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Is Cancun Expensive? The Cost of Living in Cancun

An article about the Cost of Living in Cancun. Is Cancun Expensive? Prepare to be surprised.

“You’re moving to Cancun? I give up, you’re definitely rich and hiding it for us” a friend of mine told me after I announced the news that I would be moving to Cancun to start new projects as well as to use it as my base of operations for traveling in Central America (in two weeks: Belize & Guatemala!).

How expensive is the cost of living in Cancun? Funny thing you ask because…

Trust me, you’ll be surprised to hear the real cost of living in Cancun. As of today, it has been two months ever since I moved to Cancun to start a new professional project. “You must be rich, Cancun is so expensive” my friends often told me.

But you know what? The cost of living in Cancun is definitely lower than the one in most cities of Mexico, especially big industrialized cities such as Mexico City, Guadalajara, and Monterrey. You could even say that Cancun is one of the cheapest places to live in the world.

Is Cancun Expensive?

Quick question? How much do you think a rent in a three-bedroom house costs in Cancun? 2000 USD? 1000 USD? 500 USD? 175 USD? If you guessed the latter, you’re totally right. I’m currently paying 175 USD per month for the privilege of living in a fairly big house located 40 minutes away from the Hotel Zone.

Sure, it’s not a high-end neighborhood and you know what? I totally love it that way since it has that small-town vibe that can be totally lost in other parts of Cancun. The best part? Outside of my house there are tons of street food stands where you can enjoy amazing tacos for less than 3 USD per order.

You can eat like a king with an average of 6 USD a day without having to cook (and if you DO cook, you’ll be saving even more)! The cost of living in Cancun is extremely low when it comes to eating out!

So how about transportation? Going to Playa del Carmen by shared van sets me back about 5 USD (add another 5 USD to reach Tulum), going to the Hotel Zone of Cancun? 0.75 USD by public bus. As long as you don’t take taxis (which, to be honest, are extremely cheap compared to other cities), you can keep your cost of living in Cancun down.

If you want to visit the world-famous Pyramid of Chichen-Itza, you can always skip the 80 USD tour and take a cheap 10 USD bus to Valladolid, after which you’ll take a shared van for 2 USD. Also, you can always hitchhike, it’s perfectly safe around here. Transportation is not expensive, commodity is.

Last but not least: Internet. If your work depends on it, Internet IS essential. Local companies require you to sign an 18-month contract so your best option is to either sub-lease the contract of the previous owner and hope to sub-lease it to the next one (average is 30 USD per month including some free phone calls) or to make a deal with a neighbor of yours in order for them to share their password with you.

PS. Don’t forget to book your Cancun Airport Transportation online to save money and avoid last-minute hassles.

The Average Cost of Living in Cancun

Here’s the breakdown of the average cost of living in Cancun:

Housing 175 USD

Internet 30 USD

Food 200 USD

Transportation 75 USD

Total 480 USD. Of course, you can always rent a smaller 1 bedroom house and forsake the internet but as I said, sometimes it’s good to think about comfort before prices. But not that often.

Why is the Cost of Living in Cancun so Low?

Development, mostly. Artificial Government-dictated development to be precise. Before the 70’s, Cancun didn’t exist as such, it was basically an empty wasteland. Then, suddenly, the Mexican Government decided to create an artificial tropical paradise in this piece of land and people suddenly started to arrive, both tourists and long-term visitors who saw Cancun as their new home. The cost of living in Cancun suddenly rose…but not that much for the locals.

Today, the growth continues, making Cancun one of the most visited tourist destinations of the entire world. There are always new jobs opportunities that require people from other parts of Mexico to move to Cancun and that’s why new houses are built every single day (the house I inhabit is barely 5 years old!).

To help the economy of the workers, the Mexican Government (through programs such as Infonavit) grants loans up to 30 years as an incentive for Mexicans to buy houses in Cancun. And you know what happened? A lot of Mexicans started to buy houses without moving to Cancun and are currently leasing them to others. Lucky me, right?

If you want to find an economic place to live in Cancun, your best option is to ask Mexicans that currently live in other cities, chances are that some of them own one or two houses in Cancun and are willing to rent them to foreigners and nationals for short-term leases. Amazing, uh? It sure helps to reduce the cost of living in Cancun.

Should You Move to Cancun?

In a single sentence? Yes. Hell yes!

Most digital nomads use South-East Asian countries as their base of operation because of the low costs and trust me, I’m confident that Mexico is definitely cheaper than those destinations (and extremely cheap to reach from North America since there are always promotions for discounted flights).

Planning to visit Mexico? Get the Mexico Tourist Card details at Natvisa.

What are you waiting for? What do you think about the cost of living in Cancun? Would you like to visit? Share your thoughts and let me know what you think!

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UPDATE 2021: Due to the high number of comments and e-mails regarding moving to Cancun, I’ve started to offer paid consultancy services via Skype. If you’re interested, please feel free to contact me and we can schedule a time for an interview. The fee is 100 USD per hour. Thanks and safe travels!