Living in Merida on $1500 a Month– Too Good to Be True?!

If you’ve been researching the best places to retire in Mexico, you’ve probably heard expats raving about Merida, a city in Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula. But is living in Merida right for you?

Let’s see! 

Merida, Yucatan

Merida is renowned for its beauty, laid-back atmosphere, and for being the safest city in all of Mexico and the second safest city in North America! 

The city has stunning colonial architecture, leafy green parks, and a beautiful and walkable historic center where you’ll find countless shops, galleries, and eateries. 

Merida is the capital of Yucatan state in southeastern Mexico and is known for its rich culture and strong Maya influence. In fact, you will likely hear some locals speaking Maya if you listen carefully! There are many museums and archaeological sites in and around Merida where you can learn about Mayan history. And you’ll notice that many restaurants around the city feature dishes of Mayan origin! 

While Merida is not a coastal city, it’s just 45 minutes from the Gulf town of Progreso (a popular getaway for residents of the city), and bigger beach destinations like Isla Holbox, Cancun, and Playa del Carmen, are just a few hours drive from the city! You can also easily visit countless cenotes, and archaeological sites, including one of Mexico’s biggest attractions, Chichen Itza, from the city! 

Merida also has an excellent healthcare infrastructure, with a mix of public and private hospitals, clinics, and laboratories. The easy accessibility of healthcare in the city is a major appeal for many expats who choose to call Merida home. 

What’s more, Merida also has an international airport with direct flights to major US cities like Houston, Dallas, Austin, and Miami, making it easy and efficient to travel back home (or welcome visitors) any time you want. 

For more on what makes Merida such a wonderful place to live, check out this video

Climate and Weather in Merida

Merida is known for its fantastic, warm climate. The city has an average of 300 days of sunshine per year, and temperatures rarely go below 65°F! But be warned, when the temperature goes up in Merida, it gets really hot! 

The coolest months of the year are November through February, when the average daily temperature hovers around 75°F, with lows averaging 66°F. Meanwhile, the summers can be very hot. From May through August, the average daily temperature is 95°F. 

May through October is Merida’s wet season, averaging 3.8 inches of rain per month, and these months are also high in humidity. It’s worth noting that June through November is Merida’s hurricane season, and the excessive rainfall from these storms has been known to cause flooding in the city.  

How Many Expats Live in Merida?

Merida has a population of about 1.2 million, including approximately 11,000 expats. The city is popular among both snowbirds and full-time expats. Many foreigners opt to winter in Merida and travel back home to visit loved ones during the summer months when the weather becomes scorching. 

Latte Quatro Sette– co-working café in Merida

Merida’s established expat community is a major perk of living in the city. It can be challenging to make friends as a new expat, but connecting with others who have been in your shoes is a great way to begin building a community and getting to know your new city. Plus, Merida is large enough that you can still immerse yourself fully in the local culture. 

Cost of Living in Merida, Mexico

Despite being one of Mexico’s most popular expat destinations, the cost of living in Merida is incredibly reasonable. This is partly due to Merida’s size; it’s a big enough city to accommodate any budget. Of course, your precise cost of living will vary depending on your lifestyle.  

Rent

Merida is a big city with rentals available to suit any budget. The city is known for its stunning colonial architecture, but there are many newer buildings for those who prefer a more modern space. Because of Merida’s warm climate, air conditioning and access to a pool are important considerations when looking for a place to live.   

(Sources: Numbeo, Vivanuncios, and our own customers’ rental rates)

Here’s an idea of what you can expect to pay for a rental in Merida: 

  • 1 bedroom apartment in the city center – $8,000 MXN or $400 USD
  • 1 bedroom apartment outside the city center – $5,600 MXN or $280 USD

Working with a local real estate agent is one of the best ways to navigate the rental process in Mexico, especially if you don’t speak Spanish. They’ll be able to help you find the best neighborhood and rental option for your budget and lifestyle. There are many reputable suggestions included within the Mexico Relocation Guide.

Utilities

  • Water – $300 MXN or $15 USD
  • Gas – $300 MXN or $15 USD
  • Electricity – $1500 MXN or $75 USD
  • Cell Phone – $400 MXN or $20 USD for a data plan for one person
  • Internet – $600 MXN or $30 USD

Electricity costs are bound to be higher in Merida than in other cities in Mexico because you will likely run an air conditioning unit during the hot summer season. This could put your electricity use in a high consumption category and subject you to higher rates. To keep your rates as low as possible, use A/C only when needed.

Eating Out

Merida is known for its incredible Yucatecan cuisine. There is no shortage of restaurants at all price points where you can enjoy regional specialties. Here’s an idea of what it will cost to eat out around town. 

  • Mid-range restaurant, 3-course dinner for two – $700 MXN or $35 USD
  • Budget meal for two – $280 MXN or $14 USD
  • Latte at a local coffee shop – $55 MXN or $2.75 USD
  • Pint of domestic beer – $55 MXN or $2.75 USD
Cochinita Pibil Plate $195 Pesos at La Chaya Maya- Mid Range Restaurant.

Groceries

When it comes to grocery shopping in Merida you will find many different options, from supermarket chains like Chedraui and Soriana to independent abarrotes stores, bakeries, butchers, and more. Costco and Walmart are great places to pick up your favorite imported products from home. Meanwhile, you can find great deals on fresh produce at the local markets. 

The price of groceries in Merida is very affordable, but it will fluctuate depending on your eating habits and whether you shop at a grocery store like Super Aki vs going to a local mercado. Learning to cook with local ingredients will help reduce your reliance on purchasing imported products. 

You can expect to spend approximately $250 to $400 per month on groceries for two people by shopping at a combination of supermarkets and independent specialty stores. 

Many grocery stores also have a large section dedicated to pets. Or there are pet speciality stores like Petco or Maskota where you can find a variety of pet toys, pet food, and vitamins for your furry friends.

Maskota is a pet store usually found inside shopping malls around Mexico.

Getting Around

Merida is quite walkable thanks to the flat terrain and the fact that many neighborhoods have good sidewalks. For longer distances, you can use local buses, taxis, or ride-share services like Didi or Uber to get anywhere you need to go.

Here’s an idea of what transportation costs look like in Merida:

  • Local bus fare: Approximately $10 MXN or $0.50 USD each way
  • Bus to Cancun: Approximately $556 MXN or $28 USD each way
  • Taxi or ride-share: About $50 – $100 MXN or $2.50 to $5 USD, depending on the distance

Like many cities in Mexico, you do not need a vehicle to live comfortably in Merida.

Taxis are everywhere in Merida. But for fast service, you can always save the number to a few taxi drivers so you can schedule pick ups and drop offs.

Between taxis and ride-share services, it’s very easy to get around the city expediently. For longer trips, long-haul buses are a very safe and affordable way to reach other towns and cities in the region. 

Lifestyle and Culture in Merida

Merida is well known for its cultural activities, including museums, galleries, and live music, dance, and theatrical performances. On Sundays, the Paseo de Montejo, one Merida’s main streets, is closed off to vehicles; you can cycle or walk your dog while perusing items for sale from local vendors!

Merida is known for its exceptional culinary scene– there is even a culinary school in town. You can sample all kinds of different foods in restaurants throughout the city. There are also many fun cantinas in town!

When the weather becomes unbearably hot in Merida, many residents head to nearby cenotes or the beaches of Progreso, a coastal town about 40 minutes from the city, to sip frozen cocktails in the sand and swim in the Gulf of Mexico. 

Those who aren’t yet fluent in Spanish will be happy to learn that Merida offers several Spanish skills where you can practice your skills! Taking regular classes is another potential way to meet fellow expats and travelers who share your love of Mexico.

For a closer look at what living in Merida looks like, check out my interview with David, who retired early and is now loving life in Merida! 

If you’re comfortable in the heat, Merida is a fantastic place to retire in Mexico! There is an established expat community, and the city offers an international airport, exceptional health care services, and proximity to some of Mexico’s most famous attractions. Two people can live comfortably in Merida on a budget of $1500 per month. 

*Keep in mind that to qualify for residency in Mexico on the basis of economic solvency you will need to meet specific income requirements that are greater than $1500 USD A month.

Preparing for your move to Mexico

Are you ready to take the next step in planning your move to Merida?

Consider joining one of our private relocation tours. Each tour is led by a local expert and is fully customizable based on your interests. You can choose how many days. This is the perfect opportunity to get to know the city and ask your guide any questions you have about what living there full-time would be like. Click here to learn more!  

In the meantime, I’ve created several other resources to assist you with your move to Mexico.  

  • To learn more about the Mexico residency process, check out my Complete Residency Guide
  • For information on the financial solvency requirements at different Mexican consulates throughout North America, click here.    
  • Click here to access the Mexico Relocation Guide, a step-by-step plan teaching you how to move to Mexico the right way. The guide also includes a complete directory of trusted contacts throughout the country, including immigration experts, real estate companies, health insurance companies, pet transport, and more. 

Mariana Lange

Mariana Lima-Lange was born in Mexico and immigrated to the U.S. when she was a child. She spent every summer visiting family throughout Mexico and is very knowledgeable about Mexican culture, lifestyle, and traditions. She is fluent in both Spanish and English.

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Comments

  1. Jesse Worrell says

    Hi Mariana, I am planning to relocate from San Antonio, TX to either the Quintana Roo or Yucatan area after the beginning of the year and have been going back and forth over whether to take my car.. I will be on a tourist visa in the beginning until I can get my apostilled birth record (Japanese document) so my Fiancee (Mexican citizen) and I can get married in Mexico (another story for another comment).. My question is: Until I can get residency – Do I need to go back into the US every 6 months or could I just drive (if I take my car) or fly to Belize and come back, since it’s much closer? By the way, thanks for all of the great info here.. It has been very useful.

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