DSC07132People often ask me about the cost of living in Puerto Peñasco, and while I think I know the answer, “less expensive,” I realize that I don’t know for sure! Some things, like property taxes and medical care, are much less expensive than north of the border, but those are occasional expenses. What about the ongoing, week in and week out, expenses that really make up the cost of living? I am thinking of gas and groceries…

For many years, regular gas for our cars was so much less expensive in Mexico that people drove across the border on fumes to fill up in Mexico, realizing significant savings per tank of gas. A couple of years ago that changed, and prices north and south of the border have been similar. Gas prices recently dropped dramatically in the USA, but not in Mexico, and as of this writing, Arizona average gas prices are around $2 US dollars per gallon of regular, while here in Puerto Peñasco on the 8th of January the price was $13.57 Mexican pesos per liter, or $3.56 US dollars (figured at 14.5 pesos per dollar), per gallon – yikes! HUGE difference! The President of Mexico is promising to bring the price down, and perhaps that will have happened by the time this is published in early February. The cost of Mexican gas was even higher in December, when the exchange rate was 13.5 pesos per dollar, driving the cost up to $3.97 per gallon.

Since I do nearly all my grocery shopping in Mexico, I cannot easily compare prices. I can, however, tell you about my recent purchases, and you can evaluate what similar purchases might have cost where you usually shop. In December I purchased a 3-kilogram (6.6 pound) whole pork loin, so lean there was no fat to trim, for $250.74mxn. Calculating 2.2 pounds per kilogram, and 13.5 Mexican pesos per US dollar, the price was about $2.81 US dollars per pound.

Yesterday I went to the fruit and vegetable market on Calle Sinaloa, and purchased 2 shopping bags of produce. I bought 4 russet potatoes, 1 bunch of broccoli, 3 huge white onions, 6 good size carrots, 3 bright shiny jalapeño chilis, 1/2 kilo (lots!) of green beans, a gorgeous Romaine lettuce, 2 Anjou pears, one orange bell pepper, 1 red bell pepper and 2 green bell peppers. The total for all was $108.17 pesos. At the current rate of 14.5 pesos to each dollar, the bill for those 2 big bags of fruit and veggies was about $7.45 in US dollars. That seemed like lots for my money.

Regardless of prices, something I love about shopping in Puerto Peñasco is how friendly the people in the shops are, and how we communicate. I still have a hard time visualizing a kilo of the meat I want to buy, in part because my experience is in pounds, and in part because meat cuts are completely different than those in meat counters in the USA, so I often know only in the vaguest terms what I want. The butcher and I talk about how I will cook the meat, how many people and how hungry they are, in order to help me decide what and how much to buy. I have even received cooking suggestions from the butcher – when I followed his instructions for a beef dish his wife makes, ohmygoodness! I was so glad I had trusted him! The recipe was a bonus – one of those unexpected extra values of shopping in Mexico.