Are you thinking of making a significant relocation? An international move will radically change your lifestyle. And if you want to move south to warmer climes and beautiful beaches, then Mexico is an excellent choice. What do you need to move from the US to Mexico? Should you rent or buy once you get to Mexico? We will discuss these housing matters and how you can make the best choice for yourself. Let’s get started!
Renting versus Buying: How to Make the Best Choice for You
You have decided to move to either Merida, Oaxaca, Guanajuato, San Miguel de Allende, or Puerto Vallarta: Congrats! The next question relates to your accommodation in Mexico: Should you rent or should you buy?
You may want to rent first if you have never lived in Mexico (or are unfamiliar with that particular city). Doing so will help you get a feel for the area and figure out if you’re going to put down roots or try living elsewhere.
Renting in Mexico
Renting has low risks as you can quickly move to a new city or even a new country. When you rent, you make a low investment, and since most are furnished accommodations, it’s easy to pick up your stakes and move along.
However, you also need to pay attention to the length of your rental agreement (especially at first). We recommend signing a short-term rental agreement – just in case you dislike rental or the neighborhood.
Rental properties in Mexico fall into three main categories:
- Short-term vacation rentals
- Six-month contracts for part-time ex-pats (such as snowbirds)
- Long-term rentals, which tend to be for a year or longer
Short-term rentals work best for newly arrived ex-pats who want to leisurely house-hunt. Long-term rentals are the best option for persons seeking to settle down and make Mexico their home for a year or more.
Please note that the longer the contract, the more advantageous the deal tends to be (in terms of a lower monthly rent).
Average Rent in Mexico
The average cost of renting in Mexico is far lower than in the US. An urban one-bedroom apartment goes for about $340, while outside of the city center, the average rent is $220. Also, a three-bedroom apartment in the city goes for $675 on average, and outside the city, the average rent is $475.
Like other locations, rents in Mexico vary according to various factors such as neighborhood, geographical location (such as beachside vs. inland), proximity to a city center, public transportation network, and green areas. Some of the most expensive cities include Las Cabos, Monterrey, Guadalajara, Cancun, and Cuernavaca.These areas also tend to be either tourist attractions or large economic centers. In contrast, some of the least expensive cities include Tlaxcala, Zacatecas, Tepic, and Guanajuato.
Your monthly rent depends not only on the city or town the apartment is located but also on the number of rooms, the square footage, neighborhood, and other characteristics.
Renting in Mexico as an Ex-Pat
Renting is the best way to go, even if you intend to buy a home in Mexico eventually. This will allow you to discover the best place for you and your loved ones to put down roots.
Renting is a straightforward process. Some landlords and agencies may only need a deposit, but others may also require a credit check or reference. When the landlord or agency wants someone in Mexico to co-sign your lease (or a fiador), then it gets tricky. First, persons may not want to act as your guarantor or fiador, and the fiador must live in Mexico and be a Mexican landowner. You can ask your employer to act as your fiador. Alternatively, you can ask the landlord to let you pay a higher deposit rather than searching for a fiador.
There are a variety of channels that you can use to find your ideal apartment or house in Mexico. If you need a short-term stay, you can visit Airbnb or Booking.com to find great, reliable accommodations as you search for a more permanent home. You can also use Vivanuncios, InMuebles24, MetrosCubicos, and Homie, which feature classified ads for longer rentals. You can use them to help you gauge the best prices and neighborhoods.
Another way to rent in Mexico is via a real estate agency. You can find a realtor’s office in every city in Mexico, and they are always willing to assist you. Also, the agent’s fees and commissions are usually paid in full by the landlords. Therefore, you won’t need to worry about that additional expense.
Many agents work locally and have personal connections with landlords in your area. They can also give you valuable insights into the neighborhoods you can choose (and the ones you should avoid).
Also, if you are already in Mexico, you can walk or drive around your preferred neighborhoods. You will see many “For rent” (or se renta) signs that will list the contact information of the agency and the landlord.
Here are some questions that you may have about the renting process:
Can I Find an Apartment Without a Job?
There are no legal restrictions on you getting an apartment without a job. But, landlords will want to know that you can pay the rent for the length of the lease, and they may ask for proof of income. If you do not have a job yet, you may need additional evidence to get the apartment.
Can I Rent an Apartment and Not Live in It?
Renting is not a waste of money. As long as you live where you want to live, then see it as well-spent money. Although renting as a way of life is not what we recommend, there are a few situations where renting is the better option.
Is Renting a Waste of Your Money?
Renting is not a waste of money. As long as you live where you want to live, then see it as well-spent money. Although renting as a way of life is not what we recommend, there are a few situations where renting is the better option.
Should a Landlord Ever Inspect Your Bedroom?
No! They can’t do that! You have “the right to quiet enjoyment” by law. Therefore, your landlord can only come to your apartment for specific reasons, and these visits should not be excessive. Landlords are entitled to an inspection once per year, but some may expect the property twice a year or quarterly.
Furnished and Unfurnished Apartments
You will discover that Mexico is home to various furnished and unfurnished properties. Renting unfurnished is the cheaper option, but you should check that the property will be in excellent condition once you take possession of it.
Make sure that you understand what renting unfurnished could mean. Many unfurnished apartments are shells, as there are no stoves, refrigerators, window treatments, or floor coverings. While you will save a lot on rent this way, you must be prepared to spend to make the place habitable (which can get quite expensive). You get essential appliances and furniture when you rent furnished to make the apartment move-in-ready.
Types of Accommodations
There are many types of accommodations in Mexico:
Houses in Mexico are Spanish casas and are usually family homes surrounded by a piece of land. They are often located in residential areas next to a public road or within a gated community (or a fraccionamiento).
Apartments or condos (called departamentos or condominios) are popular accommodations in Mexico. These can be arranged in either a block of apartments or horizontal condos (semi-detached houses). You can also find these building blocks within a gated community.
If you want to live in a more exclusive accommodation, there are many specialist houses. These houses are bigger, feature extensive gardens, and are often located in the countryside, near a lake, beach, or mountains.
Whatever style of accommodation you need, you can find it in Mexico!
Rental Contract, Process, and Rules
You should learn as much as you can about the Mexican regulations about rentals. Also, carefully read and understand your rental contract. If you are renting via a real estate agency, first ensure that they are registered with the Asociación Mexicana de Profesionales Inmobiliarios (Mexican Association of Real Estate Professionals).
When you and the landlord agree on an offer, you need to sign a contract or a rental agreement. This document doesn’t need to be notarized, but you should probably have a lawyer review it to avoid legal violations. If you rent via an agency, then this service is often included.
Mexican legislation protects tenants’ rights, but these vary from one state to the next. Therefore, you must understand these differences when you sign your contract. Let’s consider some key points that you should know to help you better comprehend the rights and obligations of landlords and tenants. Before you sign, ensure that all of these points are clearly stated in your contract:
- You pay rent every month. When you sign the contract, you will need to pay the current month’s rent and a deposit. This deposit is often the same as a month’s rent. The landlord usually pays all extra fees or commissions for the real estate agency (if you choose that route).
- After you end the contract, the landlord must return your deposit within 30 days. But, they can deduct part or all of it if there is any damage when you leave the property.
- If you choose to perform any remodeling, first get the landlord’s permission. You don’t want your remodeling deemed as damage to the property.
- The landlord is also obligated to give you the property in a livable condition. Also, the landlord should take care of all necessary repairs and maintenance throughout the contract period. Ensure that as soon as problems arise, you inform the landlord. It may be considered your responsibility if you delay notifying the landlord.
- If your landlord loses the property in a judicial declaration, then they must protect and compensate you where necessary.
- Neither you nor the landlord can be forced to renew a contract once it expires. However, if either one of you decides to terminate an active contract, then notification must be made at least two months in advance.
- A rental contract is generally a year long. But, the length is all determined by the specific agreement you make with your landlord. If there is no stated end to the rental contract, then it’s a month-to-month contract that can be terminated by either you or the landlord with a 30-day notice.
When signing your contract, you will need to pay the first month’s rent plus a deposit (equivalent to a month’s rent). We recommend that you avoid paying cash and use bank transfers instead.
If you rent a furnished apartment, request a detailed inventory with descriptions and pictures attached to your contract. If there are any pre-existing damages when you enter your new home, you have 30 days to notify your landlord.
If you fail to do so or damage anything in the property while you live there, you will be penalized. Your landlord will deduct the cost of fixing the damage from your deposit. If there are no damages, your landlord must return your full security deposit 30 days after leaving the accommodation. You can also request a letter that confirms the end of your obligations.
Documents Required for Renting
The documents you need for renting vary from one landlord to the next. However, your landlord will likely have you present the following documents:
- Proof of identity: You can use either your passport or ID card.
- Proof of residency: These are documents issued by the Mexican authorities.
- Economic solvency: You will need to prove that you can cover your rent. You can get a letter from the bank that declares your savings or a work contract and a letter from your employer that specifies your salary.
- Guarantor: Some estate agencies and landlords may check your credit. They could also ask you to get a fiador (you could try asking your boss to act as your guarantor).
The Payment of Utility Bills
Before finalizing your rental contract, you should ensure that you are clear about these terms. The tenant pays phone, electricity, gas, and water bills in most cases. You can ask your landlord to give you an estimate of the average costs.
In Mexico, homes are not usually connected to a gas pipeline (like in the USA). Gas is often purchased in cylinder form and is used for cooking. You may also not find a phone line in the property as landlords are often afraid of tenants vacating and leaving large bills behind. If there’s a landline in the property, you may have to pay a deposit to cover your final phone bill.
If there’s a garden, you are obliged to take care of it. If you’re in an apartment, you may need to pay for the upkeep of the communal areas. In Mexico, tenants often must pay for the maintenance of any home that they rent (including minor repair jobs).
Short-term rentals in Mexico are often used for vacations and tend to be more expensive than long-term rentals. But, if you are relocating, you can use these temporary rentals to give you sufficient time to find the best place to live. The average price of these temporary accommodations depends on the location and the type of facilities a property offers.
A short-term rental requires less documentation than a long-term lease. You generally show your ID or passport and a corresponding visa that allows you to remain in Mexico for the duration of your short-term lease.
Short-term rentals are often located in popular beach destinations such as Los Cabos and Cancun and larger cities and tourist towns like San Miguel de Allende. You can look for short-term rentals on Airbnb, Realtor, Homefinder, or TripAdvisor. You can also inquire at real estate agencies. Although most short-term rentals are targeted at vacationers, there are lots of furnished monthly rentals available for ex-pats in the process of settling into their new lives in Mexico.
Purchasing Property as a Foreigner
We have explored how you can rent in Mexico. But, you may also choose to purchase your very own Mexican casa. Let’s discuss how you can accomplish that!
House Prices in Mexico
Mexican real estate tends to be popular among US ex-pats because of the low house prices. Even though these prices have recently increased, houses in Mexico are still significantly lower than in the USA and Europe.
Prices may also vary according to a range of factors. These include the property’s location, nearby infrastructure (subways, parks, etc.), proximity to desirable elements ( city center, schools, etc.), and the house’s characteristics.
Some examples of the average house prices are:
|City||Price in MXN||Price in USD|
|Mexico City, Ecatepec||1,000,000||45,500|
Apart from paying for your house, you will also pay for these fees and taxes:
- Agency fees: You will negotiate the amount that you pay.
- Notary and lawyer’s fees: These fees may vary, usually assessed at 16% VAT.
- Acquisition fees: These vary between 0.2% and 4.5%.
- Registration fees: These range between 0.02% and 1.8%.
- Title insurance: These fees are approximately 0.5%.
Types of Properties
There are various properties in Mexico and the characteristics of each property change whether you are in a large city, beachside, or countryside. For example, it may be hard to find detached houses with ample yard space in larger cities, so you may want to purchase an apartment or a townhouse. On the other hand, you will find real estate with more space. If you wish for beachfront properties, you will find many houses and apartments, primarily in residential hotels and holiday resorts.
Restrictions and the Steps for Buying a Mexican House
Mexican laws are pretty flexible in selling properties to foreigners. However, there are a few geographical limitations that you must be aware of before you buy your home-sweet-home in Mexico.
This restriction is related to a 1917 law that declares that all communal lands are ejido, which can only be used for agriculture and worked by locals. When purchasing a house in Mexico, always check that it is not ejido land.
Coastlines and Borders
The second restriction is connected with a 1973 law. It allows foreigners to purchase real estate anywhere in Mexico (excluding ejido lands) unless they are within 31 miles (50 km) from the coastline or within 62 miles (100km) from a border.
Since 1993, foreigners have been allowed to purchase properties like any Mexican citizen in those areas. All they need is a trust agreement with a Mexican bank called a fideicomiso that must be renewed every 50 years. Furthermore, it can be inherited.
Buying a House in Mexico
Once you decide where to purchase, you can verify the restrictions and choose a house. Here are the steps you should follow:
- Get a mortgage (or a fideicomiso) if you buy in a restricted area).
- Hire a real estate agency or a property advisor to ensure that you correctly follow the process.
- Make an offer on the property.
- If your offer is accepted, you will need to get a Promissory Agreement (promesa de contrato) and deposit payment. This will enable both you and the seller to have time to arrange the necessary paperwork for the contract.
- Use a notary to write and sign a Purchase/Sales Agreement or a contract.
- Close the deal and arrange for the transfer of the title.
- Pay the relevant taxes.
- Receive your new property and enjoy!
Requirements to Purchase a Property
When you purchase a property in Mexico, ensure that you hire a lawyer and complete the process via a real estate agency. This will help you to avoid any unexpected problems with your purchase. Buying a property means:
- Getting a fideicomiso (if the property is in a restricted area).
- Get a sales contract written in English (a real estate agent may assist you in getting translating services).
- Getting the Régimen de Condominio (community rules for your apartment or gated community).
Purchasing a House and Mexican Citizenship
You don’t need a special visa to purchase a house as a foreigner. If you have a tourist visa, you can still buy property in Mexico. The best news is that when you purchase real estate, you can also apply for a temporary resident visa.
If you purchase a house in Mexico for permanent resident visa purposes, you must hold temporary residence status for four years before applying. You can apply for it after five years as a permanent resident if you want Mexican citizenship.
Here are some critical things to consider for your move to Mexico:
All Mexican utility companies are either state-owned or private entities. Here’s what you should know about the various utilities:
The state-owned Comision Federal de Electricidad (CFE) provides approximately two-thirds of Mexican electricity. But, if you want to install the service, your property should be within 35 meters of an electric post.
How can you establish a contract? You can call 071, go to a CFE center, or make your request online. Bills are issued every month or every two months. The amount you pay will vary according to the city and neighborhood. Electricity bills can range from 220 MXN (or 10 USD) to 4420 MXN (or 200 USD).
Also, you should note that the cost will be estimated at the time if the meter is read in person by a CFE staff member. However, the new system utilizes digital meters where you can select the day of the month you want to be billed. After that date, you need to insert a card to store the info about your electricity usage. You would use the same card to pay at one of the CFE offices. You have ten days to pay before your service is suspended.
Private companies provide gas in Mexico using portable cylinders or stationary gas tanks. If you need to replace or refill your cylinder or tank, watch out for the special bell or loudspeaker that announces the presence of the gas trucks. The government sets the gas price and displays it on the sides of these trucks. As a guide, a small cylinder lasts two to three weeks. Several properties in the big cities also have direct gas lines.
Each municipality administers water in Mexico. The water sources differ based on your location. In urban areas, you will likely encounter mains-fed water. You may use communal water from local springs or water wells connected to your home for rural areas. When you rent a property, we recommend exploring your local providers. Your water bills may range from 110 MXN (or 5 USD) to 1100 MXN (or 50 USD).
Documents You Will Need
The landlord may hire some services (especially if you haven’t signed a long-term lease). Otherwise, you will need to hire the services yourself. The documents you will need for this purpose are:
- ID card or passport
- Rental lease to prove your tenancy (or if you bought a house, present the deed of ownership)
You may need to register to get gas cylinders.
What You Should Know
Before you rent an apartment or house, you should inquire about the accessibility to services (they may be scarce in your area). Ensure that you know how the gas is supplied and the electricity company that serves your area in advance. Discover whether or not your water is sanitized and whether the filters were recently changed as a part of your preparation.
Here are the average costs of the bills each month:
Arranging Internet, Cell Phones, and TV in Mexico
Once you arrive in Mexico, you need to sort out your cell phone and internet. You will need to keep in touch with family, friends, and work. The good news is that Mexico has one of the best telecommunication networks in Latin America (even in the rural regions).
How to Get a SIM Card
Mexico’s top three networks are TelCel, AT&T, and Movistar, and there are also many other smaller companies for a competitive market. You can also look at plans and select the best one for your needs:
- Virgin Mobile
- Flash Mobile
Many of these plans include unlimited calls and messages to Mexico, the USA, and Canada. Once you select your phone company, ensure that your current smartphone is unblocked to a given network. If you want to renew it, phone companies also offer new smartphones (with or without a plan).
There are generally two modes: pay as you go (prepago) and plans (planes). If you choose the former, you can visit any cell phone store and buy your select provider’s SIM card. Purchasing a chip costs approximately 60 MXN (or 2.50 USD). However, you also have several plans that include calls, messages, and internet for about 200 MXN (or 9 USD).
If you want to get a plan, you can do so at the provider’s website. These prices also vary a lot depending on what’s included. You can also purchase different gigabyte amounts for data and minutes for calls and messages. You will get a bill at the end of each month or pay in advance at the start of each month.
You will need to provide the following documents:
- Identification (passport or ID card)
- Proof of address (lease, utility bills, or bank statements issued in the last three months
- Email address
- Deposit (which varies from one company to the next)
How to Watch Your Favorite TV in Mexico
We understand that you want to remain connected with home, and TV is a great way to maintain the connection. Furthermore, having access to familiar TV shows can help smooth out the impact of culture shock and transition to your new way of life. There are several options to view international television in Mexico: cable, satellite, and internet-streaming TV.
Several local cable companies bundle their offerings with internet services and landline telephone:
- Izzi Telcom
These plans often cost between 600 MXN (or 25 USD) and 1600 MXN (or 70 USD).
Satellite television generally offers a broad range of international channels (although the weather affects the broadcast quality). The two largest satellite TV companies are SKY Mexico and Dish Mexico, costing from 200 MXN (or 9 USD) to 1000 MXN (or 45 USD).
Mexico also has several live streaming platforms: Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, and ROKU. You can also choose to watch your favorite channels directly from their websites through a virtual private network (VPN).
There are two main television networks in Mexico: Televisa and TV Azteca. Enjoy Mexican TV, culture, and learn the language. This will help your transition to your new life in Mexico.
Do You Need Help Moving to Mexico?
What do you need to move from the US to Mexico and make the renting versus buying decision? We have discussed how to complete both the renting and buying processes. But, before you can settle down in the Mexican dream location of your choice, you need to get there. Let US Border Movers help you move to Mexico hassle-free! We have many years of experience safely and efficiently moving our valued clients to their new homes across Mexico. Contact us today for an affordable estimate. Let’s begin the journey to your new home and new life in Mexico!