“How can you afford to travel?” is something I hear fairly often, and to be honest, as an American without a job and a home, traveling is the only thing I CAN afford! The USA is the 15th-most expensive country in the world. Compare that to Mexico, where the same lifestyle generally costs about half as much, and compare it to central and eastern Europe, where almost everything is a degree or two cheaper than what Americans are used to… and traveling is a bargain! If you’re new to my blog, I published spending updates every month during my six months in Mexico… and the purpose of those and future updates is only to inform and educate on what my lifestyle choices cost in varying parts of the world. This is not “how to do it on a shoestring” content — I’m drinking the wine, eating the gelato, and going on some tours, but I’m definitely creative when it comes to maximizing my budget. Drumroll please. In my first 30 days in Europe, I spent $2,009.09, or $67 a day. “Wait, Julie, what?!” — I’m sure you’re thinking — “That’s less per day than you spent in Mexico!” It is, and I’ll explain why…
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!
Boy, does time fly. I’ve now been in Mexico for four months, and I have a number of new cities under my belt! After leaving Puerto Vallarta in early April, I went to La Mazanilla, Melaque, Mazamitla, Morelia, and Patzcuaro. I spent the long Easter weekend in San Miguel de Allende, a night in Querétaro, and the rest of the month in Mexico City. I have now traveled over 4,200 kilometers in Mexico!
I’ve been a full-time nomad traveling the U.S. since September 2020, and I’ve learned (and surely nobody is surprised): that hotels, housing, and accommodations are by far the biggest expense of nomad life. I have a $2,000 monthly budget for lodging, but my actual spending in that area depends on the cost of living in the city that I’m visiting and the type of accommodations I choose (which, hooray, I have complete control over)! Fellow travelers, you have a lot of choice if you do a little research. The first question: Airbnb or hotel? Let me share my methods and we can explore a few aspects of each.
When I tell people I’m a nomad that travels full-time, they either think I’m a vanlifer who only eats ramen (the cheap kind, not the good kind) or that I must be staying in posh places and spending a lot of money. Well, false on both counts! I’m here to say: it can, but it doesn’t have to cost a lot of money to be a vagabond. So, let’s talk comparisons, facts, and figures… time to break out the spreadsheet!
International travel does not need to be expensive or out of reach. It’s about choices. These are the choices I made, which freed up hundreds of dollars in disposable income per month.