Home / Featured / The 5 stages of buying a house in Merida

The 5 stages of buying a house in Merida

Several years ago, when Husband and I were new to Ex-pat life, he came across Culture Shock for Australian Ex-pats in America. It’s a good read and many of the stages are similar to what American Ex-pats in México go through. Here in Mérida we see people in the various stages, it’s recognizable, we’ve been there too. I think that there are the five stages of buying a house in Merida too.

  1. The search for the perfect house. This portion often takes place online. Real estate websites are poured over daily. The NSA probably doesn’t review satellite photos with the same intensity and attention to detail. A future ex-pat on a house hunt is a determined being.
  2. The house is chosen and purchased, often, sight unseen. Sometimes the house is even bought online, but that is a special sort of madness reserved for the true believers.This is also a learning experience for the new ex-pat. Compra-Venta contracts, notarios, fidicomiso, and the current exchange rate are the subject of much discussion.
  3. The remodel begins, unless the buyer has bought a turnkey house, this is the most stressful part of the home owning process. People are asked “who did your house?”. Recommendations are sought, advice is given, the names of architects are bandied around, gossip about remodels gone bad are as tantalizing as the latest soap opera . INAH is trotted out, the monster under the bed for most historical remodels. Often, the ex-pat has romanticized ideas of Mexican style which INAH shoots down in the name of preserving historical accuracy. There is enough drama inherent in this to fill the Enquirer for a month.
  4. The remodel runs over. It seems like everyone that I know has been told that their remodel will take 6 weeks. That 6 weeks is directly related to the 15 days that the hardware store also claims as a restocking cycle. Sometimes the house is never finished, at least not by the original contractor.
  5. The house is finally finished. Life as an expat begins, or the expat realizes that this is not the perfect house, the perfect neighborhood and starts the search for the next house, which will be perfect this time.

Or you find yourself living in the Neverending Remodel, little details that you didn’t think of before, things that your friends did that you want to copy. At some point, either your house takes over your life or an intervention is staged, and you agree that you are done, except maybe for this one more thing…..

Have you been through the 5 stages of buying a house in Merida? Did you skip any steps? Do you have other steps to add to the list?

About Theresa Diaz Gray

Born in New York City, I grew up in California, and have lived in 3 countries and 6 states. I'm a first generation Cuban-American who lives in Merida, Yucatan, Mexico. I'm committed to living an abundant and creative life and helping others do so too through DIY!


  1. Nope there is one more step that happens to some people, I am one of them. It is the person that goes through steps 1-4 and then finds that the contractors who charged them so much for the renovations don’t stand behind their work and you are paying again and again for the same thing. The people who have property managers who either covertly or just flat out steal from you and don’t do what they said they would……. And finally they just give up and put it on the market and sell the thing and say to themselves that maybe just maybe its cheaper in the long run to rent a house for the one to two months that they come down.

    • Nancy,
      I am so sorry that happened to you. Unfortunately, where ever there are foreigners there are people who prey upon them. There is a tendency to trust people who either are your countrymen or speak your language. Let’s face it, con men are very likable and skilled at getting your trust. It’s not just Merida, it’s everywhere in the world.

      I suppose it’s too late to ask if you tried PROFECO? I know some people who have gotten satisfaction through them.

      It probably is cheaper to rent if you are only here for a couple of months, but there is a difference between settling for that option and choosing it originally. I hope your dealing from now on go better.


  2. Debbie, I think stage 1 is the most fun. It’s all about possibilities and dreams. Now if you were stuck in the remodeling phase, that would be horrible. Good luck with your house hunt!

  3. I think we have been at stage 1 for two years and counting. Stage 2looms, though.

  4. Sharon, I’m sure that I just stated stuff you already knew! Hopefully you won’t have any problem getting your deposit back.
    You are so right, you can have so much more fun your first year here if you aren’t involved in a construction project. Merida is a small town in many ways, I’m sure we’ll run into each other.

  5. Theresa, this post capped off my decision to let go of the Contract to Purchase I had signed on a Santiago fixer-upper (the sellers were still not ready after one extension, and had fallen well outside the validity dates of the contract). I’d rather spend my first year in Merida integrating in the community than supervising a construction site. Been there, done that. So for your timely input I thank you, and will do so again somehow … after I find my Merida Plan B housing solution!

  6. C&K, that was our plan too! I still recommend it, but you also have to be flexible.


  7. It’s going to be hard to resist the urge to buy, but we are determined to rent for at least a year. We will see how long that lasts.

  8. AMM, if you do buy a house in Mexico, your experience will be different because you are in an another part of the republic. You will still have to deal with no-shows etc. Besides you are a long way off from retirement!

    Norm, your F-i-L is so right, we are now on the never ending maintenance stage.

    Islagringo, they aren’t at the end yet, give them time before we do an intervention!


  9. Great job of summing it all up. Your last thoughts reminded me of a couple of girls living near you!

  10. My Father-in-law said it best,”you buy a house and it does its best to fall down around your ears, its a never ending race to keep the thing standing”

  11. I am not brave enough to buy in MX – not yet …

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Scroll To Top