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Cost of Living in Guadalajara

Written by on Wednesday, 15 April 1998 7:00 pm

If you are one of the millions of Americans who have just paid their tax burden to the IRS, you may be wishing that the cost of living in the United States were less expensive. Taxes are at an all-time high, but along with that is one of the best economies the nation has ever enjoyed. Many Americans are retiring with more in their pockets than ever before, but finding that the cost of living is putting them right back in the red, especially if they want to move to a warm climate like Florida, Arizona, or Southern California.

Some retirees are finding that moving across the border to Mexico offers them a higher standard of living at lower costs. They also may commute to see loved ones as easily as they can from a southern U.S. location. They can live in a gated community on a golf course ($70,000 to $80,000) for one-half the cost of a median U.S. home ($135,000), and buy food and services at a fraction of the cost of U.S. goods.

Mexico's slowly emerging financial and developmental renaissance is lowering the risk of investment to Americans and Canadians who are interested in good values for vacationing, second homes, and permanent residences. Developers are aggressively pursuing this market with the enticement of more bang for the buck.

Among the carrots on the stick: Comprehensive medical insurance can be purchased for as little as $200 a year. Property taxes are approximately $40 to $120 a year for an average home. Insurance costs on housing are low -- most homes are made of concrete forms and stucco, with virtually no need for fire insurance. Costs of some goods and services range higher -- such as for long distance service and automobile maintenance -- but food and other services are surprisingly low-cost.

The following cost of living estimates for the Guadalajara area (central subtropical Mexico near Mexico City and Puebla, both cities with multimillions in population) were obtained from Mexico Retirement and Travel Assistance fall/December 1997 issue and converted to U.S. dollars.


Premium gasoline: $1.69 per gallon
Wash auto: $1.87
Lubricate auto, change oil and filter: $14.82


Clean and X-ray teeth: $19.33
Tooth filled: $19.33
Doctor's office visit, including EKG: $40


Furnished one-bedroom apartment with living room, kitchen, and bath: $275 to $300 per month
Beautiful, furnished six-room apartment (two bedrooms) in a nice neighborhood: $450 per month
Unfurnished garden-style condominium with pool (two bedrooms, two baths) in Guadalajara's best neighborhood: $550 per month
Nice, modern two-bedroom home in gated community: $600 per month


Women's haircut and permanent: $19.93
Men's haircut: $3.24


Electricity: $9.84 per month
Propane gas for cooking: $14.90 per month
Telephone basic service: $15.90 per month
Water for drinking: $7 per month
No heating or air conditioning is required


Ticket to movie theater (first-run film): $1.87 to $2.49


Basic, thorough house cleaning one day (4-5 hours) each week: $6.23 per week


Clothes for two people at commercial laundry (washed, dried, and folded): $8.20 per week
Dry clean trousers or skirt: $1.91


Dinner at excellent restaurant: $12.45
Chicken dinner at good medium-priced restaurant: $5.75
Broiled prawn dinner in Chapala: $7.50


The following are prices per pound for fresh meat, vegetables, and fruit, current as of September 1997: Chicken, whole: $0.62

  • Bacon: $2.81
  • Hamburger: $1.33
  • Pork chops: $2.26
  • T-bone steak: $3
  • Beef fillet: $4.52
  • Turkey: $1.30
  • Tomatoes: $0.62
  • Cucumbers: $0.14
  • Potatoes: $0.16
  • Cabbage: $0.10
  • Broccoli: $0.31
  • Strawberries: $0.79
  • Oranges: $0.09
  • Bananas: $0.15
  • Parkay margarine (400g): $1.58
  • Flour: $0.24
  • Eggs (dozen): $1.08


Six-pack of beer (Corona 325 ml): $1.68
Coca-Cola ( 2-liter plastic bottle): $0.92
Milk (2 liters): $1
Fruit juice (1-liter tetra-pack carton): $1.39
Assorted soft drinks (355 ml. aluminum can): $0.34

Imported Scotch and bourbon are comparatively expensive, costing about what they do in the United States, or more. Domestic alcoholic beverages are relatively inexpensive. The best Kahlua costs $8.59 for a 946 ml. bottle. Passport Scotch (700 ml): $11.33, Don Pedro Brandy (940 ml): $8.56, Barcardi Carta Blanca Rum (680 ml): $4.15, and Smirnoffs Vodka (915 ml): $6.91. Mexico produces excellent tequila, beer, wine, and brandy.


Regular grind coffee (1-lb. can): $3.72
Basic subscription cable TV: $19.30 per month
First class air-conditioned urban bus fare: $0.57
Veterinarian consultation: $10

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  About the author, Blanche Evans

Individual news stories are based upon the opinions of the writer and does not reflect the opinion of Realty Times.