Finding an apartment in Querétaro turned out to be a lot harder than I’d anticipated.
In the weeks leading up to our departure, I actually told Taylor I was looking forward to apartment hunting! Can you believe that?! I figured that after the nightmare that was the Madrid rental market looking for an apartment in Querétaro would be a breeze.
I was wrong.
Image Credit: Mario Rodriguez (Text Overlay: Backpacking Brunette)
Finding an Apartment in Querétaro
During our search, we utilized a variety of sources (some successful, some not):
- The internet. In Madrid, Idealista displays the majority of apartments for rent. However, of the websites most commonly used in Mexico (Segundamano, Vivanuncios, Trovit, Lamudi), none come close to Idealista’s user-friendliness. It was difficult to tell where in the city many properties were located as many owners neglected to include even general location markers.
- Pounding the pavement. When the internet came up short, we decided to hit the streets. In Madrid, you could hardly walk a block without seeing a Se Alquila (For Rent) sign. I booked an Airbnb in the heart of the city center for just this purpose. Certainly we’d see something while we were out walking! Nope. Taylor and I canvased the neighborhood for hours without so much as seeing a single Se Renta sign (in Mexico, they use a different verb).
- Newspapers. Trying to stay positive, I suggested we pick up a newspaper and check out the classifieds. That’s how people used to do it, right? For 10 pesos, we bought a copy of the Diaro de Querétaro. Sitting on a park bench in Alameda Hidalgo (Querétaro’s main city park), we started circling ads to call. Unlike the websites, the majority of properties listed were located in the center. We saw the first property we called, and although it ended up not being the one, our spirits were lifted.
During our final months in Madrid, Taylor and I loved imagining our future home in Querétaro. After two years in a 45m2 apartment, we’d learned to live modestly. Our wishlist was far from extravagant:
- Located in the city center. Since we don’t have a car, we needed to be located within walking distance of…well, pretty much everything.
- Separate work spaces. Since Taylor and I both work from home, we needed space for our offices. Because we teach English online, sharing a single work space was out of the question.
- Outdoor space. In Madrid, I suffered from major balcony envy. In our new home, I wanted an outdoor area where we could sit and enjoy a glass of wine at the end of the day.
- Furnished. I wanted to be able to unpack my bags and get right down to enjoying la vida méxicana. Our furnished apartment in Madrid made life so easy!
- An oven. I said many sad goodbyes in Madrid but bidding farewell to our two-burner stove top was not one of them. I should be able to make cookies when I feel like it!
The very first place we saw was unfurnished, and if I’m being perfectly honest, it was terrifying. The thought of furnishing an entire apartment (especially without reliable transportation) overwhelmed me. I told Taylor I only wanted to consider furnishing a place as a last resort.
Several showings later, we saw a furnished apartment. It was horrible. The mattress was lumpy and dirty. The dishes were mismatched and cracked. The tv was a hulking relic that took up half the living room.
The Querétaro rental market has few furnished apartments to offer, and the ones that it does have (within our budget) are hardly places I would ever seriously consider living. When the owner suggested we simply flip the mattress over, I decided I was ready to take the leap and furnish a place.
Our New Home
After an unsuccessful showing, Taylor and I were walking back to our Airbnb and decided to stop for a drink. When the server brought our cervezas, I told him we’d had a long and difficult day of apartment hunting. He sympathized with us because it had taken him a year to find his apartment in the city center.
A year?! And I thought booking a second week in an Airbnb would be extreme!
The server, Eduardo, said he knew a place we might be interested in. The apartment next door to his friend was for rent. He said we seemed like good people and would ask his friend for more details.
Eduardo put us in contact with his friend, Paulina. Paulina, in turn, put us in contact with the owner of the apartment. Without ever even having met us, Paulina told the owner that we were her friends. We saw the place Oct. 21.
It was and still is perfect. We’ve been living in our new home for a week. Minus coming furnished, it met all the criteria on my wishlist. Pictures to come!
Have you ever house hunted abroad? What challenges did you encounter? Let me know in the comments below!