Mexico City is increasingly becoming popular with expats year after year, and it’s no wonder, this city has so much to offer! I mean, if you’re reading this post, you must already see the draw of living here, you don’t need any convincing. As Mexico City grows in popularity, the more competitive and pricier Mexico City apartments have become. That’s why it’s essential to have a game plan as soon as you’re ready to rent an apartment in Mexico City.
I created this guide from what I’ve learned over the years to help you know what to expect during this process and ultimately find your perfect apartment in Mexico City!
Know What You Want
The first step to renting in Mexico City is knowing what you want. This is a massive city with many options, so it’s best to have an apartment wishlist to narrow your search initially. Some criteria you may want to consider when looking for apartments include:
Neighborhood: One of my favorite things about Mexico City is the variety of neighborhoods, each with a distinct vibe. The most popular ones are Roma and Condesa. Still, Navarte, Napoles, Escandon, Juarez, Centro and Santa Maria La Ribera are popular since they are usually less expensive but still in the center of the city.
How much does an apartment in Mexico City cost: If you’re on a tight budget, know that you can find a great place, but you just have to be patient. You can find cheap apartments in Mexico City, I’m sure of it, but if you want to live in a popular spot at an affordable price that checks all of your boxes, you’re probably going to need to spend a few months looking. To give you an idea of what you’re up against, I’d say the average apartment costs MXN$16,000 for 1-2 bedrooms. Now, that doesn’t mean there aren’t places out there for less; actually, there are plenty! They probably just aren’t as well-kept, new, or spacious. Even so, there are gems out there waiting to be found. Be persistent, and you’ll find the perfect space within your budget.
Earthquakes: Earthquakes are a severe trauma here for a lot of people, and rightfully so. The last major quake to hit Mexico City in 2017 was incredibly devastating, so how “earthquake-proof” your apartment is might be something worth considering. Neighborhoods like Roma and Condesa have seen significantly more damage than others due to the softer ground. If that’s something you’re worried about, you might consider a location with more stable ground like Escandon or Santa Maria La Ribera. At the end of the day, no one can predict when an earthquake will hit or which buildings will fall. Use your discretion and try to choose a sound-looking building.
Furnished or Unfurnished: You’ll find some furnished apartments, while others are completely bare bones. I’ve seen many rentals where the kitchen is empty except for a sink, no counters, no fridge, no nothing. So maybe give it some thought and decide if you want to live with somebody else’s furniture, furnish a whole place yourself, or find something in between.
Public Transport: If you’re like me and get around on foot or mostly with public transport, then a place close to a metro, bus, or bike station is vital. If you’re looking in any of the neighborhoods I’ve previously mentioned, you should be in good hands. Just make sure to have a look around the area to see if there is transport close enough to you!
2. How to Find Apartments for Rent in Mexico City
Now that you have a pretty good idea of what you’re looking for, it’s time to go out there and find it! I’ve spent months hunting for apartments for rent in Mexico City and have discovered some pretty great resources along the way. Here are what I think are the best ways to find a place for rent:
Roam the streets: Go our on foot or bike and explore every street in the neighborhood(s) you’re interested in. Look for the “Se Renta” signs and give that phone number a call or send them a text. Whenever you’re out and about, always be on alert for any rental signs. It’ll kind of become your new obsession. Constantly scanning the buildings hoping that the next ‘for rent’ sign you see will be the one.
Online Listings: I’ve found some pretty promising places online. New listings are always coming up, so I’d definitely check websites like Metros Cubicos, Mercado Libre, Vivanuncios, Segundamano, Homie, Propiedades.com, and even Craigslist Mexico City a few times a week. You can also look at Facebook groups like this one (https://www.facebook.com/groups/ForeignersInMexicoCity) where members will occasionally post Mexico City apartments for rent.
Ask Around: Make sure that everyone you know in the city knows that you are apartment hunting! Chances are someone you know will come across an apartment you may not have discovered otherwise. Don’t hesitate to start knocking on doors, either. If you see a building you’re interested in, but there is no sign, ask the doorman if there happens to be an apartment for rent or if there’s no doorman see if anyone living there is around to ask.
3. Start Visiting
Now that you’ve found a few promising prospects, it’s time to get viewing! You have your wishlist in the back of your head, you’re checking off the obvious things that the apartment has, but don’t forget to ask questions when they show you around! You may want to ask:
What does the rent include? Does the price include parking, utilities, and building maintenance? Or is that an additional fee each month?
Is an aval required? An aval or fiador is a person that owns property in Mexico City and basically co-signs the lease with you if you are unable to pay rent, and most apartments won’t rent to you without one. If you don’t know anyone personally that could be your aval, you could either negotiate to pay double or triple the deposit or purchase an aval from Mercado Libre. Just know that most, but not all, apartments in Mexico City require an aval in order to rent.
Are there water problems? Roma Norte, in particular, is known to have a water shortage problem. Ask if the building ever has trouble getting water. How many units are in the building? Again, this is important if there is a water shortage. More units mean the more likely you may be left without water.
Are pets allowed? If you have a pet or hope to get a pet at some point then you don’t want to forget to ask about their pet policy. While a lot of apartments are pet friendly, I’m willing to bet that the ones that say they aren’t are open to negotiating if you tell them how well behaved your pet is and pay an extra deposit in case of any damage.
Is there any earthquake damage? Ask what year the building was built and, if you want, you can ask about the official papers that certify the building is safe. The best way to assess how safe it is is to use your best judgment.
What amenities are nearby? You should figure out how far you are from the places you frequent most. Where is the nearest supermarket, gym, metro, or bike station? Some areas in the city have an abundance of grocery stores and markets, while others have almost none. Be sure to know the area before moving in.
4. Submit Your Application
This process will vary depending on the flat so it’s best to be aware of the different scenarios. Sometimes it will be formal, where the owner has a property manager in charge. They will almost certainly ask you for an aval, a background check, and a small processing fee of around MXN$600. If they accept your application, then all that’s left for you to do is pay the deposit and move in! On the other hand, it could be more casual where the owner rents their place themselves. You’d be reporting to the owner directly to give them an aval and a deposit. They probably won’t ask for much more. Whether you’re going through a property manager or the owner directly, it’s relatively straightforward to rent an apartment in Mexico City. Most contracts are for a year and make sure you read the lease agreement thoroughly (if there is one).
That’s all there is to it! Renting an apartment in a foreign country can feel daunting at first, but hopefully, with this guide you’ve seen that renting in Mexico City is not too difficult, you just need the right tools and some patience. Happy hunting and leave me any questions you may have in the comments!