Mexico and Renting a House Part I

Renting a House

If you think you might want to consider living in Mexico for any time, the one inextricable fact of life is that you will have to find a place to live. This is not as hard as you might think. I wrote of this in my books, Mexican Living: Blogging it from a Third World County and The Plain Truth about Living in Mexico. Depending on where you live, it will be a fairly simple process.

If you expatriate to an American Colony like Vallarta or San Miguel, you will not find a language barrier when looking for housing. In my neck of the woods, in Guanajuato, you might find that a bit harder. You would need to speak Spanish (and it is S-P-A-N-I-S-H and not “Mexican” that is spoken here).

What you will find rather shocking, if not outright appalling, is that once you are locked into a rental contract, your landlord will throw all sorts of fun and surprises in your little gringo face when you least expect it.

So, having almost three years experience of living in Mexico and dealing with landlords, I thought I would share with you what it is like to have a Mexican landlord in Mexico. Dogs here have more rights than you, as an American, have.

You will be cruising along with everything going fine when one day you will discover the pipe under the kitchen sink has sprung a leak. Now this is not much to get into a major tizzy over. These things happen. Pipes do not stay “pipe-worthy” forever. The Law of Entropy tells us this. Things wear out. Call the Landlord!

The Landlord comes over-very promptly. She has a guy named “Bruja” with her. Now for those of you who are Spanish challenged, the word “Bruja” means “witch”. It turned out, however, the wrong person was named Bruja.

Bruja did a wonderful job and fixed the pipe nicely. The catch was the Landlord held her hand out to me for the money to pay Bruja.

The way things work in Mexico is that if you are a renter and something, being absolutely no fault of your own, breaks down, then the Landlord holds you absolutely responsible.

Think of this for just a moment. Mexican landlords hold you responsible for something that might break or wear out for no other good reason than it was old and things that get old break and eventually have to be replaced! Things like pipes, toilet seats, plumbing, and people’s knees.

I know what you are thinking and you are right. A renter in Mexico is seen as a source of income for remodeling someone else’s property!

At the time the kitchen pipe had to be replaced, hot water stopped coming out of the showerhead. That was more than a year ago. My wife and I have had to bathe in man-booby-shrinking cold water since then. I haven’t told the landlord for fear that she and Bruja will show up with their money-grubbing hands out and a brand-new shower will be bought and paid for ala Gringo-man Bower.

Another thing that you have to watch for that takes place constantly is the “Gringo Rental price” and the “Mexican Rental Price”.

It used to be the only Gringos who would come to Mexico were the rich ones and thus all of us are still seen in that light. Mexicans, in my experience, see a gringo face and think we are all fabulously wealthy. In fact, they think we throw more money away than a Mexican makes in a lifetime.

If this sounds like a stereotype, then just stay tuned to my column and hear some of the stories that I will share.

Our landlord rents the place we have now, 1000 square feet, a two-bedroom, one bath, service patio with a washer, to us for $500.00 month-OUTRAGEOUS for Mexico. She rents to our friends a studio, A STUDIO, for $600.00! But for Mexicans the prices for these properties are two hundred dollars cheaper a month.

Lastly, you have to watch out for landlords who so believe you are a filthy rich American that they have no compulsion whatsoever in wiring the outside security lights into your meter. You pay for their security lights-and they DO NOT tell you that fact!

Stay tuned-more to come!

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