Mexico Real Estate
Mexico Real Estate has a lot to offer in terms of great weather, beautiful scenery, and authentic Latin American culture; plus, you will find lots of affordable real estate in Mexico. It is perfectly legal for foreigners to own Mexican real estate, including land and properties located in the restricted zones: within 50 kilometers of the coast, and within 100 kilometers of international borders.
How to Own and Purchase Real Estate in Mexico
There are three ways of owning Mexican property: via direct deed (all property in the interior), through a Mexican corporation (commercial property), or through a bank trust called a fideicomiso, for residential property in the restricted zones. All three ways of property ownership are safe.
Choose From the Wide Variety of Mexican Real Estate for Sale
Mexico Real Estate: Lake Chapala
The area around Lake Chapala, in central Mexico, is home to the largest North American expat community in the world. Obviously, it’s doing something right.
The lake itself, the largest in Mexico, makes a scenic backdrop to the villages along the shore. Lakeside, as this area is called, usually refers to the villages along Lake Chapala’s north shore: Ajijic, Chapala, Jocotepec, San Juan Cosala, and San Antonio. As many as 15,000 expats live full or part-time on the lake’s north shore; up to 40,000 live in the state of Jalisco.
With so many expats in the area, you’ll find plenty of English speakers (as well as several local English-language newspapers and magazines). You’ll also find plenty of U.S. and Canadian-style amenities. There’s no shortage of activities. Over 80 special groups are active in the Lakeside area that you can get involved with. These include everything from orchid growing to Scrabble…from writers’ groups to Francophiles…and from non-profit organizations to line dancing and yoga.
Property samples in Lake Chapala:
- Typical of low real estate prices is a 2,475-square-foot house recently for sale in Lakeside. Furnished, it has two bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms, gated parking, and a large terrace for entertaining. Price: $109,000.
- A three-bedroom, 2.5-bathroom house in a gated community in Jocotepec, at the western end of Lake Chapala. Completely furnished, and renovated in 2005, it has two master bedroom suites, slanted boveda ceilings and a sun room. Price: $159,000.
Real Estate in San Miguel de Allende
Many people consider San Miguel de Allende the prettiest colonial town in Mexico. About three hours north of Mexico City, in the Colonial Highlands region, San Miguel is a feast for the eyes. Streets of colorfully-painted colonial houses… small, intimate plazas…quiet street corners with tinkling fountains…lush tropical flowers tumbling down stone walls…you’ll find it all in San Miguel.
This city of about 80,000 people has been attracting an artsy crowd for over 50 years. Artists, artisans, writers, and musicians flock here… and you can furnish an entire home with the high-quality, varied, handmade goods you find here. Not surprisingly, San Miguel today has one of the largest expat communities in Mexico—as many as 10,000 living here full- or part-time. As a result, you can get by easily in English in this oh-so-Mexican town.
In San Miguel you can find a full range of amenities expats love, from chic restaurants and bars to a plethora of shops and good supermarkets. Its location, in the mountainous high-desert Highlands, gives it a dry climate that is generally temperate. You usually don’t need more than a light jacket in winter, and few bother with air conditioning in summer.
Real estate prices here dropped dramatically in the wake of the 2008 global recession. But they’ve been bouncing back since 2012. Houses in the centro itself are pricey—you’ll start around $300,000—but get just a short walk away and prices are lower. Here are some samples of what you can find:
Property samples in San Miguel de Allende:
- A furnished two-bedroom, two-bath house, with a rooftop terrace, a fireplace, and other Mexican touches, was recently for sale. It’s a 15-minute walk from centro. Price: $185,000.
- A contemporary Mexican home with two bedrooms, two full baths plus two half-baths in 2,583 square feet, is for sale. A two-story house, it has lots of natural light and views and is walking distance to centro. Price: $359,000.
*Prices as of 2013
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You’ll enjoy some of Mexico’s ﬁnest quality of living for a fraction of what you’d pay in the U.S. or Canada. All told, a couple can comfortably call this paradise home for around $2,500 to $3,000 a month. Simple meals in local restaurants will run you $5 or less. One of my favorites, ﬁsh tacos, can be had for $1.50 each in the no-frills beach restaurants. And in stores, you can expect to pay prices similar to those in the U.S. for imported foods, but fresh produce is a bargain…try a pound of tomatoes for 65 cents or two pounds of fresh fruit like mango for $1. There are big savings on property taxes and healthcare, too. And where else can you enjoy life in a two-bedroom condo a stone’s-throw from the beach, in a premier beach town, for under $700 a month rent?
Sinking my toes into the warm white sand, I lean back in a plastic chair warped by the sun to give it a reclining effect. Homemade tortilla chips heaped on the plate in front of me are perfect for dipping into the ceviche of fresh ﬁsh caught just off the coast. And the $2 chelada, a lager beer on the rocks—Pacíﬁco is my favorite—with a liberal dose of lime juice and salt on the rim, hits the spot.
The Lord of the Rings’ soaring mountains… Roman Holiday’s famous monuments and historic sites… and the tropical locales of Pirates of the Caribbean…it’s doubtful these blockbuster films would have had such an impact without those dramatic backdrops to the action. Even as CGI and green screens become more widespread, there is something about a real, physical landscape that can’t be replicated by bits and bytes.
Playa del Carmen lies about midway between the all-inclusive resort hub of Cancún and the up-and-coming, low-key and still somewhat bohemian destination of Tulúm. It’s a happy medium between those two extremes and a favorite for those seeking to live an active retirement in an atmosphere that is sophisticated, yet laidback at the same time. Casual dress and relaxed attitudes are the keys to living in Playa del Carmen. The region is the Riviera Maya, a focal point for tourist activity and site of investment by the Mexican government, which started with Cancún in the 1970s and spread down the coast. The feel is First World, with services, infrastructure, and amenities to match.
Imagine a place of rich, earthy smells, dappled light, soaring tropical hardwoods, and thick underbrush…the dawn calls of birds and the nighttime chirps and whistles of insects. From your terrace it’s as though you have Eden on the doorstep—a thousand shades of green and nature’s bounty. These days, living in a jungle home, you can have the best of both worlds: the feeling of being set apart, while enjoying conveniences like high-speed internet and air conditioning in your own paradise.
Mexico’s Riviera Maya runs south of Cancun to Tulúm. The sand is white…and the water, turquoise. In the jungle, you’ll find Maya ruins. Offshore, the world’s second-longest coral reef is home to brightly colored fish. The biosphere at Sian Ka’an is a great place to hike, kayak, and study nature. The coral reef offshore attracts divers and snorkelers. Golf, hiking, spelunking in ancient caves…it’s all here. Tulúm is, and will stay, boutique. The Sian Ka’an biosphere means that much of the land is protected. Development will be low rise and low density—that’s if and where it’s permitted. Yet, amazingly, you’re just a 90-minute drive to the airport and two hours in the air to the U.S.
Hip, trendy, vibrant… Those three words sum up Playa del Carmen, Mexico. This is a boomtown, plain and simple. Over the past 20 years, the population has exploded. Fifth Avenue, the main shopping and entertainment drag, is described locally as the longest pedestrianized street in the Americas. Each time I visit—that’s every month for the last three months now—it feels like new blocks have sprung up and fashionable restaurants and boutiques have opened their doors.
Encompassing Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula, Guatemala, Belize, and parts of El Salvador and Honduras, La Ruta Maya (the “Maya Route”) covers the territory of the Maya civilization, which reached its height from 250 to 900 A.D. One of the New World’s most advanced cultures, the Maya had written language, mathematics, a sophisticated calendar, and architectural skills that saw them construct massive temples and spectacular cities, many of which still stand. However, the Maya were never a single empire; rather, kings ruled over small territories surrounding a city.
From the quaint town of Cotacachi to the vibrant capital, Quito, from Salinas by the sea to the peaks of the Andes, Ecuador’s diversity is a key part of the massive appeal that sees it regain the coveted top spot on this year’s retirement index. Although prices have risen slightly in recent years, Ecuador’s real estate is still the best value you’ll find anywhere. This is bolstered by the generous array of benefits the government has afforded to retirees. Over-65s get discounts on flights originating in Ecuador, as well as up to 50% off entry to movies and sporting events. Discounts are also available on public transport (50%) and utilities, with the option of a free landline if you purchase a property.
The original Riviera (from the Italian word for “seashore”) sprang up in southern France and the bordering region of Italy. Upper-crust Brits, northern Europeans, and—later—well-heeled Americans flocked here for the beach resorts, casinos, and parties. Author F. Scott Fitzgerald had a villa here in the Jazz Age, although it’s said he was a horrible party guest. The term riviera has been adopted by regions all over the world, in places where the sun, surf, and vacation vibe live on. And when we hit the new-school rivieras in the developing world, expect to get a real bang for your real estate buck.
Carlos stares into the afternoon sky, scans the horizon, and glances at his cell phone to check for messages. Then, using his machete and with a few deft flicks of his wrist, he slices through the scrub. Brightly colored butterflies float on the breeze. Whenever they come close, Carlos gently brushes them away from us and away from any danger to them. Carlos, though hardly five feet tall, wears the wide smile common among Mayans. It’s contagious. He’s one of the most successful developers on the Riviera Maya but here in the scrub, he’s a world away from bustling Mexico City where he spends a lot of his time. In the Riviera Maya is where he’s at his happiest—not in any boardroom or first class airline seat.
“The developer here is in jail…” is something I heard a lot. It was alarming…but in a way, it was reassuring, too. Puerto Vallarta—one of Mexico’s most popular expat destinations— is home to an estimated 10,000 North Americans living here full-time. They chose Puerto Vallarta for good reasons. Puerto Vallarta sits at the foot of the grand Sierra Madre mountains that sweep down to the Bay of Banderas. It’s a warm and sunny spot with tropical beaches, fresh ocean breezes, and temperatures that average 73° F to 83° F all year.
The spread of the British Empire through trade, colonization, and conquest brought the English language to far-flung corners of the globe. But even as that empire declined and shrank, the language was left behind. And with English becoming the language of business and diplomacy, that influence is in no danger of going away.
Sarah Booth was only 23 when she bought her first vacation rental. It was a tiny studio in a ski resort village in Canada, but it was the beginning of a portfolio that now includes properties in Panama, Colombia, and Mexico…and an income that allows Sarah to enjoy a wonderful lifestyle from her home in Coronado, Panama. “Ultimately, my rentals have funded my lifestyle and my travels,” says Sarah. “I live for free and enjoy awesome rental yields.”
Warm and sunny days…beautiful people lounging on the sand as surfers vie for choice waves… palm tree-lined boardwalks in picturesque beachside towns, dramatic craggy cliffs…the California coast has certainly captured the popular imagination. No wonder; it’s one of the most pleasant places in the world to live. But on the flip side, it also has some of the most expensive real estate in the world and a high cost of living.
Land in the Tulum area on the southern edge of Mexico’s Riviera Maya can be a strong opportunity…as long as it’s the right land. On my recent scouting trip I put boots on the ground at more than a dozen interesting communities (including some planned lot communities). As long-time readers of Real Estate Trend Alert know, Tulum is stunning. It’s home to some of the world’s finest white-powder beaches…backed by palm trees that rustle in the Caribbean breezes.
I was accidentally napping (it happens sometimes) in my favorite chair in the den when I was awakened by the loud, unmistakable lowing of a cow. It was the local milkman announcing his arrival with an amplified recording. In just a few minutes, we received our delivery of milk and cheese from his specially equipped motorcycle and cart. Other vendors regularly wind their way through our middle-class Mexican neighborhood selling fruits, vegetables, prepared food, bottled water, and even pots and pans. It is not only charming, it is convenient.
If you’re thinking of buying property overseas, right now the stars have aligned to bring you an unbeatable opportunity on Mexico’s Caribbean Coast.
This stunning stretch of coast is on the up thanks to the convergence of major trends along these stunning white sands. North Americans are back buying in numbers thanks to a strong stock market and recovering real estate values back home.
Mexico is set to become a developed country. Right now, this “investors’ darling” is entering the end game of decades of change, which will culminate in a fast-paced “convergence” with its powerhouse neighbor to the north. The idea of convergence is a simple one. Over time, forces will reduce great disparities.
Do you like the idea of a life at sea…but only in short doses? Sunset cruises, fishing excursions, day trips, and the occasional long weekend jaunts to anchor off a remote island…? The ocean can be your playground.
In Tulum, Mexico, you’ll find some of the world’s finest white powder beaches… They’re backed by palm trees that rustle in the Caribbean breezes… It’s a special place to spend time. You can kayak on a white-bottomed lagoon…or stroll along picture-perfect beaches to your yoga class before breakfast. You can visit ancient Maya ruins or swim in a cenote.
We discovered our colonial highland home by accident. We were on a year’s sabbatical, exploring the popular expat haven of San Miguel de Allende, when a couple we knew invited us to join them on a day trip to the nearby town of Guanajuato. We climbed the steps from the underground parking lot to a view of lively plazas, colonial-style buildings in bright orange and turquoise, and plentiful pedestrian areas. After an hour’s stroll, we knew this was where we wanted to base ourselves in Mexico. After that first visit in 1999, we kept returning.
When moving abroad, renting a place to stay is an attractive option that offers a lot of advantages, whether you’re headed to Costa Rica, Malaysia, France, Mexico, Ecuador, Ireland…or any country. If you plan to buy or build a home eventually, renting allows you to investigate a region and/or community…or several…before you put down roots. You don’t want to be stuck in a neighborhood, region, or home you don’t like.
If you want to increase your future returns while reducing your risk, you should add some emerging-market stocks to your portfolio. It may surprise you that adding riskier, emerging-market assets to a portfolio will reduce overall risk, but it shouldn’t. These markets do not move in lockstep with the U.S. market, which hit a series of all-time highs in the fourth quarter of 2013.
The Tulum area, at the southern edge of Mexico’s Riviera Maya, has the finest, white-sand beaches on my beat. Turquoise waters lap on soft sand while breezes rustle through palm trees. This is a great place to spend time—a place I like to vacation. It’s jet-set chic here.
The best beaches in Mexico are just 70 minutes down the coast from Cancun. Some are still deserted, dotted only with coconut palm trees and curious iguanas. Seabirds duck and dive overhead. It’s a place of utter beauty and tranquility—azure blue water and total silence except for the roar of the surf. But it’s not just about white-sand beaches here.
Close on a decade ago I first stood on the white sands at Tulum, Mexico. Playa del Carmen was my base for this trip, and I saw first-hand what was happening. Playa was taking off—as were its real estate values. Ninety minutes down the coast (before the road improvements) Tulum was a secluded piece of paradise. It was an empty beach—there wasn’t a single soul. I drove down a potholed, rutted, sand road with a friend.
In Mexico, Ecuador and Costa Rica properties with stunning views can be bought for as little as $119,000, according to a new report by InternationalLiving.com. “A great view usually translates into a premium price tag. But if a buyer knows the right places to look, he can find properties with world-class vistas for much, much less than you’d expect,” reports InternationalLiving.com’s property correspondent, Margaret Summerfield.
This west-coast destination in Mexico hit the headlines in 1963. John Huston filmed part of Night of the Iguana in Vallarta. The world’s press descended on the town to follow the romance between Richard Burton, a star in the movie, and Elizabeth Taylor. Many viewers simply wanted the real skinny on the famous Hollywood stars. But others were grabbed by Vallarta’s colonial architecture and sun-drenched beaches. Tourists and expats started to flock to this little fishing village. Today, around 50,000 North Americans live in Vallarta…
For many, Latin America conjures up images of steamy, wildlife-filled jungles and beautiful people lounging on tropical beaches, sipping umbrella-bedecked drinks. But there’s a whole other side to Latin America…regions where temperate—even cool—climates and jaw-dropping vistas of snow-covered volcanos are the order of the day.
Cancun wasn’t always packed with high-rise condos and tourist accommodation. In fact, in 1970, it had just three inhabitants. (Yes, you read that right.) Then, in 1974, Fonatur (Mexico’s tourism development authority) kicked off a master plan to bring tourism to this sandy spit of land. They built the infrastructure and provided the incentives necessary to attract hotelier tourists—and it worked.
It’s hard to believe that a place of such stunning natural beauty, rich culture, and ancient history as Tulum is so easily accessible. On the Riviera Maya, this town boasts warm Caribbean waters, soft white-sand beaches, centuries-old Maya temples, and jungle filled with colorful wildlife. Standing here, it feels sometimes like you’re stepping away from the hustle and the noise of modern civilization.
I’ve never seen a stretch of the Caribbean more beautiful than the Riviera Maya. Standing on the warm, clean, coral-sanded beach, turquoise water laps at your feet. Behind you, palm trees sway and rustle in gentle breezes. Dive into that water and you can explore the world’s second-longest coral reef. Or step back from the beach and take in untamed jungle, ancient forest cities, and mythical cenotes—underground, swimmable caverns revered as sacred places by the Maya people.
A great view usually translates into a premium price tag. But you can afford a home with stunning vistas if know the right place to look. For example, I know of one Pacific coast town where a beachfront condo with Californian-style ocean views and a similar lifestyle will only set you back $119,000. You’d need at least three times that to get close to the beach in California.
It’s no coincidence that commercials for vacations, resorts, or cruises in North America prominently feature the white sands, clear-blue waters, and laid-back vibe of Caribbean beaches. It is paradise and close to home. Maybe that’s why it’s been a premier vacation destination for decades. But thanks to affordable real estate available throughout the region, you’re not limited to the all-inclusives—it is possible to enjoy the Caribbean lifestyle year-round from your own home.
You’ll find one of the most stunning areas on my beat on the southern edge of Mexico’s Riviera Maya. Its white-sand beaches, ancient ruins, white-bottomed lagoons, nature preserves, caves and cenotes (underwater caves) make it stand out—so much so that vacationers and expats are increasingly flocking here. But despite its growing popularity, there is still a window of opportunity on Mexico’s Caribbean coast.
I know of only a handful of places around the world right now where you can buy a property for $150,000…and have it throw off $1,000 a month in yield right from the start. These are the rental-yield super-stars.
Arguably Mexico’s best-known Spanish-town, San Miguel has been a top haven for decades. And today, you can buy real estate here at bargain prices, down as much as 55% from highs in 2007/2008. But you’d better move fast. On a recent visit to this most sophisticated of pueblos, I found that—here, at least—the recession induced real estate slump is over.
Arguably Mexico’s best-known Spanish- town, San Miguel has been a top haven for decades. Its cobbled streets are lined with gaily-painted houses, their rooftop gardens bright with bougainvillea.
Sunday morning breakfasts, poker nights, backyard barbecues, book clubs, church groups, happy hours…expats all around the world know that a sense of community is what truly makes you feel at home.
Mexico Real Estate
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