Renting in Mexico is very different from renting in the US and other countries. Mexico has many unique and contractual nuances that need to be carefully examined. You will also find distinct differences between American owners and local owners; both of which can have challenges or similarities. It’s imperative to know the ins and outs of long term rentals in Mérida Mexico.
This article was updated & republished on November 6, 2021
11 Best Merida Mexico Long Term Rentals (the Tips You Wish You Knew Sooner)
#1 Try a short term rental first
First of all, it takes time to get accustomed to a new city. Many expats advise renting for a short term, 3 months or more, makes the most sense. Making a decision based on emotions vs. practical necessities may cause you stress and anxiety. Be patient in deciding where you want to live and spend some time in a variety of types of houses and different neighborhoods.
Clearly, a short term rental makes a lot of sense.
Fortunately, numerous online platforms can assist you in finding a short term rental. For example, you could take a peek at sites such as Airbnb, VRBO, and HomeAway to mention a few.
#2 Find the right neighborhood for you
Renting in a few different areas will help you discover different parts of the city and the risk is relatively low. It also gives you the opportunity to learn the area, speak to other people, and educate yourself.
Consider these important aspects of the neighborhood:
- Are you centrally located to the establishments you will visit frequently?
- Will you need a car, public transportation, Uber, or can you walk?
- Do you feel safe at all times of the day and night?
- Is the noise level acceptable?
- Would you feel comfortable inviting visitors over?
- What is the general make up of the area? Mostly locals? Expats? A combination?
- Compare pricing in various neighborhoods. Is it better to spend a little more for a better location?
The silver lining –
If you find that a neighborhood is not right for you, no worries. Your commitment is only for the short term.
#3 Join Mérida Mexico ex-pat communities
The simple truth is you’ll find valuable information here in addition to discovering the city for yourself. My initial search began with groups on Facebook.
Actually, you’ll love the plethora of comments, articles, recommendations, and discussions around neighborhoods, rentals, real estate, and other related items.
There are postings for rentals, both long-term and short-term, as well as people looking for it. You’ll find these groups on Facebook by searching for “Mérida Expats.”
In fact, I have my own group here, would love for you to come to join.
If you find something of interest in one of these groups, feel free to join. One very important thing to consider, if you do find a property in one of these groups, vet the owner, the property, and the information provided.
Most importantly, never, ever give money upfront before you have collected in-depth facts and particulars.
Yes, you read that right…
Obviously, this seems like common sense. However, it is quite common that people will ask for a “deposit to hold the property,” and it is a scam.
Just like anywhere else, real estate in Mérida Mexico can be a very emotional decision. Use your instincts and logic to avoid unnecessary detrimental situations.
#4 Understand the cultural differences of Mérida Mexico
Pay attention to this next part –
Even though Mérida is a tourist destination, there are still cultural differences in customer service as well as other areas. It should be noted what we know and what we are used to can be lost in translation in Mexico.
One of the first things I learned when I arrived was the meaning of mañana. In Texas, mañana means morning or tomorrow.
In any case, you will find those who are intent on creating and maintaining a high level of communication, service, and best practices. You will also find those who just “get by” as well as others who are a combination of both extremes.
Nevertheless, my priority is to establish a high level of communication, which includes responsiveness, understanding, and knowledge of the service industry.
Here’s the secret –
Getting used to how things work in Mérida, including the cultural differences of owners is a big benefit. It also helps you determine what type of owner you might be willing to rent from.
Why do I say this? You may be more comfortable renting from an American owner vs. a European owner. You may consider renting from a local owner vs. an out of town owner.
Without a doubt, when unfamiliar with the culture, it is highly recommended to do a couple of short term stays to integrate. This will help you tremendously learn the nuances of the cultural differences and how best to adapt to them.
#5 Ask for information about the property owner
Typically, it is the renter’s responsibility to provide information such as references, a credit report, prior rental history, etc. In Mérida, people don’t tend to ask these things.
It is rare for short term rentals, usually less than three months, to ask for any information. In general, once you start the process of a long term rental, it will be up to the individual owner regarding what information they require.
Just as the owner may require qualifying information from you, you unquestionably have the right to ask them for information as well.
As I explored more and was ready to rent, I recognized some nuances between owners. Dealing with the owner should be a pleasant experience and one I want you to have too.
Most importantly, ask the owner these questions:
- Are they the actual owner of the property or an agent of the owner?
- Are they local, or do they live out of town?
- Do they live locally for part of the year and somewhere else for another part of the year?
- How long have they owned the property?
- What made them purchase in Mérida and/or the neighborhood?
- If something happens to them while you are renting (illness, accident, or death), what happens if you are occupying the property?
If they have a Facebook or other social media account, do some research on them. What are they posting? How do they comment? Are they respectful? Combative? Negative? Professional?
By now, you’ll have realized that social media is a powerful vetting tool for owners too. Pay attention to how they interact with others so that you have an idea of who they are.
Be aware –
First impressions count both ways.
#6 Don’t compromise on your must-haves
So let’s take a look at my best advice for long term rentals in Mérida Mexico.
First, make a list of all the things you must have, would like to have and deal killers in a long-term rental.
Again, a short term rental will help you with this list, especially in a tropical location. Composing a list may seem like a no-brainer. Above all, your list will be the most important thing to keep close at hand at all times.
Why you should make a list of your must-haves:
In truth, your emotions may get the better of you when you see a property you really like. You may think to yourself, “The property has almost everything I must have, and the location is perfect. I can compromise on x, y, or z.”
Consequently, think back to the real estate decisions you’ve made in the past. How many times did you make a choice based on emotions? Let’s face it, and real estate is an emotionally driven industry.
In Mérida, it is no different. You will most likely make your decision based on emotion. It is important, imperative, AND necessary to refer back to your list.
A word of caution –
Do not be carried by your emotions. Because of the heat and humidity especially during summer, a must-have might be an air-conditioner or pool.
Subsequently, a washing machine may be compromised because there is a lavanderia around the corner.
#7 Give a potential neighborhood a trial run
Here’s the big idea for long term rentals in Mérida Mexico. Frequently look around the neighborhood. Drive through during the day, walk around at night, chat with neighbors.
My point is this, do whatever you do to ensure you know as much as you can about the area. Streets can change dramatically from one block to the next.
- Are you on a major bus street that you didn’t notice before?
- Are you close to a fire station, police department, or a busy tienda (small convenience store)?
- Is there a noisy cantina close?
- What is the name of the neighborhood?
Google, research, and investigate to your heart’s desire. Connect with Facebook ex-pat groups and ask questions. Arm yourself with all the information you will need.
Check out my group for more information.
After all, this might be your place of residence for the next 12 months. You need to be comfortable, confident, and secure with your decision.
An important factor to note:
More stress occurs from making quick decisions without having all the pertinent information at hand.
Be patient, take time, and move slowly. Many times, people want to rush you. Also, they could say others are looking at the property or a deadline in which to make a decision.
Clearly, if your gut is telling you to wait, then trust your gut. Don’t feel rushed or pressured to make a decision.
Hang out in the neighborhood. Spend time in the park. Shop at the local grocery or market. Observe the people in the area.
Do you feel this is an area where you will be able to come and go with ease and convenience?
Just like buying a property requires paying close attention to the location, the same rule applies to a rental property. If you’re still not sure, seek the help of a local agent to help you.
#8 Contracts can be negotiated
Regardless of what you hear, contract terms are negotiable. Start with a formal contract, review it, then get advice on items that need clarification or alteration.
Let’s look at rental terms in detail:
- Rental term: starting date and the ending date including the exact day and time.
- Rental amount: monthly rent, due date, preferred currency with exchange rate calculator, and fine. Ensure the return of the security deposit is outlined.
- Notices: do you have to give notice before you leave, or is your contract automatically up at the end of the term? If you don’t give notice, does your contract extend month to month? Do you have the option to extend? What are the terms?
- Repairs: who is responsible for repairs, whether large or small? Typically, Mexican contracts are written so that the renter is responsible for any and all repairs. This is one reason to have a professional review of your contract BEFORE you sign. (This is the most important paragraph to pay attention to.)
- Property alterations: sometimes an owner allows you to make alterations to the property if it enhances the value or marketability. Anything you do needs to be specifically outlined and agreed upon in writing.
- Specific permissions: inquire about pets, smoking, guests, and other details.
- Default by renter: if you don’t leave at the exact date and time on the contract, the owner may have the ability/right to keep your personal belongings and/or deposit.
- Utilities and maintenance: who is responsible for utilities and other services such as electric, gas, water, trash, pool and grounds maintenance, house cleaning, etc.? Include language that discusses the recourse if the owner does not pay for a service they’ve agreed to pay for. (This is the second most important paragraph to pay attention to.)
#9 Hire a professional to review the contract
When you receive the initial contract, engage the services of a real estate agent or lawyer. They are well versed in Mexican rental agreements.
More importantly, when negotiating with the owner, discuss and decide which items need to be included or excluded from the agreement.
Keep in mind, the rental contract must be in Spanish to be valid. You can have the contract translated into English for ease of understanding. (I HIGHLY RECOMMEND PAYING FOR THE CONTRACT TO BE TRANSLATED – believe me it is worth the extra $$$)
But remember this, the final contract will need to be in Spanish to be registered and recognized. In the event of a dispute, only the Spanish version will be recognized in a court of law.
The fact of the matter is the owner will ask you for identification and you can do the same. It is standard to have copies of both passports attached to the contract.
When in doubt, defer to the professional you’ve engaged to assist you. They will be able to properly phrase terms of negotiation. However, do not rely on their word only – any and all terms need to be in writing.
#10 Protect yourself by photographing and documenting
Another important piece of advice to protect yourself, photograph everything in the home, including furnishings, kitchen items, and accessories when you move in.
Allow me to explain –
If there is anything broken, in disrepair or missing (such as a plate in an eight-piece place setting), notate the details, and send it to the owner within 72 hours of moving in.
When you have property photos, inventory, and documentation, this will show you are conscientious of taking care of the property and the belongings associated with the rental.
More importantly, this protects you after moving out when determining any damage to the property or if items are missing.
More than likely the property will be furnished. Believe me, it is to your advantage to go through the initial and ending inventory with the owner, landlord, or agent.
#11 About renter’s insurance
A word of caution, renter’s insurance is NOT a thing in Mexico. Traditionally, in a rental, you would insure your personal belongings and any contents belonging to you.
BUT . . .
I’ve yet to find an insurance policy to cover my personal belongings in a rental house.
Utilities, service providers, & maintenance
In short, it is customary for all utilities to remain in the name of the owner. However, there are always exceptions. Ask the owner how to pay utilities that are your responsibility. Alternatively, some owners want you to pay the electricity directly while others add it to your monthly rent.
Here is a list of standard services:
- Garden Maintenance
- Pool Service
Negotiate these items in your contract. Be clear about who is responsible for paying, how to pay, and any recourse if they are not paid.
Ideally, you want every single item specified, outlined, and detailed.
- What happens when you run out of gas in the tank?
- If you pay to fill the tank are you reimbursed?
- Is a full tank of gas included with your rental?
- Is it your responsibility to leave a full tank when you depart?
- If the pool service provider fails to show up, who do you notify?
- When the housekeeper breaks something of yours or the owners, how is that handled?
- Does the water purifier require maintenance? When was the filter last changed?
- Are there tools available for you to use for gardening or pool maintenance?
- What happens if there is a maintenance issue?
- Are you expected to meet the maintenance provider, or will the owner meet them?
- Ask who has keys to the house and when the last time the locks were changed.
- Do the service providers like the housekeeper, yardman, and pool service provider have a set of keys?
- Are you expected to let them enter on their own if you are not home? Is this in your comfort zone?
Have all your questions answered regarding these important areas before you sign the contract.
Final thoughts on long term rental tips in Mérida Mexico
So it all adds up to this –
Equipped with this information, you now have a great foundation to begin searching for YOUR Mérida Mexico long term rental.
From my personal experience, I want to share a few final thoughts, advice, and things to consider.
- Preview the property before you sign the contract to check water pressure, locks on doors, and other items while in the presence of the owner.
- If you find issues, address them up front. How the owner reacts to these items indicate how they might respond to further issues if found.
- Test internet services to ensure the signal is strong. If not, address it and come up with a solution as soon as possible. Alleviate frustration up front.
- Don’t forget, it is reasonable to request the locks changed and new keys issued. You also have a right to know who has keys to the house while you occupy it.
- Ensure the contract includes language if you need to end the lease early due to an unresolved issue by the owner.
- Additionally, you may want to explore adding language in the contract if you need to evacuate the country in the event of a political uprising or health crisis.
Mérida Mexico is one of the safest places in North America.
However, no location is exempt from unforeseen emergencies, unknown weather issues, or other situations that could force you to leave the country.
Keep in mind, the real estate industry in Mérida as well as the rest of Mexico is not regulated, and realtors are not licensed. If you choose to use a realtor to help you with the process, ask for references, and how they are paid.
Any money paid upon signing the contract should be receipted and included with the contract.
Trust me, you’ll be glad you did. I can’t imagine being anywhere else in the world than this enchanting, magical tropical city.
It feeds my soul and brings happiness and joy to my heart every single day! You will love living here, just like I do.
I hope that you found this article helpful as you begin your search for long term rentals in Mérida.
For more information, you can see here: A Beginner’s Guide to Public Transportation in Mérida Mexico