About 3 to 4 weeks ago, I began looking for an apartment.
I was living in Colonia El Manto of Iztapalapa and was getting the itch to travel again to some new area.
By that point, Iztapalapa became kinda boring to me because I had finished seeing all of the main things to visit and, as I wrote here, there was a mouse visiting my room quite often.
So I was ready to ditch.
Though, to be fair, there was one area of Iztapalapa that intrigued me known as San Miguel Teotongo.
During my time visiting Tlahuac and Iztapalapa in the last few months, there were actually several areas that were interesting and made me think "hmmm, I could live here for a month."
And, when it came to apartment hunting, I made sure to look for a place to rent in them.
Be it San Miguel Teotongo.
To Milpa Alta and another area known as Cuautepec north of Indios Verdes.
Literal exact opposite ends of the city by the way.
Anyway, I gave my landlord in Iztapalapa the usual ol' "my card don't work, I need a month to get a new card to pay you" excuse as I wrote about here.
At first, I thought he wasn't going to tolerate waiting a month to get my deposit back and I was planning on moving to a hotel in Pantitlan area.
But he tolerated it and that gave me enough time to find a new place.
I got lazy though and didn't actually start apartment hunting until November 3rd when I was done visiting a bunch of Day of the Dead events.
Leaving me only 12 days to find a place to move into and actually move in.
The areas I looked for an apartment in were the following:
- San Miguel Teotongo of Iztapalapa
- Colonia la Federal close to the airport
- Agricola Oriental/Pantitlan area
- Milpa Alta
- Cuautepec north of Indios Verdes
- Some of the pubelos originarios of Tlalpan like San Miguel Topilejo
- Santiago Tepalcatlalpan in Xochimilco
Ultimately, I only had real luck in Milpa Alta and Cuautepec.
With Colonia la Federal, I only found one place but it wasn't furnished.
Didn't find anything for Agricola Oriental/Pantitlan and that is my 4th time or so looking for a place in that area and still nothing.
Always bad luck trying to find a place in that area.
Might have to try their hotel when I do visit the area someday.
I did find one place for rent in the Santiago neighborhood of Xochimilco but the landlord was so incompotent that I gave up on it.
Meaning I wanted photos of the place to confirm it was furnished like she said and she said many times "oh, I'll get you the photos" and she never did.
Lazy ass motherfucker.
With San Miguel Teotongo, I did give that area more of a chance.
Found various places but they were all unfurnished.
I even took the cablebus to San Miguel Teotongo to walk the streets looking for apartment rentals listed.
I found 3 after a few hours walking but only one of them had Whatsapp and the one was not furnished.
I did find a few in the pubelos originarios of Tlalpan but I put that to the side as I was more motivated by my options in two other areas: Cuautepec and Milpa Alta.
So that's ultimately what it came down to.
Move to either end of the city.
Let's get to it.
Apartment Hunting in Cuautepec
For those who don't know, Cuautepec is as far north as you can get in Mexico City while still being in Mexico City.
North of Indios Verdes.
You got to take the cablebus to get there.
There's a "barrio bajo" and "barrio alto" of the area with "barrio alto" being known as more dangerous.
It's been called the "favelas of Mexico City" and also the Volkswagen capital of the capital.
I've been there before on two occasions and felt it was fine.
Looked like any other typical rundown barrio with thieves, criminals, drug addicts, religious grandmas, hot barrio girls and more.
Why I felt like moving there was because of three reasons:
1. Why the hell not?
2. I genuinely liked it. It was one of those areas I stumbled across in the last few months that made me consider it as a place to test the waters with for a month or two.
3. Would make it easier to see certain things of cultural and geographical importance to the city that, if I ever move there, will explore more on my website.
However, based on my basic understanding of how the area is laid out, there were really only two areas I truly wanted to move to after doing some research on the area:
1. Barrio Bajo
2. Barrio Alto only if it is close to Cablebus Cuautepec (no more than 10 minutes walking).
The reason for number 2 is because, as I wrote here, I prefer moving to the "yellow active zones" you see on Google Maps when moving to any area but especially dangerous areas.
They simply have more of a police presence, usually are safer, more vibrant and lively, etc.
Shithole neighborhoods are only fun when you live in the parts that are active and not, as I wrote here, the grey block zones.
Meaning those dead zones with nothing going on outside.
When it came to my rental options in Cuautepec, a vast majority of the options are not furnished with utilities not included.
Almost all of the options I found too were deep in barrio alto being about a 20 minute walk away from the cablebus.
Though there was one plaza area in the far northwestern side that I saw that could be OK to live in.
Anyway, when it comes to rent, the cheapest place I saw for rent was 30 bucks with almost nobody charging more than 100 bucks (furnished or not) per month for a room in a shared apartment.
These places I found on Facebook rental groups for Cuautepec and there are two groups specifically for those area.
You should know though that competition is tough for rooms.
There's a shit ton of people commenting on every post advertising a room or apartment.
Way more renters than landlords in those groups.
In the end, I only found two places that could maybe work.
One was literally next to the cablebus Cuautepec but it didn't have internet because "we aren't a hotel" as the landlord told me.
As if other rooms for rent don't have wifi and just hotels.
That room was about 60 bucks a month. It was also furnished.
Then there was another room for rent that was about 15 minutes walking from the cablebus Cuautepec and it was furnished with all utilities (internet included).
It even seemed to have a rooftop I could get on and enjoy some vodka on top of like my time in Iztapalapa based on the photos and videos.
However, I did have some issues with this place:
First, there was something off about the landlord. Something in the back of my mind telling me this isn't right with this one.
Second, the landlord told me that the room option with its own bathroom is still available but she told someone on a Facebook group just a few days before I asked that it wasn't. So is it or not?
Third, I did find it weird how, despite her posts getting over a hundred people asking for information going back several weeks, she hasn't filled the rooms up yet.
Is she lying about having a room available? Do those other people visit the room and see something I don't? Who knows.
Fourth, I did look on Google Maps the specific street it was on and I wasn't digging it. Maybe 5 to 10 minutes too far from the part of Cuautepec I saw and liked.
Anyway, I was willing to give this place a chance but I wasn't too sure about it. Above all, there was something in the back of my mind that didn't like it.
Here's what it looked like anyhow.
Despite those doubts anyhow, I was very close to moving there.
It was only in the final day or two before moving where I found some alternative options and went for one of them instead.
Apartment Hunting in Milpa Alta
Apartment hunting in Milpa Alta is a bit more difficult.
I've been here before on several occasions and never saw any apartment postings in the street.
I'm sure some exists but I've never seen them.
When I went onto websites like roomgo, I didn't find any there either.
So I went onto Facebook like usual.
But there are no Facebook rental groups for Milpa Alta or any specific towns in Milpa Alta.
Now that I think about it, it wouldn't be the worst idea for someone to start a rental group for Milpa Alta. You'd be the only one and maybe could monetize it somehow even. Who knows.
Anyway, when it comes to Facebook groups, I ended up joining a shit ton of groups for Milpa Alta but they were not related to apartment rentals.
Instead, they'd be groups titled "COMPRA VENTA" or whatever.
Literally any group I saw for Milpa Alta, I joined it.
Then I would spam post in all of them once every two days or so asking if anyone has a room to rent.
I found no shortage of rooms or apartments but they were all unfurnished and with no utilities included.
Given I only plan on staying for just a month, I'm not buying my own furniture and reaching out to utility companies obviously for this one month place.
But I did find 4 places that worked.
Two of them were way better than the others.
One was in Villa Milpa Alta and the other in Santa Ana.
Both very nicely furnished with their own bathrooms. Utilities included.
Both costing around 100 to 125 bucks a month.
Both also taken by someone else before I could move in.
God damn it.
There were two other options anyhow.
One was located in the town of San Pablo and I kinda liked the idea of living there because there's a museum dedicated to the Mexican Revolution in that town that I've always wanted to see.
Visited 3 times when they said they were open online and never actually open.
Asked locals "when do you see this place open?" and they only sporadically do.
So it wouldn't be bad to live in San Pablo where I could just walk by the place every day and check to see if it is open yet.
The place I found in San Pablo anyway was kinda out in the countryside but technically in San Pablo.
A bit more rural though.
And it was 25 bucks a month.
Here's what 25 bucks a month looks like.
Utilities and bed included.
Honestly, not bad.
There's a part of me that genuinely wants to live in a 25 dollar month rental just for a month because "fuck it, why not?"
What would it be like living in such a cheap ass shithole? LET'S FIND OUT.
But, as you can see here, the dude was insistent that I had to send the deposit electronically before moving in.
That deposit being 25 bucks (500 pesos or half of the total 1,000 he wanted deposited).
While it's such a small amount, I decided not to because, as I wrote here, that's a common scam where landlords want you to send money and then they block you never letting you move in.
But, to be fair, there's a part of me that wondered "was he really hustling for 25 bucks?"
Given this is Milpa Alta where a shit ton of people are relatively poorer, I could see it.
To a Mexican making maybe 350 bucks a month, an extra 25 isn't bad.
Hell, even to Americans, who doesn't want a free 25 bucks?
Who knows anyhow.
I decided against sending the money mostly though because I never met the dude in person or saw the place.
I'll say right now that I never visited in person any of the places I was checking out online in Cuautepec or Milpa Alta because I was too lazy to do so.
And, for Milpa Alta, it's such a pain in the ass to get there or leave given they don't have the metro and so I wasn't willing to pay for an Uber to and from Milpa Alta to check out these options in person.
And I was too lazy to take the 2 hours needed to get to Cuautepec to check out the options in person there.
Instead, I mostly relied on Whatsapp video calls for a lot of these places to check them out that way.
But the San Pablo option I only discovered the night before I moved from iztapalapa and the landlord claimed to live in Coyoacan.
So I didn't have the chance to do a Whatsapp video call to check it out that way.
If I could have, maybe I would've risked the pitiful 25 bucks but who knows.
I generally don't send money anyhow until I have keys in hand but whatever.
Given he wasn't budging though on the deposit being sent, I gave up on that option.
And I had one other option left in Milpa Alta.
It was another option in the town of Santa Ana and actually on the same street as the first option I saw already mentioned.
Just 50 bucks a month.
A bit expensive for my budget, you see.
I did the Whatsapp call and the dude seemed surprised to see I was not Mexican.
The Whatsapp video call was so shitty though that it made me believe I wouldn't have reliable internet.
Even told my family back home "if you don't hear from me for a month, that's why."
The place had utilities included but not furnished.
Given that it's been so difficult to find a place in Milpa Alta and I wasn't confident in my Cuautepec option, I thought "fuck it, I'll sleep on the floor for a month if I can finally cross Milpa Alta off my list."
But the guy said, as you can see here, that he can get a bed in the room by Sunday.
However, Sunday was about 6 days past the full month and my landlord from Iztapalapa was starting to worry about rent more seriously.
My plan was to move by the 15th at latest when the full month is done.
Anyway, when the San Pablo option was crumbling, I thought to myself "fuck it, I can sleep on the floor for 6 days."
While I would normally just move into a hotel in this circumstance, I genuinely couldn't find a single hotel anywhere in Milpa Alta.
Even asked some of the locals and they didn't know of any.
So I was stuck with either AirBnB or Facebook rentals but I've never used AirBnB before so I stuck with Facebook.
And the few Facebook rentals I found online anyhow.
I also thought about just buying my own bed that same day I move in.
Ask him where to buy one.
I'm sure I could've found a cheap one for like 50 bucks.
When it's all said and done, I could've just left the bed in the room for the landlord to have and that'll do a service to any other gringo desperately trying to find a place -- ANY PLACE -- that has a bed in this fucking area.
Or, alternatively, the landlord could use the bed for a massive orgy with his cousins and sisters and grandma and all sorts of exotic incest shit only to be expected in Milpa Alta.
Whatever floats his boat.
So I told him "I'm moving in tomorrow. Good?"
And he was like "oh no, the room ain't ready yet."
And I said "that's ok. I'll sleep on the floor until the bed problem is solved. My boss wants me moving to Milpa Alta tomorrow."
Which, while I don't have a boss or a formal job, I told anyone in Milpa Alta that "I'm a researcher" to explain away why I want to live in Milpa Alta as they were all curious as to why a gringo wants to move here.
It's like what I wrote here where sometimes I bullshit my actual profession (if you want to call it that) for reasons.
Anyway, he said I could move in the following day (the 16th) and that was that.
Moved into Milpa Alta
On the morning I was moving in, I was set to move in by 8 AM.
I actually delayed him by a few hours because I was too busy drinking vodka and listening to music.
Both the landlord in Cuautepec and Milpa Alta were expecting me.
I actually told the one in Cuautepec that I'd move in by the 15th and she gave me attitude for not moving in that day as I said.
Gave her some excuse about "the bus in Queretaro is having problems, I'll be late. Let's try tomorrow" as I wanted to give myself one more day of apartment hunting for alternatives.
Whenever I do move though, I always have at least 2 or 3 options expecting me that day.
Mostly because I'm used to landlords all of a sudden finding a last minute alternative to me and moving someone else in.
Like I wrote about here where some landlord in Iztapalapa was expecting me months ago to visit the place (not move in necessarily) and, by the time I got there, she told me that the room was JUST rented out to someone else.
I remember being in Roma Norte and renting out a room RIGHT THERE while someone else was waiting downstairs to look at it.
Sorry. My place now.
In Mexico City, you have to be on your toes like that.
Never expect a landlord to honor an agreement of you moving in that day or checking it that day. If anyone else throws money at them even a minute sooner, any agreement with you is thrown out the window.
So you never know.
What if you have one option ready to move in and some rando throws money at them sooner before you can show up?
So I always have 2 or 3 people expecting me.
That morning, it was just the option in Cuautepec and the one in Santa Ana of Milpa Alta.
The option in Cuautepec anyway blocked me on Whatsapp after I told her "sorry, I got food poisoning. Can't move in today."
Along the drive to Milpa Alta though, it was very pleasant.
Made me happy to see the countryside again.
It's honestly one of my favorite things to do in Mexico City: drive around the countryside in a taxi for 5 to 7 bucks an hour.
And Milpa Alta is the best for that while still being in the city.
Actually, for those who don't know, the drive outside the city in the south usually offers better views than the drive up north to Pachuca.
Like if you are driving to Cuernavaca or Tepoztlan instead of Pachuca.
Anyway, outside of that, it also just offered a nice contrast to the life in Iztapalapa.
The rough barrio view versus the countryside "cactus forever" view of Milpa Alta.
Here's a view of my new room anyway.
As you can see anyhow, it does actually have a bed.
I was told the bed wouldn't be there until Sunday but I guess the dude rushed his ass to find something and threw it in the room.
So no sleeping on the floor for 6 days.
I was pretty happy to see that when I moved in.
For just 50 bucks a month, it ain't bad.
I can now finally cross Milpa Alta off my list of places to have spent a month in.
And that's all it'll be.
The internet actually isn't as bad as I expected but it does have an hour or two a day where it becomes unusable for anything.
And, generally speaking, it's not ideal for working.
So I'll be here for just a month.
Not sure yet where I'm going after because it'll depend on where I can find an apartment in the list of areas I want to visit for a month or more.
So maybe Tlalpan, Cuautepec, Pantitlan, Colonia La Federal, etc.
But that's all I got to say for now.
Enjoy this video of Milpa Alta here.
And follow my Twitter here.
Thanks for reading.
Love it! Great problem solving and, as always, a fascinating peak into life in Mexico City.