Let me start by saying, no worries, there are rental properties in all price ranges in the Lake Chapala area. That being said, ‘you get what you pay for’ is just as true here as in other locations.
Rental prices by the month range from $500 USD to $2,500 USD, depending on size, condition, location and time of year, and whether short term or long term. Most of our clients find that they need to pay somewhere between $850 and $1500 to get the amenities they are used to north of the border when they rent for several months at a time, just to give you some ballpark to work with. To get a sense of the cost of buying, check out our “Sample Homes for Sale” page – which are take from the MLS listings. It is difficult to get a true feel for values when you don’t know the locations or condition of the properties. However, it will give you a bit of insight.
Seasonal Rentals in Lake Chapala
The shorter the term in high season especially (Oct till April), the higher the price. Some people manage their own rental and charge by the week. These are by far the most expensive. However, if you rent by the year (or half year), you will pay much less. It is most common for people to rent for several months in high season.
High season is from October till April and since there are usually more people north of the border trying to escape the cold, we have more visitors during these winter months than the summer months, hence the prices will be the highest in high season. The peak of the high season is January, February and March. Property managers prefer to rent for the whole high season, so it is quite normal for them not to want to rent for short periods well in advance of the high season commencing. Therefore if you contact some to rent say for the month of February in July of the previous year, you may have difficulty getting a confirmation that far in advance.
More likely, if you are looking to rent in the peak of high season, the rental agency will advise you to just come a few days before you want the rental, stay in a B&B or hotel and then see what is available at that time. Mostly there is no shortage of rentals, so you should have a reasonable selection to choose from. Many people don’t like the idea of renting a property sight unseen anyway, especially if they have to pay a hefty sum up front to secure it. What if the location requires a vehicle and you are flying in, and won’t have a car? What if the house is poorly equipped or in poor condition or you don’t like the location? Especially if you have not visited the area prior and don’t know what to expect, you are more likely to have a good experience if you are able to see the property in person and decide on the spot.
You may get lucky and secure a rental early but odds are that most people will not commit until just before the season starts.
Our somewhat biased advice is: Come first on a Focus on Mexico Program. Then you will have a chance to see for yourself if this is the place for you. Then when you are ready to come back for an extended stay, you will have a much better understanding and an idea of rentals and values and locations, plus you will have made a number of contacts. We also give you a list of our recommended Property Managers so you will be well looked after.
Furnishings and Amenities:
In the Lake Chapala area, we don’t have rental apartment buildings per sé; mostly you are renting individual homes or condo townhomes. The difference in condition and furnishings can be from one end of the scale to the other (not unlike north of the border). Some people buy an investment property and promptly furnish it with very few basic supplies and cheap rustico (uncomfortable) furniture and limited accessories, almost to the point it feels like camping out.
Others furnish the home like a show home, and full of creature comforts. The difference in the experience is night vs day. Obviously the luxuriously decorated home will rent for more, but more often than not, it is well worth it.
Often you will be renting someone’s home who is renting it out part time when not here, so you have the benefit of the full amenities they put in for themselves. Sometimes people have bought their dream home but aren’t able to move for a year or two, but furnish it nicely for when they will live there themselves, and rent it out until that time.
If you are coming for just a month or so, the condition of the home may not be as important as if you are renting long term. You tend to spend very little time at home if renting short time and most people eat out often at our abundant supply of great restaurants. If you are here longer term, the condition and set up takes on greater importance, as do the kitchen supplies, if you are planning on regular cooking and entertaining at home.
Things you should know about renting a home in Lake Chapala and Ajijic
- Rental rates vary by season but you’ll find the range is between $400 and $2500 U.S., depending on duration of rental, season, age, condition and location.
- Most rentals, like most properties for sale, are priced in U.S. Dollars.
- You need to be very clear on what is included and what is ‘additional.’ Quite often a property comes with a gardener. Are his services included in the rate or additional, but required? (The same for the maid.)
- For instance, a few years ago we took our dogs and our motor home and went traveling for four months. We decided to rent out our house while we were gone. We charged $1,000 U.S. per month rent plus the tenant paid our full-time maid ($400 pesos per week) and gardener ($500 pesos per week), which brought the monthly cost to rent in U.S. dollars up to about $1350 a month. So you can see how you might get a surprise if you are not precise.
- Sign a lease, preferably in English. Also, be careful to read the lease. It is quite common here that when you rent a property, you take it ‘as is.’ If something breaks (Fridge, Water Heater, electrical problems, etc.), you are responsible for fixing it. Make sure the lease is very clear on what is included and what you are responsible for. This is one of the reasons many people prefer to deal with a Professional Agency and not rent from an individual, unless they know them.
- It is also normal to pay the first and last months’ rent in advance, plus one extra month to cover utilities (especially the phone – many renters in the past have run up huge long distance phone bills and left the owner ‘holding the bag’). When you leave, the Agent or Owner will pay the last month’s utility bills and send you what is left over, usually about four to six weeks later, as the phone company here (TELMEX) may take a couple of months to capture all the previous calls.
- DO NOT give post-dated checks. They can be deposited immediately.
- DO NOT cancel a check. Cancelling a check is considered fraud and is a serious offence.
- A number of Rental properties may also be For Sale. This is not normally a problem for short-term rentals (2 to 3 months), because if it does sell, closing can be timed for after the rental period. It can be inconvenient if the sales market is very active with lots of showings, however. For a longer term rental, in addition to perhaps being interrupted with a number of showings, the risk is the home could sell and they might ask you to leave. So, if the house is up for sale when you sign the lease, make sure there is a clause in there that the terms of your lease are passed on to the new owner and you are protected for the duration of your lease.
COVID UPDATE: During the uncertainties created by the pandemic, we have suspended our live 6-Day Educational Programs and will be back in late 2021 OR 2022 depending on how conditions evolve. Our new “Move To Mexico Online Program” – along with live, one-on-one support at Lakeside – is the best approach to ensure safety of you and our staff, while providing you with the experience and expertise of the Focus program. The Online Program will provide you with the essential info and perspective from over 20 presentations on everything to do with a move to Mexico. Interested in finding out more about our Online Program? Click here.
Spike edwards says
I am looking for a place to rent Jan.feb or mar. Can you help. Thanks spike
michael nuschke says
Those months are the busiest at Lakeside, and the owners of rental properties will usually wait and see if they can rent their properties to long-term renters…and then if they have vacancies, they will might offer a shorter term rental say 6 weeks before the start date.
Best resources are; Rental Agencies, and some Facebook groups like “Ajijic Rentals Chapala” https://www.facebook.com/groups/306965742673109/
It really helps to be on the ground, i.e. have a friend who can look for you, OR come and stay at a B&B while you look for a rental. Many will find rentals often by word-of-mouth and bulletin boards as well.
Focus On Mexico has a service where we would charge you for trying (no guarantees) to find a rental for you. The service is described on our website at; https://focusonmexico.com/focus-rental-assistance/
All the best in your search!
william E palmer says
Rick Abeyta says
I am currently living in Santa Fe, NM and plan to retire in about 6 months. I’ve just starting reading about Chapala. I’m very interested in visiting right after retirement so I’ll need some help in choosing a rental for about 30 days before I decide to make a permanent move. I was told this is the smart thing to do. You mentioned other sites to help with that but I’m worried about not getting a true description. Who would I contact from your group to find out more information?
Bette Brazel says
A lot will depend on your budget parameters, but the very best way to choose a rental is to do it in person. There are a number of rental agencies in the area and some rentals never appear on the internet. For a 30-day visit, your best bet might be to stay in a bed and breakfast while you search for something more long term. No-one knows your preferences and the compromises you might be willing to make better than you. As you alluded to, pictures on the internet are not always reliable, since there are many other factors to consider such as who are the owners and will you be able to work well with them. If you come to one of our seminars, we can assist you in contacting local rental agents.
Rosalyn Lohnes says
please send me the names of rental agencies in Chapala
we are talking to Access Lake Chapala, Continental Ajijic Rentals and Coldwell Banker Ajijic
Bette Brazel says
There are many rental agencies in the area, but there is no comprehensive listing of rental agencies. Your best bet is to do a Google search for Lake Chapala rental agencies. Each of them are independently owned and operated.
Hello. I have known about this area when I was much younger. Now I am married and retired. We are going to try and book for a month in March or April 2021 and be prepared to stay longer when we know more about the area. Thanks Danna and Fred Adrio
michael nuschke says
Sounds good Danna. All the best!
FYI, Focus has deferred any live 6-Day Programs until the pandemic situation is clarified.
NOTE: an Online Course version of the Program will be launched shortly and we will also have one-on-one live assistance for those coming to Lakeside. Just email us if you have an interest in this. email@example.com
Gisele king says
We are looking to rent a 1 bedroom cute little house. We plan on moving to that area. Can anyone help us?
michael nuschke says
Rental agencies, VRBO, AirBnB, bulletin boards, work of mouth.
You’ve got to work it!
Patricia Smith says
Looking for a “nice” well furnished rental, center or west Ajijic, La Floresta, we’re a senior couple with 2 small doggies , love a yard, garden.
Garage, 2 beds, 2 bath.
michael nuschke says
Searching for a rental is, imo, best done on the ground at Lakeside. Then you will likely need to pull out the stops and use multiple approaches – shake the bushes as you will, to improve odds of success.
In our online Move2Mexico Roadmap Program we get into rental strategies along with much else.
Martin Plaskoff says
would like a month rental for November. In the past I have rented monthly twice before.
michael nuschke says
Suggest you google for rental agencies, look on Facebook groups, google for Lakeside rentals etc.
Theresa Riley says
Looking for a 2 bedroom furnished/ unfinished Casita or apartment with outside sitting area. Single retiree female pricing 500.00 to 700.00 US dollars. I have no pets, no car, so I would like to be near stores, restaurants, bus transportation . Chapala/ Ajijic area.
michael nuschke says
Best to plan a trip to lakeside for the express purpose of finding a rental.
You can start our search online (Facebook groups, rental agency sites) but by far best is on-the-ground.
p.s. this is one of our main topics in our live and online programs.