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The last InterNations event was just great: I had some very nice chats with fellow expats (even Canadians like me) in Mexico City.
If you are planning to relocate to Mexico, housing will be high up on your list of priorities. This complete housing guide will solve many of your questions and make this usually painstaking process much easier.
Whether you want to live near the beaches of Mexico, or in one its colonial cities, this guide will tell you about the different types of houses across the country, how to get short-term rentals, and the prices, procedures, and locations of houses and apartments for rent. If you are looking to buy a house, we will also explain everything you need to know about acquiring property in Mexico, from the legal concepts that you need to be aware of, through the end of your purchas
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Short term rentals
Renting a House or Apartment
With your moving date on the horizon, you are likely wondering how to rent houses and apartments in Mexico. General advice to everyone in this situation: a good idea is to go for a short-term rental agreement at first, in case your new neighborhood is not what you expected, or it simply does not adjust to your needs.
There are different types of rental contracts depending on the length of your stay. Bear in mind that the longer the contract, the better deal you will get.
- Short-term contracts: Preferred by expats who just arrived and want to house-hunt calmly.
- Six-month contracts: Normally chosen by snowbird expats.
- Long-term contracts: Picked by those looking to settle down, usually with a minimum period of at least one year or longer.
Average Rent in Mexico
If you are wondering how much rent is in Mexico, the good news is that housing is normally much cheaper than in many countries, like the US, UK, and Canada. This is even true of the country’s most expensive metropolis, Mexico City.
Rent prices in Mexico vary according to different factors such as the neighborhood, proximity to the city center, subways, and green areas. Whether the property is in a city, the countryside, or in a beach town will also affect the rent price. Some of the most expensive cities are Los Cabos, Monterrey, Guadalajara, Cancun, and Cuernavaca. These are either tourist attractions or big economical centers. Some of the cheapest are Tlaxcala, Zacatecas, Tepic, and Guanajuato.
The minimum house rent in Mexico will, however, not only depend on the city or town where your new home is located, but also on the neighborhood, the size of the property, and the number of rooms, among other characteristics.
The following tables summarize the average monthly prices in three main Mexican cities:
MXN USD Furnished large apartment 21,000 930 Furnished medium apartment 12,000 530 Furnished small apartment 10,000 440 Student accommodation 8,500 370
MXN USD Furnished large apartment 12,100 540 Furnished medium apartment 7,600 340 Furnished small apartment 6,000 270 Student accommodation 4,200 190
MXN USD Furnished large apartment 13,800 610 Furnished medium apartment 9,800 430 Furnished small apartment 8,600 380 Student accommodation 4,200 190
Renting in Mexico as a Foreigner
Even if you are planning to purchase property in Mexico, it is more advisable to rent first. This is because it might take you some time to find your favorite place to live. The process of purchasing quite straightforward. While some landlords or agencies only ask for a deposit, others require a credit check or some referencing. In Mexico, it is also common if they ask for someone to co-sign your lease, known as a fiador. This can be a bit tricky since that person needs to live and own property in Mexico. Another solution is to pay a higher deposit or ask your employer if they can represent you.
There are different channels that will help you find your ideal house or apartment. For short-term stays, platforms such as Airbnb or Booking.com are an efficient way of finding good, reliable accommodation while you look for permanent place. There are, however, other websites like Vivanuncios, InMuebles24, MetrosCubicos, and Homie with classified adverts for longer rentals, which can give you a better idea about prices and neighborhoods.
Another way of renting a property is through real estate agencies. You can find them in every city in Mexico and they’ll be happy to help you. Know that agent’s fees and commissions are generally paid by the landlords in full, so you do not need to worry about that extra expense.
Finally, if you are already on site, you can walk or drive around your preferred neighborhood. You will find many “For rental” (Se renta) signs with a phone number or other type of information for contacting agencies or even the landlords themselves.
Furnished and Unfurnished Flats
In Mexico, it is common for rental apartments to come furnished and with no extra deposit required. This is a great option, because even though it is a bit more expensive, in the long run it’s still cheaper than having to buy all the furniture and household appliances, such as a washing machine, refrigerator, or stove. Be aware that if you choose a newly furnished place and you damage any of the furniture, it will get discounted from your deposit.
Types of Houses
In Mexico, the different types of houses are:
- Houses, in Spanish casas, are normally family homes surrounded by a piece of land. They are located in residential areas either next to a public road or within a fraccionamiento (a gated community).
- Apartments or condos: called departamentos or condominios. These are very popular dwellings in Mexico. They can be either a block of apartments or horizontal condos, which are semi-detached houses. It is also common to find the building blocks within a gated community.
- If you are looking for a more exclusive place to live, there is also a great variety of specialist houses. These are bigger houses with extensive gardens. They are typically located in the countryside and near a lake, beach, or mountainside.
Rental Contract, Process & Rules
To avoid any problems in the future regarding your rental home, it is very important that you are aware of Mexican regulations on the subject. You also need to be mindful of properly reading and understanding your rental contract. Moreover, if you are renting through a real estate agency, you can check if they are registered at the Asociación Mexicana de Profesionales Inmobiliarios (Mexican Association of Real Estate Professionals).
When both you and the landlord have agreed on an offer, you need to sign a contract or a rental agreement. This document doesn’t need to be notarized, but make sure it is reviewed by a lawyer in order to avoid violations of the laws. If you rent through an agency, this service is usually included.
Mexican laws protect tenants’ rights, but these vary from state to state. Therefore, it is important you understand those differences when you sign your contract. Here are some key points to help you understand the rights and obligations of both the landlords and tenants. So, before you sign make sure all these points are clearly stipulated in your contract:
- The rent is paid on a monthly basis. To sign the contract, you are required to pay the current month and a deposit corresponding to one month’s rent. All extra fees or commissions for the real estate agency are usually paid by the landlord.
- After you end the contract, the landlord must return the deposit to you within 30 days. However, they are entitled to deduct part or all of it if there are damages when you leave the property. Also, make sure you get their authorization in case you do any remodeling, since that can also be considered as damage to the property.
- The landlord has the obligation to give you a property in livable conditions and take care of all the repairs and maintenance needed throughout the contract period. Make sure you inform the landlord as soon as a problem arises. It might be considered your responsibility, if you leave it for too long.
- If by any chance the landlord loses the property in judicial declaration, the landlord must ensure the protection of the tenant and compensate when necessary.
- Neither the landlord nor the tenant have the obligation to renew the contract once the agreement is finished; however, if both of you have the intention to do so, it must be notified at least two months in advance.
- Regarding the periods of a contract, they are normally one-year long, although it depends on the specific agreement between the two parties. If there is no period stipulated, it can be terminated at any time with 30-day notice.
When you sign your contract, you will be asked to pay the first month’s rent as well as a deposit, which is usually equivalent to one month’s rent. Avoid paying cash. Use bank transfers instead.
If you rent a newly furbished property, you should request a detailed inventory with descriptions and pictures attached to the contract. In case there are pre-existing damages when you enter your new home, you will have 30 days to alert your landlord. Remember that if you fail to do so, or you damage anything in the property during the period of your rental agreement, the landlord will deduct a part of your deposit after your leave. Unless agreed differently, the landlord must return the deposit to you within 30 days after you leave. If you wish so, you can also request a document that confirms the end of the obligations.
Requirements and Documents for Renting
The requirements and documents that the landlord will ask of you to rent a property will vary. However, the most common ones are the following:
- Proof of identity: You can use your passport or your ID card.
- Proof of residency: Documents issued by the Mexican authorities, if you are a foreigner (FMM form)
- Economic solvency: You need to prove that you can pay for the costs of living with a letter from the bank declaring your savings, or with your work contract and letter from your employer specifying your salary.
- Guarantor: Some estate agencies, or even private landlords, may check for your credit or ask a fiador(guarantor). Some people ask their bosses to act as a guarantor.
Utilities Bills Payment
Utilities such as electricity, water, gas, phone services, and internet are usually paid by the tenant. You can pay them either online, at the bank, directly at the service provider’s office, or at some designated stores.
Short Term Rentals: Average Price
Short-term rentals are usually oriented for holiday getaways, so they tend to be a bit more expensive than long-term rentals. However, if you are relocating, it is a good idea to consider temporary rentals to give you enough time to look for the right place to live. The average price will depend on the part of the country where the property is located and the facilities it offers.
Short-term Rentals: What Documents do I Need?
The documents required for renting apartments with a short-term lease are less thorough than if you were to rent for a longer period. Normally you will be required to have your ID or passport and a corresponding visa to remain in the country during your stay.
Short-term Rentals: Things to Know
Short-term rentals are much more frequent in beach destinations like Cancun or Los Cabos, as well as bigger cities and touristy towns such as Mexico City and San Miguel de Allende.
For short-term rentals, you can search websites like Airbnb, Realtor, Homefinder, or TripAdvisor, among many others. You can even inquire at real estate agencies.
Even though most short-term rentals seem aimed at holidaymakers, there are plenty of monthly furnished rentals for those moving to Mexico. This is especially ideal for expats who are leaving most of their belongings behind or prefer to bring them later.
Buying a Property as a Foreigner
Are you wondering how to buy a property as a foreigner or non-resident in Mexico? Even though most expats initially rent, you may want to take a step further and buy a house or an apartment shortly after arriving. In the following section, we will provide you with a guide for buying a home in Mexico, which includes some important insights on the local housing market.
Many people rent properties for long periods of time, but there is always the risk of the owner deciding to claim back your home. Sometimes this happens because the property owner wants to sell it or rent it to an acquaintance or family member. Also, you may want to invest on remodeling a home to meet your specific needs, but putting money into a property you don’t own is not the best solution. For these reasons, buying a home in Mexico is a good option to consider.
House Prices in Mexico
One of the things that make the idea of moving to Mexico attractive is its house prices. Even though recent years have seen an increase, the difference with the US and Europe is still significantly lower.
Prices vary in accordance to a wide range of factors. The most relevant ones are the location of the property, the infrastructure around it (e.g. subways, parks), the proximity to desirable elements (e.g. city center, schools) and, of course, the characteristics of the house itself.
Some of the the house averages per city are the following:
City Price in MXN Price in USD Mexico City 4,500,000 205,000 Mexico City, Ecatepec 1,000,000 45,500 Guadalajara 1,300,000 60,000 Monterrey 5,400,000 245,000 Puerto Vallarta 5,800,000 265,000
Apart from the house itself, you will need to pay the following fees and taxes.
- Agency fees: You negotiate the amount with them.
- Notary and lawyer’s fees: This is variable, but usually they are taxed at 16% VAT.
- Acquisition fees: Between 0.2% and 4.5%
- Registration fee: Between 0.02% and 1.8%
- Title insurance: Around 0.5%
Types of Property
The types of properties in Mexico will vary considerably depending on whether you are in a large city, near the beach, or deep in the countryside. For instance, in bigger cities, it may be difficult to find large pieces of land and detached houses, so going for apartments or townhouses is a more convenient option. Conversely, in the countryside, spacious places are much more common. And, if you want to live near the beach, there is a bigger offer of houses and apartments, many of them in residential hotels and holiday resorts.
Process & Steps for Buying a House in Mexico
Mexican law is quite flexible when it comes to selling properties to foreigners, but there are some geographical limitations. So, before buying any property, be aware of these restrictions.
The first one has to do with a law passed in 1917, which declared all the communal land as ejido, which means that it could only be used for agriculture and worked by locals. When you buy a house make sure it is not classified as ejido land.
Borders and Coastlines
The second restriction is related to another law passed in 1973, which allows foreigners to buy properties anywhere in the country (with the exception of ejido lands), unless they are within 62 miles (100 km) from a border or within 31 miles (50 km) from the coastline. Nonetheless, since 1993, foreigners are allowed to buy properties within those territories, just like any other Mexican citizen, as long as they are in possession of a trust agreement with a Mexican bank. This agreement is called fideicomiso, which has to be renewed every 50 years. It can be inherited.
Once you have decided where you want to buy, you can verify the restrictions and select a house. Below are the steps that you will need to follow.
- Get a mortgage and/or a fideicomiso (if you are planning to buy in a restricted area).
- Consider getting a real estate agency or property advisor, this way you will be sure you follow the process correctly.
- Make an offer.
- If your offer is accepted, get a Promissory Agreement (promesa de contrato) together with the payment of a deposit. This way, both you and the seller will have time to arrange the paperwork for the contract.
- Through a notary, write and sign a Purchase/Sales Agreement or contract.
- Close the deal and arrange the title transfer.
- Pay the corresponding taxes.
- Receive your new property.
Requirements to Buy a Property
When you buy a property in Mexico, make sure you hire a lawyer and do the process through a real estate agency, so that when you draw up the contract you will find no unexpected surprises. That said, the requirements are not especially troublesome. Some of the most important things to consider are:
- getting a Fideicomiso, if the property is in a restricted area;
- getting a contract in English (the estate agency may help you with the translators);
- asking for the Régimen de Condominio (these are the community rules for an apartment or gated community; this will explain your rights, regulations, and obligations as an owner).
Buying A House in Mexico and Citizenship
As a foreigner, you do not need any particular visa to buy property. Even a Tourist Visa will work. The good news is that if you buy a property you are automatically entitled to apply for a Temporary Resident Visa.
If you buy a house in Mexico for a Permanent Resident Visa, you will need to be a temporary resident for four years before applying. If you are looking to get the Mexican citizenship, you can apply for it after five years of permanent residency.
Utility companies in Mexico are either state-owned or private providers. The next sections will give you an idea on how the system works and what is more convenient for you to hire.
Two thirds of the electricity in Mexico is provided by the state-owned Comisión Federal de Electricidad (CFE). However, if you wish to hire the service, your property needs to be no further than 35 meters from an electric post.
There are different ways you can get a contract: by calling 071, at a CFE center or online. Bills are issued either monthly or every two months. The cost will vary according to the city and neighborhood. Bills can range from 220 MXN (10 USD) up to around 4420 MXN (200 USD).
Be aware that the cost is estimated when the meter is read in-person by a CFE staff member. This system is being replaced by digital meters. With the new system, you select the day of the month you prefer to be billed. After that day, you need to insert a card, which will store the information of your electricity usage. Then, to pay, you use the same card at the CFE offices. You have 10 days to make the payment before your service gets suspended.
Gas is provided by private companies in Mexico. The most systems are by cylinders or stationary gas tanks. To replace or refill your cylinder or tank, look for the trucks that drive around the city and announce their presence with a particular bell or via loudspeaker. This happens daily. The price of the gas, which is set by the government, is displayed on the side of the trucks. Take into account that a small cylinder lasts around two to three weeks. Some properties in bigger cities also have direct gas supplies.
In Mexico, water is administrated by each municipio (municipality). Depending on the area, there are different sources to get water delivered to your property. In urban areas, the most common one is via mains-fed water. In more rural areas, it is common to have a communal water feed from local springs or water wells connected to your house.
When you rent a property ask for the providers in your area. Water is normally billed every two months. According to your location, it might range between 110 MXN (5 USD) up to 1100 MXN (50 USD).
If you rent a property, the services may be hired by the landlord, especially if it is not a long-term deal. Otherwise, take into consideration that you may be asked for the following documents:
- ID card or passport;
- rental contract to prove that you are the tenant (if you buy the house, you will have to show deed of ownership);
For gas services, you might be required to register in order to get cylinders.
Things to Know
Before renting an apartment or a house, it is better if you ask about the accessibility to those services, since they may be scarce depending on the area. Knowing in advance how the gas is supplied, what electricity company is available in your area, or whether the water is sanitized and if the filters have been changed recently, is a good way to prepare in case you need to do further arrangements.
In the next table you can see average costs of the bills per month.
MXN USD Electricity 660 30 Gas 660 30 Water 330 15
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Internet, Cell Phones and TV
One of the first things to get sorted as soon as you arrive in Mexico is your cell phone and internet. As an expat, this allows you to keep in touch with work, friends, and family. Luckily, Mexico has one of the best telecommunication networks in Latin America, reaching even most of its rural areas.
How to Get a SIM card
Mexico’s three main networks are TelCel, AT&T, and Movistar. Nowadays there are also many smaller companies, allowing an extensive and competitive market. For this reason, it is hard to advise on which is the best for you. Immigrants to the country should have a look at all the plans and choose the one that best fits your needs.
Other companies to explore are:
- Virgin Mobile;
- Flash Mobile;
Most of the companies include in their plans unlimited calls and messages to Mexico, the US, and Canada.
Once you have selected your phone company, make sure your current smartphone is unblocked to the specific network. If you prefer to renew it, phone companies also offer new smartphones with or without a plan.
There are normally 2 modalities: Pay-as-you-go (prepago), and plans (planes).
If you choose the pay-as-you-go modality, you can visit any cell phone store and buy your chosen provider’s SIM card there. If you just buy the chip, it costs around 60 MXN (2.50 USD), however you will have many options that include calls, messages, and internet for around 200 MXN (9 USD).
If you prefer to get a plan instead, you can do it directly at the provider’s website. Prices for plans vary significantly depending on their characteristics. The plan you choose can include a smartphone. You can buy different Gigabyte amounts for data, and minutes for calls and messages. Some plans also include data specially for social networks. You can get a monthly bill at the end of each month or pay in advance. The documents they will require are:
- form of identification: passport or ID card;
- proof of address: lease, utility bills or bank statement issued with the past 3 months;
- E-mail address;
- deposit (this is dependent on the company).
How to Watch your Home Country’s TV in Mexico
If you want to stay connected to your home country, television can be a good option. It can also smooth the cultural shock and help you transition to your new Mexican life by keeping you updated with sports, politics, and breaking news. In Mexico there are several options to see international television: Cable, satellite, and internet-streaming TV.
Local cable companies also offer internet services and land-line telephone. Some of the most important ones are:
- Izzi Telcom
Plans can cost between 600 MXN (25 USD) and 1600 MXN (70 USD).
Satellite TV normally offers a wider range of international channels, although the quality of the broadcast can be severely affected by the weather.
Two of the biggest companies in Mexico are:
- SKY México
- Dish México
Plans cost from 200 MXN (9 USD) and up to 1000 MXN (45 USD).
Finally, some of the streaming platforms operating in Mexico are:
- Apple TV
- Amazon Fire TV
Another option, if you prefer to watch your favorite channels directly from their website, is to pay for VPN.
Television in Mexico
Apart from all the cable and satellite TV options in Mexico, open broadcast television is also available. Two major companies are Televisa and TV Azteca, which dominate the market. The main content you will see in Mexican television includes soap operas, quiz shows, reality shows, news, sports, and international TV. There are also some government-administrated channels that focus mainly on culture.
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- Francois Bertrand
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