So now that I’m here in Mexico, is it really as affordable as my research led me to believe? Let’s talk about my real cost of living in Merida Mexico for 2023. I’ll be talking about it from the perspective of living with three other people in my household, so the costs will be vastly different if you’re a solo traveler. But you’ll still be able to gain some idea of what it may look like for you when I outline everything.
Now, first things first: I like nice things. I like convenience. That’s going to sway my budget a bit. If you’re looking to travel on a shoestring budget or retire on a small pension, this post might not be for you. Because I like nice things. And the first item on the list will reveal that to you. But before we get into the details, let’s talk a little about Merida the city, and why it might be as affordable as it is.
Where is Merida Mexico?
Most people think of Mexico City when they think of Mexico, or of vacation hot spots such as Cancun, Cabo, Tulum, Cozumel, or even Playa del Carmen. But most are unaware of just how vast this country is. I certainly had never heard of Merida before starting my digital nomad research.
Merida is the capital city of the state of Yucatan, located in the southeastern part of Mexico. With a population of over 1.2 million people, it’s the largest city in the Yucatan Peninsula and one of the fastest-growing cities in Mexico. Merida is known for its rich cultural heritage, dating back to the ancient Mayan civilization. The city is also renowned for its colonial architecture, which is a mix of Spanish, Mexican, and Mayan influences.
Mexico is a large and diverse country, with 31 states and one federal district. The history of Mexico dates back to the ancient Mayan civilization, which thrived in the Yucatan Peninsula from approximately 2000 BC to 1500 AD. The Mayans were skilled in agriculture, mathematics, and astronomy, and left behind impressive architectural and cultural achievements, such as the Chichen Itza pyramids. The Mayan civilization eventually declined, (you know why) but they live on here in the Yucatan and their legacy continues to influence Mexican culture to this day.
Merida is an important cultural and economic center in Mexico, and offers a comfortable and affordable lifestyle, with plenty of opportunities for leisure, entertainment, and personal growth.
It is a vibrant and growing city known for its colonial architecture, rich cultural heritage, and beautiful landscapes. Growth is evident all around the city and the landscape is changing before our eyes.
The city offers a comfortable and affordable lifestyle that appeals to many people looking to escape the hustle and bustle of larger cities. It’s what I fell in love with as a Jamaican, it really reminds me of home, but bigger. The slow lifestyle is there but the infrastructure is far more advanced than in my tiny island home. There’s so much more to see, do, eat, and experience.
As a result, many expats and retirees have chosen to make Merida their home. But it’s fast becoming a city of choice for a younger crowd wanting to raise their families in a safe, diverse, cultural city with all the modern amenities. It’s close to the US but the culture is so different that it offers a reprieve to those who seek it.
It’s a great place for families and foodies. However, for those considering a move to Merida, it’s important to have a good understanding of the cost of living in the city.
In this article, I aim to provide a comprehensive overview of the cost of living in Merida as I’ve experienced it. I’m covering all angles from housing costs, to food and groceries, transportation, healthcare, utilities, taxes, leisure and entertainment, and work opportunities.
My goal is to give you a complete and accurate picture of what it costs to live in Merida, so you can make informed decisions about your future. Whether you’re a retiree, an expat, or just considering a short move to Merida, this article will provide valuable insights into the cost of living in this fascinating and vibrant city. Everything is quoted in USD.
Rental Prices in Merida
As a current resident of Merida, I can say that one of the first things that impressed me about this city was the variety of housing options available. There are many popular neighborhoods to choose from, each with its own unique character and charm. I stayed in a few of them via Airbnb to help me decide where we wanted to rent when it was time.
Centro, Merida’s Historic City Center
If you’re looking for a more traditional and culturally rich experience, you might want to consider living in Centro, which is the historic center of the city. Here in the city center, you’ll find beautiful colonial-style homes, charming plazas, and bustling street markets. The cost of housing in Centro can vary depending on the size and location of the property, but on average, you can expect to pay around $500-$800 per month for a two-bedroom apartment.
Centro is walkable. You’ll find all the entertainment, restaurants, and nightlife options here to please you. I do love how every time I go to Centro, I stumble across a random free concert or some other cultural activity happening. I love the atmosphere there on Sundays when they shut down one side of the main street, Paseo de Montejo, for biciruta. This is where you have the opportunity to ride, skate, walk, or simply watch all the activities out on the streets. It’s a great place to have brunch or stroll along and nibble at some street food.
In Centro, you’ll also find lots of museums, historic buildings, and culturally important monuments and locations to browse. And you can walk to them all! If you’re here for a short while or don’t mind the noise and hustle of the city center, Centro is the place for you.
On the other hand, if you’re looking for a more modern and upscale lifestyle, you might want to consider living in one of the newer neighborhoods in the north of the city. Here, you’ll find spacious homes, well-manicured lawns, and upscale shopping centers. The cost of housing in these areas is generally higher than in Centro, with the average cost of a two-bedroom apartment being around $800-$1200 per month.
In general, I would say that the lifestyle in the north of the city is more relaxed and upscale, while the lifestyle in Centro is more traditional and culturally rich. Both areas have their own advantages and disadvantages, so it really depends on your personal preferences and lifestyle. Regardless of which area you choose to live in, one thing is for sure: you’ll be able to enjoy a comfortable and affordable lifestyle in Merida.
I chose to live in the North. I much prefer to visit Centro and then leave to the comforts of the suburbs than to constantly be enveloped by the busyness. I’m not a fan of the flooding that happens when it rains. Centro is a clogged, muddy mess in the rainy season which is pretty significant here. Plus you’ll hear fireworks and parties all the time in Centro as Mexicans, I find, don’t need much of a reason to throw back a few tequilas!
In the north where I am, it’s still very walkable and the bus system is pretty reliable. Plus there are all the malls surrounding these neighborhoods and my list of restaurants to try in my vicinity is a mile long. I’m happily making my way through the best restaurants in Merida. I am in a 3 bed 3 bath apartment for $1000. You can see a video of it and why I chose it below.
Finding Cheaper Rentals
Could I have found a cheaper rental? Absolutely. I viewed 3-bedroom homes that were being rented for $500. But remember what I said in my opener, I like nice things.
I wanted to be in a location that was well situated, walkable for those members of my household that do not drive, and updated with modern amenities. Neighborhoods in the north of Merida tend to attract a higher price, I am realizing. Remember, the city is booming and landlords are more aware that foreigners (and Mexican retirees from other states) are coming with more spending power. They’re hiking the prices and we’re paying them because we’re comparing them to the exorbitant prices in our home countries and finding them affordable still. That’s a touchy subject but here we are.
If you go to the east, west, or south of Centro, you will find much better pricing. You’ll be in lovely neighborhoods still, with lots of tiendas and local restaurants often out of someone’s home serving the best food! The feeling of community is stronger in these neighborhoods too and I find them very welcoming of foreign neighbors. I just really wanted a pool, a modern, updated interior, and outdoor living facilities to host guests all in a central location.
Another thing to consider is furniture. Most long-term rentals in Merida will be unfurnished. You might be lucky enough to get the major appliances. Mine is fully furnished. I thought it was a great deal for the price but locals have since enlightened me.
I do need one more bedroom though and I am now savvy enough to know that I won’t be paying a dollar more than I am paying now. AND I expect even more in my next place.
Merida Rent vs Jamaica
So how does this compare to many other cities in Mexico and around the world? Well, when compared to Mexico City or Monterrey, Merida offers a lower cost of living, with lower housing costs, lower taxes, and lower costs for food, transportation, and utilities.
When compared to other cities internationally, Merida is also relatively affordable. For example, when compared to cities in the United States, such as San Francisco or New York, Merida offers a lower cost of living, with lower housing costs, lower taxes, and lower costs for food, transportation, and utilities.
Jamaicans who want to live in the city also face high real estate prices. The apartment I left behind was $950 for a 2bed 2 bath. It was a more upscale apartment, but again, my disclaimer. I’d say you can get a decent 2bed in Kingston for $600 – $700 and of course cheaper outside of the city. So I’m getting an extra bed and bath for the same cost and intend to go up to a 4bed for this same price in the near future.
Overall, the cost of living in Merida is very reasonable, especially when compared to other cities in Mexico and internationally. Whether you’re a retiree, an expat, or just considering a move to Merida, this city offers a comfortable and affordable lifestyle that is hard to beat.
Food and Groceries in Merida
Let’s discuss the cost of food and groceries in Merida. One of the great things about living in Merida is that you can enjoy fresh, local, and affordable food. I am thrilled at the abundance of fresh avocados year-round since it’s seasonal in Jamaica. Same with limes! (Are you catching a theme here?)
The city has a vibrant food culture, with a wide variety of restaurants, cafes, and street food vendors offering traditional Mexican cuisine, as well as international cuisine. I often wonder how they all make a living because there is an abundance of every type of food establishment here. (Except maybe a good Jamaican spot, but I digress.)
When it comes to grocery shopping, there are plenty of options available, including large supermarket chains, local markets, and smaller corner stores. Americans are shocked to find their modern amenities like Costco, Sam’s Club, and Walmart all around the city.
I love Chedraui and Soriana for major supermarket shopping and Super Aki for a quick top-up. Fruterias are all over selling fresh fruit and vegetables and farmer’s markets happen on multiple days each week.
Servicio a domicilio aka home delivery thrives here. You can get anything delivered for a small cost which can spoil you and blow your budget really quickly at first!
And our proximity to the beach, one of the main reasons I chose Merida, means we can get fresh fish and seafood purchases too! Several fishermen delivery their weekly catch to your home or you can visit them at the various markets around town.
You can expect to find a wide variety of fresh produce, meat, dairy, and pantry staples at affordable prices. For example, a carton of 30 eggs can be purchased for around $2-4, a kilo of chicken for around $4.00, and a loaf of bread for around $2.00.
When dining out, you can expect to pay anywhere from $5.00 to $30.00 for a meal, depending on the type of restaurant and the quality of the food. For example, a meal at a traditional Mexican restaurant might cost around $15.00, while a meal at a more upscale restaurant might cost around $$20 – 30.00 with an appetizer and drink. You’ll find several American chains like Starbucks, Fridays, Texas Roadhouse, and pizza chains here if that’s your thing.
Hit up the taquerias and taco stands all around for $1 tacos that are delicious! And the vegan offerings are plentiful and multiplying quickly here if that’s your thing.
For a family of four, my grocery bill is around $150 each week. This is starting to lower itself as it often included things you need when you just move to a new place, like small kitchen gadgets, linens, and toiletries. Now, I can make a full supermarket run and not cross $100 for the week. We eat out at least once per week and that costs us around $40-$60 in total depending on where we go.
Overall, the cost of food and groceries in Merida is very reasonable, and you can expect to enjoy delicious and affordable meals every day. You’ll have a hard time if you need all your comforts from home but open your palate to the delicious Mexican offerings and you’ll fall in love. Whether you’re a foodie or just someone who appreciates good food, Merida is definitely a city worth considering.
Transportation in Merida
Getting around Merida is relatively easy and affordable, thanks to a well-developed transportation system that includes rideshare options, taxis, and public buses.
Rideshare services like Uber, Didi, and InDriver are widely available in Merida, making it easy to get around the city quickly and efficiently. Prices are very reasonable, with a trip within the city typically costing around $2.00-$10.00.
The public bus system in Merida is also an affordable and convenient way to get around the city. Buses are well-maintained and run regularly, with most routes costing around $0.50 per trip. If you download the Moovit app, you’ll see the bus schedule which makes life so much easier. There’s even a convenient Auto Progreso bus you can catch to the beach and back for about $2.
Now rental car options, that’s where things get pricey. Deals and steals happen on occasion and “deal” is still relative as the lowest I’ve really seen for a car rental is $35 daily and $500 monthly. The best way to find these is by joining Facebook groups local to the area and asking around.
There are also loads of drivers who will take you around affordably if you need one. You can book a driver for a day to do some shopping in different areas or book one to take you out of town on a tour. Again, Facebook is the best resource for these.
Regardless of your transportation needs, you can expect to get around Merida easily and affordably, with plenty of options available to suit your budget and lifestyle. Whether you’re a rideshare user or prefer to take the bus, you’ll be able to get around Merida with ease.
Bear in mind that Merida is filled with roundabouts which some people are unfamiliar with and therefore uncomfortable with. I’ve seen many people express fear with driving in Merida but thanks to my Jamaican experience, driving here for me is a breeze. And in Jamaica, we drive on the left-hand side! If you choose to drive here, you’ll be fine.
Healthcare in Merida
Healthcare in Merida is generally considered to be of high quality and affordable. There are a number of private hospitals and clinics in the city, as well as a number of public hospitals that offer affordable medical care.
Private healthcare facilities in Merida are well-equipped, with modern facilities and highly trained medical professionals. If you have private health insurance or are willing to pay out of pocket, you can expect to receive high-quality medical care at a private hospital or clinic in Merida.
Public healthcare facilities in Merida are also considered to be of good quality, with many offering free or low-cost medical care to those who are eligible. If you are a Mexican citizen or legal resident, you may be eligible for free or low-cost medical care at a public hospital.
Since we are simply tourists here at the moment, we have used the services of private medical facilities for both of my parents. The doctor we visited does house visits, including labs, and was quite affordable. His consultation fee was $20 and an executive lab panel for both parents combined (including hormonal tests for my mom) was around $250. I’ve also seen quotes for mammograms at $60 at one of the high-end hospitals here.
In addition to hospitals and clinics, Merida also has a number of pharmacies and drugstores, where you can purchase over-the-counter medications and prescription drugs at affordable prices. This has been supremely beneficial for us as my dad suffers from high blood pressure issues and getting his medication here is only around $10 for everything and no prescription is necessary.
I intend to undergo some cosmetic procedures when possible so stay tuned to my Youtube channel for those prices.
Overall, healthcare in Merida is considered to be of high quality and affordable, making it a great place to live if you are concerned about your health and well-being. Whether you prefer private or public healthcare, you can expect to find a range of options available to suit your needs and budget.
Merida Electricity and Other Utilities
Utilities are expensive the world over and Merida is no different. In fact, the state of Yucatan is said to have the highest electricity costs in all of Mexico. Remember, it gets extremely hot in Merida, nicknamed the furnace of Mexico, and so central heating here is a need for most foreigners. You’ll get a discount on your electricity bill if you manage to stay below 850 Kwh each month, a feat I have yet to accomplish. I was at 1300 Kwh on my first bill and 1900 Kwh on my second bill. And we have not yet hit the summer months. at 1900 Kwh, my bill came to a whopping $300. This is for a two-month period as the electricity bill is calculated every two months. This is around what I paid in Jamaica, where electricity is quite expensive. But I have more people in my household consuming now, so there’s that.
I’m not sure what my water bill is like as it is included in my rent but word on the street is that is quite minimal. Same for trash. The other major expense is gas which depends on the size of your tank and what it powers. We have a gas stove and a gas water heater. When I first moved in, I had to fill the tank which cost me around $190. Thankfully almost 5 months later it is still going and we cook at least one meal every day, often more.
Internet and cable TV services are also widely available in Merida, and prices for these services are also considered to be very reasonable. On average, you can expect to pay around $40.00 to $60.00 per month for a basic internet and cable TV package, again depending on your usage. I will say to check the internet in your area first if you’re considering a location outside of the city limits as coverage gets shaky out there.
Overall, utilities in Merida are considered to be affordable, with a range of options available to suit your needs and budget. Whether you’re looking for basic services like electricity and water, or more advanced services like internet and cable TV, you can expect to find a range of options available in Merida that will help you keep your living expenses low.
Leisure and Entertainment
Merida is a vibrant city with a rich cultural heritage and plenty of leisure and entertainment options to suit all tastes and budgets. I have a long list of things I want to do, eat, see, and try and 6 months later I’ve barely dented this list.
There are plenty of indoor activities to enjoy in Merida, including museums, theaters, and cinemas, as well as a thriving arts and cultural scene. The city is also home to a number of shopping centers, where you can find everything from ice skating rinks, bowling alleys, game arcades, local shopping, crafts, handmade items, luxury goods and international brands.
If you prefer outdoor activities, Merida has plenty to offer as well. The city is surrounded by lush, tropical landscapes, and there are plenty of parks and green spaces to enjoy. We’ve been to parks that feature street food and local entertainment, the extreme sports park which I cannot fathom the fact that it’s free, and the skating park to watch. There are two zoos I have yet to visit and several botanical parks and gardens surrounding the city.
It’s a joy to simply walk the streets of Centro against the backdrop of wonderfully restored colonial-style buildings. Just outside the city limits, you can explore the beautiful beaches of the Yucatan Peninsula, as well as the ancient ruins of the Mayan civilization, including the famous Chichen Itza and the lesser-known grandeur that is Uxmal.
For those who enjoy food and drink, Merida is a food lover’s paradise, with a thriving culinary scene that offers a range of local and international cuisine. From street food to upscale restaurants, there’s something for everyone in Merida. I often wonder how all of them stay open as businesses when there are just so many different restaurants to choose from!
In addition to all of these indoor and outdoor activities, Merida is also a vibrant and welcoming city, with a lively social scene that includes a range of bars, clubs, and other nightlife venues. It’s LGBTQ-friendly and offers entertainment spaces that cater specifically to those who identify in this community.
It’s hard to say what an entertainment budget in Merida will be like because this is so dependent on your taste and lifestyle. I’ve enjoyed everything from $1 tacos to $60 multi-course gourmet meals and $150 steak and lobster dishes. It’s all here for you to enjoy.
There’s always a party, fair, carnival or some other entertainment in town or reason to celebrate. Mexicans love a good party and I am here to enjoy it all.
Overall, Merida is a city that offers a wide range of leisure and entertainment options, making it a great place to live and visit. Whether you prefer indoor activities or outdoor adventures, you can expect to find plenty of things to do in Merida that will suit your tastes and budget.
Merida Budget for a Family of Four
To wrap this all up, we live very comfortably on a budget of $2500 monthly here. Singles can get by on $1000 monthly as it is possible to rent a one-bedroom for $250 and go from there.
But I say have at least a budget of $1500 for yourself if you like to explore and enjoy what a town offers in comfort.
Questions? Did I leave anything out? Ask below!