Finding an Apartment in Mexico City: The Expat Edition

Our gorgeous furnished two-bedroom apartment in Coyoacan. Yay!
This week I hosted my first Air B&B guest in our studio (and if you're interested in booking with us, well, mosey along to the listing and then click here for travel credit). She was in town for a job interview and had a lot of questions about how to find an apartment in Mexico City and where she should live.

I realized that a lot of expats probably have the same questions and since I've lived everywhere in this crazy city, I thought I'd share my collected wisdom. 

But first, where I've lived in Mexico City over the past two years:
  1. A sad collection of rooms with a shared bathroom and no kitchen in Zona Rosa (the worst).
  2. A shared apartment south of Izazaga in El Centro. The woman who was renting a room because her French boyfriend, who was at least 30 years older than her, had gone back to France for cancer treatment. Also sad. Also, a homeless guy tried to push his way into the entrance with me. However, the cat was super cute.
  3. A massive house in Escandon (south of Condesa) that had at least eight occupants, a closet that held Couchsurfers, a terranium with turtles and massive, endless rooms.
  4. A little apartment in Narvarte that was safe and cute, though the floor boards had a way of giving out when I did strenuous exercise.
  5. A gorgeous furnished apartment in Coyoacan with plenty of light, tube gas, combo wash-dryer and a location next to an amazing supermarket. THE BEST.
I'm giving you the lowdown on my housing history because where you live in DF can really make or break your experience here. Some apartments are nasty and unsafe and some are gorgeous and overpriced and then there's everything in between.

Where to find an apartment:
  1. Craigslist is a popular source of expat-oriented, expensive listings.
  2. Segundamano is also popular and geared towards Mexicans so you're more likely to find a fair price.
  3. CompartoDepa is where you go if you want to find a room in a shared apartment. Bargains abound.
  4. AirBnB. I actually found my first real apartment here. The woman rented the space in six-month increments. By the way, clicking this link will earn you $25 USD in free travel credit with AirBnB. Woot!
What neighborhoods to consider:
  1. La Condesa is expat central and perfect for young folks who like to be close to the party and upmarket retail. Leafy and safe with a great running track but potentially loud at night and filled with drunks and crazy valet parking dudes driving like maniacs. Also the rent is expensive but probably still cheaper than you're used to paying at home.
  2. La Roma (Norte and Sur) is close to La Condesa. It also has a youth vibe with plenty of cafes and bars but it's more chill. Central but tranquil. Great access to transit and nice little parks and cheaper than Condesa.
  3. Polanco is for those who want to rent a tony condo and have access to top-notch malls in a safe, tranquil neighborhood. Better for those with a car since transit access is not great and it's a bit north of the center. Also, the traffic is crazy there at rush hour and prices are high.
  4. Escandon or Narvarte. These neighborhoods are different (the former is south of Condesa and the latter is sort of south and east of Roma). Both are cheaper and very tranquil and residential. Good access to transit and close to downtown. Downside is that you won't get a lot of exciting retail or nightlife in either.
  5. Coyoacan is my home and my favorite. It's quite south but has good access to transit. Those who want to be close to the party in Condesa/Roma won't like it as transit in DF closes after midnight and you'll pay quite a bit to get a taxi after that. That said, it has a growing nightlife, beautiful and tranquil colonial streets, lovely cafes and cultural offerings and it's safe. My pick of the litter.

This really depends. I've paid about 2500 to 3500 MXN to rent a room but you get what you pay for  -- a ton of roommates or a less than savory location. Look to pay 5000 MXN and up for a room in a nice apartment in a decent area. Think 7000 and up in Condesa. Some places will ask you to pay in USD. I think this is a ridiculous but it's up to you.

Our Air B&B space! We're getting a real bed soon.
This is completely promotional but yes, stay with us! I will make you amazing smoothies! ;)

What am I paying for?

Some apartments are all-included, like anywhere. Many more ask you to pay for gas,water, electricity and maybe Internet extra. Make sure to ask what's included and the average bill per month for services.

What questions should I ask a potential landlord/roommate?
  1. What's the security like in the building?
  2. Are services included or extra? How much? Is there wi-fi?
  3. What's the area like at night? You don't want to live in a commercial area that's deserted after dark.
  4. What are the neighbors like? Is there a lot of street noise?
  5. What kind of public transit is nearby? Or is parking included for my car?
  6. Who is the landlord and what kind of repairs can I expect?
  7. Is there laundry? If there's no dryer (dryers are not common in Mexico), is there a space to hang my clothes?
  8. Does the apartment come furnished? Is the kitchen equipped?
  9. Is there gas tubing or will I have to buy gas (in canisters from a delivery man)?
  10. What about garbage pick-up? Will I have to pay for pick-up or is it included? Is there organics and recycling pick-up? Not all colonias (neighborhoods) have great municipal services.
  11. Re: roommates what are your typical daily routines? Is there a cleaning schedule? Do you have people over/parties often? What kind of roommate are you looking for?
Questions? Advice? Please post them in the comments below! I'll be happy to answer any queries so go ahead and send in your question.



Housing Tips said...

Craigslist is most appropriate website to find out apartment or houses online. It's really simple and easy site.

Realty said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

Is the price of rent per month or week?

B.Kienapple said...

Hi Kiani. This is the price per month!!

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Noé said...

Hi!, my name is Noé and I'm a Mexico City resident (I work and live here) and I'm living exactly the same situation, I've a Canadian girlfriend (from Calgary), we met in a trip in Ixtapa and we have been dating for almost one year, so she plans to come down here permanently and we plan to live in Coyoacán neighbourhood, all your information has been very interesting. It's so funny that there are people in the same situation like us, I'll keep reading this blog. Bye bye!

Apartment Locators Tips said...

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Amy said...

Thank you for this very helpful post. I think you may be about to leave DF and may not be paying attention to these comments, pero, por si a caso. . . .
I am interviewing for a job in Mexico City, and while it is far from a sure thing, I've been doing a bit of research on housing and cannot find much detailed information. My husband and I have two dogs (hound mixes) and two cats. Ideally, we would want a house or townhouse with a small fenced yard where the dogs can safely spend time outside off leash. We would have a housing allowance, so could afford something up to about US$3000/month. In looking at various housing rental sites, it looks like most everything available are apartments. The office is in Roma and I'd want to walk to work or have a fairly simple commute. Colleagues have recommended Roma and La Condesa as neighborhoods to explore. Anyway, is a house in that area (or your neighborhood) with a yard just unheard of? If so, do you recommend any other neighborhoods? Thanks very much in advance for any advice. And good luck with your return to Toronto, an amazing city.

B.Kienapple said...

Hi Amy, check out my post on buying a house/apartment:

It's very hard to find yards in affordable houses in DF. Yards in general are generally unheard of. You could also look in Coyoacan, Del Valle areas.

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Anonymous said...

I only get 1210 monthly can I live in Mexico on this income

Unknown said...

Hello. I enjoyed your article quite a bit. I've been to Mexico City before, fell in love with it, & now plan on moving there in January. I'm going to be teaching English, so I won't have a lot of money to throw around. I'm a tall male, so fortunately the safety concerns don't apply to me as much as others. My wants are mainly living alone & not having a shared bathroom. Is this pretty doable if I'm making six or so hundred a month?

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Anonymous said...

I found the segunadmando one useful; it has actual listings with actual contact information and doesn't make you join up and pay a FEE or put credit card information on the account like AirBNB does (AirBNB doesn't like any of my debit cards and Bank of America won't let me use that one on online sites like AirBNB which I think is a good safety precaution on their part). It seems like every listing service on the planet wants you to pay a membership fee to join or pay the money up front when you may not even be there yet. So this website has had some use after all.

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Anonymous said...

Hey i lived in mexico too but in merida not in mexico city, now move on but i remember what a hard thing was rent , i try all the webs but only one works for me and now i cant remember who ... i look and the web is , and looking around i find a house so similiar than i lived in, take a look , the color all is the same ja old memories

Anonymous said...

Hey i lived in mexico too but in merida not in mexico city, now move on but i remember what a hard thing was rent , i try all the webs but only one works for me and now i cant remember who ... i look and the web is , and looking around i find a house so similiar than i lived in, take a look , the color all is the same ja old memories

Anonymous said...

Hey i lived in mexico too but in merida not in mexico city, now move on but i remember what a hard thing was rent , i try all the webs but only one works for me and now i cant remember who ... i look and the web is , and looking around i find a house so similiar than i lived in, take a look , the color all is the same ja old memories

Anonymous said...

Hey i lived in mexico too but in merida not in mexico city, now move on but i remember what a hard thing was rent , i try all the webs but only one works for me and now i cant remember who ... i look and the web is , and looking around i find a house so similiar than i lived in, take a look , the color all is the same ja old memories

Anonymous said...

Hey i lived in mexico too but in merida not in mexico city, now move on but i remember what a hard thing was rent , i try all the webs but only one works for me and now i cant remember who ... i look in internet and the web is Evisos , and looking around i find a house so similiar than i lived in, take a look House similiar where i lived , the color all is the same ja old memories

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