Even though I have lived in Mazatlán, Mexico for 15 years, I am still amazed at how much – or really, how little – things cost. When you get away from resorts and tourist areas, prices plummet.
As a single, 66-year-old retiree who basically lives off social security checks, I have to take care of what I use. But in Mexico, I only pay $ 420 a month for an apartment half a block away the beach. And aside from the basic necessities, I spend an average of $ 160 a month on things like eating out, entertainment, and occasional quirky purchases.
In a country where the minimum wage is $ 8 to $ 12 per month. today, you can buy here for $ 5 or less:
One reason I enjoy living in Mazatlán is how affordable my monthly cost of living is. I pay $ 5 or less for these basic things:
- My monthly water bill for my one bedroom apartment
- My monthly electricity bill (when I do not use air conditioning)
- A premium sink
- Two hours of gardening
- One hour cleaning service
- Decent size, decorative palm tree for my apartment
In Mexico, fresh produce, dairy products and meat are available on a budget. Buying seasonally helps keep prices even lower. Right now, $ 5 buys you half a dozen pineapples. In the summer you get 16 pounds of mango!
When it comes to groceries, with $ 5, I can regularly buy:
- 40 eggs
- 10 pounds of sugar
- 5 pounds of fresh ginger
- 5 pounds of turmeric root
- Eight heads of lettuce
- 12 pounds of carrots
- 10 pounds of tomatoes
- 3 pounds of avocado
- 10 fresh oysters
- One pound of freshly caught swordfish or dorado
- A whole fried chicken with potatoes, tortillas and salsa
- 1 pound 3-inch wild-caught shrimp
- 4 liters of organic milk from a local dairy
- Half a pound of locally roasted, organic coffee beans
3. Beverages and beverages
They say that beer is cheaper than water in Mazatlán, and sometimes that’s really true! Small cafes on the beach will serve cheaper drinks than more sophisticated restaurants, but compared to the US, alcohol prices are cheap everywhere.
Here’s what you can get for $ 5:
- A 10-pack Pacifico or Tecate beer
- Two 3-liter bottles of Cola
- 15 liters of purified water
- Two 3-liter bottles of Cola
- Two liters of freshly squeezed orange juice
- A cocktail made with alcohol from a name
- Four large bottles of Topo Chico mineral water
- Two cappuccinos or latte
- A 16-ounce cask of artisan beer, plus another 5-ounce pour
- Three fresh coconuts
4. Full meals
Going out to dinner in Mazatlán does not have to break your budget. There are many affordable cafes and taco stalls where meals are around $ 5.
At some more “formal” restaurants, certain entrees may also be within this budget.
Here are some of the things I got for $ 5 or less:
- Three to 10 street tacos
- Three restaurant tacos
- An order of Huevos Rancheros with coffee and juice
- A BLT
- A burger with french fries
- Eight boned chicken wings and beer on tap
- A dozen chicken wings
- Seafood or tortilla soup
- A four-topping medium pizza at Dominos
- Almost half a kilo of grilled pork ribs
- Four large croissants
5. Fun activities
Mazatlán is known for band, a traditional Sinaloa style of music that sounds like horn-heavy German polka. You can enjoy a private concert from a strolling band on the beach for $ 5.
But that’s not all you can do with a $ 5 budget. That’s enough for:
- A bike rental for a little over an hour
- A salsa class
- A yoga class
- In Zumba time
- A reserved seat in a cinema
- A dozen red roses, for a great date
- Three return boat trips to Stone Island – a small beach island south of Mazatlán
6. Health products
You have heard that medicines, doctor visits and prescriptions are significantly cheaper in Mexico. But what will $ 5 really give you? These necessities:
- Two consultations with a licensed physician
- A 236-milliliter bottle of Pepto-Bismol
- 30,600 milligrams of ibuprofen tablets
- 30 550 milligrams Ciprofloxacin antibiotic tablets
- Four Oral-B toothbrushes
- Three tubes of Crest or Colgate toothpaste
Are pets not well? A regular vet visit or a shot of antibiotics also costs only $ 5.
While gas is expensive ($ 5 gives you more than a gallon), public transportation in Mexico is incredibly affordable. Here’s what you can get for $ 5:
- 16 trips on Mexico City’s highly efficient metro-metro system
- A ride with Uber, Lyft or Didi
- Nine trips with Mazatlán’s “green bus”, which runs along the coast
Prices like these make my life in Mexico pretty close to stress free. With daily costs so low, I am able to do more of the things that make me happy. I can live the life I love – and love the life I live.
Janet Blaser is a writer who has lived in Mazatlán, Mexico since 2006. A former California journalist, her work now focuses on expatriates. Janet’s first book, “Why We Left: An Anthology of American Women Expats” is a bestseller from Amazon. Follow her on Instagram and Facebook.
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