Well over a year ago, I showed up to Roma Norte of Mexico City to check out an apartment building.
I had lived in the building before as it was the first building I ever lived in down here in Mexico City.
There happened to be another woman (a Mexican gal) who showed up also to check the place out.
And the Mexican dude -- who I remember dealing with years ago when I first showed up -- arrived eventually.
Which it was kinda funny to see the same dude again after all these years. We recognized each other and made small talk.
Anyway, he showed me the room for rent first.
When we walked up the stairs, he even remembered somehow the room I likely lived in years ago and pointed out "this is where you were last time, right?"
Kinda interesting to be back in the same place as I contemplated moving back to this neighborhood.
Ultimately, I chose to go back to this building because I already was familiar with it and knew it wasn't a terrible spot.
Though the room I was going to rent out the second time was a little bit nicer than the first time I was in this building.
He showed me it.
It looked fine.
Then we go onto the balcony and make some small talk as he asks me "how do I like it?"
And I tell him that I am down to rent it out right away as I was planning on moving in only a few days.
But I didn't have obviously the entire rent and the deposit in hand to give him right there and then.
I'd obviously need to go to an ATM machine to pull out cash or send it to him electronically somehow.
Knowing that there was another woman who wanted the same space and I had to move out in a few days, I decided to make him an offer.
"Can I give you some money to reserve the space and I pay you the rest of the cash owed in a day or two?"
He crossed his arms.
"How much?" he asked me with a look of contemplation.
And I tell him that "I have about 500 pesos on me right now. I just need to pull some extra cash out later and get my stuff but I can move in only a day or two."
Which, for those who don't know, 500 pesos is about 25 bucks.
And it worked for him without question.
Now, to be fair, probably these things helped me: the fact that he had done business with me before and remembered me as a decent client and that I would be coming in only a day or two later.
So, taking the 500 pesos now, it's not like it would be a great risk for him.
Would basically cover the cost of renting out the room for a day or two to someone if they happened to only want to be there for a day or two.
If I didn't show, he could keep looking to rent it out to someone else.
And I trusted him also because I had done business with him before and also because it was only 25 bucks.
If the dude was to somehow fuck me other and rent it out to someone else while keeping the money, it wouldn't be like it would break the bank or anything.
Ultimately, he agreed to the deal.
I gave him the 25 bucks.
He told me that he would have to go downstairs to let the other woman know that the room is no longer available (sucks to be her given she traveled to the spot) and came back up soon with a contract and his laptop.
I filled out the information for the contract.
Agreed to show up in a day or two (I think by Friday at latest).
And that was it.
By offering cash right there to reserve the space, I was able to secure it and not risk someone else taking the spot before I could move in.
Now, to be fair, I know this is a sensitive issue for people in Mexico and also around the world.
That issue being how you shouldn't send money ahead of time (apartarlo) to reserve the space.
As I wrote here, you often have a lot of people in Mexico City (and likely any other country) that try to get you to send money to reserve a space so nobody rents it out.
You send the money (without even having seen the place in person necessarily) and they steal it and block you.
As you can see online from time to time, it's an issue that comes up in Mexico City Rental Facebook pages all the time.
So should you never send any money to reserve a space?
Never Send Money to Reserve an Apartment in Latin America?
It's a topic I've touched on before but figured I'd give some last minute thoughts on it given how common the issue keeps coming up.
But what I will say is just common sense.
For one, you obviously can't expect any apartment owner to hold a space for you forever.
They have to rent it out when possible and have no idea if you are truly going to stick to the plan or ditch and pick another place.
But, like with the story above, you can see how it can be possible to reserve a place.
My advice here would be to do what I did if you truly want to reserve a space ahead of time:
For one, check it out in person first.
Second, don't give much money to reserve it. Give what should cost them a night or two to rent it out so that you can have some time to pull more money out of the ATM and move your stuff in a day or two.
So if you are moving in a day or two, there is no reason to give them the full rent right there and I wouldn't.
Perhaps if they give you the keys right there also to the building but I'd generally be hesitant to do that because what if they change the locks before you move in?
So I don't know if I'd risk a few hundred dollars or a thousand dollar or whatever the money would be.
Ultimately, I think it's fair to only give something like whatever the cost of the place would be per night to rent out until you move in as long as you are moving in a few days.
That way you show you are serious to the landlord and he isn't getting fucked over even if you don't move in because he still got covered financially for those few nights.
And, on top of that, you aren't risking anything beyond maybe 25 bucks or whatever.
Now, to be fair, maybe you want to reserve a place ahead of time for a few weeks or even a month in advance.
Perhaps you got a contract in place for a current apartment that you don't want to break.
Whatever the issue is.
I knew an American friend of mine who did that over a year ago.
He was living in Centro Historico and moved to Valle Norte in Mexico City.
For reasons with his current apartment in Centro Historico, he didn't move right away to Valle Norte but found a solid deal in Valle Norte and felt like moving there.
He didn't stay there forever as he ultimately liked it but wasn't too excited by the neighborhood.
Still, because he couldn't move right away, he chose to just pay the rent and deposit of the place he would ultimately move to and made sure to get the keys to the place and contract done in the moment of paying all of that.
While the landlord could have, in theory, changed the locks and told him to kick rocks, that didn't happen.
So when the dude could finally move, he managed to still secure this solid place that he really liked and moved when he was able to a few weeks later.
Though I have never done this, my only advice would be to not tell the landlord that you are reserving the space for a few weeks later.
Make it seem like it is for now.
Perhaps I'm paranoid but I just wouldn't trust a stranger like that because you don't know if they will try to change the locks or not.
If they think you moved in a day later or that day later in the afternoon (assuming they don't live in the building either), they won't know you didn't actually move in and won't until a few weeks later.
Anyway, that's how I'd do it if I wanted to reserve a space a few weeks later.
It's still a greater risk anyway as you would be expected to pay more upfront than just 25 bucks but you either do that or accept the risk that someone else steals the place.
Outside of either scenario above that I've either done or heard about, I wouldn't be in the business of sending money ahead of time to reserve a place.
Especially if you didn't even see the place in person.
Don't be that stupid.
And that's all I got to say.
More on the risk of those scamming people with the "send money now for an apartment" in this article I wrote here.
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