Our Renting Nightmare in Mexico – And Photos of Our Fourth Home

We were living in our Uruapan home for a couple of months when our renting nightmare took place. Property police arrived at our door and asked our Mexican friend to come downtown with them. Little did we know that this was going to lead to moving, for our fourth time in two years. This happened last spring. I am just getting around to writing this post. Partly because the whole experience was a little traumatic.

Mexico is like that. Weird things happen with the law sometimes and all we can do is play along and be good little expats. You learn to live with it or you go home. Let me tell you the rest of the story.

Please help me continue with my photography and writing by sharing this post. Gracias!

Our Renting Nightmare in Mexico - And Photos of Our Fourth Home

Tips For Moving to Mexico

If you are going to rent a house over $500 USD in Mexico, and you don’t have oodles of cash, you are probably going to need a Mexican citizen to co-sign. We rented four homes thus far and three of them required this. The only reason one of them let us skip this step is because the owner was a friend.

Signing a one year lease is also a common requirement for renters. Your co-signer will need to provide proof of citizenship and other legal documents. We are fortunate to have some great Mexican friends who helped us co-sign for our leases. That is why poor David, our co-signer, had to go downtown with the property police and we stayed home, worrying.

  • On a side note: plan on putting down a rent deposit. Sometimes it is a one month deposit and sometimes it is two months. It depends on the home, the price, and the owner. Don’t plan on getting that deposit back. A few friends have advised us that if you have a good conscience about the condition of the house when you decide to move don’t pay the last month’s rent. Your deposit will pay for the rent.

The Renting Nightmare

It was a freaky situation. They took our innocent friend downtown and asked him all kinds of questions. In the end, it was claimed that the lady who rented the home to us was not the owner. The “real owner” wanted us out in 15 days. No charges would be pressed if we did as asked.

My parents were visiting us during this whole fiasco. They watched the kids while we looked for a new house and they helped us pack and move. I am grateful for their support but this wasn’t part of our plans for their first visit to Mexico. It put a damper on the end of their vacation and our time spent together.

We lost our deposit. $500 USD down the tube. What a bummer. But it could have been worse! The police could have arrested us and our children, claiming we were illegally living in someone’s home without consent. That would NOT have been good.

The authorities wanted our help in “catching” the lady who scammed us. We wanted nothing to do with it. We didn’t know who the “real owner” was. Unfortunately, the Mexican government can be shady. I think all governments are shady. Some just cover it up better than others. But with four kids, and living here as foreigners, we were not taking any chances with our family’s safety. We were moving and leaving this behind us.

Our Fourth Home in Mexico

Thankfully we found another home close by and we moved within 15 days. Actually, I think we moved in a week. Trying to explain our sudden move to our “fake owner” was awkward, to say the least. The authorities told us not to tell her anything. But we wanted her to know how things were going down. If she wasn’t scamming us, someone else was. We were honest with her. Our family’s safety was at risk. We didn’t know all the details about the home and the owners, but either way, we had to go.

I like our current home. It is not modern and needs some work but I love the layout and space. Our landlady does not want to pay to maintain the house. But she wants to raise the rent when we renew our lease because the peso has decreased in value in comparison to the dollar. She wants at least $500 USD for rent. Brad told her we don’t live in the States, we live in Mexico. We pay with the peso.

I hate this part of being a US expat in Mexico but the truth is… many locals think we are made of money. This is far from the truth. We are on a budget, enjoying Mexico’s lower cost of living. Our budget does not include prejudice. We can’t afford to pay more because we are US citizens. However, we can move again in the spring, and find a cheaper house at least for another year ;-)

Without further ado, here is our “home”. I didn’t even bother making the house look perfect. Doesn’t that make you feel special? Course I think my cleaning lady, Maria, was here just the day before… Signing off, Tina

Yes, I know it looks like a mosque.



My matching wood chairs broke quickly. Until the kids are older I guess it’s metal :-(
Dining room is also homeschool room.
Washer and water heater are both outside.



We have four bedrooms. Each bedroom has its own bath.


These little geckos live with us. We wake up in the morning to hear them chirping. They are the only lizard that sings.
This hall bath is so narrow you can rest your head on the sink while using the toilet. You know, if you get tired and need a nap.
The girls and the boys each share a room, and for now a bed too.




Jacuzzi does not work. It was turning on and off by itself so we had to cut the wire.




This is how we organize our shoes in a large family.
Welcome to our 2015 home in Mexico. Who knows what 2016 will bring :-)

Originally published January 1, 2016

We were living in our Uruapan home for a couple of months when our renting nightmare happened. Property police arrived at our door.

18 thoughts on “Our Renting Nightmare in Mexico – And Photos of Our Fourth Home

  1. Shar-ann Simpson says:

    I’m so sorry that you and your family are going through this. Mexicans are the same here in the United States they think that we are made of money here too. I’m so sorry that you and your family are going through this. Mexicans are the same here in the United States they think that we are made of money here too. I don’t know why but that’s what they think. I’m glad that you have found another place and I hope that it’s a little more long term than the others have been

  2. ian says:

    Hi TIna. I just followed you (@fellamelad) – I’m thinking of heading from the UK to Mexico next year. Would love to chat.

  3. Fabiola Rodriguez says:

    Not too surprised about your renting troubles, but that’s not exclusive to expats. My husband and I are Mexican and we also have a lot of problems renting homes. I think landlords think everybody is made out of money, not just foreigners. Rent prices are always way too high, in my opinion. In all these years, we’ve learned a thing or two about renting homes. 1) you are almost completely right about never getting your deposit back. In almost 20 years, my husband and I have gotten it back only once. But generally speaking, don’t count on it. 2) Landlords act like they have everything on you, but that’s not entirely correct. We’ve had disagreements with our landlords before (mostly over them wanting to raise the rent more than what it said on the contract), and they always threathen with eviction, but that’s more easily said than done. In real life, they would have to take you to civil court and the trial takes years, and you wouldn’t have to leave the house in the meantime. I understand that as foreigners, you would probably like to simply avoid getting in trouble, but if you ever have problems with a landlord, just mention your lawyer (even if you don’t have one at the moment) and things will instantly soften.

    • Tina Marie Ernspiker says:

      Thanks for the advice. We are finding that rent in Uruapan and Morelia seems to be higher than many places in Mexico. Not including the resort areas of course. We are getting ready to move again in the next few weeks so we will see… our current landlord wants to raise the rent and not maintain the property… :-(

  4. Ruth Lopez says:

    So sorry to hear that :( yeah, that is one of the many reasons we moved to USA, corruption, bad government, narcos, etc we used to live in Tijuana and we moved when all the narcos were fighting for the plaza. Michoacan is beautiful, we visited Uruapan and Patzcuaro many years ago, it’s beautiful, but also full of narcos. Good luck finding your next house.

    • Tina Marie Ernspiker says:

      Thank you! There are narcos here… my husband is pretty sure he even had lunch with them one day in Morelia… they were just shootin’ the breeze… thankfully we are not on their radar. Honestly we feel pretty safe in Mexico and we try not to put ourselves in bad situations ;-)

  5. Terrie says:

    HI Tina . I’m new to your blog. We rent a small casa in Xilitla, SLP and I guess we’ve been fortunate. Good landlord and the rent is very reasonable. But it’s a small town. We’re from Texas and I takes us about 12 hours to get there. We spend 2-3 weeks at a time then return to the rat race. I LOVE service there. Lots of mountain territories. Best wishes on finding your new home. So y’all attend an Eng. congregation? Or Spanish?

    • Tina Marie Ernspiker says:

      We are in English. We were in Spanish for 3.5 years in the States but with the kids English is so much easier for me! We are actually visiting Xilitla at the end of this month on our way to the States. I am really looking forward to it :-)

  6. Joe M says:

    You have a very interesting blog. My wife and I are Kentuckians as well. With 3 kids and looking for something better. We went off the grid and it improved our lives. But it does seem like it is getting harder to find anything better in America. Mexico appeals to us. But we like to do our research first. I would like to understand why you chose Michoacan to live considering it is the drug cartel capital of Mexico. As far as renting, I think its a bad idea no matter where you go. We had our fill on renting years ago and buying was the best thing we ever did. But I believe I wouldnt buy in Mexico unless it was in a more off grid area filled with farmers and like minded people. We plan to come down to Mexico for the first time next year. To get a feel for some areas and see if we like it or not.

    Thanks for giving us the low down!

    Joe M

    • Tina Marie Ernspiker says:

      Thanks, Joe! As far as Michoacan, we chose it because a friend lived here and he loved it. We don’t regret it. There are problems however those are everywhere, unfortunately, and we choose not to live in fear only to live with caution. So we try our best to play it safe and be smart, kind, and polite. We have never had a problem thus far and it would be nice if it stays that way!

      Your viewpoint on renting is funny because I feel the opposite :-) I never want to own another home again! I love the freedom of renting and I love living without attachments, except for God, hubby, and the kids of course! Hahaha! Although we live in a city there are many areas that are off grid so to speak and honestly, that sounds wonderful! I always wanted a farm. Maybe one day ;-)

      My favorite thing about Mexico is how laid back it is. Life is slower and more tranquilo and that means a lot to me. I think you would like that part of it too from the sounds of it :-) I wish you the best in your endeavors and if you come this way, look us up ;-)

  7. Pamela Elizondo says:

    My husband and I enjoyed reading ur blog. We live in Indiana very near Louisville Kentucky border. We’re considering to move to Mexico. Family of 4 and 3 dogs. Worried about work for myself. I don’t speak much Spanish. My husband is Mexican and is fluent in both English and Spanish. He hasn’t been to Mexico for more than 15 yrs. So will be new all over again for him.

    • Tina Marie Ernspiker says:

      It will definitely be a grand adventure! Unless you have a work visa, work for yourself may be difficult. Even with a work visa, you may have trouble finding a job with a decent income… Might I recommend something online? Like teaching English? We have friends that do this and they make over $10 an hour. Some companies will even send you to school for your job. Google it and see what you find :-) Wish you well on your journey!

  8. Suzan says:

    Love your blog, so much helpful info! I’m signing up for your newsletter now and will look forward to learning more about what it’s really like living in Mexico. Thank you!

  9. Patryka Chaves says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your helpful information via your blog. I had been wavering over my decision to move to Michoacan because of the narcos but I have to agree with you that trouble is where you look for it and I am not looking for any. I believe that I can be smart, aware, polite and cautious and not have problems there. I love the mountain country and I think my paradise will be there. Retiring this November and heading to Patzcuaro for the next, and best, chapter of my life.

    • Tina Marie Ernspiker says:

      I am glad I could help. I hope you love Mexico as much as we do. It’s not perfect but no place is :-) We have friends in Patzcuaro and we visit there a few times a year. It’s a nice place to settle down :-) Wish you the best!

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