Living in Mexico. EVERYTHING you need to know (and then some)
the two main types of house living styles in mexico
July 10, 2020
Whether an apartment (departamento) or house (casa), there are really only two main types of living styles around Mexico. They being private gated and non-private gated. This may sound simple, and that’s because it is. From someone who has lived in both public and private, allow me to share with you the differences.
Getting right to the point. The difference between living public or private are profound! My very first house in Cancun was public, meaning it was a regular house on a regular open residential street smack dab in the middle of the city. It had a small back yard. My entire space was outlined by the traditional concrete wall topped with broken pieces of glass for additional deterrence.
There was a same-height metal pedestrian gate (with lock) for in-and-out purposes and matching metal bars across all the windows. On this street, like any other, I was free to come and go without having to pass through any property gates or security personnel. Same went for my visitors.
My two dogs, however, were often assaulted shortly after leaving home since most Mexicans see no reason to keep their dogs at home let alone leashed. Dog walks were often stressful.
Garbage was also a common sight along these private streets as were barley-kept public parks. The city never repaired the concrete benches or cut the weeds and no one ever picked up the poo.
When it came to neighborhood noise, you had to suck it up since noise restrictions (day or night) are not really part of the city bylaw system, which means nothing can be done about blaring music or barking dogs regardless of what time it is or who you call.
In public living options, there is also nothing stopping complete strangers from checking out your pad. No kidding. People peering through gate bars or attempting to get a glimpse of the inside of your home was common practice. You can fill in the reason as to why one would do such a thing.
Private homes in regular residential areas are however, less expensive to rent or buy than those located inside private areas. The city property taxes are also less.
Private gated residential
Private gated residential communities are pretty much the norm for new developments and are certainly a preference for most people. You will live in a house / apartment / townhouse that is surrounded by one large property wall.
Most homes will have a small yard which, beyond the back portion, is not enclosed by concrete walls. Residents and their visitors will pass through a security casita each time they come and go. Most of these private communities have some type of pass system such as a pluma (guy who lifts the metal arm to pass) or an electronic card, which is programmed to your home so you can easily come and go without a security stop.
Approximately 90 percent of your private community will be surrounded by concrete walls. The very front of the private community will consist of gates, which keeps out peering peeps. Only residents (and permitted guests) are allowed inside.
These residential communities are outfitted with some amenities, which more times than not, include a private park, swimming pool, bbq area, playground, palapa, administration, office, etc. These public areas are maintained by the administrative body through the monthly maintenance fees that are collected from each homeowner.
In Mexico, the rule is this. If you don’t pay your monthly maintenance fee, your gate passage privileges are cut. For example, if you’re on an electric card system, then the card is deactivated until you catch up on your payments. Other penalties for non-payment can include the loss of palapa privileges, meaning you cannot book them for personal events until you’ve caught up on your condo fees.
Inside your private community, your administration will have a small staff who are from these maintenance fees. They will collect stray garbage, maintain the community pool, mow grass, trim trees, etc. There are also “house rules” inside these communities.
In mine, for example, there is no noise allowed before 8:00 a.m. or after 10:00 p.m. All dogs must be leashed. There is no unapproved construction, which means no waking up to find your neighbor has thrown up a blue tarp for a car port, and private workers are not allowed inside on Sundays. Only registered guests are permitted access (any day of the week) and dog owners must pick up the poo (we have three poo-stations in our private residential park).
Aside from a dozen living differences, another factor is money. Private residences cost more to live in, but it’s not necessarily a lot. I’ve lived in a few where the monthly maintenance fees have ranged from 500 peso per month to just over 1,000. Regardless of the fee, there’s no price for having security and piece of mind.