First and last months' rent.
When you are looking for a long-term rental in Mexico, the right property manager or realtor is crucial. While with some time in your area, you may be able to work directly with owner, until you have local relationships, you will need to work with professionals.
With the help of the Intrepid Elise, property manager extraordinaire, last year I secured a two bedroom, well-appointed apartment on the third floor of one of my favorite complexes. The building offered a upfront a personal look at the Pacific, as at that time, there was very little to break the waves that would crash over the patio.
The 80 unit building, once a hotel, had an ornate marbled foyer and 24-hour front desk security which included Martin, with whom I practiced my Spanish for a few minutes to wind down if I came home late.
The building also had a climate-controlled pool (meaning they'd pump in cold water) big enough for laps and reliable internet. All for under $950 a month.
Anyone renting in Mexico needs to be aware that many apartments, those you rent for a year or more, often come without appliances, including refrigerators, ovens and air conditioners. These condos however are second homes owned by Americans and Canadians so come well-furnished. Arriving in June, I had almost the entire building to myself.
Waiting for hurricane
Outside the protective custody of a good property manager or realtor, if you are renting a place, you will want to check for unpaid phone bills and understand that if something needs fixing once you move in, you likely will have to pay for it yourself. Landlords have different customs here.
If you happen to land upon a Mexican landlord, any improvements you make is theirs to keep too. In an unexpected twist, I read of someone who made such great improvements, and landlord thought so highly of them, that he raised his rent.
You should know that to get the very best deal on rent, sometimes cash is still king. Once Americans become landlords, sometimes they take on the local customs. Obviously you should be cautious when people demand cash, but don't automatically think something fishy is going on.
I have wired money directly into the owner's account for rent, paid rent monthly in cash, and just given the realtor a personal check for rent payments. If using a property manager, the manager/realtor will take a deposit until you see the place and then turn the keys over to you and transfers the money to the owner.
You should request that your security deposit be applied to the first month's rent. It was to hold the place. They may say no, but there reaction to the request will tell you a lot about them.
Being greeted at the door.
Many people prefer historic districts in Mexico’s cities for the colors and life. My friends in Mazatlán's El Centro area didn't understand why I’d chosen to live outside the buzz of its town plazas and bars.
But in my second tour, I was still adjusting somewhat to Mexico and the quiet beach up north was where I wanted to be, with evening walks and buenas-noches to the few people I passed beneath bougainvillea and hibiscus-canopied sidewalks.
Coming off-season is the perfect time to write a book or develop a business plan. You can catch up on reading, sew, or plot a revolution (just a suggestion).
I have discovered new blogs, such as “Brain Pickings,” which I love for the quotes on topics like darkness, solitude and unrequited love and even “Cracked's" with unusual articles like why old horror movies really were scarier. Off-season is a great time to do research.
Expats often remark in forums how living in foreign country gives you time to get to know yourself again. While it's tempting to follow these introspective pursuits forever, “harbors are not what ships are built for.” There comes a point where you must venture out and engage.
The time will come for you to wrestle with the Spanish language. The time will come for you to be comically misunderstood and newly enlightened at once, to feel worldly and vulnerable, confused and bemused.
The time will come for you to go out.
When considering neighborhoods and lifestyles, in Mexico you might want to play the field. - Ventanas Mexico
Next up: Well, maybe it's not the biggest reason that it's better to work from Mexico, but it ranks if America isn't amiable to your circadian rhythms.
Most recent: You don't learn about the Big Day at the airport from people who are polished professionals at traveling, you learn from who aren't. That would be me.
About the author, Kerry Baker
I'm a partner and writer for Ventanas Mexico which helps those who wish to explore living full-and part-time in Mexico. The most latest is "If Only I Had a Place" on renting, which includes rental concierges in the most popular areas for expats.
I also am the author of the "Interactive Guide to Learning Spanish Free Online." a curation of the best language tools on the web, organized into lesson plans.