GUIDE TO RENTING AN APARTMENT IN MEXICO CITY
Moving to Mexico City and searching for an apartment can be quite daunting. With its vast urban landscape and numerous neighborhoods, finding the right place to live can be a challenge. If you’re unsure where to start, don’t worry. This guide will walk you through the process of renting an apartment in Mexico City, providing step-by-step instructions, useful tips, and frequently asked questions. Whether you’re an immigrant or transplant looking to settle in the Mexican capital, this guide will help you navigate the rental market based on my own experiences. Let’s get started!
STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE TO RENTING AN APARTMENT IN MEXICO CITY
- Start in an Airbnb while you search: Before diving into the apartment hunt, it’s advisable to stay in an Airbnb for a while. This will give you time to explore different neighborhoods, get a feel for the city, and determine where you’d like to live. Consider renting an Airbnb in the area you’re interested in to better understand its vibe.
- Narrow your focus: If you’re unsure about the neighborhood, narrow down your preferences and must-haves. Research various Mexico City neighborhoods to find the one that suits your lifestyle and budget. Consider factors like price, amenities, and proximity to public transportation. The most common neighborhoods among expats are Roma Norte, Condesa, Polanco, and the surrounding neighborhoods such as Cuauhtemoc, Juarez, Escandon, San Miguel de Chapultepec, and Roma Sur.
- Gather some leads: There are several ways to find available apartments in Mexico City. Start by asking friends who already live in the city if they know of any openings and ask for tips about Whatsapp Groups. Join Facebook groups dedicated to apartment hunting, both general expat groups and specific flat-hunting groups. Walking around your preferred neighborhoods and looking for “for rent” signs is another not very effective method, but certainly, the one which gets you access to the best deals. Additionally, check websites like Inmuebles24, Vivanuncios, Lamudi, Propiedades, or Rentas.com.
- Arrange some viewings: Once you have a list of potential apartments, reach out to schedule viewings. Calling or sending WhatsApp is often the quickest way to get a response, but if you’re not fluent in Spanish, consider asking for help of a friend who is. If you found apartments by walking around, systematically call the numbers on the signs until you find available options.
- Ask questions: During viewings, don’t be afraid to ask questions and gather important information. Some key inquiries include who you should report to regarding any issues, what is included in the rent (bills, maintenance fees), the location of the boiler, whether the building has earthquake paperwork, the age of the building, and the evacuation plan in case of earthquakes (earthquakes are a big deal in CDMX).
- Prepare to provide an aval, several months of security deposit or rent protection: In Mexico City, landlords often require an “aval”, which is a co-signer who will cover your rent if you default. However, finding an aval can be challenging as usually, it has to be backed with another property in the city without any mortgage. Alternatively, negotiate with the landlord to pay several months of security deposit instead, however, be aware that sometimes it can get tricky to receive the right amount back once you moved out. The probably easiest and also safest method is using a rent protection service such as Mica.rent. Here, for 30% of one month of rent, they guarantee for your payment and take care of all legal paperwork. Also, many landlords prefer such a service as it creates the most convenient way of renting. Also be prepared for varying rental prices depending on the neighborhood, with an average of MXN$18,000 for a single apartment.
- Sign (and read) a contract: Ensure you have a written contract before finalizing the rental agreement. While some landlords may not provide official paperwork, it’s essential to have a legally binding document to protect your rights. If you’re not fluent in Spanish, have someone who is proficient in the language review the contract on your behalf, again, working together with Brokers or Mica simplifies the process a lot.
- Buy furniture: Most apartments in Mexico City are unfurnished, so you’ll need to purchase furniture. Explore options like expat Facebook groups, supermarkets, and local vendors for affordable furniture. Ikea, Mercadolibre, Amazon, Walmart, Soriana, H&M, and Coppel are also good places to start.
CHOOSING THE PERFECT NEIGHBORHOOD IN MEXICO CITY
When it comes to finding the ideal neighborhood to live in Mexico City, expats often gravitate towards a handful of popular areas such as La Condesa, Roma, Polanco, Santa Fe, and Lomas de Chapultepec. These neighborhoods, known as “zonas” or “colonias,” are attractive to foreigners due to their proximity to work opportunities and the availability of apartments. However, there are several other fantastic options worth considering that have yet to experience a significant expat presence.
La Condesa and Roma: These neighborhoods are centrally located and boast breathtaking beauty. Over the years, the historic colonial, 19th-century, and Art Deco buildings in La Condesa and Roma have transformed into vibrant hubs filled with art galleries and restaurants. The current hipster scene in these areas has understandably made them highly sought after. Many young expats have happily made these neighborhoods their home. Keep in mind, though, that rents are quite high, and English is widely spoken. Additionally, it’s important to note that these areas are situated on unstable soil, making them susceptible to earthquake damage.
Polanco: With its genteel and European ambiance, Polanco has long been a favorite among foreigners. This neighborhood has a rich history, as it attracted Jewish immigrants in the early 20th century. Today, Polanco retains its upscale charm and is home to many of the city’s affluent residents. There are a variety of older and modern apartments available, but they come with a hefty price tag. Some locals perceive Polanco as snooty. If you venture closer to Parque Lincoln and President Masaryk Avenue (referred to as the Rodeo Drive of Mexico), the rents become even higher. Consider exploring the neighboring areas of Nuevo Polanco and Anzures, located just north of Polanco, for a slightly more affordable rental market without sacrificing a great location.
Escandon: Our personal favorite, due to its still affordable prices, is within walking distance to Condesa and Roma Norte with great Tacos (in front of Adamanta), boulder gym as well as various coffee shops and small restaurants. Escandón has a strong sense of community, with residents who actively engage in neighborhood events and initiatives. It’s common to find local markets, street fairs, and cultural gatherings where neighbors can connect and socialize. This creates a friendly and welcoming atmosphere, making it easier to build relationships and feel a sense of belonging.
San Miguel Chapultepec: As the name suggests, San Miguel Chapultepec is adjacent to Bosque de Chapultepec, Mexico City’s equivalent of Central Park. The neighborhood’s proximity to the park creates a remarkably tranquil and serene environment, akin to a small town in the heart of the metropolis. Although San Miguel Chapultepec now attracts its fair share of hipsters and art galleries, it maintains a more relaxed atmosphere compared to the nearby Condesa, Roma, and Polanco. While rents are not exactly cheap, they tend to be slightly more affordable than in those popular neighborhoods.
Colonia Narvarte, Colonia Nápoles, and Colonia del Valle: Situated a short distance south and east of Roma and Condesa, these neighborhoods offer plenty of appealing features. While they may not be as fancy or meticulously preserved as the aforementioned areas, they possess their own unique charm. These neighborhoods benefit from central locations with easy access to public transportation, making them increasingly popular among young professionals. Moreover, their lower rents make them a compelling choice for many.
Coyoacán and San Angel: Without a doubt, these are two of the most captivating neighborhoods in Mexico City. With their stunning colonial houses, winding streets, vibrant art scene, and lively street life, Coyoacán and San Angel have it all. Coyoacán boasts the most enchanting plaza in the city, the Jardín Centenario. Particularly noteworthy is the relatively affordable housing options available in Coyoacán compared to many other neighborhoods. However, it is important to consider that these areas are quite far south of the city center. I would recommend them primarily for those who work remotely or have employment in the southern part of the city. Otherwise, the daily commute can become a significant inconvenience.
Lomas de Chapultepec and Santa Fe: Unless you have a generous budget and prefer a suburban setting, I would not recommend these neighborhoods. Lomas de Chapultepec, often referred to as “Lomas,” is akin to Mexico’s Beverly Hills, characterized by sprawling mansions rather than apartment complexes. Santa Fe, on the other hand, is a modern and glamorous business district dominated by towering skyscrapers that house the headquarters of numerous companies. These areas suffer from limited public transportation options, so they are best suited for individuals who possess ample financial resources, own a car, and work within this area. Personally, these are not my preferred areas. However, they do offer picturesque green spaces and stunning mountain views.
In conclusion, while neighborhoods like La Condesa have undeniable charm and allure, they often come with higher rents due to their old-world appeal. Consider exploring alternative neighborhoods such as Colonia Narvarte, Colonia Nápoles, Colonia del Valle, Coyoacán, and San Angel, which offer their own unique charms, lower rents, and convenient locations. Ultimately, finding the perfect neighborhood in Mexico City is a matter of personal preference and aligning your needs with the atmosphere, amenities, and accessibility of each area.