Can I Really Lower My Cost of Living in Mexico?

I want to address something that comes up a lot after I post a video or after I talk about the “lower cost of living in Mexico,” and figured this is a perfect time to address it.

When I talk about having a Home Depot, Walmart, and other familiar chains, I don’t want to mislead anyone by saying that these are cheaper than the US or Canada. In fact, some of the same products will be more expensive in Mexico because they are imported.

When I show you nice rentals in any one town or city, it doesn’t mean all of Mexico is like this.

I only mention this because many people move to Mexico with the idea that their cost of living will be lower. But then they only buy imported goods, rent an expensive place, or only eat out and don’t cook at home.

Then at the end of the month, they spend almost the same as they did back home and are puzzled they didn’t save money.

And I think it’s because many people think you can live in Mexico like a king with very little money. And while yes, you can live better with less money, it doesn’t mean you can’t spend some serious money too. For some of you, it may mean adjusting your lifestyle a bit. 

So, how do you save money moving to Mexico?

Rent where the locals rent. From the locals offering the regular rental prices. Don’t move to the expat-saturated cities where rents are high. Instead, look at a few neighboring cities with less going on but will also cost less. For example, instead of living in the trendy neighborhoods of Mexico City like Condesa or Roma, consider Del Valle or Narvarte. 

Instead of living in Ajijic, consider living in Chapala or Jocotepec. etc. etc.

There’s nothing wrong with expat cities- if you can afford it and prefer to live there. I think they tend to be amazing for many reasons. They are a softer landing and always have a lot of fun things going on. But that comes with a price.

Shop Locally

Another way to save is to shop at the local markets. Buy the local cheese. Buy the local brands. Buy produce from the market vendors directly and see how you start to save. Shop at the mercados whenever your favorite vendors have 2×1 sales or similar.

Eat at the local and small fondas. Or eat at the street food vendors- Not the trendiest restaurants. Especially when you’re in an expat or touristy city- the prices of food and services are catered to USD and wealthier Mexicans. This is especially true in the busy parts of town. 

Now, if you’re okay with spending the same as you did back home, you’ll also probably get more for your money. Because a lot of people don’t move to México to live frugally. Some people also want a nice life or a new adventure for the same money. And Mexico also offers that. But it comes down to YOUR lifestyle.

Low Cost Of Living in Mexico is Not The Same As The Residency Requirements

I also want you to remember that the income requirements for residency are not 1:1 when I talk about the cost of living in Mexico.

Mexico’s Consulates abroad use a formula currently that considers Mexico’s minimum wage.

The current minimum wage is $172.87 pesos daily, and the formula for Temporary Residency is

  • 300 days x minimum wage (172.87) = 51,861 pesos- Amount needed monthly to qualify for Temporary Residency in Mexico

$51,861 Pesos is ~$2593 USD.

So in 2022, $2593 USD is the MINIMUM AMOUNT NEEDED MONTHLY TO QUALIFY FOR Residency in Mexico under financial solvency.

Minimum Wage In Mexico Will Increase by 20% in 2023

HOWEVER- You may have heard that the Mexican government is increasing their minimum wages by 20% next year.

And although most consulates haven’t publicized it, we can almost assume that income requirements for 2023 will also increase since the consulates have historically used a formula that includes minimum wage.

And I say “almost assume” because there is another formula known as the UMA, which some consulates have used in the past and would make the income requirements for residency in Mexico much much lower. But we don’t know or have any reason to think they will implement the UMA next year.

Some consulates in Arizona have already started asking applicants to prove $3,000 USD a month for the last 6 months to obtain a Temporary Residency, which is a $500-$600 dollar increase from 2022. 

It’s also very important to remember that every consulate has its own income and other general requirements. And as frustrating as it sometimes seems not to get a centralized way of doing things, it’s a small glimpse into Mexican bureaucracy. Learn this word because you need it “paciencia” (patience). 

That is why I recommend you apply for residency as soon as possible. If you qualify today doesn’t mean you’ll qualify next year. And you don’t have to live in Mexico to remain a resident.

As soon as I know of any updates regarding residency or other important information, I will keep you all posted.

But for now, we will all have to wait and see what most consulates do in 2023.

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.

Reader Interactions


  1. Alan Greenlees says

    What you were doing to inform people about moving to Mexico is awesome. I myself have been living in Mexico for the last five years but only for six months at a time I still have not received a temporary residency because of income. If a person is retired and not receiving $3000 US per month there has to be another way of doing the residency. If you have any insight on this that you can share I would be very interested in reading it or send me an email direct

  2. RANDY says

    sounds to expensive in Canadain dollars, will be over 3000 dollars canadian, cheaper to live in Canada

    • Mariana Lange says

      For some people it will probably be less expensive to stay put. You’re right.

    • John Vandenberg says

      Right now (2022), that’s about $3500 Canadian funds per month. Next year, likely over $4000/mo Can. If you don’t make that number, you can prove sufficient savings. You’d need to show about C$55k now, but next year it will likely be more.

  3. Colleen Walker says

    Will it increase 20% for savings as well?

    • Mariana Lange says

      If the consulates continue using the formula they are using now, then yes.

      • Ital says

        Thank you for being honest and helpful.

  4. Sharon says

    Thank you for keeping us informed. My husband and I are hoping to retire to Mexico in a few years. You’re such a valuable resource.

    • Mariana Lange says

      Thank you Sharon! Glad you are finding value in this site 🙂

  5. Chuck Griffiths says

    If the minimum wage comes to $3000.00 a month most retired Americans will not be able to show that. And that might shut down legal immigration TO Mexico for me.

    • Mariana Lange says

      Unfortunately, a lot of people not only retirees, won’t qualify. You are correct.
      We don’t know what will happen in 2023 yet. Stay tuned

  6. Robert Laube says

    Great honest info from a classy lady. Tells it like it is.

    Thank you

  7. Ralph Lewerenz says

    If someone visits Mexico, what and where can good health insurance be obtained?

  8. Pam Daly says

    This article is very helpful!
    I do have a question. I’m not sure if you are familiar with Canadian grocery brands but we have Presidents Choice and No Frills brands which are top quality and the cheapest store brands available, respectively. Does Mexico or certain regions have similar options?
    We are going to check out La Paz and Mazatlán in the near future.

  9. Frank Grosshauser says

    Something doesn’t add up, minimum wage is $172.87 a day times 300 days is $51,861 divided by 20 is $2,593 USD a year. Why do you require $2,593 a month for Temporary Residency, that is 12 times the minimum wage.

    • Mariana Lange says

      Because in Mexico the minimum wage of 172.87 is the daily min wage.
      The formula for Temporary Residency states Min wage (172.87) x 300 days = monthly income needed for residency
      the amount therefor needed monthly to qualify for residency is $2593 USD

      • Mariana Lange says

        The simple formula for Temporary residency for anyone who would like to know is
        300 x Min Wage = Monthly Income Needed to Qualify for Residency

        In 2022 that formula would be 300 x 172.87 = $51,861 pesos
        $51861 pesos divided by 20 (USD exchange rate) = $2593 USD needed monthly to qualify for residency in Mexico.

        In 2023, minimum wage is going up to $207. I don’t know if the consulate’s will continue using the formiular I shared above. But if they did we can assume the following

        300 x 207 = 62,100 Pesos

        $62,100 Pesos divided by 20 = $3100 USD monthly income needed to qualify for temporary residency in Mexico in 2023.

        But again this is an ASSUMPTION of what 2023 income reqs will be. The only consulate I know of that is already requesting $3000 USD a month is Tucson Arizona

        • jim dobbs says

          They must not figure math in Mexico like they do in USA. Frank is correct. That number you throw out is for a year……..not a month. Daily minimun times 300 will be the minimun for a year………not a month. Need to divide one more time by 12…..12 months in a year in most countries.

          • Mariana Lange says

            Here is the formula
            300 x Mexico’s Daily Minimum Wage = Monthly Amount Needed for Temp Residency

            in 2022 the formula would be as follows:
            300 x 172.87 = 51,861 pesos. Divide that by 20 to get USD = $2593 Monthly Amount Needed for Residency.

        • jim dobbs says

          Let us work on the 207 peso a day upcoming increase. Divide by the exchange rate and that equals $10.35 a day.

          Multiple $10.35 a day times 365 days a year. We won’t take a day off. We make $ 3887.25 a year…………NOT A MONTH !

          Divide $ 3887.25 times the usual 12 month in a year and we have $323.94.

          So an expat would have to have ten times what a minimum wage earner makes in Mexico to”survive” in Mexico ?

          • Mariana Lange says

            Listen- the formula is very simple. Not sure how many other ways I can put it.

            It’s 300 x Daily Minimum Wage in Mexico = Amount Needed Monthly to Qualify For Residency.
            That amount in 2022 is a minimum of $2593 USD a month for the last 6 months to qualify for financial solvency.

            I’m sorry I don’t create the formulas or the amounts needed to qualify for residency in Mexico are not up to me. They are up to the Mexican Government.
            But trust me, this is the formula that most Mexican consulates consider across the world.

            In 2023 if consulates across the world are using the $207 peso Min Wage then the income needed monthly for economic solvency will be
            $207 x 300 = $62,100 or about $3105 USD minimum monthly income needed for the last 6 months. (assuming they convert pesos at a 20 peso to 1 USD exchange rate)

            But then again, each consulate tends to create their own requirements. So in 2023, you can expect that the minimum income requirement needed monthly in USD to qualify will vary between consulates.
            For example, in 2022, the income requirements across different Mexican consulates were between USD $1725/month – USD $2700/month. A BIG variance between consulates. Which is why you’ll sometimes hear people talk about Consulate shopping- which means looking for the Mexican consulate that best fits your specific financials/ or situation.

            Residency Visas in Mexico are not so black and white. Which is why we highly recommend hiring professionals that can guide you. We’ve seen wayyyy too many people attempt at doing it on their own and make a lot of mistakes because the consulates don’t do a good job of posting things like “you’ll need this document apostilled” or “you need to live in this state and city” or “your bank statements need to be signed by the bank” and the list goes on and on.

  10. Dedrick says

    Hola Mariana:
    Wondering if I’m reading your blue relocation chart correctly regarding financial requirements for a temporary resident visa: a monthly income of 2600.00 or savings of 43,000.00. My monthly income from Social Security is below the threshold at 1600.00, but I do have the required savings. Is it an either/or situation that would allow me to qualify with my savings, even if my monthly income is lower?
    Thanks for all your invaluable help!

    • Mariana Lange says

      Hi there 🙂 Yes it is an either or – you only need to prove one not both

  11. Stephen Munch says

    My wife is a Mexican Citizen,Estado de Mexico. I had a Fm2 for many years because I was a consultant in Tijuana at the time. Here is my question. How can I get a Mexican passport if I after I receive a permanent residency ? Do I need a US pass port for permanent residency? We qualify with income. We’ve also been married 32 years. Thank you.

    • Tom Johnstone says

      What are the benefits and differences between a temporary and permanent residency when at the moment we can come down for the 6 months already

  12. Tim says

    Re someone’s comment above, the amount isn’t meant to be what it takes for a foreign person moving to Mexico to just survive there, it is the number they want you to earn so you will contribute to the economy and not be a burden on their social services. Therefore 10x the minimum wage makes sense and Mariana’s math is correct. They want people bringing foreign currency to spend on local businesses not arriving with the bare minimum to survive.

    At least that is how I read the situation.

  13. John Vandenberg says

    So for a couple, the sum required in the new year is likely to be around $3000 each, or $6000? Or savings of about $100k?

    • Mariana Lange says

      It depends on which consulate you apply with. Some consulates will require each person to qualify individually – so yes each one of you would have to make $3000 USD each. But a lot of consulates ask that the spouse have only an additional $1000 USD a month to qualify for temporary. But even if only one of you qualifies, there is nothing to worry about. Because when you get to Mexico and after you have received your residency card, you can petition for your spouse without having to prove additional income.

  14. MLV says

    Mariana; I don’t see in any of your discussion of HOW LONG A TEMPORARY VISA lasts? Can you give more details please? Thanks, V

    • Mariana Lange says

      Hi there
      It’s discussed in several of my website blog posts and in all my livestreams. 🙂
      A temporary residency can be renewed for up to 4 years. After which you either have to become a permanent resident or start the residency process for temporary all over again outside of Mexico

  15. James Johnson says

    I work remotely and earn $108k usd annually. How comfortable could me, my wife, and small fog live in a city like Merida?

    • Mariana Lange says

      That’s far more than most Mexican families make. But it all depends on your lifestyle

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