Finances: Freelancing in Mexico City

At the end of each month this year, I’m going to tally up my expenses in order to evaluate the costs of living in each city we’re visiting. A month is a good time to get an estimate of how much it would cost to settle down in a city, and for anyone out there working remotely for a U.S. company, a lot of these places are much cheaper to live in than the U.S. itself.

Now, some of my estimates will be off, since I’m traveling with a program, and not paying for my own housing or office space rentals. I pay $2,000 USD a month for my office/apartment/some events with the group.

But just for estimates’ sakes, I’ve done some digging, and average apartment rent for the neighborhood we’re staying in (Roma Norte/Condesa, a very trendy Brooklyn-esque ‘hood) seems to range from ~$500-1000 USD for a 1-BR apartment. Office space rentals vary depending on size/location/amenities, but I found a few decent-looking listings in the $300-450 USD range.

So, after a month in Mexico City (the world’s 10th largest metropolitan area as of 2015, with a population of 21.3 million), here’s how the finacials of what I actually spent break down:

Food (in Restaurants): $562.78

Food made up the biggest piece of my spending pie. This was not surprising, since a) I ate out almost every meal, lunch and dinner (see here for more details), and b) living in NYC, I already tended to splurge on dining out pretty often. And when I’m in a new country, especially a new country full of delicious new cuisine to sample, well…

But I should note that one of those meals was at one of the top fine dining restaurants in the world, and it still only cost $160.26 (and made up a big chunk of my dining-out expenses by itself). My average cost-per-meal not counting Pujol was $8.38.

Living Expenses: $166.48

I included groceries in this category, along with the usual necessities like toilet paper, bottled water (the tap water isn’t always potable in Mexico City), laundry and cleaning supplies, etc.

Shopping: $332.42

Again, bit of a splurge category, though I mostly only splurged on practical items. A quick breakdown of the biggest expenses:

$117.40 – new trail-runners and hiking pants for Machu Picchu (not to mention for all the running I need to start doing to work off these tacos)
$194.07 – new leather jacket (half off, no less) because I very, very stupidly left mine at home. Do not do this, kids. Learn from my mistakes.


Medical: $117.92

This looks like a large amount, but keep in mind that $90.93 of that was buying my allergy medication for the next 6 months. At home, that same amount of allergy medicine would have cost me $300 out-of-pocket, AFTER my insurance deductions.

Drinks: $127.38

Again, not too surprising, considering I’m in a new country with a zillion new beverages to sample (mezcal, anyone?).

Transportaion: $117.58

The vast majority of this (except for $21.70 spent on a bus to see the monarch butterfly migration up north) was spent on Ubers alone. But this is with me taking Ubers to and from events nearly 5 nights a week, and that’s also keeping in mind that some of those Uber rides were 1+ hours long.

Museums/Tours/Shows: $29.67

This isn’t technically a living expense, since if I moved to Mexico City, I likely wouldn’t be doing things like going to Lucha Libre shows or visiting the Anthropology Museum not once but twice in a month (listen, the Piedra del Sol is cool as hell, okay?). But it’s part of my spend this month, so for the sake of completeness, I’m including it.

Overall Monthly Spend: $1,454.24

This was a bit of a splurge month for me, though, since it’s my first month on the road, first month meeting all my new traveling companions, first month adjusting to the cooking-at-home versus eating-out balance of a new location.

Taking into account the fact that a) I went out almost every night (often with 79 friends who needed to meet up in places large enough to accomodate huge groups of us), b) I’m being a major tourist, and c) I stocked up on meds and shopping items for the year ahead, this actually stacks up really well against my usual budget.


In New York City, my average spending was $1,800 on rent/bills/medical expenses, and another $1,500-2,000 per month on groceries, living expenses, eating out, and going to events.

That said, I’ll definitely be trying to cook at home more often next month.

Onward to Bogotá!

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