The Digital Nomads Guide to Finding a Place to Live.
(Authors Note: Upon finishing this story I realized that one could probably use the advice in here to rent a place anywhere. The specifics, of course, can only be applied to Mexico, but if you’re in need of this guide than as my latin friends say: Vaya con Dios.)
There are plenty of reasons why many, or dare I say, dozens of Digital Nomads choose Mexico as their new base of operations. Whether it be its proximity to the US; it’s relatively cheap cost of living; or its great cuisine, there are few real downsides to committing to a (temporary) life in Mexico. Unfortunately my first hand knowledge only extends to a handful of Mexican cities and pueblos, but I’m sure the tips and tricks set forth in this article will help you navigate the diverse real estate jungle that Mexico provides. I’ll enumerate the different requirements one needs to fulfill in order to rent their very own place; how to avoid would-be predators and the scams they use to swindle you dry, and finally how to find your perfect fit by sifting some helpful links, but first, how do you go about figuring out your ideal type of accommodation?
In a world filled with AirBnBs, hostels, hotels, and room-shares how do you go about deciding which option is right for you? Well, unlike selecting that perfect pair of bowling shoes, you aren’t obligated to commit to one of these metaphorical pairs of shoes. Once you’ve entered your new perspective city you’d obviously like to kick the tires a bit and experience your new would-be home for a while. This is where AirBnB, HostelWorld, and Hotels.com come into play; find a place to temporarily lay your head for a week or two and begin to do some recon.
My plan of attack usually entails staying in a hostel for a week or two, and talking to the staff, questioning them about where the best ‘colonias’ aka neighborhoods, are located. If I’m feeling a bit pluckish I ask them where most of the hipsters hang out, I mean, they usually congregate around nicely gentrified areas that are filled with bars and cafes. If you’re in Mexico City that’s Roma/Condesa, or if you’re in Guadalajara that’s Chapultepec. Having my potential hit list in tow it’s time to go tail them like a stalker looking for his next love making sure to visit each neighborhood day and night while arriving in different forms of transportation. One can never underestimate how many forms of transportation one colonia can have; is it located near a metro or metrobus station? Does it have taxi stands around? How about rentable bikes? If it has all of the above then it immediately shoots to the top of my list.
I want to live where I can potentially see dogs being charged with alleged DUIs because they were swerving on their baby bikes.
Being a seasoned Mexican Nomad I’d ask you to come up with a number you deem too high for the following: bars, bikes, and dogs. If you’re like me and answered, “I want to live where I can potentially see dogs being charged with alleged DUIs because they were swerving on their baby bikes” then you’ll do fine with most of the neighborhoods the upstart generation live in.
So I’ve done my recon and have pinpointed potential neighborhoods in this city that has met most of my ridiculous requirements (open container laws? last call hours? [starting to see a trend here?]). Now what? Time to hit the internet.
You need to do your research. You don’t want to be paying premium prices for non-premium locations. You’ve narrowed down your hit list to a few spots and you’ve reconned the neighborhoods to where you feel comfortable committing to one or the other. What’s next? Obviously checking out each spot and giving it the okay.
If you’re in the roommate spot than you’ve already talked to and okayed the perspective roomie; if you’re in the whole apartment by yourself spot you’ve already vetted the future landlord.
Never sign or give money to anyone unless you’ve seen their ID and the contract that you’ll need to sign. Apartments in Mexico always need to be signed by the apartment owner and the tenant. You might have an agent be the intermediary but they will never sign your rental agreement. The one that signs is the owner. Remember that. Never pay money beforehand unless you see and verify the owner of the apartment. In the end stick to that good old saying, “if it’s too good to be true, it probably is.”
In conclusion: you’re a foreigner? You need money or connections. I’ve lucked out on both. I have found places to live that have foreign landlords and have not given a fuck about the usual requirements, which are: aval (someone that has papers to a house they own within the city), or fiador (basically the same, but you can actually buy this type of insurance for a price). Craigslist and DaDa Room are your friends if you want to stay here long term. If not than go for AirBnB. If you’re willing to do the work than hit CL and just walk around the city and call any apartment with a ‘Renta’ sign hanging outside.
Currently Listening to: Toto — Africa
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