How Much Does It Cost to Spend a Month In Mexico? (Sayulita Edition)

May 15, 2013    /    budgeting + saving, travel how-tos

Welcome back to my regular monthly budget posts! This month, as you know, I lived in Sayulita, Mexico – a small yoga-and-surfing haven about 45 minutes from Puerto Vallarta. And, as you might have expected, it was delightfully affordable.

Here’s the breakdown of my budget from April 13 – May 12 (as usual, notes are below the table).

 Pesos  Dollars
 Spacious studio apartment, 10+ mins to beach  9075.60  $750
 Taxis + transport  100  $8.35
 Dog food and supplies  581.43  $48.27
 Coconut oil/sunglasses/other non-essential supplies  327  $27.28
 Groceries  1272  $106.20
 Eating out, coffee, & drinking  3232  $269.75
 Entertainment and sports  200  $16.70
 Misc.  659.89  $55.10
 ATM & exchange fees  239.54  $20

Total Pesos:  15,687.46   /    Total Dollars: $1,301.65

NOTES:

At the time of this writing, $1 US is equal to 11.98 pesos. (The figures above reflect this exchange rate.)

Also at the time of this writing, a one-way flight from Denver to Puerto Vallarta costs around $200, the bus from Puerto Vallarta costs about $2, and a taxi from Puerto Vallarta to Sayulita (if you prefer) runs around 450 – 500 pesos (offer them 400 and insist and they’ll usually go down to 450, though they’ll start by saying 600) if you are willing to cross the pedestrian bridge over the highway beside the airport instead of nabbing a taxi directly outside the doors (those guys won’t negotiate).

As far as monthly rentals go, $750 is actually rather high for Sayulita and you can probably find lower-priced accomodation if you are willing to show up and find a place in person. I wanted to book ahead, so $750 it was. I only booked for one month, though, and so my second month will be only $450 (summer, already-in-town-and-able-to-haggle price).

Here is some more detailed pricing on common items I used: hiring a housecleaner costs about 50 pesos per hour (less than $5 per hour). Renting a single kayak for 1.5 hours is 100 pesos (less than $10). Sunglasses cost between 100 and 150 pesos (less than $15). A taxi to Playa Escondida from Sayulita is 80 pesos. And a visit to the vet to pick up monthly flea treatment, have Luna’s leg inspected (as it was red and welty), and get some prescription medicine for said leg (which turned out to be an easily treatable fungus that’s common in tropical climates) was 282 pesos (less than $25).

This month, I ate out much more than usual. That is one of the perks of Mexico (as compared to my usual haunts of Paris and Italy): eating out costs somewhere between $2 and $10 most of the time, so even if I ate out every day, I could still stay under my monthly budget.

As you are comparing my costs to your budget, keep in mind that, as usual, I’m working while I’m here. If you are on vacation, chances are you’ll spend a little more on things like stand-up paddle boarding lessons, yoga, etc. simply because you’ll have more free time.

For me, a lot of free time was spent either romping along the beach with Luna (free), going to friend’s houses (also free), sitting in my favorite coffee shop for hours on end (minimal cost), and just wandering around (free).

Finally, keep in mind that this budget does not include my time at Playa Escondida, the really lovely resort down the road. I flew in on April 10, spent three days at Playa Escondida and then moved into my studio in town on the 13th. This budget begins on the 13th.

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21 Comments
  • Neens
    May 16, 2013

    That’s less than what my mortgage has been here in the UK!

    Hoping my costs will drop considerably once I start travelling around Europe with my dog Albie – we’ll be travelling by van, though. :)
    Neens recently posted…Going fridge-free was easy – now I’m cooking without gas and electricityMy Profile

    • gigigriffis
      May 16, 2013

      I believe it! The UK is so expensive…Asia and Latin America on the other hand, lovely and cheap!

    • Becky Moline
      November 26, 2013

      Hi Gigi,

      Looking to retire in Mexico, been to South America, Ecuador and Chile. Ecuador very cheap how does this compare? Thank you for any input.

      Becky

      • gigigriffis
        November 27, 2013

        Hi Becky,

        I haven’t been to Ecuador, but I’m guessing Mexico and Ecuador are fairly comparable. The numbers in this post would be even cheaper if you chose to move to Mexico. Even just staying into the winter, my rent went from $750 the first month to $450 the second month. I’m sure a long-term rental would be very affordable.

        Gg

      • Becky Moline
        November 27, 2013

        Thanks Gigi,

        That’s kinda what I figured. We have been researching retirement abroad and spent 4 months in South America; however much further away from family and friends. We really want the coast so if you have any suggestions I would be happy to hear them. Thanks for your response!

        Becky

      • gigigriffis
        November 27, 2013

        No problem! If you are interested in the west coast, check out Sayulita. It’s a small town about 45 minutes from Puerto Vallarta, it’s right on the ocean (here’s my photo essay from Sayulita and the surrounding beaches: http://gigigriffis.com/photo-essay-shorelines-sand/), and it has a huge and vibrant expat community (Americans, Canadians, and Europeans mostly). I actually have a profile of two retirees in Sayulita coming out in International Living (I’m not sure if you’re a subscriber, but they have tons of great info for retirees – you can subscribe here if you are interested: http://internationalliving.com/).

  • Jonathan Look, Jr.
    May 21, 2013

    Your estimates seems about right to me. I spent last year in Mexico, both on the beach and in the mountains of Chiapas, and are budgets are very similar. Never did I feel like I was sacrificing anything. Quite the contrary. An amazing, AMAZING adventure.
    Jonathan Look, Jr. recently posted…Cambodian Floating VillageMy Profile

    • gigigriffis
      May 22, 2013

      Hear hear!

  • David
    June 19, 2013

    Hi Gigi,

    It’s nice to come across your blog since it helps a lot when I find myself making a plan and it happens to be in a place where you have been and also made comments. Thanks a lot.

    I’m looking to move to Sayulita in a couple of months I thought about your blog to ask you some questions regarding accommodation. I have been contacting some places where to stay and the lowest one I have found so far (which I think it’s a good deal) doesn’t have an A/C and a kitchenette. I believe you stayed in Sayulita enough time to get the essentials of what could be important to consider when looking for accommodation. I was wondering if you could tell me how necessary can be to have a kitchenette in the room?? I would be saving off $500 of the rent that I would pay at places that have average rental rates with kitchenette and A/C. Would it be worth that saving that can go towards eat-out meals ?? Did you find the kitchenette very essential for the time you stayed there??

    Also, how important is to have an A/C vs ceiling fan?? I’m thinking of booking the place for the whole month of August but not sure if the A/C also becomes a must-have when it comes to making this kind of decisions to move there due to the weather???

    Any insights would be appreciated.

    Cheers!

    David

    • gigigriffis
      June 19, 2013

      Hi David!

      As far as a fan goes, in the winter and the off-season, a fan is fine. I had a few days that I really wished for air conditioning, but for the most part my giant floor fan did fine (and trust me, you want a giant floor fan, not just the ceiling variety). However, since you’re going in August, I’d seriously consider air conditioning. I wasn’t there in August, but when I left it was really starting to heat up in the evenings and all the locals say come late July/August/September, you’re basically laying on top of the sheets sweating.

      That said, summertime is pretty dead in Sayulita and most places will give you a big discount just to fill their space. So you can probably find something with air conditioning that is also low-budget. Either consider reaching out to slightly more pricey places and asking if they have off-season discounts or just show up in town and go about finding a place. I know the couple who inspired me to go to Sayulita used the just-show-up method and found a place on the beach in the high season for just $400 per month.

      As far as kitchen goes, I love having a kitchen, particularly since I snack throughout the day and don’t always feel like eating out. But Sayulita is super cheap when it comes to food, so you could eat out every day and not spend that much. A small quesadilla (enough for me, but perhaps a big guy would need two of them) costs something like 20 pesos (less than $2) at Tacos on the Street. That’s the cheapest option. And then the slightly higher price point places generally run less than 100 pesos (less than $10) for a meal.

      • David
        June 22, 2013

        Hi Gigi,

        Thank you for your great insights. It has given me more ideas about how to prepare my arrival to Sayulita. The just-show-up seems to be the option to go with but just want to secure a place at least for a couple of nights for when I arrive and then do some walk around to see what’s available there. When I first heard a rent for $500.00 sounded very attractive (no kitchenette and A/C only ceiling fan) but there may be other places offering similar prices with more amenities during the off-season. It’s just a matter of digging in once I’m there.

        Thanks a lot

        Cheers

        David

      • gigigriffis
        June 22, 2013

        No problem. And, yes, I agree. $500 is actually kinda high for the off-season. My second month in Sayulita was $450 and I had a full kitchen (no air, but it was before the heat really got up). There are a couple hostels in town, so perhaps look into those for your first night or two.

  • Joe owens
    December 20, 2013

    Hi everyone. Happy holidays. My lady and I are preparing to retire in two years to Mexico. We are looking hard at three areas. Salulita, Puerto Escondido, or porto area south of Baja. We are not looking to party everyday, but we love the beach, deep sea fishing, good good, friendly neighbors etc. we are both retiring at 55. May or may not but a beach front condo, just looking at comparisons right now.

    • gigigriffis
      December 21, 2013

      Hi Joe!

      Good luck with the move. Sayulita would be a lovely place to retire (though I haven’t been to the other areas, I’m sure they’re also lovely). I’ve actually got an article about two retirees in Sayulita and what their life is like coming out in International Living next year. I don’t know if you’re a subscriber, but if you are, you should check it out.

  • Anne Lawless
    January 19, 2014

    Hi, Is there a website that specifically has monthly rentals in your price range of $750 a month, the only sites I see are daily rates.
    Anne Lawless recently posted…Beautiful Spaces: A Bright, Sunny Apartment in Rovinj, CroatiaMy Profile

  • Jackie
    March 16, 2014

    Your article was such a great find!

    How did you find a place to stay in Sayulita? I am looking online, but the prices for a month are a bit higher than $750. I am hoping to go in June.

    • gigigriffis
      March 17, 2014

      Hi Jackie!

      Here’s the place I rented (the landlord’s contact info is in the post): http://gigigriffis.com/beautiful-spaces-a-lofty-studio-in-sayulita-mexico/.

      I started my search on the Sayulita Life website (just Google Sayulita Life and you’ll find it) and emailed the landlords directly to ask about long-stay prices (because the prices on the site are designed for short stays and most of them offer discounts if you stay a month or longer).

  • Ismael
    August 10, 2014

    Gigi, I had a question I live in central mexico already and I would love to move to sayulita ASAP but I would like to be able to work anywhere around the are my wife and I are Americans and we speak both spanish and English fluently, do you think it’s possibly to find a job in the area?

    • gigigriffis
      August 10, 2014

      Hi there!

      That’s a tough question for me since I didn’t have to find a job while I was there. I think the economy is a little tough and finding jobs is hard, but I’m not sure. (I always think, if you want something – go for it.) Try checking on http://www.sayulitalife.com/. I think they have a forum, so you can ask some locals.

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