Book vs. Real World Spanish

I spent a good part of the day chatting via Whatapp with the real estate agent for the house I’m thinking of renting. Negotiations have started and I’m meeting her and the owners for a second walk-through on Monday.

The texting experience is interesting. I experienced similar issues in Spain where there were times that the texts came in a wholly different language, the Spanish/Mexican version of text speak. She also uses a bunch of idiomatic phrases. I don’t know how long it took me yesterday to realise that “Don’t be evil/mean,” probably actually meant, “Don’t be mad,” since it was followed by a text requested some personal information, rather than my having put my foot in my mouth!

The texts were flying today and sometimes I wasn’t responding fast enough so I’d reply to her to give me a second, I was trying to figure out what the hell she said because a literal translation made no sense. At one point, she wrote, “Are you here?” and I thought she meant was I in Mérida, possibly to have a last minute appointment. I took that literally and said, “No, I’m in work hell in Chelem.” That earned me a “ja ja ja” and the laughing-crying emoticon and a note that if I Mexican asks me that again, it just means do I have time to chat!

I know that I have very little boots on the ground street speak experience and that I’m not going to break that barrier without being willing to make a fool of myself. So if something doesn’t make sense, I admit it and ask for a rephrasing. I can only think of one person who has ever rolled their eyes for me at that, and it was in Barcelona. Mexicans are just so considerate of non-native speakers, especially when they are making a valiant effort to communicate in Spanish even if things often get garbled in translation.

I really can’t wait to share more details of the house. I have a firm grasp now of exactly where it is in relation to everything else I’m interested in in Mérida and just how much of the city will be walkable. The location is beyond perfect. I’m going to have that village within a village feel that I wanted, being minutes (a few blocks) from the neighbourhood’s central square and market.

Price negotiations have begun. I know that the house is well within my comfort zone, but I do want to know roughly how much I might expect to pay for utilities to get a better idea of what I’m getting into. I never once used AC in Maz and my power was about $550 for two months ($275 a month) running fans 24/7, so I imagine that unless power in Yucatán is much more than that, my bills should be only a tad higher, accounting for more ceiling fans going and my planning to run a huge fridge. I’m sure guests will use AC and drive up the power bill, but that’s only fair considering how often I plugged in at other people’s homes when I was RVing! Internet (fibre optic, woot, woot) shouldn’t be more than $500 a month. I have no idea about water or if the house has gas, little details to iron out on Monday.

Once I get to the lease stage, I’ll talk a bit about the legalities and the process here in Yucatán. I’m glad I’d done a ton of homework ahead of time and read through a bunch of legalese because renting long-term with a contract is nothing like renting month-to-month. The couple of expats I asked about something called an aval de propriedad had no clue. It is a very important thing here in Mérida and I’m so glad that when the agents bring it up, I know what they mean and how to answer the question.

These are very exciting and educational times for me. I can’t believe that I went from feeling like I was blathering in Spanish just two and a half years ago to having done the majority of my immigration stuff in Spanish and now I’m negotiating a real rent contract, not just a verbal agreement. I have to say that there are a lot more rental options in Mérida if you don’t need an English speaking agent and/or landlord and I look forward to discovering and sharing with you an area that I’ve yet to see discussed on expat forums and blogs.

4 thoughts on “Book vs. Real World Spanish

    • It’s not going to be one day, but it will be in early October. Regardless of how negotiations go, I want the whole of October to move in. I’ll start bringing stuff over from here, get the guys who moved my desk from Mérida to move it back to Mérida (they swore they don’t mind…), and to be able to arrange for internet set up and delivery of things like appliances. I might also do some painting.

    • It will really depend on how long the lease is for. The house just got a brand new paint job inside and out. So the landlords said that I can what I want, but have to make the house look the same when I leave. If I’m committing to being there for two years, it would be worth painting a few accent walls. But if we only do a one-year contract, I’m not so sure I’ll want to commit to the time and expense in case that I end up moving .

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