Renting in Mexico: The Smart Way to Find Your Dream Home South of the Border

Thinking of moving or retiring to Mexico? If so, renting in Mexico before you actually buy a house or condo there is a smart move. Renting gives you flexibility—on several levels.

First, renting in Mexico for six months to a year lets you see if expat life there suits you—without requiring a big investment. Even if you love being an expat, you may still decide that another country, or even another city down the road in Mexico, suits you better. If you’re renting, you can follow your heart to that more appealing option.

Finally, renting gives you time to get to know your new city, find the best neighborhoods, and make the contacts that will help you find the right home, at the right price, for you.

Still, it’s easier in some places than in others to find good rentals, especially if you need a furnished rental. Your best bets for finding high-quality rentals are tourist destinations and cities that already have an expat population. That’s because there’s enough demand in these locations for a good rental market to develop.

Here are five Mexican destinations—all with plenty of local color—where you can find rental properties at a range of price points.

Five Easy Destinations for Renting in Mexico

San Miguel de Allende: This mountain town in Mexico’s Colonial Highlands has attracted artists, expats and tourists for nearly 50 years. San Miguel has art galleries, handicrafts shops, and chic restaurants galore. It’s also gorgeous to look at, with photo opportunities around every corner. And while buying in San Miguel’s colonial city center is only for the very well-heeled these days, you can still rent there affordably. You can find centrally-located, furnished one- and two-bedroom apartments for as little as $800 to $1,000 a month on long-term rental. Houses will cost you $1,300 a month and up. You’ll likely be farther from the center, but you’ll get that extra space.

Due to San Miguel’s popularity with vacationers, there is also a thriving market in short-term rentals that last anywhere from a week up to several months. If you’re open to taking a short-term rental—for instance, a property available only for three to six months—you’ll have many more properties to choose from. (And three months may give you plenty of time to find that long-term rental you’ve dreamed about.)

Many agencies offer short-term vacation rentals in San Miguel; a few, such as San Miguel Rentals, also offer long-term rentals.

Lake Chapala: Lake Chapala, in central Mexico about an hour from Guadalajara, is home to the largest North American expat community in the world. As many as 15,000 U.S. and Canadian expats live here either full- or part-time. And while many of them own their own homes, plenty of others rent. Rental rates, of course, depend on a property’s size, its location and the amenities that come with it. As a rough guide, however, expect to pay around $500 a month for a small one-bedroom property and $900 to $1,000 for a two- to three-bedroom in a gated community. Large garden areas and private pools are available, but of course you’ll pay more.

For rentals in the Lake Chapala area, see Chapala Property Management and Concierge and Sarah Cole Rental & Property Management.

Mazatlan: This beach resort on Mexico’s Pacific Coast offers some of the most affordable beachfront and near-beach property of any major resort in Mexico. And it’s as true for renting as it is for buying. In Mazatlan you can have plenty of rentals to choose from, within an easy distance of the beach, for only about $500 a month. At this price point, you can find condos near the beach and small houses a bit farther away.

For rentals in Mazatlan, try starting with Mazatlan Rentals and Home Finders and Sinaloa Sun Properties.

Puerto Vallarta: This romantic city along Banderas Bay, on Mexico’s Pacific Coast, has been an international resort for 50 years. It has chic and diverse restaurants and bars; designer shopping; a cozy, intimate city center; and plenty of English speakers. It attracts tourists from all over the world, and its expat community is just as diverse. Short-term vacation rentals are easy to find here—many people buy property here to rent out when they’re not using it.

You can find rentals at just about any price point. As a general rule, you’ll pay more per square foot the closer you are to the water and the closer you are to Old Town Puerto Vallarta. For instance, you can get a two-bedroom, two-bath beachfront condo in Nuevo Vallarta, north of the city property, for about $1,500 a month. A similar apartment in Old Town can cost you double that amount—$3,000 a month—while one off-beach a short distance away may rent for only $700 a month.

There are many agencies that handle vacation rentals in Puerto Vallarta. Some, including Puerto Vallarta Property Rentals, also handle longer-term rentals as well.

Merida: The capital of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, this city is friendly and lively, with music in its streets and squares almost every night of the week. Several thousand expats—most of them English-speakers—live here, but Merida remains a very Mexican city. For the last 10 years or so, expats have been busily renovating the colonial homes in Merida’s city center. Many of these are now available for rent, as are smaller properties as well. You can pay as little as $400 a month for a small apartment in the historic center or a cozy house not far outside it. Or you can pay as much as $1,500 a month for a large, restored colonial with high beamed ceilings, garden areas and a pool.

Merida is half an hour from the Yucatan’s Gulf Coast, where some of the least expensive beachfront rentals in Mexico can be found.

For rentals, check out Andrea Yucatan. Merida Homes and Real Estate Yucatan also have some rentals.

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