If you’ve recently landed a job in Cancun and are getting ready to move we’d first of all like to congratulate you! Secondly, we’d like to share some hints and tips about renting a place in Cancun. When moving to another country some people prefer to have a place to stay lined up before they ever get to their new country of origin, but we’d recommend that you hold off and wait to seek a new home when you arrive in Cancun. There are a few reasons as to why this is a good idea.
Why you should wait to start your search
You’ll find that local owners rarely advertise their properties in English online unless they’re looking to hook some tourists, and this means the monthly fees tend to be much higher. Many people don’t realize that a huge proportion (around 90%) of the properties for rent in Cancun will not be advertised online. Rather local landlords will be more likely to advertise in the local papers and classificados (classifieds), or with Se Renta (for Rent) signs physically posted at the front of the home with a cell phone or landline number to call. So while a Google search will show you what kinds of properties are on offer you should wait until you get boots on the ground before signing up to anything.
Housing in Cancun
The most common type of housing in Cancun is the three floor apartment building, with one apartment per floor. These apartments will generally rent for USD $350 to $500, but depending upon the season and a few other factors you may find they can swing from $250 to $1000. The thing is, however, you won’t know about most of these apartments unless you get into the city and pound the streets, call the numbers and check local newspapers. You could even make use of online classifieds such as Viva Street (the only thing is that you’ll have to actually talk to the owners in Spanish as VivaStreet doesn’t leave emails, just numbers).
The factors that can affect the price of your apartment
Of course apartment hunting on or off season will have an effect upon the price you can land, but there are other factors which you might not expect. Mostly we’re referring to the “gringo” tax which is likely to be added to any property should locals cotton onto the fact that you’re not a native. This policy of overcharging foreigners, especially English speaking white foreigners, comes from the assumption that they will have more money and so can afford the higher prices. While this won’t quite match the tourist rate, you’ll find that this can add between 15% and 20% to the price of housing.
Getting around the Gringo Tax.
The best thing you can do, for a start, is to get away from the realtors and deal directly with the owners as the real estate agents will generally be focused on reeling in the big fish that the tourist trade sweeps in.
Secondly, negotiate! Negotiation is a huge part of life in Mexico and is pretty much second nature to anyone who has lived in the country for a long time. You might feel awkward asking for money off the price, but please don’t worry about offending people. So long as you are polite about the whole process no-one will be surprised or offended when you try to negotiate the best deal. In fact, when going into an area you should ask the neighbours what the going rate is – they’ll understand you wanting to get the best price. You could always try the tried and tested “well, I really like your apartment but the rate is a little expensive considering the neighbors told me X is the going rate”, if you quote a price around 15-20% cheaper you can start on a path of head-shaking and sighing that may land you a 10-15% discount!
Consider paying up front
You should also think about what you can pay upfront and what kind of contract you can agree too. If you can commit to three months, for example, and pay these upfront then you are likely to get a better price. If you can commit to six months and pay three up front you’ll get an even better deal, and being able to sign up for a year will get you a chance at a pretty good discount.
Things you should know
Some things might seem strange to you when you’re house-hunting but there are, very often, perfectly reasonable explanations for these things. For example, you’ll notice that Mexican landlords will insist upon a contract, generally speaking, and will have a lawyer draw it up at your expense (around 1500 – 2000 MXN). This is because unless they have a legally binding contract with you Mexican landlords will find it very hard to evict you should you do something wrong. They will also get very little help from the authorities if this is the case.
They will also ask for a deposit which equates to 1/1.5 months rent. This is because you won’t have to make a deposit on electricity and phone services before you get connected so, if you leave without warning, the landlord gets stuck with your bill! It’s all just to give the landlords a little protection.