How to rent a condo or apartment in Mexico
Renting a place to live in another country can be very exhilarating, rewarding and even a little scary.
There are a lot of steps to jump through, but - not nearly as many as you’d think.
I moved to Mexico by myself, and as a solo female traveler thought I’d be a huge target for being taken advantage of in a foreign country. Luckily, I knew the right people and had enough business sense to get things done the right way.
Here is a simple step-by-step guide to renting your next home in Mexico:
1. Know the language or someone who can translate
If you already know how to speak Spanish, this process is going to be much easier for you.
But if you’re like me & are only about 20% fluent, then this is your opportunity to make a friend!
I was fortunate enough to meet a local guy who was willing to put the time into calling some apartments that I was sure I wanted to look at. He set up the appointments & I went and met with the owners. On a few occasions, he even joined me when I needed a translator!
This is a good friend to have.
If you chose the latter option, then be sure not to waste your friends’ time. Do enough research to make sure this is a place you want to go see, use your phone to translate specific words like ‘amueblado’ (furnished), ‘estudio’ (studio), ‘piscina’ (pool), etc., and know the locations you are searching in.
2. Search local publications & websites
Craigslist is still one of the most popular search tools for finding condo rentals abroad. You can also use local publications like the Mano-a-Mano here in Puerto Vallarta, or go to your nearest Oxxo (Mexico's version of a 7/11) & find a similar local publication there.
Real estate magazines from local offices can be great ways to find places to live as well.
3. Know the locations on the map
One of the most frustrating things you’ll come across when you’re searching for a place to live in Mexico is finding what you think is the best-place-ever, and then realizing it’s in the wrong side of town or clear on the other side of the state.
Learn the names of the districts, get a map and narrow the places you’d like to search in.
All neighborhoods are not created equal in Mexico – so know before you go.
4. Find a realtor you can trust
This saved me so much time and energy.
I was lucky enough to find a place I liked on Craigslist, sent an inquiry email and was then immediately connected with a local real estate company.
Not only did this method saved me from cold calling random places that were usually disappointing, they did all the foot work, asked me questions to find exactly what I was looking for and didn’t charge me a dime for their time.
This is truly the best way to go, especially when searching for real estate in a new country. Find an agent you can trust and stick with them.
You’ll be happy you did.
5. Expect to pay more than you did in the U.S.
One thing that caught me off guard was home owners wanting me to pay the first month rent, last month and an equal deposit. That’s more than we usually pay in the U.S. or Canada up front!
The good thing is all contracts are negotiable. Do what you’re most comfortable with.
Another positive about using a real estate agent is they will do all of the negotiating and translating for you. They even negotiated all of the pre-move in work I wanted done for both of the condos I rented through them.
That is better service than I’ve ever received from a realtor in the states!
6. Search during the best time of year
There is a best time & worst time to rent places in certain parts of Mexico, especially the tourist areas.
High season goes from November – May where rental prices increase significantly.
The best time of year to look at rental real estate for rent is from May – October. Owners are more willing to negotiate in the low season just to have the security of consistent income for the entire year without the stress of an empty rental during the slow times.
Also, most of the inventory is available because all of the snow-birds are gone and you have prime real estate options to choose from.
7. Don’t worry about your credit
Guess what Toto, you’re not in Kansas anymore!
You don’t have to worry about credit, background or employment checks getting in the way. Here in Mexico, owners simply don’t care what you like on paper in the U.S. or Canada.
You can finally get that condo you’ve always wanted with an ocean view and not worry if you have the credit decent enough to be approved for it.
8. But…..be prepared to use a local co-signer
This was an interesting experience, one of the condos I rented didn’t want just any co-signer, they wanted a Mexican resident; someone to come after if I bailed and went back to the U.S.
Luckily for me, I had already made a few local friends and connections and asked them for yet another favor, and they co-signed for me no problem.
All the owner needed was a copy of their ID and a signature on the lease. That’s it.
9. Lease terms vary
Most owners want you to sign a year lease, simply because they don’t want to have to worry about not having a renter during the slow season.
This is sometimes negotiable, but let your realtor work this out for you.
Six month or three month leases are definitely a possibility, but certainly come at a higher rate if you are looking to stay during the high season.
10. Consider sub-letting
One of the biggest reasons I moved to Mexico was to grow my Airbnb business outside the restricted cities of the U.S.
I was so tired of jumping through all their silly laws (aka: fee after fee after fee after…you get it).
As long as you have the home owners’ approval and it’s not prohibited on your lease, you can sublet all you want in Mexico.
Greed is a real thing anywhere you go in the world, so it’s best to communicate your intentions up front.
If you decide to rent a place for a year, stay the winter and sublease in the summer to try to make a little money, do it! Just remember that if anything happens to the rental, the responsibility falls back on you. It’s not a get-rich-quick plan, but it can certainly pay the bills for you.
It’s that easy!
Now you’ve got the steps, the resources and a guide to renting property in Mexico!
So sign that contract, get your keys and boom! Welcome to your new home and life living abroad!
For more questions about renting in Puerto Vallarta, contact me! I'm happy to help!