Renting in Mexico is very different from renting in the U.S. and other countries. Mexico has many unique and contractual nuances that need to be carefully examined. It’s no surprise, you’ll find distinct differences between American owners and local owners; both of which have challenges and similarities. Therefore, knowing specific details helps you make informed decisions. Without futher ado, here are my Long Term Rentals in Mérida Mexico (11 Tips You Wish You Knew Sooner).
This article was updated in June of 2023.
#1 Join Facebook groups
The simple truth is you’ll find valuable information from people who already live in Mérida. Actually, the plethora of comments, recommendations, and discussions around neighborhoods, rentals, and buying houses can help you narrow down or eliminate areas that may not be right for you.
Now, a gentle warning…
There are postings by landlords, property managers, owners, and, yes, scammers. I urge you to conduct your due diligence on any and all of the properties posted. Remember, it’s the Wild, Wild, Wild West where ANYTHING goes. Don’t get duped or scammed. This is why I also recommend hiring a trusted professional.
One very important item to consider, if you do find a property in one of these groups, vet the owner, the property, and the information provided.
Local Tip: I have my own group here and would love for you to come to join. Just be sure to answer 2 of the 3 questions and agree to the group rules for membership approval.
#2 Online listing advice
Because there is no MLS (Multiple Listing Sytem) in Mérida, many properties are entered online. You’ll find the same property listed by multiple people. You’ll also find:
- properties not available
- different prices for the same property
- multiple people advertisting the same property
- properties rented that still show online
- bait and switch listings
Local Tip: Never, ever give money upfront. Visit the property, meet the owner or agent. Do your research and collect in-depth facts and particulars.
#3 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 such as 3 months to 6 months. Of course, this makes sense. Making a decision based on emotions vs. practical necessities may cause you stress and anxiety. Be patient when deciding where you want to live. Additionally, spend some time in a variety of houses and different neighborhoods.
Fortunately, numerous online platforms exist to assist you with a short term rental. For example, sites such as Airbnb and VRBO are popular in Mérida.
Local Tip: I recommend renting for at least one year before you decide on the type of house and neighborhood. This helps you find the best fit.
#4 List needs, wants, and deal breakers
For long term rentals in Mérida Mexico, I recommend making a list of needs, wants, and deal breakers. Notably, a short term rental helps you, especially in a tropical location. For example, you may think a pool is a want. But, once you spend a scorching summer in Mérida, a pool becomes a need. Subsequently, a washing machine may be compromised because there is a lavanderia around the corner.
In truth, whether renting or buying, emotions become involved. 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, real estate is an emotionally driven industry.
Local Tip: Keep your needs, wants, and deal breakers list in a spiral during your short term rental research. Make notes, jot down thoughts, and keep it handy as a reference point.
#5 Searching for your perfect spot
Renting in a few different neighborhoods helps you discover different parts of the city. Subsequently, renting for a short amount of time means the risk is relatively low. Now, you the opportunity to learn the area, speak to other people, and educate yourself before a long term committment.
- Are you centrally located to establishments you visit frequently (grocery stores, pharmacies, shops)?
- 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?
Local Tip: If you find that a neighborhood is not right for you, no worries. You can easily and frequently change your location until you find your comfort zone.
#6 Understanding cultural differences
Pay attention to this next part –
Undoubtedly, what we know as customary in the U.S. can get lost in translation in Mexico. Yes, Mérida is a sophisticated and popular destination. However, cultural differences exist in customer service, common sense, and other important areas.
Without a doubt, when unfamiliar with the culture, short term stays are recommended. This helps you learn the nuances of cultural differences and how best to adapt.
In any case, there are people who are intent on creating and maintaining a high level of communication, service, and best practices. Others who just get by with as little as possible. Regardless, it is important to be comfortable with the owner, landlord, or management company you are renting from. Futhermore, others can be inconsitent: a great service provider who, after a few weeks or months, suddenly does not return calls or show up to work.
Local Tip: Getting used to how things work in Mérida, including understanding cultural differences is a big benefit. It also helps determine what type of owner, landlord, or management company you might be willing to rent from.
#7 Hire a professional
Did you know I had a long history in real estate in Texas? I was a licensed Realtor in Dallas for many years. Additionally, I also sold golf course lots for the Bahia Principe development in the Riviera Maya. So, I know a thing or two about real estate. My definition of real estate in Mexico is that it is the Wild, Wild, Wild West. Yes, that’s right. Anyone and everyone sells real estate, licensed or not.
Therefore, it’s critical to hire someone with outstanding credentials and references. I placed my trust in Claudia Escalante with Mayakin Master Broker for her professionalism, high level of communication, and knowledge. As an added bonus, she is fluent in English which helps tremendously. You can contact her here: WhatsApp +52 999.159.8179 or via Email: email@example.com
Keep in mind, the rental contract must be in Spanish to be valid. At your request, for an additional fee, the contract can be translated into English. Not only will this help to understand the details, it will also provide peace of mind. It’s imperative to be aware of all nuances, differences, terms and agreements.
Local Tip: When in doubt, defer to the trusted professional you’ve engaged to assist you. They are the only ones to properly explain contract terms. Obviously, this is the most important part of the process.
#8 Deposits and professional fees
Typically, in the U.S., a renter provides important information when filling out a rental application. Background checks, references, prior rental history, credit reports, and verification of income are all critical components of ensuring a renter is qualified. But, in Mérida, owners, landlords, and property managers don’t ask for these things. Additionally, commissions for real estate professionals are normally paid from one month’s rent. Again, in Mérida, this is not the case.
While there are some exceptions, review the following list outlining deposits and professional fees required for a long term rental.
Deposit: one month’s rent.
Guarantee: known as an aval. An aval can be one of two things: 1) a local property owned by the renter that can be used as collateral OR 2) a third party guarantor that will co-sign or allow their property to be used as collateral.
If no aval: then another deposit is required.
Contract fee: this fee is for the notary and/or attorney to draft the contract. There are no standard contracts in Mérida.
Local Tip: Remember, renting to a foreigner can be risky for locals. Put yourself in their position and ask what would make you comfortable if renting to a foreigner. Therefore, a double deposit provides peace of mind in the event issues are found once a renter vacates the property. Issues include outstanding utility bills such as electricity, gas, water, trash, and internet services.
#9 Vet your chosen neighborhood
When you decide on a neighborhood for potential long term rentals in Mérida Mexico, spend time in the area. Visit frequently and often to look around the area. Drive through during the day, walk around at night, chat with neighbors. My point is do whatever you need to do to ensure you know as much as you can. Streets change dramatically from one block to the next in all directions.
- 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?
- Do you feel this is an area where you will be able to come and go with ease and convenience?
It’s normal to want to feel settled as soon as possible. But, be patient and take your time. Clearly, if your gut is telling you to wait, then trust your gut. You’ll find the right place in the right location at the right time.
Local Tip: More stress occurs from making quick decisions without having all the pertinent information at hand and not doing investigative research about your chosen neighborhood.
#10 Property owner information
Just as the owner may require qualifying information from you, you unquestionably have the right to ask for information as well. When I was ready to rent, I identified owners I was willing to rent from and those that I wasn’t. Dealing with the owner, landlord, or property manager should be a pleasant experience. Importantly, I want you to have a pleasant experience too.
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 know social media is a powerful vetting tool. Pay attention to how they interact with others to gain more information.
Local Tip: First impressions count both ways. It is just as important for you to like the owner as for the owner to like you.
#11 Review contract differences
- Notices: do you have to give notice before you leave, or is your contract automatically up at the end of the term? Many times, it is to your advantage to sign an additional year of pagares or payment promises. This way, you don’t have to pay an additional contract fee if you decide to extend your contract.
- Repairs: who is responsible for repairs, whether large or small? Typically, the renter is responsible for any and all repairs. This is a detail that might be negotiated.
- 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, does the owner 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.
Local Tip: Regardless of what you hear, contract terms are negotiable. Start with a formal contract, review it, then obtain professional advice on items that need clarification, negotiation, or alteration.
Bonus Tip #1 Photographing and documentation
Another important piece of advice includes protecting yourself by photographing everything in the home, including furnishings, kitchen items, and accessories when you move in. 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. This way, you provide proof of the condition of the contents and the property upon move-in.
Additionally, with property photos, inventory, and documentation, this exhibits your conscientious care of the property and the belongings associated with the rental. More importantly, this protects you after move-out to determine any damage to the property or missing items.
Local Tip: When renting an unfurnished property, you may wonder about renter’s insurance for any damage to your possessions. Notably, renter’s insurance is NOT a thing in Mérida. Therefore, take special care with your personal items and valuables.
Bonus Tip #2 Utilities, service providers, and maintenance
In short, it is customary for some utilities to remain in the name of the owner such as electricty, water, and trash. While others such as internet may be in your name. Ask the owner about how and when to pay utility payments and service providers such as pool maintenance or house cleaning.
Standard utilities and services include:
- Garden Maintenance
- Pool Service
Local Tip: 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.
Bonus Tip #3 My list of top questions
- 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?
- Who has keys to the house?
- When is the last time the locks were changed?
Local Tip: Have all your questions answered regarding these important areas before you sign the contract.
Final thoughts on long term rental tips in Mérida Mexico
Equipped with this information, you now have a great foundation to begin searching for YOUR Mérida Mexico long term rental.
From personal experience, here are a few final thoughts, advice, and things to consider:
- Preview the property before you sign the contract. 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 indicates how they might respond to further issues if found.
- Test internet services to ensure the signal is strong. If not, address it up front and come up with a solution as soon as possible to alleviate frustration.
- Don’t forget, it is reasonable to request the locks changed and new keys issued.
- 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.
- Remember, no location is exempt from unforeseen emergencies, unknown weather issues, or other situations that could force you to leave the country.