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!