Is $500 A Lot Of Money In Mexico?

With its low cost of living compared to the United States and Canada, Mexico has become an increasingly popular destination for expats and travelers looking to make the most of their money. If you’re wondering whether $500 goes far in Mexico, read on as we explore what your money can buy south of the border.

If you’re short on time, here’s the quick answer: Yes, $500 is considered a sizable amount of money in Mexico due to the country’s relatively low costs and favorable exchange rate with the US dollar. With $500, you could cover food, accommodation, and transportation for a week or more in many parts of Mexico.

What Is the Value of $500 USD in Mexico?

Exchange Rate Between USD and Mexican Peso

As of November 2022, the exchange rate between the US dollar (USD) and the Mexican peso is approximately 20 Mexican pesos to 1 US dollar. This means that $500 USD is equivalent to about 10,000 Mexican pesos (500 x 20 = 10,000).

The exchange rate fluctuates daily based on foreign exchange markets, but has remained relatively stable in 2022 between 19.8 and 20.3 Mexican pesos per 1 US dollar. Over the past 5 years, the exchange rate has ranged from about 18 to 22 pesos per dollar.

Purchasing Power Relative to Mexican Income Levels

To understand the real value of $500 USD in Mexico, we need to look at average income levels. According to ECLAC, in 2020 the average monthly income in Mexico was about 6,500 pesos, or around $325 USD per month.

This means that $500 USD is equivalent to approximately 2 months’ average income for a Mexican worker. As such, $500 USD goes fairly far in Mexico and has strong purchasing power:

  • It could cover basic living expenses like rent, utilities, transportation for 1-2 months in many parts of Mexico
  • It could pay for a domestic flight within Mexico or a stay at a nice hotel
  • It could cover the cost of necessisites like groceries and clothing for a family for 2-3 months

So while $500 USD may not seem like a huge amount of money to an American, it goes much further for the average Mexican. The lower costs of goods and services in Mexico means that $500 allows one to live reasonably comfortably for a short period or cover important expenses.

That said, there is still significant income inequality in Mexico. For lower income families living in poverty, $500 USD is an enormous amount of cash that could truly raise their standard of living. But for middle class and wealthier families, $500 USD does not go nearly as far as it does for poorer segments of the population.

Still, it’s a meaningful amount of money with solid purchasing ability for most Mexicans.

Cost of Living in Mexico vs. USA

When considering the cost of living in Mexico compared to the United States, it’s important to take into account various factors such as housing, food, transportation, and entertainment. These elements play a significant role in determining whether $500 is a lot of money in Mexico.

Let’s explore each category to gain a better understanding.


In Mexico, the cost of housing is generally lower compared to the United States. Rent and property prices can vary depending on the location, but in general, expatriates or visitors can find affordable housing options.

For example, in popular expat destinations like Cancun or Playa del Carmen, it’s possible to find comfortable apartments for around $500 per month. In contrast, a similar accommodation in a major U.S. city would likely cost significantly more.


Food expenses in Mexico are generally lower than in the United States. Grocery shopping and dining out can be much more affordable, especially if you stick to local markets and street food vendors. A delicious meal at a local restaurant can cost as little as $5, and groceries for a week can be purchased for under $50.

Plus, Mexico is known for its fresh and flavorful cuisine, offering a wide range of options to suit different budgets and tastes.


Transportation costs in Mexico are typically lower compared to the United States. Public transportation, such as buses and metro systems, are inexpensive and widely accessible in many cities. For longer distances, domestic flights within Mexico can be relatively affordable, allowing you to explore different regions of the country without breaking the bank.

Additionally, ridesharing services like Uber are available in many Mexican cities, providing a convenient and cost-effective way to get around.


When it comes to entertainment, Mexico offers a wide range of affordable options. Whether you enjoy exploring historical sites, visiting museums, or enjoying outdoor activities, there are plenty of opportunities to have fun without spending a fortune.

For example, admission to popular attractions like Chichen Itza or the Frida Kahlo Museum can cost around $10. Additionally, Mexico has a vibrant nightlife scene with bars and clubs catering to various budgets and tastes.

What Can You Get in Mexico for $500?

Many people wonder if $500 is a lot of money in Mexico. While the answer may vary depending on individual circumstances and lifestyle choices, Mexico is generally known for being an affordable destination. Let’s take a look at what you can get with $500 in Mexico.

One Week at a Moderate Hotel

With $500, you can enjoy a comfortable stay at a moderate hotel in Mexico for about one week. Mexico offers a wide range of accommodations to suit every budget, from luxury resorts to cozy boutique hotels.

By choosing a moderately priced hotel, you can have a comfortable and enjoyable stay without breaking the bank.

Two Weeks of Groceries

In Mexico, your $500 can go a long way when it comes to groceries. With careful planning and budgeting, you can easily cover your food expenses for two weeks. Local markets and grocery stores offer a variety of fresh produce, meats, and pantry staples at affordable prices.

By cooking your own meals, you can also experience the local flavors and save money at the same time.

Several Taxis or Bus Rides Per Day

Transportation is another area where $500 can stretch far in Mexico. With this amount, you can take several taxis or bus rides per day to explore the city or travel between destinations. Public transportation in Mexico is known for being inexpensive, reliable, and convenient.

Whether you choose to hop on a colorful local bus or take a taxi, getting around won’t put a dent in your budget.

Many Affordable Restaurant Meals

One of the highlights of visiting Mexico is indulging in the delicious and diverse cuisine. With $500, you can enjoy many affordable restaurant meals throughout your stay. From street tacos to regional specialties, Mexico offers a wide array of culinary delights that won’t break the bank.

Exploring local eateries and trying traditional dishes can be an exciting and affordable way to immerse yourself in the culture.

Entertainment, Activities, and More

Aside from accommodation, food, and transportation, your $500 can also cover a variety of entertainment and activities in Mexico. Whether it’s visiting historical sites, exploring natural wonders, or participating in local festivals and events, there are plenty of options to choose from.

Mexico is rich in cultural experiences and outdoor adventures, and many of them are accessible at reasonable prices.

How Far $500 Goes in Major Mexican Cities

When it comes to travel and expenses, budgeting is always a key factor. For those planning a trip to Mexico, it’s important to have an idea of how far your money will go in different cities. This article will explore how $500 can be spent in major Mexican cities, giving you an insight into the cost of living and the value of your money.

Mexico City

Mexico City, the vibrant capital of Mexico, offers a wide range of experiences and attractions. With $500, you can have a great time exploring the city. You can visit famous landmarks such as the historic Zocalo Square and the impressive Chapultepec Castle.

Enjoy delicious street food like tacos and tamales, and experience the bustling markets like Mercado de la Merced. You can also indulge in cultural activities such as visiting world-class museums like the National Museum of Anthropology and the Frida Kahlo Museum.


Cancun, known for its stunning beaches and vibrant nightlife, is a popular destination for tourists. With $500, you can have an amazing time in this tropical paradise. You can relax on the white sandy beaches, take a dip in the crystal-clear turquoise waters, and enjoy water sports like snorkeling and scuba diving.

Treat yourself to delicious seafood at local restaurants and experience the energetic nightlife at clubs and bars. $500 can go a long way in Cancun, allowing you to have a memorable vacation.

Puerto Vallarta

Puerto Vallarta, located on Mexico’s Pacific coast, is a charming seaside town with a vibrant atmosphere. With $500, you can experience the best of Puerto Vallarta. Take a stroll along the Malecon boardwalk and enjoy the stunning views of the ocean.

Indulge in fresh seafood at local restaurants and explore the colorful markets for souvenirs. You can also take a boat tour to the beautiful Marietas Islands or go zip-lining in the nearby Sierra Madre mountains. $500 will provide you with a fantastic vacation in Puerto Vallarta.


Oaxaca, a colonial city in southern Mexico, is known for its rich history and cultural heritage. With $500, you can immerse yourself in the local culture and traditions. Visit the impressive archaeological sites such as Monte Alban and Mitla, and explore the beautiful colonial architecture in the city center.

Indulge in the delicious Oaxacan cuisine, known for its mole and mezcal. Don’t miss the vibrant markets where you can buy handicrafts and textiles. $500 will allow you to experience the beauty and charm of Oaxaca.

San Miguel de Allende

San Miguel de Allende, located in central Mexico, is a picturesque town known for its colonial architecture and artistic community. With $500, you can have a delightful experience in this charming town.

Explore the cobblestone streets and admire the beautiful architecture of the Parroquia de San Miguel Arcangel. Visit art galleries and craft markets to discover unique pieces made by local artists. Enjoy delicious Mexican cuisine at traditional restaurants and cafes.

$500 will make your visit to San Miguel de Allende truly memorable.

Tips for Stretching Your $500 in Mexico

Traveling to Mexico doesn’t have to break the bank, especially if you’re on a budget. With some careful planning and smart choices, you can stretch your $500 and have an amazing time exploring this beautiful country. Here are some tips to help you make the most of your money:

Find Affordable Accommodations

One of the best ways to save money in Mexico is by finding affordable accommodations. Look for budget hotels or hostels that offer clean and comfortable rooms at a fraction of the price of luxury resorts. Don’t be afraid to explore different neighborhoods and compare prices to find the best deal.

Websites like or Airbnb can be great resources for finding affordable accommodations.

Take Public Transportation

Public transportation in Mexico is not only affordable but also a great way to immerse yourself in the local culture. Instead of taking taxis or renting a car, consider using buses or trains to get around.

Not only will you save money, but you’ll also have the opportunity to interact with locals and see more of the country. Check out websites like ADO for bus schedules and fares.

Eat Street Food and at Markets

When it comes to food, Mexico has a rich culinary tradition that won’t disappoint. Eating at street food stalls and local markets is not only a delicious experience but also a budget-friendly one. You’ll find a wide variety of traditional dishes at affordable prices.

Just make sure to choose clean and busy stalls to ensure food safety. Don’t miss out on trying tacos, quesadillas, or tamales from street vendors – they’re simply mouthwatering!

Negotiate at Local Shops and Markets

In Mexico, haggling is a common practice, especially at local shops and markets. Don’t be afraid to negotiate the price when shopping for souvenirs or handicrafts. Vendors expect it and it’s all part of the experience. By bargaining, you can often get a better deal and save some extra pesos.

Just remember to be polite and respectful during the process.

Learn Basic Spanish Phrases

Knowing some basic Spanish phrases can go a long way in Mexico. Not only will it help you navigate your way around, but it can also help you connect with locals and receive better deals. Learning phrases like “¿Cuánto cuesta?” (How much does it cost?) or “¿Dónde está el baño?” (Where is the bathroom?)

can make a big difference in your interactions. Online language platforms like Duolingo or FluentU can help you learn some basic Spanish before your trip.

By following these tips, you can make your $500 go a long way in Mexico. So pack your bags and get ready for an incredible adventure without breaking the bank!


With Mexico’s favorable currency exchange rates, low prices, and generally lower costs of living, $500 goes a surprisingly long way. You could comfortably spend a week or two exploring Mexico’s cities, beaches and culture on that budget.

By finding deals on hotels and dining at affordable taquerias and markets, you can make your money stretch even further for an unforgettable Mexican getaway.

So if you were wondering whether $500 is a lot in Mexico – the answer is yes. That amount gives you significant spending power and purchasing ability south of the border. With some planning and smart budgeting, $500 can buy you flights, hotels, food and fun for days.

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