Renting an Apartment in Mexico: A Guide for Foreigners

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November 29, 2023
9 min read

Bienvenidos a México: A Guide to Renting as a Foreigner

Are you considering moving to Mexico as a foreigner and renting a property? Whether it's for work, study, or retirement, understanding the rental process is crucial. Mexico has its own laws and customs when it comes to renting property, and as a foreigner, it's important to be aware of these differences.

Renting in Mexico as a Foreigner

Before diving into the details of renting in Mexico, let's first look at the big picture. In general, the rental process in Mexico is similar to other countries: you find a property you like, sign an agreement with the landlord outlining your rights and responsibilities, pay rent and utilities on time each month, and keep the property clean and well-maintained.

It's not uncommon for landlords in Mexico to charge extra fees such as maintenance costs or security deposits which can be non-refundable. Please be on the lookout for this and it may be best to get the deposit return in writing.

Also, take pictures before you move out and keep any documentation of issues with the place that have been reported. I have heard of landlords saying that the place was left unclean and keeping deposits to pay for the extra “maintenance and cleaning” afterwards.

There is also the refusal of some landlords to rent to foreigners. Understandably, they expose themselves to higher risks with people who are only visiting. If you are serious about renting, it is good for you to think about getting a temporary visa. Most will accept people with visas and this will open other doors as well.

Another aspect of renting in Mexico that may be unfamiliar is how landlord-tenant disputes are handled. While some issues can be resolved through mediation or arbitration outside of court proceedings , legal action may still need seeking if no consensus has been reached.

Understanding the Rental Process

Understanding how things work when looking for rental properties will save you time , money and trouble during your stay abroad . To get started with this endeavor , make sure you know what kind of property best suits your needs. Location and budget should be given priority when choosing the ideal property.

It is also important to have knowledge of the different types of rental agreements, legal requirements needed for these agreements, methods of payment accepted in Mexico, and common utilities bills , additional fees that may come with renting a property.

Some apartments for rent will come furnished, while others will only be the rooms. It's important to take this into consideration.

The following sections will cover finding a rental property in Mexico, understanding rental agreements, paying rent and utilities, maintenance and repairs as well as moving in/out procedures. Knowing what to expect regarding these aspects of renting property in Mexico will help ease your experience as a foreigner.

Check out our Mexico country guide for other tips and advice related to this rich country. You can also find out more on the digital nomad scene in Mexico here or check out our Digital Nomad Visa guide as well.

Finding a Property for Rent

Popular websites for finding rentals in Mexico

Before diving into the world of Mexican real estate, it's crucial to understand where to start your search. There are several popular websites for finding rentals in Mexico, including Vivanuncios, Inmuebles24, Segunda Mano, and Lamudi.

These sites allow you to search for properties based on location, price range, and other preferences. Make sure to read the description of each property carefully and check if utilities are included in the rent.

You will find a lot of places for rent on these sites, ranging from short-term rentals to long-term houses, flats and duplexes.

Whatsapp is also another way of contacting landlords renting, be on the lookout for signs

Working with a real estate agent

If you prefer a more personalized approach, working with a real estate agent is another great option. Not only can they provide you with exclusive access to properties that may not be listed online, but they can also help negotiate lease terms on your behalf. When selecting an agent, look for one who is bilingual and has experience working with foreign tenants.

Forums or Facebook Groups

If your Spanish isn’t that good you can look to expat forums and Facebook groups in your city. Here there will likely be posts on properties available (in English). However, be advised it normally comes at a cost and from my experience is usually more than the normal rates.

Tips for negotiating rent and lease terms

When negotiating rent or lease terms in Mexico, it's important to keep cultural differences in mind. Haggling over prices is common practice in Mexico but be respectful during negotiations.

Some landlords may require a larger deposit if you're a foreigner or may ask that you sign a longer lease term. Be sure to read the fine print carefully before signing any agreements.

Another tip is to offer upfront payments or showing financial stability by providing proof of employment or bank statements can increase your bargaining power when negotiating rent or lease terms. When searching for rental properties in Mexico as a foreigner; knowing where to look online and offline plus working with experienced bilingual agents can help make the process smoother along with keeping cultural differences regarding negotiation tactics in mind will aid you greatly securing an ideal home at reasonable rates.

Understanding Rent in Mexico

If you're thinking of renting a property in Mexico, it's important to understand the rental agreement you'll be signing. There are various types of rental agreements in Mexico, but the most common are: contrato de arrendamiento and contrato de renta. The contrato de arrendamiento is a more formal, long-term contract that is typically used for leases over 12 months.

It outlines all the terms and conditions of the lease, including rent amount, duration of lease, security deposit requirements, and tenant and landlord responsibilities. This type of contract is usually registered with local authorities to ensure legal enforceability.

On the other hand, the contrato de renta is a shorter term rental agreement that may be used for leases less than 12 months or vacation rentals. It may not include as much detail as a contrato de arrendamiento but should still outline key terms such as rent amount and duration of stay.

Common Key Terms to Look For

When reviewing your rental agreement in Mexico, there are some key terms you should look out for and understand before signing on the dotted line. These include: - Plazo: this refers to the length of your lease agreement.

- Renta: this term refers to your monthly rent amount. - Depósito en garantía: this refers to your security deposit or damage deposit.

- Mantenimiento: if you're renting an apartment or condo complex with shared areas such as a pool or gym, this fee covers maintenance costs. - Pagos adelantados o anticipados: this refers to advance payments required by landlords (such as first and last month's rent).

Legal Requirements for Rental Agreements

When it comes to rental agreements in Mexico, there are certain legal requirements that must be met by both tenants and landlords. For example:

- Contracts must be in writing and signed by both parties. - Copies of the contract should be provided to both parties.

- Security deposits cannot exceed the amount of one month's rent. - Tenants have the right to request repairs or maintenance for items affecting their quality of life (such as plumbing or electricity).

- If a tenant breaches the rental agreement, landlords must take legal action through the courts. Self-help evictions are not allowed.

It's important to familiarize yourself with these requirements before signing any rental agreement in Mexico. This will ensure that you're aware of your rights and responsibilities as a tenant, and that your landlord is meeting their legal obligations as well.

Understanding Aval when Renting

In Mexico, when renting a property, it is common for landlords to require an aval or fiador, which is a co-signer who can cover your rent payments if you default. This person must live in Mexico and own property, with a mortgage paid off in full, in the same city where you plan to rent.

If you cannot find a local co-signer, some landlords may accept negotiating a "double deposit" which will be returned in full as long as the owner of the apartment doesn't need to revamp the flat after you leave.

Keep in mind that many companies that offer co-signing services come with a hefty price tag. It's important to understand your responsibilities when renting in Mexico as renters are often required to fix anything that breaks in the flat.

Although informal agreements can be made, it is crucial to seek a formal contract to avoid any unpleasant surprises. You may need the help of a fluent Spanish speaker to properly read over the contract and check anything that may seem weird.

Paying Rent and Utilities

Methods of payment accepted in Mexico

When it comes to paying rent in Mexico, there are various methods available for renters. Some landlords prefer to receive cash payments, while others may accept bank transfers or checks.

It's important to discuss the preferred method of payment with your landlord as soon as possible to avoid any confusion or issues later on. In recent years, online payment systems have become increasingly popular in Mexico.

Apps such as PayPal and TransferWise allow users to quickly and easily transfer money from their bank account or credit card to another person's account. These options can be a convenient way for renters to pay their monthly rent from anywhere in the world.

Understanding utility bills and fees

Utilities such as electricity, water, gas and internet may or may not be included in your rental agreement. It is important to confirm with your landlord what utilities are included before signing a lease agreement.

Utility bills are typically issued on a monthly basis in Mexico. They may arrive via mail or email depending on the utility company and location of the rental property.

It is important to pay these bills promptly each month as failure to do so could lead to disconnection of services. When paying utility bills, it's important for foreign renters who are not fluent in Spanish language, have someone who can translate the document properly before making payment since there might be discrepancies between what was agreed upon at first and what is written on the bill.

In addition, there could be additional costs that arise based on usage of utilities that exceed set thresholds within a given period i.e when using more than certain amount of water or electricity during a given month. Overall understanding how much you will need each month for both rent and utilities will help you budget better throughout your stay which is key for foreigners renting properties within Mexico

Maintenance and Repairs

Tenant Responsibilities vs. Landlord Responsibilities

Before signing a rental agreement, it's important to understand who is responsible for what when it comes to maintenance and repairs. Generally speaking, landlords are responsible for major repairs that affect the habitability of the property, such as plumbing issues or problems with heating or cooling systems.

Tenants are typically responsible for minor repairs, such as replacing light bulbs or fixing small holes in the walls. It's a good idea to clarify these responsibilities with your landlord before moving in, so you know exactly what you're responsible for and what you can expect from them. Make sure everything is clearly outlined in your rental agreement to avoid any confusion down the line.

How to Report Maintenance Issues or Repairs Needed

If you notice a maintenance issue or something needs repair in your rental property, it's important to report it as soon as possible. Failure to report issues promptly could lead to further damage and potentially even safety hazards.

When reporting an issue, make sure you provide a detailed description of the problem and include photos if possible. You can report issues directly to your landlord or property manager by phone, email, or text message.

In some cases, landlords may have specific procedures in place for reporting maintenance issues, so make sure you're familiar with these procedures before moving into your rental property. If an issue goes unresolved despite multiple attempts at contacting your landlord or property manager, you may need to seek legal assistance.

The Importance of Regular Maintenance

Regular maintenance is crucial for keeping a rental property safe and habitable. As a tenant, it's important that you take care of smaller tasks like changing air filters and cleaning out gutters in order to prevent bigger problems from arising later on.

Landlords should also be proactive about performing regular maintenance tasks like inspecting electrical systems and repairing leaks before they turn into bigger issues. By working together to keep the property well-maintained, both tenants and landlords can ensure a safe and comfortable living environment for everyone involved.

Moving In and Out

Once you've found the perfect rental property in Mexico, it's time to move in! But before you start unpacking, it's important to understand the requirements for moving in and out of your rental property.

Security Deposit Requirements

When renting a property in Mexico, landlords typically require a security deposit. The amount of the deposit can vary depending on factors such as the length of the lease and the condition of the property.

It's important to request a receipt for your security deposit payment and keep it safe throughout your tenancy. At the end of your lease, if there are no damages or unpaid bills, you should receive your deposit back.

It's important to note that some landlords may try to withhold all or part of your security deposit unfairly. To avoid this situation, be sure to document any pre-existing damage to the property when you move in so that you're not held responsible for any previously damaged items.

Inspection Checklist When Moving In/Out

Before moving into or out of a rental property in Mexico, it's important to conduct an inspection. Having an inspection checklist can help ensure that nothing is overlooked during this process. The checklist should include everything from checking for leaks and water pressure issues to making sure all appliances are working properly.

Be sure to document any damage or issues with photos or videos so that there is proof if disputes arise later on. If possible, schedule a walkthrough with your landlord before moving out so that they can point out any potential issues upfront.

This can help prevent surprises when it comes time for them to inspect the property once you've moved out. Moving into a new rental home is exciting but also stressful – take some stress off by ensuring you know what needs to be done when moving in and out of your rental property.

Cultural Differences to Consider

As a foreigner renting in Mexico, it's important to be aware of the cultural differences that come with living in a new country. Understanding the cultural norms around renting properties can help you to better navigate the rental process and avoid potential misunderstandings.

The Importance of Relationships

In Mexico, relationships are highly valued, and this is especially true when it comes to renting. Building a good relationship with your landlord or property manager can go a long way in ensuring that your rental experience is a positive one. This means taking the time to get to know them and showing respect for their culture and way of life.

The Role of Family

Another important aspect of Mexican culture is the role of family. In many cases, landlords may involve family members in the rental process, such as having them assist with repairs or maintenance. It's important to be aware of this dynamic and understand that involving family members may actually be beneficial for both parties.

Paying Rent on Time

In Mexico, paying rent on time is seen as a sign of respect and responsibility. Landlords may take lateness very seriously, so it's important to make sure you pay your rent on time each month. If you do run into financial difficulties and are unable to pay on time, it's best to communicate with your landlord as soon as possible rather than waiting until the last minute.

Mexican Cultural Norms Around Renting Properties

When it comes specifically to renting properties in Mexico, there are some cultural norms that may be different from what you're used to if you're coming from another country.

The Concept of "Pago de Garantía"

One unique aspect of renting in Mexico is something called "pago de garantía," which translates roughly as "deposit." This deposit serves as a guarantee that the tenant will take care of the property during their stay and return it in good condition when they leave. The amount of the deposit can vary depending on a number of factors, such as the length of the lease and the condition of the property.

Shared Spaces

In many Mexican rental properties, there may be shared spaces such as courtyards or gardens that are used by multiple tenants. It's important to be respectful of these spaces and understand that they may not be exclusively yours to use. This means taking care not to damage any shared areas and being considerate of your neighbors when using them.

The Role of Maintenance

In Mexico, landlords often take a more hands-on approach to maintenance than in some other countries. This means that they may handle repairs or even cleaning themselves rather than hiring outside contractors or expecting tenants to do it themselves. It's important to understand your landlord's expectations around maintenance so you can communicate effectively with them if any issues arise.


After reading this guide, you should now have a better understanding of what to expect when renting a property in Mexico as a foreigner. It can be overwhelming at first, but with the right preparation and knowledge, you can find the perfect place to call home.

Embrace cultural differences and learn as much as possible about Mexican customs and expectations when it comes to renting properties. This will not only help make your transition smoother but also show respect for your new community.

Renting a property in Mexico as a foreigner may have its challenges but it's also an exciting opportunity for adventure and personal growth. With these tips in mind, you'll be well on your way to finding a comfortable and enjoyable living space in this beautiful country.


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I consider myself a world-travelling nomad and a foodie at heart. Born in Germany and raised in East Tennessee, my passion for exploration has taken me all over the planet - exploring unfamiliar lands and cultures is what truly inspires my soul!
I live outside of Doha and consider myself an inside expert on all things Qatar. I love exploring all the country has to offer and look forward to giving you valuable insights of where I call home!
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