Merida Living: What's The Cost?
How much does it cost to live in Merida, Mexico? Well, the simple answer is, "It depends on where you live and what you do." With that in mind, here’s a sampling of what we've been spending our money on. Prices are listed in US dollars based on the current conversion rate of about 20 pesos to $1.
We rent a fully furnished 2-bed 2-bath home with a pool near Parque Santa Ana through Property Management 23. It’s a vacation rental so it’s fully furnished with dishes and cutlery, washing machine, shampoo, soap, paper products, etc. It's very spacious with a large den, living room, dining area, and kitchen along with an enclosed back patio and a laundry closet. Most importantly, the house has air conditioning in every room which is definitely a must-have in Merida!
Our monthly rent is $1,500 and includes weekly maid and pool service. Gas, water, and Internet are provided at no cost, but electricity is an additional fee. Electricity is very expensive as compared to the US. Throughout the winter we've paid about $100 each month. I'm sure it could get way, wayyyyyyy more expensive during the summer when the a/c is cranked up.
We could easily cut our rent significantly if we moved outside the city center but we really like the convenience of being in the middle of everything. We just step out the door and we can connect with all kinds of shops, restaurants, and museums.
Most of the time we just walk anywhere we want to go. When we do need to hitch a ride, we use Uber or Didi. We’ve found that it generally costs us between $2 - $3 to get to most anywhere in the city.
But here’s the funny thing. If we have to go from the airport to our house, we can’t use a ride sharing service. We have to use one of the official airport taxi companies. It’s no joke. They don’t allow Uber or Didi to pick up from the airport (only drop-off). It's $10 for this service which is not a bad price for the 20-minute ride, but it does feel like a bit of a rip-off since we know we could Uber it for about $3.
Now, here’s where the big variations in price can occur. There are literally hundreds of cheap food carts throughout Merida. Good for you if you want to try one out. They may be very nice and they may be very tasty. But for us, we’re not eating anywhere that doesn’t have a place for the cooks to wash their hands or clean their utensils. YUCK!
Over the past few months, we’ve dined at coffee shops, cafes, and restaurants in quite a few different cities (Campeche, San Miguel, Oaxaca, and San Cristobol). It seems like Merida has probably been a bit more expensive than some of these, but overall, it’s still much more economical than the US. As you read on, keep in mind that when we go out, we frequent upscale-type eateries, so the prices listed here are on the higher end of the spectrum.
For breakfast, we usually pay about $2 for a cup of fancy coffee. We’ve noticed they are very exact with their coffee pricing in Merida. We may pay $1.75 for a cortado, but it’s 5 cents less for a macchiato. If we get a huge cinnamon roll or croissant to go along with it, that’s another $1 - $2. So, breakfast may run anywhere from $8 - $12, depending on our total caffeine and bread intake. (We have a whole blog dedicated to Merida coffee shops.)
To be honest, we really don’t go out for lunch very often. When we do, we usually stop at a locals' joint like La Negrita. Here, the price for a huge plate of enchiladas de mole is only $4.75 while a couple of chicken and cheese quesadillas sets us back $3.75. So, adding in soft drinks puts our tab at about $11. I should point out that we usually end up taking food home because the portions are so large. Well, I take food home; for some reason Russell doesn't ever seem to have anything left over.
We love to go out for dinner! But, before I get to that I should mention that we are pretty adept at ordering-in too. Our go-to is pizza. We frequently get a full size pie and a Caesar salad from Eskondida for less than $19. That’s including the delivery fee. We’ve also recently started ordering-in Indian food from Little India. We get two entrees, basmati rice, and naan bread delivered to our door for $10 - $15 at most. At prices like that, who wants to cook?
So, now for dinner. When want casual fare, we go to Zinc Comfort Food. I usually get buckwheat crepes filled with roasted chicken, tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil. Russell orders the lamb kababs with yogurt mint sauce. Even after we add a couple of drinks, we still spend less than $30 for this tasty meal.
For a special events like birthdays or Valentine’s, we go for steaks at 130 Degrees. I get a 4 ounce filet mignon for $11 and he gets an 8 ounce one for $22 (double the steak, double the price). Adding salads, sides, and a slice of cheesecake brings our total to about $50 - $60. But, if we get a bottle of wine, we will easily double the price to more than $100. But, hey, it's a special event.
WINE AND SPIRITS
Whether it’s an accompaniment to a nice dinner out, or just having a glass or two at home, we enjoy wine.
Since we’ve been south of the border, we’ve noticed there’s not a big selection of what we would consider higher quality vino to choose from. This is probably because Mexico is more tequila country than wine country. In any event, when we do splurge on a good bottle, it can be quite pricey as compared to what we would pay for a similar one back in the US.
When it comes to cocktails, the good news is that restaurants and bars like Voltacafe and La Tratto are constantly running two-for-one drink specials. Generally, they seem to go from 3PM – 9PM, but we’ve seen quite a few that start as early as noon. Wow, that's a little early for us!
When we do partake, we usually get Aperol Spritzes. I have no idea why…..you’d think we’d get margaritas considering we are in Mexico, but no, Spritzes seem to be our thing. Anyway, I digress. We spend about $8 for two drinks when we hit a local Happy Hour.
Meat, dairy, and prepackaged foods like pasta and sauce, peanut butter, and chips are all pretty much comparable to US prices; maybe just a few cents more or less. The big difference we've found is with produce. We literally pay pennies on the dollar for things like avocados, tomatoes, pineapples, and bananas. Plus, we get the added advantage of always having specialty fruits like papayas, mangos, and guavas readily available at low prices. We've gotten spoiled!
As you might imagine, tortillas are another very inexpensive grocery item. We go to the local market and get them fresh off the griddle. We pay about 25 cents for 2 dozen. The funny thing is that we never eat that many. We are intimidated into buying more because everyone around us is buying in bulk, like 50, 60, or even 100 at a time. We'd feel silly asking for 6!
HEALTH AND BEAUTY
We can get any medicine we need without a prescription from the local pharmacies. We just tell them the name, or show them a photo of a label if they can't understand our Spanish (which is not very good to be honest) and they plunk it down on the counter for us. Most of the time it's more expensive than what we would pay in the US because we aren't using our insurance, but it's certainly worth it for the convenience. Note: You cannot ship medicine to Mexico from the US, so plan accordingly if you have specific medical needs.
We've found that self-care services are a bargain here. We get our hair cut and styled at upscale salons like Robert Abuda on Paseo Montejo or Must on Calle 62 for less than $20. Plus, I've been known to indulge on a 90-minute massage for $45, or a 60-minute combination foot massage/pedicure for only $15 at Boho Spa.
We are very happy to have found a good tintoreria (dry cleaner) called El Danubio that's just around the corner from us. However, we’ve noticed that they are oddly specific with their pricing. It's $2.75 to dry clean a regular shirt and $2.80 for a heavy shirt. I really have no idea what the difference is. I just pay them what they say I owe.
Well that's it! Now you know what it costs here for the most of the big-ticket items as well as some of the smaller ones. We hope this information encourages you to come and visit Merida. Or, perhaps maybe even contemplate a long-term stay in this beautiful city.