Tom and I stock up on groceries and drinking water about once a week while we travel through Baja, Mexico, and we are repeatedly amazed at the cost of a week’s worth of groceries here. Our last grocery trip totaled out at just about 1000 pesos (about $50 US dollars), and included meat, produce, bread, dairy (milk and cheese), juices, snacks, drinking water, dog food, basic toiletries, 2 bottles of Spanish wine, and a case of beer. This was a TOTAL restock for an entire week for the two of us, for $50 USD!! We knew Mexico would be an affordable travel destination, but we actually had no idea just how affordable it was going to be! (For tips on travel budgeting see our post How to Plan and Maintain a Budget for Open-Ended Travel)
Our total monthly expenditures in Mexico average out to around $1000 USD. In addition to that we have a few bills that we pay online monthly (cell phones with large international data plans, costs associated with our blog, insurance for our more valuable items, etc), but even with those bills added on we are saving 25% of our monthly income every month that we live in Mexico. That’s huge!! Last year, living in Eugene, Oregon, with two full time incomes we were saving significantly less money per month than we do in Mexico….where we have just one small source of income…and live on the beach.
Also, it’s important to note that we are not penny pinching, we definitely splurge whenever we feel like it. For example, Tom regularly buys fresh scallops, shrimp, and fish from local fishermen that come by the beach with their daily catch. When we are in a city or town we always (and I do mean always) go out to eat. Mexican food is amazing, and we never pass up a chance to try new restaurants/eateries. Neither of us are huge shoppers, but we have purchased goods from locals- items like handmade blankets, jewelry, and some handmade clothing items as well. Our $1000 USD/month expenditures include all of these extras, so if you wanted to you could certainly travel here for less than what we spend.
Here’s a list of some of our splurges, and what we pay for them (these prices are for the two of us, not per person):
- Dinner at a fancy restaurant, including 2 alcoholic beverages for each of us: 600 pesos ($30 USD) including tip
- Dinner at a more casual restaurant, including 2 alcoholic beverages for each of us: 400 pesos ($20 USD) including tip
- Lunch at a taco stand, including 1 beer for each of us: 160 pesos ($8 USD) including tip
- 1 kilogram (2.2 pounds!!) fresh scallops: 300 pesos ($15 USD)
- 1 kilogram fresh shrimp: 250 pesos ($12.50 USD)
- 1 kilogram fresh yellowtail tuna: 300 pesos ($15 USD)
Now that we’ve covered food costs, let’s talk lodging/accommodation costs. Lodging in Baja is almost universally cheap, whether you camp in a tent, a motorhome (like we do), or rent a place to stay. Hotels are the most expensive lodging option, but even hotels are very reasonable compared to U.S. prices (we’ve seen hotels priced as low as 400 pesos, or $20 USD per night).
Camping (in a tent, camper, or motorhome) or renting by the month is the most cost-effective way to visit Baja, and frankly the beautiful weather here makes it an extremely pleasant camping destination. Most campsites range in cost from free (though you should rarely count on this) to 300 pesos ($15 USD) per night. The majority of the beaches we have stayed on charge 100 pesos per night ($5 USD). The prices are generally higher (300 pesos, $15 USD) when a site includes hot showers and well maintained restrooms with flushing toilets. We have found that, generally, the most beautiful camping spots have less amenities, making them a very affordable option (see our post Boondocking in Baja: Must-Have Items for Traveling Off the Beaten Path in Mexico for more info).
If it is important to you to have more amenities, you can still visit Baja for cheap, but you may want to consider renting an apartment from a local by the month. Local is the key word here! If you search the internet for Baja apartment rentals you inevitably come up with a pricey list of vacation rentals. The trick is to drive to the area you would like to rent in, and ask around about available rentals. Many towns have community bulletin boards with rentals posted, and these are significantly cheaper than the vacation rentals you’ll find online. We’ve regularly heard about apartment prices from $150 USD to $400 USD per month for fully furnished apartments. In fact, in the future we may take advantage of this option for ourselves, who knows!
Baja has surprised us in so many ways! We are loving our time in this affordable paradise!