Pros and Cons of Renting all Year in Mazatlan

street with colorful houses

Renting all year in Mazatlan could save you money!

Many of us brag about the low cost of living south of the border, so renting all year might be an option to consider for your winter getaway. Even if you’re only here 5-6 months each season; having a place that you know is always ready and available when you are is very convenient. Most people’s first question usually is…”how much does it really cost to live here?” Rather than give hard numbers, the best “rule of thumb” is that you can save anywhere up to 60% off your current cost of living, be it in the US or Canada. The real numbers depend on your lifestyle. But before I go any further, let me first place a disclaimer. I am not an expert nor do I profess to know with a great degree of certainty what it’s like to live everywhere in Mexico, so I will only speak from personal experience living in Mazatlan for the last seven years.

Why would you want to rent all year if you’re only here 6 months?
Yes, there are certainly pros and cons to the unique concept of renting a place that you will only spend half a year in. Over the years that I have been living here, I see the same routine each Spring. People scrambling, before they head home, to book accommodations for the following season. Some folks have their expat friends store their “stuff” for them over the summer period so they have it when they return and others simple sell or give away what they bought for that season. It’s an endless cycle of arrive, shop, unpack, reorganize, enjoy for a few months, then downsize, repack and store/sell. (BONUS: March and April are great months for bargain hunting at snowbird yard sales!).

But there is a way around that chaos if you opt to rent all year. Not long ago I created a Facebook group where folks could share information with others. The group, “Mazatlan Snowbird Rentals & HouseSit” has been a big hit since it began in 2017 and now has almost 2,500 members! Landlords can post a rental they have available and snowbirds can also post what they are looking for and hopefully something will work out between the lookers and the lookees (is that even a word?). Here you can also find places renting all year round. Also if you do a little “googling” and poking around, you will also find other sites/groups that provide similar services (besides VRBO and Air BnB).

Pros for renting year round
One good reason for renting all year is that you never have to pack up at the end of the season and sheepishly approach a friend to store your precious treasures for you till you get back. But the best is cost. Rents decrease if you go annually compared to six months or less. Another contributing factor to price reduction is whether the place you’re looking to rent is furnished or not furnished. To experience the best savings, consider an unfurnished place. And furnishing a place can be whatever your budget allows. For people that don’t mind “used” items, you can get some great deals buying off other expats and snowbirds. Heck, there are even expat groups on Facebook that have been created for buying and selling used items in your part of Mexico. Personally I found many great deals at yard sales and I only ended up eventually buying new appliances.

Furnished or Unfurnished?
A furnished place will always be at a premium when compared to an unfurnished place. However, when renting an unfurnished place you need to keep in mind that in many cases it is very literally just that…unfurnished to the max! Which can mean NO fridge, stove or gas tank…and sometimes not even a water heater or a closet! But once you have all these items in place, you can “settle” in and really make it your own with all the savings you are experiencing. I started out that way. I was lucky to find in my first place that it came with a stove and fridge. I didn’t have hot water in the kitchen but at least I had a “suicide” shower head, LOL! “What is that?” you ask. It is an electric contraption that attaches to the shower head and heats the water as it passes through the pipe. DON’T ever touch it when the water is running unless you really want to wake up in the morning!

With an unfurnished place you will also need to get your internet, telephone and cable installed. Then either cancel them for the time you’re away or keep them going all year. I would suggest the latter because it beats having to wait, sometimes a couple of weeks, to get hooked back up when you return. Besides that, the prices are very affordable. I pay just under $25 (US) a month for high speed fibre optic internet including a telephone line with FREE calling to the US and Canada. Cable TV starts around the same price.

On the flip side, if you decide on a furnished place you won’t always have a say as to the furnishings. And most Mexican style furniture can be quite uncomfortable! It isn’t unusual to have a living room set that looks like it came out of the middle ages with rigid wooden backs and low profiles. And the beds? Well, if sleeping on a rock is your style, then you’ll be right at home. So, remember to sit in/try out all the furniture when checking out a furnished place. Of course I’m not speaking about ALL furnished places. Some are decorated quite beautifully and with very comfy furniture. So the key here is to check it all out and KNOW what you are getting or not getting.

Returning North for the summer?
OK, you ask, “but what happens when I head back up North for the summer?” Well, you have a couple of options available. One is to have a house sitter live in your place during the time you are away. The other is to pay a property management company or person to monitor the well being of your place and pay the bills that will still come in, like water and electricity. (However, utilities and most other services can be prepaid before you leave.)

I have personally used house sitters when I am away and that’s worked well for me. I find my sitters through reputable sources such as House Carers.com or by word of mouth through friends in the community. Always make sure you check their references out and “interview” them through an online service such as Skype, if you can’t meet in person. There are also Facebook groups that help with this too. Or you could ask a trusted neighbour that may be willing to stop by and water the plants, dust, etc. weekly for you.

Summary to Renting all Year: 
Pros – more places are available for rent; less costly; no more annual searches for accommodation; can customize to your style; you get to know people in your neighborhood
Cons – longer commitment; need someone to check on the place when you’re away; have to furnish if unfurnished; responsible for utilities

So if you’re looking to save some money as well as have a place to call your own in Mazatlan, you should seriously look into renting all year instead of short term!

What tips and tricks can you share with us about renting in Mexico?

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3 Responses

  1. Debbie says:

    Thank you so much for your information. This is my first time renting in Mazatlan and I love it. I rented by the year and I found another place for 2019 for a few months but now I will go visit her again and talk about a year rental. I have one thing to tell others, the pictures on the management websites sometimes can be different when you arrive, like the place I’m in now. So if your unhappy with the first place your in shop around. I love my neighborhood and have met some nice people, but I walked 4 blocks over and found a nicer place for next time. I love Mazatlan and you will too.

  2. Kate Mura says:

    Why weren’t you around when I needed you? My husband’s health issues now keep us pretty much state-side, but your advice is terrific for others who are more mobile.

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