My top three concerns when looking for a place to live in Mexico

my top three concerns when looking for a place to live in mexico

These days I have found myself in a bit of a house moving / possible relocation type of mindset, something that has been ongoing since this past November. While not getting into details about all that, at least not yet, I thought I would share my top three concerns when searching for a place to live.

In Mexico, the culture is very different than anywhere else outside Latin America. What you’re used to in your American or Canadian neighborhood, for instance, is highly unlikely (like 99 percent unlikely) to be in any way similar to what you will experience living here.

If you’ve only ever visited you would not have noticed these cultural differences, especially if you stayed in a hotel. You may have caught a glimpse of “real life” here if you’ve vacationed in a private property, but that too, is not very likely.

Established

The first thing I’ve learned to look at in a new community is if it’s established or not. This is a bit of a catch22 in that if you’re buying into a new development, for example, and are taking advantage of a developer promotion, then this will not be possible since you’re buying in before it’s established.

So allow me to explain.

I once moved into a brand new community. Out of 50 townhouses on the street, I was resident number 12. The main road leading into the eight street community was still dirt.

Three years later and numerous new neighbors, the only improvement was the paving of the dirt road. The promised swimming pool-per-street was not met, nor was the installation of the bike trails or walking paths. The public park that was to be part of the community living space was never created.

The construction of the houses started behind where I rented was left half finished and in complete disarray. Squatters began moving in. Residents complained, but nothing was ever done. After living there four years, I moved. It was another two before someone stepped in and forced the developer to make good on his promises.

That meant all those residents, more than 500 at the time, waited nearly six years for that community to be completed properly.

If you’re looking for a place to live, I highly suggest taking a full tour of the community, especially if you’re looking to buy. Ask to see the original development plans. Look around for dirt streets, swimming pools or paths (bike or walking) that you saw on the plan, but did not see in person.

Loud

In Mexico, straight across the board, everything is loud. Music, television, radio, kids, dogs, cars, everything. Everything is loud. And it doesn’t have to sound good.

If you’ve shopped in a public market, you will no doubt have encountered an old, dusty set of black speakers blaring out the most distorted noise (music) you’ve ever heard. That’s the norm here.

In grocery stores where there’s a guy and a microphone accompanying those dusty speakers, he too, can barely be understood over all the crackling distortion emanating from the floor speakers because…they are so loud!

Loud is a way of life in Mexico. While I have adopted many Mexican customs, that is not one of them. A majority of Mexican families will start the second part of their day at night after an afternoon siesta. That usually means heading outside to the front or back yard where its cool. There, they will make dinner, eat and listen to something loud like music or television.

They too are loud. Mexicans are generally very loud people. They shout across rooms and don’t bat an eye about yelling at one another when sitting side-by-side. Their laugh is loud. Their voices are loud. Their screaming kids are loud. They’re very loud.

Since there is a mere crack of space (literally) between houses here, you are going to be part of it as though they are in the middle of your house. On weekends, its worse. Most properly run communities have a no-noise timeframe. Mine, for example, is no noise before 8:00 a.m. and after 10:00 p.m. Look for yours.

Administration

I cannot express enough how important your condominium administration association is. Here in Mexico, it’s really all you have. When, as a renter or homeowner you have a problem, that admin office is your only go-to place. Police generally do not and / or will not respond to anything that does not involve gunfire.

If you have a neighbor who — let’s his dog run free (and crap in your yard), parks in front of your house even though he knows you own a car, fails to maintain his yard (weeds and garbage mean snakes and cockroaches), allows his kids to invade your property, plays loud tv or music — your only relief will come through your administration.

Most places now, most newly developed places, have an onsite administration office. There are rules that need to be followed. If not followed, fines can be handed out (in certain situations), but regardless, an email will be sent condemning the bad neighbor behavior.

If you’re inside a new community and are thinking about living there, look around for these things, for off leash dogs, dog poo, unmaintained yards or public spaces, unpainted homes or community walls, broken down vehicles on the streets.

Look around for these things because if you spot them, it’s a sign that while they may have an administration body and / or office, they’re probably useless. It’s not unheard of for condo administration personnel to sit in the office long enough each day to collect their pay, but never enforce the rules.

With me, I ask to be taken to the administration office. Not the sales office, but the administration office. I also ask to visit a property several times before committing. Ask your realtor to show you the property on a Friday night, during the day Saturday and at a random time during the week.

A weekend night visit will flush out the loud party neighbors. A weekend daytime visit will reveal true life — kids running around unsupervised and quite likely, off leash dogs chasing them (which could chase you or your dog). A third random visit will allow you to hear barking dogs left by people gone to work for the day, or worse yet, dogs left to bark incessantly even though the owners are home.

While not all properties and their administrations are bad news, it’s a good idea to try and find out why that property is vacant, especially if it’s a good price and has been empty for a long time. You can also do a social media ask or even general topic search to see if there are any horror stories you should know about. Let’s face it, people love to share their horror stories.

So how do you get around all this rule-breaking loudness? In my opinion and experience here, the establishment of the community and its administration is as equally important as the price of the home.

To me, they have equal weight. If you find a great house in your price range, but are miserable after moving in, then you’ve not actually found a great house.