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Cost of living

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Post by CanuckBob Sat Sep 30, 2023 1:23 pm

I just returned from a week in Vancouver and didn't suffer from the "sticker shock" as I have in the past. It seems like, other than real estate, booze, cigarettes, fruits and vegetable, everything is about the same price as here now. It is no longer cheap to be in Mexico. I suppose some other things like land taxes and insurances are also cheaper here but nothing like the vast reduction in cost like it was 2 years, and beyond, ago.

The tourism here is going to take a huge hit if the peso doesn't dramatically reverse course soon. I imagine Mexican exports will also suffer.

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Post by mudgirl Sat Sep 30, 2023 1:52 pm

Yes, "Mexico on $10/day" is long gone. I was up in BC for 7 weeks this summer and also didn't see a huge dif in prices from here on many everyday things. Even booze- I was buying perfectly acceptable bottles of wine up there for $12/CAN, the same price I paid at Costco in PV for a bottle yesterday.
Groceries were significantly more expensive, but I was on Vancouver Island, where goods have to ve ferried and trucked over, so things have always been  more expensive there than the mainland.

But all my friends and family had veggie gardens, berries were dripping off the bushes, apples, plums, figs, and other fruit was everywhere for the taking (my friends couldn't keep up with the abundance of fruit to can and freeze).

It's still much less expensive to be a homeowner here than in Canada, though, if you have a modest lifestyle. My property taxes and utilities here are about a tenth of what they would be in Canada for a similar size property.

And of course you can't get a housecleaner, handyman, or a gardener in Canada for the equivalent of $8CAN/hr.

However, everything in Canada works- the electricity doesn't go out for 24 hrs (barring the impacts of natural disasters), the internet always works, the roads are good, water gushes out of the faucets 24/7.

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Post by BisbeeGal Sat Sep 30, 2023 1:57 pm

I notice the same when in Arizona.

If you use the Weekly Ads for Safeway, Fry's and Food City you will pay less than in MX, especially for proteins such as fresh salmon, boneless natural chicken and pork tenderloins, as recent examples.

As far as restaurant prices, yes the better eateries are higher priced but their offerings are often more interesting than the best places in Ajijic. Almost all offer a lot of appetizers that are huge and lower priced and suit us for a meal.

If you're into chains and/or fast food, eating out can be very reasonable. Also many non-chains offer Happy Hours with reduced food prices.

We enjoy 'hole in the wall' ethnic places, mostly Asian though Tucson has outstanding MX eateries, many on the cheap. Ethnic eateries range from east Indian to North African to Vietnamese to Ukrainian to Ethiopian to You-Name-It.

And I hear more Spanish spoken at the local Safeway than I do at El Torito! True!
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Post by RickS Sat Sep 30, 2023 2:27 pm

I was in Ajijic in Jan/Feb and again for 10 days in August. I live in Colorado which has always been expensive.... not California for sure, but expensive.

I too noticed that the cost of living at Lakeside was up from previous trips over the years. Fortunately I'm using US dollars and not Canadian dollars!

Eating out... in Ajijic.... used to be a real eye opener with respect to lower pricing. Not as much any more. Breakfast is about the same here/there, quality and pricing. Dinner 'tho is still a bargain Lakeside vs here. I had a great salmon dinner at El Ancla and a glass of wine for about $18US. That same dinner, same quality here would have been close to $30US and my glass of wine would have been only 'half full'!

Gasoline now of course rivals California prices Lakeside. Propane is getting out of site. Rentals are waaay up from past years. But try and get a house cleaning crew for a day for less than $250 here! And they were foreign Nationals.

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Post by mudgirl Sat Sep 30, 2023 2:35 pm

Don't understand your final sentence. There's no reason why foreign nationals should charge less per day than Americans. It doesn't cost them any less to put gas in their car, purchase vehicle insurance, pay rent, pay their utility bills or buy groceries than it costs everyone else.


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Post by RickS Sat Sep 30, 2023 2:46 pm

Good point. My comment was more to say that the workforce here is becoming/has become more foreign nationals than ever before.  AND that it cost $250 here rather than (whatever) it cost Lakeside these days.... which is nowhere near $250!
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Post by mudgirl Sat Sep 30, 2023 3:05 pm

For sure, I don't know anyone in Canada who can afford to have a housecleaner.
Years ago, a friend in Canada, after cleaning the place and not being able to figure out why it still stunk so badly, discovered that the tenant who had just moved out of her detached studio had been stuffing all his full garbage bags down the trap door into the crawl space for a year, instead of putting it out for the garbage truck that picks up once a week.

It was such a revolting chore to remove it all and clean up that she figured she'd just pay a hazardous waste removal company to do it. After being quoted a minimum of $6000, she bought a hazmat suit and a gas mask, put on her rubber boots and gloves and dealt with it, with the help of a friend, which took an entire day. It was so bad she had to vomit halfway through.

As for foreign nationals taking over many of the jobs, generally speaking, most of them are jobs Americans think are beneath them, like scrubbing out toilets and picking tomatoes in the hot sun.

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Post by Jreboll Sat Sep 30, 2023 3:21 pm

What surprises me is how can Mexicans afford things here?

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Post by mudgirl Sat Sep 30, 2023 3:37 pm

Well, the majority of Mexicans don't buy imported or expensive foods, or expensive appliances, and they don't consume electricity at the DAC rate, or spend ten thousand dollars on solar array, for starters.

Most have androids, not expensive iphones, and many don't even pay for phone time- they just use whatsapp. They don't have Mac computers. They don't pay for TV that gets American or Canadian channels. Many own their home, which may have been in the family for generations, they don't pay rent. And they don't have the same penchant for filling their homes with a plethora of nice stuff like gringoes do. They'll boil water for tea or coffee in an aluminum pot, not a stainless steel kettle. They have bare light bulbs hanging from the ceiling, not fancy light sconces.

They usually have more family members per household, with all who are working contributing to household expenses. I doubt that a 16 year old working a construction job is simply allowed to spend all his earning on toys, entertainment and clothing for himself, like teenagers are up north. He's expected to help pay for family expenses.

They certainly don't pay others to clean their house or do gardening, unless they are well-off. They don't take Fluffy to the groomer once a week. They don't replace the teeth they've had to have pulled. And many drive old beaters, often jimmy-rigged as far as repairs, or load the family on a moto, not have nice cars kept in pristine condition.

But I am sure they feel the pain of increased prices, nonetheless.

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Post by CanuckBob Sat Sep 30, 2023 3:57 pm

The Mexican wages have also risen substantially over the past few years. AMLO has almost doubled the minimum wage in 6 years. I pay my maid and gardener 30% more than I did 3 years ago. I believe the wages have kept up with the inflation which is not to say that many are not still poor (in our eyes).

I would not move to Mexico if I was making the decision today. I would be looking at SE Asia.....

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Post by mudgirl Sat Sep 30, 2023 4:10 pm

If only considering economics, yes, there are cheaper places to be an expat. For me, knowing that I can hop on a plane and be in Canada in half a day of travel should my kids have some emergency situation I needed to be present to help them out with, makes Mexico a much better option than somewhere halfway around the world. Plus it's much less expensive for them to come visit me than if I lived in Thailand.

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Post by coffeeguy Sun Oct 01, 2023 9:16 am

I've really appreciated reading this thread - thanks Bob and everyone else for chiming in.

We moved back to the U.S. (New Mexico initially, then Tucson where we still are) in 2018 but still love the country and have friends who live at Lakeside, Pátzcuaro, Oaxaca and San Miguel de Allende.

Ironically the biggest driver of out decision to move back N.O.B. was the huge influx of newbies fleeing the U.S. after Trump took office, who drove up rental prices and added another layer of overcrowding (not to mention, way too often, "Ugly American" boorishness) to a place with more than enough of those things. It quickly became evident that it would be cheaper overall not to mention much better in terms of quality-of-life to return home.

When we first moved to Lakeside in 2004 it was indeed easily possible to live well as a couple on just one Social Security check or the equivalent. More importantly though, while even then there were expats who were unabashedly there only for the lower costs and good weather the majority of gringos we met were sincerely interested in Mexican culture, learning at least the basics of Spanish, keenly interested in Mexican food and art, etc. Of course then as now those who really loved the culture typically moved on from Lakeside's "Mexico-with-training-wheels" to living in places like Oaxaca, Michoacán, Mexico City or Puebla.

I think that the current strong peso phase will eventually pass but higher costs are here to stay. Mexico has also raised the income requirements for permanente visas to the point where if you can qualify you can easily afford to live in any number of other countries (from Spain and Portugal to Costa Rica) that - unlike Mexico - have things like infrastructure and rule of law, not to mention much better health care and in the case of Europe restaurants that are in an entirely different universe than the rather sad Tangos and Cocinarts that pass for fine dining @ Lakeside.

Of course mine is a U.S. perspective; Canadians have far fewer choices. It takes big bucks to live in B.C. half the year and spend the winters somewhere warm and sunny, making even expensive Mexico much more appealing than for Americans who have a greater choice of low-cost retirement places with decent weather.

After hardly traveling at all during COVID we made it to France last month (hadn't been in Europe since 2018). Part of the motivation was to see if there were any possible "Plan B" places we could live there if Trump somehow ends up back in office instead of prison where he belongs and the U.S. turns into a full-on autocracy. Even on our very modest, mostly SS-derived income, we could do it but it would be a very different lifestyle: renting a small 1-2 bedroom apartment in a small-to-mid-sized city like Lyon or Avignon, having no car an just renting as needed or just a beater (it costs $80 to fill the tank of a Nissan March or Fiat size car, since gas is ~$8.50 a gallon), eating only local foods (not exactly a hardship in France), etc. And to a far greater degree than in expat havens like Lakeside or SMA we would truly have to become fluent in the local language. You can't survive without it - or quality for long-term residency visas. And the local culture is far more insular and less welcoming than Mexico. In our case though we would feel highly motivated to jump through those hoops.

Bob mentioned SE Asia but not only is is really, really FAR (forget about the kids visiting you, or vice versa, very often if at all) but if we're talking Thailand or Vietnam those cultures are seriously xenophobic and unwelcoming. The only folks I've known who have thrived there long-term are ones who've married into the culture and learned the language (and if you think learning Spanish in your old age is difficult, try Thai or Lao). Nice places to visit but.....

Closer to home I would probably just choose Costa Rica, knowing full well that it's expensive (though probably on par with Lakeside and SMA now) and very "white bread" culturally and culinarily. Residency requirements are better than Mexico's and the country enjoys the rather important distinction of being the only functioning democracy in the Americas other than Canada. It's a flight not a drive to get to the U.S. or Canada but that just keeps out the riff-raff. Very Happy

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Post by mudgirl Sun Oct 01, 2023 12:07 pm

"Ironically the biggest driver of out decision to move back N.O.B. was the huge influx of newbies fleeing the U.S. after Trump took office..."

There was also an influx of the exact opposite- when Covid hit, there were Americans who fled the "tyranny" of vaccines, masking, and lockdowns and moved to Mexico where they wouldn't have to be prevented from spreading Covid around.

I had the misfortune to encounter some of these "Karens", who started filming me when I asked them politely to keep their distance behind me in the supermarket line-up, since they had the masks that were required to enter the store down around their necks. They then started screaming "libtard", "sheeple" and other charming right wing insults at me in the parking lot while I was loading my groceries into the car. The epitome of Ugly Americans.

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Post by coffeeguy Sun Oct 01, 2023 12:22 pm

Yeah I hear you mudgirl! That's the thing about this recent wave: they only knew what they were fleeing FROM and aside from maybe watching a few YouTube videos knew and cared nothing about the country they were fleeing TO.

The particular breed of Ugly Americans you refer to shouldn't be allowed to have passports. Texas and Florida should be their kind of 'Merica.

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Post by mudgirl Sun Oct 01, 2023 1:10 pm

Re "it is no longer cheap to be in Mexico"- that is, to a large extent, dependent on the lifestyle and location one chooses. Areas with large gringo populations and lots of tourism have become much  more expensive, relatively, than places in Mexico that don't fit that description.

I'm sure one could move to some little village somewhere, where there are no other ex-pats or tourists, and no one speaks English, find a dead cheap place to rent, and live extremely cheaply. Places where workers do get paid the Mexican minimum wage of 207.44 pesos/day instead of 100 pesos/hr. But you wouldn't have a hundred restaurants to choose from, stores that carried the imported or fancy foods one might want, and all the other amenities that the vast majority of expats want and enjoy, you wouldn't be an hour's drive from a big city where you can shop at Costco and Home Depot, or get Amazon deliveries.


Last edited by mudgirl on Sun Oct 01, 2023 1:58 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Post by MexicoPete Sun Oct 01, 2023 1:18 pm


the last time I checked, full time gardeners were making just over $60 pesos an hour, which is a small fraction of what is paid in the States or Canada. So many of the costs in Mexico are much lower than the US.
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Post by ferret Sun Oct 01, 2023 1:34 pm

It is a fact of life that prices always go up but rarely down. This has to be factored in when considering your retirement years so your life is not disrupted. Solar power here is a must to not get hit with ever increasing electricity rates. On demand hot water heaters so you're not paying to keep a boiler going 24/7. An economical mode of transportation with good km per litre of gasoline.
Consider your needs as opposed to your wants or at least see what the second stores have before buying new. We still live in the land of fresh fruits and vegetables that are economically priced.
Please add to this list of how to prepare yourself for the future on a fixed income.
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Post by rafterbr Sun Oct 01, 2023 3:28 pm

We are lucky we bought casa in Riberas six years ago. The taxes, utilities, wifi, etc really haven't changed all that much, We pay our gardener double what we did 6 years ago but he is still making only about $4 USD an hour. Restaurants and grocery stores are higher but these are the only extra expenses we have so we feel very fortunate to live Lakeside. Weather is great, people are friendly, many, many restaurants with wide choices of foods, good public transportation, world wide airport, many festivals to enjoy, decent health facilities. I don't know of another country where you can enjoy all of these things. I d

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Post by RickS Sun Oct 01, 2023 3:46 pm

rafterbr wrote:.....we feel very fortunate to live Lakeside.  Weather is great, people are friendly, many, many restaurants with wide choices of foods, good public transportation, worldwide airport, many festivals and entertainment to enjoy, decent health facilities. I don't know of another country where you can enjoy all of these things.

Taking all things into consideration, this comment sums it up for me in spades.
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Post by mudgirl Sun Oct 01, 2023 4:26 pm

Aside from the cost of taxes and utilities, that hiring labor is affordable, and the weather (which is actually the main attraction for me to live in Mexico, as I hate the cold),  all the other things mentioned are things I can easily enjoy in Canada.

And while taxes and utilities are higher in Canada, we actually see the result of those- good roads and highways, good schools, universal healthcare, decent public transportation in urban centers, utilities that work well and consistently.

There are also many financial breaks for seniors. I was pleasantly surprised this summer in Canada to find, when I arrived at the ferry from Vancouver to Vancouver Island, that the regular seniors walk-on fare of 9.25 (18.50 for non-residents) is waived Monday to Thursday- it's free.

And getting from my friend's place out in Richmond to the Horseshoe Bay ferry, about an hour's journey on the skytrain and then the bus, only cost $3.10CAN.

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Post by ferret Sun Oct 01, 2023 6:09 pm

And an avocado costs 8 dollars. But, ya gotta love the drop down platforms on the buses so a disabled person or a wheelchair rider can get on an ordinary bus easily. It's been a while though, do they still have those?
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Post by BisbeeGal Sun Oct 01, 2023 6:28 pm

ferret wrote:And an avocado costs 8 dollars. But, ya gotta love the drop down platforms on the buses so a disabled person or a wheelchair rider can get on an ordinary bus easily. It's been a while though, do they still have those?

Last week I paid 79 cents for an avocado in AZ.
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Post by BisbeeGal Sun Oct 01, 2023 6:47 pm

ferret wrote:And an avocado costs 8 dollars. But, ya gotta love the drop down platforms on the buses so a disabled person or a wheelchair rider can get on an ordinary bus easily. It's been a while though, do they still have those?

For the heck of it, I pulled up Walmart Canada and avocados are selling for $3.97 for 5 avocados.  Or 79 cents Canadian each.  
Not familiar with the site, but here's link, AFAIK it's accurate for today's prices.

https://www.walmart.ca/search?q=avocado&c=10019
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Post by mudgirl Sun Oct 01, 2023 6:48 pm

Yes, they do. Not sure if all the buses do, but the Horseshoe Bay bus I took did.

I think avos were more like $2 each at the stores I was shopping at on Vancouver Island (not Walmart). But the local BC fruit and veggies that were in season weren't expensive.

I've always tended to buy and eat what is locally in season, both in Mexico and Canada. So my diet changes throughout the year. For instance, I don't buy imported mangoes in Mexico- I eat mangoes when they are in season here. In Canada I did a lot of canning and freezing of things that were in season that I either grew myself, bought from the local farm stands, or was free for the picking, like all the blackberries in coastal BC. Or buy a couple cases of peachs to can from the BC interior when they were in season. So we had those things to eat all year without having to buy imported stuff.

Avocadoes were never something on my shopping lists in Canada, although I might splurge and buy a few occasionally, just like I'd buy a box or two of mandarin oranges at Christmas.

It gets back to your "needs vs. wants". We need to eat fruit as part of a healthy diet, but we don't need to eat the fruit that's grown and shipped from the other side of the planet. Not to mention it doesn't taste nearly as good as local, fresh foods. Because ripe fruit bruises easily, many things are picked far too green to ever develop a good flavor. An imported mango will never be as sweet and juicy as the ones that ripened on the tree.

When my first homegrown pineapple ripened on the plant and I cut it and tried it, it tasted nothing like the pineapples I was used to, which I didn't ever like much. It was as sweet as candy.

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Post by ferret Sun Oct 01, 2023 7:13 pm

Busted. Yes, locally grown is better but I was more thinking of the price for those fruits and vegetables from November to May. I couldn't even find avocados offered on a Loblaw's flyer website.
I used to use a lot of chopped onions and peppers in my cooking in Canada. In the fall, I would buy bushels of both at a local farmer's market and chop away. They both freeze beautifully without blanching. Ended up with an entire winter's worth of nicely frozen flat packs in ziploc bags. It made chili and spaghetti sauce making a lot quicker.
Picked strawberries in the morning in June and had a dozen jars of jam by noon.
Mudgirl, the main street of San Pancho is lined with Mango trees... fruit free for the taking.
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