Renting in Mexico City: How to find your perfect home

28.09.17
5 minute read
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Mexico City is an extremely affordable place to live and work, making it an increasingly popular destination for expats. If you’re looking to live on a shoestring budget it’s possible in CDMX to find rooms for as little as MXN 2,500 - 3,500, but you get what you pay for. Mexico City is home to many apartments that might not be up to expat standards. On average if you want a nice room in a good apartment in a decent area, you can expect to spend about MXN 5,000. If you want to live in a trendier neighborhood, up that to about MXN 7,000.

Even though the prices are cheap, finding an apartment isn’t always so easy. Navigating neighborhoods you’re not familiar with, understanding real estate terms in a language you don’t know well, and knowing what is and isn’t fair in rent and deposits can all be a challenge. This guide will walk you through everything you need to know to get started in your apartment search, stress free.

Where are the best locations to live?

Mexico City is home to vibrant and lively neighborhoods, each with a distinct and unique feel.

  • La Condesa - many call this neighborhood expat central. Condesa is safe, full of young people, restaurants and nightlife.
  • Roma Norte and Roma Sur - very close to Condesa, the Roma neighborhoods have a more tranquil vibe. Rent here is slightly cheaper than in Condesa.
  • Polanco - if you want luxury Mexico City living, this is where you’ll find it. Filled with condos, malls, museums and parks, Polanco is home to a lot of wealthier Mexicans. This neighborhood is slightly north of the center, so public transportation isn’t always as convenient or reliable.

What are the best websites to find a rental?

Unfortunately, online rental sites aren’t always the best way to find housing in Mexico City. Much of the rental process is conducted in-person, so online rental services tend to have higher prices and slower response times. These sites are, however, a great way to get to know the housing markets in certain neighborhoods. Perusing units in different parts of town should give you a good idea of average prices for that neighborhood, average standard of living and more.

  • Casas.Trovit - if you’re looking for a private apartment in Mexico City, Casas Trovit is your right hand man. This site is similar to Skyscanner in that it shows you listings from multiple sites so you can optimize your search. There aren’t that many search filters, but the response rate is better than some other sites.
  • Vivanuncios - another online search site with great functionality, Vivanuncios offers a wide range of apartments and rooms for rent. You can filter your search by furnished/unfurnished, neighborhood, number of bedrooms and more.
  • Segundamano - similar to Vivanuncios, Segundamano is a great place to start when you’re getting a sense of what prices you should be paying in what neighborhoods. They have a very user-friendly interface and lots of filters to choose from.
  • Craigslist - although Craigslist isn’t very popular in Mexico City, every once in awhile you’ll find a gem here. If you want to live in a fancier neighborhood or don’t want to deal with language barriers or the headache of finding a place, Craigslist might be your best option. Be prepared to spend a little more, though because renters know that expats or foreigners use Craigslist a lot, so the prices are often a little more expensive than normal.

Where are the best sites to find a flatshare or roommate?

Because rent is so cheap in Mexico City, many people tend to rent out a spare room as a source of extra income. There are lots of websites you can use to help find the right roommate for you. Each site requires some persistence and a lot of follow up, but they offer good options. Make sure you're on the lookout for scams - some people may try to take advantage of foreigners.

  • Dada Room - this site is one of the best places to find a room for rent in Mexico City. They have a lot of listings in some of the city’s nicer neighborhoods and you have a lot of options for search filters. The site prefers shorter-term leases (six months or so is the sweet spot) but they have long term leases available as well. Their prices tend to be a little on the expensive side for CDMX, but they’re still extremely affordable.
  • Roomies-Roommates DF - this is actually a Facebook group, but it’s a good way to get in touch with people who are also looking to share an apartment. Because it’s on Facebook you get a better sense of who each user is, it’s more difficult to be scammed.
  • AirBnB - it may be a surprising, but AirBnB is a very popular way to find roommates in CDMX. They offer monthly leases and rooms are almost always furnished - if you’re staying for a relatively short amount of time this might be the best option for you.

What should I be familiar with in the local market?

Unfortunately, the most effective way to find an apartment in Mexico City is to walk around the neighbourhood you want to live in. Renters often post rental signs in the windows of available units. Because foreigners and expats often rely on websites like the ones listed above, online rentals are often marked up and more expensive. Walking around and inquiring in-person will often get you the most success and the cheapest rent, but it will require you to speak some Spanish. It might take much longer to find an apartment this way, but if you can rent a room for a few weeks and dedicate time to searching in person it could pay off.

It’s important to ask about safety before signing a lease. Ask your landlord what the area is like at night, and note the apartment’s distance from public transit. Ask if there is a security guard on-site and if the gates are always locked.

Not many landlords in Mexico City speak English and even if you’re fluent in Spanish it might be helpful to have a Mexican friend with you when dealing directly with landlords. It’s rare that landlords will require a reference or other formalized bank account information, proof of income, etc. In fact, most landlords will decide whether or not they want to rent to you just based on their first impression of you.

Many landlords still prefer to be paid by check. If you’re paying for rent using an account from another country, use TransferWise to get the real exchange rate and cut out expensive international bank transfer fees if you need to fund your local account.

With that, you’re ready to start your search. Good luck with your move to Mexico City!

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