One Month in Mexico City: What I Did and What I Spent!

Hola! In May 2022, this little retired nomad went to Mexico City… staying in CDMX’s Condesa neighborhood (May 1-23) and Oaxaca (May 23-31 and ongoing)!

Mexico City reminds of New York City, and according to this cost-of-living index, it’s 60% less expensive than NYC. And in general, Mexico is 47.21% lower than the United States. That math seems to check out with my experience!

I really enjoyed Mexico City. I feel like it’s probably where I would “home-base” once I obtain temporary residency — there’s a ton to do, it’s very cosmopolitan and international, and I made a lot of friends! But I adore the small-town charm of everywhere else I’ve been to in Mexico as well. Find out where I’ve been and what I thought.

Fun fact — in 2019, prior to going nomadic and prior to the pandemic (while I was working remotely), I wanted to move to Mexico City for a month or two. But one, I couldn’t get approval from my HR department (work-from-anywhere-internationally was not a very common ask pre-pandemic) and two, I was terrified for my dog Penny’s safety. Little did I know the pet dogs in Mexico City are SUPER well-trained (I saw many a pup in an obedience regimen at Parque México and Parque España) and I don’t think I spotted one street dog in Roma, Condesa, or Polanco. A prime example of how paralyzing the fear of the unknown can be, huh?! Anyway, I’m so happy I made it to Mexico City in 2022… I had a great time (mostly… more on that below)!

And in Oaxaca, my mom came to visit me from the states in her first time to Mexico!

Ok, on to the good stuff… my spending total for May 2022? $2,319 USD… or $75 per day!

May 2022 spending… in detail (in USD)

Food & Dining$511.99
Health & Fitness$157.00
Auto & Transport$150.60
Bills & Utilities$81.13
Gifts & Donations$75.00
Personal Care$70.52
Business Services$44.22
Fees & Charges-$11.20

As usual, “Travel” — which includes hotels, vacation rentals, and other general travel expenses — was my biggest expense for May, at $699.43. I negotiated a long-term discount in cash for the furnished apartment I shared with two roommates in Mexico City ($350), and in Oaxaca, I split a 3-bedroom, 2-bathroom Airbnb with my mom who came to visit ($350). 

“Food & Dining” was my next largest expense in May and includes restaurants, groceries, and alcohol & bars, at $512. This ends up being just about $16.50 a day. I definitely spent a bit more than I wanted to dining out this month!

“Education” was a big chunk of my spending in May because I was taking intensive Spanish lessons for 10 hours a week. My class in Mexico City ran about $100 a week and three of those weeks fell in May. I won’t have this expense again (unless I take up more classes) — but it really was worth it. 

“Health & Fitness” is my international health insurance that covers me both in the U.S. and abroad, provided that I remain outside of the U.S. for at least 6 months out of the year. While I paid the policy in full, I “split” the transactions into 12 payments of $157 per month in my budget tracker Mint so it doesn’t hit me all at once. If you’re interested in trying, it’s free. I’ll definitely be looking into ways to reduce this cost next year, especially since I have yet to file a claim!

The “Auto & Transport” category in May ($150.60) includes tolls ($31 to get from Mexico City to Oaxaca), gas (two fill-ups), taxis, and ride share… plus, temporary mirrors ($16). Yes, this was the bit that wasn’t very enjoyable in May… I walked out of my apartment one morning to find my side mirrors were stolen from my parked car, along with three other cars on the street. It was an all-day ordeal dealing with the insurance company and getting a police report (denuncia), and in the meantime, I had an auto glass shop tape on temporary mirrors as a quick fix. 

The deductible on my Mexican car insurance is $500… and according to the Honda dealership in Mexico City, the mirrors will cost 20,000 pesos ($1,000!) to replace — ick! My nephew has found a cheaper way to make the repair in the states, so I don’t think I’ll end up going through insurance… but still, it’s an expense I wasn’t expecting. What have I learned? One) next time I’m in Mexico City, I’ll look for secured parking, and two) on my next Mexican policy, I’ll choose the $250 deductible just in case.

“Entertainment” includes expenses like tours, park or museum entrance fees, and my music streaming membership… and somebody had a lot of fun in May… to the tune of $124.16!

In Mexico City, I went to a lot of museums (the Frida Kahlo museum, the Anthropology Museum, the Castle of Chapultepec) and I also took a handful of dance classes (costing between $2.50 and $6 each). The Lucha Libre show was also fantastic, and one of my favorite memories from Mexico City!

In Oaxaca, I treated my mom to the Guelaguetza dinner show and the Monte Albán archaeological ruins, and we also went to see Top Gun at the movie theatre ($7 for the two of us).

“Bills & Utilities” is $81 and includes my unlimited AT&T cellular plan and mobile hotspot (which works in Mexico). I’ll look into ways to reduce this cost when I leave North America.

“Gifts & Donations” are just that — charitable donations or gifts for loved ones’ special occasions. 

$70 for “Personal Care” in May included a haircut for $12.50, a bikini wax for $20, and some cosmetic products from the states that my mom brought to Mexico for me. I’ve missed you, Trader Joe’s face oil!

“Uncategorized” is cash from the ATM that I haven’t spent yet or tagged with a category. These are typically small or miscellaneous purchases that I just don’t have time to keep track of.

“Business Services” includes the cost of my domain, the cost of hosting my website, and my email client. (Did you know, I don’t make money on my blog — I actually lose money? If you enjoy my content and want to support the lifestyle, consider sending a Venmo donation to @juliebrose… anything helps!)

I spent $26 in the “Pets” category in May. This includes Penny’s edible flea & tick treatment (one month’s supply at Petco, $14) and some supplies and treats.

“Home” is my rental insurance policy that protects the items I store in my mom’s house.

And “Shopping” for $10? This was my last month of Kindle Unlimited. I decided to cancel it and stick to free library books for my reading and listening pleasure.“Fees & Charges” are my reimbursements for ATM fees… thanks Fidelity! 

Well, that’s a wrap on May… I spent $2,319 my fifth month in Mexico. At this rate, I’ll spend about $27K this year, which is about half what I spent while employed and living nomadically in the U.S. Time will tell how I do in June, my last month in Mexico until my 180-day tourist permit lapses… but I’m hoping to stay around the $2,000 mark. Wish me luck!

Check out my other spending updates in Mexico:

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7 thoughts on “One Month in Mexico City: What I Did and What I Spent!

  1. Great to hear about your trip Julie. What do you have planned for after your 180 days?

    1. Good question 😀 I am in the process of figuring out all my plans (or, more likely, I’ll play a lot of it by ear) but THE TRAVELS CONTINUE! I’ll be hopping a plane for the other side of the world in mid-July… more to come 💘

  2. Julie, just curious about what you do with your pup when visiting sites, museums, theaters or other attractions that might not allow pets.

    Thank you for your insight, I really enjoy your posts!

    1. You are very welcome! Yes, unfortunately she is not allowed EVERYWHERE, although I think she is allowed in more places in Mexico than the U.S. comparatively… which is fine, because Penny is content to sleep in the hotel room or Airbnb. It’s why I always book a pet-friendly place so that I am able to leave her behind without problem. She’s non-destructive and very chill!

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