- Personal Stories & Opinions>
- How to Find an Apartment in Latin America
Some odd months ago, I got an email from some unknown person telling me that they plan on moving to Latin America in the future.
If I remember right, I think they were headed to either Cali, Colombia.
Well, one of the concerns that this person had was “how do I get an apartment in Cali?”
To me, it seems like a pretty silly question.
It isn’t difficult to do.
But this goes back to a previous point I’m sure I mentioned somewhere else on this website…
How, if you had never or rarely left your home country before, you might be intimidated by the whole process.
Even when it comes to doing basic things like getting a place set up to live in.
So I get it.
In that sense, I figured I might as well cover this topic briefly in this article here.
And break down all of the different ways you can try to find a place and some of my own tips and experiences in the end of this article to wrap it up.
So let’s begin first with the different ways to find an apartment in Latin America.
Option 1: Facebook Groups
The first option is to simply use Facebook groups!
Now I had a friend of mine say to me some months ago that he doesn’t trust Facebook groups because he feels that the prices for apartments on there are higher than what you can find elsewhere.
I think he says that because of some mentality like “Well, Americans use Facebook so Facebook is too Americanized and must have higher prices then.”
Latinos down here use Facebook too obviously.
And you can find plenty of Facebook groups that are mostly used by the locals for mostly locals.
Though you can use them too obviously.
In my experience, I never noticed the apartments on there to be overpriced relative to other avenues to find an apartment.
Perhaps if you join a Facebook group that is titled something like “Foreigners in Mexico City.”
In that case, I can see the prices being elevated because you would probably have some locals going on there offering apartments with the intention of specifically finding a foreigner that they can give the “gringo price” to.
Otherwise, all you have to do is look up a group in the Facebook search results in Spanish (or Portuguese if you are going to Brazil).
For example, if you want to find an apartment in Mexico City, just look something up like “departamentos en renta en CDMX.”
In other countries, they might instead use the word “apartamentos” instead of “departamentos” as I used to use the word “apartamento” more often before moving away from South America to Mexico.
But you get the idea.
Join the group then and look at the different apartment offerings.
You can also post something in these groups as well asking if anyone has a place to rent.
Try to do it in Spanish though if you speak Spanish as I feel that will lower the chance of getting the “gringo price.”
Now if they see you are a gringo by your profile, some might try to do that anyway but we will address that later in the tips.
Anyway, they can’t gringo price you if you message a landlord that already posted their offer in the group with the price.
So it should be fine.
Option 2: Airbnb
This is a typical option that foreigners tend to go to.
I don’t really have much experience with Airbnb so I can’t recommend it strongly.
But I heard it works well enough for lots of people so I will put it down here.
An important piece of advice I have heard when it comes to Airbnb is to ask for a discount on the price if you plan on living there for an extended period of time.
When I moved to Pachuca, Mexico, this landlord lady named Maria offered me a place she had.
Which, from what I saw, she normally rents out on Airbnb but she reached out to on Facebook for a discount that was significantly lower than what people would pay through the Airbnb service.
I think, if I remember right, if someone were to stay at her place through Airbnb, they would have paid like 30 bucks a night.
Or like 900 bucks.
I ended up paying around 250 bucks or 5,000 pesos.
So I guess it’s not a bad idea here.
Option 3: Walk Around
Here is a photo of some apartment offer I saw walking outside in Mexico City.
I have been looking for a new place to move to recently.
And saw this.
I texted the number on Whatsapp and asked for more details on the place.
Apparently it was shit.
If I remember right, they didn’t have a kitchen that I could use and some other issues as well.
And offered roughly the same price as the place I pay for now – a place that does offer a kitchen and my own private bathroom.
So it was a no from me.
Regardless, you can find some good options by walking around.
When I lived in a part of Mexico City near Metro CU, I saw apartment offerings in the street most days of the week.
People with stuff posted here and there.
For rooms that were around 100 to 150 bucks a month with utilities included.
And some mini studios and 1 bedroom apartments for like 200 to 400 bucks a month with utilities included also.
So you can find some good deals (though that area of Mexico City is relatively cheap but still).
Either way, not a bad way to find a place to move into.
Option 4: Have a Friend?
Some months ago, a friend of mine named Angie asked me if I knew where this old apartment was that I lived in some years ago in Mexico City.
She thought the place was nice and wanted to ask the landlord if a room was available as it was a building with various rooms.
It was a place specifically near Metro Juanacatlán.
Well, I told her where it was and that was it.
She never moved in though so maybe the landlord didn’t have any spots or maybe she found a better option.
But the same thing is happening to me now.
I have a friend who is leaving his apartment in a few weeks as he is moving to Condesa area of Mexico City.
I always thought his place was a fairly good deal for the price and he always talked about how great his landlord and wifi are.
And I’ve had a shit landlord and wifi for the past few months so I’m feeling for a change.
And nothing is more valuable than having a good landlord when it comes to renting a new apartment.
So he plans on giving me his landlord’s contact info in the next few days hopefully and I will be in discussion with the landlord for a rental contract.
Anyway, if you happen to have a friend who can help you find a good place or recommend a place they live in now or have lived in…
Not a bad idea.
Option 5: Websites
There are different websites that you can use to try to find an apartment in Latin America.
I included a list of them below here.
I’m not familiar if all of these websites offer apartment offerings in every Latin America or just some as I obviously haven’t tried using them in every single country to find an apartment.
These are just the ones I have come across.
And if you have any websites for specific countries or LATAM that you recommend that I didn’t include, please let me know in the comment section so I can edit this article and put them in this list.
Anyway, here is the list for you to use:
Also, keep in mind that many of these links will take you to the Mexican version of these websites.
Or I suspect so anyway since I am currently in Mexico.
It might redirect you to the appropriate version of your own country depending on your IP address but I'm not sure.
Well, let’s get to some general tips now for you to remember when it comes to apartment hunting in Latin America.
Tip 1: Whatsapp
Whatsapp is a messaging app that people use in Latin America for free calls and texts as long as you are using it with Wifi.
So download it.
When you are apartment hunting, some of the numbers that you put in your phone can be contacted by Whatsapp and it is useful for getting in contact with landlords down here.
Also, make sure to include the area code when putting in a landlord’s number into your phone. This is especially true if your phone is from outside of the Latin country you are in.
For example, when trying to find a Mexican landlord on Whatsapp, I include the +52 number. Without it, sometimes Whatsapp won’t let me find and reach out the landlord I want to speak with.
Tip 2: SIM Card
If you can, get a local SIM card that you can use to make actual calls outside of Whatsapp so that it will be easier to contact landlords that don’t use Whatsapp.
Granted, I have never bought a SIM card funny enough over the years of living down here.
I just don’t get why I would get one and buy data but that’s another topic for another day as to why I don’t do this.
But it can be helpful for sure since I have sometimes had local Mexican friends call specific landlords that didn’t have Whatsapp for me.
If you don’t want to inconvenience your friends in situations like that, then I recommend getting a SIM card.
In Mexico, from what I was told, you can buy one at a OXXO store.
And if you are not going to Mexico, where do you get one?
I’m not sure but you can ask someone local who you trust – the lady running the desk at the hotel you are at or a friend or an expat in a expat Facebook group that you are part of….
And speaking of hotels….
Tip 3: Hotel
One other tip is to start out your trip to whatever Latin country you are going to is to set yourself up in a hotel or an Airbbn for a week more or less.
In that week, you can then do your hunting.
I remember when I first arrived to Mexico City years ago….
I was staying at some cheap 30 dollar a night hotel near Zocalo area.
Funny enough, I went on a date with some chick a day or two after my arrival that I met on Tinder…
And she brought her best friend along without telling me that she would…
So I knew right there that the date probably wasn’t going to lead to anything physical…
And found it rude that she didn’t tell me anyhow that her friend was coming along.
But I did have a meeting setup to find this one apartment in Roma Norte area of Mexico City…
So I figured I might as well put her to use since I didn’t want to get lost in Mexico City and she knew her way around.
If I can’t fuck her that day, I might as well have her be my free tour guide.
Now given how big Mexico City was and given I didn’t know my way around…
I told her “why don’t we go to this café I know in Roma Norte area? I can buy us some coffee and food. They have really good coffee and food. You know how to get there?”
She said “sure!”
So we went on some bus and she took us to that neighborhood.
Then I told her that a friend needs to see me for a second at this specific building before we can go to the café.
I asked her “can you call this guy since I don’t have my phone on me?”
So she called him and I told the guy I showed up a few minutes early and am there.
The landlord shows up and I told them to wait outside as I check out this apartment.
Well, the apartment was good enough.
I signed the contract right there and it became my first apartment in Mexico City.
Suffice to say, the chick wasn’t waiting for me outside.
Maybe she was annoyed at the lack of free coffee…
Anyway, the moral of the story is this…
One, if you are new to a city, I suppose you can use local Tinder girls to help you find the specific apartments that you want to see in person before signing any contract…
Though you can also just spend an extra few bucks and get an UBER instead.
And second – spending the first week in a hotel is recommended to give you that time to go apartment hunting.
Otherwise, you risk renting out a place that is shit obviously and you didn’t inspect well enough.
Tip 4: Don’t Send Money
I already wrote a lot about this topic already in this article here.
But there is a common scam in Mexico City where people will pretend to be renting out an apartment and tell you “my place is so popular! I have so many people checking to see it! If you want to live here, you better send me money RIGHT NOW to reserve it for you!”
You send the money.
They block you.
You never get to live there.
Anyway, don’t send money ahead of time.
And read this article here for more information on that scam.
Tip 5: Can’t Meet the Requirements?
If you are planning on living in a one bedroom place in a larger apartment with neighbors and a shared kitchen and living room….
Then the usual requirements to live there are basic like “1 month of deposit, first month’s rent and ID.”
If you are looking for a nicer place to be your own apartment with nobody else living there….
All to yourself.
And especially if you want more than one bedroom….
The requirements go up obviously.
Then they might ask for maybe personal references or a background check on you or whatever it may be.
Now if you can’t fit some of the requirements…
Perhaps you don’t have any personal references in the country you are in…
Or perhaps you can’t show them a job contract because you make your money online while being self-employed…
You can pull the ol’ “I’m a foreigner. I don’t have any local friends or references.”
Or maybe they want a co-signer and you obviously can say the same thing.
Being the foreigner….
What co-signer or personal references would you have if you are new there?
Some will work with you on that…
But, in my experience, I feel they are more likely to work with you especially if you are a foreigner from a richer country like the US….
Then some will more likely assume that you have enough money to live there and are a good person or whatever…
Though, like I said, not all will think that and not all will work with you…
But just keep that in mind – sometimes saying stuff like “I don’t know anyone, I’m new here” can work to get around certain requirements.
They can sometimes work with you.
Tip 6: Fake Facebook Profile
This is something I thought of recently because I know a friend of mine did this….
As I said before, you might be concerned that some apartment owners might try to give you a “gringo price” when you go to Facebook group pages and you post something asking if anyone has an apartment they are renting…
Then someone offers you a place for 800 when they would normally take 600….
Well, as a friend of mine did, you can just make a fake Facebook profile with a Latino name and join one of those groups….
Put out your best Spanish saying you are looking for an apartment for a friend…
Numbers will come in with prices already given…
Then put it in your phone and you then become the friend that is looking for an apartment with less risk of getting a gringo price for some place.
I don’t know if it worked out better for him but I can see how it would logically.
Anyway, that’s all I got to say on this topic.
Got any comments, relevant experiences or questions yourself?
Drop them below in the comment section.
Follow my Twitter here.
Thanks for reading.