Thursday, February 12, 2009

Cost of Living

Maggie found a squirrel in our small woodpile and spent the rest of the day trying to dig and root in the woodpile to try to find it.  She ended up with this dirty face.  Just when I think she is starting to have human emotions, I am disabused of the notion by her very "dog" behavior!  

I receved some feedback from people suggesting that the everyday activities were sufficiently interesting for many of you who do not live in Mexico that more detail on this subject is warranted.  So I thought I'd discuss shopping for food, etc. today.  One of the appeals of living here is obviously the cost of living.  I highly doubt we'd have been able to retire at our ages, and not have to work, if we'd stayed in the United States.  Right now, because of the worldwide economic crisis, the Mexican peso has slipped from about 10 pesos to the dollar to about 14.5 pesos to the US dollar.   This obviously helps us, for the time being, but seriously hurts Mexico, a country which is reliant on imports from the US which are now more expensive.  This is triggering inflation here, and I suspect it will continue.  

Shopping for food in the Lake Chapala area offers many choices.  If you want to get the same products you were used to buying in the US, there is Super Lake, a grocery store which specializes in importing goods for the gringos.  We buy a few luxuries there, including good tea, but we usually buy Mexican products for much cheaper:

One good thing about Super Lake is that it is a hangout for Americans and Canadians, and they provide a bulletin board where you can find rentals, items for sale, Spanish lessons, or just about anything else:

At the other end of the spectrum, we have the weekly outdoor market, or Tianguis (Monday in Chapala, Wednesday in Ajijic, and Thursday in Jocotepec) which features just about everything from produce, to street food, to medicinal herbs, fresh yogurt, flowers, pirated films, clothing, crafts, bread, fish, meat, plants, electronic parts, and much more.  We always buy our produce, yogurt, honey, flowers, and movies at the tianguis.  We have our favorite vendors, of course, who treat us well.  Here are some photos: 

We also have the opportunity to shop at large department-style stores, Wal Mart or Soriana, which are very Mexican and do not cater to foreigners.  So what you might normally think you'd easily find at Wal Mart in the US, you will not likely find at this one.  I do not prefer shopping at these stores.  

Neighborhoods all have small stores, or tiendas, which sell Abarrotes, which means supplies.  Here you can buy one egg, or one cigarette, or beer, or produce, soap, etc.  They are like mom and pop stores, and the family generally lives in the back.  I frequent the one about a block from our house, where I generally buy milk, charcoal, eggs, soap, bottled water, and other household goods.  Here's a photo: 

Now, how much do things cost?  Here is a list of some sample prices.  I have converted them to pounds (from kilos) and to dollars (from pesos):  

Milk  $1.50 2 liters
Eggs  $1.20 / doz
Yogurt $1.40/liter
Chicken (whole) $.90/ lb. 
Pork Chops $1.80/ lb
Steak, tenderloin $3.50/ lb
Tomatoes $.25/ lb
Bananas  $ .10/lb
Avacados $ 1.05/ lb. 
Carrots $ .30/lb
Limes $.50/lb
Oranges $.25/lb
Strawberries (now, in season) $.45/lb
Fresh corn tortillas $.30/ lb
Beans (precooked) $.40/ lb
Sugar $.60/lb
Dish soap (Mexican brand) $.25
Dish Soap (US brand) $1.50
Charcoal (small bag, enough for four grillings) $1.50
Tea (Mexican, not good) $1.20/80 bags
Coffee (Veracruz, from street vendor) $1.35/ lb 
Good British tea ($4.00/ 80 bags...but worth it!)
Tequila...ranges from $3.00-$120 per liter.  Good, aged reposado is about $14
Wine...Chilean table wine $3.50-7.00
Beer...Corona 6-pack $3.50
Dog food (Pedigree) 5lb bag..$2.20
Beggin strips, Maggie's favorite treat (imported) $4.00

Pixie is still in the US with her family.  Maggie and I are eating very cheaply.  

Next time I will continue to discuss other aspects of the cost of living here.  In the meantime, Happy Valentine's Day!  In Mexico this day is called Dia de Amor y Amistad, Day of Love and Friendship, a bit more broad-based.   

1 comment:

Lori said...

Thanks for doing all the research. Your information is very helpful to a person considering the move to Mexico. Most sites just say the obvious: that it costs as much as you want to spend. You have given us some useful figures. I look forward to your next blog.

PS Love the dog!