Jul 8, 2009, 9:09 PM
Post #23 of 26
My wife and I have been renters in Ajijic for just over 2 years. We found a place the first day we moved down. It was a 1 BR, 1 BA, nicely decorated place about 3 blocks from the plaza. Rent: $500/mo USD. After a year, we decided we needed a bit more space and rented a 2 BR, 2BA place in a gated complex, very nice grounds with a pool. Rent: $550/month with the option for another year at the same rate. After a year, we liked it so much, we cut a 5 year deal with the owners. The deal has two small increases built in that will gradually raise the rent to $600/mo by 2014.
Thing about rents in Lakeside is, if you go through a real estate agency or rental office, the rent will include a large premium for their fee. I don't begrudge them this, managing property costs money. But it is a reality when dealing with an agency. There are plenty of places you can rent from expat, or English-speaking, owners.
To find our current place, we scoured the bulletin boards at the Lake Chapala Society, and local grocery stores and other places with rental notices from property owners (not agencies). We also started looking in March, when the "snow birds" start pulling out, and landlords are desperate to fill vacant units. March-June are the best months to find cheap rentals.We were full-time, non-smoking, no-pets renters, so we were solid gold from a land-lord's point of view. We were actually approached by landlords while we were browsing the LCS board and implored to come look at their property.
Even though we currently have a long-term lease, we keep our eye on the boards just to see what is happening. There were a number of units we saw in the past couple of months for $450/mo and we actually checked out two of them, one in Chapala and one in Jocotopec. Both were very nice places, actually bigger than what we have now, and very well constructed and decorated. However, we like Ajijic and so we'll keep living here as long as we can afford it. The point is that there are some very good places at very reasonable rents if you are willing to look a bit more widely.
I would advise you to come down in March or April, take a B&B for a couple of weeks, and browse the market. Ask lots of questions to expats you meet about neighborhoods. Talk to all the renters you can find. Walk around a lot to get the feel of the area. Look at a lot rentals. Let landlords know up front you are looking for something long-term and expect a lower rent in return.
"Long-term" is a relative term here, and sometimes 6 months falls within that definition. I would suggest broaching a deal, when you have found something that you like, for 6 months lease with an option to new for another 6 months at the same rent. That way, if it goes sour somehow, you have an out, while if you like it you can have stable rent for at least a year. An alternative would be 1 year with a 1 year renewal option, but it sounds like you are only ready to commit to a year.
Last piece of advice would be to make a list of all the things that are of critical importance to you in a rental, and take that list with you when you view properties. It can be too easy to fall in love with some aspect of a property (just LOOK at that view, dear!) and gloss over other aspects, such as the carpenter shop next door with the whining saws, the lack of parking, the failure of the water faucet to produce hot water after some minutes of running etc. Everybody who intends to live there should contribute to the list and think seriously about what is most important on a day to day basis.
Good luck with your search!