Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Chacala: Questions to ask when renting in Mexico

Looking down toward the beach
from in front of Concha's Techos de Mexico rental

Here some questions or clarifications you might want to ask or make when you are considering renting a room in Chacala or probably any small town in Mexico. These seem to be the issues that come up occasionally.

1. Check on the location of the place you are considering. A places you might like the looks of maybe quite a long ways from the beach, restaurants, and stores. Especially if you are walking or are bringing small children to Chacala. Of course that's a good thing for people who want exercise. Chacala, and many small towns in Mexico are not great places for people with limited mobility, although you might be okay if you have a car.There are also noise issues in some neighborhoods (dogs, roosters, traffic, loud music). Or there maybe a loud construction project going on in the neighborhood, during your stay. Usually that means loud music being played by the construction workers, often before 7am. It's worth asking about ahead of time. If the landlady is doing a remodeling project during your stay, you may want to know about it.

2. If you are making reservations, you may want to clarify in advance:
At what point you will be expected to pay the balance of your account (assuming you made a 50% deposit which is very common here during the winter months). Some landladies want to be paid on arrival. That may limit your leverage if there are problems, so you may want to clarify that.
  • About any expectations you and the landlord may have about your deposit. And under what circumstances it might be returned, and what amount might be returned, etc.
  • Whether your rental rate is in pesos or Canadian or US currency. It is obviously to your advantage to understand the exchange rate if the payment is to be in pesos.
  • If the landlady expects to be paid in pesos or US dollars. Occasionally some landlords prefer US currency (maybe they are going on a trip to the States or something).
3. If you are making arrangements by email print out your correspondence and bring it with you, in case there is a misunderstanding.

4. Be sure to clarify in your written emails exactly which unit/dates you are making a deposit on, and you might mention that substitutions without prior agreement are not acceptable (unless you don't care).

5. If you are coming to Chacala between late April and early December you might clarify if the hot water will be working when you are here. Most local folks don't turn on the hot water until December. But often they will turn it on for you if you ask about it. If you are counting on air-con (it's usually here) get specific about extra costs, etc.

6. Make sure the facilities you are interested in will be available during your stay. For example, with the B&B actually be serving breakfast during your stay?
Does the beach in front of where you are staying actually have sand on it?
Is the pool or hot tub actually functioning?
What spa services will actually be available during your stay?
If you are staying the one "all-inclusive", will all meals be served during your stay? And so on.
Forewarned is forearmed. Better to know ahead of time if some facility you really care about won't be available. I am making these suggestions after watching the various misunderstandings that can happen between renters and rentees all over Mexico. These suggestions are not just for Chacala, but for any place you are making rental arrangements ahead of time and sight unseen.

Other Issues to Investigate Prior to Renting in a Small Mexican Village.
This case, Chacala.

1) Are there fighting cocks or roosters on the property, next door, or in the neighborhood?

2) Does the property have a history of problems with fleas or scorpions?

3) What happens if you find the property you rented to be uninhabitable or unavailable upon your arrival? Always check your rental before paying your remaining balance. This is a very unusual situation, but it has happened in the past, but not very often. Plumbing problems, reservation error, etc.

4) If you will be bringing a vehicle, is there off-road parking? Secure parking?

5) Will the facilities you are particularly interested in be available for your use during your visit? Examples: spa services, swimming pool, hot tub, yoga classes, massages, air-conditioning, cable TV, wireless internet connection, meals?

6) Are there guard-type dogs on the property? Next door? In the neighborhood?

7) Is the location noisy for your tastes? Examples are early morning traffic from fisherman or construction trucks, busy restaurant next door, teenage neighbors with loud stereos, all-night fiestas at your hotel.

8) Suggestions for things to bring: If you are particular about your pillows, bring you own if you are staying at one of the basic rentals. No rental allows their bath towels to be taken to the beach. Bring your own or plan to buy one. Or you blow dry yourself in the warm gentle breezes. Check about coffee machines in your unit if that’s important to you. Bring your own coffee or buy it from one of the superstores near the airport if you don’t care for instant coffee. Ditto good chocolate. There are no English language reading materials for sale in Chacala or Las Varas. The Bibliotecha has a selection of used fiction for trade or sale ($2.00 a volume). A bottle opener if you expect to drink bottled beverages at your rental home.

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