You can easily open up a bank account in Mexico using your Passport.
When we lived in Mexico, we had income coming to our Canadian Bank so we simply used the ATM to withdraw cash. Some ATMs will let you get USD as well, as some rents are paid in US Funds.
TIP: Stick to the ATMs attached to a bank if at all possible. Chances of having your card compromised by obscure ATMs will greatly be reduced. Always check the card slot to see if it has an insert which is used to clone cards. Rare…but it happens.
It doesn’t make too much sense to convert Canadian funds to US funds to then transfer it to Pesos.
As of December 2016, CAD will get you 1.5 pesos and USD will get you 2 pesos. (e.g. $100 CAD will be $1,500 Pesos and $100 USD will be $2,000 Pesos).
Credit Cards are accepted more and more, even in small markets.
Prices – General info about pricing to help you with a budget
One of the first things we wanted to know before moving here was how much do things cost. Now, I can only speak for the West Coast area (around Puerto Vallarta), but in general, your money goes a long way.
GAS: As of 2017, there was a price hike with gas, but it’s generally about $1 CAD per litre. All gas stations are full service and it is customary to give 5 pesos when they pump your gas and 10 pesos if they do extras like wash your windshield. The attendants are payed little to nothing and survive on tips.
FOOD: Food is less or the same as back home. If you find Mexican brands, they will be equivalent as what you are used to and much less. When it comes to fruits and vegetables, especially on days when they have sales, it can amazing how little it costs. Buying seafood from the marina markets will also get you fresh fish at very reasonable prices.
TIP: Eggs here are not bleached or overly washed and don’t need to be refrigerated! Yes, you will find them sitting in a non-refrigerated space and that is how you keep them at home as well.
Wine & Liquor: Wines and liquor vary in price depending on the brand. Imports, possibly the brands you are used to, will be had at a premium, while local brands will be very inexpensive. A little experimenting will help in finding what brands are your best bang for the buck.
Rent: Depending on your budget and the time you book (low season vs high), you will find that rents are generally less expensive then most major cities. Many choose to live in gated communities with shared access to the pool and security. Our rent, in a nice area was $1000 USD/month, but many of our friends were paying $600 USD.
Restaurants: This is where your money will disappear quickly as many are priced like home. Word of mouth will help you find the ones the locals go to and the foreigners alike. We loved having tacos on the street ($12 pesos per taco on average and we would order about 4 each).
TIP: For street food, make sure they are busy, so the food is cooked fresh. Make sure they handle the money with gloves or that the one who prepares the meal doesn’t handle money, if you don’t know the establishment.
Clothes: Mexico is full of knock off brands, so the markets are filled with fake designer clothes. Best to buy back home and bring here as apart from wearing supermarket clothing, the prices are pretty high in the malls.
Electricity: The CFE has meters on every house, just like home. They work on a tiered system, so if you go over the normal usage, your bill will be higher. They give a subsidy to those that don’t use much.
TIP: Instead of using the Air Conditioner on COLD, use the DRY function as it uses less electricity and will really cool down the temperature of the room. Mixed with fans, you can be very comfortable.
Internet: DSL is the high speed of choice. The speeds are getting faster, depending on the packages you choose from Telmex. Most don’t have a choice if they are renting short term, but it’s good enough to have Skype calls (or other VoIP services). Many here use WhatsApp to communicate as well.
Satellite: You can get Mexican Satellite TV, especially if you want to learn Spanish, but many simply bring a receiver from home and hook it up to an elliptical dish here. There are three parts to a satellite service, the receiver, the dish and the LNB (the thing that sticks out in front of the dish). Most new dishes are elliptical and can be found second hand, but some receivers can only accept a proprietary LNB, so you might want to bring one from home. I’m sure the Satellite companies frown on bring your own dish/receiver to Mexico, so they will not be of much help. Ask those living here, they will help.
Health Care & Medication: If you need to see a doctor, you pay for the consult (about $30 CAD) and they will prescribe medicine that you can pick up at Walmart, Sam’s Club, Costco or other outlets. There is a chain of “Similares” pharmacies that sell no name brand meds at a fraction of the price. I don’t know how I feel about that…it’s a chance you take that it may be expired or won’t work, but for some things, it might make sense. Prices are reasonable generally.
Dentists: Some come to Mexico for Dental Vacations, saving so much money that the trip is financed by what they save compared to back home. Get referrals, but for the most part, dentists are very professional and offer a great service. We just had the whole family looked after, including getting 2 of my wisdom teeth removed. They were so professional and reasonable and offered great post surgery care and follow up. I chose Dento America which was awesome and the owner is Canadian.
Real Estate: You can get some great properties at reasonable prices, but some properties are well built, while others are not. Find a trustworthy realtor to deal with and you will find your little slice of paradise here.
Furniture: You will notice that there isn’t much variety when it comes to furniture and for the most part, we found it expensive. Costco and Sam’s Club will have some choices, but again…limited in variety. Some choose to do a trip to a major centre like Guadalajara and get their furniture from there, delivered of course.
All in all, if you are careful, you can really stretch your money here.