Buying a House in Mexico: Expat Homeowner’s Guide for 2024

Buying a house in Mexico is a life-changing decision and certainly not one to be taken lightly. Purchasing property in any country, including your own, can be overwhelming and stressful but when you add additional factors like language barriers, foreign language contracts, and bureaucracy into the mix, it becomes even more so.  

I am a British Travel Writer based in Merida, Yucatan who bought a house here in November 2023. I know first-hand exactly what it is like to go through this process and the anxiety that comes with it so I wanted to write about my experiences to help others in the same position.

My house, Casa Azul, in the Yucatan

Buying a House in Mexico in 2024

If you are considering purchasing a home in Mexico as a place to live or as an investment property, this article is for you. For now, at least, buying property in Mexico is fairly straightforward, you don’t need residency and the process is not as intimidating as many naysayers would have you believe.

Yes, foreigners (Americans, Canadians, Europeans, etc) can buy property in Mexico and no, it is not illegal for foreigners to buy houses by the coast. (I specifically mention that because it is a very common misconception).

In this post, I will talk about: 

  • Where to find a house in Mexico and the average costs of property

  • Whether you need to employ the services of a buyer-side realtor

  • How long the whole process takes from making an offer to closing

  • Fideicomisos and common myths about buying property by the coast

  • What to look for when it comes to contracts and lawyers

  • The average closing costs for purchasing property in Mexico

My personal experience with buying a house in Mexico 

I wanted to start out by sharing my personal experience with buying a house in Mexico. If you don’t care, no hard feelings – you can use the table of contents above to skip to the relevant information you need but I thought that this would help give context. 

After renting properties in Merida for two years, I wanted to buy a place that was completely my own. In August 2023, I sold my business in the UK (my former travel blog: High Heels & a Backpack) for multi-six figures which put me in a privileged position where I was able to buy a house outright. 

I initially flirted with the idea of building a house rather than buying one as it would have enabled me to save as much as 30-40% on the total cost of a house, but I ultimately decided it would be too stressful.

I also considered moving from Merida to San Sebastian del Oeste or one of the more rural villages in the hills above Puerto Vallarta but after browsing properties in both locations, I settled on Merida. After all, I knew it well and had already spent 2 years in the Yucatan. 

In September, I found a great three-bedroom fixer-upper in Cholul and made an offer that got accepted. However, the seller didn’t have the paperwork in order to sell the house, and the realtor was rude, unresponsive, and didn’t update me on what was going on. 

After a month of silence and stress, I withdrew my offer and found another house via Facebook Marketplace and the process was much smoother. From offer to closing, the entire process took just under 6 weeks. 

Spotlights outside my house entrance

Stages of buying a house in Mexico 

In the most simple terms, the stages of buying a house in Mexico are as per the below. 

  • Browse Facebook Marketplace and real estate websites to search for homes in your desired area

  • Organize viewings and review the properties you like

  • Make an offer and wait for it to be accepted or negotiated

  • Pay an “apatado” to hold the property while the paperwork is drawn up

  • Sign the promissory agreement (“promesa”) and pay the deposit to hold the property

  • Wait for the notario to perform a title search, do all of the paperwork, and change the final deed into your name

  • In parallel, wait for the notario to set up a Fideicomiso with the bank (only applicable if the property is within 40km of a land border or coastline)

  • Pay the closing costs with the notario (often between 5 and 10% of your purchase price)

  • Sign the final contract, receive a copy of the deeds (“escritura”), pay the final balance and receive the keys

  • Switch the CFE electric bill, the water bill, and the garbage collection bill into your name

  • Wait approximately 3 months for the Public Registry to send you the original deeds (escritura) for the house
A cute planter outside my kitchen window

Where to search for houses for sale in Mexico

There are a couple of decent property websites in Mexico but two of the main ones are Point2homes or Inmuebles24. Although it might sound a little strange, Facebook Marketplace is huge here and Mexicans use it to buy and sell everything from unwanted furniture and clothes to cars and houses.

(I actually found my house through Facebook Marketplace!) You can also ask around in Mexico expat Facebook groups to see if anyone knows of a place for sale, or research new “privadas” (gated communities) and housing developments being built in your area, and then reach out to the developers directly.

There are definitely a lot of investors who purchase real estate in Mexico and do everything remotely without even physically going to see the property. However, I think it’s a good idea to always view the place as sometimes things look very different in person.

Plus when it comes to “preventa” properties that are still under construction, you want to make sure that the house is actually being built. Many of the new “luxury” gated communities were a little too built-up for my liking (i.e. no privacy and about 5-6 neighbors that overlook your garden), and were often made with cheap, low-quality materials that you would not have known if you purely trusted the photos online.

My kitchen with cute Yucatecan tiles

Organizing property viewings in Mexico

I personally chose not to employ a buyer-side realtor in Mexico and just reached out to all of the properties I was interested in independently. I speak conversational Spanish but most realtors in the Yucatan speak English too.

On real estate websites like Point2Homes, you can message or email the realtors that represent the various properties but I often found that people never got back to me so it worked out much easier to call them.

It was usually possible to organize a viewing for a couple of days later. If a realtor is already working with a property listing, it will be the seller that pays the realtor’s fees (often 6% of the sales price).

However, if you go out and find a realtor that you like and ask them to get you viewings of properties that they do not currently represent, you will have to pay their fees. Obviously, a “seller side” realtor has the seller in mind first and foremost but that really isn’t an issue most of the time.

When you chat with a realtor about a property, they will generally try and show you others that they represent too. However, obviously, they work on commission so it’s important to take the time to review all of your options and carefully think about which one is the best for you.

Viewing Pre-Venta properties in Mexico

“Pre-venta” (pre-sale) properties are common in many parts of Mexico, including Cancun and the Riviera Maya, Merida, Puerto Vallarta, and Baja California Sur. These are properties that are still under construction, where you typically get a discounted price for paying a certain % of the sales price in advance of the completed house being delivered.

These discounts come about because the builders are trying to raise funds to invest in the rest of the construction project. They often need the money that people offer for presale purchases to even finish the project in the first place. 

Since the property is not yet completed, you will be sent digital renders and promotional videos to show you what the final product is going to look like.

While these often look very appealing, they are still just false digital images so it is still a good idea to go look at the construction site. If the foundations of the house are up, it is easy enough to visualize what the house will be like when it is completed. 

Lead times on these can be anywhere from 6 months to a year and above. It really isn’t unheard of for the houses to be completed late, which can make for a lot of extra stress and annoyance, but there will often be a clause in the contract that states that the seller/construction company will have to pay penalties to the buyer for every month it is late.

Things to think about when considering pre-sale properties

A lot of new build projects may have houses that are available now, yet construction on the wider street/neighborhood is likely to be ongoing for the next year or two. Sometimes there are people living in a couple of houses when the rest of the road is not even paved.

You need to consider whether or not you will be happy with living in what is essentially a noisy construction site for the coming weeks and months. Building work often starts as early as 7 a.m. and people tend to work from Monday to Saturday.

Before purchasing my home, my partner and I rented a new build house in a privada called “Yucatan townhouses” in Cholul, Yucatan for about seven months. While we loved the property itself, we were one of just a couple of residents on a street that was still very much under construction. There was no escaping from the noise that often vibrated the whole house, and was a nightmare for me as someone who works from home.

What to look out for at property viewings

There are a couple of things to look out for when you go to property viewings.

If you are viewing an existing property, look out for things like mold, dampness, and anything else that needs to be repaired. If there are issues that need addressing, clarify if the seller will fix them.

(Your notary/lawyer will draw a clause about this into your purchase contract). Construction costs are generally much lower in Mexico so a lot of superficial repair work can be done fairly cheaply, while things like dampness and leakages can turn out to be very expensive.

Privadas (“gated communities”)are very popular among both Mexicans and foreign buyers because of the extra security, communal sites (like swimming pools, gyms, and playgrounds), and the “exclusive” feel.

They are usually marketed from a luxury angle but the quality can vary substantially from place to place. I went to see dozens of these kinds of developments across the Yucatan peninsula and some were tasteful gated communities consisting of just 8-12 houses.

Others were sprawling projects consisting of thousands of houses all crammed tightly together with little privacy.

Visiting preventa sites still under construction in Merida, Yucatan

Do you need a property inspection? 

If you find a house during your search that you are strongly interested in to the point that you are considering making an offer, you can consider paying for an inspection. This means that a third-party structural engineer will come to the property and check that everything is okay with it and that it is generally in good condition. 

They will check for things like dampness and humidity/moisture problems, make sure that the electrical outlets are working correctly, check the water pressure, examine the roof, and look for any structural issues. This is mostly for your own peace of mind but if large issues are found, it can help you either renegotiate the price of the house or potentially avoid a lot of expense when you first move into a new home.

Property inspection prices vary depending on the area. In the Yucatan, you can expect to pay around 4,000 pesos for a third-party inspector. (Circa $226 USD/£187) 

If your realtor cannot help connect you with a third-party inspector, you can ask around in expat Facebook groups in your area. It is the buyer (aka, you) that is responsible for paying for the inspection.

Nobody can see behind walls but it could be good to have an idea of what you are getting into. In my case, my partner works in construction so he checked everything himself when we went to view the house and was happy with it.

plots of land for sale in Mexico

Building a house from scratch

You can save a significant chunk of change if you decide to build your own house in Mexico rather than buy one since completed properties usually have a 30-40% profit margin tacked on to the final sale price. This even works out substantially cheaper than a preventa property as with a preventa, you are still paying profits to the developer.

In Mexico, you can essentially build a house in as little as 3-6 months and the process is a lot more common and easier here than it is in other countries.

The biggest headache is perhaps searching for an initial plot of land to build on as land is not well advertised in Mexico so most of the time, you just need to rent a car and drive around the areas that interest you looking for “for sale” signs.

Construction prices vary significantly from state to state and city to city, and factors such as the remoteness of the location or the spec of the house/the quality of the building materials play a role. Prices are constantly changing and for the most part, they are trending upwards and becoming more expensive.

In 2023, we were quoted $8,500 pesos per meter squared (m2) of construction to build a house in Merida. In rural Jalisco, we were quoted $14,500 pesos per m2 because the location was remote and it was trickier for the workers to take the materials there. 

You can find “inspiration” for your home design by visiting various properties and then sending your preferences to an architect so that they can create a render for you. A render will typically cost between 8,000 and 10,000 pesos and will be customized to factor in the size of your lot, any design requests, etc. 

The build versus buy decision 

Only you can decide which option is preferable for you – whether you want the convenience of buying an existing house, or you want to build your own dream home from scratch and save money in the process.

As mentioned, you can save a lot on the purchase price of the house by building it yourself but you also save on acquisition tax. Acquisition taxes can be anywhere from between 3 to 5% depending on the state and the area but if you build your own house, you only pay this on the land, rather than the entire house.

The most stressful thing is perhaps that things don’t always go exactly to plan, especially not in Mexico. If you are considering building a house, you also need to be prepared to monitor and essentially micromanage some of the building work that takes place at the construction site.

Even if you know very little about the process of building a house, you should expect to travel to the site at least once a week for updates on what is going on to make sure that work is actually taking place and to make sure that no materials or equipment are stolen from you.

Making an offer on a property 

If you have found a house that you like the look of, you can move forward by making an offer. This can be done informally via WhatsApp, email, etc. 

It is pretty customary to offer the asking price in Mexico, particularly in areas where there is a lot of demand, like Puerto Vallarta or the Yucatan. Lowball offers are often unproductive and are not taken seriously unless there are problems with a property.

I made an offer 8% lower than the asking price on the first property I had wanted to buy but that was because there were a lot of issues with it.

The property had been abandoned for several months prior and had some humidity issues that needed to be addressed. The seller accepted my offer but as I mentioned, they didn’t have their paperwork in order and I eventually retracted it and bought a different property.

I offered the full asking price for the house I actually bought. It was love at first sight and I didn’t want to shoot myself in the foot and miss out on it just for trying to save a few thousand dollars.

I am glad that I did offer the full amount too, as when we were signing the promissory agreement, the seller received four more offers. I think there is a fine line between not looking too eager and making an offer right away and not missing out.

With the house that I purchased, I actually got back home from the viewing and made an offer an hour later.

Paying an “apatado”

In Mexico, it is customary to pay an “apatado” when an offer has been accepted on a house. This is a small charge of around $1,000 USD or so which serves as your formal intent to buy the property and holds it for you while the promesa (purchase contract) paperwork is being drawn up.

After receiving the apatado, the seller will cancel all future viewings of the property and remove it from any property listing sites under the notice that it is “en apartado”. The amount that you pay will be deducted from the final cost of the house later.

If for any reason you then decide that you no longer want to buy the house, you lose the apatado.

It is worth noting that you should never hand over any money in Mexico without the necessary legal paperwork to protect you. The same goes for paying an apatado.

This should be done in the presence of a notary who will draw up a document to confirm what has been paid, by and to whom, and the terms of the payment. It is then typical to pay the apatado to the seller or the realtor via a bank transfer.

Finding a notario in Mexico

A trustworthy Mexican notary (“notario”) is the only legal representation that you need for your house purchase. This is a Mexican lawyer who specializes in real estate and is not to be confused with American notaries who have fewer powers.

I worked with Ballote & Associates in Merida who I would certainly recommend if you decide to purchase a property in the Yucatan. (I am in no way affiliated with them, I just had a great experience with them).

Your notario will help clarify any questions or concerns you may have about the process of buying a house in Mexico. They will draw up the legal documents required for the apatado, the purchase contract (promesa de compraventa/ contrato de compraventa), and the final purchase agreement and deeds (escritura).

After the deposit is received, the notario will also do an extensive property search to make sure that everything is okay with the sale, the deed, etc. If desired, you can also ask them to do an evaluation of the property to make sure that the purchase price is in the ballpark of what the property is actually worth.

Signing the sales contract 

Once the apatado has been paid and the notario has had the time to go away and prepare all of the paperwork, a contract (“contrato de promesa”) is drawn up. The legally binding version of this document must be in Spanish, but as a foreign buyer, your notario will provide you with a translated copy of the document and go through everything step-by-step with you.

At this point, both you and the seller will need to provide your proof of identity (usually just your passport) and you will need to show that you are in Mexico legally. As mentioned, you do not need to be a resident of Mexico to buy a house here, so if you are in the country on a tourist visa, the entrance stamp in your passport is fine.

If you have temporary or permanent residency, you will need to show your residency card.

Electronic signatures are not accepted on Mexican real estate contracts so, you must either sign the contract in person by hand or have a printer and a scanner ready so that you can sign the document, scan and email it from home. I would generally advise making sure that you do everything in the notary office together with the seller and the notario, just so that you can see that everything is handled correctly and above board.

Visiting preventa sites still under construction in Merida, Yucatan
Visiting pre-venta sites still under construction in Merida, Yucatan

Paying the initial deposit 

You are expected to pay the deposit within 5-7 business days after signing the contract. This is usually between 10% and 20% of the property value but with some promesa deals, you might get a better discount if you pay more upfront. 

For example, they might offer a 5% discount if you pay a 30% deposit upfront and more money before delivery, a 10% discount if you pay a 50% down payment upfront, etc. 

Even if you are not offered such a deal, it is worth asking to see if you can negotiate the price down further, especially if you are an all-cash buyer and you have the funds ready. 

Most deposits are sent via a bank transfer or cashier’s cheque but in my case, the seller wanted part of the deposit in cash. I was pretty uncomfortable with this but apparently, it is very common for people to ask for partial payment in cash in Mexico, especially if they need the money to pay construction workers, etc.

You should also note that in Mexico, the deposit is usually given directly to the seller, and using an escrow account is not standard. Many notaries also do not offer escrow holding services.

The seller was highly suspicious of the concept of an escrow, while I was anxious about someone running off into the sunset with my hard-earned money. Eventually, we agreed for me to give 5% of the deposit in cash to the seller and 5% to be held by the notario in the form of a cashier’s cheque.

The notario drew up legal documentation to protect both parties.

What happens when the property goes under contract 

When the property goes under contract, you can essentially wait and go about your life until your notario contacts you about the closing. They will perform extensive title deed checks, organize a valuation, and apply for a permit from the foreign affairs office.

If your property is located within 50km of a natural coastline or 100km from a land border like mine, you will need to obtain a Fideicomiso. As I mentioned, the entire process with my house purchase took just 6 weeks but a lot of this depends on both the seller and the buyer having all of their papers in order.

It can also take slightly longer depending on the time of year. (For example over Christmas, many government offices don’t really process anything for a couple of weeks which can make everything slower).

I have heard some nightmare stories from people who were waiting months to close on their houses. I was also initially told that I may need to wait four months to close on the first house I made an offer on (which I retracted) because the seller was American, and did not have their Mexican tax number (RFC) for them to be able to claim capital gains tax exemption and didn’t have time in their schedule to organize it.

How ridiculous. Ultimately I am glad I withdrew that offer even if it was annoying at the time.

Once a property is under a promesa contract, you cannot back out without forfeiting your deposit. If the seller tries to back out, they must refund you your deposit and pay you an additional fee equivalent to the deposit value.

Obtaining a Fideicomiso

One of the most popular myths about buying a house in Mexico is that you cannot purchase property along the coast. This is false so rest assured, you can have that beachfront condo in Playa Del Carmen if you want it. 

Basically, a centuries-old law in Mexico would prohibit foreigners from purchasing land close to borders or coastlines because this is how the USA took over Texas and California. The law is no longer really applicable but it takes time to change legislature and so in the interim, fideicomiso agreements are used as a workaround. 

A fideicomiso is a bank trust whereby you enter an agreement with a Mexican bank. They essentially buy the property for you and you purchase it through them.

That might sound suspect but it is above board and has now become relatively standard practice. The agreement is valid for 50 years and can be renewed indefinitely. 

Rest assured, the property is yours. This is not a lease and you have full owner rights.

Nobody can just come and take your home away and the fideicomiso offers additional protections – e.g. you are free from liens, seizures, etc. 

Costs of a fideicomiso 

You need to pay around 50,000 pesos to start the fideicomiso agreement (the exact amount varies depending on where in Mexico you are), and then it costs around $500 USD a year to maintain the trust. If you are purchasing a property from another foreigner who already has a fideicomiso in place, you can save around $2,000 to $2,500 because the existing fideicomiso can be transferred into your name.

However, it is worth noting that transferring an existing trust to a new “beneficiary” is often more time-consuming and complicated than setting up a new one. Your notario will set the fideicomiso up for you and most likely have a preferred bank that they work with.

Smaller, local banks often provide a better, more personalized service than large national banks so don’t be concerned if you see that your fideicomiso is through a bank you haven’t heard of rather than a big name like HSBC, BBVA, Citi Banamex, etc.

Closing costs

Your closing costs on a house purchase can be as much as 5 to 10% of the purchase value of the house. It is a good idea to account for this when you start looking at properties – expect the maximum and then be pleasantly surprised if you pay less than 10%.

My final closing costs turned out to be 8.2% of the cost of the house. They can be broken down into:

  • Cost for establishing Fideicomiso (27,000 MXN)

  • Initial Fideicomiso one-off opening fee (9918 MXN)

  • Advance payment of the next year’s Fideicomiso fee (9918 MXN)

  • Legal fees (26,000 MXN)

  • Aquisition tax (69,000 MXN)

  • Deed, government fees, appraisal, etc (39,886 MXN)

If you have a budget or an amount of credit to adhere to, it is better to choose a house that doesn’t eat up the entirety of your budget as there are always hidden costs. In addition to the above, I no doubt spent thousands on travel fees while trekking back and forth across Mexico looking for properties too.

I rented a car in Puerto Vallarta and stayed in hotels in Jalisco while driving around looking for plots of land, before flying to Merida and staying in Merida hotels while meeting with realtors. These trips, while necessary, did end up costing over $1,000 USD overall. 

Property acquisition tax (ISAI) can cost anywhere from 2% to 5% of the total value of the house. In the Yucatan, it is 2.5% in most of Merida, but 3% along the beaches of Mexicos Gulf Coast. 

Closing the property purchase 

When the deed (escritura) and all the other documents are set and ready to go, your notario will notify you that it is time to close the purchase. At this point, you need to give the balance of the house purchase price to the seller.

This is commonly done by transfer but again, the seller wanted a portion by cash and a portion by cashier’s cheque. I was really not thrilled at the prospect of withdrawing around 700,000 pesos in cash but the seller agreed that we could sign all the paperwork at the notary’s office and then head to the bank together to take the cash.

I have a Mexican bank account with Intercam so I had to transfer the balance of the house price to my Mexican account via WIRE transfers before I could request for the cashier’s cheque to be drawn up and reserve the cash. Unfortunately, Mexican banks do not accept transfers from Wise or Revolut – I found this out the hard way after transferring over £12,000 I had in my Wise account, and almost getting my Mexican account closed!

Double-check the WIRE process with your bank before you approach the payment deadline. My bank in the UK only allows me to transfer £10,000 per day by WIRE unless I physically go into the branch which was less than ideal when transferring money to Mexico for a house purchase.

You will be handed the keys immediately after closing, and then you can set about moving into the property and making the house your own. 

The notario will then send all the signed documents to the federal government office in Mexico so that they can register the property under your name. Then, you will receive further documentation from the public registry confirming that you are the homeowner. 

Mortgage and credit options in Mexico 

As I mentioned, I bought my house outright in cash. I believe that Americans and Canadians may be able to obtain funding in their own country or get equity on their properties in the US and Canada in order to aid them in buying a home in Mexico.

However, as far as I am aware, there are no financing options available for my fellow British people, and credit options are not widely available in Mexico (for either foreigners or Mexicans)

My partner is Mexican and has an engineering job that makes him extremely well-paid by Mexican standards and yet he can only get credit of around 1.2 million Mexican pesos (circa $68,000 USD). 

You should investigate what credit options you may have before starting to search for a house. Do not rely on obtaining credit from Mexican institutions. 

Property taxes in Mexico

Once you have finalized your home purchase, you need to contact the local council office and clarify what the taxes are. Property taxes in Mexico are usually pretty reasonable and at the most, are only a couple of hundred dollars a year.

Property taxes in gated communities are often slightly higher, and of course, if you live in a gated community, you also need to pay a monthly HOA fee which is usually between $50-$70 USD a month.

Switching bills and utilities into your name 

When you move into your home, you need to contact CFE (the Mexican Electric Board), the local refuse collection company, and your local water supplier to switch everything to your name.

You need to choose an internet company for your WIFI/internet connection and have your line/router set up too. People had warned me about everything being slow in Mexico and I was prepared to wait weeks for my internet to be ready but I called TotalPlay and they were excellent and sent someone over the very same day.

By the evening, my internet was set up and ready to go.

Making early steps to decorate my living room

Shopping for furniture in Mexico 

Shopping for furniture is (for me at least), one of the most fun parts of decorating your new Mexican casita. I actually started ordering furniture from department stores and appliance stores before I closed on my house which I thought was a risky move at the time, but in hindsight, I would definitely recommend it.

I bought a lot of my “big” pieces of furniture (three-piece sofa set, dining table and chairs, mattress and bed frame) from department stores like Liverpool and Sears. People often expect bargains in Mexico but to be honest, good quality furniture costs about the same here as you would expect to pay in the US or Canada.

Sometimes, it is even more expensive as it has to be imported. There are some other cute places to shop for odds and ends, like Gaia Design Mexico, or even Amazon Mexico, but it depends on the quality you are looking for.

Most things took 3-4 weeks to be delivered. Sometimes it was a bit annoying because an order would only be partially fulfilled (e.g. the chairs in my three-piece sofa set all came one by one, weeks apart), but on the whole, I cannot complain.

You can find stores by searching “mubeles” (furniture) on Google Maps for the specific city you are in. For electrical appliances, you can check out Elektra, Home Depot, and Mexican supermarkets like Walmart, Costco, Bodega Aurrera, and Chedraui.

FAQs About Buying a House in Mexico 

Do you have any further questions or concerns about buying a house in Mexico? The answers to some frequently asked questions on the topic are detailed below for your consideration. 

Hopefully, you will find the information you are searching for there. If not, please do not hesitate to reach out to me and I will do my best to get back to you as soon as I can. 

Can I get Mexican residency through my property purchase in Mexico? 

You may be able to obtain Mexican residency through your property purchase depending on the value of the house. Requirements for temporary and permanent residency in Mexico are set to change in early 2024 and applicants need far more substantial savings/income than they did previously. 

You can obtain Mexican temporary residency through your property purchase if your property has a value of at least 40,000x the Minimum Daily Wage. This works out at around $437,000 USD. 

Since a lot of houses are sold for substantially less than this, it might be that you need to go down a different route for temporary residency. If you can prove that your monthly income is over a certain amount, or you have had a certain amount of money stored in savings for more than six months, you can obtain temporary residency this way. 

However, unfortunately, both routes mean that you need to travel back to your home country and apply for residency through the Mexican embassy there. If your property purchase is over the required value of $437,000 USD, the same lawyer/notario that you bought your house through can help you with applying for residency. 

Can foreigners buy property in Mexico? Do I need residency? 

Yes, foreigners can buy property in Mexico and no, you do not need to be a resident of the country. You can invest in real estate here on a tourist visa (or even remotely from overseas).

Residents of most countries can travel to Mexico for six months at a time on a tourist visa so Mexico can be the perfect location for a second holiday home, based on the amount of time you are able to spend here.  

Think carefully about where you want to live or purchase property 

Whether you are buying a house in Mexico as a place to live or as a real estate investment, it’s something that you should consider carefully. If you are not already living in Mexico and you are basing your desire to live in the country off of past vacations and visits, I would urge you to do a “trial run” and spend an extended period of time in Mexico first of all, so that you can take a closer peek behind the curtain and into the reality of living in Mexico. 

Vacations are not a good representation of reality. Using the Yucatan where I live as an example – the colonial city of Merida can be beautiful and some days you are wandering through the colorful cobbled streets of Centro feeling like you are in a movie set. 

Then, when the summer hits and the “mild” 30°C days give way to days of 47°C heat that feels like you are in a furnace, heavy torrential rainfall during the rainy season, flooded streets without drainage, and hurricanes and tropical storms that knock out the electricity for a few days, it feels more like a survival movie. 

I love living in Merida and I wouldn’t change being here for the world. But you need to be aware of the good and bad aspects of the place you are considering relocating to. 

Stay somewhere during the low season or the rainy season to take a look at practically how you would cope with living there year-round. Rent Airbnbs for 28 days at a time in different areas and neighborhoods so that you can get a feel for which parts of town you prefer for a long-term base. 

Is the location desirable if you want to rent or sell in the future?

You may be intending to purchase your home in Mexico with the view of living out the rest of your days there but our situations can always change. So it is worth considering how desirable the Mexican property would be to other people if you decide to rent it out or sell it in the future. 

I live in the Yucatan capital of Merida. It is the safest city in Mexico and it is quickly emerging as one of the best new cultural getaway destinations in the southern part of the country. 

Its location makes it the perfect jump-off point for embarking on a Yucatan road trip and visiting Chichen Itza, Uxmal, Mayapan, and other Mayan ruins and gorgeous Yucatecan beaches. The construction of the Tren Maya train that will run from Cancun and Tulum to Merida, Campeche City, and various other destinations across the Yucatan peninsula will make the city even more accessible and likely encourage more tourism in the near future. 

With that in mind, I knew that if I decided to move back to the UK or go traveling long-term in the future, I could easily rent my house out on Airbnb, find a long-term tenant, or even sell it. House prices in Merida have been steadily increasing for over a decade, and the trend looks likely to continue going forward.

Other places of tourist interest like the Riviera Maya, Puerto Vallarta, San Miguel de Allende, and Baja California Sur have similar potential. 

We had considered building a house in rural Jalisco but ultimately decided the location was too remote

Desirable and undesirable places to invest 

Conversely, before settling on Merida, despite living in the Yucatan for two years, I had also considered relocating to one of the little villages in the Sierra Madre Occidental of rural Jalisco. I was drawn by their high altitudes and cooler climates (I’m British!) and went to look at properties and plots of land in San Sebastian del Oeste and Mascota. 

However, after driving along the winding rural roads 2.5 hours away from Puerto Vallarta, I decided that not only was the location a bit isolated, but the area was somewhere that most international tourists hadn’t even heard of and it would be extremely difficult to find someone who wanted to vacation there or rent it from me. 

There have even been safety warnings for that particular stretch of road in Jalisco and while I personally think that the safety concerns in Mexico are often overplayed, I know that perceptions and the popularity (or lack thereof) of certain places weren’t going to change overnight. 

Final thoughts on buying a house in Mexico

Buying a house in Mexico can be a stressful and involved process but fortunately, things run more smoothly here than you might realize and the process of purchasing and closing on a house is not all that different from doing so elsewhere. The most important thing is that you do your due diligence and work with a trustworthy notario. 

This article is a work in progress and will be updated periodically as I decorate my house.

Please do not hesitate to reach out to me if you have any questions about relocating to or traveling in Mexico 🙂

Buen Viaje! Melissa xo 


Melissa Douglas

Melissa Douglas is a British Travel Writer based in Merida, Mexico and the Editor-in-Chief of Mexico Travel Secrets. She has over seven years worth of experience in working in travel media and has travelled to 57 countries, mostly solo. Throughout her career, Melissa has produced written content for several high-profile publications across the globe - including Forbes Travel Guide, the Huffington Post, Rough Guides, and Matador Network.

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