When planning a move Lakeside, one of the best things you can do for yourself is to plan your Mexico budget in advance. Of course you will inevitably make adjustments once you are on the ground in Mexico, but having a proposed budget will give you the peace of mind you need when making a major life move. While prices have risen somewhat in recent years, the good news is that Lakeside life is still quite affordable with careful planning.
Your first expenditure once you’ve made the decision to move to Mexico will be your resident visa.
Temporary Resident Visa
We’ll talk about visas more in-depth in a separate post, but for budget planning purposes, as of January 2019, foreigners must prove an income of either $1,620 per month, or have a savings/investments balance over the previous 12 months of at least $27,000 to apply for a temporary resident visa (which can later be converted to a permanent resident visa.)
Permanent Resident Visa
To apply for permanent residency in 2019 you need to demonstrate an income of at least $2,700 per month or savings/investments over the past 12 months of at least $108,000.
There are many nuances to the visa system (and Mexican consulates in the U.S. often have varying interpretations of these figures), but they are listed here as basic budgetary guidelines.
While real estate and rental prices Lakeside are generally rising, it is still possible to find studio apartments for as little as $400 per month and homes for sale for as little as ~$50,000 in Lakeside towns outside of Ajijic. Rentals in Ajijic are generally running $700+ for a one bedroom apartment, and from there the sky is the limit depending on your budget. Ajijic real estate prices are ~$120,000 for a small condo and up to whatever your budget can support.
Utilities are generally much less than in the U.S. Some rentals are all inclusive (include utilities/housekeeping service), while others are not. Internet runs ~$30 a month as does cable TV. Gas and electricity will depend on your consumption. For a small home gas can run ~$35 a month, and electricity as low as $15 a month for a small home and up to $100 a month for a large home with air conditioning. Many are now converting to solar which is even less expensive.
Food is generally one-half to one-third of U.S. prices, so it’s probably safe to budget for half of your north of the border food costs.
No matter how healthy you are when moving to Mexico, you will invariably need medical care at some point, and you will have to decide whether to purchase insurance which runs ~$1,500 annually for catastrophic to ~$4,000 per year for more comprehensive coverage.
Another option is to join Seguro Popular, the Mexican universal healthcare system. This has worked well for many, but the system is understaffed and underfunded, so not an option for everyone. Non-emergency surgeries for example can be delayed for months/years. The new Mexican government has announced major upcoming changes to the system, but without details so far.
Another option is to self-insure, which means you have enough reserves to pay out of pocket for medical care. Doctor visits and most medications are reasonably priced ($20-$40 per visit) and surgeries are generally less than in the U.S. For example a laproscopic gall bladder removal runs about $4,000 and heart surgery runs around $30,000.
Many choose to self-insure for regular medical care and purchase catastrophic insurance. This is a highly individual decision depending on your particular circumstances, but whatever your healthcare situation, budgetary planning for healthcare is essential.
While discretionary spending varies widely depending on your lifestyle, most people want to be able to visit their families north of the border at least once a year and most like to travel throughout Mexico. So when planning a budget, it’s a good idea to include the cost of these trips.
Lakeside offers a plethora of activities depending on your lifestyle, most of which are quite reasonably priced. A first run movie ticket runs about $2, and a trip to the symphony in Guadalajara including transportation and ticket is about ~30. Local play tickets run about $20.
Let’s Wrap This Up
Any of the online budget calculators can be used to plan your specific budget, and for a small fee you can schedule a private session to review your financial situation with one of our experts to see if your financial plan is workable. For me it was helpful to review my proposed income and expenses with someone on the ground as a reality check. I wanted to be sure that my retirement planning was adequate and confirm that I could actually retire on the date I planned. Had the result been different, I might have decided to work a bit longer.
When all is said and done, the government’s current minimum requirement of an income of $1,620 a month is a good baseline and everything beyond that is dependent on your lifestyle. When you come to a FOCUS seminar we provide you with detailed and current cost of living information to help with your individual budget planning.
By Bette Brazel – Focus on Mexico Content Manager
Focus On Mexico offers 6-Day Educational Programs to Ajijic and Lake Chapala, Mexico. Join us and learn why thousands of Americans and Canadians chose to retire in Mexico.Our programs offer the perfect balance; a wonderful vacation and an insightful, educational experience. Our expert speakers cover all topics: Health Care, Real Estate, Legal System, Safety, Immigration, Assisted Living/Care Options, Bringing Pets, Cost of Living, US Taxes for Americans, Non-Residency for Canadians, Living on the Lakeside, Investing in Mexico, Mexican Economy and much more…