First of all we would like to congratulate you on your decision to move to a new country! This is a huge step for you, we know, and this is why we have decided to set out some of the best advice we can have for ensuring you get the best price on your new home when moving to Mexico for Work.
First things first, some people will undoubtedly feel more comfortable having a place already lined up to move into and yet we would recommend that you don’t do this straight away unless you have visited the place beforehand. The first and most important piece of advice that we can give you is to wait until you get your boots on the ground before house hunting, or that you arrive prior to moving to make your decisions. Here are a few reasons as to why you should take this first bit of advice:
- The majority of the properties advertised on the internet (and in English) are aimed at the tourist market and will be subject to a heavy mark-up.
- Up to 90% of properties in Mexico are not advertised online or in English, but in Spanish and in local newspapers, or through Se Renta (For Rent) signs outside the actual property.
- Pictures can never give you as good an idea of the space you will be getting or the area it’s as you would get by physically going there.
The best way to widen your prospective net and get a chance at better prices is to actually be in the country, talking to people and checking out local classificados (classifieds). That isn’t to say, however, that you cannot find any help or options on the internet. There are online classifieds such as Viva Street. The flipside of doing this is that you will need to have at least a basic grasp of Spanish. The newspapers will be written in Spanish and Viva Street is too, plus this online archive has no emails with which to contact landlords so you will need to call them.
Of course many landlords will be highly educated and bilingual, and you can always hire an interpreter, but the best deals are usually found in Spanish. There is also the added issue of the implicit “Gringo tax” which seems to attach itself to the rent of outsiders (especially English speaking white foreigners) as the locals may assume that you have more money and can afford it. This will usually add 15 – 20% onto the “local” rent rates.
The most common form of housing found in the tourist areas of Mexico such as Puerto Vallarta, Cabo San Lucas and Cancun are three floor apartment buildings which have one household per floor. These are generally valued as being worth between $350 and $500 USD rent per month, but realistically speaking you can pay anywhere between $250 and $1000 USD per month. Factors which affect the price include the area, demand and, of course, your bartering skills. This is where your grasp of Spanish comes in; there are a few tactics to getting around the Gringo Tax:
- Firstly, if you can improve your Spanish to the point at which you pass as a local, or at least a Mexican who has been living abroad you may be able to net a local rate.
- You can get a friend who speaks Spanish well enough to pass as local, or who is local, to contact the landlords, make the appointment and check the place out for you before locking in the price. Once they have done this they then introduce you to the landlord.
- You can pay upfront and in cash. If you can pay for two or more months in advance and in cash then you could negotiate a good discount.
- Commit to a longer lease. If you can commit to three to twelve months then you could get a good discount. If you can do this and pay two or more months in cash then you could negotiate up to 25% off the asked price.
- The old “I like this place, but I’ve been offered X elsewhere” will also help – so long as the price you quote is around 15-20% cheaper than the asking price you could end up with a 10-15% discount.
- Negotiate during the off-season and you may get a better price as at this time locals will be looking to keep their income flowing in the right direction while the tourists are away.
We understand that you may feel uncomfortable when it comes to haggling or asking for a discount from a complete stranger, but we want to assure you that no one will be offended if you do haggle so long as you’re polite and reasonable. Negotiation is a huge part of life in Mexico and Latin America and Mexicans will understand you trying to get the best possible deal.
There are a few things that you may notice are different in Mexico when it comes to the process of signing a lease. Firstly, most landlords will insist on a formal contract drawn up by a legal professional and you may be charged for this. The cost can be around 1500 to 2000 MXN, which works out to be about 87 to 116 USD. You will also be expected to produce a deposit of around 1 to 1.5 months rent. This is all because the protection landlords get from the state in Mexico is pretty lax unless they have a written, legal contract with tenants. This means that they would find it very hard to evict unruly inhabitants. Likewise, you won’t be expected to pay a deposit before you are connected to the electric or phone lines – this is the reason for the deposit; if you skip out the landlord gets stuck with the debt.
So you see these little quirks have perfectly understandable reasons, and in fact the contracts are a great idea. They set out explicitly what is expected of you and what you can expect in return when moving to Mexico for Work.