Expat Costs in Latin America

International Living’s new issue has a great rundown on typical costs in a variety of Latin American locations popular with expatriates and it’s a sometimes eye-opening look at the realities on the ground. We tend to think everything is going to be cheaper in a developing country, but that’s usually not the case. Items that have a labor connection are cheaper: a maid, a construction crew, and a driver for the day, for instance. And this translates to lower rates for maids, waiters, and cooks. And hey, you’ll pay less for rum, tequila, beer, tortillas, chicken, beans, mangos, bananas, and oranges.

But what about high-speed Internet access, cable TV, or a phone? Well, you might be pining for home on those items. And if you go out shopping for a toaster oven, a coffee maker, or a stereo, you might experience some serious sticker shock, especially if you’re from the U.S.

Here are a few examples from the International Living article, showing how much things can vary:

A regular maid is $60 per month in Granada, $125 in Quito, $200 in Buenos Aires, $250 in Roatan.

Monthly utilities are $50 in San Miguel de Allende, $100 in Quito, $148 in Roatan, and $182 in Panama City.

Three restaurant dinners a month run a total of $50 in Granada, $65 in Quito, $120 in Buenos Aires, $125 in Roatan.

High-speed Internet access is only $25 in Panama City, but $80 in Granada, $95 in Roatan, and $100 in Quito.

These are just sample costs and of course your mileage will vary, but the point is to do your homework before packing up and moving somewhere or you could get a nasty surprise. If you’re doing more than just touching down for a couple of months, go hang somewhere for a while–preferably six months or a year–before deciding to make it your permanent home.

  1. omih

    Three restaurant dinners cost $65 in Granada. What restaurant? How many courses? Steak main course or a green salad?

    Man, sort it out. This reporting is so limited. I there a link to International Living? Did they really write as little as this in their original article?

    A regular maid? What, daily? Weekly? Live in?

    We should do our homework? Man, you do your homework before posting such entirely useless information.

  2. tim

    I do my homework by subscribing to in-depth info, which I did for years before investing in another country. But I can’t just copy another publication’s article and print it here. The web hasn’t changed copyright law.

    If you are serious about living or investing abroad, don’t whine to me. Subscribe at InternationalLiving.com or buy the expat reports available from a variety of sources. Or go to the library and check out some books. Doing your homework involves more than surfing blogs for such a monumental and important decision. I can only point you in the right direction.

    (Maid costs are monthly, but not live-in. All the listed expenses are monthly.)

  3. omih

    You’re missing my point. The whole point of blogging in this respect is that you don’t copy it all but you do link to them.

    You’ve just thrown up a post – copied various snippets of nonsensical information and left it at that. A post for the sake of a post.

    “Buy the expat reports from a variety of sources” ? Link them!

    Why not just write…there’s news out there..Google it…don’t bother me.

    I am not asking you to get the information and reprint it here. Quite the opposite…I’m asking you to do your sources and your readers the courtesy of linking the material you took this from. That way you can actually copy less of it and give them the benefit of any traffic that might be interested enough to find out more.

    Seriously, you mention cities with locating them in countries (link to their Wiki page). You mention magazines without linking to them.

  4. tim

    Maybe I’m not being clear enough for you, so I’ll spell it out: NOBODY can link to an International Living story, just as nobody can link to a Wall Street Journal story. You have to pay to play.

    If you really are at square one on this, follow my links list (right hand column on the blog) to here: http://www.worldscheapestdestinations.com/

    Or here:

    Then go to the resources section.

  5. Belina Garcia

    Don’t know about costs in other places, but in Merida, Yucatan the expenses amount to: in pesos and monthly unless other shown:
    Monthly rent for 2br/1ba house, $2000 – $4000. By the beaches, that would be a weekly charge but furnished house. 3br/2.5ba, furnished large home $6000 – $15000.
    Maid Service, $100 – $150 a day rate. Live-in $600 – 800 a week including room and board.
    Laundry service, $6 – $10 per Kilo of clothes, finished
    Electricity, $500 – $4000 (depending if you have AC and size of home)
    Gas, about $50, more if you cook
    DSL Service, $499 (comes with phone service at addtl charge)
    SKY Satelite Service for TV, about $700 (Basic package, 2 Tv’s + HBO & Cinemax
    Water, $50
    Phone, after you buy the phone line for $1500, about $700 (w/internet)
    Groceries, for a family of 4 who eat well but don’t drink, $4000 or more
    Bottled Water, 5gal. bottle, $15-20 each
    Gardener, $150 a day (about 5-6 hrs)
    Cars here, even at a dealers, are cheaper than in the US even luxury models, used cars are in good condition and not many really old cars available. Most new cars come w/insurance included.
    Car Insurance: Since I don’t know your situation I can tell you about mine: In Las Vegas it was $400USD, here it’s $471 PESOS!!!!
    That’s about it for basic costs, by the way these might apply to other Mexico locations too.

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