Renting a house or apartment is a major contract in Mexico. It is handled as seriously as is buying a place. But it is preferable for at least the first year, until your get your bearings. Most continue to rent because renting is so inexpensive. The size of the property and the amount of rent charged is not necessarily dependent on the cost of the property. A $8000 per month property can range in size and style, from a 2 bedroom 2 bath to a 4 bedroom 3 bath with a casita (small unattached cottage). In town, of course, the prices are higher. But, currently as of June 2020 you should be able to find a nice home for between $8000 and $13000 pesos per month in a nice area.
There are several ways to find rental properties in Tequis. The best is to drive the neighborhoods looking for “se renta” signs. You will get your best bargains this way as many landlords do no other advertising. And you may find that charming colonial that has never been listed on the internet. Because the average time to sell a house in Mexico is so long, many owners who have their homes for sale will rent them for a year or two while looking for a buyer. You will notice right away that most houses are behind a wall of some sort. They may be a gated community of houses, or have their own gate and walls around the property. The typical US method of peaking in windows will not be possible unless you can scale a 12 foot wall with spikes or barbed wire on top. And it is what is BEHIND that wall that counts.
The next best way is to use the internet to look for rental listings. I have listed some of the website links below. The information there can change by the time you visit the rental. Prices are not always set in stone, and negotiation is expected. Longer term rentals usually get better rates. But you can also get caught by the “rich american syndrome”, where the price will rise once the owners knows he is dealing with U.S. or Canadian expats. It does not happen often, but my own experience involved a $3000 per month increase. Of course, you should decline.
When you begin to call about some of the rentals, you will be contacting a real estate agent or company. This is a relatively new industry in Mexico and is not regulated at all. But the experience of using one of these professionals avoids a lot of legwork. They will find and show you properties that match your specifications. But buyer beware…these friendly folks do not work for your benefit. They are paid by the home owners, and their alliance is with them.
I would suggest the services of a local attorney or notary, especially if you have difficulty with the language. Try to find one that speaks english and spanish if possible, and have that person review any documents to insure your wishes and needs are met contractually. I have seen a situation where the tenant, who did not speak spanish well, had his real estate agent negotiate additional maintenance costs with the landlord right in front of the perspective tenant, without their knowing. They were later told by another bilingual worker who was in attendance of what transpired. So it may be in your best interest to have the attorney be present for any negotiations. He might also be able to help you with the guarantee requirements typical of most leases in Mexico.
In Mexico, every renter must have a person who will guarantee his payment of rent. It’s like a cosigner on a loan, and they are required of most business transactions. Here they are called an “aval” or “garantia”. They are usually a family member, or business associate. As an expat, you will probably know no one who would guarantee your payments, so it is likely that you will have to fulfill other requirements. These can vary from property to property. In our case, we paid 4 months rent in advance plus a month’s rent deposit. We were not required to pay rent again until the 5th month. Some property owners will hold it for the last 4 months of your lease. Some may require fewer month in advance. Many times the original title to your car can be used as a guarantee. It is all up to the owner.
What you will find in rentals in Mexico can vary as well. A common Mexican kitchen will have no appliances, and sometimes no cabinets. There will always be a sink and usually countertops and a concrete shelf that can be enclosed with cabinet doors. In newer rentals, you may have cabinets and a stove included.
In most rentals, lighting fixtures will not be included. Some may only include recessed ceiling lighting in the living room and dining rooms. The rest will be bare bulbs which hang from the ceiling with their wires exposed. Many people use them in just this way, opting to not replace them. Lighting fixtures in Mexico are not cheap, and the cost to put them in a rental can be detrimental.
You will need to check your water source and the pressure. Much of Mexico uses a cistern system to increase pressure. If you live inside the city, this is no longer necessary as the municipal water system here works much like any in the states. If you live well outside of town, you will most like have a water well. If not, you will have a cistern which must be filled by a water truck. You will need to understand the details of this fully, and be willing to live with inevitable water pressure issues.
It is important to also check the power coming into the home. Look at the breaker box and be sure you know how much power you can receive. Most homes have only 30 – 50 amps. Larger homes may have 60 – 100 amps. Electricity can get very expensive in the tiered system here, so most Mexican families are very frugal with using the power grid.
These days, you should also check the internet service, which varies wildly all over town. Less than one mile can make a huge difference in how reliable the service is. So if possible, ask to see what the current tenant uses or see if there was service in the location before and with who.
Finally, the best advice I can give is to give yourself plenty of time. Don’t be under pressure to rush for the first acceptable thing you see. Drive through the neighborhoods at all hours to check them out before signing on the dotted line. Talk to prospective neighbors if you can. Your first experience may not end up being a perfect one, but if you do your homework, and ask for the proper help, you will find your own picture postcard perfect casa to spend some years living your dream.