10 Things You Should Know About Moving to Baja

So you’re thinking about renting a home in Mexico? Here are a few things you should know:

  1. Almost all transactions are made in cash, so call your bank and get those daily withdrawal limits raised if you need to for rent payments, or remember to spread out your withdrawals into a couple days. Also, make sure your landlord gives you a receipt for each payment and signs it! Ours prefers US cash, but yours may prefer pesos. It all just depends on the landlord.
  2. For the lease agreement, get everything you discuss in writing (pets, deposits, and/or any other special conditions) and make sure that it is in both English and Spanish so there can be no misunderstandings on anyone’s part.
  3. Most places you’ll rent will already have the water and the electricity set up because, in Mexico, all property owners will keep the utilities in their name because it helps them to establish ownership if there are ever any issues with the title and it also helps ensure they won’t have to pay capital gains taxes if they decide to sell the property in the future. This means you will pay your water and electric bills even though they will still be in your landlord’s name. It’s very typical, so don’t let it freak you out!
  4. There isn’t much that you can pay online. Maybe your internet, but that’s about it! Your water and electric bills will come to you in paper via the providers themselves and are payable in cash at your local Oxxo (basically like a 7-Eleven convenience store) or at the business office.
  5. Basically, everything other than your lighting will run on propane and it’s up to you to keep that tank filled! You can do this by either calling in and asking them to come by or by flagging them down while they are filling up your neighbor’s tank! Again, this is all done in cash.
  6. Get receipts for EVERYTHING. It may feel like you’re just squirrel-ing away paper clutter, but I promise, you will need to refer back to that receipt one day!
  7. Remember, you’ can’t drink the tap water here so be careful washing your vegetables and drinking out of the faucet when you’re brushing your teeth! And don’t fill those ice trays with tap water or you’ll regret it! We bought a water cooler and buy the big 5-gallon jugs from the Oxxo for next to nothing. If you’re boiling the water (say for pasta or coffee) it’s A-OK to use the tap water, just be mindful with your other habits. You’re not in Kansas anymore!
  8. I know it’s hard to believe, but not everyone in the world speaks English, so brush up on your Spanish because you WILL need it! You might know how to order a beer or ask where the bathroom is, but try troubleshooting your internet set-up and it’s a whole different ballgame! Google translate has been a lifesaver for us!
  9. Plumbing in Mexico is not as hearty as it is in the states, so if it doesn’t come out of your body, it shouldn’t go in the toilet! Yes, that means ALL the toilet paper you use should go into the trash. Even for number 2. (I know, you get used to it!)
  10. Power outages and water shut-offs are very common in Mexico, especially during inclement weather. We have flashlights placed strategically around the house, as well as plenty of candles and lighters for power outages. For water shut-offs, check that your new home has a water reserve (lot’s of them do) and ask your landlord to show you how to use it. If your property doesn’t have one, buy an extra 5-gallon water jug and keep it somewhere so you can use it to fill up toilet tanks and wash the dishes. These outages can last for days, so be prepared!

Obviously, this is not a complete list of everything you need to know, but this should at least help get you started! Good luck!

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