From Cold to Comfort: Canadians Head to Mexico for Lower Cost of Living

In recent years, more Canadians are warming to the idea of moving to Mexico and many are becoming permanent residents. The country’s vibrant culture, beautiful scenery and warm climate are just a few of the reasons why it has become a popular destination for Canadians looking to relocate. However, one of the most significant factors contributing to this trend is the lower cost of living in Mexico, according to recent surveys. With a lower cost of living, Canadians can enjoy a higher quality of life while spending less money, making it an appealing option for retirees, digital nomads, and others.

All prices below are in CAD unless otherwise noted.

More Canadians are migrating to Mexico than ever before

Canadians are moving to Mexico at a record pace, with data from the Mexican government showing a sharp increase in Temporary Resident Cards (TRT) issued to Canadians in recent years. In 2022, there were 3160 TRTs issued to Canadians, up from 1695 in 2021 and 1032 in 2020. This trend has continued into 2023, with 724 TRTs issued in the first two months of the year alone.

If this trend continues, it is projected that over 4,300 TRTs will be issued to Canadians by the end of 2023, marking a significant surge in migration. The favorable combination of warm weather, affordable cost of living, and attractive real estate opportunities are likely key drivers behind this trend, as more and more Canadians seek to take advantage of Mexico’s many benefits.

Canadians in Mexico enjoy 20-30°C
warmer temperatures

Recent surveys have shown that weather is a major factor for those Canadians and Americans choosing Mexico. Places like Cancun and Mexico City stay more temperate year-round than almost anywhere in Canada. Summers are hot but not scorching in places like Mexico City while winters are obviously much more comfortable in Mexico. Canadians are more and more making warm places like Mexico their second home in the winter, but many are staying year-round as well.

A $100,000 income in Canada can feel like $200,000 in Mexico

One way to think about the overall cost of living in one place versus another is by using a Cost of Living Index. In the chart above we’ve compared popular Mexican destinations like Cancún and Puerto Vallarta to Vancouver BC, Calgary, AB and others. 

The chart above uses data from Numbero, a crowd-sourced cost of living index that uses New York City, NY, USA as 100, with the highest cost of living as a reference point for comparing to costs in other cities.

We compiled a list of top Canadian cities that people are migrating from and compared the weather and cost of living there to a few popular Mexican locations.

Toronto, ON: Canadians have 100% more purchasing power in Mexico

 
Toronto’s cost of living is among the highest in Canada, with expensive housing costs being one of the biggest culprits. However, if you’re looking to save money and live in a sunny location, Playa del Carmen in Mexico offers a significantly lower cost of living. For example, you can save a lot on rent (106.6% lower!), groceries (81.1% cheaper!), and restaurants (122.0% lower!). Even without factoring in rent, consumer prices in Playa del Carmen are 83.5% lower than in Toronto. 

These differences in cost of living can be a game-changer for those seeking a more affordable lifestyle. Additionally, if you’re in the market for real estate, the benchmark home price in Toronto is $1,118,500, while in Playa del Carmen, homes are, on average, 81.7% less expensive. For example, a spacious two-bedroom, two-bathroom ocean view condo in Playa del Carmen’s popular downtown area is currently listed for $340,000 CAD, offering a great opportunity to own a piece of paradise at a much more affordable price.

Vancouver, BC: Rents are 250% higher than in Mexico

 
Real estate in Vancouver is some of the most expensive in the world, making it difficult for many residents to afford a comfortable lifestyle. In Mexico, however, the cost of living is much more affordable, and this is especially true for the beautiful coastal city of Cancun. Consumer prices, including rent, are 52.9% lower in Cancun, while rent prices are 71.2% lower. You can also expect to pay 41.5% less for dining out and 43.2% less for groceries. The benchmark home price in Vancouver is $1,143,900, whereas in Cancun, homes are, on average, 88.8% less expensive to buy.
 
For example, you could purchase a new, two-bedroom, two-bathroom house in Cancun just 5 minutes away from the Cancun Hotel Zone or under $200,000 CAD. With such a significant difference in costs, moving to Cancun could be a smart financial decision, allowing you to live a comfortable lifestyle while saving money.

Ottawa, ON: Consumer goods are almost half price in Mexico

 
If you’re looking for a more affordable cost of living, Playa del Carmen may be a great option with consumer prices that are significantly lower than Ottawa’s. Consumer Prices in Playa del Carmen are 46.4% lower than in Ottawa (without rent), and groceries, rent, and restaurant prices are all significantly lower. In terms of real estate, the benchmark home price in Ottawa is $632,000 which is 73.2% more than in Playa del Carmen.
 
If you’re interested in purchasing property, there are many options available, including a new build condo with 2 beds, 2 baths, ocean views, and a stunning pool for just $380 CAD.
 

Victoria, BC: Restaurant prices are 90% cheaper in Mexico

 
Victoria’s high cost of living can be challenging for many residents, especially when it comes to housing expenses. However, if you’re looking to save money, Puerto Vallarta in Mexico offers a significantly lower cost of living. Consumer prices including rent in Puerto Vallarta are 90.4% lower, while rent prices are 87.6% lower, restaurant prices are 91.8% lower, and groceries are 117.1% cheaper.
 
These differences in cost of living can be a game-changer for those seeking a more affordable lifestyle. Additionally, if you’re in the market for real estate, the benchmark home price in Victoria is $851,400, while in Puerto Vallarta, homes are, on average, 87.2% less expensive.
 

Calgary, AB: A home can cost 72% less in Mexico

If you’re considering moving to Mexico from Calgary, you’ll be happy to know that you can save a significant amount on your everyday expenses. Compared to Calgary, the consumer prices in Cancun are 72.3% lower (without rent), and 84.6% lower including rent. Rent prices are a staggering 122.5% lower in Cancun, and you’ll also save on restaurant and groceries prices, which are 61.4% and 64.9% lower, respectively. Plus, if you’d like to enjoy a cold beer, you’ll be happy to know that a pint of domestic beer is only $2.79 in Cancun, while in Calgary it’s $7.00. 

And if you’re in the market for a new home, Cancun is the place to be, with homes priced 72.7% less than the benchmark home price in Calgary. A new build condo in Canun, for example with two bedrooms, two bathrooms and a beautiful pool costs under $210,000 CAD.
 

Halifax, NS: Canadians escape to a 25°C warmer winter in Mexico

 
Halifax and Cancun offer vastly different weather profiles but also different living costs, with consumer prices in Halifax 63.0% higher than in Cancun (without rent), and rent prices in Halifax being 124.5% higher than in Cancun. Restaurant prices in Halifax are also significantly higher, at 50.3% more expensive than in Cancun, and groceries prices are 70.4% higher. 

Comparatively, domestic beer in Cancun is only 2.79 CAD, while in Halifax it costs 7.00 C$. Additionally, the benchmark home price in Halifax is $496,000 CAD, which is 226% more expensive than Cancun. However, in Cancun, you can find a brand-new two-bed, two-bath condo for under $270,000 CAD, complete with stunning ocean views and a luxurious pool.
 

Montreal: Get 2 beers for the price of one in Mexico 

 
If you’re considering a move to Mexico City from Montreal, you’ll be pleased to know that consumer prices are 50.8% lower in Mexico City than in Montreal (without rent), and even when including rent, they’re still 45.8% lower. Rent prices are 34.9% cheaper in Mexico City, while restaurant prices are a whopping 66.1% lower, and groceries are 53.8% cheaper. The price of a beer is almost double in Montreal compared to Mexico, $3.62 vs $7.50. It’s important to note, however, that the benchmark home price in Montreal is $511,500, which is 116.6% higher than in Mexico City. The weather is also much better in the winter with a 24 degree difference.
 

Winnipeg, MB: Canadians can enjoy a 45°C warmer winter in Mexico

Winnipeg and Cancun have significant differences in terms of weather patterns obviously, with a massive 40+ degree swing in winter for migrators. Consumer prices in Winnipeg are 60.7% higher than in Cancun, with groceries and rent prices being particularly expensive. In comparison, restaurant prices in Cancun are 41.4% lower than in Winnipeg. Despite these differences, it’s important to note that Cancun offers affordable real estate options. For example, you can find a new two-bedroom, two-bathroom condo for sale in Cancun for only $162,000 CAD.

Sources & Further Reading

  • http://www.politicamigratoria.gob.mx/es//PoliticaMigratoria/CuadrosBOLETIN?Anual=2023&Secc=2
  • https://www.numbeo.com/cost-of-living/rankings_current.jsp
  • https://championtraveler.com/dates/best-time-to-visit-cancun-mx/
  • https://farhomes.com/expats-mexico-survey-2023
  • https://worldweather.wmo.int/en/home.html
  • https://www.crea.ca/housing-market-stats/canadian-housing-market-stats/national-price-map/

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