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The Cost of Living in Guadalajara, Mexico in 2024

Updated: May 4

With inflation continuing to run close to 5%, getting a handle on the cost of living in Mexico in 2024 can be challenging. It’s especially true when articles attempt to present a single view of the cost of living for the entire country, with no mention of where or how the data was collected.


Well, that's not how we do it at Live Well Mexico.


In this article, you'll learn about the cost of living in Guadalajara, Mexico for two adults on an "Average" budget, and for a couple living on what I affectionately call a “Champagne” budget. As a bonus, I'll also share prices for typical food items purchased in Guadalajara in April 2024.


To be clear, these budgets don't reflect the cost of living in popular expat cities like San Miguel de Allende or touristy beach towns like Puerto Vallarta. These places will cost you considerably more!


On the other hand, these budgets may look high to those living in small pueblos, which cost less but provide far fewer services and amenities than a cosmopolitan city like Guadalajara.


How Have Things Changed Since Last Year?


Compared to May 2023, the U.S. dollar has depreciated about 6% against the Mexican peso, making life more costly for many expats, even when local prices haven't changed.

But peso-denominated prices have been rising too, with inflation of about 4.6% over the past 12 months.


Viewed together, the cost of living in Mexico is up more than 10% year-over-year for those funding their lifestyles with U.S. dollars.


Despite those headwinds, Mexico remains a very attractive expat destination compared to the alternatives. Plus, as you acquire more experience in your adopted home, you tend to shop smarter. This is why our living expenses haven't increased as much as inflation figures might suggest.


In keeping with my blog’s core philosophy of living well but affordably in Mexico, let’s dive into the details.


TABLE 1 – Cost of Living in 2024 for a Couple, Average Budget


My household's cost of living in Guadalajara differs from the budget shared above, as we choose to spend more in several areas of importance to us. Namely, we use private health insurance, a fancy health club, and spend more on tech, travel, and dining out.


This is possible in part because we own property in Guadalajara, which has removed a significant recurring cost from our budget (rent), freeing up funds for other activities.


Below is an example of what it costs to live well in Guadalajara in 2024, as a homeowner, with the aforementioned indulgences.


TABLE 2 – Cost of Living in 2024 for a Couple, Homeowners "Champagne" Budget


Many expat couples we know in Guadajalara live a "Champagne" lifestyle with a few key differences from the budget shown above. Because they rent instead of own, more of their budget goes towards housing.


This is typically offset by less discretionary spending as many expats have no pets and avoid expensive sports clubs. For this lifestyle, I've created a renters' "Champagne" budget.


TABLE 3 – Cost of Living in 2024 for a Couple, Renters “Champagne” Budget


The commentary below should shed more light on the lifestyle differences between the three budgets shown above.


Housing. A big decision for expats is whether to rent or buy in Mexico. It has major implications for your monthly (and annual) spending.


In general, it's a better deal to rent than to buy, given the steep real estate prices in Guadalajara currently. But owning property gives many peace of mind and removes a major expense from your monthly budget if you own a home outright.


But lately, real estate values have been rising rapidly in Mexican cities and resorts with heavy foreign investment and expanding expat communities.


Although it may sound strange to American readers, buying property with a mortgage is uncommon in Mexico, and not something I recommend given the astronomical borrowing costs here. (15% is considered normal)


If you decide to rent, your options in Guadalajara are plentiful. A decent two-bedroom apartment in a safe neighborhood can be had for about USD $1,100, whereas a budget of USD $1,500 can land a modern, two-bedroom, two-bath apartment in a newer building.


At higher rents, you can expect amenities such as a gym, roof terrace, and underground parking in desirable, walkable neighborhoods like Colonia Americana or Providencia.


Of course, you could also spend USD $2500+ per month renting a furnished modern home or luxury apartment with top-tier amenities in the fanciest neighborhoods of Andares, Country Club, or Colinas de San Javier.


As the second largest city in Mexico with significant local wealth, Guadalajara caters to all tastes and budgets.


Utilities. Electricity costs fluctuate by season, with the lowest bills in fall and winter when there is no need for air conditioning or heat.


On average, we spend about UDS $40 per month in our 3-story house. For a small abode, you could easily spend about USD $25 monthly on electricity.


While apartment towers are typically all-electric, if you live in a house you may also use gas (LPG, a mix of propane/butane) for cooking, a water heater, or a clothes dryer. We do laundry about once a week and cook most nights, spending about USD $20 monthly with Gas Rosa. While still low, this is one cost that's increased materially from last year.


Municipal water (provided by Siapa) costs us about UDS $23 a month. Siapa gives its customers the option to pre-pay their bill for the entire year and save 10%, so we lowered our water expenses this way in 2024.


Trash collection in our neighborhood is three times a week, and funded by the municipality through local taxes. There's no fee required for the service, but we do tip the drivers periodically when we see them passing through.


Food & Beverages. Without a doubt, this is one area where prices are up quite substantially over the past year. Official numbers from INEGI put food inflation at 5% annualized in April, higher than Mexico's overall inflation rate.


Grocery shopping. We do a mixture of high/low shopping for food at home. For packaged food, imported items, and household supplies we visit a supermarket like City Market or Chedraui about 3 times a month spending around USD $100 per visit.


For fresh food, we shop our neighborhood tianguis (open-air market) for fresh fruit and vegetables, eggs, cheese, fish, tortillas, herbs and spices, and whatever else looks good, spending about USD $30 per week.



TABLE 4 – Cost of Typical Food Items Purchased in Guadalajara, April 2024

For those on an average budget, we assume that far fewer imported items (which can get pricey) are purchased, replaced by lower-cost fresh and local food. Lower alcohol consumption -- especially wine, which gets hit with an exorbitant luxury tax -- will also save you a ton.


Drinking water at home. Fresh drinking water from a local water purification company is delivered to our door in 20 L jugs, or garrafones. As a couple we consume 1-2 of them a week, spending USD $11 monthly.


Buying your drinking water at Oxxo or direct from the big water companies would cost about double.


Dining out. Guadalajara is a real foodie town. Besides top-rated fine dining, this city offers an incredible wealth of low-cost options for tacos, tostadas, tortas, and so on, plus myriad cafes and restaurants serving foreign cuisine.


Depending on your neighborhood, some willpower may be required to dine at home. Fortunately, dining out is a bargain at all levels in Mexico relative to the U.S., Europe, or Canada.


My "Champagne" budget of USD $300 a month is based on four casual lunches and one or two fine dining excursions monthly for two. You could flex this up or down to suit your taste. On a budget of USD $175 a month, a couple could still eat out a few times a week if they skip fine dining and opt for breakfasts and casual lunches.


Transportation. Uber and mass transit are plentiful, functional, and affordable in Guadalajara. One-way rides on the bus or light rail cost USD $0.56 while most Uber trips are around USD $4 if you avoid peak hours.


Gas is nearly 40% more expensive in Mexico than in the U.S. at a little over USD $5 per gallon currently. (USD $1.36 per liter) For those who forego a private car and live in a neighborhood well-served by mass transit, a monthly budget of USD $60 is realistic.


If you keep a car, you'll likely have free parking -- either included in your rent, or on your private property. So your monthly auto expenses will be limited to gas, registration, and insurance.


Since Guadalajara's traffic can best be described as horrific (except for Sunday mornings), we limit our driving to grocery shopping, recreational outings, and the occasional road trip. Including insurance, we spend roughly USD $82 a month for our car.


MiBici is another wonderful option for short trips around Guadalajara. Membership in this urban bike-share program costs about USD $29 a year, one of the best deals going.


Health Costs.


Medical care. Some expats with residency in Mexico opt to get care via the public system (IMSS), which is low-cost but suffers from heavy demand and less than state-of-the-art facilities.


A middle-aged couple using this system can expect to pay around USD $120 in premiums monthly, with another USD $40 out-of-pocket for prescriptions and other needs.


Those on a "Champagne" budget typically use Guadalajara's excellent private health system, spending out-of-pocket on preventive care while using private health insurance to cover expenses for new illnesses or emergencies, depending on the severity. This approach costs a lot more than IMSS, but can be worth it for a high standard of care.


Dental care. We pay out-of-pocket for cleanings every six months with a fully bilingual dentist in a modern clinic for about USD $39 per visit. A teeth-whitening treatment at this same facility costs about USD $165 per treatment.


Staying active. The "Champagne" budget includes a discretionary line item for a private sports club in Guadalajara where members can play tennis, swim, use state-of-the-art equipment, play futbol, and more. If this does not appeal to you, these funds could easily be redirected elsewhere, or not spent.


Technology. Expat needs in this area vary widely, so there's no one-size-fits-all answer to how much your tech will cost.


If your primary activities online involve online shopping, news consumption, visiting social media, and taking the occasional Zoom call, basic internet service will suffice. It costs roughly $35 USD a month in Guadalajara.


On the other hand, if you're making a living working remotely, you'll need to increase that budget to ensure faster and more reliable service. You might even want to purchase services from two ISPs to ensure that when one goes down (and they will), you're still covered.


Tech is generously budgeted in the "Champagne" plans because it assumes a desire (or need, if working) for high-speed internet service capable of supporting video calls and streaming services with multiple users at a time.  


To share a few examples, our Totalplay plan provides internet download speeds of 250 mps and costs USD $47 a month. We spend an additional USD $11 monthly for VPN and software licensing services.


We also maintain two U.S. mobile numbers through Cricket Wireless for business and financial reasons. Our plan covers North America with unlimited data and costs USD $90 a month for two lines, which is covered by an employer. Notably, it has no penalty for originating most calls in Mexico.


Because most U.S. financial firms require two-factor authentication on accounts for security reasons, requiring a U.S. cell phone number. In my view, this is not a time to rely on free apps like Google Voice for a number, since it could be revoked (or the service shut down) at any time--leaving you with no recourse. Better safe than sorry I say.


Taxes. No article about the cost of living would be complete without a brief discussion of taxes. This is one expenditure that declines substantially for most expats in Mexico.


U.S. expats can net huge savings on their property taxes if they own shelter (about 90% lower in our case) and on income taxes via the foreign earned income exclusion (FEIE).


If the idea of DIY-ing your taxes as an expat triggers a panic attack, I strongly recommend getting professional help. (for your taxes, of course! :) Tax prep is one area where being too frugal can cost you a bundle.


My tax expert at Lakeside Tax Service is offering Live Well Mexico readers a 10% discount on their tax prep fees simply by mentioning the code "LiveWell10." Working with Lakeside, we've filed our taxes painlessly these past several years while claiming hefty savings. Best of all, they take care of it for you remotely.


To learn more about expat taxes, check out my in-depth post from early 2024.


Discretionary items.


Travel. Most expats in Mexico love to travel, and we do too. Unfortunately, travel costs have exploded in recent years, so if travel is your passion, you may need to get creative.


Fortunately, air and hotel prices in Mexico are much more affordable than in the U.S. or Canada, assuming you travel outside peak holiday periods and avoid coastal resorts dominated by foreign tourists.


Inter-city bus service is an affordable (and comfortable!) alternative in most medium to large cities in Mexico. These services create myriad opportunities for stress-free weekend getaways.


Compared to the U.S., long-haul buses in Mexico are downright luxurious, with soft reclining seats, wifi service, movies, and plenty of room to store luggage.


For those on an average budget, domestic travel, inter-city buses, and simple hotels are the way to go. For those with a more serious travel addiction, we've budgeted close to USD $5,000 per year in a "Champagne" budget to cover international and domestic travel.


Entertainment options in a big city like Guadalajara are vast, including live music, film festivals, food and wine events, art shows, museums, movie theaters, historic buildings, artisan markets, and plenty more.


As we've become more familiar with everything Guadalajara has to offer, our entertainment budget has increased. But like travel, entertainment in Mexico is so refreshingly affordable compared to the U.S., Canada, or Europe. What's more, plenty of cultural activities are free.


A trip to see the stunning frescoes painted by José Clemente Orozco in Hospicio Cabañas in Guadalajara costs foreign residents (with visa) about USD $2. Tickets to first-run films in English cost us about USD $3 at a modern theater.


When LCD Soundsystem (a band that's sold out Madison Square Garden) recently came to a small club in Guadalajara, tickets cost USD $71 each including fees -- which qualifies as a real splurge by Mexico's standards.


If you're new to town or looking for current events, This Week in Guadalajara is your connection to what's happening in this lively city.


Prices for streaming services have risen substantially over the past few years. It's not a category where we consume a lot, but anyone demanding international, foreign-language programming, or the latest premium content can expect to pay up to USD $45 per month for a handful of subscriptions. On an average budget you might only use one.

Personal care. This is a vast category that includes things like haircuts, skin care, massages, alternative therapies, and so on. Unlike the U.S., these services can be so affordable in Mexico you may find yourself indulging in them far more frequently than you once did.


For example, facials at a medispa run by a Guadalajara dermatologist cost about USD $40, a 90-minute, deep tissue massage with an experienced masseuse costs USD $47, while a woman's haircut costs around USD $18.


Pets. Our household includes two rescue cats from the U.S. and one rescue dog from Mexico. They're part of our family and we do like to spoil them.


As new expats we were overjoyed to learn how much cheaper vet care is in Mexico compared to the U.S. Plus, in-home doctor visits for check-ups and vaccinations are a wonderful option if you lack a car (Uber and mass transit don't allow pets) or your animals get stressed out by car rides.


Pet food is one area where Mexico sadly gouges pet parents. Pet food and supplies have been taxed as "luxury" items with a 16% tax surcharge on top of the regular 16% IVA tax.

For this reason, pets are included in a "Champagne" budget but not an average one.


For any household with a bunch of animals, it's reasonable to spend about USD $250 a month for food, supplies, and vet care. To learn more about caring for pets in Mexico, please check out my in-depth post here.

 

Conclusion


To wrap up, an adult couple can live a comfortable but not extravagant lifestyle in Guadalajara in 2024 for about USD $28,000 per year.


For those looking to enjoy the finer things Guadalajara has to offer, an annual budget of USD $36,000 (with home ownership) or USD $47,000 (renting) is realistic in 2024. Of course, there's plenty of room to flex these numbers up or down depending on your lifestyle needs -- with health, travel, and entertainment being particularly subjective.


For anyone considering a move to Mexico (or another country), I recommend taking exploratory trips and asking lots of questions before making a decision. Given all the moving parts, it's best to use cost-of-living surveys like these as a starting point for your own due diligence.

 

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3 Comments


Since your latest post I've been tracking my own spending at my local Tiangui. Prices have definitely increased, but I still can't imagine what this haul would've cost me in a major US city.. I shopped for the whole week's worth of veggies and fruits and splurged by getting a couple handfuls of gambas, a couple filets of fish, a whole round of Oaxacan cheese, a dozen eggs, fresh avocados, fresh ataulfo mangoes and bunches of produce to last me through until next Monday. My goal was to get enough for two people to have meals for the week. Here is my list; 1 large round of Oaxacan cheese -> 80 pesos 1/4 slice of Queso fesco/naraja -> 20 pesos Ataulfo mangoes -> 45 pes…

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Guest
May 06

Really thorough detail and well researched…. Is there a large difference in costs across the Guadalajara metro? I suspect that some areas are more expensive due to their location and proximity to the country clubs, natural areas, etc.


Any study of economic spread across the city planned?

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Guest
May 05

Thanks for the great info! Well researched and organized for comparative budgets.

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