After a second visit, I have decided to rent a house in Mérida’s Chuburna de Hidalgo neighbourhood. Unfortunately, there was no time to take pictures today, so this post is mostly a lot of bla bla bla.
I met the landlady and like her a lot. She took me through the house a second time and pointed out features — and whole rooms — that I wasn’t shown the first time around!
The house has a lot of very nice features. One is that it stands alone and has land all around it before the walls that surround it. I was expecting to rent a house stuck to other houses and with only a prison yard-like inner courtyard. It is going to be very private and quiet.
I love that the property has automatic gates. Getting my truck in and out of the yard in Maz and here has been such a production and it will be wonderful to be able to get in and out easily.
The yard will be easy to maintain. I thought it had grass, but the area is just overgrown with weeds. They will be cleared for me and then I just have to keep on top of it. The exterior entrance of the house is incredible, with flagstone, landscaping, and a freaking working wall fountain!
The side yard to the left of the house has a covered terrace where I can already see myself downing a bottle of wine while beating C&C at canasta. Behind that is an area for hanging laundry and beside it is a laundry room the agent forgot to show me! It is small, but has room for both a washer and dryer (not that I use the latter) and it has a cement sink with built-in scrub board.
The right side yard is a service corridor that leads to… a built-in dog house. Too funny, but with the property being totally walled, Puppy could come for a visit!
You enter the house into the living room. Included for that room are two new brown suede couches and two huge armoires (I think they might be meant as entertainment centres?). Off of the living room to the right are the dining room and the eat-in kitchen. In the kitchen, I get a large microwave cabinet (not one of those cheap Walmart things) and the landlady promised me a microwave! There is a door from the kitchen to the right side yard. The kitchen can be closed to the dining room by a door and a sliding window across the breakfast bar. I get a small table (but no chairs) in the kitchen as well.
The dining room comes with a large table and chairs and a gorgeous buffet imported from… France. Wow. I’ll have a place to display my Pyrex. 🙂 Sliding patio doors lead to the small covered courtyard. There’s also an RV-like awning I can roll out for extra shade.
Back in the living room, we can go left to my office, a huge space with a built-in desk and bookcase area where I can already see myself working on my journal. It has a door to outside. Next to it is the guest bathroom and next to that is the guest bedroom, with a huge closet with lots of shelves. It has a view to the laundry drying area, so the landlady had a wall built to hide that! That’s the kind of attention to detail that really impresses me. The guest room has two new twin beds, so sorry guests coming as couples, you’ll have to push the beds together. 😉
Last on the ground floor is the maid’s quarters. It’s currently full of the owner’s son’s possessions, so I only got a glimpse of it on Thursday and it was presented to me as a bodega (storage closet). Turns out that it has a full en suite bathroom, not a half bath as I’d been told. The room doesn’t have a window of its own, but the bathroom does and the room does have two doors to the rear courtyard, so there is the option of leaving the full door open and the door with mosquito netting closed for both light and air. The owner says her mother-in-law would sleep in that room so, really, it can’t be that uncomfortable! I think this room could end up being my den.
Back in the living room are the stairs to go up to the master suite. The landing upstairs is large and well lit. That’s where I’m going to take up painting again. 🙂 The master bedroom has a huge walk-in closet (sadly without as much built-in storage as the guest room!) plus, of course, an en suite bathroom.
The house is going to be a good size for me. The owners find it two big for the two of them, but they are not home much. She said that at first, she thought it was too much house for an active young single person, but when she learned that I work from home and am a homebody, she agreed with me that it’s probably going to be just right.
The whole house is super bright and airy. There are ceiling fans in every room. There are really good shades or blinds for every window and they all take into account how much sun comes in through that window. The open staircase with the double width ceiling will draw up the hot air. It really is a very well thought out house!
But what makes this house so special is its location. The Mérida of interest to most people is north of the cathedral in centro. South, you get into the rougher neighbourhoods and the airport. This map shows the northern part of Mérida. It’s clear that the house is almost right smack in the centre.
I prefer walking to driving, especially in a city, and my radius is 5KM. The circles represent radii of 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5KM. I’d say that at least 90% of the Mérida within the periférico that could interest me fits within that 5KM radius. The cathedral downtown is just south of it.
Right around the house, in a radius of no more than a handful of blocks, I’ve got convenience and beer stores, a lavandaria (in case I don’t find a washer right away), a tortillería, a bunch of restaurants (I saw cocinas economicas, taquerías, pizzerias, and at least one Chinese restaurant), two small supermarkets (Aki, Willy), and, of course, the neighbourhood’s central market.
Within an easy walk of 2KM, I’ve got everything else I could possibly want — amazing restaurants, grocery stores (including Chedraui and Superama for hard to find ingredients), the Lebanese bakery, two cinemas, Office and Home Depot, and so much more.
If I want to go have a drink and enjoy live music at La Negrita, I can walk or bus the less than 3KM to it and have a cheap taxi ride home (or, if it’s a nice night, walk — Mérida is safe!). Centro will be easily accessible by bus in both directions and the landlady says that “even” she does it that way.
The location right off Calle 60 is going to be so easy to find. Addresses in Mérida can be confusing and repeat themselves in different parts of the city. I could tell the cab driver that I’m going to two blocks west of a certain major landmark instead of saying my address and making sure he gets the neighbourhood right.
Guests, whether friends/family or eventually Airbnb if I still choose to go that route, will also be well served by the public transportation options just a few blocks away. Like me, they’ll be able to take the bus south to centro, or north to Progreso’s beaches. And with such a central location, taxis will be cheap regardless of you’d want to go.
We’ve negotiated that I’m renting for two years. I will pay $500 less a month than advertised for the first year and then full price the second year. I get keys as soon as I’ve paid one month in advance, the lawyer’s fees, and a double deposit on the condition that I don’t start moving in (as in sleeping and living in the house — I can start bring my belongings over) until October. I am, however, free to have deliveries made directly to the house in September and to move in whenever I want in October.
The rental terms are standard. Normally, you plan to pay the equivalent of three months up front — the first month, legal fees equal to one month, and a refundable security deposit. You also have to provide an “aval de propriedad,” which is unique in Yucatán. It’s like having a co-signor, who has to be a homeowner in Mérida. If you don’t have one of those, the landlord can ask for an extra deposit, which is what happened in my case.
My hiccup was that I hadn’t expected to find something so soon, never mind at that price, and it would put me in a bind to pay four months’ up front right now. So I asked if I could pay three and then the fourth at the end of the month. To my surprise, instead of hemming and hawing I was told that I could pay just one month now and the rest on October 1st — but then I wouldn’t have any access in September. Fair enough! I still plan to get it all paid so that I can start shopping. 🙂 I want to go as much as possible with found treasures rather than going to, say, Liverpool and buying things full price, so furnishing my new house could take some time. The garage sale group is going to prove invaluable, I’m sure.
I do want to stress that while the house is quite a bit more than I expected to pay, it is still well within my budgetary comfort zone, especially since it comes with so much furniture, significantly reducing my move-in expenses (really, all I absolutely need is a fridge!). I’ve calculated that my expenses will be about 300CAD less a month than when I was paying for two homes my winters in Mazatlán. I did have the debate with myself about renting a shoebox with just two bedrooms and a bathroom, but I’m ready for a proper home, am not risking financial ruin with this one, and it’ll be amazing turning 40 in a house that truly shows the progress I’ve made at bettering my life over the last 20 years.
The utility bills on top of the rent will be small, probably no more than $1,500 a month all-in, depending on how much power I use. Power for the empty house with fans running 24/7 is the same as I paid in Maz, $550 every two months, so I’m expecting a power bill of around $800 when I don’t have guests running AC. Gas and water will be inconsequential amounts, as they were in Maz.
Internet is still a big question mark. I was highly recommended a new provider offering fibre service, but was told I might be shocked by the price since you have to bundle in either or both a landline or cable. A landline wouldn’t be a bad idea (there are numbers you can’t call from a cell). I’ve had a quick look at what I can find for that provider and if I’m reading everything correctly, I’m looking at roughly the same cost for internet plus a landline as what I paid in Canada for internet and cell service. But, of course, I’d be getting 200Mbps download speed instead of 10GB at 1Mbps and then 256KBs after throttling…
So that’s the scoop for today. I sign the lease Wednesday morning!