Guys, I have big news.
I'm FINALLY leaving Mexico City.
At first, my plan was to stay here for a year. That year soon turned into 15 months. Then, 18 months.
What can I say? I fell in love with the place.
But there comes a time when a man must move on. There are too many great cities in Latin America to get strapped down to one.
You'll have to stay tuned to find out.
As a sort of parting gift, I'll leave you with a full breakdown of everything you should know if you plan to live in Mexico City. We're talking cost of living, bars, restaurants, women, weather, safety.
I'll even throw in some pictures of my apartment for the hell of it.
Strap yourself in, because this will be a long post. But by the end of it you should have no doubts as to whether or not Mexico City is the city for you.
Let's get it started.
Everything you need to know about living in Mexico city
Cost of Living
If you're anything like me, this is the first thing to consider before moving to a city. Fortunately, I now make a decent enough living to have a comfortable life here in Mexico City.
But it wasn't always that way.
When I arrived, I was pinching pennies and counting dimes. My work situation was precarious. This made me very aware of what everything cost here.
I'll now pass that information on to you.
Here is a photo denoting what I pay in rent each month. I have a roommate, so this is split between two people:
8900 Mexican Pesos a month = $478.00 US dollars per month.
So, I pay $240 USD in rent each month. Additional costs include water ($9.00 USD every two months split between two people = $2.50 each a month), electricity ($14 USD every two months split between two people = $3.50 USD a month) and maintenance ($20 a month split between two people = $10 USD a month). Internet is included in the rent.
$240 + $2.50 + $3.50 +$20 = $266.00
So, when all is said and done, I pay a total of $266.00 USD to rent an apartment in Mexico City.
Not bad, eh?
But what does that get you? I'll show you.
Here is the location of my apartment: right on the border between the neighbourhoods of Roma Sur and Condesa. This is one of the best locations in the city. It's safe and surrounded by bars, cafes and restaurants. This is where the largest concentration of expats live.
The apartment is approximately 850 square feet, with two bedrooms and one bathroom.
Here are some photos.
It's worth noting that I was extremely lucky to find a place in this location for this price. A more common price for a room in a house or apartment in Condesa, sharing with 3 or four other people, is $320 USD - $480 USD. If you want your own pad in Roma or Condesa, you will pay $600 USD to $1000 USD for something decent. I have confirmed all these prices with friends with different living situations in the area.
In closing: You will pay $250 - $500 USD to share an apartment in Condesa or Roma in Mexico City, and anywhere from $600-$1000 for your own place.
P.S. I wrote a post on how to find an apartment in Mexico City
If you don't feel like reading the whole thing, here are a few of the websites I recommended in the article:
Here I will list the prices of a few food items to give you an idea of what you will spend on groceries.
Bag of Spinach (300 grams) = $2.50
1 kilo of chicken = $6.40
Loaf of bread = $2.40
1 litre of milk = $0.85
6 Bananas = $0.65
A dozen eggs = $1.10
10 Litres of Water = $1.30
Pack of cigarettes = $2.50
Tall can of beer = $0.80
Bottle of Bacardi Rum (1 litre) = $7.00
Bottle of mid-range wine = $9.50
Personally, I spend between $30 - $40 a week on groceries. I don't eat very much, but I don't skimp either.
Let's say you'll spend $160 a month on groceries each month (this doesn't include eating out...we'll get to that now).
Small family restaurants (called fondas) will typically offer a full course meal for 55 pesos, or $3.00 USD. This includes a starter, main course, drink and (sometimes) dessert.
Street food costs the following:
5 small tacos = $1.60
1 torta (sandwich) = $1.50
1 quesadilla = $0.80
1 hamburger = $1.60
1 gordita = $0.65
1 Starbucks small Americano = $1.40
1 cappuccino =$1.90
1 litre of fresh orange juice = $1.10
Mid-range restaurants usually range between 120 - 230 pesos, or $6.50 - $12.00.
For high-end restaurants, expect to pay what you would at home.
Bars and Clubs
Cover charges in the city range from $8.00 USD to $13.50 at the more exclusive clubs. Many bars have free entry.
For my price breakdown, I'll focus on more "normal" bars and clubs - the one's you're most likely to frequent as a tourist.
Bottle of beer = $2.70
Cocktail = $6.50
Bottle = $55.00 (will vary greatly by venue)
Metro/Metrobus ticket (unlimited transfers; no zone system) = $0.30
Taxi starting fare = $0.50; from Condesa to Polanco or Centro = $3.50 approx.
Bitches love the cine here, so I'll include that price as well:
1 weekend movie ticket = $4.30
1 Month with Movistar (200 mins; 1 GB Whatsapp, Twitter, Facebook, Gmail) = $11.00
1 Month membership = $38.00
My Monthly Cost of Living Breakdown
Bars/Clubs = $250
Transportation = $50
Misc (clothing, personal care, phone bill, gym etc) = $75
Total monthly expenses = $1001.00 USD
The low rent helps keep my costs down, so I splurge a bit more on bars and restaurants (I've rolled dates with women into this too).
By all accounts, a man can live a good life here in Mexico City for $1000.00 a month.
Bars and Restaurants
Now, I'll throw out some recommendations of bars and restaurants I've enjoyed here in the city.
Rhodesia - Calle de Durango 181, Roma Nte
Pata Negra - Tamaulipas 30, 1er Piso, Cuauhtémoc, Condesa
Mono - Calle Versalles 64, Cuahutémoc, Juárez
Janis - Eje 3 Poniente - Medellín 65, Cuauhtémoc, Roma Nte
Pan y Circo - Av Álvaro Obregón 160, Roma Nte
Bulldog Cafe - Rubens 6, Colonia San Juan, Delegación Benito Juárez
Rioma - Insurgentes Sur 377, Cuauhtemoc
Molly - Av. San Jerónimo 263, Delegación Álvaro Obregón
Patrick Miller - Calle Mérida 17, Cuauhtémoc, Roma Nte
Niuyorquina - Av. Tamaulipas 30, Cuauhtémoc
Wallace - Tamaulipas 45, Cuauhtémoc, Condesa
Limontour - Álvaro Obregón 106, Cuauhtémoc, Roma Nte
El Imperial - Álvaro Obregón 293
El Salon Tenampa - Plaza Garibaldi, Guerrero
La Casa de Toño - Londres 144, Cuauhtémoc
Ojo de Agua - Calle Citlaltépetl 23C, Cuauhtémoc
Fonda el Refugio - Calle Liverpool 166, Cuautéhmoc, Juárez
Fonda del Recuerdo - Bahía de las Palmas 37, Miguel Hidalgo, Verónica Anzúres
Contramar - Durango 200, Cuauhtémoc, C. U. Benito Juárez
El Hidalguense - Campeche 155, Cuauhtémoc, Roma Sur
El Parnita - Av Yucatán No.84 Local E2, Cuauhtémoc, Roma Nte
Cafe Buna - Orizaba #42 Col. Roma Norte
Escarapela - Nuevo León 62, Cuauhtémoc, Condesa
Panaderia Rosetta - Calle Havre #73, Cuauhtemoc, Juárez
El Vilsito - Avenida Universidad, Narvarte Poniente
This is by no means a comprehensive list - I've purposely stuck to recommendations close to Roma/Condesa/Centro, as this is where I suggest you live as a foreigner. Most of these places fall into the mid-range price category.
I've excluded many neighbourhoods here (there are simply too many to name) but use this as a rule of thumb.
These neighbourhoods are safe:
These neighbourhoods are moderately safe:
These neighbourhoods are dangerous:
The first group of neighbourhoods I've listed are generally safe to walk around at all hours. Nevertheless, I'd recommend being in a group if you are going to be walking around at night, especially if you're a woman. Two girls I know have been robbed - one in Condesa and one in Polanco - so keep your guard up regardless of where you are.
If you are going to take a taxi in Mexico City (I'd suggest UBER instead) try not to take one that's parked. Although rare, express kidnappings still happen here. Usually, these criminal taxi drivers will wait outside an expensive bar or nightclub in a good area to scope out a victim. For this reason, you'll be safer walking to the nearest street and hailing one that's moving.
Also, if your taxi driver stops to 'get gas' (i.e call some of his buddies to meet you at your destination where you'll be robbed) or makes a suspicious phone call while driving, it's best to get out of the cab and catch another.
Don't let all of this scare you: I've been here almost a year and a half without any issues. And I've hung out in some sketchy areas at night (Iztapalapa, Doctores and Guerrero). But I always try to play it safe by not walking too far if I'm alone and always relying on UBER instead of taxis.
Rainy season starts around April. It will usually rain once a day, typically in the evening, but only for an hour or so. Average temperature here in Mexico City is around 18°C (64°F). In my opinion, the best time to visit is from September to February. Bring a jacket because it can get a bit cold at night.
I've written about the women here a few times (I'll post links to those articles at the bottom of this section) so I won't spend too much time on this. Also, a man's taste in women is subjective, so it's difficult to provide an answer that will satisfy everyone.
In comparison to other Latin American cities, I have the following to say about girls in Mexico City:
Girls in Mexico City are not as hot as girls in Bogota
Girls in Mexico City are about the same as girls in Panama City (although Panamanians have better bodies)
Girls in Mexico City are hotter than girls in Lima
Overall, I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of women here. You have girls from all over the country and from all over the world, so there's a good mix.
It's also easy to hook-up. I've averaged about 3-4 girls a month without making it a huge priority. I'd estimate about 40% of those came from Tinder. Someone with more game and style than me (not hard to do!) could easily double that number through a combination of going out 2 or 3 times a week and online dating.
It's also more common for girls to approach you than it is in the United States or Canada. When I go out, I'll usually get approached by a girl or introduced to a girl by one of her friends at least once. They aren't always of the best quality but it's flattering nonetheless. Also, if a girl likes you, she won't always approach but many times she'll give you blatantly obvious indicators of interest (smiling, stealthily following you around or dancing close to you etc.). This is an open invitation to introduce yourself!
If you're not a night owl, there are plenty of opportunities for meeting girls during the day in Mexico City. For example, everyday around Condesa and Roma Norte there are plenty of girls hanging out in parks and coffee shops doing absolutely nothing. I'm still a bit timid when it comes to approaching girls during the day unless it's inescapably obvious that they're open to it. But the ones I have gotten numbers from and met up with are always of better quality - both physically and mentally. Keep this in mind.
If you're still curious, here are some other places I've written about girls in Mexico City:
Mexico City Location Review (Guest Post)
Ok, so I've left a few things off the list. Most notably, tourist attractions. Don't worry, there's more than enough of those in the city. Lonely Planet, TripAdvisor and Wikipedia will do a better job of explaining them than I could ever do.
Also there's the issue of visas. I've written about that here: Tourist Visas In Latin America.
(In short, you can border hop every six months and live here forever as a 'tourist').
If you feel like exploring other great cities in Mexico (there are many), domestics flights will run you under $100 USD.
And finally, here is a link to all of my posts tagged with Mexico.
You'll find some good information there about all the things the country has to offer.
I think I'll leave things there. If you have any additional questions, leave a comment below or send me an email.
Until next time,