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Current cost of living estimates/budget?

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Post by beckster Sat Feb 15, 2014 4:36 pm

I have seen conflicting information about what it costs to live there. We are trying to develop a budget to see if it looks like we could really make it there. Some postings (perhaps outdated) suggest you could be comfortable there for $2500/month.  This does not seem realistic to me, but maybe I am overestimating costs.  Can you please help me come up with reasonable current  estimates for some monthly costs for a retired couple to live in the Chapala area?  Am I being unrealistic in my estimates? Having good internet and a full U.S. television package would be important to us.

We are guessing at the following monthly expenses in USD:

Housing:
Rent  $800 for 2-3 BR house
Electric:   ??
Propane:  ??
Water:    ??
Maid:  $100
Gardener: $100
Home insurance: ??
Anything else?

High speed internet:   ??
TV with full U.S. programs:  ??

Groceries:  $200
Dining out:   200
Drinking water:  $10
Entertainment:  $100

Petcare: $20
Laundry:  ??

Auto:
Ins. 8 year old car:   $50
Gasoline:    $50

Healthcare/Insurance: To be determined ~ $800/mo
Medications:    $100

Air Travel back to U.S. 2x/year:  $250

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Post by Jim W Sat Feb 15, 2014 5:08 pm

High speed internet sometime included with telephone when you rent.
NOB TV service....Shaw .....$200.00 mo unless you stack.

Homeowners/renters insurance can be a waste for theft of property, unless you have photo's and original receipts.
Health Care probably high depending on age.
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Post by RoofBob Sat Feb 15, 2014 5:14 pm

Regarding housing: We offer 2 bd. 1 ba. apartments in Chapala centro for $550 a month (long term). That includes everything in your housing section plus high speed wireless and bottled water. We provide basic Mexican cable which includes about 10 English speaking channels.

With above factored in your budget looks very doable. Here's a link to some photos of our apts. and neighborhood. http://www.flickr.com/photos/7341028@N04/

The off season lakeside begins April 1st and starting then there will be a lot of deals to be had. The more time you spend doing your research the more it will pay off.
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Post by akjerry Sat Feb 15, 2014 5:35 pm

beckster,
here is what we have:
4 bedroom, 4 bath, 2 level, with a large covered mirador
average size kitchen, adequate living room, off street parking, gated and fenced lot,washer/dryer, some furnishings, very quite area of Chapala, Los Redes, east of Soriana.
The costs are approx.
rent $500 US
telephone with telmex, 5 MG pack, $70 US
electric $25 US per 2 months
cleaning $100 per month, one person, 4 hours per week
shaw $40 per month

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Post by Jim W Sat Feb 15, 2014 5:45 pm

akjerry, is the Shaw billed to you, or are you stacking with other subscribers? What package do you have?
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Post by akjerry Sat Feb 15, 2014 5:58 pm

jim w
stacked, I suspect,
we pay a person in ajijic
we have problems, we call her, she resolves then

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Post by akjerry Sat Feb 15, 2014 5:58 pm

oops, basic package

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Post by Jim W Sat Feb 15, 2014 6:19 pm

TFF akjerry. The OP was looking for costs. In order for him to get all NOB stations he is looking @ $100.00 +! He can make his own decision when he arrives if he wants to pirate programming!

 Beer Beer 
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Post by beckster Sat Feb 15, 2014 6:22 pm

Jim W wrote:High speed internet sometime included with telephone when you rent.
NOB TV service....Shaw .....$100.00 mo unless you stack.

What does that mean "to stack"?

Thanks for the feedback.
B

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Post by Jim W Sat Feb 15, 2014 6:49 pm

Beckster to stack is a federal offense NOB, not to worry here. Stacking is when more than 1 location has service billed to another location, all on the same bill. So You share with 4 people, $100.00 service = $25.00.
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Post by Twonk Sat Feb 15, 2014 7:41 pm

We seldom eat out and do almost all our eating at home. We waste very little and buy most groceries at WalMart or Costco. We don't consider ourselves big spenders, and in fact love bargains as much as anyone does. Our average cost per month last year for two of us was $72 dollars for restaurants and $496 dollars for groceries. The grocery price includes cleaning supplies etc. and anything you would buy in the grocery dept. or butcher shops. There was no liquor included in that number. There's no way we could survive on $200 a month for groceries.

We spend about $2500 a month to live here, for two of us, but don't pay rent. Our house is paid for.

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Post by Rolly Sat Feb 15, 2014 9:04 pm

I'm a single guy, non-drinker/smoker.  Don't pay rent, don't have a car.  Eat out 2 or 3 times per month.  Have guests for dinner 2 or 3 time or month. Have USA TV via the internet for $40/mo.  2 meg internet = 30/mo. Buy too many books from Kindle. Maid = $40/wk.  Take a ton of meds and have doctor and lab fees, average about $230/mo, no insurance.

Monthly total = about $1200 dollars for a simple, no frills lifestyle.
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Post by beckster Sat Feb 15, 2014 10:27 pm

Jim W wrote:Health Care  probably high depending on age.

You may be right....this one is challenging us.  We both have significant pre-existing conditions, so I'm doubting we can get new coverage. My husband has Medicare and I can probably only buy Obamacare once I leave my job....and there is nothing 'Affordable' about that unless you are young and poor. And of course, neither of those will pay for out-of-U.S.  claims, so they'll only be good as a very expensive back-up in case of a big health crisis that would take us back to U.S. for treatment. But that is a real possibility for us, so for now I've factored that into my proposed budget.

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Post by beckster Sat Feb 15, 2014 10:44 pm

Twonk wrote:There's no way we could survive on $200 a month for groceries.

We spend about $2500 a month to live here, for two of us, but don't pay rent.  Our house is paid for.

Thanks for the feedback.  $2500 sounds more like what I'm thinking, plus rent. We shop pretty carefully for groceries currently,  using the ads as well as Walmart and Costco.  We spend about $400/month in the U.S. which does also include our cleaning supplies, paper products, etc. Groceries are not as high here as in many cities, so maybe we would not save that much.

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Post by lobita Sun Feb 16, 2014 1:28 am

beckster wrote:I have seen conflicting information about what it costs to live there. We are trying to develop a budget to see if it looks like we could really make it there. Some postings (perhaps outdated) suggest you could be comfortable there for $2500/month.  This does not seem realistic to me, but maybe I am overestimating costs.  Can you please help me come up with reasonable current  estimates for some monthly costs for a retired couple to live in the Chapala area?  Am I being unrealistic in my estimates? Having good internet and a full U.S. television package would be important to us.

We are guessing at the following monthly expenses in USD:

Housing:
Rent  $800 for 2-3 BR house
Electric:   ??
Propane:  ??
Water:    ??
Maid:  $100
Gardener: $100
Home insurance: ??
Anything else?

High speed internet:   ??
TV with full U.S. programs:  ??

Groceries:  $200
Dining out:   200
Drinking water:  $10
Entertainment:  $100

Petcare: $20
Laundry:  ??

Auto:
Ins. 8 year old car:   $50
Gasoline:    $50

Healthcare/Insurance: To be determined ~ $800/mo
Medications:    $100

Air Travel back to U.S. 2x/year:  $250


Some thoughts:

Pet food is more expensive here than in the States. For example, a 5oz can of cat food is 11 pesos, or about $0.85. You'd be hard-pressed to feed one small cat or tiny dog for US$20/month. (On the other hand, vet care is a lot cheaper.)

Figure around US$12 per person per sit-down meal, $15 if you have a drink. So $200 would get you, say, around 2 meals out per week. If you just have roadside tacos, of course, it will go a bit farther.

$200 seems awfully low to me for groceries for two people, even with two meals out per week. Not impossible, but you'd need to go heavy on cheap local foods (chicken, eggs, beans, rice, tortillas, fresh fruits and vegetables, ...) and avoid foreign and imported foods like the plague. Last month I spent almost exactly US$300 per month on groceries (including non-food consumables, but not pet food), and we have a nice variety. But a lot of former staples (cereal, peanut butter ...) are now rare luxuries because of the increased expense. (On the other hand, we have fresh raspberries weekly, and I could *never* do that in the States.) The more flexible you are in your diet, the cheaper it will be. Shopping here is very different; the idea of 'loss-leaders' is almost unknown.

Maid is probably less than $100 per month; the 'going rate' seems to be MX$50 per hour. So even at 4 hours per week (which is a lot of cleaning! these ladies are efficient), you're only looking at US$70 or so per month. Nearly all rental places that have yards or gardens include the gardener's salary in the rental price.

MX$600 gets you a 5mb DSL connection and a phone landline (free local calls); MX$400 gets you 10mb without the phone line. We don't do cable TV, so I don't have those numbers.

Propane is currently just over MX$7 per liter. Like gasoline, it goes up each month (never down) by a regulated amount. Usage will depend on how much you cook, whether you machine-dry clothes or hang them, and how long your showers are. Typical usage for 2 people seems to be around $500-$600 per month. You may also want to use gas for heat for a couple months in the winter; that would be extra.

Tap water is also typically included with rentals. Bottled drinking water is $17-$18 per jug. I feel comfortable cooking rice, pasta, etc. in the Ajijic tap water, so we only use bottled water for coffee, tea, ice, and plain drinking. It takes us maybe ... two to three weeks to go through a jug? Even if you cook with it, US$10 a month is probably more than you'll need.
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Post by Mrs. Rupert Mon Feb 17, 2014 11:31 am

I think that if you plan on $2,500 US monthly, plus your rent, you will be fine.  Car insurance is around $500.00 for the year.  You are very low on most of your estimates.  Your biggest challenge will be health care, and don't forget auto repairs.  It is the same as living NOB- unexpected costs happen and you have to be prepared.  Living here is not the inexpensive deal it used to be.  Still cheaper than the States, but getting more expensive all the time.

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Post by Mrs. Rupert Mon Feb 17, 2014 11:33 am

I think that if you plan on $2,500 US monthly, plus your rent, you will be fine.  Car insurance is around $500.00 for the year.  You are very low on most of your estimates.  Your biggest challenge will be health care, and don't forget auto repairs.  It is the same as living NOB- unexpected costs happen and you have to be prepared.  Living here is not the inexpensive deal it used to be.  Still cheaper than the States, but getting more expensive all the time.

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Post by CanuckBob Mon Feb 17, 2014 1:44 pm

I agree. $2500 USD plus rent should be no problem at all. You should factor in a yearly inflation rate and increase you monthly budget accordingly. I use 3%.
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Post by suegarn Tue Feb 18, 2014 2:19 pm

$2500 USD a month plus rent? That sounds awfully high! I'm living in Canada, and on average, I spend about $900 CDN plus rent each month. That includes TV, phone, internet, electricity, car and life insurance, groceries, wine and eating out occasionally! I thought living in Ajijic was supposed to be less expensive?

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Post by lobita Tue Feb 18, 2014 3:30 pm

Remember the OP is calculating expenses for two people rather than one.

That said, one certainly does not have to spend $2500+ to live here, even for two people. It depends on whether you have champagne tastes or not. :) And also upon things like how healthy you are, etc. I think the point was that US$2500 + rent would be a pretty safe plan, even if one wanted some luxuries or had significant health care expenses.
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Post by suegarn Tue Feb 18, 2014 3:52 pm

Lobita, I understand that the OP was budgeting for two people, but the only thing in my monthly expenses that would be somewhat more would be groceries and eating out. Things like TV, internet, phone, electricity, etc wouldn't be any more for two than it would be for one! So, I still can't imagine that any couple would need $2500 a month to live in Ajijic, unless they were drinking champagne and eating caviar....lol!

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Post by lobita Tue Feb 18, 2014 4:23 pm

Well, the OP was counting US$900 for health-related expenses alone ... and that's something where number of people matters. If you had few or no health problems, that would certainly make a big difference. I'm sure if you are able to live happily on CA$900, you would do just as well here.

Just watch out for the peanut butter -- that stuff is pricey!
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Post by CanuckBob Tue Feb 18, 2014 4:53 pm

suegarn wrote:$2500 USD a month plus rent?  That sounds awfully high!  I'm living in Canada, and on average, I spend about $900 CDN plus rent each month.  That includes TV, phone, internet, electricity, car and life insurance, groceries, wine and eating out occasionally!  I thought living in Ajijic was supposed to be less expensive?

Wow....that's pretty good. When we were in Vancouver we were spending $900 per month just on utilities and communications. Once you added in food, meals out, clothing, house insurance, house maintenance, car insurance, car fuel, land taxes,  etc. we were around $3500 per month. Then there was the mortgage.......
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Post by CanuckBob Tue Feb 18, 2014 4:57 pm

Oh yeah........we didn't have a maid, gardener or pool guy up there either.

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Post by Chapalagringa Tue Feb 18, 2014 5:03 pm

We live off of less than $2500 a month, still have a family of 4 at home and are very comfortable.  No house or car payment. We have a maid and gardener.( Beer  that's for Bob, lol Very Happy )
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