My Latin Life here to give you some insight into the cost of living in Latin America.
Using Expatistan, I've compared the cost of living between the most-searched-for Central and South American cities on my website to help you decide where to live or travel in Latin America.
Let the showdown begin!
What does it cost to live in major Latin American Cities?
Mexico City vs Lima
Mexico City vs Bogota
Bogota vs Panama City
Bogota vs Santo Domingo
Bogota vs Buenos Aires
Bogota vs Lima
Buenos Aires vs Santiago
Buenos Aires vs Lima
Buenos Aires vs Rio de Janeiro
Rio de Janiero vs Santo Domingo
Rio de Janeiro vs Panama City
Rio de Janeiro vs Santiago
So, what can we deduct from this?
Well, I know for a fact that it is possible to live in Mexico City for $1000 USD a month. It's not fucking fun but it's possible.
(Note I said 'possible' - I would suggest having more money).
Based on that and the above information, let's calculate the minimum amount per month you would need to live in the aforementioned Latin American cities.
How Much Does it cost per month (minimum!) to Live in Latin America?
Mexico City = $1000.00
Bogota = $1000.00
Lima = $1110.00
Buenos Aires = $1090.00
Santo Domingo = $1240.00
Santiago = $1330.00
Rio de Janeiro = $1440.00
Panama City = $1560.00
...In other words
The Cheapest Major Cities To Live in Latin America are
2) Mexico City
4) Buenos Aires
8) Panama City
***UPDATE: As of 2017 with the Mexican Peso crashing, Mexico City is now cheaper than Bogota.
Problems With The Data
Although Expatistan is a fairly reliable resource for cost of living, it can't take into consideration the variables that come into play when living in certain Central and South American metropolises.
For instance, in Rio de Janeiro you will have to pay more for housing because it is too dangerous to live in lower/middle class areas. This is an absolute MUST for those unfamiliar with the city. Same goes, to a lesser extent, for Santo Domingo.
That's going to bump your cost of living up considerably. For that reason, I'd put Rio de Janeiro above Panama as the most expensive city in LATAM.
In Panama City, Mexico City and Lima, you can get away with paying cheaper rent.
Also, you must consider currency fluctuations.
Buenos Aires is cheap right now because their peso has crashed recently, and Panama City is more expensive because the dollar is strong.
My Latin Life's Personal Recommendations
If you want to have a nice, comfortable life in Latin America, you're going to want a bit more of a monthly income than the minimum outlined above.
In my opinion, here's what you should be making per month to enjoy life in each city as a single man in his 20s or 30s:
Bogota = $1500.00
Mexico City = $1500.00
Lima = $1700.00
Buenos Aires = $1900.00
Santo Domingo = $2000.00
Santiago = $2300.00
Panama City = $2300.00
Rio de Janeiro = $2800.00
My fast and loose calculations here are based on the assumption that you will be putting 33% of your monthly earnings toward rent.
It should never been less than this.
In each city, this percentage should be enough to get you into a one-bedroom apartment in a decent area of town.
The corresponding level of income in each city should cover your costs and allow you to go out twice a week, assuming you're not popping bottles like a gangbanger (the criminal kind, not the sexual kind).
And there you have it!
The cost of living in major Latin America cities.
I hope I've been able to help you out.
If you've recently visited and/or are living in one of the cities mentioned and think I have my calculations off, please let me know in the comment section!
Until next time,