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On Saving Money and Extended Vacations


An extended vacation in Mexico is wonderful for obvious reasons; climate, culture. Who am I kidding, sun, sand, and beer play a role too.

The irony is the longer one lives in Mexico, even on the Caribbean Coast as we do, one can actually save money or at the very least break even compared to the living expense of wintering in Canada. And notice I said Caribbean ‘Coast’ and not beachfront.

First off packing for an extended stay can be tricky. We learnt early the trick is to pack light. Everything we require for two months or more fits nicely into one carry-on and one knapsack each plus a modest checked bag. Truth be told we could avoid the checked bag but after all there is duty-free to consider.

Better to purchase the extra few bits and bobs after arrival when you can truly identify immediate short comings. Honestly, the money saved on transporting extra luggage with potentially useless stuff will more than pay for supplies. And don’t worry because at the end of a stay one can resell or donate purchased items and make the return trip light too.

Okay smart guy how does one save money on an extended stay?

Well first off and most important is the extended stay part. After several trips to Mexico we understand an extended stay is the key.

Getting away for two or three weeks makes it difficult to take advantage of monthly and seasonal rentals. All-inclusive resorts offer everything you need for ten days or so and all you need do is arrive bering some semblance of sobriety. But you pay dearly for inclusivity.

For a short stay you do better to consult TripAdvisor and select a vacation rental away from the hotel zone yet close enough to walk, cab or take a collectivo to the action. A vacation rental should include kitchenette, bed, shower, and wifi. A safe is nice although with common sense and forethought security is not an issue on the Coast.

Staying within the colonias is a rewarding experience in and of itself. You can prepare meals in your casita or dine out at a local eatery. Your choice. A short stay will cost upwards of $90.00 US a night although accommodation can be had for as low as $40.00 US. Anything below that is a rare find indeed and below that is a hostel. You decide.

I digress.

We are farmers without livestock so we have the luxury of having our long Canadian winters free. We planned our life to be this way. Perhaps you are in a similar situation.

For an extended stay figure out your monthly budget. Mortgage and utilities are fixed costs and play no part in this calculation.

Got your budget? Okay, take 50% to 60% and this amount is your living expense budget in Mexico if you don’t go full gringo. And don’t. Gringoism isn’t cool. The balance is your rental budget.

We are living in an excellent, well equipped one bedroom rental for about $460.00 CDN a month or $16.00 a night. That is also a minimum amount one would budget for living expenses in Mexico. We budget closer to $700.00 CDN a month for living or roughly 300 pesos a day.

Granted our ‘departmento’ isn’t listed on TripAdvisor but others like it are out there. That being said if your basic living expense in Canada is around $1,000.00 to $1,200.00 CDN per month for a family of two than you can do this. Any amount beyond is saved money.

While in Mexico we eat out sometimes but mostly we prepare our meals at home. We do enjoy a cerveza or six and we also cycle to the public beach regularly with picnic and chilled beverages nestled in the panniers. Beach clubs? Sure, just not everyday. The public beaches are awesome. Entertain and eat out? Yes, just not every night ‘mi gringo’.

There are several ways to have a rich experience on this budget as we will explore in future posts but rest assured if you have time Mexico can actually pay you back. Literally.

One other thing. We use a WestJet Mastercard that gives you Westjet dollars in return to use with no restrictions or blackouts. All our personal and business expenses throughout the year go on this card. So even our flights, minus taxes and airport fees of course, are paid in full.

Ergo we are living on the Mayan Riviera at a standard equal to or better than Canada for the cost of airport tax.


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