If you’re considering moving to Mexico, you know the cost of living is much lower than in the States, more than half in most areas. It’s still important, though, to estimate your monthly costs as accurately as possible before you move and get your financial house in order. Here are 5 tips to avoid going into debt when you move to Mexico.
1. Eat Local Food
A perk of living in Mexico is that groceries will cost you significantly less than in the U.S. for most items. If you want to buy all the brands you bought back home, though, you may be disappointed in both the availability and the price. Buy locally and save.
And of course, eat where the locals eat when dining out. Whether it’s a street cart, food stall or a local restaurant, you can find delicious food everywhere at a price less than cooking at home.
2. Use Numbeo Data
To get a handle on local food prices and other day-to-day living expenses before you go, check out the Cost of Living sections in the Expats In Mexico Cities profiles. For example, here are the prices you should expect to pay for selected items in Puerto Vallarta.
If you don’t see the city you are considering moving to in the Cities section, go directly to Numbeo, which updates its cost of living prices frequently based on crowd-sourced information from expats living in the city. They list all cities in Mexico that have a large enough expat population to provide reliable cost information.
3. Build an Emergency Fund
When calculating your cost of living in Mexico, remember that this is only an estimate since you haven’t yet actually experienced day-to-day living there. Relocation experts say you should always have an emergency fund of at least three-to-six months saved up to cover unexpected costs and fees that were not planned.
4. Pay Off Debts Before Moving
If you have student loan debt, credit card debt, car payments or any other monthly financial obligations, try to pay off as much as you can before moving to Mexico. Credit.com has some good advice on how to do it.
Also, determine if you’ll be able to afford an international move in addition to your debt. Check out Expats In Mexico’s article on international moving companies to see what a typical move could cost.
Make sure you are financially prepared to move to Mexico. If you’re not, postpone your move until you are. You’ll have a much less stressful life south of the border if you do.
5. Look Beyond Daily Living
Take a hard look at the lifestyle you want to live in your new home in Mexico. Do you want to replicate the lifestyle you are currently living? Mexico is much less expensive than most areas of the U.S., but if you want to frequently dine out at tourist restaurants in international resort areas, for example, make sure your budget can handle it. Be realistic about what you want to do and what you can afford to do.
Also plan for occasional expenses that aren’t typically in monthly budgets, such as traveling back to the States to visit family and friends.
Keep these 5 tips in mind and you’ll be as happy in Mexico as the people of Mexico.