Mexico is quickly emerging as an ideal destination for those looking to settle somewhere new. With its diversity of landscapes, vibrant culture and culinary delights, Mexico can offer expats of all ages and backgrounds a place to call home. In addition to all the amazing experiences that Mexico has to offer, there are several practical advantages such as its warm climate, affordability, and unique blend of city life and rural vibes.
What’s more, with growing infrastructure, convenience stores opening up in more remote places and more opportunities than ever before for setting up businesses, Mexico beckons those looking to live their dreams without breaking the bank. Whether you’re a retiree in search of sunsets, an entrepreneur seeking beauty and adventure while making a living, or a remote worker who wants to make home ownership a reality, Mexico has options for you.
Whether you’re considering buying, renting or building a home in Mexico, I recommend starting by building relationships in an expat forum or expat Facebook group for the area you’re moving to. There’s no substitute for finding realtors, builders, and lawyers you can trust, especially when you’re moving to a foreign country where you may not be familiar with your rights and responsibilities or know the local risks. We’ll talk about how to rent, buy, and build in Mexico and list some scams to watch out for.
Renting a Home in Mexico
To start looking for rentals, the first step is to consider online listings or ask people you know; websites like Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace can be a great place to start, or post a request in your expat group. (Pro tip: never post your budget unless you want to overpay!) Inmeubles24.com and Vivanuncios.com.mx are also great sites that works like Realtor.com or Zillow in the U.S.
A $1,250/month home for rent outside Acapulco
Reach out to potential landlords via Facebook Messages, WhatsApp, or by phone, and be sure to get references or ask about them in your expat group. You can usually find lots of options for furnished and unfurnished homes, short-term and long-term leases, and pet-friendly pads. Mexico hasn’t escaped pandemic-era inflation, so expect to pay more for rent than what you might read on out-of-date blogs, but they’re still an affordable alternative to U.S. rentals, and you can choose from haciendas, colonial attached houses, modern townhomes, high-rise apartments, and more. If you’re looking to save money, branch out from expat enclaves and beachfront communities, and you’ll find loads of bargains.
Once you’ve found your perfect pad, expect to pay a month’s rent, plus another month’s rent or so as a security deposit, plus two month’s rent as a guarantee if you don’t have a fiador or aval – someone in Mexico who will agree to pay your rent if you can’t. There may also be fees to a lawyer who works on the rental agreement.
Before you fall in love with a rental and sign any documents, be sure to test for radon and carbon monoxide, check the Wi-Fi strength if it’s important to you, and assess noise levels at different times of day.
Buying a Home in Mexico
Even moreso than renting, it’s a good idea to make friends with other immigrants and asking for recommendations for trustworthy realtors. You don’t need any training to be a realtor in Mexico, so be careful who you hire. Renting before buying is a good way to take your time and get a feel for your new city before you go all in.
A two-story townhome for $130,000 on Lake Chapala
The websites I mentioned above for rentals also have listings for sale, and you can also drive around neighborhoods you like and look for signs. Once you’ve found the perfect place, it’s time to determine how to finance the purchase. Mortgages (especially for most or all of the price of the home) are not as common as they are in the U.S., and the rates aren’t as competitive. Most people pay cash.
Depending on where you’re buying and the specific regulations associated with that area, you may need to use something known as a fideicomiso, which is like a bank trust that allows foreign individuals or corporations to own real estate directly. If you’re an expat eager to own property in Mexico’s Restricted Zone, which contains some of the nation’s most desirable real estate, a fideicomiso is your best bet.
Building a Home in Mexico
Building a home in Mexico can be a complex process that involves paperwork, understanding cultural and legal norms, and researching potential risks. A great first step is to find the lot you want to build on – ask around your local community for references, tour different lots to find your perfect spot, and make sure you’re familiar with the deed or title requirements of having land in Mexico.
Luxury lots starting at $39,000 in Juriquilla
Next, you’ll need to choose a builder – look for someone with good reviews and an understanding of Mexican building codes that will ensure quality construction. A trusted lawyer or legal counsel can help review any contracts or paperwork related to contracting the builder. Finally, beware of potential risks such as natural disasters like earthquakes or hurricanes – make sure your contractor is experienced with building accordingly in Mexico and consider purchasing insurance to cover damages from these types of events. Building a home in Mexico is a satisfying experience with careful planning.
Additionally, if considering a presale (preventa) property, it’s important to remember that there will likely be risks involved and take the necessary precautions such as securing any properties offered by developers backed by an escrow account or through an attorney at law. It’s easy to get stars in your eyes when you see properties that might list for millions in the States offered for thousands, but don’t rush into a purchase without making sure you’ll get what you paid for.
A complex for presale in Tulum, starting at $138,000
Building projects go wrong or get delayed in the U.S. all the time, and the same holds true for Mexico, but you might not have the support system there to help. You can’t hole up in your parents’ garage apartment or crash on a friend’s couch if you don’t have them there, so plan ahead and make sure you have a flexible place to stay (and the funds to cover it) if you need it.
There are far more reputable realtors and builders than criminal ones, but it’s always best to stay alert. Here are some guide to common scams and scammers, and be sure to also check in with your expat group before you spend money:
All in all, there’s no question that you can get more house for your money in Mexico. It might be different, with concrete and mini-splits instead of wood and central air. It might not have the same appliances you’re used to. But it might also be much better, with a pool or ocean views, resort-style amenities, or have stunning historic architecture. And once you’re home, don’t forget to apply for House Hunters International!