How much it costs, fiador, póliza jurídica & more. Everything you need to know about finding an apartment to rent in Mexico.
Apartment hunting in Mexico (not to mention, apartment hunting in Spanish) can be intimidating. But, there’s no way around it: if you’re moving to Mexico, you need to know how to rent an apartment in Mexico.
So you can apartment hunt with confidence, this post tells you exactly what need to know about renting in Mexico. It’s packed with what I’ve learned finding places to live in Querétaro and Guadalajara.
After reading this post, you will understand:
- How to find an apartment
- Rental requirements in Mexico
- What to expect from the process
- Things I wish I’d known before renting in Mexico (what the heck is a fiador?!)
Can you rent an apartment in Mexico as a foreigner?
Yes, you can rent an apartment in Mexico as a foreigner.
Even if you don’t have your temporary or permanent residency in Mexico (you should really get on that), there are still options for foreigners who want to rent an apartment in Mexico.
When I moved to Querétaro in 2017, our landlord didn’t care that I was a tourist. What mattered to her was that I made enough money to cover the rent each month and had a fiador to sign on my behalf (more on that in a second).
While it’s certainly possible to rent an apartment in Mexico as a tourist (I just told you I managed it), many Mexican landlords might be hesitant to agree to a yearlong lease when you’re technically only allowed to stay in Mexico for six months at a time.
If you don’t have your residency yet or you’re looking for a short-term rental (less than a year), your best bet might be Airbnb. In this YouTube video, my friend Louise shares her tips for how to rent an apartment in Mexico using Airbnb.
How to Find an Apartment in Mexico (Helpful Websites & Tips)
These days, especially in bigger cities like Mexico City and Guadalajara, the internet is a great place to start your apartment hunt. Some of the best websites in Mexico for rentals are:
Even before you move to Mexico, you can check out these websites to start familiarizing yourself with the rental market in your new city. However, please take what you’re seeing online with a grain of salt. The listings aren’t always up to date or accurate.
Pay attention to how long ago the listing was posted. Some realtors never take the listing down after it’s been rented. Personally, I wouldn’t get my hopes up for a place that has been listed for longer than a month.
Before you move to Mexico, the goal is to have an understanding of what people pay (on average) for rent in your new city/neighborhood. This information is good to know so you 1) don’t get ripped off and 2) you can do your part to preserve the rental market for locals.
If you’re a foreigner that earns money in USD or another strong currency, paying a higher price for rent for rent might not seem like a big deal to you, but it could skew the rental market and help create a culture where landlords forgo renting to locals in favor earning more with expats.
While the internet is a great resource for finding a place to live on Mexico, it’s not the only place to look. So much of the rental market, especially in smaller/less touristy cities, happens via word of mouth.
Many times landlords won’t list or advertise their property as “se renta,” preferring to find a tenant through a mutual connection. Actually, that’s how we found our house in Querétaro!
Are you moving to Mexico with pets? Many landlords are pet-friendly in Mexico. I know many cases where they didn’t even require an additional deposit.
Why You Should Apartment Hunt in Mexico with $10,000 MXN in Your Pocket
If you see an apartment you like in a hot rental market, be prepared to pay an “apartado.” This deposit shows the landlord you’re serious and stops them showing it to other people while the necessary rental paperwork is being completed.
The apartado could be as much as one month’s rent or another amount that both parties agree on.
For example, in the centro histórico of Querétaro, which is a very hot market, it’s a good idea to have $10,000 MXN in your pocket when you go to see a property that you’re interested in because that’s how fast properties go…you need to know what you want/need so you can make a decision quickly.
Don’t worry: that apartado (deposit) will then go toward your first month’s rent/security deposit that you have to pay upon signing the contract. But, if you back out before then, don’t expect to get it back. That’s why you need to be really serious about a place before you hand over cash.
Rental Requirements in Mexico – What You Need to Know
In Mexico, it’s very common for landlords to require that renters have a “fiador.”
A fiador (also called an aval) is a guarantor. Your fiador will sign your lease right alongside you & if you decide to skip town, they are legally responsible for your rent.
Usually, they must be a property owner in the city or state where you plan to rent as well as a Mexican citizen.
When you first move to Mexico, there’s a good chance that you won’t have a connection that you can ask to be your fiador–afterall, it’s a pretty big ask. So, what are your options?
How to Rent an Apartment in Mexico WITHOUT a Fiador
The first option is to try to bargain with the landlord. See if they’re open to some type of compromise.
I know some foreigners who have had success paying more upfront than the traditional one month’s rent + security deposit. You could try two months upfront. Six. One subscriber told me he paid a year’s rent up front to get his landlord to drop the fiador requirement.
Of course, this isn’t without its risks & you have to make the financial decision that’s best for you. What I’m saying here is that some landlords are open to negotiating and it doesn’t hurt to ask.
The second option is to pay someone to be your fiador. Pretty much wherever you are in Mexico, you can find people or businesses offering this service.
But, it’s not cheap. In Guadalajara, the fee can be as much as one month’s rent–half before they sign and half after.
The third option is becoming as one of the most popular ways for foreigners to rent an apartment in Mexico…
What is a Póliza Jurídica in Mexico & How Does It Work?
More landlords across Mexico are accepting a póliza jurídica in place of the fiador requirement.
A póliza jurídica is essentially a background check. There are special teams of lawyers that do the background check to let the landlord know whether or not you’re a good candidate for renting.
What does the póliza jurídica check?
First, they want to see that you’re either a temporary or permanent resident of Mexico.
Next, they examine your bank statements (usually, they’ll ask for the last three months) and they want to see that the rent doesn’t exceed 25 percent of your monthly income. If you don’t have monthly income, they will make the calculations for a year based on your savings.
The final component is your references–usually five (family, biz partners, friends, past landlords) usually one person on the team that speaks English so it’s okay to give non-Spanish speakers as references.
I was a reference for one of my friends here in Guadalajara and it was a short conversation. The lawyer just wanted to know how I knew my friend, how long I’d known her, what she does for work & if I think she’s trustworthy.
The fee for póliza jurídica will be between 30-50% of the monthly rent. It’s a one-time fee & it usually only takes one week to finish the investigation.
How much does it cost to rent an apartment in Mexico?
Just like in the United States, Canada or whatever country you’re moving to Mexico from, how much it costs to rent an apartment in Mexico varies a lot depending on where you want to live in Mexico.
In Querétaro, we paid $11,500 MXN per month for a two-bedroom, 1.5 bath in the centro histórico.
It was a charming old house with a small interior courtyard, white adobe walls and red tile floors. It wasn’t without its quirks though: no outlets in the downstairs bathroom and we had to have our fridge in the dining room because there was no designated space for it in the kitchen.
In Guadalajara, we pay $22,000 MXN per month for a three-bedroom, three-bath apartment on the third (top) floor of a building in the Arcos Vallarta neighborhood. It has a large kitchen, big terrace, bathtub & two parking spots.
One friend of mine in Guadalajara pays $13,500 MXN per month for her two-bedroom, two-bath in Guadalajara’s Santa Teresita neighborhood. Another amiga pays $15,500 MXN for a studio in a brand new building on the edge of Guadalajara’s Americana neighborhood.
If you’re wanting to find an apartment in Mexico for less than $10,000 MXN per month, you’ll likely need to look well outside the trendy neighborhoods in big cities or head to a smaller town. Another option is to share your space with roommates. Facebook Marketplace and RoomGo are good places to look for rooms to rent in Mexico.
What’s included when you rent an apartment in Mexico?
Rentals in Mexico are equipped with water, gas and electricity under the landlord’s name. We’ve always paid the utilities on our own, but some landlords will include them in the rent.
As a renter, the only thing you might have to set up is internet. Our preferred Mexican internet providers are TotalPlay and Telmex. I’m not a fan of Megacable but know that it’s the only service available in some areas.
- Cost of Living in Querétaro, Mexico
- Cost of Living in La Paz, Mexico
- Buying a Home in Mexico (A Guide for Foreigners)
What I Wish I’d Known About Renting in Mexico
Renting an apartment in Mexico is going to be different than it is in other countries. You need to be flexible and willing to adapt.
One thing I wish I’d known about renting in Mexico is that most landlords in Mexico will insist that you pay your rent in cash. That really threw us for a loop at first—we’d gotten to used to transferring our rent when we lived in Spain and the US.
For even more things I wish I’d known about renting in Mexico plus a handy renting in Spanish cheatsheet (exact phrases that you can WhatsApp to a landlord), download the free 32-page Move to Mexico Quickstart Guide.