How to find an apartment in Sayulita, Mexico

In Nomad Life, Sayulita by Chris8 Comments

Chris here! It’s not often I make a post, but today I have something very special to share with you. Have you ever been frustrated with the steep costs involved in renting a house or apartment in paradise? Well, today you’re in luck. In this post I’m going to teach you how I found us an apartment in Sayulita, Mexico right in the middle of high season for less than $600CAD per month with only 5 hours of “work.”

Stop looking online

If you’ve been looking tirelessly online only to be swamped with expensive vacation rentals, it’s time to give up. You’re not going to find anything that is priced reasonably there. If they’re listing it online, they’re targeting the vacation market. They’re looking for the deep wallets of people who want a place waiting and ready for them when they arrive.

Book a room in a hostel for the first night

Yup, book one night at a time. That might sound scary, but I think paying $200/night for a month (or more) is even scarier! You can usually find a nice hostel for $10-20/night depending on where you’re going. Dump your stuff in your room (preferably inside a locker) and hit the streets.

Talk to the locals

I don’t speak much Spanish but that didn’t prevent me from finding our killer little apartment for 7000 pesos per month (~$600CAD) from a guy who speaks no English. All I did was walk around on the streets and ask EVERYONE if they had an apartment for rent.

What to ask

So you’re going around and asking people if they have a place for rent. There’s a few important things to make sure you ask and say:

  • Greet them in their native language and politely ask if they speak your native language to make things easier.
  • Tell them a bit about yourself. I simply introduced myself and told them that my girlfriend and I were planning to stay around for three months.
  • Ask them if they have a place to rent. (Obvious, I know :P)
  • If they don’t have a place available, it’s super important to ask for referrals! Again, word of mouth travels around these small towns like wild fire and just because they don’t have a place to rent doesn’t mean that they don’t know someone who does. If you don’t ask, they might not be prompted to offer this valuable information.
  • Each town is different so it’s also important to ask the locals how they would find a place to rent if they were in your situation. Many people gave some very good advice after asking that question.

Who to ask

After a few hours talking to everyone, I started to pick up on who was valuable to ask and who wasn’t. These guys are great to ask:

  • Hotel staff. Believe it or not, but many of them actually seemed to either own other rental properties or know someone who does. As an added bonus, they probably speak some English. Every receptionist in each hotel I walked into gave some promising leads.
  • I had trouble with this one because I couldn’t find one that spoke enough English to converse properly (I didn’t know how to ask if they know anyone who has an apartment for rent in Spanish). However, since word of mouth is how the locals seem to find people to rent their places I’m pretty sure hairdressers would be great to ask since they talk to a lot of people each day.
  • Those with places to rent. The locals are usually really nice people and are always wanting to help you and each other. Believe it or not, but I actually found our place after talking with a guy who had a place for rent but it wasn’t available. He gave me his neighbour’s number who was looking for someone to rent his apartment.
  • People hanging fliers. They’re usually local and fairly involved in the community, meaning they know who might have places to rent.
  • Old people. They don’t use the internet as easily as most so they can’t target vacationers. They also talk a lot to each other (gold mine for referrals) and are more likely to have investment properties to rent out.
  • Also, don’t forget to look for “for rent” papers taped to telephone poles, billboards, etc.

Here’s who you should avoid:

  • Cleaners/labourers/street vendors. These people might know someone who has a place to rent, but my time was better spent asking people who aren’t barely scraping by.
  • Realty companies. I couldn’t believe this, but these people didn’t seem to know a thing about anything but vacation rental properties. Their prices were either crazy high or they were only interested in selling mansions. None of them had anything available within our price range and none of them gave us good leads.

Most importantly, don’t give up.

If you don’t have experience as a door to door salesman like I do, this whole process might be a bit overwhelming at first. You’re going to have to deal with an endless stream of no-no-no-no before you get that YES! But, remember that one yes is all you need to save a shit-tonne of money. It might take you hours or days, but if you give up early you’ll never live in paradise for cheaper than you were back at home 🙂


Here’s the place we found!

Sayulita Sayulita

Sayulita

We have a cute little balcony where we can hang out.

Sayulita

Finally have a real kitchen!

Sayulita Sayulita Sayulita

Sayulita

Our closet doors are actually really pretty.

Sayulita

We made ourselves at home very fast 🙂

Sayulita

Sayulita

Lots of room to dry clothes on the rooftop

Sayulita

We even have a place to hang our hammocks!

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  • deanna woroniak

    It looks just perfect, and oh so pretty with all the ceramic.You two must be having the time of your lives. Keep up the great blogs, I do enjoy them. Aunti Deanna.

  • Great post! Thanks for sharing!

  • Thanks Mitchell!

  • We are! 🙂 Thanks!

  • ana

    Thanks for sharing your experience it gives me some hope. Looking on line has been very depressing. I am going to Sayulita with my 11 year old which makes it a little scary to just wing it and hope for the best but that’s what we are going to do. There is nothing online for long term rentals under 1300usd:(

  • Good luck Ana! At this time of the year, I’m sure you’ll find something 🙂 Just don’t give up!

  • Thanks for this great information! My wife and I are planning to go there in April. It’s actually a ‘medical’ journey to find out if living close to the sea in a less-developed area will help her EHS. I will need to work which means we need internet (but not wifi, as that is part of the problem!) We cannot afford a whole bunch of money as we spend what we earn in the quest for a cure. Your suggestions make a lot of sense for the young at heart and for those who can take a bit of discomfort along the way (I used to do this sort of thing regularly), but I wonder if there is a way we can do it with less discomfort as my wife is not able to deal with stress at the moment. Even the flight will be demanding for her. Any suggestions you have would be most welcome.

  • Virginie

    There really isn’t a way to avoid the discomfort… If it’s too much for you wife, you can always fly in first and try to find a house/apartment on your own… Otherwise, you really don’t have to stay at a hostel 🙂 You can find a nice hotel for a few nights and let your wife hang out by the pool while you talk to the locals and check out places! If you’re going in April, you should be able to find something, as you’ll get there are the end of the high season. Good luck!