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

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We were living in our Uruapan home for a couple of months when we had our nightmare experience renting in Mexico. 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. You learn to live with it or you go home. Let me tell you the rest of this particular renting in Mexico story.

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

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Tips For Renting in 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 that the owner was a friend.

Signing a one year lease is also a common requirement for renting in Mexico. 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 for 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.

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Renting in Mexico – Our Nightmare Experience

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”. And I didn’t even bother making the house look perfect. Course I think my cleaning lady, Maria, was here just the day before… Signing off, Tina

home-in-mexico
Yes, I know it looks like a mosque.

kitchen-in-mexico

kitchen-in-mexico

dining-room-in-mexico
My matching wood chairs broke quickly. Until the kids are older I guess it’s metal :-(
homeschooling-in-mexico
The dining room is also a homeschool room.
laundry-room-in-mexico
Washer and water heater are both outside.

hanging-laundry-in-mexico

house-in-mexico

girls-bedroom-in-mexico
We have four bedrooms. Each bedroom has its own bath.

gecko-in-bathroom-in-mexico

gecko-in-bathroom-in-mexico
These little geckos live with us. We wake up in the morning to hear them chirping. They are the only lizard that sings.
hall-bathroom-in-mexico
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.
boys-bedroom-in-mexico
The girls and the boys each share a room, and for now a bed too.


hallway-in-mexican-home

master-bedroom-in-mexico

master-closet-in-mexico

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

living-room-in-mexico

skylight-and-arch-in-mexico-home

front-entry-in-mexico-home

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

Originally published January 1, 2016

22 thoughts on “Renting in Mexico – Our Nightmare Experience – 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!

  10. constance munoz says:

    after two years living in mexico, yep rents are going up and yep if your white your rich, we didnt move to mexico to save money, we moved for the culture and climate, well we spent 2 summers basically stuck inside our apartment because of the heat, so basically same as being stuck inside due to the cold winters, and then you get electric bills higher than your rent to run air conditioning. we have been having alot of break ins in our colony and some during the day when people are home, when you call 911, they might come, they might not, they might want a bribe, they might not. you are always on guard for a scam, yep everything almost free here, yeah right. if you are white, double or triple the price. During the rainy season walking thru flooded streets of sewage, people are afraid of corona virus, im more afraid of the mosquitos, i have had dengue, not so fun. the medical care, yes i know people report “best medical care ever” well for basic care, yep you can get the basic of care cheap but if you are really sick, good luck with that. I had a friend who fell in her apartment, rushed to the private hospital. Instead of fixing the fracture, they did a total hip replacement, at 930 at night and then discharge her home at 6am. the next day found unconsious at home, she had lost too much blood during her surgery and so called 911, well the ambulance wouldnt take her without 5000 pesos, nobody had a credit card, then we called the redcross ambulance and yep they picked her up and dropped her at the mexican free hospital, the private hospital would not take her back because she owed them money still and so the mexican free hospital. by the way the redcross ambulance stole her purse and her cellphone, she waited a month for blood, only donations she got were from my husband. she was then put into a mexican nursing home, nobody spoke english and at a 1000 usa dollars a month, it was too much for her, she is back at her condo, unable to walk, bedsores are black and her body covered with them. she will probably never be able to walk again, she was total of 2 months with no movement in hospital bed and after a brand new hip replacement. she is losing her condo to pay off the rest of her medical bills because they held her passport until she does, so at 65 and has not lived in canada now 13 years, she will be homeless in mexico as not enough money to move back to cananda. They are ALL about the money when it comes to medical here ESPECIALLY if you are white. over prescribing, running tests and procedures that dont really warrant, after 35 years of being a nurse, yeah alot of overprescribing and testing. The list is huge of things that we accept and tolerate here in mexico that so many americans would not except in the states. with the droves of americans and canadians moving to mexico, i dont see things getting better here, i see them getting worse, the americans and canadians trying to change mexico to fit their old lifestyles back home, i hear the mexicans complaining and getting more irritated with the gringos and the changes. we are in our mid 50’s and there is no way i want to grow old here, i didnt work my tail off for early retirement to suffer in my old age with our healthcare, and i would never own a home in mexico, so the constant feeling of not being settled in one place due to greed and getting kicked out because someone wants to pay double the rent you are paying, and the older i get and mobility issues, yeah cant see me living like this. We learned alot in the last 2 years and will take back alot, but yep mexico is for some, but some not so much. We planned and saved for 15 years for this move and then reality of life here. me- we werent unhappy in the usa, we fell in love 15 years ago and made this our dream. so we will go back, we have our perm visa and if things have a HUGE change here, then we can always come back, but for now, i will take the comforts of calling 911 and our healthcare system.

  11. Ryan Herche says:

    I just discovered your blog and I love it! I’m curious, how are the mosquitoes in Morelia and Uruapan? I’m wondering if the elevation is high enough to minimize this issue.

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