I bet at some point of your life you wondered— “What would it be like if I just left everything and moved to Mexico?”. While I can’t answer this question, I can give you some idea on what costs you can expect if you decide to do it. Because I did something of the sorts — I spent one month, a full 31 days in Tulum, Mexico, and I want to tell you all about my experience. You can read my other blog posts on this beautiful city here. By the end of this blog post, you should have a better idea of what it would cost for you to live in Tulum, Mexico for a month. I have to warn you though — you might be surprised at how cheap it can be. Especially when you compare it to the United States, the standard abroad is much lower and thus you can afford much more. All while enjoying this stunning beach city and all of its perks. But for now, let’s take a look at my living expenses, so that you can be prepared in case you decide to spend a longer time there.
A great option for affordable housing is Airbnb. You can usually find much better deals than hotels, and you can also opt for the cheaper part of the city instead of the touristy expensive areas. Just this tip alone saved us so much on accommodation expenses, that I definitely recommend you diligently research your options before deciding on that $300 a night hotel room.
This is a popular tip, but it’s a very useful one, so I have to mention it — book as early as possible. If you decide to wait, all the cheaper, more comfortable places will be reserved, and you will be left with the more undesirable accommodation options. In our case, we booked two months in advance, and with the added decline in tourism due to COVID-19, we were able to find a very affordable option.
Try to find housing in the center of the city, instead of near the beach, because that can account for a huge difference in price. Not only this, but all the shops and restaurants around you are priced at a local rate as well, which makes a huge difference. There are also not really any Airbnbs on the ocean, only in the city.
If you can, take some friends with you. We were three people in an Airbnb for up to 6. It was spacious, cozy and overall- a great place to be. We had a lovely kitchen, comfortable bedrooms and bathrooms, a terrace, a living room, an outdoor pool, and a rooftop with a hot tub. With all these amenities, it only amounted to $400 per person for the whole month, which is a fraction of the cost a hotel would have charged.
2. Get a bike
Tulum is the type of city where everyone is riding a bike. It’s a very convenient way to get around, and not to mention the healthy dose of exercise. Bike rentals, however, can get a bit expensive if you’re staying for a longer period of time. That’s why I recommend you buy yourself one instead. It will end up costing much less in the long run. But I can already hear you asking “Mac, how can I get a bike in a foreign city I’ve never been to?”. Well, truth is — it’s much easier than you expect. You can just go to Facebook Marketplace and find one you like. After you’ve finished your stay in the city, you can just sell it back. We managed to buy a bike for 1300 pesos ($65), which was much less than it would have cost to rent it. A bike lock was an additional $7.55, but overall — it was very affordable. After selling it, it only ended up costing me about 30 pesos, so it’s an incredible bargain if you’re going to spend more time in Tulum. The cheapest rental place I found was 50 pesos per day, which quickly adds up to a huge amount for the 30 days.
3. Plan for your everyday needs
We opted for accommodation without a washer and dryer, which meant we had to do our laundry at a local business instead. Luckily, there are many places that take care of things like this along Tulum, so that wasn’t an issue, but it’s still an expense you should account for. The cost where we went was 18 pesos per kilo. A week’s worth of laundry for me was nearly 3 kilos, so about 50 pesos, which is only $2.5. If you’re staying for a month, you’re going to be doing your laundry 4-5 times, so it doesn’t amount to such a high spend. It’s just an additional expense you need to keep at the back of your mind.
4. Plan for your hobbies
While in Tulum, it was important for me to stay moving and healthy. That’s why I got a gym membership, which is not something on everyone’s list. However, it’s very important to know what you like doing and what’s important to you, so that you can take care of yourself without feeling like you’re going over budget. In my case, the gym membership at Evolve fitness club was roughly $50 for the whole month. It is a great venue, and I was really happy with what I got for my money, so if that’s something you’re interested in as well, definitely check out this fitness.
5. What does a haircut cost
Another thing you might have to take care of is your grooming. For me, I only had to get haircuts every other week, which still ended up costing about $8 per haircut.
This is probably the most expensive part of any staying in another city like this. For me as a content creator, it’s important to film things that will interest people, so I usually spend a bit more on this than an average person would. I’m saying this because you should take my expenses in this category with a grain of salt, since yours might not be as high as mine. That said, a rough breakdown of my costs in this category is:
Chichen Itza entrance fee : $25
One day car rental — $20 per person ($60 total, split 3 ways)
Scuba diving — $100
Visiting cenotes — roughly $95
Drinks and food from the beach — roughly $99
Coba ruins entrance fee — $4 per person
Private boat tour in Punta allen - $25 per person (split 3 ways)
Taxi fares : $29
The total for this month’s excursions for me came out to $404. Don’t let this price scare you though, because it’s completely up to you where you decide to spend your money in this area. You don’t need to do all the excursions we did unless you really want to. We also spent some money on taxi fares, since we had to use this service a few times, and each time it was roughly about 200 pesos, and we split it three ways.
This is another category that can quickly add up, since we all need to eat 2-3 times a day. Your style of spending in this area depends entirely on you, however. There are many low-cost options, and you can also cook for yourself if you’re on a tighter budget. In our case, we wanted to fully experience the food culture, while not going overboard on expenses. We went to some more high-end places a few times, but we mostly ate at local food vendors which offer very affordable authentic cuisine. Our total for food per day was roughly $12, because we were mainly eating at the inexpensive local restaurants. We found a lot of amazing taco places, which were delicious and incredibly inexpensive. For the whole month, I spent around $440 on food. However, as mentioned — we went to some more expensive restaurants a few times as well, which definitely helped bump this number up. One of them was Rosa Negra, which we visited three times. The first time, my total was $60, the second —$100, and the third — $80, so it’s definitely something you can skip if you don’t feel like spending that much. In total, we spent about $240 there. I just want to say that similar to any city, Tulum has its expensive, and it’s more affordable options, and it depends entirely on you how you decide to spend your money. We bought some groceries as well, which ended up costing about $50. We mainly got coffee and fruit for the mornings, but most of our food budget went towards eating out in restaurants.
A very popular topic of inquiry — the price of alcohol. If you’re wondering what it costs to get a bottle to drink at home, I’m going to have to tell you that sadly, I don’t have a concrete answer since it ranges. The tequila was about $3.5, so it was very affordable, but that depends greatly on where you buy it from. I definitely recommend you be wary of where you purchase your alcohol from, because there are some sketchy places where it’s a bit dangerous. For a Smirnoff bottle, it’s between $7-$12 a bottle. Per person, it ended up totaling about $50 total for alcohol, and it was more than enough for the three of us. But of course, if you’re going to some more high-end places, you’re going to be paying much more.
9. Transportation to and fro the airport
In our case, we landed in Cancun airport, and from there, we had to get to Tulum. The cheapest way to do this is a bus, which ended up costing about $13.50. Double that for a round trip, and it ended up costing us $26 total.
Are you ready for it? After counting everything in — the accommodation, the transportation, the food and every other small thing, my total spend came out to be $1,751.05. This is the total amount of money I spent for one month in Tulum. It might feel like a lot, but when you take into account just how much you spend living where you are currently, you will see that it’s sometimes a much lower number. With me being a digital nomad, I have the luxury of flexibility, because I don’t have expenses in the USA that I have to account for. This number represents my total living expenses for the month. If you have to pay rent and pay this number at the same time, it can get really expensive. That’s why I can recommend you put your place on Airbnb for a month, because that can really offset your costs.
I hope this blog post was useful to you! Tulum is an amazing place, which offers many possibilities and adventures. When I think about it, it even cost me less to live in Mexico for a month than it would have living in my home city of Washington. I’m not saying you should do what I did, but I think having a clear picture of what the expenses are like will help you shape your opinion next time you decide to visit. Don’t forget to check out my other Tulum content, and I wish you happy travels!
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