Updated: Nov 25, 2020
Are you thinking about moving to Mexico? If you are planning a move and need to rent a place for 6 months or more, here are a few helpful tips and questions to ask your realtor in Mexico before signing a contract.
Bait & Wait
First off, if you found an advertisement listed in English and advertising in dollars, its probably a good idea to see if you can find the same place listed on a local site & in the local language. Its a common practice to inflate the price a little more for "los gringos" (foreigners) - especially those whose only insight are online classified ads such as craigslist, segundamano etc.
Most realtors try to bring their client a good client. And sometimes that means dividing the waters - the most common way is to jack the price up more than just a little. Since most Mexicans already know this trick, they tend to deal with realtors who are advertising in pesos - not dollars. However, since Americans are unaware, they get caught in this little realtor's net.
Most popular touristic areas, such as Playa del Carmen/Cancun, are trying to draw in a large foriegn crowd/investors, so odds are you will see a majority of the advertisements in English.
Playa del Carmen aka Playa del Crimen
We lived in Playa del Carmen off and on over the years. On our first trip, I made the mistake of finding a realtor on Quinta Avenida (5th Street), a popular touristic spot right on the beach. The realtor drafted up a one year contact - at the current exchange rate and I happily signed. Yes, I was the "dumb gringo" caught in the net. $1800 USD a month at the current exchange rate. I was okay with that since I had a budget of $2500 USD for rent and amenities. Boy did I have a good lesson to learn.
I asked the realtor what happens if the exchange rate drops significantly against my favor within that year. She reminded me of my obligations. It was in black & white.
If the rate changes, you still have to pay the amount the contact mentioned. They will not change it if the market suddenly changes against the dollar. Its easier and more honest to draft it in pesos and not dollars. Why some make a big deal about that is a question you should ask yourself. Ask them to leave dollars out of this - see what happens!
Does this include maintenence fees? Is another great question to ask a realtor who is trying to rush you into signing a deal. Although rent may be one price, maintenence is another thing which the renter pays seperately. This fee is charged by a company who provides extra services such as gate-entry, keeping the grass cut, security etc.
Sometimes, the fee may just be $200 pesos (roughly $10 USD) then again, there are some that might be $8000-$11,000 pesos - depends on where & what you are renting.
Imagine thinking you are renting a place for $15,000 pesos, then being denied access to the pool & having to open the drive-in gate yourself because noone told you of the extra maintenence fees that you have to pay seperatly every month. Yep, it happens. $15,000 can easily become $23,000 - and this is not including electricity, gas, water and other services.
A Small, Painful Sting
It defintely doesn't hurt to ask, and it might sting just a little if you forget to ask this basic question: Is maintenence included?
Most rental homes will require you to pay two months + a deposit equal to one months rent. This is usually given back to the renter after they have moved out and the bills they left are paid by the owner. Believe it or not, some actually are honest about the bill they recieved AFTER you have left. I have recieved portions of my deposit back from honest owners.
You can find homes that are turn-key ready, furnished and all bills paid - even your cable & net. Mexico really isn't an expensive country to live in - you just got to ask the right questions and deal with the right people. For the most part, you will have to look for the right persons - sharks will bait and look for you.
Try finding a temporary vacation rental online and save yourself the hassle and a headache. Owners do not mind making side deals. Keep in mind, although a leasing contract can be drafted in English, only Spanish contracts are recognized by Mexican law - be sure to ask your Mexican realtor about the languange of the law.