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Utilities in Mexico

Utilities in Mexico

The kind of practical information you need if you are thinking of living in Mexico.  Here are the utility expenses for our little house in Tlajomulco, south of Guadalajara.

Coco at home

Coco at home

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

If you are going to rent or buy in Mexico, you need to know the details about utilities.  Just about everything is available here, but some things may be different from back home.  This entry will give you a rough idea of what you need and how much it will cost.  All prices are in US dollars.

I’ll use our house for an example.  We live in a small two-bedroom house in a development in Tlajomulco, just to the south of Guadalajara.  The air is clean and we have wonderful views of 10,000 foot mountains.  We are surrounded by farmland, and the volcanic soil is so rich and well drained it seems we spend half our time pruning the garden.

Gas:  We do a lot of cooking and some baking.  We have a manual gas boiler to heat water.  We run it for 15 minutes in the morning, and that’s usually enough to give us hot water most of the day.  There are no heating bills–although it goes down to the low 30’s at night in December, January, and February, the daytime highs are in the 60’s or low 70’s, so the house warms up then.  (If we have a cloudy spell, we wear sweaters and coats inside and freeze in the tropics).  We buy a 30-liter cylinder of gas for $25 and it lasts us two months.  The gas trucks circulate all the time—you can just flag them down or give them a call and they’ll show up quick.  Very convenient.  In the cities you can also connect to a metered gas line.  Even more convenient, because you don’t have to worry the cylinder will run out when you have a cake in the oven.

Electricity:  The computer runs all day and the TV half the night.  We use lights moderately and take it easy with the real guzzlers, the microwave and the iron.  We have an 18 square foot fridge that costs a bit to run, but hey—we like to eat.  We use a fan during the hottest months.  The electric bill is less than $20 every two months.

Water:  We don’t have a water meter.  We pay a flat rate of $55 a year for unlimited usage.  The water goes out occasionally in our development, but rarely for more than a few hours.

Telephone:  Now that TelMex isn’t the only game in town, prices have come down.  It used to be $700 to have a phone installed in a residence.  Now it is about $150.   If you have a phone in your name and move to a new place, installation may be much less—we paid just $30.  We have basic service with 100 free calls, and it runs about $18 a month.  Long distance calls have come down, but are still too expensive.  We pay $1 a minute to call New York, which adds up quick.  Usually I call Ma and she calls me right back—it is much cheaper to call Mexico from the states than visa-versa.  Of course, everyone has cell phones these days, and there are tons of packages and services available.

Internet:  Depends on where you live.  I would say most towns in Mexico have some Internet service.  Outside of cities and towns, forget it.  The big cities will have high-speed Internet by cable.  Maybe.  I’ve been waiting for high-speed for 9 years, and always seem to move just as it is coming into my area.  I use dial-up, and luckily it is a local call to dial my server, even though I’m out in the country.  Tourist areas and big cities have Wi-Fi in coffee shops, and there are Internet cafes everywhere, so you can rent time and sign onto a machine.  Prices at an Internet café are about $1 an hour—more in touristy areas.  Dial-up unlimited hours runs less than $20 a month.  Cable Internet is pretty expensive, and is usually bundled up in a TV cable/phone package.  The three together may start at $50 a month and rise precipitously, depending on how many channels you want, Internet speed, etc.  Make sure you ask for discounts and special promotions.

Land Taxes:  Land taxes are a LOT less expensive than in the US.  We pay $30 a year (but we would be at the low end, because our house is small).

Garbage:  Garbage collection is included in your taxes, but they may forget to pick yours up until you leave the guys a tip.  In most places they come three times a week.  When I lived in the center of Guadalajara we had no pickup and I left my garbage with the street sweepers (and tipped them, of course).  There is no separating for recycling in our area.  Our garbage folk won’t take grass clippings or heavy items like cement, soil, or wood.

In all, our utility expenses are much less than they would be in the states.  Remember, yours may be higher if you live in a bigger house, a fancier area, or insist on more creature comforts (like air conditioning)!

Dan and Omar

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