Cost of Living: Mexico City, SMA vs. New York

At Moon.com, Julie Doherty Meade compares specific costs of living in New York, Mexico City, and San Miguel de Allende. Meade’s writing is engaging and this could be a useful resource if you are contemplating a move to Mexico.

Meade rates Mexico City as slightly more expensive than SMA, which was surprising to me. I would have thought it would be the other way around, though I’ve never done a scientific comparison. I will say that her food estimates are on the generous side: I can definitely find a complete brunch in Mexico City or SMA for far less than 100 pesos a person. But that observation really only supports her basic point, which is that Mexico still offers a great cost of living advantage.

(Doherty is the author of Moon Living Abroad in Mexico)

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3 Responses to “Cost of Living: Mexico City, SMA vs. New York”

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  1. -el codo- says:

    For the budget conscious, none of those three places is a serious bargain. My problem with cities is they are, well, cities. Staying off the gringo track is one of the keys. But, IMHO the author should have included the city of Monterrey (very expensive for Mexico), the border zone (housing is twice as expensive, sometimes rentals cost more than they do on the US side!). Demand for affordable, livable houses is ten times as great as it is for gringo palaces or Mexican haciendas at thousands of dollars a month for rent. I saw rentals on the web for a popular small town (gringo hangout) for smaller two bedroom houses with patio for more than a thousand dollars a month.

    One of the issues is there are a lot more Mexicans than there were ten, twenty, forty years ago.

    Not that long ago, driving down Mex 1, the Baja California transpeninsula highway, passing through the pueblito of VIZCAINO meant seeing a gas station on the right, a tiny tienda on the left, and not much else. Today the town has multiple traffic lights with left turn lanes and signals, at least three auto parts stores, three gas stations, five hotels, and an impressive size supermarket where a shopper can find USA butter and cottage cheese! And a population of six thousand!

    Mexicans “list” houses for sale or rent, verbally through the local gossip (chisme) grave vine. For my purposes, I’ll spend an hour or so at a local taqueria or carnitas restaurant, shaking hands gently, using formal “ustedes” gracias, and por favors, and wide smiles in an attempt to show amiability and respect. This tactic almost always works. The linkage between the first inquiries and the final home rental may be as twisted as the highway between San Cristobal and Paleneque, but I’ve never wasted too much time and the rewards can be great, especially for retirees who can promise landlords, long-term stays and stable reliability with rent payments.

  2. churpa says:

    Great advice Codo! I think the author was not trying to do a comprehensive price comparison for Mexico, but just sharing her own personal experience living in three different cities.

    • -el codo- says:

      Not too many years ago when passing by Monterrey, I decided to pull a trick on a friend who constantly was wearing my patience thin with remarks about how much “better” life was in the USA.

      I turned off the cuota, and proceeded to go to a neighborhood where a Mexican friend lives. Ranch style homes in a subdivision. Courts and Alamedas, with sidewalks, landscaping, fire hydrants, street lights, and house addresses stenciled in the concrete curbs.

      Where Are We? My by now panicked friend shouted.

      “Good Question” I answered.