Accommodation in Mexico
Expats looking for accommodation in Mexico will find that the selection is plentiful and varied. New arrivals should be able to find a comfortable place to stay in Mexico, and quite likely one that is spacious and well-suited to their needs.
The process of finding accommodation in Mexico can nevertheless be tricky, and expats will want to acquaint themselves with the market before making a final housing decision.
Types of accommodation in Mexico
There is a range of accommodation options in Mexico, varying wildly in style, size, quality and price. Expats might choose to live in an urban apartment block, or an older colonial-style building, perhaps shared by a few other people, or even in a brand-new condominium complex, kitted out with all modern conveniences.
Those looking to live outside the city limits (where rent is considerably lower) might even be able to rent a room in a ranch-house (hacienda) during their stay in the country.
Renting accommodation in Mexico
The process of renting property in Mexico, through "official channels" at least, can be tricky.
Far more people rent than buy property in Mexico, so the rental market is consistently excellent with a wide variety of options available.
Expats who don’t speak Spanish may find it difficult to use the services of a real estate agent, which can make the process considerably more complicated.
In addition to the usual guarantees required to secure a rental agreement, such as proof of employment and letters of reference, landlords frequently demand that a guarantor oversees the signing of any rental agreement.
The guarantor must be a Mexican citizen and a property owner, and must pledge to compensate the landlord for any damage to their property inflicted by the tenant. Signing a rental agreement for an expat they probably don't know is, of course, a major stumbling block for real estate agents looking to take on expats as rental clients.
Expats need not be overly concerned about this, however, as there are other ways to rent accommodation in Mexico. Many local Mexican newspapers carry plenty of rental listings and word-of-mouth is also a highly effective means of finding accommodation in Mexico – informal lease agreements can be organised with minimum fuss.
Expats going the informal route are advised to insist on a rental contract and an inventory of the place, so as to protect themselves from being unfairly evicted or short-changed on their deposit money.
Considerations when renting accommodation in Mexico:
- Whether expats find accommodation on their own or manage to use a real estate agent, they will be required to pay the first month's rent upfront and a further month's rent as a deposit. The landlord might request a firmer financial commitment before agreeing to rent the property; expats can try to avoid this by offering to pay their rent in advance every month.
- Expats will probably sign their lease agreement on an annual basis, but alternative arrangements can be made. Month-to-month rentals are quite popular in Mexico, especially in the more touristy areas.
- Expats who use a real estate agent should note that the realtor fee (equivalent to a month's rent) is paid by the landlord, not the tenant.
- Expats will almost certainly be liable for their own utility, phone and Internet bills while in Mexico. These should be paid on time, as Mexican landlords are already hesitant to rent to expats and don't need any further reason to doubt their worthiness as tenants.
Factors to consider when house-hunting in Mexico
Urban housing in Mexico is considerably more expensive than that in rural areas. This price difference does not translate into better quality accommodation, so expats should assess all factors before committing to a property.
The Internet is a great resource for finding rental accommodation. Expats can find plenty of online listings by entering "bienes raices en" followed by the area in which they intend to live, as the search term (for example, "bienes raices en Ciudad de Mexico" for accommodation in Mexico City).
When house-hunting, especially in Mexico City, expats should make sure that their prospective home is close to their place of employment. Traffic can be a nightmare in Mexico, easily adding on a couple of hours to one’s regular work day.
Landlords will usually try take advantage of expats who don’t speak Spanish. Thorough market research should be conducted to get a feel for prices in the desired area, and each property should be inspected carefully; for example, expats should turn on the taps, switch on the lights, flush the toilets and check for damp.