How much money do I need to live in Mexico? Everything you need to know about cost of living in Guadalajara, Mexico!
When you’re considering moving to Mexico & weighing the options of which city to call home, one of the most important things to take into account is cost of living. If you’re curious about cost of living in Guadalajara, you’ve come to the right place.
After reading this post, you will have a complete breakdown of my annual, monthly & weekly living expenses in Guadalajara including:
- Cell phone
- Health insurance
- Dining out
- & more!
As with every post here on Backpacking Brunette, I prioritize transparency & honesty. Money might be a taboo subject for some people, but knowing how much it costs to live somewhere is an essential part of planning your move to Mexico.
Throughout this post, prices are listed in Mexican pesos (MXN) and United States dollar (USD). At the time of this writing (Sept. 2023), the exchange rate is $17.23 MXN to $1 US. I used Google’s currency calculator to make the conversions & to keep the math simple, I round when appropriate.
Is it expensive to live in Guadalajara?
Many foreigners gravitate toward Mexico for what they’ve been told is a “cheap” cost of living. Before we dive into the nitty gritty of how much it costs to live in Guadalajara, I want to acknowledge that just “expensive” is relative.
While living in Guadalajara may be more affordable than certain cities in the United States, living in Guadalajara is more expensive than many other places in Mexico.
Mexico is a big place. It’ the world’s 13th-largest country by area with a population of almost 130 million people. Within its borders, there exists of a vast spectrum of cities and towns. You wouldn’t lump New York City & a village in rural Michigan together, so why would do the Mexican equivalent?
Also, as of this writing (Sept. 2023), the exchange rate is about $17 MXN to $1 US. Compare that last year at this time when the exchange rate was about $20 MXN to $1 US.
The peso is strong right now which means, while life might be more affordable in Mexico than in your home country, living in Mexico for people who have their money in dollars is more expensive than it once was.
Lastly, the reality is that many people struggle to get by in Mexico. In 2022, an estimated 46.8 million people were living in poverty in Mexico, according to this report. Even if living in Guadalajara isn’t expensive for you, it’s expensive for someone.
Monthly Living Expenses in Guadalajara
In this section, I will break down the cost of living expenses that occur monthly. For reference, I live with my partner & we split all our bills 50/50. I will do the math to share what my half is as well as note the expense in full when approriate.
How much does it cost to rent an apartment in Guadalajara, Mexico?
In Oct. 2022, after living in Querétaro for five years, we moved to Guadalajara. I found our apartment on the website Inmubeles24 & we signed a one-year lease following our passing of a renter’s investigation called a póliza jurídica.
To learn more about rental requirements in Mexico, check out this guide for how to rent an apartment in Mexico as a foreigner.
Our apartment in Guadalajara has three bedrooms, three bathrooms, two living spaces & a large terrace. It’s on the third and fourth floor of a building with 15 other units. The complex has its own parking garage & we have two designated spaces.
When we moved in, the apartment was unfurnished. It did have window coverings, but we had to purchase our own appliances. The washing machine, refrigerator & microwave are ours plus all the furniture.
As of Oct. 2023, the rent is $23,000 MXN (approx. $1,335 US) per month. My half of the rent is $11,500 MXN (approx. $668 US) per month.
When we signed our first lease in Oct. 2022, the rent was $22,000 MXN (approx. $1,277 US) per month. It’s common practice among Mexican landlords to increase rent annually to adjust for inflation—something to keep in mind if you’re moving to Mexico on a fixed budget.
We don’t have central heating, but our apartment in Guadalajara has an air conditioning unit on the wall in the downstairs living room. Even when we’re using the A/C for a few hours daily in April and June (the hottest months of the year), the electricity bills stay relatively the same.
The Mexican government subsidizes utilities to keep costs down for people who live here, but if you exceed a certain level of usage, the cost will increase substantially.
- Electricity: On average, we pay $314 MXN (approx. $18 US) every two months. Our most expensive bill of 2023 was May & June which cost $643 MXN (approx. $37 US).
- Gas: This bill arrives monthly, and on average, we pay $765 MXN (approx. $45 US).
- Water: Also billed month, we pay $200 MXN (approx. $12 US) for water.
We also pay a monthly trash collection fee for our building: $30 MXN (approx. $2 US) per month. The trash receptacles are located just outside the building & the pickup is three times a week.
In total, these utilities add up to $1,152 MXN ($67 US) monthly. Note: I divided the electricity bill by two to account for the bi-monthly billing cycle.
My half comes out to $576 MXN ($34 US).
Because Taylor and I both work online, internet speed and stability are very important to us. We decided to invest in routers for both floors of our apartment so that we have a strong connection wherever we are as well as a backup in case one goes out.
The first-floor router is with a company called Totalplay. It’s a fiber-optic connection (600 Mbps download speed) & costs $899 MXN per month (approx. $52 US).
The second-floor router is with a company called Megacable. It’s also a fiber-optic connection (150 Mbps download speed) & costs $570 MXN per month (approx. $33 US).
For the most part, I prefer to exercise at home. Over the years, we’ve assembled a decent home gym setup including dumbbells, a kettlebell & a squat bar with an assortment of plates. This apartment has plenty of space, and I generally workout on the terrace.
Taylor, on the other hand, prefers to exercise at a gym in our neighborhood. The monthly membership is $900 MXN (approx. $52 US). In addition to an old-school weight room, the gym has squash courts, a pool and weekly workout classes. He likes it but fully acknowledges that you can find a good gym in Guadalajara for half the price.
On the subject of workout classes, I sometimes take yoga classes at a studio in my neighborhood called Árbol de Yoga . A single class costs $175 MXN (approx. $10 US).
For awhile, I was doing spin classes at a fancy gym nearby called Countdown Fitlab. A single class costs $200 MXN (approx. $12 US).
At the end of 2022, after years of talking about it, we finally bought a car. You can read all about the harrowing experience (kidding but not really) in this post about buying a car in Mexico.
My partner handles all things car-related in our household and reports that gas is around $500 MXN per month (approx. $29 US). That’s how much we spend in gas for regular city driving. This expense increases when we take a road trip.
In the annual living expenses section, I will share how much we pay for car insurance and vehicle maintenance.
Weekly Living Expenses in Guadalajara
In this section, I’m breaking down what I usually spend in a week living in Guadalajara, Mexico. As in the monthly living expenses, I will note when I spilt the cost of something with my partner. We are a household of two adults.
Our typical shopping week looks like one big trip to Chedraui for our staples, and smaller trips to the neighborhood Soriana as needed—usually for meat. The chicken in Mexico has fewer preservatives than chicken in the US which means that it goes bad faster.
There are traditional mercados in Guadalajara, but we opt to shop at supermarkets for the convenience. I would like to start buying my meat and fish from speciality vendors.
Our weekly “big trip” generally costs $2,000 MXN (approx. $116 US). The smaller trips add up to $800 MXN (approx. $46 US).
In total, our two-person household spends $2,800 MXN (approx. $163 US) on groceries each week. That comes out to $1,4000 MXN (approx. $81 US) per person.
Like many people in Mexico, we purchase purified drinking water. In a typical week, my husband & I drink two 5-gallon garrafones.
Our building’s caretaker organizes water delivery for the residents. Either the Bonafont (the water company) deliveryman will bring it right to our door, or the caretaker will wheel it up using her dolly. This is a major convenience.
In addition to drinking, we use the purified water to make coffee and for cooking if the recipe calls for it in a significant way. We just use regular tap water to wash produce & boil pasta.
Each 5-gallon garrafón costs $50 MXN (approx. $3 US). That’s $100 MXN (approx. $6 US) per week.
Guadalajara has a variety of options ranging from tasty street tacos to fine dining at one of the top restaurants in all of Latin America (Alcalde). You can eat well here on any budget.
On average, our date night dinners cost around $1,200 MXN (approx. $70 US). These meals include multiple drinks or a bottle of wine, an appetizer, two entrees and desert.
Lunch is typically a little more subdued but still includes one round of drinks and a starter to go with our main dishes. At one of our favorite neighborhood spots, the bill for two people usually comes out to $750 MXN (approx. $44 US).
Tipping in restaurants in Mexico is generally 10-15% (I always tip 15%).
A few more frequently asked about items to help you gauge cost of living in Guadalajara:
- Street tacos: $30 MXN ($2 US) each
- Coffee: $60 MXN ($3.50 US)
- Domestic beer: $40 MXN ($2 US)
Now that we have a car, I don’t use Uber nearly as much as I used to. These days, I use it about once a week and mostly as transportation to and from a night out.
A typical trip from me usually costs $60 MXN (approx. $3 US) & I will add $15-20 MXN as a tip. The longest and most expensive rides I take are to/from the airport which takes 30 minutes and costs around $320 MXN (approx. $19 US).
Uber is safe to use in Guadalajara, and I prefer it over regular taxis since you can verify the driver & share your ride with someone. Didi, another rideshare service, is even more cost-effective than Uber, but the cars tend to be a little older and smaller.
One of the great luxuries of my life in Mexico, we’re fortunate to have someone come to our apartment every week to clean. This type of domestic help is actually quite common in Mexico (the person who cleans our apartment also works for several other families in the building).
Our cleaning person sweeps, mops & dusts the apartment. They also clean the bathrooms and kitchen. In total, they’re at our house for three to four hours.
The price is based on the size of our home, and we pay $450 MXN (approx. $26 US) each week.
If I have to skip a week because we’re out of town, I still pay for the service. If the cleaning person is sick or has a family emergency, I still pay for the service. At the holidays, I give them a bonus.
Annual Living Expenses in Guadalajara
To round out this cost of living in Guadalajara breakdown, I’m sharing our annual expenses. These are the things we pay for once a year or bi-annually.
When you move to Mexico, you must create a new Amazon Prime account specific to Amazon Mexico. This post has everything you need to know about online shopping in Mexico.
Amazon Prime is $800 MXN (approx. $46 US) per year. Compare that to the price of Amazon Prime in the US which costs $139 US annually.
While doctor visits and prescription medications are more affordable in Mexico than they are in the US (most people pay out of pocket), a serious health issue or diagnosis could set you back tens of thousands of dollars.
We have our health insurance with Grupo Nacional Provincial which is the largest private health insurer in Mexico. Our coverage includes a $19,500 MXN deductible (approx. $1,136 US), access to some of the top hospitals in Guadalajara and twice yearly teeth cleanings.
Taylor and I pay for our health insurance in two installments (January & July). The total for the year for the both of us is around $35,500 MXN (approx. $1,980 US).
Car Insurance & Vehicle Maintenance
For our 2018 Nissan Sentra, we pay $7,500 MXN (approx. $437 US) each year for car insurance. The company is called Atlas, and the coverage includes a 5% deductible for damages and a 10% deductible if the car is stolen.
A recent maintenance check including an oil change cost us $2,885 MXN (approx. $168 US). This was a pretty hardcore maintenance check (the dealer we bought it from didn’t take great care of the vehicle) & we paid for premium synthetic oil.
Taylor said he is happy with the service at Grease Monkey in Arcos Vallarta and would go there again but added that you can definitely find cheaper places for an oil change in Guadalajara.
I have my cell phone plane with AT&T. Where I used to pay monthly, I now just pay for the whole year up front & it’s so much better than going to the Oxxo every month to re-up my data.
For $4,787 MXN (approx. $278 US), I get unlimited phone calls within Mexico as well as to/from the US & Canada. My plan includes 8 GB of data per month, but apps like WhatsApp, Uber, Instagram & Facebook don’t count toward data usage.
I paid for a yearlong membership to access the city bike-share program. There are stations all over Guadalajara, and the bikes are (mostly) in good shape. The annual pass costs $457 MXN (approx. $27 US).
Check out this post with the pros & cons of living in Guadalajara including my thoughts on the city’s public transportation.
One expense that foreigners living in Mexico sometimes forget to factor into their budget is the cost of travel back to their home country.
A roundtrip ticket on Volaris (I fly GDL-MDW) is around $400 US. I budget for two flights to the US each year so $800 US annually.
How much money do you need to live in Guadalajara, Mexico?
Readers and subscribers often ask me how much money they need to live in Guadalajara & without knowing someone not only personally but very well, it’s difficult to put a number to it…
Your cost of living in Guadalajara will vary greatly depending on your lifestyle. The best I can do is describe my own lifestyle here and tell you approximately what it costs to maintain that lifestyle.
I would characterize my lifestyle in Guadalajara as “comfortable & occasionally bougie.”
- I cook at home the majority of the week and enjoy going out to eat on the weekends.
- I almost always say yes to a cool sounding festival or interesting event.
- I walk most places that I need to go or ride a city bike.
- At the grocery store, I put whatever I want into the cart and don’t generally look at prices.
- I don’t pinch pennies & try to take full advantage what Guadalajara has to offer.
I’d say that my living expenses in Guadalajara add up to around $2,000 US per month. I could easily spend less but could also just as easily spend more.
For another foreigner’s take on how much money you need to live in Guadalajara, check out this interview with a Canadian living in Guadalajara. Keep in mind that this was filmed in June 2022, and as in most places in the world, prices have risen in Guadalajara due to inflation.
More Posts About the Cost of Living in Mexico
- How Much It Costs to Live in La Paz, Mexico
- Why Digital Nomads Love Living in Mexico (And What You Need to Know)
- Cost of Living in Queretaro, Mexico
One Last Thing About the Cost of Living in Guadalajara
If you’re planning on living in Mexico, you will need to apply for residency.
There are several different ways to qualify for a Mexico residency visa, but the most common is showing economic solvency. Basically, the Mexican government wants to see that you can support yourself while living in Mexico.
For temporary residency, the typical monthly income consulates want to see in 2023 is $3,275 USD over the last six months (with some consulates requesting to see the last 12 months), according to this article by Mexperience.
While that’s significantly more than even my “comfortable & occasionally bougie” lifestyle costs, it’s the amount of money you’ll need to show the Mexican consulate you have coming in monthly if you want to get your Mexican residency.
For more information, check out this blog post about how to get your temporary residency in Mexico.