Moving to Mexico City
- 50 Things to Do in Mexico City
- The Best Neighborhoods in Mexico City
- The Best Shopping in Mexico City
- The Best Craft Beer Bars in Mexico City
- Is it Safe to Travel to Mexico City?