How Much Does it Cost to Live in Mexico? (2022)

Last updated on January 1, 2022

cost of living in Mexico

I have lived and worked from around the world for more than a decade. Before settling on living in Mexico, I lived in Chiang Mai, Thailand for five months and loved it enough to move back the following year. That was the first time I stayed put in one spot and became a semi-expat. As the months passed, I was so surprised by how affordable living there was that I shared a cost of living post … mostly for the readers in the A Little Adrift community who had written me over the years wondering how they could afford to live or retire abroad. Long story short, that post went viral and a million visitors have read about the $500 baseline costs to live in Thailand.

Clearly the financials are interesting. And Mexico is often the first place American retirees and digital nomads consider when looking at places overseas with a lower cost of living. It’s close to the U.S., the food is both terrific and familiar, and it’s fairly easy to make the move. So, with that in mind, this post below outlines my my expat stints across Mexico—from a tiny beach town on the Pacific coast to the food capital of Oaxaca.

Why Move to Mexico?

First off, Mexico is a big country. It’s located below most of the United States, so imagine driving from Texas to Seattle and you have an idea of what it might take to get to another area of Mexico. This is important to understand, because many of the most popular expat spots are about that far removed from the extreme cartel violence you might read about. Expats, retirees, and digital nomads often love living in Mexico because of proximity to the U.S.—all of the country’s bigger cities offer direct flights to the States, and they’re affordable too!

Budget, however, is the driving impetus for a lot of expats moving to Mexico. The average annual wage in Oaxaca, for example, is around $10,500—that’s an average and many Mexicans live on less than that sum (particularly indigenous and rural populations). In fact, try this on for size: The Mexican government raised the 2020 minimum wage to about $6.40 per day. I am often emailed a question that’s roughly this: Why are Mexicans fleeing to the U.S. if expats want to live there? It comes down to social inequality for Mexicans and the sheer amount of money available to those who work in the U.S. and send money home. The U.S. minimum wage is $7.25 per hour, meaning if workers can send even a portion of their daily earnings home to family in Mexico it represents a huge sum. Expats occupy a position of extreme privilege, particularly retirees able to use the culmination of a lifetime of working in a more expensive and better paid economy, and then basically use geo-arbitrage to spend their money and social security checks in a country where the USD goes a lot further. Given that the U.S. has its own social injustices, and given that housing is skyrocketing, many expats look to Mexico as a place where they can afford to live the type of life that feels less attainable in the U.S. right now.

But why Mexico and not other popular places in Central America like Costa Rica or Panama? Both of these countries also offer a low cost of living, but each country offers an entirely different culture, food, and also different visa requirements. Americans can easily obtain a retiree visa for Mexico, and digital nomads often take advantage of the automatic six months on-arrival that Americans enjoy when entering Mexico.

Average Cost of Living Across Mexico: $600 – $2,000

My baseline (and total) costs to live in Mexico came in under $745 every month. I’ve also lived in Oaxaca too, and it’s even more affordable (I spent well under $600 per month). Housing is your biggest expense, and even Western-style places are affordable. A single person is hard-pressed to spend more than $1,000 here on a modest budget.

Monthly ExpensesCost (USD$)
Rent & Internet$375
Electricity & Water$0

This post is updated annually with new information. This video shares the costs, style of living, quality of life, and other details about living as an expat in Mexico, with a tour of my studio in a trendy beach town north of Puerto Vallarta:

Cost of a Month of Living in San Pancho, Mexico

mexico cost of living

This entire post outlines the baseline costs—my fixed monthly expenses for one person living in a beach town on the west coast of Mexico. Living in Mexico is ideal for budget-conscious expats, retirees, and travelers. Those living in nearby Costa Rica or Panama tend to have higher monthly averages, so I found my Mexico living situation ideal. Mexico also has a very generous visa policy—six months on arrival for Americans, which helps keep total living costs low.

The chart shows the basics you’ll need to cover when living in most parts of Mexico. Puerto Vallarta and surrounding communities are generally pricier than spots in Oaxaca, and perhaps on par with places like San Miguel de Allende.

Not included in this breakdown of living costs: medical/health insurance, my plane flight to Mexico, or any expenses I incur outside of living (running this site, insurance, work, etc).

But all the baseline costs are all included in my totals, and really unlike the Thailand post, this total includes toiletries and any expenses inside Mexico that cropped up—I never withdrew more than USD $750 from the ATM each month. And this budget is on the high-end for one person; if I had looked around for an apartment or shared a house with friends my costs would have lowered to $600 (and my friend Earl says that’s about the cost of living in Playa del Carmen on the east coast beaches as well). I also spent less than that easily when shared a flat and lived in Oaxaca, which is an inland city and far cheaper than the coastal towns, so your money goes further. I share a heap of Mexico resources at the end.

One of the high points of Mexico, a clear advantage over living in Asia, is the visa situation. As a U.S. citizen, I receive a six month visa on arrival automatically, and this can be reset simply by crossing a border and coming back … indefinitely. For those considering moving overseas without the chance for a retirement visa, the visa policy in Mexico is a big boon. The visa situation in Southeast Asia is a lot trickier, and although I didn’t include the visa runs into my baseline costs in SEA, it was absolutely a big part of living there for six months and it could add up a lot if you were there years on end.

Right now, the peso is roughly 19 or 20 pesos to 1 US dollar. Use that figure as a guide to the food and transport costs I mention (check that exchange rate here). In the video and these breakdowns, I very specifically quote pesos and not dollars as my costs because the exchange rate may vary, but you will be paying for your life in pesos!

What Did Daily Life Look Like?

mexico sunset
Sunset is a nightly ritual and a great way to meet the other expats and locals in town as everyone takes to the shores every single night for what have to be some of the prettiest sunsets I’ve ever seen.

The various facets of living abroad are part of what makes one place appeal to some expats while others prefer something vastly different. I’m on the fence between Asia and Latin America, I love them both for different reasons, so rather than compare these aspects of life to each other, below is the food, life, and culture you get for that budget living in a beach town on Mexico’s Pacific coast.

A Light, Airy Studio Apartment

I didn’t look very hard for my apartment; in fact, it’s the first one I came across. I loved the family compound I lived within (they had a separate house with three rental apartments within their lot) and it’s one of the things I value living solo … I like having other people nearby who have my well-being in mind in case something happens. So, the apartment was 4,500 pesos per month ( $375 at the time) which is on the high-end for a studio in my town but the price included all utilities and really strong internet, which is essential for my online work.

A high point of living in Mexico is the fact that apartments and houses come with full kitchens (though mine was minus an oven), this is really great if you’re keen to cook—anything you rent here will likely come with a stove and pots and pans if it’s a furnished apartment. Other than the kitchen, it had everything else you would expect in a studio—full-size bed, counter with stools (where I worked from), closet, and a bathroom (a tour is shown in the video above).

Other places in town rent out as vacation rentals or rooms for anywhere from USD $200 per month on the very low-end (likely no wi-fi) to $500+ for 1 and 2 bedrooms. And one town over, in Sayulita (which is bigger and more touristy has a great beach, a lot more food, bars, etc), the apartment prices are actually pretty comparable—ideal if you like the idea of Mexico but think my town was a bit too small! :)

Delicious Vegetarian Eats

Spinach and cheese taco in Sayulita, Mexico

It’s no secret I’m a vegetarian, so for me, a country gets bonus points for not only the accessibility of vegetarian food, but the understanding of the concept of vegetarianism. Mexico’s good on both fronts, though not always great. During high season my little town had just enough options to keep it interesting, and as the seasons shifted I cooked in my apartment a lot more using fresh veggies from the markets, which was fun and gave me a kick toward my goal of becoming a better cook (Asia spoiled me because the lack of kitchens and cheap street food meant I never had to learn to cook these past years).

For costs, a cheap quesadilla runs 15 pesos (just over $1) at one of the stands, a nicer taco costs about 40 pesos (about $3.25), and a veggie meal at one of the handful of restaurants in town runs up to $10 or $15 USD. I was lucky to have friends in town so I could split one of the big pizzas for our weekly Friday-night gatherings, and my friends Victoria and Steve often hosted potlucks.

I also drink a lot of coffee; so although I made my own pot each day, the food budget included many espressos each week. My food budget was pretty generous, so if you cook at home, even adding the cost of cooking meat, I think you could get by on 1,000 pesos each week. I often bought organic veggies (expensive) at the Friday market in Sayulita, so the food budget is generous for a range of eating styles.

Getting From Here to There

My bicycle I used to ride around San Pancho!

One of the perks of living in a one-street town is that you don’t need a whole lot of transportation! That being said, I chose to live on the far end of the main street very close the community center where I volunteered (and about a 10-minute walk from the beach). A mere 10 minutes doesn’t seem like much, but in the scorching heat I was happy to have use of a bicycle from the family compound.

And for leaving San Pancho, Puerto Vallarta is about 45 minutes away and costs just a few dollars each way on the bus—this is the closest big city. Sayulita is a perfectly lovely small town (much bigger than mine though) and it was merely 20 minutes up the road. This ride costs $1 each way on the bus or a quick (and easy) hitchhike ride.

Sayulita was perfect to have nearby if I needed to vary up my food, explore a bit, or just get out of town for a few hours. There are many other beaches driveable, some ruins, old stuff to look at, etc if you’re keen to explore. I worked a lot so my bike took me most anywhere I wanted to go.

Nightlife in San Pancho

mexican musicians
Dos Bertos y Las Musas play every Friday at Darjeeling during the high season in San Pancho, Mexico.

I am not a partier. Whew, glad we got that out of the way. Now, when I say that I have a low-budget for alcohol and partying you can adjust it accordingly for yourself. San Pancho is a great town for nightlife if you like a bit of variety but nothing too crazy—no dance clubs, but we did have two great bars and a lot of live music throughout the week. In fact, during high season there was live music at one of the bars or restaurants nearly every night.

One of the things I loved best about the town was that the pace of partying was a lot closer to what I prefer—everyone chilling, talking, listening to music, and enjoying company. Add to that some game nights at Victoria and Steve’s for Jungle Speed (had never heard of this game but it was fun and hilarious to play in a group), beach bonfires, and conversation … I felt like Goldilocks—San Pancho was just right.

Quality of Life in Mexico


This bit surprised me some, I knew that many Americans headed south of our border to live but I never really understood why until I stopped and spent four months on the Pacific coast taking in the truly stunning sunsets, the relaxed atmosphere and the affordable lifestyle. The only thing I expected but never found was the fear and danger.

I’ve honestly discussed the question of safety and danger in travel. Our perceptions and reality of the world are often skewed; that is true of Mexico. While there are certainly dangerous places in Mexico, the country is huge. The people and cultures shift and change with the terrain and there are some surprisingly safe cities throughout the country if you know where to look (look to the blogosphere!).

I really loved the access to affordable healthcare (a bonus Thailand had as well), like-minded expats who I now call close friends, and a pace of life that encouraged me to slow down and enjoy the little moments.

The short of it all is that Mexico proved more expensive at daily living than Thailand, but still at least half the rent I paid living in Los Angeles in my pre-travel days. And the flights to Mexico are far cheaper for North Americans. Although it wasn’t as cheap, I have continued to make Mexico a regular stop on my travels in the years since I lived in San Pancho and Oaxaca. The plane flights are affordable, I speak the language, and I enjoy the culture. It’s a privilege to even have this ability, and I appreciate that Mexico has a lot to offer American expats. And likewise, many of these towns appreciate the influx of money and added services that come with expats moving to town.

It’s the sum total of it all that I love—by living outside the U.S. (I now reside in Barcelona, Spain), I am able to scale back the hours I have to work each week to survive, and instead focus that attention on doing things I love: volunteering in the nearby community center, taking photographs, and having the time to enjoy the friendships I make. No place is perfect, but for $750 a month, nightly sunsets, lots of friends, and tasty tacos … I’ll return to Mexico soon. :)

Relevant Links & Resources for Moving to Mexico

  • You will need comprehensive worldwide expat insurance and separate property insurance policy once you’re living overseas—I’ve used IMG Global and Clements for many years now with great success and highly recommend both. I have used these them in tandem since 2008.
  • Read The People’s Guide to Mexico: Even if you’re a veteran Mexico traveler, this is hands-down the best guidebook you should use to understand the various regions, the cultural quirks, and all the reasons Mexico is a fantastic place to travel and live. It comes highly recommended by me, and by heaps of Amazon reviewers too.
  • Living in Guatemala: This eguide shares the cost of living and what it’s like in one of my favorite spots in Central America, Guatemala. Although different than Mexico’s expat scene, there are some very compelling reasons (great culture and affordability, to name two) to consider moving to Guate.
  • A Better Life for Half the Price: A Mexican expat breaks down all the major expat spots in the world with costs, quality of living, and resources. I learned heaps and found a couple countries I hadn’t previously considered. It’s worth buying if you’re still searching out which country is best for the life you want to live.
  • Getting Out: Your Guide to Leaving America: There are a lot of these general guides. The book above, Better Life is about where is a good culture fit, whereas this is the better of the lot of “move overseas” books that covers the practicalities and very hands-on information you need as someone considering living anywhere outside the U.S. If you’re new all the researching, this can kick-start your process. And if you are laser-focused on the retirement topic, versus moving overseas at a different state in life, this retirement guide has great advice.
  • The Tax Book for U.S. Expats: This is well-priced and unique to expats and retirees filing abroad. It gives a granular look at forms, terms, and sorting out exactly how to file — good for those with complicated tax situations. More recently released, U.S. Taxes for Worldly Americans goes broader and is aimed at younger expats and digital nomads still working and handling how to earn income overseas, pay taxes, and live a nomadic life. It doesn’t explain the terms or niche situations/forms as well as the other book, but instead acts as a guide for younger travelers. Depending on your situation, pick up a copy of one of these guides before you leave so that you will have a tax system in place that maximizes the opportunities to easily file.
  • Check out a Facebook group called “On the Road in Mexico” is a good place to ask questions of other expats.
  • And dig through the two solid Mexico expat forums here.

Other Mexico Cost of Living Posts

  • Couples apartment in San Pancho: A look at another rental property in town.
  • Couples budget in Sayulita: A thorough breakdown of how much an apartment and life will cost in Sayulita, which is the larger town 20 minutes from San Pancho.
  • Two solo budgets in Playa del Carmen: Nomadic Notes and Wandering Earl break down costs on an east coast beach.
  • Family budget in Lake Chapala: While the site is no longer active, this archived version shares a family of three’s budget in the interior.
  • Thailand cost of living post: I reference this throughout and thought I’d provide a handy link if you’re keen to compare living costs.
  • Oaxaca City, Mexico. I haven’t written up this as a full detailed budget post, but I lived in Oaxaca for six months in 2016. The pace of life is different inland, and the city is at altitude (about the same as Denver). There is also a large expat community of snowbirds. There is a rich cultural and food history. I wrote a detailed guide to visiting Oaxaca. Budget-wise, my rent was half of rent in San Pacho and for more space. If you’re looking at long-term rentals (not the three-month apartment rentals that are quickly filled in winters by snowbirds), you can find a two-bedroom on the edge of Oaxaca Centro for less than USD $300. Food is affordable and the city has some of the most famous restaurants in the country.

San Pancho Travel and Visit Specifics

Airport to SP: Cheapest is the bus, by far. Taxis are going to run you a fair bit more. The bus makes a number of stops, but it’s not so bad. I had a friend who luckily was able to pick me up my first day, but after that I frequently made the trek into Puerta Vallarta via bus. Where ever you book for accommodation will also be able to arrange a taxi pick-up (sometimes for less than the going rate if you hail one) if you reach out beforehand. If you are already in the area, the bus is straightforward and takes 45 minutes to an hour from downtown PV.

Finding Accommodation: I recommend arriving in San Pancho before trying to find a place to stay, otherwise you will only find vacation rentals listed. Once you are in town, you can rent a bicycle for the day or walk around town and you will see many signs for rent. You can also talk with local expats and ask around. With average Spanish, you will have no problem finding something in just a few days, especially if it’s low season (get there before November). If you don’t speak Spanish, or you came in high season, pop into the real estate agencies. They handle rentals too and are fantastic resources on any city mentioned.

For where to stay, there are three tiers of pricing, the Hostal San Pancho or Shaka Surf House if you don’t mind a shared-dorm; these are the two most affordable options in town. Above Hostal San Pancho is an affordable, very nice guesthouse called Refugio de Sol—this is absolutely your best bet for private accommodation that’s still budget to mid-range prices. If that’s booked though, other nice private accommodation in the $60 tp $80 per night range include: Verde Luna, Casa Terraza, and Jardín San Pancho B&B.

If you’re in Sayulita, my friends rented a nice place from Villas Vista Suites for three months— I would start there for online hunting. If you’re using Sayulita as your base, consider the Aurinko Bungalows or Casa Pia as a mid-range option and then daytrip over to San Pancho. These all come recommended, and if you plan to move to the area they are a good base.

For a midrange hotel in Puerto Vallarta, look at Hotel Mercurio.

And in any of them, there are now also plenty of options on Airbnb.

Working: There are some places that hire expats, though it’s under the table. To get these gigs you will definitely need to be in town and getting to know the people, places, and other expats. I know for sure that some friends worked at the mid-range and high-end restaurants in SP or Sayulita. A few expats also taught English for a small stipend at Entre Amigos, the community center.

Other: For work and living, it really will be so much easier on the ground. It’s a very small town and the expat community is super supportive. It’s a cinch to get the lay of the land once you arrive. Places like Darjeeling have fantastic tea and food, and then live music throughout the week. SP is more low-key than Sayulita, but there is usually something to do two to five nights a week depending on the season, and then you can always go to Sayulita if you need more of a vibe sometimes.

Deciding Where to Live

In response to numerous emails asking about the differences between the handful of towns north of Puerto Vallarta, here’s Cliff’s Notes summary of the differences in case you’re sussing out which is better for you. All three would have similar costs of living.  And then I include a couple other towns and thoughts in case you’re looking at other Mexican towns:

Bucerias: Sprawling, no defined downtown area, neighborhoods stacked behind a big road and a beach. Very close to the PV, several big resorts. Less heavy with expats than any other surrounding town. No defined personality.

Sayulita: Very small, beach is very crowded with surfers because the water is good for swimming, entirely walkable within the town. Lots of restaurants, shops, a language school, etc. Touristy but a very clear personality with organic markets, yoga shops, surfers, etc. More of a nightlife than San Pancho (a later nightlife I should say).

San Pancho: Tiny, one main road, a handful of options for restaurants. One, sometimes two, coffee shops. Beach is gorgeous but not very safe for kids swimming (though some do) because of strong waves/undertow. A tight-knit group of expats, can’t leave home without seeing someone you know. Local kids have free reign of the whole town. Lots of musicians and something going on each night of the week in high season at one of the pubs/bars.

Guanajuato/San Miguel: In the interior, these two towns just exude pretty colonial charm. San Miguel del Allende is smaller and more popular with expats, while Guanajuato is a decent sized city with a great vibe, an affordable cost of living, and a decent-but-not-overwhelming expat community.

Oaxaca: I lived here for six months and found it is one of the most affordable expat cities in Mexico. The community is different than what you find in San Miguel or PV, it seems there are more opportunities to integrate into Mexican life. This is the food heart of Mexico, there are many indigenous cultures in and around the city, and the only real drawback is the political nature of the city—there are a lot of strikes and protests from the teachers unions and other groups.

Yucatan: Hugely popular with expats (and spring breakers), a bit pricier than the west coast, gorgeous beaches and diving. Very touristy region in general but convenient and safe.

Happy travels!

Cost of Living Comparison

Still researching the right spot to live? Our Cost of Living Guides share extensive resources on all the major expat spots around the world. These guides include thorough breakdowns of the culture, quality of life, vibe, and—importantly—budget breakdowns so you can better plan which spot in the world best meets your needs.

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246 thoughts on “How Much Does it Cost to Live in Mexico? (2022)”

  1. Very informative! Not sure if this applies to your case, but did you pay any one-time costs to establish residency in Mexico? Did you use a law firm?

    • I did not establish residency, I never need to stay for longer than the six months, so I always enter on a tourist visa and then leave for months or years. I know that others who buy property do use lawyers to keep it all straight and have the ability to easily live there year round!

  2. Hi Shannon

    In April I’m planning on traveling from Mexico all the way down to Chile. My current work situation allows me to work remotely and I want to really take advantage of that. Plus the fact that Central and South America are pretty much on the same time zone as the US (give or take an hour or so) makes it possible for me to do this. Otherwise I would have already gone back to live and work in SE Asia had it not been for the time difference. In terms of Mexico I was planning on flying into Mexico City, then venturing up to Guanajuato, San Miguel de Allende. After that, then making my way down to Oaxaca (Zipolite), and San Cristobal de las Casas. Initially I did have plans to basically start in Sayulita and then make my way to Mexico City. But lately I have considered skipping Sayulita and just start in Mexico City. My reasoning behind this is I look at Sayulita kind of being out of the way. Because I would have to fly into PV, then take a bus up to Sayulita….then when I want to leave for Mexico City I will have a 10 – 12 hour bus ride.I just figured I would run into just as nice beaches down in Oaxaca. Do you think this is a bad idea and that Sayulita is not to be missed?

  3. Another comment: I have read Shannon’s articles before and thought about her driving down the coastal Hwy. to Rincon de Guayabitos – laughed at her living in Asia without a stove – living economically and enjoying the important things in life and off the treadmill many are addicted to – it’s definitely an education to enjoy those experiences – though I’d love to visit with her and share stories – amazing experiences. And, for us experienced travelers with a love of cultures, even the bad stories seem to have happy endings…..

  4. Hey there. I just got done reading your article on living in Mexico. Great article. Im really intrigued by maybe moving there now. I live in the Southeast and i love warm weather but if you have ever been to the south i winter there isn’t much sun and it can get pretty cold. Anyway i was writing to ask your opinion. I am in a wheelchair and i was going to ask your opinion on how handicap accessible Mexico is. I was wondering specifically about the cities and towns you lived in. In the winter it can be hard to get around in a wheelchair if it snows. I dont have to live exactly on the beach but living close to one would be ideal. Being that I’m disabled it has been hard for me to find a job but even on my disability insurance check it sounds like i might be able to live comfortably in Mexico. Maybe if i needed to get a job i could get one from one of the American companies moving down there. I know your not an expert on disability issues but id figured id ask you anyway about the accessibilty of Mexico and the places you lived while there. thanks for the info and your opinion. take care.

    • Hi Alex, it’s really a tough call, they all have internet. PV or Bucerias would have it year-round, and in San Pancho there are times the town is without power for a few days because of summer storms. My advice is to join those expat Facebook groups that I linked to and ask your question there. Then, go visit the towns and get a feel for them as you might just like the vibe in some better than others.

  5. I own a condo in Vallarta, and have for years, my plan is to move there before I’m too old. I love Mexico, for those haters in the US, they have no idea that unlike the people in the US, they are not profit driven in everything they do. In fact I was welcomed to a rooftop party down on the Melacon, and I was treated like they have known me forever. The past 15 years I have been going back and forth to Puerto Vallarta, they have a love of life that US citizens don’t.

    • Thanks a great point James, there is a completely different vibe once you get to Mexico. They have a sense of community that isn’t nearly as pervasive in the U.S. — I can completely understand why you plan to make PV your base.

  6. HI,
    Does any one tell me about staying in new mexico state in view of following points?
    1. How much money would be required per month for family (per three members)?
    2. Safety
    3. climate
    4. Expenses (i.e. house rent, food, transportation and entertainment) as compared to other states in USA.

    • Hi Raj, living costs in New Mexico in the USA will vary a lot depending on where you decide to live (city or rural). Generally, New Mexico is far more affordable than living in states like California or New York. For an idea of costs, I recommend that you look up rents for apartments or houses using a site like Zillow ( That will give you an idea of the lowest and highest possible rents, and you can then scale up from there depending on where you fall on the spectrum. Good luck with your research!

  7. That’s a great video. And Lo De Marcos is a bit further even than my town, and it’s the distance from Puerto Vallarta that also helps keep the costs low. During high season it can be hard to find really affordable rentals anywhere, but if you time it right (at the beginning of the expat season, which is Sept/Oct) then you can surely find affordable places that you can negotiate for a good price since you’d be renting long-term. Best of luck!

  8. State of Veracruz with the Aztecs / Nawatl is nice – mountains with awesome views of Pico Orizaba. Sonoran desert has its charms – views of distant mountains, saguaro, crunchy sand , Sea of Cortez, cheap living in small towns such as Ejido del Desierto….if you don’t mind the occasional shootouts between the Coyotes and Cartel.

  9. This is great stuff. I’m not really looking into beach towns, but I am looking into a move to Mexico and have checked out Guanajuato, SMA, Dolores Hidalgo, and Zacatecas. Thanks for this.

    • So glad you found it useful! I’ve only traveled through Guanajuato and SMA, but I know several expats who split their winters between SMA and Oaxaca (Oaxaca is where I wintered last year for six months).

  10. Hi Shannon, I am a 23 year old college student trying to take some time from college for a year. I have some questions, is there a way we could possibly exchange emails? I stumbled upon your page while trying to research a few ways to get started & your page was very helpful but, I have a few questions unanswered. Thanks

  11. HI Shannon, First of all, i love you’re blog/website! Thank you so much for sharing all of your stories and information. My family and I are planning to travel to Mexico for a while (we are from Canada) and i have a question i hope you could answer for me. Its one i simply cannot find a concrete answer to.

    In Mexico, how did you wash all your veggies and fruits?? Did you use the “solution” that “disinfects” from the commercial grocery store?
    Why do people use it? I know you should rinse with sterile/bottled water…..but other than that, do you really need to do more? I have a 3 year old and 1 year old, so i am worried about their health and want to make sure i take the right precautions. Please, please let me know your advice on this….Thanks so much!! Look forward to reading more of your posts.

    • Hi Kate, I am so glad that you have found the site helpful! Good question on the soaking. Yes, I soak all of my fruits and vegetables in Microdyn, which they sell in every single store in Mexico that also sells fresh fruits and veg. It’s very common across the country and even locals do it. I just left Mexico yesterday, I was living in Oaxaca for 6 months, and my local landlady was adamant that I soak my veggies. She even watched me to ensure I was doing it right (she didn’t believe me that I knew the process! :) ). The water in many places isn’t clean, and the way they treat produce is also very, very different from back home. Veg is transported in open air trucks, it’s stacked in fields with animal poo, fertilizers, etc. And it’s rarely washed before it arrives into the shop, vegetable stand, etc.

      The sterile water just won’t kill the range of bacteria that could be present. It’s things like giardia, dysentery, etc that you are disinfecting against, which is in much higher rates in developing countries. This woman does a good job describing the process. My process is very similar to hers (I don’t use bleach though, just the microdyn):

      The thing is, when they set things on sidewalks, there is no telling what else is there. There are no “curb your dog” rules, so I was always dodging dog poo, trucks pull up onto sidewalks and leak oil. Then there is the question of how clean the local water supply is. Right next to the Microdyn they also sell family-size packs of deworming/de-parasiting medicine.

      For your little ones, I would recommend that you use the disinfectant at least for the first few months and watch your consumption of tap water. Give them time to get used to the local bacteria. I disinfected veggies the entire time and always do in Mexico, but after the first month I usually go lax and brush my teeth with the tap water if I am in a city that has decent water supplies.

      I hope that helps!! Good luck. :)

        • No, it’s not that level of bad in most places. I know some expats who even brush their teeth with the water eventually, although most tend to long-term drink only the filtered and clean their veggies with the iodine drops. Unless you have existing issues you are concerned about, I have never once had problems with skin or hair due to the water.

  12. I live in Alamos Sonora and my budget is lower since I bought my home with 1/2 acre for 38,000. I have been to the Puerto Vallarta area and there is definitely more to do beach wise. Alamos is colonial and has lot of events, the music festival being the largest. Cobblestone streets and 300 year old haciendas and lots of trees and flowers. One aspect that is better than southern Mexico is I can drive north for 8 hours and be in the US and another hour more to Tucson where I can use my medicare. I only post this not to promote Alamos but to illustrate the diversity of living styles in Mexico.

    • Thank you for sharing Tom! That sounds like a great spot. I am in Oaxaca right now living and it’s intriguing how some of the quality of life is different in the various areas of Mexico. Being so close to the U.S. is really a big benefit, especially on the healthcare front. I haven’t ever looked into that area that you’re in, but I will!

    • Alamos looks a pretty place from what I’ve seen online. I’ll have to go check it out. As for using your Medicare in the US, do you also continue to pay the Part B then since you do seem to use it? Or do you just bank of the Part A? Do you also have some IMSS or SP in Mexico? I’m planning on retiring in Mexico early the year after next.

  13. I used to go to Rio Caliente, a wonderful, kind of health spa (Primavera,Jalisco), which I loved. It was unpretentious and affordably priced, and some ladies I met there would come down for 3-6 months at a time ( two swimming pools, underground steam room, yoga, great vegetarian food) a perfect getaway from Southern California at the time, where I taught ESL for the L.A. School District. This wonderful place closed before I finally retired in 2012, and I’ve been looking for a similar Mexico destination ever since. Would appreciate any info about something similar.

  14. Thank You so much this was by far the most helpful and informative Blog about living in Mexico. I am getting ready to pull the trigger in February

    • So glad you found it useful, and congrats on the pending trip! February is a gorgeous time of year in many areas of Mexico, so you can’t go wrong pulling the trigger then.

    • Oh dear, no! I said “because I hate big cities.” Which when I gave a second listen I can clearly see how it sounds like that since I said it as an aside. Sorry for the confusion! Definitely love Mexico, Mexicans, and the culture in general (so much so that I just got back two weeks ago from a big road trip of the Yucatan) :)

  15. Hi Shannon and thanks for your post.I just came back from Thailand and on the way back someone said I should have visited Chiang Mai. I went to Pattaya Thailand. Have you visited Pattaya and if so can you compare Chiang Mai with Pattaya? Thank you

    • Hi Patita, I’m not living there right now, but I still spend a good amount of time there. I returned last week from some time in the Yucatan.

  16. HI Shannon….I so enjoyed your informative article on San Pancho that I decided to locate this one-street pueblocito on the map….Hard time there. There is a quite large community of that name, but it is a 2hr+ drive from Sayulita…and very much inland…it doesn’t fit the San Pancho you lived in…Is San Pancho ‘on the map’? If so, to which side and at what km distance is it fom Sayulita? Gracias!

    • Good question! It’s also called San Francisco formally (but that is even more confusing for obvious reasons), it’s here: and this is a good website for the community and all things going on in San Pancho: It’s very close to Sayulita, about 10 minutes by car and you can do searches for it by typing in “san pancho nayarit.” Hope that helps! :)

        • Hi again…I hope that it is not inappropriate but I would like to reach out to you as an initial information resource… I am presently planning to go to San Francisco/San Pancho via Puerto Vallarta. My stay there is projected to be for 6 months. I have a few ‘logistics’ questions that I’d like to present to you. First, what would be the easiest/cheapest transportation solution from PV airport to San Pancho?
          Secondly, once arrived in SP, I would like to find a place to reside. In your article, you mentioned staying @ a more hotel-like setting while you searched for a more long-term, economical (and personal) place. Any acquired advice or suggestions here would be much(o) appreciated!
          Lastly, my sejour will be centered around a personal need/desire for some level of disconnection or detachment from my present-day urban environment… and my writing. However, I do not intend to enter a hermitage! I speak above average Spanish, so I definitely wish to improve upon that language skill……. I also intend to be open to (and an active participant in) all aspects of life in San Pancho and it’s surroundings. If possible, I would search for a part-time day job, to earn a little something, but moreover, to play a part in the daily economic fabric, be ‘out there’ and interact…Do you think that could be a possibility? My research tells me that the wet season lets up in the Fall, opening the way to the tourism season…Any thoughts or information you could provide me with there would be precious…
          Thanks in advance Shannon!

          • Airport to SP — cheapest is the bus, by far. Taxis are going to run you a fair bit more. The bus makes a number of stops, but it’s not so bad. I had a friend who luckily was able to pick me up my first day, but after that I made the trek into PV via bus frequently. Your accommodation will also perhaps be able to arrange a taxi pick-up for less than the going rate if you reach out before you land.

            Accommodation: There are three tiers, a hostel if you want the shared-dorm but cheap. Above the hostel is an affordable, very nice guesthouse. Or Roberto’s Bungalows is boutique and great. Links are:,, and — those are all great options in town to get you started and from there you can rent a bicycle for the day or walk around town and you will see many signs for rent. You can also talk with local expats and ask around. With above average Spanish, you will have no problem finding something in just a few days, especially if it’s low season (get there before November).

            Work: There are definitely places that hire expats, though it’s under the table so you will definitely need to be there. I know for sure that some friends worked at the mid-range and high end restuarants in SP or Sayulita. A few expats also taught English for a small stipend at Entre Amigos, the community center.

            For work and living, it really will be so much easier on the ground. It’s a very small town, the expat community is super supportive and you will see it’s a cinch to get the lay of the land and get settled in. Places like Darjeeling have great tea and food, and then live music throughout the night. SP is more low-key than Sayulita, but there is usually something to do 2-5 nights a week depending on the season, and then you can always go to Sayulita if you need more.

            Good luck!

  17. Hi- I would love to live in Sayulita as a 49 year old ex surfer. I do need to work though, are there any services that help get mail from the states? I need that for my biz. I would love to learn Spanish and get into Yoga! I guess I would drive down in a van with my stuff. SMA sounds great too, maybe when I am older.

    • There are services that do sort your mail — they all have pros and cons and can get pricey. Many will allow you to have a US address and they will scan and send you documents, mail it out, etc. Look at Earth Class Mail and its rivals, and also perhaps ask in some of the Mexico expat forums, they should have a good deal of information for you on that transition! Good luck, I really love that area of Mexico, it’s a sweet little spot.

  18. Glad you are considering some unconventional places for retirement. Mexico is close to the U.S. and thus family, which made it high on my list of expat places. In Thailand, though I truly love the country and the people, the politics were a big reason that I decided not to make it a long-term home.

  19. Hi, I love your post. I’m wondering what there is to do for work there. What did you and your friends do and what

    • I know that some of the expats worked at the local restaurants, but really most of all of that requires a decent bit of Spanish because their are a lot of locals in the area shopping and eating. I work online, so I was able to do my work from home and just enjoy the place without looking for work. I would suggest a language immersion course if you plan to work in Mexico.

        • It’s a lot easier to find an apartment once you are there. Buy a week at a guesthouse so you have time look around. Or consider getting a real estate agent to show you rentals when you are in town. This post has some links to other forums for research too. If you don’t speak the language then I would consider either going with enough funds to cover you while you learn it at one of the language schools, or if you have the money you can buy a business perhaps. The only expats I knew who didn’t speak the language were retirees who ran tourist-focused things like a coffee shop or guesthouse and they had bilingual staff. Good luck!

  20. Glad I found you. The U.S. is getting very edgy, losing our rights, realizing how corrupt the govt is, the courts, etc. are…..I will be investigating Mexico for a couple of weeks…to get a feel. I’m also an ESL teacher, so perhaps I can make a bit of money in Mexico along with my basic income stream… Thailand seems a good choice, but not sure of the stability of the govts there. Anyway, many thanks for your info and all your great ideas…(I’m 65, in good health, and travel, relocation does not scare me)….

  21. Great post Shannon! We just spent 3 months travelling around Mexico, and loved it! We stopped in a few beach side towns like Puerto Vallarta and Playa Del Carmen for a few weeks, because we love being by the water. We did the same in San Cristobal and Oaxaca, because the food is incredible and we are huge foodies.
    Typically we spent around US $35 per person, per day. (travelling in a pair). We didn’t stop in San Pancho, but after reading your post, it sounds like a super cute little place. It’s on the list for our next foodie adventure through Mexico. Thanks again. Rachel :)

    • Three months on $35 a day is a fantastic traveling budget — I do love Mexico for that reason, you can eat amazing food every day and have an adventure without breaking the bank. Thanks for sharing your own costs. And SP is a great little town, though Sayulita has more food options and would make a good foodie stop if you find yourself over that way! :)

    • You know, it’s a lot easier to find an apartment once you are there. I recommend picking a town and then buying a week at a guest house so you have time look around. Also consider getting a real estate agent to show you rentals when you are in town. This post has some links to other forums for research too. Good luck!

  22. Just returned from Tulum Mexico and found it so utterly charming! I’ve decided to look into moving there for part of the year. I’d like to find a affordable rental in town (not in pricer beach area). Any advice on locating a place online? Thanks!

    • That’s a tough question! I have heard wonderful things about Tulum, and I know that tourism is big there, but for the most part, I have found that you get the best deals when you are there in person. It’s hard to negotiate and know just what you are getting online. But you could also ask around in some of the expat forums I linked to in the post, they will have a good idea of the best options in each region — you might even find some fellow Tulum expats on those sites!

    • Hi – I am in the same boat, looking for a nice Mexican beach town to move to. I am leaning towards Sayulita. What did you decide?

  23. A great post, Shannon. I’ve lived in México for seven years. After 15 months of crisscrossing Mexico, my new book looks at Americans and Canadians who’ve chosen to avoid the big expat colonies in San Miguel de Allende and Lake Chapala. What they’ve found is both diverse and surprising. If you’re wondering what the expat experience is like, whether on the beach or in the colonial cities of the interior, you need to listen to this conversation. The book is called Into the Heart of Mexico: Expatriates Find Themselves Off the Beaten Path, and there is no other book like it. There’s a sample on my website:

  24. I really enjoyed how informative your expose was.
    I am a retired late 60’s Canadian senior lady, who is thinking VERY seriously about living a quieter pace of life, making new friends, enjoying the nightly sunsets, helping out people through volunteering, learning Spanish,Yoga and Meditation, spending time having a siesta in my hammock and learning to cook the authentic Mexican foods.
    Taking part in all the festivals, parades, musical performances, etc.
    To be honest it’s hard to know where to start, with all the legal paperwork, the right Visa, health care, how I will receive my pension cheques there.
    When and how to find a place to live (Studio/1bedroom/Casita). I don’t drive so that’s only one thing I don’t have to consider.
    I’m definitely going to search out San Pedro. I love the ocean so hopefully could find a smaller possibly Colonial town similar to San Miguel which is a little larger, but really sounds so beautiful in many ways EXCEPT no ocean for swimming or sand for walking along.
    I would appreciate any suggestions people can throw my way. :-)

    • Mexico could be such a great option to have the type of life you describe but for a fraction of the cost of living in a North American beach town elsewhere. There is also a huge retiree community in various areas of Mexico, so it’s really worth digging through the expat forums and asking a lot of questions. There is no telling which town you’ll like best until you go and visit, but a lot of that is easier to do in person (finding the casitas) and getting the vibe.

      One idea is to start with the forums and Facebook groups and get a feel for the beach towns with thriving expat communities already. Here are a few I have seen over the years:

      Happy hunting and good lucking finding a good-fit community! :)

    • No need to worry about how to receive your pension checks. You can continue to have them deposited into your Canadian bank account and simply withdraw the money using your ATM card from Mexican banks. I’ve lived in Mexico for years while using my U.S. bank account. (If your bank charges an excessive fee for foreign withdrawals, find a bank that doesn’t. I use Schwab, which refunds all my ATM fees at the end of the month).

  25. So interested in moving here. Im a 45 yr old female single,and nationally certified emt. How can i find out the salaries for an emt? And i would want a moped with a basket on the front for my chiuahuah

    • Hi Shannon, I am sorry to say that I am not sure of the salary, I know that the visas and everything are different if you plan to work there. You would likely have to know Spanish fluently—perhaps you can contact hospitals in the area and ask them for more information. Best of luck, it’s a gorgeous area!

    • I believe you get the same visa situation — six months and then you have to cross the border and can come right back in, but you would want to check. As far as working, you surely can but that would take a different kind of visa and a speciality or owning a job. I would google and try to find Mexican expat forums, I have seen a few around and they would be able to answer a lot of the more technical questions!

  26. Just got back from Mexico a while ago and I agree about not being afraid while there. My family certainly had some concerns. Wonderful place to visit and we will certainly be back. Thanks for all of the details in your post – gives me ideas about new places to try out. Happy Travels

  27. Just got back from Mexico a while ago and I agree about not being afraid while there. My family certainly had some concerns. Wonderful place to visit and we will certainly be back. Thanks for all of the details in your post – gives me ideas about new places to try out. Happy Travels

    • I am so glad to hear that you had a positive trip to Mexico. My family also had fears, and though there are some regions with very real problems, it’s a beautiful country to explore. Let me know if you ever make it to PV area and if I can help at all. Safe travels. :)

  28. Goin’ back soon. I’ve been to Mexico countless times , including Sayulita. Your take is bang on. I had an all-inclusive hotel in Puerto V. but after an afternoon in Sayulita, bussed back, grabbed some stuff and returned for a few days. Great town, awesome vibe…beautiful and full of great people.
    I thought it would cost more to live there? Anyways, my name’s Neil. Maybe I’ll see you there someday (probably heading back late summer sometime). You’re kinda cute (and Vegetarian…yay)
    Cheers (From Victoria BC)

    • I dream of the beaches there and am plotting some time to go back there hopefully this coming winter, so perhaps I will see you there! It could cost a bit more if you drink a lot, but it was overall pretty budget and I had friends with cars, so that helped get around and do somethings in the nearby area. Perhaps we will cross paths. :)

  29. me and my fiancée are planning on moving to mexico with our children. so where is the best place to raise a family? we have a big family together so it needs to be an affordable but safe place to raise a family. I have been looking around but aint had any luck so was wondering if u could help me out.

    • Hi Latara, did you check out the links at the end of the post? I don’t know every region of Mexico very well, I loved the Sayulita area and know many families living there, but at the end of this post I shared some links to other families and travelers who have written about moving their families there. And, once you’ve narrowed it down to a couple options you could query this Facebook group with more questions, they seem pretty helpful:

  30. I love your article on Mexico. I have been to the Puerto Vallarta area three times now and will be back in Jan 2015, this time for a month. I love the area, culture, people, etc………… I could go on and on lol.
    What I find funny is when you tell people who have never been to Mexico they look at you as if you were exaggerating the experience. And then they go and realize that you weren’t. Of course each persons experience varies depending on their own expectations going in but for the most of people, I think it’s about the same.
    I love the example I heard about the violence down in Mexico.
    Having it so far away from PV.
    The saying goes, you wouldn’t stay away from Chicago if you heard there was a murder in New York. Or something along those lines.
    I personally love it there and will be retiring there, in the not so distant future.
    Keep up the good work

    • Thank Kfed! Like you, I met a lot of resistance when I told people I planned to live in Mexico for a period of time. Unless you visit, you just don’t understand that there are areas that are safe and full of culture and delicious food. Safe travels and thanks for reading. :)

      • No problem. I have been looking for a cost breakdown in the area and have only been able to find for the cancun and Playa Del Carmen area, which I haven’t been to, yet lol. Any plans on being down in PV area in the near future?

      • Hi Shannon,
        Been reading of the above lately. My daughter and grand daughter just visited Colima, Pascuales for 6 weeks, and they love it so much!. I would like to move there since I am retired. What do you think of a $2,000 monthly that I have? Will this be enough? I need places to volunteer . I am a registered nurse and would like to put this to use as well. What do you think?

        • Hi Martesa, it’s hard to say if your money will be enough, it really depends on cost of living. In general though, yes, $2000 is a good monthly amount most places in Mexico that are not the bigger tourism spots (Cancun or Puerto Vallarta). That’s a very good stipend. Plan on spending a bit more than that the first month to get set up, and then you could surely make that work with a small place most anywhere. Good luck!

  31. Great post. Mexico has moved up on my list of places to go and especially now that I’m thinking of moving abroad for a while. I also speak Spanish (not fluently, but not basic either), so mexico would be a more logical choice for me than Thailand in that way.

    In general I wanted to say that I really like how informative and structured these kind of posts on your blog are. They’re super bookmarkable:)

    • Mexico is a great place to live and learn Spanish, and knowing a bit of the language makes such a difference in feeling like a part of the culture. It’s also a lot cheaper to get to than Thailand!

      • Well that depends where you’re coming from. Ticket prices from Belgium to both are about the same. Of course it does depend a bit on when you want to fly.

  32. Would you mind sharing some information on career choices that allow you to live abroad and work? That is, if you don’t mind sharing. Perhaps it’s come up when you talk with other expats you meet as well? I’m very interested in a career choice that would allow me to live like this! Thank you for your time, and for the awesome blog!

    • Playa del Carmen is popular with expats, though it is a good deal larger than the town I was in! Perhaps you could start there and find a small town nearby but still accessible to the amenities in Playa or Cancun.

  33. But don’t overlook the colonial interior, where the climate is often more manageable all year than the beach. My wife and I chose San Miguel de Allende six
    years ago for its combination of climate, culture and the basic warmth of its
    people. I became interested in the process of becoming an expat and wrote a
    book based on conversations with 32 Americans and Canadians who had also made
    the move. It’s mainly a way of getting inside their heads. It’s called San
    Miguel de Allende: A Place in the Heart. Here’s a link to an excerpt on my

    • San Miguel was beautiful! I spent just a week in Guanajuato and SMA, and I wished I had longer. Thanks for sharing your excerpt, and safe travels. :)

  34. Been single for a long time. Just looking for a different life. Can only afford this much for a new start. 50 and looking to be happy again. If you really think this is the answer, I await your reply.

    • Only you know if this is a good choice, but there are a some gorgeous towns in Mexico with great expats — many retired — and I loved my time there and am thinking of returning long-term. Best of luck with the transition :)

  35. I’m super late here, but thanks so much for linking to us Shannon! Wow, this is an incredibly informative post that’s making me want to move to the beach. We miss Asia, but you nailed it on Mexico’s dreamy 6-month renewable tourist visa. FYI since I penned that last budget post we’ve moved to a bungalow in an ecohotel where we’re paying $375 a month including all utilities and internet. TIme for a new budget post. :-) Thanks again…

    • That’s a great deal on your bungalow, you’re making me want to come live nearby! It would definitely be worth another budget post because I know the perceived expense are a reason so many families decide not to travel. Cheers and hope you have a wonderful weekend! :)

  36. Heya Shannon

    I just got to San Pancho and might look into a long term rental as well. Any idea where I could start to ask?

    Thanks for your awesome post!

    Greetings from here

    • Your best bet is to walk around and look for signs on the doors and houses — there are usually a good number of them. Ask at the shops, and ask the expats who hang out at sunset if they know of anyone looking to rent. That’s the best way. If you’re keen to have help, there are also some real estate people there who can set you up with a long-term rental! :)

  37. I’m mexican and I’ve never been to that side of Jalisco/Nayarit, closest being Guadalajara. I would urge to try my homestate’s beach towns since they are one of the mos beautiful ones on the country. Whenever you can go visit Sonora. It has the best oceanic view in the world, as per NatGeo, in San Carlos, but there are other places you can visit, like Bahia de Kino, Puerto Peñasco, or Rocky Point, as Arizonians call it, or Huatabampito and it’s really a lot closer to the US. Just a few hour by car. I’ll definitely go to San Pancho one day albeit just on a quick get away vacation. Cheers, Pedro. :)

  38. Hi Shannon! Wanted to stop in and say hello from San Pancho!
    Love your blog and have started one of my own, Los O’Gradys in Mexico.
    Have also had the joy of getting to know Erin from New York from the wonders of online communications! It was a pleasure meeting you when you were here in our neck of the woods and hope this finds you well! Looking forward to making my way through your awesome posts!
    Katie O’Grady :-)

    • Congrats on the new blog Katie! I am heading over now to check it out — I love the name :) Also really glad you and Erin were able to connect — hopefully later this fall too once she moves down there. I am plotting and planning when I might be able to head back to SP, but for now I will catch up on it vicariously through you! :)

  39. What a brilliant post! I’m a Mexican living in London. Last year I went to Puerto Vallarta and Sayulita for holidays and I loved them! Next time I’ll make sure to visit San Pancho :) Excellent attitude and great experiences. I also like that you have no silly prejudices, I know Mexicans with more prejudices about Mexico which is ridiculous. Thank you!

  40. Thanks for sharing with us, at least if we ever make it to Mexico we have an idea on how much it might cost us. :)

    • Glad you enjoyed it! If you’re traveling it’s a different dynamic, but still a surprisingly great quality of life and costs! Safe travels :)

  41. I love how the rent isn’t too much more than the cost of food, that’s always nice. Anyways, great informative post!

  42. It’s amazing how much opportunity exists in the developing world. People pay top dollar to live ion the middle of a city when they could be comfortably in paradise for a bargain

    • So true Tim, and while I love cities like NYC for a visit, the quality of life if you’re willing to look further afield can be stellar! :)

  43. You Americans are awesome : I’m an Euro guy (older) and I’m actually *flabbergasted* witnessing the ease you have with the Internet, you have a knack for working up all the technological intricacies for creating lively , interesting , inspirational blogs : so kudos to you miss Shannon, and don’t forget to pay a visit to the *hidden pearl*of Bahia de Banderas: Yelapaaaaa!!!!!!

    • Thank you so much Lionel, I really appreciate your kind words and I’ll see if I can make it that way soon. Cheers and happy travels :)

  44. This is an immensely helpful post. Thanks for sharing Shannon!

    Quick question: What’s the availability of spanish and/or surfing lessons like? Are there locals in SP willing to teach either, or would I have more luck going to a slightly bigger city?

    • Sayulita (which is 20 mins by bus and a bigger town, but by no means a big city) has tons of surfing and rentals and much gentler waves to learn on than SP. With the language lessons, there are some group classes at the community center in SP during high season, but the bigger schools are all near Sayulita as well. And from what I hear from friends, the costs of the two are very similar, Sayulita is more touristy, but has way more restaurants and coffee shops that SP (SP has one, sometimes two coffee shops; Sayulita has a handful). So, it’s a good option if you like the sound of the region but what a bit more nightlife and activities. :)

  45. Hi Shannon! So nice to meet you here. I came across your blog by way
    of trying to decide between San Pancho and Sayulita. However (for
    starters) price is a concern for me right. So needless to say, I was
    hoping that you may know of a place somewhere there in San Pancho (with
    decent internet) somewhere in the price-range of the $375 that you
    mentioned (or no more than $550) yes? :D

    • Hi Antonio! There are some big differences between the two towns, SP is very small and has fewer retaurants, coffee shops, etc, where as Sayulita is a lot more touristy. But, SP has a great community, and often expats from each town hang out in the other, etc. For the place I stayed, shoot me an email and I can give some more details. And if you plan to arrive in off-season you could easily find something great by showing up! :)

      • Hi Shannon and thanks for your prompt response. That would be great. Also, I was trying to find your email here and
        didn’t readily find it. However, I would love more details about where
        you stayed. Perhaps you could email me at I look
        forward to hearing back from you. And thank you for being willing to

  46. Oh my Gooood… LOVED this!! I can’t believe how I can afford to live in Denmark! Damn. How do people afford NOT to travel!? :D

    • I cannot even imagine how it compares to Denmark, which is high on my list of places to visit but only when I have some more cash to spend since I know it’s insanely priced compared to the places I usually travel! :)

      • Ohh, you don’t want to know. ;) We’re really doing an insane job keeping our monthly budget under $2,000 a month for two people. I don’t think I know anyone else who does that! :S And we used to have an apartment, which is WAY cheaper than hotels here. Lol.
        We’re writing an ebook about visiting Denmark and keeping costs low! If your interested, I will update you when it’s done! :D
        Hope you get a chance to visit our country one day. It IS beautiful (in the summer) and worth a visit. :)

        • Yikes, that is steep! But, one day I am going to make it to Denmark so I would love you to keep me posted on your guide :)

  47. I’ve been hearing more and more about San Pancho recently and I’m pretty sure I would love it… I also did a post recently about the cost of living in Thailand/Chiang Mai and it’s by far been one of the most popular – once you realize there are places out there that present this type of lifestyle to you it’s hard to ignore them!

    • Glad that you are enjoying CM as well! SP is a LOT different than CM but if you did the small town feel of the inside the moat area than it sort of has that feel, plus there are bigger amenities nearby SP in the other cities. Hope to see you that way next time I am there! :)

  48. Thanks for sharing Shannon! We’re trying to prove to our friends back home in the states that we can travel for $1000/month per person. It’s surprisingly affordable once you are in a region and as you point out–even more affordable when you stay in one place.

    • I hope this helps you show them that others are doing it too — and $1000 is a great price to shoot for, especially with two people if you budget well. I have always found that was a good monthly price tag for traveling in Asia, and I was surprised that it worked for Mexico as well! :)

  49. I got into a hot debate with an American guy in a hostel in Hawaii about how dangerous Mexico is (obviously he’d never been and was basing his view on popular news presentation of the country). I spent 5 months in Playa Del Carmen last year and lived what I considered to be the life of luxury for a fraction of the cost I’d spend in London. And there was sunshine in abundance (something we rarely get in England!). It is definitely a corner of the world I will return to for an extended stay – it’s helpful to see your costs. I spent a bit more, but I’m partial to the occasional cold beer :)

    • That sounds so frustrating Jo, especially if he had never visited but was trying to assert his opinion. I traveled the Yucatan a bit a few years ago and it felt really safe and there are so many people living there without incident (only minor traffic bribery and such from the police), so I am glad to hear you had a positive experience on that side — I am considering that coast when I head back, like you, I do love some sunshine! :)

      • I often find that the way – the people with the least experience have the biggest opinions, especially on the topic of Mexico and safety. I seriously didn’t encounter a single problem. I love the water in the Yucatan – it’s the colour dreams are made of and so calm (love the Pacific Coast of Mexico but we kept falling out when the water regularly tried to steal my bikini with its ferocity). If you get out to Yucatan and want some food tip (beyond the super touristy streets), get in contact!

  50. Aw, every time I read something about San Pancho, it makes me so desperate to go back! Miss you and SP. Very useful post.I think Steve and I spent a bit more, which I blame on Cielo Rojo and its incredibly tempting breakfasts.

  51. I was literally just getting ready to email you about the cost of Mexico and beach town recommendations when I stopped by your blog and found this post. Talk about perfect timing! :)

    This is very helpful as I was considering San Pancho as one of the towns I was considering to go spend time in for my little writing retreat.

  52. Thanks! Very helpful article, especially since I’m headed toward Mexico after I leave Cabarete, Dominican Republic. Thanks for the details. :)

      • I’ve been a year on the road this June. As a writer, I’m happily embracing the nomadic life and work style. DR is the place I’m semi-settling into for a time and have just rented my first apt. for a few months likely. Next I head to Mexico and start threading my way down thru Central and South America. Love your tips and posts – they’re very helpful for my future.

        • Wow, that sounds great. You are actually the first traveler I know stopping in DR so you have me really intrigued! Would love to know how it compares to Mexico when you move on :)

          • There is a whole community of us here – which hasn’t been so great for me to practice Spanish. :) Kite Beach attracts kite surfers from around the world so great place to meet new people. Prices are not unlike your article above. Feel free to find me on FB – I have a personal and author page.

  53. Really good video – very informative and well presented. It’s nice to be able to put a voice to a long-read blogger. Also good to see a jar of marmite in your kitchen! More please…

    • Thanks Mark! I’m pondering doing more of the video-log style occasionally so I appreciate your feedback! As for the Marmite — yes please! I like it heaps better than Vegemite :)

  54. It’s funny that we are both posting our San Pancho cost of living post this week! Ours comes out tomorrow and we spent $550 a month per person. It helped that our lovely casita is only $400 and as a couple accommodation works out cheaper.

    • It definitely helps that you have to people on the rent, and your little casita looks so cute, I look forward to reading your cost of living in SP. :)

  55. Loved this read! My husband and I are preparing to ditch the conventional life here in the States soon. After an RTW trip, we would like to plant it somewhere for a while and just enjoy a less hectic life. Mexico is high on our list – so this is super helpful. Thanks!

    – Liz (

    • Glad you liked it — I think after your RTW it could be a great stop, though you may also find a town you love in your travels too :) When do you head out?

    • You’re welcome Amy! It’s a great spot, and Mexico has so much history with the ruins and old churches (though not the beach coast, more inland). I have thought about taking Ana to the Yucatan area next summer for some of the history and Spanish practice :)

      • I traveled through Mexico three of the last four summers; sometimes with teens and this last time with my Brazilian wife and a young dog. These prices are avail. for living in Mexico most places and even in Puerto Vallarta where we frequent; however, you have to be on the edge of the town or in Mexican neighborhoods for some of the lower prices, but it’s more knowing how to fit in and find things. It’s best during summers to find good deals off season and maybe make your long term deals during the off season when it’s easier to find places at good prices and more places can be avail., too. I felt it’s worth a bit more to be near centro since services and security are better for tourists and convenience is certainly worth an extra hundred per mo., etc. Overall, Mexico is a wonderful place and you often find you have a better, more natural diet and lots more exercise enjoying walking and experiencing delightful cultural flavor in your daily activities. I highly recommend that you have a “home” neighborhood and branch out to visit other communities – it was convenient for us because we always have our own car.

    • Awesome post. I’ve lived in SE Asia for a number of years. Funny enough, I currently reside in Chiang Mai. Asia holds great appeal for me but I sometimes consider alternatives. Thank you for sharing.

      • Thanks for commenting! What other places do you like? I have been considering Saigon lately but have only really based in CM before :)


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