A Low Peso Means Great Value in Mexico

This year, the Mexican peso has hit new lows against the U.S. dollar. The exchange rate reached 20 pesos to the dollar this past summer, and has danced around that number ever since.

For those of us with U.S. dollars, it means that our money stretches further than it has in years. Your dollar today buys roughly 43% more pesos than it did two years ago. And while local prices have risen a bit in response, it still means a huge increase in your buying power. That increase even extends to some real estate costs. So if you’ve ever dreamed of buying a home in Mexico, now could be a great time to do it.

Mexico has always offered good-value real estate. Even million-dollar beachfront properties in Mexico would likely cost two to three times more in Southern California or in Victoria, British Columbia. Most of us don’t look to spend that much, however. We’re happy to get good value on more modestly priced properties.

Though many properties’ prices are in dollars (or pegged to the dollar), especially since the peso began its slide, prices are competitive. And keep in mind that maintenance costs, like utilities, property taxes, and other expenses, are paid in those low, low-priced pesos…

In Mérida, the capital of the Yucatán Peninsula, you can still find colonial homes for a song. For example, I came across a two-story fixer-upper recently on sale for just $35,000 in the Mejorada neighborhood, just outside the heart of the historic center. The 1,345-square-foot house has two bedrooms, one bathroom, and a large living room and kitchen.

It has original features like pasta tile floors and beamed ceilings. Built on a 2,130-square-foot lot, it has a backyard big enough for a pool. You’ll have to renovate…but even if you spend double the purchase price on renovation and upgrades (like that pool), you’ll have a lovely colonial home for less than $100,000

If you’d like a move-in ready property, $136,000 can get you a 1,736-square-foot colonial in the popular (and centrally located) Santa Ana neighborhood. This two-bedroom, one-bathroom home already has a pool…and you’ve skipped the renovation.

In the Lake Chapala area, you’ll likely go modern, rather than colonial. But $147,500 will get you a 1,453-square-foot house with two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a private rooftop terrace, and access to a private pool. In Lake Chapala, as elsewhere in the cool-weather Colonial Highlands, you won’t need air conditioning—and you’ll need little heating—all of which keeps utility costs down.

You won’t find houses at these prices in San Miguel de Allende‘s centro (town center) anymore…they were snapped up long ago. But look outside of the centro, in neighborhoods that are within walking distance, and you can find affordable homes.

These are all popular expat destinations, with plenty of amenities. Merida is known for having a great music scene and it’s also home to universities, plenty of cool cafés and restaurants, and an international airport. San Miguel and Lake Chapala both have an English-language theater, music groups, and loads of interest groups for everything from chess to line-dancing to arts and crafts. There’s no shortage of things to do—and folks to do them with—in all these cities.

And today, they’re more affordable than ever.

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