01/17 - Cuanto?

Several times per year I get questions about the cost of living at Lakeside.  It's a lot more difficult question to answer than it would appear because everyone's lifestyle is different.  But, I think the real question is "can I afford to live at Lakeside?" or "how much money should I budget per month to live Lakeside?".

Again, the answer is tough to come up with, but I'm going to take a stab at it and hopefully it will help some of you.

If you are willing to spend the time you should be able to find a place to rent for anywhere from $ 300 - 2000 USD per month. If your funds are limited and you are looking for an apartment, casita, or house between $ 300 - 600 USD / month, they are available.  You just have to be patient and look for them.

You might have to spend some time to find the right place at the right price, but they're available.  I'll give you an example, there's a couple I met a year, or so, ago and they were thinking about moving down.  They were going to have a limited income but thought they'd have a better lifestyle down here then where they were up NOB.  They moved down and got a small house in Riberas for around $ 600 / month and were happy. But they began looking around to see if they could find something thax was a little cheaper and something they'd both like.  They found a nice little place that was about 20 - 30% cheaper out by Vista Del Lago.  A little bit further out, but a nice little house, in a small gated conclave with a community pool.  And the best part is they are very happy.

Electricity, it's expensive if you consume a lot, but if you are conservative it's quite modest.  I know quite a few people who are conservative consumers and their CFE bills range from 500 - 900 pesos every two months.  Some rental agreements include electric, but not many.

Phone & Internet, you can get from Telmex.  The low end package is 399 peso / month and includes you landline phone and a DSL modem that is satisfactory for browsing the web.

Water is usually included in the rent as are homeowner fees and property taxes.
Propane is modest based on usage.  For normal stove, hot water and miscellaneous it's about 250 - 300 / month

Depending on where you shop and whether you must have NOB products food can be pretty cheap.  If you like veggies and fruit it is even better.  You've got Walmart & Super Lake for the big groceries, but you also have a large number of tiendas and aborrotes (corner Mexican grocery stores).  You also have the weekly tianguis that sells just about everything.  I'd guess someone who shopped carefully could do well on 5000 pesos a month.

Buses are cheap ~ 10 pesos Ajijic to Chapala.  Cabs will run you 80 pesos Ajijic to Chapala.  Used cars can be found for 4,000 USD and up, and mechanics are cheap, just ask around to find a good mechanic.  Gasoline runs me ~ 500 pesos a month.

There's plenty to do that doesn't cost anything at all.  Walks along the malecon, hiking in the mountains, get a membership to LCS and check out their activities, there are plenty of groups that play Mexican Train, cards, bunco, etc..  Then there's going out to eat which can be done at either the nicer, gringo restaurants that will average 100 pesos per person, or the taco vendors and smaller Mexican eateries that will cost you half that.

This is, or can be, the big one for most people

Not all drugs in Mexico are cheaper than NOB.  It will depend on the drug, so check before you jump in.  For insurance you can join IMSS or Seguro Popular which are both Mexican government medical programs.  You will need to have either a Temporal or Permanente visa status, but you can join them and get a basic level of coverage.  Be prepared to wait in longer lines and have friends, or family help you if you have to be hospitalized, but I have known many people who have been treated by both systems and they were satisfied with the care.  If you are in reasonably good health and under 65, and you can afford it you can get private medical insurance at a cost of 200 - 350 USD per month that will give you a decent policy with a reasonable deductible.  You just have to check around with the agents.

So what's the bottom-line?

If you're on a modest budget of ~ 2,000 USD / mo you can have a decent lifestyle and live just fine without any medical problems.  Medical, no matter where you're at can be the big variable.

You should try to have a medical kitty / savings fund that you keep for emergencies. 

If your buget is higher you can shop for lake views and swimming pools, houses with miradors, etc.  You can go out to eat more often and buy your groceries at Super Lake, but even then you can have a real nice lifestyle at 3,000 USD / mo.

Today the USD is enjoying a great exchange rate to the peso, as we're sitting at 18 to 1.  But, that will be temporary.  No one knows how long we'll get it and it will undoubtedly fall back to the 12 - 13 range at sometime in the future.

So, I hope this helps explain the cost of living down at Lakeside.  You can save a lot of money over living NOB, but that is only one of the many benefits of living here.  

You get a wonderful year-round climate, the beauty of both mountains and a huge lake, and you get to enjoy a wonderful, warm culture that is all about family and enjoying the moment.  It's a slower pace which can really lower your stress level.  And last but not least you'll find a whole lot of people who were in your exact circumstance, they just figured it out sooner than you and they're already here.

Pictures courtesy our current excursion to Puerto Vallarta.  Wonderful place to be.