How I Found an Apartment in Querétaro, Mexico

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.

Here is everything I have to about how to find an apartment in Querétaro, Mexico! Suerte!

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.
Here is everything I have to say on how to find an apartment in Mexico! Suerte!
One of Querétaro’s many beautiful plazas! Image Credit: Alejandro

My wishlist

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!
Here is everything I have to say on how to find an apartment in Mexico! Suerte!
The colors and architecture give this city such a cool vibe! Image Credit: Alejandro

Compromises

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.

Here is everything I have to say on how to find an apartment in Mexico! Suerte!
Templo San Jose de Gracia is located in the heart of Querétaro. Image Credit: Traveling Otter

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! 

La vida méxicana: My first two weeks in Mexico

Today marks two weeks in Mexico! I’ve hardly had time to breathe let alone blog. Setting up life in a new country is, in fact, rather time consuming!

first two weeks pin

Image Credit and Text Overlay: Backpacking Brunette

On Oct. 18, Taylor and I flew from Detroit to Mexico City. The four-hour flight seemed like nothing compared to the trans-Atlantic trips we almost got used to during our time in Spain.

Once in Mexico City, we collected our bags (just one suitcase and two backpacks each) and hopped on a bus to Querétaro. The journey took three hours, and we checked into our Airbnb around 5 p.m.

At dinner that night, we toasted finally being in Mexico. I’ll never forget that feeling. Mexico, Mexico, Mexico. We’ve been talking about it since January. Then, it just seemed like a far off idea. Now, it’s here. We’re here.

Highlights

Everyone is so nice. Our second day here, I told Taylor that more people had been nice to me already than had been during our entire two years in Spain. It was a joke then, but after two weeks in Mexico, it could quite possibly be true. From our Airbnb hosts to the waitstaff at restaurants to the dude who sold us chicken at the market, people have been open and kind. Many have not only welcomed us but offered help.I’m not sure if it’s cultural or simply the difference between living in a country’s capital versus a “smaller” city. Whatever it is, it’s reaffirmed our decision to move here.

Shopping at markets. I’ll admit that I kind of freaked out when I found out the closest grocery store is nearly a mile walk from our apartment. However, I’m quickly adjusting thanks to the country’s fantastic market culture. At first, the markets can be a bit overwhelming. But once you get the general lay of the land, you can find everything you needand so much more. Our purchases have ranged from chicken and fruit to desks and glassware.

Chicken at Mercado de la Cruz.
Chicken at Mercado de la Cruz.

The food. Tacos, enchiladas, tamales, pozole, ceviche, mole, quesadillas, frijoles, tortillas, huevos rancheros. On more than one occasion during my first two weeks in Mexico, a dish has been placed in front of me, and upon tasting it, I wondered if I had died and gone to heaven. Oh, and the prices! Just this week, Taylor and I had a delicious breakfast and fantastic service for $8 USD. That’s including the tip!

These tasty rolls and melon balls preceded my huevos rancheros.
These tasty rolls and melon balls preceded my huevos rancheros.

Challenges

Delayed contract signing. Just three days into apartment hunting, we found an amazing place. Location, size, price: It ticked nearly all our boxes. We saw it on Saturday afternoon and called the owners Saturday night to tell them we wanted it. I was eager to share the news with family and friends but wanted to hold off on doing so until we signed the contract. So, I waited. And waited. And waited. Despite having met with the owners on several occasions, we still have yet to sign anything. In fact, we won’t be signing the contract until Nov. 1—which also happens to be the day we’re supposed to move in! At first, I was nervous that the deal would fall through, but I now understand that this is simply how things are done in Mexico: lentamente (slowly).

Long, leisurely lunches kept me sane during the whole apartment process.
Long, leisurely lunches kept me sane during the whole apartment process.

Furnishing an apartment. I said the apartment ticked nearly all our boxes. It didn’t tick the “furnished” box. When planning our move to Querétaro, we hoped to find a furnished apartment during our first two weeks in Mexico. In Madrid, many apartments (if not the majority) are furnished. It makes life easier for expats trying to relocate. However, this just isn’t the case in Querétaro. Even if an apartment is “furnished”, that generally doesn’t include a refrigerator, washing machine or microwave. Additionally, the furnished apartments we saw had really beat up furniture which we would have most likely wanted to replace.

After spending an afternoon checking prices of appliances and other household necessities, we decided to take the plunge and furnish a place ourselves. It’s been a challenge in the sense that it’s not something we were expecting to do, but since we decided to take it on, we’ve been enjoying it. Although we’ve lived together for several years, it’s the first home Taylor and I will furnish together. Who knew buying a fridge could be so much fun?!

A quick pic before we boarded our flight to Mexico City!
A quick pic before we boarded our flight to Mexico City!

 

Have you ever moved abroad? What were the highlights and challenges of the first two weeks in your new country?

 

Moving to Mexico: FAQs Answered

I’m moving to Mexico!!!

In June, I said adiós to Madrid. Spain was my home for two years, and while my experience there was better than I could have ever imagined, I knew it wasn’t my forever place.

moving to mexico pin (1)

Image Credit

In January, I started to feel restless. I decided not to reapply to the North American Language and Culture Assistants program for a third year and began brainstorming what my next move would be. The possibilities were endless. Countries in the running included Uruguay, Ecuador and Chile.

However, it didn’t take us (my boyfriend and I) long to decide on Mexico. With less than two weeks until the big move, I couldn’t be more excited.

As was the case with moving to Spain, the reactions from my family and friends regarding moving to Mexico have been overwhelmingly positive. I’m fortunate to have so many supportive people in my life.

Of course, that support hasn’t come without questions. People love me so they want to know the thought process behind my decision. Perhaps you’d like to know it too.

So, here’s the lowdown on moving to Mexico featuring some frequently (like super frequently) asked questions:

Why are you moving to Mexico?

Mexico quickly became the obvious choice for several reasons:

  1. Travel between the U.S. and Mexico is easy and affordable. I just did a quick search for round trip flights between Chicago and Mexico City the week of Thanksgiving. United has a ticket for $390, and flight time is just four hours and 15 minutes. With options like that, I’ll be able to visit family and friends more frequently.
  2. Spanish is Mexico’s national language. While I’ve been in Michigan, I haven’t been speaking Spanish on a daily basis, and it feels like a part of me is missing. I’m incredibly proud of how much my Spanish progressed during the two years I lived in Madrid. I’m not ready to stop learning!
  3. History, culture and food! Mexico is a traveler’s dream come true. My new home will be the perfect base from which to explore.
  4. Travel to South America will be more convenient. Machu Picchu, Buenos Aires, Santiago, Bogotá: the list of places I want to visit in South America is long. Although my priority to start will be discovering my new country, I plan to keep an eye out for airfare deals to S.A.
  5. An opportunity to get to know family. My mother’s side of the family is Mexican, and although my grandparents raised their children in the United States, we still have lots of extended family living throughout central Mexico. It’s been years since I’ve visited my relatives, but I have reached out to a few and look forward to building those relationships.

Where in Mexico?

I’m moving to Santiago de Querétaro, which is located in central Mexico. It’s approximately 132 miles northwest of Mexico City. Due to outstanding economic growth over the last decade, Querétaro is one of the fastest-growing cities in Mexico. The metropolitan area, which is home to more than one million people, has been repeatedly recognized for its high quality of life. Querétaro is often lauded as one of the safest cities in the country.

Map of Mexico

Image Credit: Nations Online (Text Overlay: Backpacking Brunette)

How long will you be there?

When I went to college, I knew I’d be there for four years. When I moved to Indianapolis, I knew I’d be there for eight months. When I moved to Madrid, I knew I’d be there for two years.

This will be the first time in my life that I move somewhere without knowing the end date, and that’s something I’m very much looking forward to. It can be difficult to establish relationships and get involved in a community when you’re only going to be around for a finite amount of time. For now, the plan is to stay in Mexico (not necessarily Querétaro) as long as I am happy there.

What will you be doing?

In December, I started teaching English online for a Chinese company called VIPKID. I’m already on my second contract with the company and plan to continue working for VIPKID after moving to Mexico. Since my teaching schedule is according to Beijing time, the hours will be early. I don’t mind though. I’ll be able to explore the city in the afternoon (and maybe even have more time for blogging). Furthermore, the flexible scheduling grants me the freedom to travel!

I don’t make a fortune teaching for VIPKID, but with central Mexico’s low cost of living, I’ll have no trouble covering my expenses.

In less than two weeks, I'll be exploring the gorgeous streets of Querétaro. Image Credit: Gerardo Olvera
In less than two weeks, I’ll be exploring the gorgeous streets of Querétaro. Image Credit: Gerardo Olvera

Aren’t you scared?

Mexico has certainly had its share of headlines recently. In September, the country suffered back-to-back earthquakes which caused severe damage and loss of life. Residents of Querétaro felt the earthquake on September 19, but no one reported injuries or damages.

Also in the headlines is drug-related violence. However, what many people don’t realize is that the majority of violence occurs far from where travelers visit. As with any country, it’s important to do your research. The U.S. State Department reports that travel to the state of Querétaro is safe, and there is no advisory in effect. Mexico City does not have an advisory in effect either.

Don’t you want to settle down?

To be honest, I’m not quite sure what this question even means. I think it has something to do with babies and mortgages.

Once I get to Querétaro, my first order of business is finding an apartment. I will also need to get a cell phone and open a bank account. After I have a place to live, I’ll be able to start working again. In my free time, I’m looking forward to making friends. I can’t wait to start a new book club and join a gym.

All that sounds like settling down to me.

Have you ever lived abroad? If not, would you consider it? Leave your answer in the comments below!