Hoping to understand the cost of living in Merida Mexico? You have come to the right place.
This guide has been written by an ex-pat in the city that has seen the Yucatan capital grow and change over the past year. It discusses how much you can expect to spend in total per month based on your lifestyle and all the different areas of expenses that you need to consider.
When you question how much the cost of living in Merida Mexico is per month/year, the best response generally is: how long is a piece of string? Your expenses will vary significantly depending on the type of lifestyle that you are used to and that which you expect to have in Merida.
In basic terms though? At a minimum, you can expect to spend around $800-$900 a month to live here as a single person.
If you like the finer things in life, want to live in a big, modern house with a pool, eat out regularly and take frequent trips around places in the Yucatan, you can live extremely comfortably with $2,500 – $3,000 a month. It all depends on you.
Cost of Living in Merida Mexico
Generally speaking, the cost of living in Merida, Mexico (and Mexico as a whole) is substantially cheaper than the cost of living in the United States, the United Kingdom, and other “western” countries. Research indicates that Mexico is the 120th most expensive country in the world.
The US is the 8th most expensive country, and the UK is the 12th most expensive. So right off the bat, you can probably see that you are going to save yourself some money by moving to Mexico, even if you don’t make any changes to your quality of living.
You could quite possibly move to Mexico and find that you can rent a large, contemporary modern house with a pool for the same price that you pay for a one-bedroom apartment in your own country. Food, grocery, and gas costs are also generally cheaper in Mexico.
Threats to the current cost of living in Merida, Mexico
Obviously, the reduced cost of living, the good weather, incredible Yucatecan food, and the proximity to the best beaches in the Yucatan make Merida an appealing place to move to. As such, a lot of western ex-pats have been moving here in recent years.
Currently, there are more than 11,000 American and Canadian ex-pats living in the wider area of the city. New housing developments are constantly popping up around the city limits, and the number of international residents in the city is growing exponentially year on year.
The influx of international residents with more disposable income is pushing up prices in the city. So for sure, Merida is more expensive than other parts of Mexico and the cost of living is only going to continue to rise.
Rental costs in Merida Mexico
You can expect very reasonable accommodation prices in Merida whether you want to rent or purchase your property. However, you need to be careful as scams and corruption are rife here and as a foreigner, you are more likely to be duped.
The location of the property can also affect the price. North Merida and the historic Centro are the most expensive parts of town to live in.
The former is becoming increasingly gentrified. This is the area of choice for a lot of ex-pats.
The neighborhoods here mostly consist of contemporary new build houses and the streets are filled with luxe shopping malls and American chain restaurants (Boston’s Pizza, Dairy Queen, Carl’s Jr, etc). If you want to be around home comforts, you will have everything here.
Merida Centro is filled with gorgeous colorful colonial houses. It is becoming an increasingly sought-after location for people wanting to experience the culture of old Merida and so, property prices here are increasing.
The east and west parts of Merida are perfectly safe and yet they are often overlooked by foreign ex-pats. You can get more bang for your buck by opting to move here and it is easy to get from here to other parts of the city by bus and Uber.
The south of Merida is filled with industrial areas, is very run-down in parts, and is best avoided. While it is not dangerous per-se, crime rates are higher here and there simply isn’t any reason to base yourself somewhere run down and sketchy when there are plenty of better areas to choose from.
Costs of Merida apartment rentals
You can expect to find studio apartments for as little as $200 a month, provided that you are willing to live in Itzimna, Colonia, or east and west Merida. A lot of these rentals do include all of your electricity, water, and internet.
Most Mexicans will find their apartments via the Facebook marketplace rather than via property websites as the deals are often better. There are also several Facebook groups for ex-pats in Merida where you can post that you are looking for accommodation.
However, since most members of these groups are westerners you need to be cautious of people that try and overcharge you when it comes to renting. If something seems decent value and cheaper than what you would pay at home, you should still double check that price with Mexicans or other ex-pats.
Foreigners are constantly quoted more than Mexicans because it is assumed that they have more money or that they don’t know how much things cost. Just because you have more, doesn’t mean that you should pay more than the correct going rate. This is something that massively contributes to the increasing cost of living in Merida.
You can rent a small, Mexican-style house for between $300 and $600 a month depending on the size, the number of bedrooms, whether it has a pool, etc. Stylish modern houses and villa-style homes will cost you between $1000 and $1500 a month.
Airbnbs and short-term rentals in Merida
If you are wondering where to stay in Merida when you move, it is worth booking an Airbnb and basing yourself in different areas to see which suits you best. However, obviously, short-term rentals come at an inflated price.
Similarly, Airbnbs in Mexico are subject to an additional tourist tax just like hotels. This pushes the rental costs up even more.
Cost of buying groceries
There are many variables when it comes to each person’s monthly grocery budget. However, two people can easily live comfortably on a budget of $200-$250 a month.
Even eating a very healthy diet packed with fruits, veggies and organic products does not cost as much in Mexico as it would in the US and elsewhere. Many of these items are growing in abundance right on your doorstep!
Merida has an excellent selection of supermarkets and mercados (traditional marketplaces). The large supermarkets stock a lot of international products and you will find most of the things that you would have at home in the US (or elsewhere) here.
The prices of these items are pretty much the same as you would expect to pay in the US. But the costs of fresh produce are cheaper on the whole.
Shopping at Mexican mercados can be a fun shopping experience. The quality of the produce is usually better than at supermarkets, and costs are generally lower.
The Mercado Lucas de Gálvez is Merida’s principal mercado. It spans over 45,000m2 and is home to more than 2,000 vendors selling every item imaginable!
The Mercado de San Benito, Mercado San Sebastien and Mercado Municipal No. 2 Santos Degollado are also worth adding to your radar. Realistically though, if you don’t live near these markets you are probably going to find yourself doing most of your shopping at supermarkets.
There are a plethora of large supermarkets and supercenters in Merida. Walmart arguably has the largest variety of products, especially if you are looking for international items too.
Soriana and Bodega Aurrera are the most budget brands. You will also find a lot of OXXO convenience stores and 7/11s on practically every other street corner which is convenient if you just need to go out and grab something.
The main supermarkets you can find in Merida are listed below. Do note that a lot of the budget stores mostly sell domestic ingredients.
- Super Aki (Mexican store similar to Walmart)
- Bodega Aurrera (budget grocery store)
- Soriana (budget grocery store)
- Willy’s (budget grocery store)
- Sam’s Club (predominantly wholesale, members-only supermarket)
Cost of dining out in Merida
The cost of eating out at Merida restaurants is pretty reasonable when you compare Merida to the US and the UK, but often more expensive than in other parts of Mexico. (e.g. nearby Campeche City).
In most taquerias, you can expect to have 3-4 tacos for around 110 pesos – circa $5. A burro (burrito) typically costs around the same.
Soft drinks and “agua frescas” (Mexican drinks made by blending fresh fruit with water and sugar) are often around 50 pesos ($3). So Merida is cheaper than eating out in say, Cancun or Tulum, but more costly than non-touristic parts of the country.
If you go to restaurants in the northern part of the city, fine dining restaurants, or to restaurants set inside Yucatan haciendas, you can expect to pay more. Meals in such places are usually around $10-$12 per person.
Of course, street food is much cheaper. You will find street vendors all over the city selling things like elotes (corn on the cob with mayonnaise and chili), marquesitas (Yucatan stuffed crepes), and tacos for as little as 17 pesos (80 cents).
Public transport costs in the Yucatan
Public transport in Merida and the wider Yucatan is very affordable. If you find yourself needing to take city buses or colectivos (shared minivans) in Merida, you can buy a single ticket for as little as 8 pesos (40 cents).
The only issue is perhaps that there are so many bus routes and services are often infrequent. So, it takes some time to learn what buses service your area and their operation times.
Uber and a Mexican alternative Didi are rideshare apps that are available in Merida. Didi is often marginally cheaper than Uber, although Uber usually has more available drivers.
You will find that you can get Ubers from one side of town to another for as little as $2.50 – $3. Ubers to the beach town of Progreso or other nearby coastal areas will cost no more than $15-20 one way.
If you want to take day trips from Merida to nearby attractions such as Celestun, Uxmal, Mayapan, and Chichen Itza, you can easily take a bus from the ADO bus station in Merida Centro. ADO and Noreste are the two main bus companies that operate throughout the Yucatan.
Intercity buses in Mexico are clean and reliable, and most have air conditioning, reclining seats, and complimentary wifi. You can get a bus ticket from Merida to most parts of the Yucatan peninsula for no more than $25.
Cost of traveling around the Yucatan peninsula
One of the massive highlights of living in Merida is the opportunity that basing yourself in the city gives you to explore the wider Yucatan peninsula. Cancun, Tulum, and the Mayan Riviera may well be among the most expensive places to visit in Southern Mexico.
However many destinations near Merida, such as the yellow city of Izamal and Valladolid are very affordable to travel to. You can find comfortable budget hotels in most Yucatan towns and cities for just $25 a night and this rate often includes breakfast.
The costs of dining out across the Yucatan are comparable to, or lower than, the costs of eating out in Merida. If you really want to splurge, luxurious hotels are priced at around $100-$150 a night which is still much less than the cost of a night’s stay at comparable property in other countries.
Entertainment costs in Merida
Going for a night out, going to the movies, visiting the bowling alley, or hanging out at beach clubs is relatively affordable in the Yucatan. There are movie theaters scattered all over the city and an adult ticket typically only costs 80 pesos ($3.90) per person.
If you head to a bar, you can buy a beer for a couple of dollars and a cocktail for as little as $5. Progreso, Chicxulub, and other nearby beach towns have beach clubs where you can rent an umbrella and a sunbed for the day. However, this seldom costs more than a couple of dollars for the entire day.
Taxes in Mexico
Whether or not you need to pay taxes in Mexico depends on your residency status. If you are visiting Merida as a tourist, you are permitted to stay for up to 180 days visa-free and you are not allowed to work in the country.
Generally speaking, your domicile (the place that you ought to pay taxes to) is the country where you are based for more than 6 months of the year. If you spend more than 183 days in Mexico, you may be required to pay Mexican taxes.
You will be required to pay Mexican taxes if more than 50% of your annual income comes from Mexican sources, or if you are conducting most of your professional activities in Mexico. Most countries, including the US and the UK, have a double taxation agreement with Mexico.
This protects you from having to pay taxes to two countries. However, things can get quite complicated, especially if your permanent residence is overseas and you only spend a portion of the year in Mexico, or if you have multiple international income streams. If you are planning a move to Mexico, the best thing to do is to speak with your accountant and consult a local accountant in the city you are moving to.
Medical costs in Merida, Mexico
Merida has a wide range of excellent doctors, hospitals, and specialist healthcare providers. So, should you be unfortunate enough to fall ill while living here, or you have existing health conditions that you need treatment for, you can feel assured that you are in good hands.
Treatment costs can vary substantially from clinic to clinic and depending on whether you have insurance (which you ought to have). If you are moving to Mexico from a country where healthcare is free, like the UK, having to pay for healthcare in Mexico may come as a shock.
Alternatively, if you are moving to Mexico from the USA, you will probably find that everything is substantially cheaper than what you are used to. However, keep in mind that not all medical surgeries are created equal.
Clinics and hospitals in Merida
It is worth paying extra for the peace of mind of knowing that you are being attended to by a good doctor. The doctors at Hospital Faro del Mayab (Calle 24 S/N, Temozon Norte, Santa Gertrudis Copo) are very good.
This is Merida’s most state-of-the-art private hospital. If you fall ill suddenly and need to visit without an appointment, the doctors will generally see you pretty quickly. You can also have blood/stool/parasite tests here and the results are turned around within a day.
A consultation at Hospital Faro del Mayab will cost you $25. Health Itinerary (x25-A No. Col, C. 58 307, Itzimná,) is another alternative worth considering if you are moving to Merida long-term.
Membership is $260 a year or $30 a month. If you are not a member and you need to see a doctor, an appointment costs $40.
You will also see a lot of very low-cost walk-in doctor surgeries scattered around Merida where the doctors will see you for as little as 50 pesos ($2.50). Although these are obviously qualified medical professionals, most doctors do not speak English and questionable diagnoses have been reported in some cases.
If you have a reoccurring health problem, you know what is causing the issue, and you simply need to renew a prescription, it may be fine to see these doctors. Otherwise, if you feel very unwell, it is generally worth paying extra to see a very good doctor.
Health insurance in Merida
It is imperative to purchase comprehensive insurance if you are spending any amount of time in Merida. This is not something that is specific to moving to Mexico.
Wherever in the world you travel, you cannot be sure of what is around the corner, even if you are perfectly healthy. It is always better to be safe than sorry and make sure that you have yourself covered.
If you are traveling to Merida on a tourist visa to visit the city for several weeks/months at a time and you have not yet established if you want to live in the Yucatan full time, you should purchase travel insurance with comprehensive medical coverage. If you are making a permanent move to Mexico, you need to purchase local health coverage. These are two separate things.
Travel insurance-wise, pick a good policy that covers you for up to $1 million dollars worth of medical bills. If you travel a lot, purchasing an annual policy probably works out more economical.
If you are making a permanent move, there are so many variables when it comes to determining what health insurance is the best one for you. Prices fluctuate wildly depending on age, weight, health issues, etc.
Private insurance ranges from $30-180 a month depending on age and health. If private health insurance works out expensive for your demographic, you can save money by opting for IMSS (public) health insurance instead.
This is not a decision to take lightly and you should review several policies before making the decision. The US and other international health insurance policies will not be accepted in Mexico.
Dental costs in Merida
Dental costs in Merida can be as much as 70% lower than costs in the USA. Some clinics offer free consultations.
However, prices vary from place to place and you can expect to pay up to 500 pesos ($25) for a checkup. A cleaning costs between 250 and 600 pesos and a filling costs between 350 and 700 pesos.
Cosmetic dentistry and Orthopedic services are available here too, for a fraction of the costs that you would pay in the US. It is worth checking past reviews and asking around in various expat forums before deciding to go with a certain dentist.
Do you have any additional questions or concerns about the cost of living in Merida Mexico? How does it compare to the average living expenses where you are based?
Have a wonderful time in Mexico! Buen Viaje! Xo