Getting More Purchasing Power for the Peso
What one can ascertain is that you do get more for your money in Mexico. This is unsurprising when one considers that the median household income in Mexico is not much more than a tenth that in the US. In general, just about everything required in daily living costs more in the States, with the exception perhaps of luxury items like brand name products (designer label jeans and other upper-end clothing items). But then these can hardly be deemed "must-haves" (at least not by everyone).
How Much Cheaper?
Grocery items are anywhere from 10% to 130% higher in the States. My sister who has been living in Playa Del Carmen since January 2011,(admittedly a pricier location, being on the Caribbean coast) still shakes her head in wonder each time she sees the total bill after a grocery run. She figures she spends slightly over half what she used to on groceries when she was in Canada.
Public transportation is almost 200% pricier in the States, eating out in restaurants almost 50% dearer. And if you are willing to eat as the Mexicans do at the plentiful little stalls that serve tasty and ludicrously inexpensive food, you can literally eat out all the time for the same or less than what it costs to cook at home. My sister tells me she is stunned by how little the Mexicans charge at these stalls, wondering how they can cover costs. She almost always feels guilty when she eats at any of these inexpensive joints, like she's somehow gotten away with something.
And housing is of course quite a bit dearer in the States as well - by about 200%. Utilities? Again the States is higher by over 100%. Take a look at the recent data compiled by Numbeo, an excellent resource, for a more detailed cost-of-living comparison between Mexico and the US.
The cheaper cost of living is definitely a key reason more people are finding it tempting to move to Mexico. For between US$1,000 and $2,000 a month, there are people who live very rich and fulfilling lives there. When my sister was scouting out a place to move to in Mexico, she first looked at Merida, the culturally vibrant capital city of the State of Yucatan. There, she and her husband met a man who has been doing just that - living very well for just about that amount of money. Paul eats out as much as he wants, has enough to fly home to the States periodically, takes in the cultural events offered in the city (many are free), and, in short, lives the kind of life many only dream of. His blog was what got my sister and her husband through those final months as they chomped on the bit to start on their adventure of moving to Mexico. For an insight on the cost of living in Merida (and an outlook on living fully) just ask Hammock Man.