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The Cost of Living in Merida Yucatan

Editor’s Note: This article was first published in December 2008, and updated again in August of 2011 and March of 2013. It has been two years since our last update, so its time to do it again. What follows is the original article with added comments and updated prices. For comparison, we have included the the 2008, 2011 and 2013 prices in parentheses wherever possible, so we can all watch the trends.

In editing the article and putting in the new prices, we found a lot of interesting changes. The prices of tomatoes, water and martinis have not changed, but the price of gas and electricity sure has. Some price changes are hard to quantify… the price of real estate is all over the map, and while prices are not rising as much as they were a few years ago, they haven’t exactly fallen either. We hope you enjoy the update and we look forward to your comments!

What Does It Cost to Live in Merida Mexico?

One of the most common questions we have been asked by readers of Yucatan Living is also one we often hesitate to answer: What’s the cost of living in Yucatan? Our standard (and rather evasive) answer has been: “Well… it depends”. We are particularly surprised by those who ask us, “Can a person live on $4,000 dollars a month down there? Or $2,000 dollars?” Because the answer to that, of course, is “Yes! There are thousands, maybe millions, of Mexicans living here on much less.”

Unlike the United States and other developed counties where money talks and the consumer is king, Mexico and the Yucatan in particular, do not have homogenous economies. In so-called “developed” countries, most people have a wage-earning job, drive a car, shop at the mall, save with an IRA, use a credit card, pay income taxes and share a common – if not equal – economic reality.

But the long and very special history of Mexico has produced a different economy here. Either through imposition or experimentation, Mexicans have incorporated, and to a varying extent maintained, economic systems inherited from Native America, Colonial Spain, the Napoleonic Empire, the Catholic Church, Capitalism, Socialism and Communism, just to mention the heavy hitters. There are whole communities in Mexico that still live off the land, like our great, great grandparents who settled the “wild west”. At the other extreme, the man who consistently competes with Bill Gates to be the richest in the world (Carlos Slim) makes his home in Mexico. And almost every other conceivable economic arrangement and social class is also found here.

You Paid Too Much

While the trend is that more and more Yucatecos are joining what we call the “money economy”, most campesinos still prefer to bargain and barter, avoid banks and loans, and minimize formal payrolls and income taxes. While those in Gringolandia tend to pay top dollar, Yucatecos boast of finding el precio mas barato (the lowest price) for their last purchase.

When we first moved here, a gringa friend of ours had composed a little ditty entitled “You Paid Too Much!”. We don’t remember the lyrics or the tune, but we remember and appreciate the sentiment: no matter what you tell someone you paid for something here, the reaction is almost universal… you paid too much! At first it was unnerving, causing us to walk around feeling like we had been duped at every turn. This is an easy feeling to adopt when you are an expatriate. Sometimes it can feel like there’s a big dollar sign (or pesos sign… coincidentally, they are the same!) printed on your forehead, and you are the only one who cannot see it. Gradually, we have gotten used to this feeling and recognize it as the symptom of a mindset that is always looking for a bargain.

Lifestyle in the Yucatan… It Depends

These and other significant economic and cultural differences mean that the cost of living in Yucatan (and much of Mexico) depends more on your lifestyle and personal financial decisions than they probably do in your own pollo pricescountry. There are simply more options here. Many commodities can be found at very different prices depending on location, context, and quality. The Mexican economy is like eBay, a swap meet and a garage sale wrapped in a department store in a mall at Disneyland (we refer to Cancun). For example, you can watch the same Hollywood blockbuster in an art-deco theater in Santiago for about $2.50 USD that would cost you $8.50 USD lying in a barcalounger in a modern cineplex in northern Merida. Or you can go to a government-sponsored film festival at the Olimpo or Teatro Merida and pay nothing to see an art film. Or you can buy that film for $25 pesos (about $1.60 USD in 2015) from the guy who comes by your table selling piratas (pirated DVD’s) and watch it at home. You see? It depends…

When in Rome… Uh, Merida!

One important way to reduce costs is through immersion and assimilation. The more Yucateco you become, the less you’ll find yourself paying (and willing to pay) too much. It is obvious to most of us who live here that speaking Spanish and adapting to local traditions will almost always guarantee finding a lower price or a lower-priced alternative. What is not immediately obvious is how thrift becomes a way of life when it is supported by the culture that surrounds you. You can drive across town to Home Depot for that machete (yes, you might like to have one here), or you can walk to the corner hardware store and buy one for less. The choice is yours. But you are bound to feel more comfortable at the corner store if you speak a little Spanish and are willing to become a part of your neighborhood.

About the Mexican Peso

With only a few exceptions (real estate and lodging come to mind), you’ll be paying for everything in pesos. After the horrific peso devaluation of 1994, there have been important changes in Mexican finance, which includes a virtual peso “peg” to the U.S. dollar. For about six years after 2000, the Mexican peso tracked the value of the dollar at an exchange rate of 11 pesos to one U.S. dollar, plus or minus half a peso. In mid 2011, when this article was previously updated, the exchange rate of the peso was about 12.3pesos to the U.S. dollar. For comparison purposes and quick calculations, we will use the 12 to 1 ratio in this article, though in the last year, the peso has been as high as 14.3 (May 2012), was 12.3 the last time we updated this article (Mar 2013) and is about 14.9 for this update (April 2015).

Unlike Europeans and Latin Americans, who are conditioned to think in multiple currencies, most norteamericanos have a difficult time understanding the value of anything not quoted in dollars. But it’s not that difficult. We just divide the price in pesos by 10, and then give yourself a 30 percent discount. For example, something that costs $100 pesos costs $10 dollars minus 30%, or about $7.00 USD, mas o menos.

As a service to you, our reader, the rest of this article quotes most of the prices in pesos, so you can practice doing the math…


One of the more fundamental expenses is housing, and prices in Yucatan are particularly difficult to generalize. The cost of housing keeps increasing just like everywhere else in the world, but from such a low value that there are still many locations that are affordable by North American or European standards. And the rise in prices was not caused by an over-abundance of loans, as most Mexicans own their homes outright. Mortgages are only now becoming available to the growing middle class, and are still practically impossible to get if you are a foreigner.

A renovated colonial house in the centro historico of Merida that cost $150,000 dollars five years ago may now sell for as much as $350,000. Unrestored properties can still be found for well under $100,000 dollars, but a good one is rarely under $35,000 to $40,000 USD. Compared with prices ten to fifteen years ago, this is quite an increase. The center of Merida, along with the beach areas along the Gulf Coast, have appreciated the most, as these are the most attractive locations for expatriates and retirees. There are places in Merida that are exclusive and expensive, such as La Ceiba (the gated community north of Merida on the way to Progreso), and prices there have been fairly stable. And there are numerous other safe and attractive neighborhoods in Merida that are just getting on the expat radar, such as Colonia Mexico or Chuburná, as well as smaller towns around Yucatan State, such as Cholul, Motul, Izamal and Valladolid, where lower priced homes are still available. se vende houses in Yucatan

Fortunately for the real estate shopper, there are numerous agencies in Merida and the Yucatan with comprehensive websites where you can gain a broad view of the market. Just Google “Yucatan real estate” or “real estate in Merida Mexico” (when you have a lot of time). And don’t forget that all prices are negotiable.

Of course, another option is to rent, at least until you have some “on the ground” experience with life in the Yucatan, and have shopped the real estate market to your heart’s content. Many foreigners do rent before they buy, but the variety of rental properties makes determining a price range almost as difficult to generalize as real estate for sale. We have rented modest houses in the centro historico for as little as $200 USD per month and as much as $500 USD. These were rented from locals by locals. Now, a typical two-bedroom rental downtown with the type of amenities that most expatriates are looking for and in the most desirable areas might go for $600 to $1200 USD per month or higher. A vacation rental home in Merida or on the beach, rented by the day or week, costs a lot more. Click on the Vacation Rental topic on the right side of this page to see some of the local offerings. Or as with real estate purchasing, just type in “vacation rental merida yucatan” into Google and compare prices on or While we don’t have an exact measure to report, it is our intuition that these prices have stayed pretty stable. Certainly demand has been steadily rising, but supply of these homes has as well, so prices do not seem to have changed too much in the last two years. If anything, they have maybe gone down a bit as competition has been increasing.

If you’re not a local, you’ll be competing with tourists, foreign professionals and student travelers when you rent. Depending on the condition of the property and its location, you will likely pay more than you might have five years ago. This is especially true of restored colonial vacation rental houses. Unfortunately, these are the most frequently advertised on the Internet. The most affordable properties are still advertised by their owners by painting En Renta on the façade or by advertising in Spanish in the Diario de Yucatan, Merida’s leading newspaper. Finding a suitable and affordable rental property therefore usually requires a visit to the area, a leisurely tour up and down the streets of the neighborhood in question, and lengthy communication in Spanish with the owner. For the cost-conscious shopper, we recommend staying in one of the low-price hostels or hotels while shopping rental properties like a local.

Income and Value Added Tax

Very few people in Mexico pay income tax. Well, technically, nobody pays income tax. If you are employed at a company that pays salaries and reports earnings, the company withholds and pays your personal income tax for you. But the number of wage-earning jobs subject to income tax in Mexico is relatively few compared to the United States or Canada.

Many Mexican workers earn their income, in whole or in part, abajo de agua (literally “under water”, but it means ‘under the table’). These workers include private farmers, artisans, independent contractors and construction workers, small restaurants and other sole proprietors of small businesses. This practice is not illegal, although poco a poco, the Mexican government is trying to bring everyone into the fold (ABOVE the table). In the past, you could choose to participate in a “gray” economy, without reporting any profit or loss to the government, or you could participate in the formal economy through serialized invoices called facturas, and report both profits and losses. Many businesses operated in both economies, depending on the client. In the last year or two, the government has begun to require facturas for almost every business transaction and the “gray” economy has theoretically been shrinking.

To compensate for a lack of tax revenue from income, the Mexican Government imposes a rather steep national sales tax, or Value Added Tax, called Impuesto Valores Agregado in Spanish, which is abbreviated to IVA and pronounced ee-VAH (or ee-BAH by many). You are expected to pay IVA for everything you purchase except medicines, unprepared foods, water and other basic necessities of life.

However, there are many cases, depending on your lifestyle choices, where IVA is not added to the price of your purchase (referred to as mas IVA, or plus tax). For example, you can eat fast food, where IVA is added, or you can eat at a private cocina economica, where it is not. You can contract with a professional cleaning service for your housekeeping needs and pay IVA, or you can hire a freelance housekeeper. You can buy a machete (you really should get one…) at Home Depot mas IVA, or you can buy it at the mercado, sin IVA. The choice, once again, is yours: WalMart or Chetumalito (a section of the mercado)? Bit by bit, that 15% savings adds up.

Property Taxes

Your property’s value is determined by a state government agency called Catastral or Catastro (strangely, the same agency, two different names, both correct), and is based on the historic value of the property more than the (usually understated) last sale price. Every year, starting in January, you will receive a bill for property taxes, called a predial (pray-DEE-al). In most cases, you will be stunned to learn that this is profoundly less than you paid in your own country. For example, the former Yucatan Living offices, which was a two-bedroom, restored colonial in the centro, had a market value of over a million pesos. It had been appraised by Catastral at $212,000 pesos. We were billed $110 pesos for predial in 2008. And if we paid before March, there was a discount! Predial prices have not changed much in the last few years, but if you renovate your house, your predial will be raised to reflect the new appraised value. Working Gringos lovely home in San Sebastian, which sold for over $300,000 USD in 2012, paid a predial of approximately $300 USD in 2011, just to give you an idea.

Honestly, the property taxes are so low that we compensate by giving back to the city whenever we can. Anyone who asks us for a donation or wants to sell us flowers on the street will get a few pesos from us… it’s our way of contributing to the life around us here. We figure it’s the least we can do. After all, there’s that “$” on our forehead.


As anyone who has shopped for real estate in Merida or along the coast has learned, we are in the so-called “restricted zone”. This means that as foreigners we cannot own property directly in this zone, but must purchase it through a bank trust called a fidecomiso (FEE-day-co-MEE-so). These trusts charge a hefty annual maintenance charge. Just when you thought you were escaping the costs of property ownership: bang, the fideicomiso bill arrives!

Still, adding together the $4,500 to $7,500 peso charge for our bank trust along with the cost of the predial, the net expense is still a tenth of what we paid in property taxes back in California, so we try not to complain. But those annual fideicomiso charges are one motivation for becoming Mexican citizens, which would allow us to own the property outright. Also, there is a serious effort afoot within the Mexican government to make foreign investment in Mexico even easier by getting rid of the fideicomiso requirement. It has not passed and been put into law yet, but we are all watching and waiting.

Everything Else

After housing, most foreigners expect to pay for basic modern conveniences like water, garbage, gas, electricity, telephone, cable and internet. The per-unit cost of your monthly utility bills are not negotiable, but the total cost is directly affected by lifestyle choices.


The water supply is delivered by a company called JAPAY (HOP-eye). There really is no shortage of water in Merida, nor in most of Yucatan, so prices are low compared to the rest of North America. The least you will pay in the centro historico is $58.5 pesos per cubic meter for up to three cubic meters of water (up from $50 pesos in 2008). One cubic meter is 164 gallons. An average toilet flush is about 2.5 gallons. A five-minute shower is roughly 13 gallons. A load of laundry in a modern washing machine runs between 30 and 40 gallons. The more water you use, the higher the price per cubic meter, as the table below illustrates. In updating the prices from 2008, we noticed that most prices had been raised 6 to 10 pesos, but in this last update after a year and a half, there were almost no changes. In updating now in 2015, there have been no changes in the following table.

Water Consumed (M3)

Pesos per M3

4 – 10


11 – 15


16 – 20


21 – 40

$4.5 per M3

41 – 60

$4.8 per M3

61 – 80

$5.5 per M3

You will notice in the table that if you consume less than 20 M3′s per month, you are billed a flat rate. Above 20 M3′s, you are billed per M3. So a consumption of 25 M3′s will run you about $112.50 pesos. To add to this complex billing structure, prices also vary depending on location. In the southern (less affluent) areas of Merida, prices per cubic meter start at $47 pesos (up from $40 in 2008), while in the northern (affluent) areas, they start at $61 pesos (up from $52 in 2008). There is also a higher rate for business locations, which in 2013 is $171.50 pesos per M3. Consumers are billed every other month and in our aforementioned large home, we pay on average about $170 pesos per bill. Yes, we take showers AND we use a washing machine.

Many Yucatecos who own swimming pools choose to drill their own well to fill them, as well as to irrigate their gardens. This probably made more sense back in the day when water was pumped using windmills, but not as much (as we will see) now that the pumps are run by expensive electricity.  It may again make more sense if you install wind or solar energy generators, as we know some friends have done at their haciendas. For more information about water prices, you can check JAPAY’s website. You will note that the last price update was January 2009. Since water is a basic human need, prices for water tend to stay fairly stable in the Yucatan.


We are familiar with two garbage collection companies in Merida: Servilimpia and Pamplona. They have different collection days depending on your location. For instance, Servilimpia works Colonia San Sebastian on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. In the tourist areas of the centro historico, they collect whether you pay or not. Sometimes, they forget to stop by for some reason, but in general the service works.

Prices for garbage removal used to be $17 pesos a month across the board in the centro and everywhere else. If you pay for a whole year in advance, they will even give you a discount. Prices are eminently reasonable:

  • Zona Residencial Alta – $53.00 pesos per month
  • Zona Residencial Media – $46.00 pesos per month
  • Zona Media Alta – $33.00 pesos per month
  • Zona Media Media – $28.00 pesos per month
  • Zona Media Baja – $23.00 pesos per month
  • Zona Popular Alta – $20.00 pesos per month
  • Zona Popular Media – $17.00 pesos per month
  • Zona Popular Baja – $14.00 pesos per month
  • Fraccionamiento Popular Alta – $20.00 pesos per month
  • Fraccionamiento Popular Media – $17.00 pesos per month
  • Zona Marginada – $0.00 pesos per month

Have something big or unwieldy you want to throw away? Put it outside. If it is at all valuable or reusable, chances are a neighbor or passerby will pick it up before the garbage truck even gets there. If your garbage requires more effort or ingenuity on the part of the garbage company to haul it away, you might find them banging on your door, even in the middle of the night. Tip them $10 or $20 pesos and they will be happy. If not, they’ll tell you how much they want to take away your couch or old refrigerator, and there is no reason not to pay them.

In addition, you will occasionally see a group of men (and sometimes women) in orange vests, sporting brooms and rolling trashcans, making their way along the streets of Merida to pick up after those who toss candy wrappers and plastic bottles from their cars or from the buses (which at times, seems to be almost everyone…). We would be knee-deep in modern, brand-name detritus if not for them. The discussion about stopping those people from tossing the candy wrappers in the first place is for another article, one we will probably never have the insight to write.


La Comision Federal de Electricidad (CFE) is the national electric company that supplies power to all of Mexico. Although they are a “World Class Company”, (as the slogan on their trucks continues to remind us), they do not pretend to be affordable. Without a doubt, electricity is the most expensive utility in Yucatan. 

We in Yucatan benefit from the previously-mentioned socialist influences within the Mexican economic system by living in a region classified as 1C. This means that because we have an average summer temperature of 30 degrees Celcius (86 degrees Fahrenheit), our electric bills are subsidized during the summer months of May through October. (Or, if you are a die-hard capitalist, you could say we are gouged the rest of the year.)

For a private residence in Merida, the summertime electricity rates are:

up to 300KW/H in 2013

Basic: $0.711 pesos (up from $0.567 in 2008, $0.643 in 2011, $0.693 in 2013) up to 150 Kilowatt Hours (KW/Hr)
Intermediate: $0.839 (up from $0.668 in 2008, $0.742 in 2011, $0.808 in 2013)) for the next 150 KW/Hr (this limit used to be 600 KW)
High Intermediate: $1.071 (up from $1.040 in 2013) from 300 to 450 KW/Hr
Surplus (excedente in Spanish): $2.859 (up from $2.772 in 2013) per KW/Hr over 450 KW/Hr

During the rest of the year, the rates are:

Basic: $0.809 pesos (up from 0.661 after 150 KW/Hr in 2008, $0.733 in 2011 and $0.789 pesos in 2013) up to 75 KW/Hr
Intermediate: $0.978 pesos (up from $0.780 up to 600 KW/Hr in 2008 and $1.229 up to 150 KW/Hr in 2011, $0.960 in 2013) up to 100 KW/Hr
High: $2.859 pesos (up from $2.350 after 600 KW/Hr in 2008, and $2.593 after 150 KW/Hr in 2011, $2,808 in 2013) after 175 KW/Hr

For those who are not familiar with the term “KW/Hr”, it means kilowatt-hour, which is a thousand watts of electricity consumed in an hour. If you burn ten, 100-watt light bulbs for an hour, they consume one KW/Hr of electricity. Naturally, here in Yucatan, low-cost fluorescent bulbs (11 to 17 watts) have been widely adopted, not just to conserve electricity, but also because they survive power fluctuations caused by our lovely afternoon electrical storms better than standard incandescent bulbs.

A new rule says that if you consume more than 850 KW/Hr per month, you are now Tarifa DAC (de Alto Consumo) and you must pay a fixed price of $80.63 pesos per month, and $3.484 pesos per KW/Hr.

How much electricity does your lifestyle consume? If you plan to live like most campesinos outside Merida, you do not own a refrigerator. If you want a cold drink or fresh eggs, you walk to the corner store, which serves as the community refrigerator. You don’t own a washing machine either, preferring to wash your clothes by hand. You might own an electrical fan, but you certainly don’t own an air conditioner. You hang your hammock in a shady spot and let the breezes cool you off. Probably the only electrical appliances you own are a (rather loud) radio and a television, along with a few light bulbs (and maybe a string or two of Christmas lights, (para La Virgen).

With the exception of a few ceiling fans, a small refrigerator and perhaps a washing machine, many working class Yucatecos living in Merida don’t consume much more than their campesino cousins, although a growing number own a DVD player and a battery charger for their cell phone.

We observe that the Yucatan middle-class owns an assortment of electrical appliances similar to most middle-class expatriates, but they do not have as many and they are not used as often. You won’t find a garbage disposal or dishwasher in most Yucatan kitchens, including ours. But the obvious socio-economic dividing line is air conditioning. The modern miracle that made Las Vegas possible and lures thousands of campesinos and working class Yucatecos to the malls every summer is what takes the biggest bite out of anyone’s electric bill. Lest we start feeling at all high and mighty, this modern miracle is also probably what makes Merida even liveable for most expatriates coming from the Great White North.

At the Yucatan Living offices, we would often run two “mini-split” air conditioners throughout the business day. (Only for the comfort of our clients and our computers, you understand.) It was not unusual for our bills to run $6,000 to $8,000 pesos per month. In our home, we only had air conditioners in the bedrooms – a common practice among homeowners who chill electrically – and we avoided using them whenever possible. Consume more than 850 KW/Hr on a regular basis, and you will be rated DAC (De Alto Consumo) (High Consumption) and the rate becomes a fixed price of $80.63 pesos per month, and $3.484 pesos per KW/Hr ($3.281 per KW with a set charge of $74.69 each month in 2013). And no discount during summer months! You guessed it… we were rated de alto consumo. For the luxury of a large renovated house and an air conditioned office, we ended up paying top dollar. And once rated DAC, you can pretty much resign yourself to always being rated that way unless you substantially change your ways. We have learned to cool off with the swimming pool or a cold shower before we resort to air conditioning, but never did get out of the DAC category.

The CFE bill is delivered every other month, so expect to see double when it arrives.

Propane Gas and Carbon

There are no natural gas mains running under the calles of Merida. Every home and office has some sort of propane tank on its roof or in a closet. The gas is delivered from a truck operated by one of several independent companies with names like Z-Gas, Delta Gas and Gas Peninsular. The price of propane has nearly doubled since we moved here in early 2002. That’s the bad news. The good news is that it’s still one of the least expensive utilities and one of the most efficient energy sources.

A typical three-bedroom colonial home has a 300-liter stationary tank on the roof. At a price of $8.14 pesos per liter (up from $5.48 pesos per liter in 2008, $5.94 in 2011 and $6.65 in 2013), it costs more than $2000 pesos to fill it. The gas heats the calentadores (water heaters), secadora (clothes dryer) and is used for cooking, although we often use the campesino method where cooking is done on open wood fires or with charcoal (…in other words, we use a barbeque with carbon (pronounced car-BONE)). A tank lasts us five or six months, so we figure we pay an average of about $400 pesos a month for gas. The government now supplies a handy dandy gas calculator for your convenience.

To save both gas and electricity, we try to hang our clothes out to dry as much as possible, and only use the clothes dryer for rainy days and during the rainy season. We also disable our water heaters during the summer months or if we are gone from the house for more than a week or so. By the way, just like everything else here, if you use carbon for your barbecue, you can buy it in two ways. You can get the branded briquettes you are familiar with at Costco or WalMart, or you can buy a small bag or two at your corner store. That carbon is made locally in the countryside, and costs $8 to $15pesos per bag. It also helps support the people who make it, which is a good feeling.


Anyone who reads the financial press or studies Mexican history knows the entire oil industry is consolidated into a state-run institution called Pemex. The Mexican government nationalized the oil industry after the Revolution and sets the prices for gasoline at legislated intervals. Despite protestations and seductions from free-market advocates in Gringolandia, this native bit of socialism has been working out rather well for “We The Consumer”. In addition, we are pretty sure we save a lot of precious hours of our life not worrying about which gas station has the lowest prices, as the prices are all the same at every Pemex station.

There are two grades of unleaded gasoline at the pump. Regular is called Magna and premium is called, well, Premium. A liter of Magna currently costs $13.70 pesos per liter (it was $7.05 pesos per liter in 2008, $9.32 in 2011, $11.14 in 2013). Premium costs $14.73 pesos per liter now (in 2008, $8.77 pesos per liter, $10.32 in 2011, $11.70 in 2013). To convert to dollars per gallon, here’s the math:

(Pesos-per-liter times 3.7854) divided by pesos per dollar

Using an exchange rate of 14.9 pesos per dollar, the cost of unleaded regular gasoline is (drum roll, please) $3.49 USD per gallon. It was $2.93 USD per gallon when we updated this article in 2011, and $3.50 in 2013. taxi ride in Merida

If that sounds like great news, then you probably spend a lot of time in your car. However, you don’t have to drive very much in Merida. Many who live in the centro find themselves walking more, and if you need to make a quick trip to the mall or the mercado, you can always find a taxi, combi or a bus to take you there. A bus ride to anywhere costs $7 pesos (up from $5 pesos in 2008, no change from 2011 and $6 in 2013). (Find out everything you need to know about taking the bus in our article about Taking The Bus in Merida). A typical taxi ride costs about $30-35 pesos (up from $25-30 in 2008 and no change since 2011). And in many cases, what you need – groceries, prescription drugs, dry cleaning – can even be delivered to your home at no additional cost.

Auto Insurance

It is your civil responsibility in Mexico to carry auto insurance. A policy to cover everything your vehicle does to others, but without coverage to yourself, will cost you about $2,000 pesos a year. The cost of total coverage depends on the kind of vehicle you have. For our ten year old SUV, the cost for car insurance was about $7,000 pesos last time we updated this article in 2011, which is about $585 USD a year. Prices for auto insurance have not substantially changed since then.


Like everywhere else in the world, your telephone options are mind-boggling. And even though Telmex (and its little cellular brother Telcel)  is still the monopoly of old (oops! did we say ‘monopoly’? Carlos Slim would not be happy with us…), it has been increasingly forced to compete with other companies, if not in price, at least in features. You may want to compare offerings from Axtel, Telefonica, Movistar, IUSACELL, and others (not to mention VoIP options) before making any decisions, but you could find yourself spending a significant part of your life shopping telephone service. We aren’t going to go into all the possibilities here, understandably. But we’ll give you an idea of what costs are from the leading provider.

If your new or restored home has never enjoyed telephone service, you’ll need to order a new line from Telmex. This process has been known to take weeks and costs about $2,000 pesos for the installation. After that, basic service is $389 pesos a month (it was $200 pesos in 2013), which now includes 200 cel phone calls (a new feature in 2015), 100 local calls (it used to ONLY include 100 local calls), and unlimited national and international calls (never included before). Additional calls are still $1.50 pesos flat rate as they were in 2013 (They used to be $4.50 pesos flat rate… a price that has gone DOWN since 2008!).

If you want to upgrade your Telmex service, there are several options. In 2011, for $400 pesos a month (it was $600 pesos per month in 2008), you could order “Telmex 1000” service, which included 100 local calls, 100 minutes of long distance within Mexico and a 1 MB broadband Internet connection with wireless router. For twice the bandwidth and unlimited long distance calls within Mexico, you could order “Telmex Without Limits”, which costs around $990 pesos (it used to be $1,100 pesos in 2008) per month. In 2013, that same package was called Paquete Conectes (which translates to ‘connecting packets’, an awfully technical telephone term…) and cost $389 pesos per month. The package included 100 minutes of calls to cellular phone numbers, 100 local phone calls, 100 national minutes (within Mexico) and internet (called Infinitum) at 3 MBPS. in 2013, “Telmex Without Limits” (Sin Limite) cost $999 pesos per month and included unlimited local, national and international calls, 100 minutes of calls to cellular phone numbers and an internet connection at 10 MBPS. Now, in 2015, for $599 pesos per month, you can get unlimited cell calls, local calls, national and international calls AND internet.


Most Yucatecos of every economic persuasion own a television. What’s more, you can watch television while waiting in line at the bank, having your hair done, strolling down the aisle of your supermarket, riding in a taxi, or having your teeth cleaned. At many drinking establishments, you’ll be greeted by at least half a dozen flat-panel televisions encircling the bar overhead. Yucatecos love television.

There are several local broadcast channels you can watch for free, but most people purchase a cable or satellite service. The cable provider in Merida is CableMAS. They offer various packages of different local, national, sports, movie and pay-per-view channels. They also offer Internet services. Basic service with 40 (up from 26 in 2013) channels and a 6 MB Internet connection (in 2008, it was a 256 Kb Internet connection, in 2011 it was a 1 MB connection, in 2013 it was a 3 MB connection) costs $360 pesos per month (up from $350 pesos per month in 2008 and in 2011, down from $390 in 2013). You can also now, in 2015, get a package of 40 channels with 10 MB service for $480 pesos a month, of unlimited internet with 20 GB, national and international phone calls and cable TV including HBO for a mere $999 pesos per month. But check around with your neighbors… there isn’t a joke about CableMENOS for nothing.

In 2008, the only real option for satellite service was from SKY, (famously pronounced, esk-EYE here) a part of Rupert Murdoch’s global news and entertainment empire. A few years back, they purchased Hughes DirectTV, eliminating the competition at the time. In 2011, a standard SKY package cost $250 pesos per month (down from $400 pesos per month in 2008), but included more channels than the basic cable package. For about $650 pesos (this price did not change from 2008 to 2011), you could have nearly all available channels, including familiar movie channels like HBO, Cinemax and Showtime, along with news from Fox, CNN, BBC and Bloomberg. Other English language channels include Discovery, TLC, National Geographic, Warner and E! In 2013, SKY’s basic package costs $169 pesos per month and could go all the way up to $743 pesos per month for all the additional add-on channels.

In 2013, Dish TV was offered through your Telmex account. For a cost of $164 pesos per month for one TV (it was $150 pesos per month in 2011, and the same $164 in 2013) you can have access to more than 40 channels. That price goes up to $274 pesos per month for up to 3 TV’s. For an ‘all access’ package, you will pay about $469 pesos per month (it was $400 pesos per month back in 2011, $429 in 2013), and enjoy more than 79 channels (60 channels in 2011). The Dish TV packages also provide the convenience of being able to pay in your Telmex bill. Talk about a monopoly! (oops, did we say that again?).

The Cost of Health Care

Like everything else in Mexico, there are multiple socio-economic levels of health care, ranging from free to affordable. If you opt for free or co-paid government-sponsored services, you may have to wait longer and the conditions will be less agreeable. If you choose a private hospital, you will pay more but will be treated to world-class facilities.

There are also several, affordable health insurance options that will take the sting out of any expensive procedures or chronic conditions. For example, our health insurance is multinational, which means it covers costs anywhere in the world. Being rather young and healthy, and because routine health care in Mexico won’t bust our budget, we chose a high deductible plan ($5,000 dollars) that cost about $1,500 USD per person annually in 2013 (in 2008, it cost $1,200 USD per person annually and in 2011 it cost $1,400 USD). Emergency services are not subject to the deductible, and we have been reimbursed for emergency room visits here in Merida. If you want to live like a local, you can sign up for health insurance through IMSS, the Mexican health care system. There are age and other restrictions, but if you qualify, that insurance will run you about $300 USD per year.

For prices in 2015, I asked an insurance agent (John McGee at who specializes in expatriate insurance to give me prices for a healthy male, age 60, with no pre-existing conditions. He gave me two sets of prices. The Care Choice works if you plan to spend all your time in Mexico. The Select Choice would be more appropriate if you plan to travel back to the USA, Canada, Europe or Asia.

For deductibles of $250 USD per year, the Care Choice insurance costs $1175 USD per year, or $2315 USD per year to add coverage in the USA. The Select Choice insurance costs $1935 USD per year or $3835 USD per year for USA coverage. With a $5000 USD per year deductible, those costs go to $707 USD per year, $1379 USD with USA coverage, and for the Select option, $1156 USD per year or $2276 per year with USA coverage.

We have written several articles about our medical experiences in Yucatan, as have others (take a look in our Health Section), and there are plenty of sources of information on the internet about this subject, so we won’t elaborate here. In short, there is very good healthcare available in Mexico and it is surprisingly inexpensive compared to Gringolandia. In addition to great prices, we have found that there are none more patient or gentle than Mexican healthcare workers. Many medications can be purchased without a prescription (although that is no longer true of antibiotics or some other commonly-abused drugs such as pain killers). We recently surveyed the prices of some basic dental and medical services, and here is what we found:

Dentistry (prices taken from
Cleaning: $35 USD (Has stayed about the same since 2008. Often/usually quoted as $400 – 500 pesos)
Dental implant: $1750 USD ($13,000 pesos in 2011. $1750 USD in 2013)
Porcelain crown: $300-400 USD (was $2,000 pesos in 2008, $260-350 USD in 2011, $280-$360 in 2013)
Root Canal: $200-290 USD (Was $1,200-1,700 pesos in 2008, $180-260 USD in 2011, $200-290 USD in 2013)

Cataract Surgery: $15,000-17,000 pesos per eye.
Reflective Surgery (Eximer Laser): $15,000-17,000 pesos per eye

One Hour Doctor Visit : $400-600 pesos per visit, same as 2008, 2011 and 2013

Blood Tests (in 2011 and 2013, prices taken from Biomedicos. In 2015, prices from Megalab)
Hematology: $142 pesos (was $100 pesos in 2008, $132 in 2011, $142 in 2013)
Cholesterol: $95 pesos (was $70 pesos in 2008, $82 in 2011, $105 in 2013)
Glucose: $95 pesos (was $50 pesos in 2008, $82 in 2011, $95 in 2013)
Uric acid: $95 pesos (was $60 pesos in 2008, $82 in 2011, $105 in 2013)
Hepatic test: $553 pesos (Was $350 pesos in 2008, $396 in 2011, $533 in 2013)
Triglyceride: $95 pesos (was $70 pesos in 2008, $88 in 2011, $108 in 2013)
Urea: $95 pesos (was $60 pesos in 2008, $82 in 2011, $103 in 2013)
Urine Test: $85 pesos (was $80 pesos in 2008, $78 in 2011, $110 in 2013)
Glucose, cholesterol and uric acid tests together: $285 pesos in 2015, with the in-home visit costing an additional $70 pesos ($421 pesos in 2011, $415 in 2013. In 2011, they charged an additional $65 pesos if they came to your home, and in 2013 they charged $84 pesos for a home visit, depending on the location. (In 2008, a complete blood test taken at your home, including reports was $750 pesos)

Advil (12): $40 pesos discounted to $28 (was $20 pesos in 2008, $32 in 2011, $45 in 2013)
Aspirin 500 MG (40): $31 pesos discounted to $22 (was $20 pesos in 2008, $24 in 2011, $28 in 2013)
Insulin (10ml): $600 pesos now, and in 2008 and 2011 (depending on the brand)
Pedialite (500ml): $30 pesos discounted to $20 ($25 pesos in 2011, $30 in 2013)
Prozac (28): $1266 pesos discounted to $937 ($700 pesos in 2011, $772 in 2013)
Tabcin (Cold medication, caps) (12): $53 pesos discounted to $36 (was $20 pesos in 2008, $37 in 2011, $42 in 2013)
Tafil (Xanax) (90, .5 MG): $1020 pesos discounted to $815 ($750 pesosin 2011, $686 in 2013)
Viagra (1, 100 MG): $324 pesos discounted to $207 (was $150 pesos in 2008, $170 in 2011 and 2013. Also, there are now generic options, starting at $80 pesos per pill in 2011, now $60 pesos in 2013).
The discounted prices are the final prices we were able to obtain at a pharmacy in a small town (Maxcanu) outside of Merida. There are many pharmacies in Merida that also discount medications.


Food is where the choice of lifestyle really kicks in. But again, the range is broad, and you can eat well for very little if you choose to eat local cuisine.  As our article on grocery shopping explains, there are a variety of places to shop for groceries, and as any walk or drive through the city will show you, an almost infinite number of places to eat. You can check out the Yucatan Restaurants section of this website for a never-complete-but-always-trying list of restaurants in and around Merida and the Yucatan Peninsula, with approximate price levels when we know them, as well as hours, addresses, directions and reviews. tomatoes in the mercado in Merida

So, let’s talk about groceries. A recent trip to various grocery stores resulted in this informal price survey, with 2008 and 2011 prices in parentheses:

Coke 500 ml: $9 pesos ($ .60 USD in 2008, $6.5 pesos in 2011, $7 pesos in 2013)
Loaf of 540 grs. multigrain bread: $28 pesos ($20 pesos in 2008, $24 pesos in 2011, no change from 2013)
Box of whole milk: $16 pesos ($13.50 pesos in 2008, $15 pesos in 2011 and 2013)
Box of 510 grs. Special K Cereal: $38 pesos ($37.40 pesos in 2008, $42 pesos in 2011, no change since 2013)
Tomatoes per pound: $12 pesos ($12 pesos in 2008 and 2011 and 2013)
Haas avocados per kg: $20 pesos ($12 pesos in 2008 and 2011 and 2013)
Papaya per kg: $15 pesos ($ 5.5 pesos in 2008, $10 pesos in 2011, $12 in 2013)
Bananas per kg: $9 pesos ($4.9 pesos in 2008, $9 pesos in 2011 and 2013)
Granny Smith Apples per kg: $35-40 pesos ($18 pesos in 2008, $28 pesos in 2011, no change since 2013)
Mexican limones per kg: $5-10 pesos ($5-10 pesos when we added these to the list in 2011 and in 2013)
Philadelphia cream cheese:  $22.50 pesos ($22.58 pesos in 2008, $22.50 pesos in 2011 and 2013)
Bag of 3 kg (6.6 lb) cat chow: $125 pesos ($86 pesos in 2008, $92 pesos in 2011, $108 in 2013)
Can of Purina cat chow:  $12 pesos ($8pesos in 2008 and 2011, $10 in 2013)
Bag of 4 kg (8.8 lb) Purina Dog Chow:  $150 pesos ($99 in 2008, $110 in 2011, $129 in 2013)
Arm and Hammer (1.36 Gal.) Laundry Soap: $99 pesos ($84.50 in 2008, $100 in 2011, $93 in 2013)
Generic (1 kg) (2.20 lb) Laundry Soap: $19 pesos ($15 pesos in 2008, $19 pesos in 2011 and 2013)
Instant (100grs.) Nescafe:  $35 pesos ($30 in 2008, $42 in 2011, $32 in 2013)
Pound of sugar:  $10pesos ($5 pesos in 2008, $8 pesos in 2011 and 2013)
Absolut Vodka (750 ml):  $218 pesos ($195 pesos in 2008 and 2011, $218 in 2013)
Whole Chicken (3.50 lb): $60 pesos ($ 42.80 pesos in 2008, $55 pesos in 2011, $60 in 2013)
A bag of charcoal (large): $35 pesos ($32.02 pesos in 2008, $35 pesos in 2011 and 2013)
Pack of Marlboro’s at OXXO or similar: $47 pesos ($25 pesos) in 2008, $38 pesos in 2011, $42 in 2013)

Carton of Marlboro’s at Costco: $400 pesos ($261 pesos in 2008, $350 pesos in 2011, $400 in 2013)

Prices Vary by Season and Store

Now, keep in mind that some of these products come from the United States, so the prices are probably higher here. A note about tomatoes, which are NOT from the United States. Tomatoes are cheaper in the local markets, and the cost varies by the season. Tomatoes can go as low as $8 pesos per kilo, or as high as $30 pesos per kilo, depending on the season. Coffee is grown in Mexico, so as long as you don’t insist on an American brand, you can find it cheaper. And it will be even cheaper (and probably better) if you have time to go to one of the coffee shops downtown and have it ground right there for you. Chickens are locally raised, as are pigs and turkeys. But beef can be more expensive, especially if you go for the Argentinian beef that is not raised in the Yucatan. Prices of anything grown or raised locally will be even lower if you go to the local mercados, and even lower at the central mercado.

The cost of meat depends on where you buy it and, of course, the cut you buy. Pork can range from $60 to $100 and beef from $70 to $150 pesos per kilo. Arracheras (Beef cut prepared for the dish arrachera) costs about $150 pesos per kilo. Chicken can be found from $30 to $38 pesos per kilo, shrimp for about $150 pesos per kilo, fish $80 to 120 pesos per kilo, of course depending on the kind of fish and the season. Pulpo (octopus) is about $70 to $80 pesos per kilo. Special beef and pork cuts depend a lot on the place you buy. At Sam’s Club, beef costs between $150 to $300 pesos per kilo, but can be found for less in local markets.

Of course, the savings in price has to be weighed against the time and money it costs to run to all those different places to get everything you need. It definitely is cheaper to eat local foods from local stores and menu at xcanatunshop in local markets.

Dining Out

You’ll find everything from taco stands to fast food outlets to gourmet restaurants in Merida. If you live in a major urban area in the States or in Canada, you’ll probably find fewer foreign food choices here, such as Thai or Indian restaurants. A new exotic restaurant (anything from Asia, basically) is always cause for celebration among Merida expatriates. Often those restaurants do not last long, and at this writing in 2015, they are still hard to find, but not impossible anymore. Now you can get good Korean or Thai food if you know where to go and when.

A meal at Burger King costs about $55 pesos, more than the kids working there make in a day (but that’s another story). A taco at the Wayan’e taco stand costs $9 pesos now in 2015 (it used to be $7) and a drink still costs $10 pesos, and we’ve never met someone who didn’t rave about the food. A hamburger at Hennessys Irish Pub in Merida costs $95 pesos, and meals at any upscale restaurant can run from $120 pesos up to and over $300 pesos. A martini runs from $70 pesos up to about $120 pesos, depending on the restaurant, and that price has not changed in three years.

Again, you can spend as much or as little as you want. You decide.


Nearly every expat we know here has someone cleaning their house. We do too. This is an affordable service in Yucatan, and with all these tile floors, practically a necessary one. Housekeepers are paid anywhere from $125 pesos per day to $250 pesos per day, and a lunchtime meal should be included. Laundry is often not included, and some people hire specialists just to do their laundry. Those specialists charge about $150 pesos per day for cleaning and ironing. Launlaundry in Meridadry services abound, as do dry cleaners. Yucatecans are known for dressing in white and always being clean, so there is no shortage of services towards that end.

Gardening is another service that is easy to come by. Gardeners are usually paid about the same as housekeepers. Our gardener costs about $50 pesos per hour and comes once a week. There are viveros (nurseries) here that will deliver and install plants, and there are landscape consultants who will design and install a garden. They will cost a lot more than our gardener, but still probably less than in the USA or Canada.

Plumbing and electrical maintenance is also a rather constant expense. Not regularly, like a gardener, but in a tropical environment with a lot of rain, lightening and humidity, stuff happens. Whether you need a shower head replaced or a hose bib somewhere where you did not have it before, or a new tinaco on the roof or a whole new kitchen, plumbing services will run you about $50-75 pesos an hour. Electrical is sometimes done by the same people, but more and more we are finding specialists who just do electrical work. And usually, they don’t charge by the hour, but by the job. You describe the problem and they quote a price that doesn’t include materials. You pay for materials up front, which they will purchase and return with your receipt. The obra de mano (the work that they do) is paid for when the job is done.

Painters are another type of worker you might end up seeing every couple of years. Our painter charges us $24 pesos per square meter, plus materials.

A typical expatriate-targeted handyman service still costs about $150 – $175pesos an hour plus supplies. You can hire them to do anything from ironwork to painting to plumbing and electrical repair. You can usually find a local guy in your neighborhood with the same sort of offering for less (maybe $50 pesos per hour or $150 pesos per day), but he typically will have less knowledge about the type of quality you are expecting.


La propina is a very important part of the Mexican economy, and it behooves one to carry a pocketful of coins wherever you go. We keep a stash in the car at all times. If you drive and consequently find yourself parking somewhere, you are bound to run across a little (usually old, sometimes handicapped) man with a red cloth who will guide you into your parking space as if you were a returning 747 at a major airport. He will expect a tip when you get out or when you return. After grocery shopping (where it is customary to tip the person who bags your groceries between $5 and 10 pesos), you can expect those same guys in the parking lot to help you with your groceries (especially if you are a woman) and they should also be tipped about the same. Waiters, of course, should be tipped (the normal 15-20%, depending on the level of service). People who make home deliveries should be tipped. Anyone who helps you through your day should be tipped. 5 pesos here, 10 pesos  there. It adds up, but not to very much. It helps grease the economic skids, and it is an important part of some workers’ income. So when in doubt, tip! And tip generously, but not OVER-generously. Our prices above for tips are on the high side, but give you a general idea. Don’t forget, as a foreigner, you generally have a $ on your forehead and are expected to tip. Not tipping makes us all look bad.

A Random Price List

Here’s a smattering of prices for other things you might find yourself buying on a semi-regular basis. Feel free to add to this list in the Comments section!

Purified water 4.4 Gal: $23 pesos ($20 pesos in 2008, $22 pesos in 2011 and 2013)
Spanish lesson: $250 pesos per private class, in 2008, 2011, 2013 and now.
Movie theater ticket: Regular tickets at Cinepolis are $65 pesos now in 2015 (up from $60 in 2013). Some complexes offer senior discounts, and the prices are different in each cinema complex. Prices range from $50 pesos to $70 pesos, with VIP tickets ranging from $80 to $100 pesos, and 3D movies from $70 to $100 pesos. Of course, the most expensive ticket is the VIP 3D movie, ranging from $70 to $130 pesos. In some movie theaters there is a discount for seniors at $46 pesos. These prices are pretty much the same since 2008.
Santiago’s movie theatre ticket: $35 pesos ($25 pesos in 2011, $30 in 2013) (this is the cheapest movie ticket in Merida for a first run movie and has been in 2008, 2011 and 2013.
1 liter bottle of fresh-squeezed orange juice: $15 pesos ($12 pesos in 2008, $20 pesos in 2011)
… depends more on the season than the year.

Official Disclaimers

Yes, we know. Somewhere in this article, we paid too much for something. Elsewhere, maybe we misquoted the price we most recently paid. We do not have a full-time accountant or economist on the payroll, but we do what we can. This article is not intended to be an exact accounting of our expenses here or a promise about what your expenses will be. It is intended to communicate the idea that living a thrifty lifestyle is more easily achieved in Yucatan than in many parts of the so-called developed world (looking at you, California!). But your mileage may vary. Past performance is no guarantee of future returns. And in the end, the savings you take is equal to the effort you make.

As always, and especially on this article, we and all the other readers welcome your comments. This has always been a very popular article and there are a lot of comments. Read them for more information, and then add yours! What do YOU want to know the cost of?

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238 Responses to “The Cost of Living in Merida Yucatan”

  1. WGs,

    Excellent researched article! Very accurate info. Here a few additional comments:

    Electricity: it’s a sad reality that electricity is the most expensive utility here and as WGs say, 5000 per month is a very likely price tag if you use appliances, air conditioning and so on. Also, the rate for businesses is higher than for private homes.

    Fortunately, there seems to light at the end of the tunnel. Solar energy is increasingly used in Merida. There are basically 2 different concepts of solar energy available.

    a) a cheap version, where the sun basically heats water circulating through copper piping which is then stored in an insulated tank. That works pretty nicely for smaller households and allows for at least one hot shower per day (usually you don’t want it so hot anyway). The downside is that you rely on the sun. If you get a few days without sun (doesn’t happen too often here) you might only get lukewarm or even cold water. Also if you have a family member (such as my 15 year old son) whos usually spends 1 hour in the shower, you probably run out of hot water. But in general it’s a pretty cheap and efficient energy saving solution.

    b) solar energy for electricity using solar panels. In the past solar panels where just not affordable and didn’t make a lot of economical sense here in Merida, but lately the system is getting cheaper and solar energy is now also subsidized by the governement.

    You have 2 ways to use solar energy:

    - produce energy and store it an a series of batteries. Pro: complete indpendence from CFE (Comision Federal de Electricidad), Con: high initial and maintenance cost because of the batteries (beside the space you need to store the batteries)

    - don’t use batteries, but supply the energy you produce into the public electricity network. In this case you don’thave to store any electricity and only pay the difference between consumed and supplied energy. If properly planned your bill should be ZERO.

    The governement supports this initiative through low cost loans (I was told 9% per year). According to the solar system suppliers, you should be able to pay off your investment within 3 years or so, paying your monthly installments instead of the electricity bill and after that time you don’t have any more electricity expenses. I’m currently considering this concept for my business and if it works fine, then I also will use if for my residence. Beside the cost factor, it’s certainly a great solution for the environment as well.

    There is also another solution for larger consumers of electricity. You can install your own “subestacion” – that’s basically your own transformer – and CFE will supply you electricity at a higher voltage (and lower price) which you than transform to your 110 or 220 V. My understanding is that this can result in savings of up to 40 % on your electricity bill, however, the transformer is not cheap (starting at USD 20K, depending on the size) so it only makes sense if you have a relatively high enery consumption.

  2. Great article! I am passing this one along to my friends. Thanks for the up to date information!

  3. Thank you for this. From now on I will refer those numerous questions about COL to this article. Very thorough.

  4. How about adding a date at the top of the article? Prices and exchange rates can change quite rapidly.

  5. Jim,

    You’re not kidding. We wrote this article over the course of several months and had to keep rewriting it to stay up to date. Of course, we were writing it during some rather interesting times economically…

    This article was last updated on December 26th, 2008.

  6. Excellent article: it confirmed some things I’ve discovered, clarified / corrected others, and definitely improved my “essentials” info on Merida. The cost of electricity is the most daunting item in the review. Solar energy, at least for hot water, seems to be picking up. A neighbor installed a passive system (pipes/tank) on his roof not long ago.

    This is an article to be printed and referred to… and updated.

  7. This is the best article about cost of living in Merida , I ever read.I’m so lucky I found you on internet years ago.Of cuorse price change , but you gave me a complete idea of where my money will go.Thanks

  8. When ever this discussion comes up I’ ve reminded those I’ve talked to focus on the money spent over the course of a whole year, not on what spent on a month to month basis. Month to month COL amounts can be misleading and don’t paint a full picture. The first three years of residence in Merida will be more expensive(more dollars spent) on a yearly basis than some of the following years. I hear people say “oh but that was just a one time purchase.” It doesn’t matter if it was a one time purchase, it still is part of the COL. I can guarantee there will be many “one time purchases”. Things like trips back NOB, appliances(they will need to be replaced much more often), extra money spent when guests come to visit, continuing house repairs. The list goes on but seldom do they get included into peoples’ discussion of COL dollars. I recommend recording every pesos spent(we have a computer program for that purpose.) One might be surprised just how much money is spent over the course of a year. This is also a good way to check where money is going and then adjustments, if needed can be made. Every ex-pat I’ve talked to, who has lived here more than two years, has indicated that it’s been more expensive than they thought it would be. Still cheaper than NOB, but more expensive than they thought.

  9. Again, great article. We did pay around 1000 pesos at Villa Maria during July but that was dinner for two including cocktail, wine with dinner, three courses. For the quality of food and service, it’s a bargain. Can’t wait to be there when it’s not so hot and we can sit in the courtyard.

  10. WOW, you’re awesome. I sell beachfront property and my clients and I have always found your articles to be useful and thorough. Thank you. Jeffrey [at] transcaribbeantrust [dot] com

  11. Hey Folks, thank you for the info. I´m Mexican and didn´t know about some of this stuff lol. Great Article.

  12. Greg brings up a good point about the more frequent replacement of appliances in Yucatan, something we failed to mention in the article. The cause is generally due to either hard water or electrical storms.

    Our first approach is not to buy expensive appliances. Almost everything in the house is either a Mabe or LG brand (well, okay, the TV is a Sony). Then, we’ve installed a water softening system to address the hard water issue, and we use UPS (Uninterruptable Power Systems) for our computers and television. A wide assortment of water softening systems are available in Merida, depending on consumption and price range. Our systemn eats three bags (75 Kg) of salt for $75 pesos each month. There’s no shortage of salt in Yucatan; it’s locally produced. You can pick up a UPS at Office Depot for under $1,200 pesos. Both are good insurance.

  13. Very nice article. Most people have a misconception that everything is cheaper in Mexico. From my experience, some things are but most things are more expensive. Chain stores there are even more expensive. If I had to guess, I would say if you bought the same items in a Walmart in the US vs the Walmart there, you would pay 25% more there.
    My watch stopped working and I thought that I would just go to Gran Plaza and purchase another one and get a battery for mine on my next trip back to the US. I realize there are cheaper places to shop, but I couldn’t find a watch cheaper than 1000 pesos. A pair of Levi’s there even costs around 600 pesos.
    You also made a really good point about price negotiations. My friend once bought a Panama hat from a co-op in the Centro. He later found out that even after negotiating he still paid too much, when he found it cheaper at the mall at Fiesta Americana.
    If you are like me and eat out a lot, expect to pay more there. Don’t get me wrong, if you eat at an equivalent restaurant to Nectar in the US, you will pay more in the US.

    Conclusion: If I live the same there as I do in the US, it will cost me more to live there, unless the value of the peso drops or gasoline gets back over $4/gal. in the US.

    I really enjoy reading articles from Yucatan Living. You guys keep me updated on information and current events on “my home away from home”. Thanks!!!

  14. Gee, working gringa and gringo went to great lengths in this article and once again, the content and everything is great.

    We have become increasingly more acquainted with generators, as stand-by generators in my area due to our recent acquaintance with Hurricane Ike. These are permanently attached to one’s electrical system and the number and choice of circuits one powers is determined at the time of installation and based upon the size of generator. They can be powered with propane, so I wonder if that would be an option which would provide genuine, smooth electricity for a reasonable price?

    Otherwise, you have pointed out that one can be thrifty wherever one resides. I had a wonderful housekeeper here in the states from Venezuela, here legally due to her husband being a minister, and loved her dearly. We had one hour of English lessons every time she came, and she told me she learned more from me in an hour than she could from a semester of English as a Second language. Unfortunately, I did not learn Spanish from her and my high school English has largely been forgotten. She improved to the point where I pointed out to her that despite being forlorn at the thought of losing her, she really should find a job paying much more as she had what was the equivalent of an Associate Degree in office procedures from Venezuela and her English was now proficient. I suggested a job with the local school system, and she got it, and I gave her a great recommendation. I have regretted that every single time I have to clean. At any rate, the thought of having someone to pamper me is darn attractive and other than my husband grumbling, as I know he would, about how he cannot communicate with the help, it strikes me as being wonderful.

    Merida still sounds a good deal cheaper and has some great things to offer, on the whole, and thanks once again for the great article and the insight into the economy and life in the Yucatan.

  15. Our last earthquake here in Sylmar, California kept us, for ten days. without electricity, water phone etc,- The Red=Cross was out at several key locations providing free meals water and medical assistance. My wife and four children stayed home.Cooking our meals on a portable gas stove and going out to fill up a five gallon can of water…. we still have “gratos recuerdos” reminiscing those days, including a couple of greedy local merchants who, taking advantage of the situation. were charging ten dollars for a gallon of milk etc. All of my children are now on their own except for our eleven years old son who will be accompanying my wife and I, this coming year 2009, to the “promised land

  16. Thanks for such a well-written, informative, up-to-date and relevant article! I’m planning on going to Merida this coming Sept. or October for a stay of at least 6 months. Then ???
    I have a question about car maintenance/repairs because I’d like to drive my 1990 Honda Accord. Yes, it’s an older vehicle but it has only 107,000 km. on it and it is in good shape. Would Honda parts be available and are labour costs within the range of what might be expected there?

  17. I tripped over this site, and it is a treat. After returning to Arizona after a three year stint as an English professor at a university in Sonora, I have a big hole in my heart for my old students and for my home I built on the ejido there, which now sits vacant. In 1971, I had to disembark from a friend’s schooner at Isla Mujeres with a spine injury; we were headed to Belize. But I was glad, because I wound up in Merida, testing every pain killer at the local hospital and meeting the beautiful people there, until I had to fly back to DC, where I lived at the time. I’ll never forget it.

    I think you have delineated almost everything correctly. You could use an older person’s perspective on the health concerns we faced. In Sonora, I was denied the ISSTESON state health insurance as a teacher because I had high blood pressure. During the time I was there, the country transited from Fox to Calderon, and Calderon put most publicly funded health programs in an economic stranglehold. Along with a few Mexican nationals as well, I was a victim of that. And when I returned last year (exactly a year ago), I didn’t know that I had most likely already contracted two types of cancer. It was only in September that I found this out, and I now face a second operation for my prostate removal (the kidney was removed in October). As bad as the overall health situation is here in the US, at least I now have a good policy through my employer. I would have died had I stayed in Mexico, but my body was telling me that I had to return to the land of E Pluribus Unum if only for the sake of my health.

    I know of many friends and their families who suffer relatives lost to this lousy Mexican health care system. It is almost a basket case, but I know there are many local, dedicated health physicians who do their best to treat people at whatever they can afford. But for major health problems, the support system is just not there. Mexico has a long way to go, but I love it anyway.

    I haven’t had the chance to go through your site, but I know I will enjoy it. I have many hundreds of friends and students from the land we call our Distant Neighbor, from doctors, politicians, to priests and ejiditarios and even a few local drunks. My wife and I were the only gringos within 80 miles, and I just love it. As soon as I can, I will return.

    If you would like to see where I worked, go to:

    Some day, hopefully not too distant, I will make a trip down to your paradise.

  18. Kaye, I’m not sure it’s worth the effort bringing a 1990 car into Mexico. Don’t forget there are hurdles on the way, importing a car into Mexico (refer to WG’s article about her own experience).
    If you really decide to bring the car from the US, you will find that it is no problem to find parts for your repairs. Usually the reapir shops don’t store many parts so be prepared to have to wait quiet some time for your parts.
    Labour is cheaper here than in the US, but parts are more expensive. Also, if you repair your Honda at a Honda dealer it will more likely be more expensive than repairing it at an independent repair shop.

  19. As usual, great work, working gringos! I lived on $800.00 usd a month in Merida, for awhile. Rented a 2 BR House at one point for $150.00 usd, and rented a fully furnished apartment for $350.00 usd a month. Were it not for the Yucatecan woman I married, who got me on her IMSS Health Care, I would have paid much more in medical. It helps knowing locals, they can open doors for you. They can give you hints as to where the bargans are. I think if you get $5,000.00 usd a month, you can almost live like a King. :-)

  20. I am mexican, and I confirm that article was well researched. Congratulations!

  21. There is a Honda dealership, but do not expect them to always have parts for a car sold elsewhere in the world. Generally speaking, many parts are the same, but some dealerships (Toyota is an infamous example) will not help you with parts for older vehicles.

    Unless after-market parts are available, repairs may not be possible with older model cars that were not sold originally in Mexico. (unless you can find a way to have those parts shipped to Mexico, customs duties paid, etc).

    Personally speaking, I’d worry about how a nearly 20 year old car would hold up in the heat and humidity. Lots of rubber parts that seem fine may go south fast.

  22. Thanks so much for your replies Harald and Casi Yucateco,
    I’ll very likely rethink taking my Honda down to Merida. I could no doubt live more cheaply without it! And, I’m not sure how I will hold up, myself, to the heat and humidity, even through winters while escaping the hotter summer months.

    A question on a completely different topic – SECURITY. Even my more ‘courageous’ friends are warning me about northerners leaving Mexico in some parts because of the (threat of?) drug-related violence and urging me to find out what the situation is, at least at present, in the Yucatan. I’d appreciate how you people are feeling about this, there in Merida. Thanks again.

  23. I really enjoyed your COL artical.One question I have is do you have propane fed refrigerators to cut back on the use of electricity?
    Or for that matter how about propane AC units?


  24. Kaye, a non-drug dealing or using person, meaning, most of us. will find Merida perfectly safe. As in the rest of Mexico, Calderon’s mano duro approach to drug cartels has led to violence here and there. But it is not random, out-of-control, Katie-bar-the-door violence. Cartel members kill members of other cartels, and occasionally the police or army agents carrying out Calderon’s policy.

    If I were to advise anyone to travel to Mexico today, with safety most in mind, the recommended destination would be Merida. Yucatan has long had a separate mind-set from much of Mexico about a lot of things. You are going to see lots of police if you visit Merida. And, in my opinion, they are some of the most honest police in Mexico.

    I cannot end without saying the true “drug problem” is really the massive consumption and demand from the United States. Drug violence, whether in Columbia, Florida, Mexico, whatever, is all about satisfying the enormous demand in the United States. The “drug problem” is Us, not Them. There are significant amounts of “drug violence” within the US as well.

    If a rational approach is ever undertaken, the level of violence everywhere will fall, once the United States reduces their demand, whether through education, treatment clinics, or decriminalization of some substances. However, “The War on …” (drugs, terrorism, etc) attitude is so prominent, it is hard to imagine that things will change soon.

  25. I can’t believe how much you paid for orange juice!!!! You paid TOO MUCH!!! :)

    Wednesdays are usually fruit and veggie day at most supers and you can get good deals (better than mercados) for fruits and veggies. Know your prices ahead of time though, as they will also tend to increase specific fruit and veggie prices on that day. I thought I’d done well buying a gazillon kilo bag of oranges from a lady on the street (near the periferico, but also at the local mercados) but got a better deal last Wednesaday at Mega when oranges dropped to .75/kilo.

    Amazing article – lots and lots of info there.

  26. Great Article. We have just returned from the Playa Del Carmen area and I enjoyed the vacation there. I have often thought of spending more time in that area and I was curious about the cost of living there, and you have answered my questions.

    My pension would amount to about $2000.00 USD per month. Could I afford to live in a nice area, within a few blocks from the beach, in a modest home?

  27. Kathy….

    AAARgh! :-) Well, you know, sometimes we pay for convenience. $12 pesos (less than a dollar) for a liter of freshly squeezed OJ still feels like a steal!

  28. John,
    Frankly, we think you might find it hard to live on that in the PDC area, which has higher prices because it is such a tourist mecca. You would find it a lot easier to live on that in a modest home along the Yucatan Coast (in Progreso, Telchac, Chuburna, Chelem or one of the many towns along the coast). It’s the Gulf of Mexico, not the Caribbean, but it’s still the beach.

  29. to Kathy, and all of us who worry, “We paid too much!”
    we often shop at Mega, and other large stores, and are interested in peso-pinching, also…however, sometimes, actually many times, we like to buy things from our regular vendors at the small markets. The cost is slightly higher sometimes, but we worry about the cost of always opting for the cheapest price. Cheapest doesn’t mean best, or highest quality. Further, and most important, is the human exchange. How “cheap” our lives would become if we never purchased from our neighborhood hardware store, market, etc. We are wary of a poverty consciousness creeping in, and robbing souls of the richness that is around us. That is a cost we are unwilling to pay! Remember also to enjoy the orange juice…and not just focus on how cheap it was to buy. Otherwise, we reduce ourselves to walking calculators.

  30. This was a wonderfully informative article. What about the computer? Along with electricity, are the charges for email (AOL, etc) any different than those in the US? Internet connections seem to be a new utility, a part of the cost of living.

  31. thank you excellent article
    we are planning to settle in merida area with plans for coffe and juice house;
    what is best way to obtain transportation?
    purchase or bring car/van/truck?

  32. What an amazing, comprehensive post! Thank you.

  33. You guys rock!
    As someone who has lived in Merida a year and in Mexico 9 years, I am so impressed with the time and effort spent on this article. People need to know what will be in store for them here in order to make intelligent choices. Living in Mexico, anywhere, requires accepting that it is not NOB and that you are choosing a different lifestyle. Thanks for giving all of us and overview and reference to what it currently costs to live in this wonderful city.

  34. Kaye,

    I agree with CasiYucateco. The drug problems are a huge issue for the Mexican government. However, a person not involved with drugs in one way or the other usually sees and hears about the drug war just from afar.

    I believe, that altogether Merida is still one of the safest places in Mexico (by far safer than Cancun for example). The only thing I tend to disagree with CasiYucateco is the comment on the “honest police”. Corruption always was and continues to be a way of life in Mexico and the police are no exception.

  35. Casey, internet service works pretty much the same as it does inthe US. You can choose between DSL and Cable connection (and obviously dial up, although that’s almost obsolete). If you choose cable you can also choose from several different packages that include TV, phone and internet. Packages from Telmex include phone and internet, and the internet packages are called “Infinitum”.

    There are no limits to you internet usage. You can up and download whatever you want and just pay one flat fee. You also get your email free with the service (shouldn’t be any issue anyway with hotmail, yahoo, google and zillions of others offering free mail service).

    My experience is that the reliability of the services is not what I am used to from other countries. In order to avoid problems I build in redundance using the service from both providers. But then, I’m running a business. For personal consumption you might not need that.

    Recommendation: go with Telmex for DSL or Cablemas for a cable internet service.

  36. Great article. Im sure most of you have internet to communicate with your families abroad. I recommend having “magic Jack”. I work and live in Japan and this has been money well spent $39 dollars a year. Please go to to get information. I love your articles on Merida.

  37. Thanks again, folks, for your views on this ‘security’ issue. I felt very secure when I visited Mexico’s central colonial cities ten years ago despite warnings about the risks of being in Mexico. I tend to think most of us are not going to be involved in the on-going drug wars. So, Mexico, here I come as soon as possible!

  38. Thanks, Harald.

  39. Hi Gringos,

    Again great research job. Just a question: what store delivers groceries?

  40. This is a great article. I’m glad I found it before my trip to Merida the 3rd of February,
    2009. I’ll print this out and continue to watch for updates.
    This is my first trip to the Yucatan since reading so much about it in International Living,
    and a member also. I am a travel writer and photographer, so this is to be a scouting trip for my future and retirement.

  41. We haven’t tested any of them yet, but both Mega and Superama advertise delivery services. And Costco also claims that it will deliver.

  42. I know Mexico’s drug crime is directly due to US consumption. As a medical professional I got to see the ravages of drug abuse up close. However, we do need to make some changes in our laws which would take some of the problems away. Legalize marijuana and take one thing out of the equation. There would be a scream from the righties and the people who make a ton of money from the so-called war on drugs, however, I grew up in the State of WV in the states during the 50′s. Hard liquor and wine was sold through state stores then. Beer was sold in grocery stores, but hard liquor was regulated to sales in the stores owned by the state. Now, they have private sales with taxes to make up the differenc.

    That is what the US needs to do with marijuana. Many people with cancer treatment and MS benefit from marijuana. My father wanted me to get him some when he had cancer, and I had never even smoked the stuff and getting caught with it would have cost me my license, but fortunately one of my cousins had the access and no qualms. It really helped my father. Anyone sick enough to want marijuana should have access to it. For that matter, legalize the stuff, sell it in stores, take away the crime associated with it and there would be one less clog in the drug dilemna. One has to have a tobacco allotment to grow it in the states and they could do the same thing with pot.

    We could save a fortune by not having to police it as hard, get the income from it, and still be able to regulate the use of it. Who would not win in that situation?

    The sale of cocaine, crack and methamphetamine or heroin would not ever be legalized, and I am not sure that it should. However, the war on drugs is not working and decriminalizing the use while really going after the people in the cartels and sales line may help, and there should be legitimate treatment and assistance available to get people off the stuff.

    That is just my take on it, and anything which would help the US and Mexico in removing some of the burden of the drug use would seem to be the best thing for everyone.

  43. [...] Border, HERE is the USDA’s current price summary. If you didn’t read it already, check out our Cost of Living article for more local [...]

  44. This is a fantastic article that obviously took a tremendous amount of research and effort. And it was interesting and an enjoyable read. Well done!

    Your readers also might be interested in the UBS survey. UBS does occasional surveys on the cost of living in various major cities around the world. Alas, Merida did not make the list. However Mexico City did, and in 2008 (before the dollar rallied and the peso crashed), cost of living there came in at about 61% of the cost of New York City (excluding rent) and 49% of the cost of NYC including rent. Now add in about a 30% decline in the value of the peso since the UBS report was published, and DF would come in at 34% of NYC costs, or about a 66% discount, when you factor in rent. Obviously Merida would be much cheaper than DF, so take it from there.

    For more information on the survey or a downloadable copy, go to

    I’d finally add this: if your question is, “how much does it cost to live in Mexico?,” you should first ask yourself, “how much does it cost to live in the USA?” Clearly the answer is, “it depends.”

    It depends on your lifestyle, what city you live in, what part of that city, what you regard as acceptable with regard to clothing, cars, vacations, travel, etc. And those factors will drive tremendous variances in your own cost of living wherever you are.

    Maybe a move to Mexico is also a good time to reconsider and simplify. I hope to do that myself some day.


    Kim G
    Boston, MA
    Where upon moving from San Francisco more than 10 years ago, it appeared quite cheap. But the truth is, it’s still quite expensive.

  45. Great article ! Am Looking at the Yucatan @ Belize for retirement.
    Information on this level is extremely difficult to Find.

    thanks for the effort
    JD Shaddix

  46. This is by far the best article I’ve read on “real life” in Mexico. Thank you, thank you, thank you for the time and energy you put into writing this. I found it enjoyable and very informative and a huge help!

  47. [...] definitely a good starting point for people curious about the subject of the cost of living here. Yucatan Living – The Cost of Living in Merida Yucatan __________________ Useful In The Roo Links 1. Find local businesses in our Directory. 2. Need [...]

  48. A very timely article for us, as we are planning to make the move to Mérida a little later this year. We really didn’t believe all those articles claiming that one can live in luxury in Mexico on USD1500 per month.

    You might be interested to know that one of our electricity suppliers has just raised its charges by 24%, retrospective to the beginning of this month. Cheap electricity may soon become a thing of the past for many of us who thought we’d have it for ever.

    Ann C
    Brisbane, Australia

  49. I loved your article. Seems to be great information. I live in San Diego and just saw the show on HGTV about a woman artist purchasing a home in Merida. Well, I love Mexico, love the Yucatan.. and have been thinking alot about moving to Mexico.

    If a persons home was paid for, and I’m thinking somewhere around $100,000 – $150,000 USD in an area with enough expats to be comfortable, do you think they can live on $1,000 USD a month if they live fairly modestly.

    Thank you again,

  50. It all depends on your lifestyle and your choices. Here in Merida, there are certainly many people, though not necessarily expats, who live on that and less.

  51. My husband and I have been reading your columns and your site and it is one of the best we have seen for any country. We have looked at sites for Panama, Costa Rica, Spain, and others and this is the best written, has the most fun in it, and the best wit, bar none.

    We are wondering about something, however. We have continued to see Real Estate listed in USD. Many of those pieces of real estate were listed when the peso was pegged to the dollar at 10.5. In recent days, that is now at 14.5 pesos to the dollar. A few sites have some listings in pesos, but most still have it in dollars. My husband is a stubborn person, and he is holding to the fact that the real estate should be pegged downward in cost, reflecting this change, as it had when we considered a trip to Europe. Our son nixed that, as he wants to go to Disney World with his children and Grandma and Grandpa are expected to go. However, the hotels and restaurants now reflect the rise in the dollar against the Euro and pound sterling, and we were hoping on some guidance as to whether this may begin to be reflected in the price of real estate?

    Thanks for any answers and assistance on this.

  52. Many Mexican families frequently live on $500 a month or less, although Merida is becoming pricey even for natives. If you shop the mercados (local markets or central market) and eat modestly (price not volume!) and don’t have a lot of demands (AC at all times, movies or dining out frequently, lots of car travel), you could get by with $1000 easily.

    And, life in Merida could be enjoyable. Take the bus, learn the local fun hangouts (people watching is my favorite), live like Mexicans.

    But if you need a US lifestyle with satellite TV, high speed Internet, heavy Wireless use, lots of driving, lots of dinners out… No, $1000 is not enough at all.

    And, Kay, I know you mentioned you’d be comfortable around ex-pats, but I bet you’d be surprised how much the local Yucatecos will adopt you and at least make you feel welcome, if not right at home. For that price range of a house, you can get much more by going to the edges of Centro and looking in some of the “less gringo” areas. Best of luck! (should we keep the light on for you?)

  53. We live in Alberta, and are frugal, our heat bill for last month 20 days was 285.00 after a 58.00 rebate. we have the energy saving light bulbs etc. and our electrical bill was 180.00
    our property tax per year is 3000, insurance 800.00, water bill is 150.00 for 2 months.
    We bought a home in Chelem a few years back and plan to move there permanently, but you know that takes time and planning. Our home here must sell and will be on the market shortly. Work shifts are being figured out for the better half as he will continue to work in Canada.
    We are hoping to be there the latter part of this year. Your site is great, full of very useful information, thank you

  54. Hola, Brenda…
    Regarding the reducing of real estate prices due to change in the currency exchange rate between pesos and dollars, it is really an individual matter. Any price can be negotiated, and it’s really whatever the market will bear.

  55. Working Gringos give a good answer about home prices & exchange rates. I’ve heard people discuss this over and over and never get anywhere. They want a *discount,* gosh darn it!

    Here is the plain truth: As long as other people are showing up, paying ‘those prices’ in Dollars, then the prices will not fall. That is, “The Market” supports those prices.

    If buyers dry up altogether, then prices may drop for some houses where the sellers are desperate. But other owners may hold out, simply because they can.

    From what I understand, people are still showing up, paying ‘those prices’ in Dollars.

    So, sellers probably will not drop their prices by 40% or 50%… at least as long as buyers continue to flock to Yucatan. In fact, prices in Dollars could continue to rise!

    And remember, everything Mexicans have to buy from the USA has shot UP in price. They aren’t feeling like they need to discount what they are selling, when faced with increased costs.

  56. Thanks so much for such a fabulous article. I look forward to visiting Merida and surrounding areas with retirement as a goal in a few years. Anyone who has information regarding nearby towns etc would be greatly appreciated. Thanks for all your time and energy for so much great and useful info!!!

  57. I am quite frankly fed up with our government here in the U.S. I love this country but I feel that it is no longer ran by governing officials but by money. Benjamin Franklin and Grant and Jefferson are still running this country. We have a governor in Illinois being charged of selling a Senate seat. What is going on here? I am tired of working very hard to provide for my family and never gettting ahead. I live in California and now we are told that we will be getting I.O.U.’s for are tax returns. The cost of living here is outrageous. The job market sucks and our economy is in a shambles. Everything here is money, money, money. They say money isnt everything….but it is in the U.S. I just found out that the Federal Government has now taken my tax return of $7,100 and applied it to a student loan that I am in good standings with. I did go default on it but have re-established a payment plan and have been in good standing for 6 months now. I have 3 daughters and a wife and we were counting on that money for bills so tat we can get ahead. Instead with-out notice…it was all taken away.
    Enough about my problems, but now to my questions. I have a valuable trade as a certified massage therapist. I currently am running my own practice here in California. I am really thinking about moving south of the border and after reading your wonderful article the thought is now turning into a plan. My questions are as follows.

    Would it be unwise of me to move my kids of 13, 3 and 1 to a new country?
    Is there good schools there?
    I am pretty sure I am going to have to go the private school route, so I was curious to know what the cost of these schools are.
    The other question and my last is, Are there tourist areas near where you live? I am sure the locals would nt be interested in massage therapy, but if I can land a job or start my own practice in a tourist area and live in an area where the locals live, that would be ideal for me.
    Thank you so much for your wonderful article. I am really doing a lot of research on this. I think I am going to live there for a year to settle in and then send for my family. Any advice would be much appreciated.

  58. Hi,
    I’m just ‘checking up’ on the current (Feb. ’09) apartment/small house rental situation in the Merida area. I’m hoping to relocate there this Sept. (with Canadian$) and wondering if the current Mexico/global financial situation is effecting rental rates and availability one way or another. For example, are gringos flocking south to Merlida to try and live more cheaply, thus making reasonably-priced rentals (max. $500 US) more scarce? Any info’ would be appreciated. Thanks.

  59. Troy,

    My husband is from Merida and goes to an “old man” 15 minutes outside of Merida who does some “old school” massage therapy on him for $5 US dollars. I’m not saying it’s entirely impossible to get a local clientele but don’t expect the locals to pay US prices for a massage session. For example my husband teaches tennis here in VA in the summer. He charges $75-$60 an hour. In Mexico, his brother teaches tennis at a nice club and gets $5 an hour, and that’s expensive. Parents will usually pay only $3 an hour. Any “service” based industry down there is going to be tough to charge a lot for because the locals will always try to find it some place cheaper.

    However, the light at the end of the tunnel is… to get a location in Merida to open up your own place is inexpensive. I would say $250 a month for a decent location. And since you have an “American” way of thinking I am sure your standards will be very high quality. Merida is big in sports such as baseball, tennis, and soccer. They hold a yearly tennis match at Club Campestre, which brings in tennis players form all over the world, so your services will be in high demand there. They also have a fairly new tennis academy call el “Bic” (sponsored by the BIC company, razors, etc.) where you could sell your services. Merida has a good baseball team and it’s all about who you know and having the right connections.

    There are opportunities in Merida. However the article above brought up a really good point about how costly living the first 2 years can be. My husband and I go twice a year and are always asked to bring electronics with us. The kids DS Lite which we bought here in the US for $100 sells in Merida for $250. Any electronics, double it. Nike shoes we buy here for $40, easily $110 there. If we weren’t buying for family, we could make out really well with the electronic stuff we bring.

    Hope this gave you some insight.

  60. GREAT article! well researched, very accurate.

  61. What are obstacles for a gringo to go into business there? Who controls licenses?

  62. Dear Anonymous,
    Of course, it depends what kind of business you are trying to get into. From what we’ve heard, the hardest license to get is a liquor license, and yet we know gringos who have succeeded in that. Mostly, we have not heard about any difficulty going into business here for extranjeros. It would seem that Mexico wants our business, especially if we provide employment.

  63. Dear Gringos,
    I am also one that is FED up with the US! It seems as though you can’t hardly walk down the street anymore, without a license, permit, or just someones permission anymore. I have been looking into moving to cancun or merida for about a year now, and I have just about had enough! I’m just a southern country boy raised the old-fashioned way in the heart of GA. I’m kind of a jack-of-all trades type person with a 140 IQ, and my wife and I have talked about me coming on down there for a while to get us set up so she can come about 6-12 months later. What i need to know is, just for 1 person to move there, ( and get a job ANYWHERE, WALMART, A HOTEL, WHATEVER) what is the minimum amount of money that i would need to get started? ( fm2 visa, port charges, ect)

  64. My husband and I are planning to move to Merida in the next 1-2 years. We are researching everything we can think of but would appreciate any words of wisdom for things we may not have thought of. We are coming down for vacation in June to look at real estate, schools for my son, and the sites as well as making contacts that will be useful. If anyone has any suggestions as to other things we need to look into please email me. We are concerned about all the reports of crime/drug cartel behavior and wonder what the locals thoughts are on this subject. We also wouldn’t mind making contacts for potential new friends. My email address is astorey2006 [at] yahoo [dot] com.

  65. I don’t want to sound discouraging, but if bureaucracy is bothersome, Mexico may not be a good choice. Mexico is not for everyone. From my perspective (and I am sure there are many others), a person must be eternally flexible, ready for surprises, and ready for delays to live full time in Mexico.

    As an example, Merida requires permission to modify most houses in Centro and there are all sorts of licenses and other things required for a business. Read some of “Not the News, Merida” for an interesting perspective:

  66. I have very seriously been considering moving to Vera Cruz in the very near future. This article on Merida makes me think that that might be an ideal location.
    I will be traveling to Vera Cruz this summer, and will definitely spend some time in Merida.
    Thanks for the advice.

  67. What happen no posts since March 28th
    Where did everyone go ?

  68. Excellent researched article! we can almost say that you are becoming real mexicans now because you know so much about this great country!

  69. anyone out there living without auto but with health insurance on about $1,300.00 monthly? would be purchasing home and usually conservative in household expenses.

  70. hello! AWESOME ARTICLE! im almost done w getting my certification to teach english abroad and i hope i can afford a place in merida but i also like the country .. i hope i get more info about teaching english there or maybe spanish as well to other americans!! will i need a special document to teach spanish you think?

  71. Fantastic article and web site.

    The opportunity may exist for me to relocate to Merida for a couple years to work for my company. My wife and I live in North County, San Diego and we hear and read the incessant stories about the serious crime in Mexico related to the drug trafficking; enormous numbers of killings and hijackings and kidnappings and frequently innocent people are caught in the crossfire.

    Obviously, those of you who have been fortunate enough to live what sounds like a great life there will hear and experience more of the reality there. Naturally, the bulk of the danger is close to the borders here, but there is still some news of issues all over the country (not to mention the current H1N1 virus issues). We would love to know more on a local perspective to this concern. Also, if we are lucky enough to get to visit soon as we evaluate this opportunity, to whom might we turn for some local insight as we get there, especially with respect to home rental areas etc. Thanks again. This is a great service.

  72. Well, Jacques, you have come to the right place for sure!

    You might want to also check out The Truth About Mexico (, which is an aggregated website written by a bunch of us who live in Mexico, specifically on the subject of whether or not it is safe to live here.

    On the Yucatan Living website, you should probably read the Merida Neighborhoods article,, as well as the entire Real Estate section. Also, check out the Vacation Rental section for a listing of local vacation homes that are for rent.

    Most of the local real estate companies have rental sections now, and you can see a list of those (and other important resources) in our Resource Guide ( which is linked from the orange box on the left side of the front page. Also there is a link to our Events Highlights listing, our Month at a Glance Events Calendar, Merida Emergency numbers and a Frequently Asked Questions page that links to many of our articles.

    If you read through all of that, you will know a lot more than we did when we moved here!!

  73. I think your article is great. There are a couple of interesting points one of which was a post from someone else who mentioned paying $5,000 pesos per month for electricity. Starting with that, that is extremely high and unusual since CFE only bills every 2 months. My electricity is rarely over 800 pesos every 2 months but then I tend not to use the AC and get by just fine with a ceiling or floor fan. I have an electric water heater but it is only used on cold mornings and for about 8 minutes before showering. A neighbor of mine who has a family of 5 pays $2,000 pesos for a 2-month period. My house is a 2-story and may be part of the reason that we don’t need as much AC as my neighbor.

    Tipping should never be 20%. The locals have always told me that 10% – 15% is correct. Just because something is custom in the US does not mean it is expected here nor should it be encouraged, even in the touristy “centro”.

    Also, tipping a “red flag” bearer for parking is not a requirement. Many of the locals do not do it. If you really need help (parking and drivers are bad here) or someone helps you load your car, then sure.

    As a side note, I really detest being called a “gringo” and hate to see Americans using the term for themselves. Now if you don’t speak Spanish, then the word is correct in your case. Mexicans, however, have corrupted the word, as they have done with many others, and use it for Americans. Are you allowed to refer to a Mexican in the US as anything other than a Mexican? No.

  74. More than anyone ever wanted to know about the word “gringo”:

  75. Good article! Pardon my ignorance. In the Far East, the Housekeeper or the Domestic, resides in the resident of their employer. My question is: How long is considered “a day” for the Housekeeper in Mexico. The article also mentioned that cleaning and ironing is extra — therefore does that mean that the job function of the Housekeeper is that of a cook since she does not clean or iron?

  76. We are Expats living in Guadalajara and wish to exchange a visit to Merida with a visit to our home with another couple. We live in a colonial in El Centro and know the city well. We have lived here ten years and have a minivan so we can show you the city and surroundings. I am from Michigan and my wife is from Canada and we are in our 60s. We consider ourselves educated and enjoy the culture of Mexico. We are looking to experiance Merida through an insiders’ viewpoint.

  77. Thank you for your article, which I found very informative. I live in California and thinking about retirement, I visited Mexico year ago, but don’t know anybody in Merida. I have done some preliminary research and think this would be my best bet because I was born in Cuba and I am looking for a close point that will allow me to travel back and forth.

    I would appreciate it very much if you knew of a community that you could put me in contact with.

    Thank you so much,


  78. My wife is from Merida and I sent her this:
    Merida was #2 best place to retire.

    To JRO: We do the same, we’re always traveling with suitcases of electronics, clothes, and gifts since most of these items are cheaper in the US.

    To Steve: My in-laws also told me that tipping is 10-15% for most things, 20% is a US standard. And the “viene viene” (as my wife and her family call them, aka “red flag”) guys, they only tip minor change and only if they actually did anything. Some run over once you are done and want money, others will take your shopping cart or actually hold traffic while you back up.

  79. I am considering Merida to start a trading desk to trade US stocks, sharing profits with the traders. While this would attract several expats I’m sure, this is usually most attractive to young recent college grads. Really successful traders do extremely well in $$ and that would only be amplified in pesos. The AVERAGE trader should be taking home $4000 per month after a year, and the best traders a multiple of that.

    So two questions:

    1) Are there enough young college grads in the area to have a large pool to hire from? Turnover is high since only 30% – 40% become profitable enough to stick it out, and half will quit after 3 – 4 months because they just don’t have what it takes. If any of you have ever traded full time, you know what I mean.
    2) And if there are plenty of recent grads, do you think they generally speak English…not trying to be chauvinistic, but everything in our systems is in English and all the news is in English so it would be a burden otherwise.

  80. This article is enticing me to go and visit Yucatan sometime. I never thought of how great the deals until I read this article; I have bookmarked it for my friends to see.

  81. Me encanto!! (Loved it)
    As a Yucatecan living in the states, absolutely loved reading this article. The little spanish you put in there makes it very pleasant to read. And yes, like others have said, you really do know Merida well.
    My husband and I are looking into moving back to Merida, so this gives, even me, a good idea of how much $$ we would need.

    RJ: There are many colleges in Merida, so lots of college grads. And yes, most should know some english. Atleast in private high schools and colleges it is required. I would be very interested in listening more to your business idea, I recetnly graduated with my masters in the states and would like to move back to Merida. cfarlor [at] yahoo [dot] com

  82. dear friends.
    let me share with you our budget
    we have cablemas full package, that is all tv channels, internet, we have 4 TV sets and two phones in the house. we get 100 minutes free phone to the USA or Canada. for all this we pay around 1100 pesos a month.
    we have a gas tank that costs us around 2000 pesos every 6 months to fill and we also have hot water tanks and drier on gas.
    predial is next to nothing, or lower than 100 pesos a year.
    garbage collection is also next to nothing or 200 pesos a year.
    we have a little motoscooter which we use in Merida only – 20 pesos every two weeks for petrol plus little fees for parking (sometimes we park for free at the market). there is a 250 pesos a year for the motorscooter.
    our biggest bill is of cours the electricity bill. we try to stay under the 850 KW a month on average, so our bill is 1C tarif – and we have air con in our bedroom 24/7. we have a minisplit in our living area, which we use a few hours a day. 3 fridges and a freezer as we have an efficiency upstairs, and still our bill is around 2500 pesos every two months. just once we went over that, MUCH over, when we had guests upstairs using air con 24/7 and payed 6000 pesos for 2 months, but it will never happen again.
    i had full dental care with 8 caries fixed and full check up for around 2500 pesos.
    we smoke drink and dine out and participate to cultural events, but we hardly spend more than 1500 us dollars a month for two included groceries. the rest of our money is spent on holidays abroad, Europe, South America, or when we want to splurge in Merida, the Hacienda Xcanatun for a couple of nights…. all in all a GREAT life. thanks Merida. It can EASILY be done for under 1000 dollars a month per person.

  83. i forgot to add.
    water bill is about 70 pesos every two months (we have a pool but we have our own well)
    fideicomiso adds around 5000 pesos a year, and house insurance is 152 dollars a year. we dont have insurance against hurricanes as we dont think it is necessary in Merida.

  84. Can you up date us on solar panels for electricity. I had heard that it was illegal to download electricity in to CFE’s system.

  85. I believe that my prescription plan will allow me to live abroad and still receive my prescription drugs. I could use a U.S. PO Box and have them forwarded if necessary. The question I have is there any Medical Insurance Plan (including Medicare) that will be accepted abroad? I was under the impression that Panama is working on such a plan. In Florida there are several neighbors who live 6 months in Panama and 6 months in Florida and still receive medical benefits. Not sure how this is done.

    Next year we are planning a trip to the Merida area and I’m trying to get all the info I can before departure. Your article is very informative. Having spent off and on over two years in parts of Mexico and Central America on location I never took into account the idea of living abroad and its related expenses upon retirement with my wife. Thanks

    Phillip Bills

  86. Hello Phillip,

    There is medical insurance from the US that is accepted abroad. I recommend you contact John McGee at john [at] expatglobalmedical [dot] com for more information. John specializes in insurance ONLY FOR EXPATS, and he is an expert in the subject. Tell him Yucatan Living sent you!

    Medicare is NOT accepted in Mexico yet, but there is a group ( which is working on that.

    Prescription drugs are often less expensive here, but not always. You CANNOT send drugs in the mail, prescription or otherwise, to or from Mexico. You can bring them with you when you travel.

    Check out some of our other articles about medical care here in Merida, as well as about insurance, etc. in the Yucatan Survivor topic.

  87. Here is what we found out about solar panels and CFE. According to a local architect, it is possible to sign a contract with CFE to sell them electricity produced by photovoltaic panels. However if you produce more energy than you use, CFE does not give money back to you.

    It is, of course, possible also to do stand-alone systems for the pool, irrigation, etc, without having to ask anyone’s permission.

  88. Please confirm: Handyman rates, $150 pesos — per hour?– or is that — per day?

  89. In Handyman’s case, that is per hour. And we suggest that you check directly with him (he advertises in the Daily Life section of this website) to see what his most current prices are.

  90. Great information! My wife and I are planning a trip in September and would love to buy Working Gringos a cafe and have a chat about living in Merida. We have read so much that our eyes are crossed and it seems that in one way you can live off of 2k usd a month and another that says 5k usd would be better ($$ not exact, just saying). Email us if you like.

  91. Sorry this is off-topic but I can’t find a place on this very excellent site to ask questions. Does anyone know where I can find information about English-speaking pharmacies in Merida and a source for finding out what kinds of medications are readily available ? Thanks. (We plan on staying for one month next years).

  92. Joe, you will need to know the name of the medication as used in Mexico. Even with a pharmacist who speaks English, you need the Spanish version of the drug name.

    You may find that name brand medications are not much cheaper and/or even more expensive than in the USA. Some things are cheaper, but there’s no guarantee that your particular medication will be. And, be careful of the laws about bringing things back to the USA.

    There are pharmacies in the area of Fiesta Americana and the Hyatt that sometimes have English speaking staff. And you could try CostCo’s pharmacy as well.

  93. Wondering- does anyone knows if a NEW vehicle- say a Toyota pick-up- would be less expensive in Merida area? Nevertheless, I plan on visiting Merida this month (April/10′)
    and will be doing research and analysis on all aspects of the local lifestyle.

  94. John,
    Most cars are MORE expensive in Mexico than in the United States… at least the cars that you are used to seeing in the United States. There are cars here that you cannot buy there. For instance, we bought a Crossfox, made by Volkswagen in Brazil, which is not available in the USA. It’s a mini-SUV (think VW bug on steroids with a hatchback) and it cost less than $15,000 US.

  95. We can second the Working Gringos response, having researched that many times.

    You can buy a new car cheaper in Mexico than a comparable US car, but it is going to be so stripped down that it wouldn’t (couldn’t) be sold in the USA: no power windows or door locks, no air bags, very basic or manual controls on everything, no radio or air conditioning, no automatic transmission, low end upholstery, rubberish plastic floorboard covering instead of carpet, etc.

    Some say even the window glass is thinner and cheaper. Not sure if that is really true. It is true that many “normal in the US” safety features will be missing on the low end price range. It will also have the tiniest engine, the cheapest possible steel wheels (perhaps zero hubcabs included), perhaps no spare tire, etc. Stripped down to bare basic transportation.

    Start adding all those things back in and you are at or above the US price every time.

    (Hey, if someone finds a bargain, let us all in on the secret!)

  96. Thanx for the new car feedback …I can add a report on costs for vehicles once I return from my trip to Merida later this month. Any add’l information is always appreciated.

  97. I am considering Merida area as my retirement destination ( buy a house, then live on SS ). Is there an eastblished ex-pat community that can soften the culture shock if I decide to take up permanent residence?

  98. Absolutely, Dave. To help with that culture shock, read as much as you can here on Yucatan Living.

    There is no one place where all expats gather here in Merida, but the Merida English Library has English-speaking expats working there, as well as a library full of English language books, and a great Spanish/English gettogether every Monday night where locals help expats learn Spanish in return for help learning (and practicing) their English.

    Also, you might be interested in taking advantage of the services provides by Yucatan Expatriate Services ( who can ease you into the culture here.

  99. Can I get a job as a pharmacist in a Merida hospital and make a decent living? Do the doctors speak English there and what would be my salary? I have tried to find this info because I want to move to the area. I’m sick and tired of America and want to live a simple life with nice people who just enjoy breathing.

  100. Honestly? Mexican schools graduate a good number of medical personnel in all areas including pharmacy. Quite frequently, there are not enough jobs for the graduates. The pay would be quite low according to American standards – if you could qualify for a working visa – and I’m guessing “a decent living” would not be how you describe your pay.

    Americans who wish to open a business and create jobs are much more welcome for working visas than those who would take jobs from Mexicans who need the job to live, unless there is some strong outstanding reason for creating an exception.

    Sorry to say that it would be difficult.

    Yes, doctors frequently speak English, but not all of them. Without a strong knowledge of Spanish, it would be difficult to properly operate a pharmacy. Spanish drug names are frequently different from US brand names and even chemical names can be different. You’d have to know what terminology is used in Mexico for each medicine.

  101. i love your article… very informative

  102. This truly helpful, well-researched article bolsters my opinion that Yucatan Living may be the best website I’ve seen anywhere, bar none. They continue to cover every aspect of life here, making this place accessible not only to foreigners, but to many of us who already live here and still find things confusing. Who can forget their priceless articles on getting Mexican license plates on your American car, or the one, in magnificent engineering detail, about the true nature of your septic tank? You guys are amazing and we are lucky to have you in Merida.

  103. That was a great article, especially for people thinking of settling in Yucatan. I am recommending the article to the members of my Social Networking website. I don’t believe that we have any members from Yucatan. I’m glad I found the link to the article in my MexicoHome4Sale Twitter account.


  104. In response to those who say it is dangerous to be in Mexico – My husband and I live in a little town south of Ensenada, Baja, Mexico, called Punta Banda. It is primarily a community of retired Americans and Canadians. Living is good here, with all the amenities. Our CFE bill is delivered every other month, and here, if you go over 250 K/H per month (6 month average), you pay at the highest rate. It sounds like Pemex prices are the same here. We live less than 2 hours from Tijuana, and we cross the border there. If you don’t wander off into areas that are considered “barrios”, you are safe. I feel safer here than when we lived in San Diego. We live on less than $2,000 dl per month and have plenty for travel and just about anything we want to do. Excellent medical and dental facilities in Ensenada, if we don’t want to go north. I might add that we’ve been here full time since 2002, but have been coming to Baja since 1990. We’ve even gone through the system and received our “Inmigrado” papers, which means we are citizens – BUT, we still can’t own property outright within 40 K of the water or border, and we CANNOT VOTE. A lot different than in the U.S. The only way we could vote is if we become naturalized citizens. But we enjoy it the way it is. Don’t be afraid of coming to Baja.

  105. hello all, hello Dana !
    We live in a remote fishing village in southern Baja and we also feel so so safe !

    Dana, you should come visit us at our B & B :) ))))

    We are planning our very first mega mainland car trip this FEB. and I found the COL reading intriguing and very well written. I will go to the library while in Merida as I would love to get the perspective of Merida and other cities from people who live there. If anyone is interested in meeting for a cup of coffee, let me know on this site !!

  106. I lived in Merida and worked there as well. I did not make hardly any money (about $4.00 an hour) and was able to live but with VERY little. I find it much easier to live a thrifty lifestyle in California (where I live now) because the wages I make are so much more compared to how much I spend while in Merida the wages I made were barely enough to survive each week. I think it just all depends how how you spend your money.

  107. Just wondering if the 10-20%discount on electricity was ever passed.

  108. WOW did you ever answer alote of questions we are just starting are quest to Merida. Your site came up we usually go to Cancun every year, but retirement is in our eyes would you recommend some places to stay in the area. We are hoping to purchase close to the beach. STAY COOL

  109. Thanks a lot, great, very detailed & informative article that I will share with all – Thank you again.

  110. What a great resource! Can anyone help me with info on current smoking/non-smoking laws? I will be in Merida for one month (can’t wait!), and will need to find a public place for Wi-Fi. I need to avoid places with smoking as much as possible. My host family lives in (as best I can determine) San Esteban. What is a good source for a map (before I leave Austin, Texas, if possible)?

    BTW – I am so ready to move there. Hope things are just as great in 2011 as they were a few years ago when much of this was written.

  111. Sossy,

    I just got back a few days ago. I have been going to Merida for a little over 2 years now. Smoking is pretty much like here in the states, designated areas for smokers, no smoking inside the restaurants so don’t worry about that. Most hotels have free Wi-Fi. There’s a plaza about 3 blocks from the Casa del Carmen Hotel and you can sit there and used the free Wi-Fi, it even has for you to plug in your laptop to charge…It’s super neat, the Wi-Fi at my hotel really sucked and I needed to confirm my flight for the next day so I went there @ around midnight and did what I had to do. Also there’s a coffee shop “The Italian Coffee Company” in Altabrisa Mall and they have free Wi-Fi, there’s a 24 hour coffee shop in the main drag “Paseo de Montejo”…and they also have free Wi-Fi, I can’t recall the name of that one sorry. The Best place for maps would be Once in Merida you can find maps anywhere, every hotel has them and there are several touristic offices downtown “El Centro”, that has everything. I hope this has been of some help. You will fall in LOVE with Merida, I know I did and am hoping to move there some day. Enjoy your trip. Any other questions feel free to email me @ babidoll95 [at] hotmail [dot] com :)

  112. Hi! I want to move to Mérida from the U.S. in June. I know it is just a few months away, so I am trying to take care of all of my arrangements now. One struggle I am having is with finding someplace to rent. A lot of my friends that live in Mérida said that $200-$300 USD is very common for a decent rental. However, I have searched all of the real estate sites listed in your reference pdf and it seems that everything is significantly higher.

    One realtor told me that anything priced that low will most likely not be listed with an agent. Does anyone have any suggestions as to how to go about finding these types of private rentals while still in the U.S.? Classified websites, specific search terms, etc.? I would like to have everything set up before I get there and can have my friends go to check out the places for me so I won’t have to worry about that part of the process.

    Obviously living arrangements are rather important and I’m getting overwhelmed! I appreciate any tips and advice! Thanks!!!

  113. Hola, Jennifer. The kind of rental you are looking for will NOT be listed on the internet. The only way to find it is by picking up a local paper or, most likely, by driving by and seeing a sign. You could try (Diario de Yucatan) but the listings online are limited, they are all in Spanish and there won’t be photos. Your best bet is to get something a little pricier for a month while you look for what you want. A good place (easy to move in and out of, easy to deal with) is Suites del Sol (, furnished apartments that are centrally located and experienced with dealing with English-speaking expats. We can highly recommend them. Have fun!!

  114. Jennifer, you might look at –it has photos and ways to sort listings by price and includes several unfurnished $200-300 homes. If you’re interested in a certain colonia, enter its name in the search box. Most rentals listed on the site are in the north or the centro histórico.

    Looking at that site will at least give you a sense of local prices and give your friends an address to check. You can also get a sense of the neighborhood by “driving” around in Google street view.

    However, I agree that it’s probably best for you to get a short-term rental first. As far as I know, you need to be here in person to sign the lease if you’re renting from locals, which in my experience were the people who offer the kind of rental rate that you want. My lease required many pages of my signature, as well as my passport and visa, a personal meeting with the lawyer, and a wad of cash (deposit, lawyer’s fee, first month’s rent). I couldn’t have done this from a distance.

    When I was looking this winter, I used the Diario and Vivastreet to get leads on a lot of places. However, I got the best results from word of mouth and rented from a local landlord who was a friend of a friend.

  115. My husband and I recently purchased beachfront property just outside Merida near Sisal through a Mexican Corporation we set up for that purpose. We still live in the US and have been told we need an accountant to file monthly income tax, IETU tax and value added tax reports and an annual tax for those three taxes. All the reports are zero income reports, so not a big deal. We’re being told by one accountant that he wants $500 US Dollars to do this, and we think this expensive gringo pricing. Does anyone out there know what a reasonable amount to pay for this service is, and can you recommend an honest accountant to do it? I appreciate any advice and tips you have!

  116. We are delighted to find this wonderful resource of genuinely insightful people. We have decided to purchase our future home in either the Merida area of Mexico or San Juan del Sur, Nica. Trying to determine where we end up has been difficult. We intend to bring part of our US business with us from the States, Rental Cycles. At the manufacturer, I currently handle the sales of these Cycles. They are very popular in Resort areas for tourists during season. They typically rent by the hour for the Speciality Cycles to the week for the Upright Cycle with basket for carrying groceries. Bringing the Cycles to our new home will be an important part of our decision making process.
    We would prefer to make our move permanent however if we are limited to income opportunities, we may continue to live in Florida in the Summer and Winter in Mexico.
    Anyone familiar with Merida/Progreso that can provide us with an honest opinion would be very much appreciated? We expect our next two Country trip to occur in August and frankly we can’t wait to make our final decision.

  117. Hi I have read an article that mentioned solar power becoming more cost effective in recent years , i just wondered if anyone had any updates on this , as it does seem to be the largest single utility bill.
    I am in the UK and pay 700 GBP per quarter and petrol is 1.35 per litre , so Merida looks like Navana from cold wet England.
    I enjoy reading about Merida and it is definitely my exit strategy.
    Kind regards

  118. Thank you so much for the great information that you have shared, it makes a big difference to us looking to get an idea about what life is like it in Merida. Very greatful to you and your team.

  119. Loved the article but I am curious as to how outdated the prices are. It is 2011 and things are bad all over. So is there an inflation cost to the above costs and services? Need hard facts to convince husband it is a good idea to own a place down there.

  120. Funny you should ask! We had it in the works when we got your comment yesterday. Now the new version is posted, with all new 2011 pricing! (AND comparisons to 2008)

  121. Jennifer, we have been looking at Merida as well to relocate and retire. Here is an excellent place to live while you look in your price range. . The persons name who you contact is Ceci. Great article, we thank you for all your time invested. We have planned our trip for September.

  122. Hello! You gave a price example for electricity costs for your office each month, but not your home. Would you mind sharing how much you pay in your home monthly for electricity?

  123. I loved this article the first time, and again now!!! Don’ forget the FREE, wonderful and abundant entertainment everywhere in the city!!! Awesome!! We love it…and we will return in January! Can’t wait!!

  124. Your article is “somewhat” accurate. Recent Mexican Government Reports indicate that electricity bills throughout Mexico will be substantially reduced. Keep in mind that 80% of Social Security U.S. pensioners receive less than $ 1,500.00 dollars per month which in Yucatan would be about $ 18,000.00 thousand pesos per month. Yes ! my fellow Americans & Canadians You can live “very comfortably” in Mexico with that amount of money and enjoy a high quality of life in Merida, Yucatan. We have world class Universities and shopping centers. Theaters and one of the best Symphony Orchestras in Mexico. The most important thing is you can walk the streets of Merida twenty four hour a day and be totally safe!!! Houston Texas and Miami Fla. are less than two hour away !!!

  125. Yes, agree with the principal points in Sr Herrera’s comment regarding US retirees’ abilities to live “‘very comfortably.” here in Merida.

    As for CFE rate adjustments, I would hesitate to count on it. Given CFE’s high costs of operations (which, incidentally, include FREE unlimited electricity for its employees), CFE and Hacienda fight downward adjustments. Spurred by the Yucatan Congress, a re-evaluation of rates in the state did result in a change in the tariff Class of several small municipalities. I sure hope that his expectation of substantial reductions will be realized, however unlikely. Let’s see if the PRI is still as interested in playing that card (tariff reduction) after winning (as most predict) the presidency in 2012.

    As for world class universities, none of Merida’s overly numerous “universities” makes a recent listing of the top 10 universities in Mexico, and Mexican institutions do not rank well on international listings. That is not to say they do no provide adequate opportunities for a good education. Let’s just be sparse with the “world class” label.

    Yes, air travel brings Merida closer to the DF, Houston, and Miami. However, with sky high air fares, an over $USD 700 round trip hop to the states is not going to be a frequent flying experience for most of us expats.

    Safe streets in most of the center and north Merida, yes! Elsewhere in Merida — well there are areas an expat would not walk at night, if during the day.

  126. I agree that the airfares are pretty bad. If you want to fly from Europe to Merida, it is just so overpriced. That is why many people do not relocate to Merida from Europe, and it is quite sad. If you can fly from Europe to Cancun for a almost normal price, then the flights to Merida are absolutely overpriced. I think Merida should have a direct flight to some European cities; it would make a lot of difference.

  127. Excellent article! It is always nice to know how things stack up in a place that you want to be forever! Just have to get to retire and we will be there. Much thanks to the working gringa for taking the time to update and comment. We will be back in November for a stay, Ellen, do you need any ginger Altoids?

  128. You are so sweet!! Thank you, I’m pretty stocked up. Instead, why not go to your local vet and ask for a few bottles of expired medicines or some boxes of sutures (something its apparently quite expensive to stock here in Yucatan) and bring them to AFAD or Evolucion, the two privately-run dog shelters here in Merida? Anything like that is much appreciated! Thank you so much for the thought!!

  129. This 2011 update is one of the best guidelines for expenses ever written for Merida. 2008 was good, but since 2011 includes some basic comparisons, I found it surpassed the original. Living in Merida means exploring new possibilities and sharing them with friends and neighbors, both Yucatecan and expats alike. We learn from each other and this brings a freshness to the adventure, while still allowing for the comfort foods, entertainment and stores we don’t want to give up.

  130. Once again, the upgrade in prices is fantastic. I admit I had a little trouble with the electricity configuration, as I have been suffering from post concussion syndrome and the old brain is not functioning on that type of thing so grandly. Things which were easy before now are confusing. Hopefully, that shall be resolved.

    I wonder if the portable air conditioners might be a way in which one could air condition whichever room is in use, when the heat gets the better of one in Mexico? Some of them have become quite efficient, and one can even get a combo now with Air and Heat, and I know Merida had a couple of cold snaps last year.

    Since we have been suffering from 109 degree temps in Houston for over 30 days, Merida should seem quite cool.

    The one thing which concerns me would be the health care thing, since my husband and I have a few issues, but frankly, we would return to the U. S. for care with our Medicare coverage in place, for routine and predictable things. Emergencies would be the only thing needed.

    I admit that what one thinks of as being needed is different, but since I don’t drink and my husband only has an occasional beer, our costs would be pretty low on that. I drink iced tea and the martinis aren’t needed. That might well make our costs in Mexico rather low.

  131. Brenda, we think you will find the emergency and other medical care in Merida is both inexpensive and excellent.

  132. Hello there everyone,
    does anyone know where I might be able to buy an electric bread maker please? I’ve tried all the logical places, Sams, Home depot, Sears, Costco, but no luck!
    Thank you,

  133. Fantastic article! Really a joy to read… I live in San Francisco CA and hope to move to Yucatan in the next couple years. Reading this article and finding the website provided me a great platform to start my research… Now I just need to find a job!

  134. I just looked at your article again with the update. Absolutely brilliant. The best article of any by far. I bought a house in Merida three years ago and will move in one day as it is now furnished and sitting waiting for me. I love the city and the people and will retire there. Another 3 years here in the Persian gulf before that happens.

  135. Thank you, John. Please stay safe!

  136. Great article!!! I have been trying for months for a way to convince my family that I would be able to afford living in Merida. I am a 43 year old recently retired female. My income is $1200 until I reach 62. I am planning a 3 month visit in July 2012 to see for myself if things are as wonderful as they seem. I look forward to living a simple life. I don’t need much in the way of American conveniences. Give me a fan, a few books, and a hammock and I will be in paradise. I hope to find a rental and get things in order to relocate by December 2012. I will continue to visit this site for information and encouragement.

  137. I love this article.
    Soo true! Yucatan real estate, even ocean front, is so affordable. The property taxes are a joke compared to FL or other states. The climate is well, if you are coming from the north… “fantastic”. It is almost November and you can still enjoy swimming in the sea or pool :) .

  138. This article is the most FANTASTIC RESOURCE. Reading that you updated the 2008 article was like hitting the information jackpot! Cannot emphasize how much it helps in planning, releasing anxiety and overall yes! yes! feelings about our anticipated move to Merida. I have a small request of other readers: does anyone know the simplest way to maintain both a presence in and access to the dot com internet and simultaneously the mx internet? I have a .com website as a business person here in California. I wish to continue providing services through skype for California clients. So far I figure I just need to keep my .com site and eventually set up a MX site after moving to Merida. Any information related to this is welcome, especially resources on the internet that address such internet issues and internet associated costs.

  139. Melissa, we can answer that right away. The .mx suffix is really unnecessary even if you are in Mexico. We are web developers ( and have been making websites for small businesses here in the Yucatan for over 8 years now. We always recommend that any Mexico-based business just have a .com domain. Having an .mx domain costs more and is less likely to be remembered. It really affords you no advantage, unless you are specifically marketing ONLY to Mexicans. Even then, as time goes by, we’re not convinced that you gain anything by it. Good luck with your move!

  140. Hello! Great website, great info, everything! My husband and I have been considering retiring in Mexico as well and Merida & area is sort of our shortlisted area. I do, however, have a question that I haven’t seen in this thread, and it’s about buying a run-down property and fixing it up. Now, my husband is a general contractor and can do everything on his own – plumbing, electrical, gasfitting, carpentry, etc. What’s the situation on doing your own renovations to a fixer-upper? Any problems buying parts/equipment/materials? Any requirements for having Mexican national workers VS the DIY-type such as my hubs? Can you bring your Canadian tools into Mexico? Thanks for any info!

  141. Patty, we have never heard of any requirements to use Mexican workers or to bring tools into Mexico. (You can read the list of what you can bring in this article, Bringing Personal Items into Mexico). Your husband may find that they do things differently here, and for good reasons. We suggest you become members of to understand some of those things, and/or read the articles in our Real Estate section.

  142. Hi, I’m finding out as much information about Merida as possible & really enjoyed this article. Thank you for taking the tine to write it.

    My husband is a poker player and in April the major online websites were seized by the US government. This has put a serious dent in our income. He also has a regular full time job though. So we are seriously considering a move to the Merida area for a minimum of 6 months. (eventually online poker will be legal and regulated by the government, but I do not expect that to happen during an election year)

    I am going to have so many questions about moving & just wanted to say I am so glad I found this site.

    One of my biggest concerns is we have a 12 year old daughter who is not the least bit thrilled about leaving her friends and sport (baton twirling) and her grandparents here in Texas.

    We also will be bringing our big ole Rottenweiler and I will have tons of questions regarding traveling and living there with a dog.

    Thank you again!

  143. Thank-you for the updated info and your interesting perspectives. Just back from Yucatan for the 4th time this year and enjoyed it, as always, including a visit to Mayapan. Very pleased to have bought a small house in a pueblo an hour out of Merida last year. We feel we get the best of both worlds: Big City and Mayan Village. Can’t wait to live there year round. Thanks for your great website.

  144. Well, thanks for reading and participating. Be sure to tell your friends!

  145. Hi! I’m going to be moving to Merida for a year in august to study at UADY. I’m in my early 20s and am worried about living by myself in a country that I am not familiar with. Is it a safe place for someone like me? Also how easy is it to find an apartment to rent and do you have to go through contracts and give a deposit like in the UK. Any advice you can give me is greatly appreciated!

  146. Hello English Student,

    Merida is likely one of the safest choices for you to make in Mexico. As in any place in the world, you have to use common sense. A recent visitor remarked to me: “Did you just see that young girl get off a city bus in a dark area and walk home? Does everyone do that?” And the answer is “Yes, generally speaking, people are safe coming and going from work and school at various hours.”

    As in any city of a million people (nearly), there is crime, but it is mostly property crime. You’ll want to insure you lock your doors, keep your eyes on your backpack, etc

    UADY is a fine university and I think you’ll have a wonderful experience.

    As far as apartments, yes, there are apartments available and at all living levels – super cheap and crumby to deluxe, pricey, comfy. Yes, renting working pretty much the same way in all the world, with deposits often being first and last month’s rent paid together or something similar.

    Do you speak Spanish? If so, that will help you greatly in securing an apartment. But you can find rentals without Spanish, it is just that your selection may be lower, since you cannot communicate with other potential landlords.

    You can also contact Leann Roberts at Mexico International. She handles rentals of houses, which may be out of your price range, but maybe not.

    Merida is the center of education for the entire SE area of Mexico with a number of universities. Only a few years ago, we used to say “five universities” but there are even more now!

    If you would like to Email me directly, ask the working gringos to pass me your Email address. Welcome to Merida!

  147. Very informative!! My family is looking into moving to Progreso within the next 24 months.

    My husband is an Electrical Contractor. He is looking into offshore wells or electrical work in a near by larger city such as Merida. Any help or suggestions about employment would be appreciated.

  148. Amy, we don’t know about offshore work, but it is generally difficult to FIND work in Mexico… especially when there are plenty of Mexicans who can do that work. Instead, your husband may want to consider starting his own business (a much easier thing to do here…), offering a skill or service that is not yet offered or something that he does especially well. If he can speak Spanish, that will make things a lot easier for him.

  149. Hi All, Have made 4 trips to Merida in 2011 and 1 in 2010 in anticipation of relocating there once my home sells here in the midwest !?di; So have had time to absorb the “vibes”and facts fairly comprehensively. First of all Merida is just different than the USA. All cliches you’ve heard have some truth, but facts “on the ground” about life there are unique to your experience. I have been blessed by becoming engaged to a Mexican middle class national professional who was born and educated in Merida, and also had lived in Toronto for 5 years. My relationship with her has moved me magically through the cultural “rabbit hole” and inside the local ways to a considerable extent providing perspective that is muy valuable.

  150. I am retired military man planning on relocating family to Marida. Want to know if our Army medical plan TRICARE will be accepted? Are there any other retired military families living in the area that might know the answer to this question?

  151. Hi! Why don’t you try calling the TRICARE overseas section for help?


  152. Hi, I am a fresh culinary graduate. I have been working at a cujan meat market in Austin, Tx, for about a year and a half. I am looking for a change. Not only in work, but in life. I started doing some research and I really like what I have been reading. I would really like some feed back on how a 26 year old, who does not make very much money go about living in that area. I’m not looking for anything special. I just want a place that I can feel comfortable. Now, I don’t intend on moving tomorrow. I have some more research and studying of the language to do. Anything would help!!! Thank you.

    P.S. I seek food and culture.

  153. I am going to Merida January 2013 for 3 months how do I find a place to rent for $ 500.00 per month or less. (1 person)or do I just show up and hope for the best? Can I fly into Merida ? Any help would be great.


  154. Great article, and thank you for keeping it up to date.

    One thing I did not see covered is the cost of cell phone service. I no longer have (nor want) a land line phone. But, being an electronics junkie I love my iPhone and iPad.

    Does anyone know what it would cost for monthly cell service in Merida, AND, are there plans available for iPhones?

    Also, are people forced to buy “bundles” of services from providers?


  155. There are hundreds of different plans according to what you need. It is best to check with the companies individually. Word on the street is that Iusacell has the best plans these days.

    For iusacell :
    For Telcel:

  156. I am a black female, 66 years old. Would there be a racial problem for me?

  157. Stella, while there are not a lot of black people in Merida, we think you’ll find that there are fewer racial problems here. There are all sorts of complex class divisions and of course, there are stereotypes and people who base their actions on them. In general, in Mexico, the darker your skin, the “lower” class you are perceived to be… this is a historical vestige from the time when the Spaniards (white) conquered the indigenous people in Mexico (dark). The best thing would be for you to visit and check it out for yourself. The other thing you have going for you here is that older people are much respected in Mexico in general.

  158. My wife and I would like to buy a house here and live during the winter. We have 3 dogs that we would like to bring with us and bring back with us each year. What is the best way to fly here? Should we fly to Cancun and rent a car?
    Any suggestions would be very helpful.
    Thank you.
    Tucker Harris
    Newport, Rhode Island

  159. I love this article. it is has much helpful information. I found that the article on electricity to be disturbing and the cost seems very high. It is ridiculous what the government allows in Mexico. However, this does not stop me from my thoughts of how great Merida is. I love the charm and lifestyle. It is certainly one place I am considering for my retirement. Thank you for the info.

  160. I’m 39 and lived in Ohio forever. I’ve been laid-off for 2 years, had to move in with mom and I don’t see nothing here on the horizon. If I can’t find a job before August is up, I would like to move to Mexico but only have 4 to 5 thousand USD. I know I can’t retire on that and am willing to work and live the cheapest I can, any suggestions? Thanks.

  161. Chad, it is not easy to find a job in Mexico if you are not a Mexican citizen. It is true that you can live MUCH more cheaply here. If you eat like a local and find a very cheap place to stay, you could probably last a few months on the cash you have but we would not suggest counting on finding work in that time. You might write to some of the local language schools (see our article on Learning Spanish) and see if they need an English teacher. Wages are low, but you CAN live on them here if you are frugal.

  162. It´s nice to read all those “gringos” wanting to come to Mexico. Hope you enjoy living in Mexico like “mexicans” to grow our Mexico, like a non totally capitalist Eden.

  163. This is actually a question, not a comment…

    Does anyone know of any other bulletin boards / message boards that deal with Americans moving to Mexico? I can’t seem to find much on my own.

  164. Ken, we run a forum called that is for expats moving to the Yucatan. There are also expat forums that usually have Mexico sections.

  165. Thanks! I appreciate it!

  166. I really enjoyed your article… you had me laughing many times! I would have really loved it if you spoke about having a renovation done on one of those beautiful colonial houses… I know it is a complex subject, but having some sort of cost guideline, it would really be helpful. If you know of an article that deals with this topic specifically I would appreciate you linking me to it. Thanks!

  167. In the US and Canada you can now get complete fixed dentures, removal of old teeth and replacement all in one day. Those dentures are usually mounted on stainless steel implants of some kind, 4 at the top and 4 at the bottom. Is there such a service in Merida that you know of?

  168. Claus, we have not heard of this, but that isn’t surprising. We’re not dentists :-) Suggest you email one of the dentists advertised here or listed on this page. They are here because they speak English so they will be able to answer your question.

  169. Thank you, Claudine. We have, of course, our articles about building our house (see Real Estate in the topic list to the right). However, costs and prices change over time and there is a wide range of types of service providers. You can contract directly with albañiles, paying them directly and getting things done on the cheap, or you can hire an architect, or a contractor or both… everything affects the cost. Not to mention the changing cost of cement (most people use a lot of that…), etc. So anything you see will probably not reflect your reality. Its best to go with people that are highly recommended, that have a reputation for good work, and see what they say.

  170. Excellent article. My husbands brother and wife are moving to Merida and when I asked how much will it cost for a family of 4 to live there he couldn’t say. He did ball park, but this article is wonderful. Our family has had a really rough 7 years and I’m about done. I would love a year off, just focus on family, friends and spiritual growth. My concern is my school aged children. How do I find out about schooling? I would like my 7 year old to be immersed in school, but my 15 year it would be way to hard. When does the school year start there? We live in Northern California and were thinking of driving to Merida (Toyota Camry). leaving our furniture in storage and renting a furnished home. Or perhaps driving a u-haul with a minimal amount of furniture and our car. I love your comment “The more Yucateco you become, the less you’ll find yourself paying (and willing to pay) too much.” Thanks for your help.

  171. Are there employment agencies in Yucatan that can assist in the job hunting task whether a Mexican citizen or expat?

  172. Carole, there are probably job agencies for Spanish speakers. You can also check our Jobs section in this website: You can put a Job Wanted notice there for free, and employers can do the same with a Job Offered notice.

  173. Hola working gringo!

    when you said: “we are in the so-called “restricted zone”, which means we foreigners cannot own the property directly…”

    What did you precisely mean? I heard as a foreigner you can’t buy a house or land less then 50m (or 500m not sure it’s been a while) from the coast line. Is Merida in a restricted zone? and why please.

    Thank you very much.

  174. Ben, the restricted zone is within 50 kilometers of a border or the coastline. Merida falls within that space, less than 50 kilometers from the coastline of the Gulf of Mexico. There are areas south of Merida that are NOT in the restricted zone, and if you buy there, you can buy a property “fee simple” just like you would in the United States or Canada or wherever. But within Merida, a foreigner has to buy property using a fideicomiso.

  175. I am sitting here on New Year’s Eve, inside fortunately, with 19 F temperature outside. I am day dreaming of being in Merida. Your site has made me want to go even more:) Do you know the rules/laws for having a Service Dog there? My dog is medical alert and goes with me everywhere.

  176. I am hoping to come visit for a year to see the city and see if we could live there. I have a wife and a 22 year old daughter. Would 2500 per month be reasonable or am I way off?

  177. Stephen, the cool thing about Mexico is that you can live within just about any budget. It all depends on what you are willing to do without. Can you live without air conditioning? If so, that will cut $300 or so USD from your budget in the summer months. Food can be anything from a taco for $7 pesos to a $100 USD meal. The choice is yours. $2500 a month seems doable for a year… try it and see! :-)

  178. Hello, all!

    I am planning a trip to Cancun in the next few weeks and am planning to make a day trip to Merida/Progreso (Cancun/Merida/Progreso/Cancun) to check out the area. Do you have any recommendations for reliable, safe and affordable transportation to do this?


  179. Can an American citizen obtain and use in the USA an international health policy?

  180. Is it possible for me to communicate directly with the author of this article by email?

  181. You can write to us at info [at] yucatanliving [dot] com anytime!

  182. As far as we know, international health policies are only available to people living outside of the USA.

  183. Great page! Really enjoyed reading all the wisdom of someone who lives in Merida. Wife and I are contemplating making Merida our yearly destination to scope out the city and lifestyle. As I am up for retirement in less than a few months, we are beginning to think seriously about how much further our money would go in another country.

  184. Would you know a good contractor that will build on stilts on the sand for a beach home??


    roxanacasines [at] aol [dot] com

  185. Carlos Cardeña at Maya DBN does that:

  186. I loved the phrase: “The more Yucateco you become, the less you’ll find yourself paying (and willing to pay) too much”.

  187. Great that you update this and other articles. And you set the tone perfectly, especiallyl when talking about tips and helping the local economy, something we should all be dedicated to. Thanks again!

  188. Thank you very much for this comprehensive list of the cost of living in tne Yucatan. I have lived 3 years with my husband in Malaysia and find costs similar, perhaps groceries a bit cheaper in Mexico. How much for Cell phones per month pre-paid?

  189. Yet again YL provides great information in a digestible manner. I am curious if there has been a YL article about solar options here in the Yucatan – prices, contractors, equipment choices etc.

  190. Great job, as always! Thanks for such a thoughtful and detailed article!

  191. Thanks, Craig! No, not yet… but a great idea :-) We’ll work on it.

  192. Thanks very much for the update. We have our retirement home in Merida and cannot wait to make the transition. Your prices quoted seen pretty accurate, though the grocery costs seem a little high to me. Water, too. I appreciate the info about internet, cable, and phone costs. I have sent along the article to friends and family who do not understand this aspect of our decision to relocate there. Of course, the greatest aspect of living in Merida is the Yucatecan people. Family-oriented, friendly, simple yet forward thinking.

  193. My 15 year companion has been trying to talk me into moving to Mexico for 15 years! My concern is being able to survive financially and find a job. I’m licensed as an esthetic and cosmetology instructor. He gets $1,000 monthly retirement, but it will be a year before I’ll be getting social security; I’ll need to work. Is there a need among expats for hair colorists? He’s spent most of his time on Isla Mujeres, but we have visited Merida on several occasions. He usually spends 4 to 6 months a year in Mexico. He has several contacts that are moving to Merida, and he feels that will be the best move for us. As we have no savings, it will be important that I be able to generate some type of income, so I want to be sure moving is a realistic consideration. He feels the lifestyle will be better there, and assures me there will be medical assistance available. I also take medication, and am concerned about the cost. It seems more expensive there, especially since I’ll have no insurance. He also feels we would not need a car living there. Any information will be greatly appreciated!

  194. Ede, many people here generate an income from self-employment. It seems like you have some skills, and yes, those skills are sought after among expats. Whether or not you can make a living from the expat community living in Merida is not a question we can answer. Regarding medical care, we would encourage you not to worry. Most medications are cheaper in Mexico. Medical visits are cheaper, even without insurance. And the care is excellent. Many expats find that the lifestyle in Merida is better than back home… but only you can know that for yourself. Come visit and see check it out! We might also suggest checking out, the only forum for people living in the Yucatan.

  195. This article should be rated “10″!

    Undoubtedly the best article to date on the Cost of Living in Merida.

  196. Perhaps a good place for me to begin is finding who to contact concerning reciprocity for cosmetology & esthetic licensure between the Us and Mexico – and whether there might be a need for instructors in those fields – I’ll also check out YoListo. Thanks for your help!

  197. Excellent article, well-written and well-researched. I have one little quibble. The GasMart web site is Baja based, so the fuel prices are those in Baja, which would be different than those in mainland Mexico or Yucatan. As long as you know that, the progression of prices is the same percentage-wise, but the numbers are not valid in the rest of the country. I have an historical database going back several years, but only publish the most recent price of fuel for most of Mexico at

    Thank you for a great article. I will refer the many people who ask me about this to you. There are many expats who have written about the subject, but your writing is head and shoulders above the rest. Mike.

  198. Thank you, Mike. That is high praise coming from you! And thanks for the info about the gas prices too!

  199. GRINGUITOS : I’m Mexican and I live in Vallarta. My girlfriend is from the US and she was able to work in the TimeShare Biz (nightmares). She needed to have an specific visa to work in Mexico and renew it every so often. If your grammar is excellent and you are good with children, perhaps a local school might hire you as basic English teacher. But do not expect a 401K …..just $$ Yucateco-level income.

  200. As always great article and brilliant information. Just came back from 3 week vacation in Merida (my home) and Cancun. I will be fully retired in about 14 months to our Mexico home and wish it were right now. The people and the city are wonderful. Keep up the fabulous work and information.

  201. I am still working towards my dream to live in Merida within the next 2 years or sooner. The world economic crisis slowed my plans down a bit, but im determined to make Yucatan my home. 4 years ago i purchased my home in St. Lucia downtown historico area. Everytime i visit Merida i feel more alive and excited about life. New friends and memories are abundant, life is but a dream come true.

  202. Thanks for the great information on Merida..It saved me alot of time doing research on this city..I was thinking about Costa Rica,Belize, but I have a real good feeling that Merida is where I would like to move to. Now living in Thailand. Nice place, but a little too far from home (America). I have been here 2 years now, and Merida sounds really like a nice place to live. Thanks again for the info…I will look into the other sites you offer, and please send me all updates. Will be moving in September 2013.

  203. Hi, I hope someone can help – I’ve tried to find a ball-park answer to this question for months & thought someone here might be able come up with a figure:

    We’re hoping, long-term, to move to Xcalak (I know this site is Merida-based) – I’m struggling to find information about any long-term rentals, as opposed to holiday lets. Please can anyone give us a really rough estimate of rental costs in the Costa Maya: nothing flash, we only need one or two bedrooms but definitely beachside & for 6/12 months at a time …. Or if anyone could guide me in the direction of a possible source for this info that would be equally appreciated.

    Many, many thanks. By the way, this website is a fantastic source of information. Thanks so much to everyone involved in its creation.

  204. Can you recommend a health insurance provider in Mexico? It’d be great if it were multinational coverage as well.

  205. Joe, you call John McGee at Expat Global Medical. There are healthcare solutions that will cover you all over the world. Tell them Yucatan Living sent you.

  206. Hello Joe Mc, I´m a local insurance agent. If you´d also be interested in knowing about our local plans I´m at your service. We also have international plans to offer.

  207. How difficult will it be to bring my dogs to Merida?

  208. Hi Pam,
    Not difficult. You will need an international vet certificate and you will need a customs broker if you bring them in by plane. You can find out more by talking to one of the services that helps expats (like Yucatan Expatriate Services).

  209. Hi – what can I expect to spend running a washing machine, fridge and a mini-split at night only for the average month? Granted, we are going to Colima but the weather is similarly hot. I understand there are no certainties and prices change but I’m looking for a ballpark, like $1500 pesos or $6000 pesos?? Thanks!

  210. Cam, I just don’t think we can answer that. Not only don’t we know the size of your appliances, but the costs in Colima are different than the cost in Yucatan… electricity is priced based on location in Mexico. Given ALL that, we would guess it would be more like $1500 pesos a month.

  211. We are currently living in Chelem. We have a water softener and were wondering if you know of a salt supplier closer than Merida that we could pick it up from, and what do we ask for ?



  212. My husband Rick and I are looking for friends who live (lived) in Chelem who we’ve lost track of.
    Greg is a big guy from Montana and Graciela is a beautiful educated lady who is native to Merida. They’re probably in their mid- to late-60s. They created gorgeous jewelry from glass beads Greg made himself which they sold through the fancy hotels in the resorts areas, ie, Cozumel. They’re both very intelligent and friendly. Owned a house on the playa. Several years ago, he moved his mom from Montana to live with them. If you know them, or know what happened to them, please let us know.

  213. We have been to Mexico (Yucatan) many times and have always driven ourselves. Now I am reading about when driving in Mexico we need to carry Article 152. I can not seem to find any information on this. Can someone please help me. We will be landing Cancun Mar. 5, 2014 and promply leaving for Merida, and would really love some info.
    Thank you

  214. Thanks so much for all your helpful information. We have our house on the market and plan to travel down there with our 3 small dogs( each 13 lbs. or less) once it gets sold. We’re hoping to find a “rent with the option to own house which we can buy once we are sure we are going to stay. Thanks to your reports we are fairly certain we are going to hang our hats in the Yucatan peninsula.

    If you have advice on travel routes through Pharr Texas and dog friendly hotels, we would certainly appreciate any advice you may have. Thanks in advance for your time.

    Best Regards,

  215. Hey I’m wondering how much a tanque de gas LP of size 20 should weigh? The 20 supposedly stands for 20 kilograms of gas, but the tank itself has weight. Sometimes I get a full tank that weighs 40 kg and sometimes it weighs 32 kg. The gas guys insist that it’s fine no matter what it weighs. I keep forgetting to weigh the empty tanks. I am so obviously getting ripped off but I’m not sure by how much.

  216. Excellent information! Excellent research! Excellent writing!

  217. That means a lot coming from you :-) Thank you!

  218. Great article. Thank you. Not only was it informative, it was humorous and fun to read.

  219. I live in Naples Florida and am thinking very hard of making Merida my new address in the very near future. My wife and i have very good pensions. My question is can a chart be published showing the difference between pesos and USD? As a US citizen i would like to know what i am spending as far as US currency/or Mexican currency .

  220. George, the relationship between the US dollar and the Mexican peso changes daily. You can go to to see the relationship.

  221. Hi. Great article. I’m originally from California and live in Merida now for over 5 years. you got just about everything right ! :)

  222. That must be because WE are from California too!

  223. “You paid too much” is a New York thing too! In NYC (not Manhattan–the real NYC: Bronx, Queens, SI, a little bit Bklyn), if you pay retail for anything you’re either from out of town or you want to make a statement about how rich you are, i.e. you don’t need to look for deals anymore. The goal of course, is to get stuff free, but not everything can fall off a truck into your lap ;) . I hope to come to Merida soon to mejorar mi espanol, but of course it will depend on whether I can get a deal or not (kidding! I’m saving my bucks up to come).

    I love your site, I just happened on it by researching Calle 55 language school. Glad I did!


  224. Where is the best place to check references for Mexican realtors and attorneys involved in selling Mexican property to US citizens

  225. There is no official way to check references on these professionals. The best way of doing that would be to talk to other expatriates who have lived in Merida for awhile. If you trust the person you are talking to, then you can probably trust their advice.

  226. A very awesome piece of research! Totally loved it. The only thing that I’ve not been able to find is a ballpark figure on the price of beef or pork. The sites that I’ve seen only allude to the fact that beef can be more expensive.

    Anyway, I hope to be in Merida this week so maybe I’ll see you around!

  227. Dear North american living-in-Yucatán “amigo”…. after reading you just have to say: Enjoy your mexican adventure. Hope it last forever. : )

  228. Dear Rodrigo,
    Nothing lasts forever.
    Yucatan Living Amigos

  229. Great article, that I have enjoyed over the years. As a former “resident alien” in the US, I’ve always had my doubts about the term “expat”, and here is some good food for thought regarding the use of this term:

  230. So … I’m kind of not a math person.

    If I would buy all my fruits, vegetables and meats where locals shop, and enjoy all the spoils of in-season cuisine with only a few luxuries (like olive oil and oatmeal) at the big box grocer …. what would my average grocery bill run (about) for 2 people per week?

  231. I am 56 and my husband is 51. He speaks Spanish (TexMex variety). I do not speak Spanish but can understand and read some. I have allergic asthma, otherwise my health is fine. Is getting Albuterol rescue inhalers in Yucatan expensive and difficult? Prices here in the US went so high that I now order my supplies from foreign sites. Might need an antibiotic once a decade. Also how do we find people living there willing to write letters for us so we could get full citizenship to retire for life there? We need to live on husbands retirement only as I have always just been a housewife. Empty nesters/no kids. We used to know people in Monterrey but have lost contact with them over the years. I’m ready to sell everything and leave the US for good. It’s crazy expensive here, no way we can afford it on one retirement income.

  232. Val, last time we checked, an albuterol inhaler cost about $18 USD and did not need a prescription. You will need a prescription for an antibiotic. You do NOT need a recommendation in order to get a permanent visa… you just need to be able to show a certain amount of income so that you will not become dependent. That amount changes yearly, but is approximately $2000 USD per person. Or you need to show a certain amount of cash in the bank. For exact numbers, try one of the many websites that now cater to helping foreigners get their visas ( for example, but there are others as well).

  233. Merida is not so cheap as you mention. Every year prices are higher than in other areas. I recommend that when you visit Mexico next time, bring more than 2000usd. Hotels are not less than 150usd per day, then add meals, drinks. You can’t live drinking los Reyes, or going to Kanasin for salbutes and panuchos. If you don’t have a car, then its even more money.

  234. Exgringo there is a website called or you can EASILY find a 3 star hotel for under $40 a night. I just checked and even the Hyatt Regency a 4 star hotel was $81… I guess you where looking at 5 star hotels right ? And cost of owning a car is MORE expensive then public transit which is crazy cheap here… Exgringo are you sure you even visited Merida ? Or maybe you visited another city and got confused…

    Everyone please do your own research from several sources, and if you can, come visit. We have lived here for 1 year now and don’t see ourselves ever moving back…

  235. VERY good article. This has got to be the best website that was ever created for anyone moving here, thinking of moving here, or actually living here. Nice going Ellen and crew.

    I have been living here for 24 years, in the countryside however. Except for your electricity bill, here you can cut a lot of the “living in Merida” costs enormously. But then, there aren’t a lot of “distractions” or “temptations”. No malls, no cinemas, no theaters, no big grocery stores, no “events” (well, there are plenty of those, but strictly what the locals come up with!) and that includes “help” costs, which are quite a bit lower. (You do have to be able to speak to them in Spanish.)

    No building codes or restrictions (which is good and bad. When was the last time you had a Disney type castle in your village?). NO TRAFFIC, although you do need to watch for motorcycles…

    I am looking at 6 different birds, an acre of green (yes, even in end July), most of it wild, a zillion butterflies, and an agouti just wandered by. Not a bad place to live.

    So why don’t more expats live in a place like this? They do, you just don’t know it.

  236. Thank you, Kristine!! Nice to make your acquaintance and thanks for reading Yucatan Living!

  237. I have been living here since 1998 my wife and son are both born Mexican. I found your article to be exceptionally well done. That said, I almost did not get past the beginning of the article. The unfortunate truth here is the the society is what in other countries would be considered extremely racist.I would never allow my son to use terms such as Gringo or Gringa to describe someone. In fact sending him to Europe for a year of school next year so he will learn to mix with other cultures. I love Mexico and obviously Mexicans since this is my family makeup. I also understand that the Bigotry is considered harmless and even comical by some. I happen to find it offensive and would never refer or want my family referred to as Wet Backs or Frijoliros.

  238. Thank you for your comments, Thomas. We called ourselves the Working Gringos since we came here… and it stuck. It is not a term someone else gave us… and we don’t consider it derogatory. But we understand that others might, though we did not understand that in the beginning.


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