How Much Money Do Expats Need

To Live Comfortably In Latin America?

From the beaches of Mexico and the mountains of Colombia, to the world-class nightlife in Rio de Janeiro, Latin America offers a wealth of cultural experiences and a lower cost of high-quality living. But how much money do you need to live comfortably in paradise?

The answer, of course, varies depending on the country and the lifestyle you want to lead. However, we can provide some general guidelines to give you an idea of what to expect.

Let’s start with the basics. In general, you can expect to pay significantly less for most expenses in Latin America than in the US. Rent, food, health care, and transportation are usually the most significant expenses, so let’s break them down.


Housing costs will depend on where you choose to live. As a general rule, the cost of living tends to increase in larger cities or in areas with a greater number of tourists. For example, in Ajijic, Mexico, you can expect to pay $750 USD for a great house that’s walkable to everything. In Mexico City, a one-bedroom apartment in a decent area will set you back around $500 USD per month, while in Medellin, Colombia, you could find something similar for as little as $300 USD.

In more expensive cities like Rio de Janeiro or Buenos Aires, you can expect to pay around $800 USD for a one-bedroom apartment. However, in most Latin American countries there is a difference between expat prices and local prices. In Buenos Aires for example, if you have a local residency and you’re able to sign a three-year rental with proof of income and a guarantor, you can expect to pay as little as $300 USD for a one-bedroom per month. That’s a big saving!


Food costs in Latin America are generally a lot lower than in the US, especially if you stick to local markets and street vendors. A typical lunch in a local restaurant in Latin America could cost as little as $2 USD. If you prefer to cook at home, groceries will also be significantly cheaper, although imported goods may be more expensive.

Latin America is renowned for its fresh and flavorful cuisine, and for good reason. The region boasts a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, and meats that are not only locally sourced but also of a higher quality and more affordable than many other regions of the world.

One of the main reasons why the food is fresher is because of the abundance of small-scale, family-run farms. These farms are often located in close proximity to urban centers, which means that the produce can be transported quickly and efficiently, without having to travel long distances. As a result, fruits and vegetables are often harvested at their peak ripeness, which gives them a fuller flavor and higher nutritional value.

For this reason, fresh foods are generally more affordable in Latin America. For example, the cost of a dozen eggs in 2023 is cheaper in all regions of Latin America than in the United States.

The fun in deciding what region in Latin America you want to live in or travel through, is considering what foods you like. If you love high-quality cheap red wine and red meat, Argentina is your place. If you love seafood, Lima or the Carribean is a great choice. The food in Latin America is diverse and flavorful, reflecting the region’s mix of indigenous, African, and European culinary traditions.

The bottom line is, if you want to stretch your money in Latin America then you easily can. Shop at farmer’s markets, eat in local restaurants, and cook at home with local ingredients. Or if you have a bigger budget, enjoy the range of delicious dining options that Latin America has to offer.


Public transportation is usually cheap and efficient in most Latin American cities. For example, a single bus or metro ride in Buenos Aires will cost you around $0.20 USD.

In many Latin American countries, you can also travel long distances by bus or train for just a few dollars. For example, in Mexico, a bus ride from Mexico City to Oaxaca (a distance of over 300 miles) can cost as little as $20 USD. Similarly, in Colombia, a bus ride from Bogotá to Medellín (a distance of over 250 miles) can cost as little as $25 USD.

Long-distance buses in Latin America are known for being affordable and comfortable, with many amenities to make the journey a pleasant experience. Cruz del Sur and Andesmar bus lines which operate in several countries across Latin America offer wifi, air-conditioning, onboard entertainment systems, onboard meals, power outlets for charging electronic devices, and some seating even reclines 180 degrees.

Taxis and Ubers are also widely available and inexpensive compared to the US. While they may not be as cheap as buses or trains, they are still generally more affordable than taxis in North America or Europe. In many countries, it’s also common to use ride-hailing apps like Uber, Beat, or Cabify, which are sometimes even more affordable than traditional taxis.

Health care

Compared to the United States, healthcare costs in Latin America are much lower. This means that expats and nomads can access high-quality medical care at a fraction of the cost they would pay in their home country. In fact, countries like Mexico and Costa Rica are so well known for their state-of-the-art medical facilities, highly trained medical professionals, and affordable health care, that they’ve become popular destinations for medical tourism.

To learn more about health care and health insurance options for expats and nomads in Latin America, check out this article: An Overview Of Health Care Options & Health Insurance For Expats In Latin America.


The cost of entertainment in Latin America varies depending on the country and city, as well as your personal preferences and budget. However, in general, entertainment options tend to be more affordable than in many other parts of the world.

One of the most popular forms of entertainment in Latin America is music, and there are often plenty of opportunities to catch live music performances at a low cost. In many cities, you can find free or low-cost concerts and festivals throughout the year, featuring both local and International artists.

In addition to music, there are plenty of other entertainment options. Movie theaters, for example, are widely available and tend to be more affordable than in other parts of the world. In Mexico a movie ticket can cost as little as $3 USD.

Sports are also a big part of the entertainment scene in Latin America, with soccer being the most popular sport in many countries. You can often catch a live soccer game for a relatively low price, depending on the team and the stadium (and as long as Messi isn’t playing!).

Tango is considered one of Argentina’s natural treasures, and in Buenos Aires it’s a form of entertainment that locals and tourists alike can enjoy. Every evening, there are numerous tango events held in the city, featuring a beginner’s class, open floor for dancing, live orchestra, and a professional show. The cost is surprisingly affordable, with an average admission fee of just $2.50.

Of course, as with any region, there are variations in entertainment costs depending on where you are and what you’re doing. In major cities or tourist areas prices may be higher than in smaller towns or rural areas. Additionally, if you’re looking for high-end or luxury entertainment options, you can expect to pay more than if you’re sticking to more affordable activities.

Other expenses

Other expenses such as utilities, internet, and entertainment will vary depending on your lifestyle. However, in general, you can expect to pay less for these than in the US too.

If you’d like to own your own home in Latin America, in most regions you can expect to pay lower real estate taxes than in the United States. In Mexico, Peru, Brazil, and Chile for example, real estate taxes begin from as little as 0.1%.

So, how much money do you need to live comfortably in Latin America as an expat or digital nomad? The answer, of course, depends on your lifestyle and the country you choose to live in. However, as a general rule of thumb, you should aim to have at least $1,500 USD per month to cover your basic expenses comfortably. This amount should cover your rent, food, transportation, health care, and other essential expenses.

Of course, if there are two of you or if you have a family this amount will be more. And if you’re looking for a more luxurious lifestyle, you’ll need to budget accordingly. However, you can enjoy a very high quality of life in Latin America for significantly less than you would in the US.

Final Thoughts

Living life as an expat or digital nomad in Latin America is a wonderful experience, with a lower cost of living and a higher quality of life.

While the exact amount you’ll need to live comfortably will vary depending on the country and the lifestyle you want to lead, the general rule is that you can live very well for much less than you would in the United States.

Or if you prefer, you can choose to spend roughly the same as you do in the United States, and live a life of luxury and comfort in paradise.

So, if you’re considering a move to Latin America, we say go for it!

Looking for expert advice to help with your move? Contact us at Latam Plan B for guidance and support

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