Thousands, I do not exaggerate, have read the post written on July 7, 2011 entitled
Cost of Living in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.
I've been thinking for about six months that I should write an update since a few things have changed.
I'm finally getting around to it.
First of all, rents seem to have increased. It's getting harder and harder to find a one bedroom for $300US that all bills are paid. Most rents are now, at the bottom end, over $500US a month plus utilities.
Heck, that is still such a deal. We're talking furnished. Usually maid service is provided at least once a week by the home owner in that rental fee. Utilities in nine of the twelve months are not much. However, in the winter, if one is using electric space heaters, your bill can inch close to $200US per month for approximately 1000 sq. ft. That has been my experience. You're better off renting a place with utilities included in the rent. Then all of it is handled by the owner and you have no hassles.
If you don't want Mexican cable TV which is only 340 pesos for TV plus internet, then you'll pay close to $80US for Canadian satellite TV with approximately 120 channels.
Food is still relatively inexpensive unless you want American brands that have been imported and then you'll pay a pretty penny for those items. Like Tilamook cheese, Johnsonville Sausage, Kirklands Cashews and many, many more items.
It seems when you're away from the USA the nostalgic factor is part of the equation. I remember once when they had okra, sweet corn and russet potatoes at Mega - a large grocery chain store. There was a run on the store by the ex-pat community. Quite humorous.
Actually for the okra, I was known to head there the minute I heard they had some in stock. THEN I found someone growing it in a small garden. Voila, a ready supply once a year. Happy days.
See what I mean. In the states I never reacted in glee. But, here, when we can't get so many things such as crookneck squash, purple hull peas, crowder peas (can you tell I'm a Southerner?) and corn meal mix to make cornbread, we are happy when we can get something we love.
Therein is something to remember. THIS is another country. Often more then not, you won't be able to find the brand of something you're used to and you just have to learn to substitute or, as many do, make a USA list for those things that are not available in Mexico for when you head back once in a while.
Back to the costs. Gasoline has gone up but not as much as in the USA. The movies is still so inexpensive as to not be believed. About $2US. Reproduced DVD's of movies are $3.20 each.
And, if you read the post written in 2011, you'll learn how to never pay retail again for clothes.
The biggest thing that has changed are the income requirements in order to be able to live here for longer then six months. The Mexican legislature changed the Immigration Income requirement last year. It went into effect November 1, 2012. As if changing the income requirements wasn't enough to cause total consternation, they also changed the classifications without any training of facilitators and most Immigration personnel. To say it was slightly chaotic would be an understatement.
In the past you could live here without buying property if you could prove an income of $1200US per month. It is now $2400US per month. If you own property it is $1200US per month.
The classifications are FM-3 Resident temporal which you can have for four years at the most and then you must become a Resident Permanente. There is FM-2 which NOW is also Resident temporal and I assume you can have that for four years before you must become a Resident Permanente.
Besides the changed income requirements, the addition of Resident Permanente, which will now be REQUIRED after four year which it was not previously, one may not have a US plated car as a Resident Permanente. At least that is what some are saying. Although Aduana has not issued firm regulations yet. They are the agency to oversee vehicles and permits in Mexico. It's a mess.
IF you are thinking of coming down to "check out San Miguel" as so many are who write to me, I say come on down. You'll get a Tourist Visa and must get a Temporary Import Permit for your car either at the border or at www.banjercito.com.mx It takes a few weeks on the internet whereas it takes about 15 minutes at the border as long as you have a clear title to your car in your name and a credit card to pay the deposit to bring your car in (you'll get it back when you leave the country). The max the deposit can be is $400 and the lowest is $200 based on age of vehicle.
All of this is easy and painless and you don't have to prove income or anything else. In fact, there are those who have lived here for over 10 years on a tourist visa. They go back to the border at least every six months and therefore bypass all this mumbo jumbo.
Please don't get the wrong idea. San Miguel is still paradise, as is most of Mexico. It's a "live and let live" culture of graciousness and kindness. San Miguel is full of fascinating people who have lived world wide along with interesting activities and incredible weather.
Just read all the many articles that have been written in so many publications in the last six months to get a sense of the place.
My intention in writing this though is to let you know that it does take more money now then before although, in my humble opinion, not near as much as it takes to live in the USA. If I had to give a percentage it would be 50% less then the USA.
I have had no regrets during my 12 year adventure of living in San Miguel de Allende.