Tag Archives: renting in Mexico

A room of her own–Perks



It may not look like much at first…..

Despite the small size, there are definitely some perks to renting in Sunflower Valley.  While it’s really not designed for a family, I think a retired granny would be delighted here. In fact, I can see the whole neighborhood being converted into a retirement community.  Here are some of the pros and cons.


There is unlimited water.  I can wash and wash to my heart’s content and not have to worry about getting a delivery truck to come and fill up the tinaco (water storage container) or go to the arroyo.  However, there is some issue with the tinaco.  Every week or so, there was an overflow, and it dripped into the house, which apparently has been happening for years because there are signs of roof leakage in every room.  We did get that fixed though (See Waterfall in the kitchen and Fixing the roof)  Additionally, the toilet leaked, so we had to flush with a bucket. The pipes are bad which is causing the walls in the hallway and my office to disintegrate. That we haven’t fixed yet.  Although the water heater was replaced, we don’t shower here either.  It’s just icky.  Plus there were those extra water charges the owner tried to foist on us from the last tenants.  Although that too has been taken care of.

There is unlimited electricity.  We can charge our flashlight, laptops, portable DVD players, phones and Kindles every single day! And at 50 pesos every 2 months, the price is right! However, there are only 5 working plugs in the whole house, so we have to rotate our charges.

There is unlimited internet.  Well, there better be since this was the whole reason for renting this place, to begin with.  I use the internet to teach my online classes.  My son uses the internet to play Minecraft.  My husband uses the internet to check his Facebook account.  However, it’s a bit pricey at $349 per month, and it’s not lightning fast, but it will do for now I suppose.

There is also trash pickup 6 days a week.  We don’t generate too much waste and average one trash bag per week.  The problem is getting the trash out when the truck passes ringing its bell. Typically, it goes by before 7 am, and we aren’t usually there to greet it.  So sometimes the trash bag waits a week or more before hitting the curb.  Other times we just haul it to La Yacata and burn it.


There is an abarrotes (convenience store) right across the street.  We can get detergent, toilet paper, ham, cheese, eggs, beans, tortillas, bread, water garafones (jugs) and junk food.  Unfortunately, my son goes overboard on the junk food.  Every chance he gets, he heads over for a bag of chips and a Zumba (non-carbonated grape juice) or cookies and milk.  He has made the connection between the food he eats and his zit outbreaks, so I’m hoping he reduces his junk food intake eventually.  


The produce truck comes every Sunday afternoon.  Since there isn’t a fruteria (produce store) close, this is a fabulous plus.  He even stops right in front of the house!  However, the guy who drives it has lots in La Yacata, so my cover is blown! It didn’t take too long for other Yacata property owners to find me in Sunflower Valley either.

The bolillo (bread) guy comes every morning around 9 am.  We aren’t often there in the mornings with our current schedule, but it’s a really nice treat when we are.  I can’t think of a downside for this.  Freshly made bollillo is yummy!

The tamale lady comes every Saturday evening.  She sells rojos, verdes y dulcles (red, green and sweet) tamales for 9 pesos each.  However, she usually knocks when I’m in class, so my son handles the transaction.  Only she doesn’t seem to understand volume, so she’s practically shouting at the front door, which disturbs me in my classes.  

The saddest ice cream truck ever also makes the rounds most evenings.  It’s a rusty red van that plays the song Memory from Cats over and over again.  Not exactly a song that brings ice cream to mind, but it’s memorable that’s for sure.

Now that the little house is nearly furnished, there are all sorts of perks inside too.  Both my son and I have a bed for napping when we have to head there right after school.  Having a kitchen lets us whip up something quick as well.  I also like to have a cup of tea during my classes.  And if my classes run long and my teenage son is famished, he can fry himself up some eggs and ham.  We have chairs to sit on and hope to get a couch to lounge on soon.  It’s quite comfortable really.


The house backs up to a soccer field.  If I stand on a chair, I’m actually ground level to the field.  Best seats in the house.  However, there are days the games are the same time I am teaching online, so there’s a bit of background noise when the two overlap.


Guard’s room.  There’s a ding-dong sensor when someone passes through the front gate.

There’s a security guard at the front gate who monitors everybody’s coming and going. Despite this, in recent months, there have been 4 break-ins during the day.  I suspect that the thieves live in Sunflower Valley as well, so the items have just moved from one house to another.  The targeted houses have been all 2 stories and obviously better off financially than my run-down little dump.  Plus, the store is open all day, and the shopkeeper keeps an eye on things on our street.  Furthermore, our neighbor has a friendly pitt bull that is outside during the day.  He’d give the warning should any strangers come and try to pick our lock.

Yet another perk is the proximity to La Yacata.  It really is less than 2 miles.  When my classes run late, it only takes 5 minutes to get home via the highway.  Of course, I don’t like driving the highway at night, but it’s the shortest way.  It’s also within biking distance for my son.  Nowadays he prefers heading over there Saturday afternoons rather than staying in La Yacata.

Besides the tamale lady and the occasional soccer game, the area is quiet and peaceful.  In December, we even had Las Posadas right outside our door.  We didn’t stay long, but shared some ponche (punch) and received an aguinaldo (goodie bag) for our 40 pesos contribution.

So, as you can see, there are some decided advantages to our little out in Sunflower Valley even if there aren’t any sunflowers here.  I’m not sure how long we’ll keep renting, but for now, it’s all good.


The Bougainvillea has begun to bloom–perhaps a sign of better things to come?







Filed under Electricity issues, Water issues

A room of her own–fixing the roof

With the rainy season fast approaching, it was imperative that the roof was fixed.  It wouldn’t do to arrive and find that the beds and computers got wet.  My husband agreed to do the work and even called the owner to name his price.  So the arrangement was instead of paying rent this month, I would buy the materials and pay my husband.


The roof had already received a coat of impermeabilizante (waterproofing), hence the red color, but as there were holes in the cement, a layer of paint wasn’t enough to keep the water out.

First, the roof needed to be swept and the accumulated debris disposed of.  The house was not constructed very well.  The rainwater pooled at the sides and over the years corroded the roof, leaving it in its current dilapidated condition.


This cement tinaco (water storage container) is at least 20 years old.

Next, the holes in the ceiling were filled in.


Then the chipopote (tar) mixed with gas for easier spreading was applied to the worst spots.  It’s possible there will still be one or two minor leaks, but we won’t know until the rainy season arrives in full force.


Finally, the ceiling received another coat of plaster.  I wasn’t so worried about the cosmetic appearance, but my husband thought it should at least look passable.


It’s been more work than I imagined getting the place into a comfortable state for working and I’m not finished yet.  The bathroom still feels icky and even though we don’t use it for showering, it’d be nice to fix it up a bit. It certainly is better than it was! I have to keep in mind that this isn’t my house though.  It doesn’t pay for me to invest in unessential repairs.





Filed under Construction, Water issues

A room of her own–Waterfall in the kitchen?

I have to admit that the little house in Sunflower Valley to being a bit lacking in several aspects. First, the floor is white tile. Who in their right mind would use white tile? It is NEVER clean.

Then there are the holes in the roof. It leaks in 3 of the 4 rooms. I can see the sky through some of the holes. And while we are in the dry season and the holes shouldn’t be an issue, this week they became an issue when the floater on the tinaco (water storage container) on the roof went caput. So when the new load of water came gushing in from the street, the tinaco overflowed and it came gushing down on our heads in the kitchen, along with chunks of the ceiling.

Ceiling holes

Ceiling holes

So there we were wading in the new waterfall, making the floor far from shiny white. Stopping the cascade required pliers and some guessing. Which would turn the water off from the street and which would turn off the water for the entire street? Well, no one complained, so I guess we got the right one.

As I really didn’t want this to be a constant issue,  it needed to be fixed. My husband came and looked it over. We had recently bought 2 new tinacos (water storage containers) each of which came with floaters which we don’t use because we don’t have running water. (See Water Woes) The tinacos are filled with rain water or from the water delivery truck. When they are full, we close the lid of the tinaco. No floater needed. Anyway, he brought that piece over and went to work.

The old floater.

The old floater.

It required draining the tinaco, so he left the water on, and did other things. A short time later, it was fixed, so he turned the water back on to fill the tank and went home. He came back later to check on things, and the bathroom was flooded. Apparently, the water pressure from the now working tinaco was too much for the toilet pipes. It had flown out of the wall connection and the house was flooded, again.

This attachment just shot right out of the wall.

This attachment just shot right out of the wall.

So the tianco was drained yet again. I can’t WAIT to see this water bill. When the copper tubes were dry, he blowtorched the pieces together. Then the floater in the toilet broke. That required a new piece, which he went and got and replaced. Then the hose from the toilet tank to the wall pipe broke. Another trip for a new piece and replacement.

Finally, after 2 days of effort, the toilet and tinaco were fixed. Now we don’t have to bucket flush anymore.

Of course, these are things I have brought up several times to the owner. It even prompted a trip to Yuriria, well that and the leftover water charges from the previous tenant that she said were taken care of. With the repairs done, another trip was in order.  Unfortunately, we didn’t find anyone home, although we did pick up some fruit trees from a guy selling them from his wheelbarrow for 15 pesos each.

So I called and explained that I would only be paying $600 pesos this month for rent.  That was fine with the landlady.  What else could she say?  And she seemed all interested in getting the roof fixed, which was my next item on the repair list.



Filed under Water issues

A room of her own–furnishings

We set up with just a desk for my son, a desk for me, a card table and 4 chairs. Little by little, I brought stuff from La Yacata in order to make it more functional. I had a wooden TV table that now supports my printer and the internet box, the main reason for renting this place, after all.



There were a few shelves that originally were in my son’s Spidey room. A little yellow paint and they work nicely in the kitchen. I scrubbed the hideous green paint off the wooden insert in the kitchen and my son stained it.  What an improvement! I had a two burner electric hot plate that works for our occasional cooking. I bought a tea kettle and 4 dishes, and 4 enamel tin cups. I was going for utility rather than luxury. I brought a few pans from the other house, a container of sugar and tea and the kitchen was set up.


The washer, of course, was the central kitchen item. Even after owning it for several months now, I still caress its lid when I go by. I’m very pleased with my purchase.



The English teacher across the street said she was getting rid of her daughter’s twin bed. In exchange for a bus ticket to DF, it was mine. I had to wait about a month though since she wanted to replace the bed with a double bed and didn’t have the money to buy both the base and the mattress at the same time. Eventually, the day arrived and we went to take possession. After a bit of Tetris, the bed left her itty bitty house, crossed the street and entered my itty bitty house. It’s lovely, really.  Now I can nap if I so desire.



Nap area

Nap area

I also wanted to get a twin bed for my son’s room. We had enough boards at the house for my husband to make the base. After weeks of prodding, he finally did. A few more weeks of prodding, it was delivered.

So now I was in the mind to buy a mattress and maybe some living room furniture. I started my search at the new Fabricas de Francia. Ok, I admit, that probably wasn’t the best place to find a good deal. I had already discovered washers there were 30,000 pesos. But I was window shopping right? Well, after checking the price tags on a few pieces, it was time to hightail it down the escalator. I also vetoed Famsa after the looooong delay in receiving my washer. Coppel had some mattress for under $2,000 pesos and free delivery, but I still didn’t want to pay that much. The sofas and stuff weren’t really nice either.



So I decided to wait for the Maraton–which is an annual furniture sale in the convention center just outside of town. There were all sort of, umm, interesting models. Not really my cup of tea, but hey, maybe somebody else wants a crib that matches their dining room set. Mattresses were anywhere from $2,000 to $3,000 pesos. The genuine leather living room sets were very nice, but SOOOO out of my budget. Fortunately, they had a scratch and dent tent outside. There was a nice blue loveseat, but just a little too expensive for me.



Then, I found them. Two little brown vinyl chairs. Perfect. They were good quality and I could afford both of them. I paid cash, which caused some eyebrow-raising, and they wrapped them up to go. I spent the afternoon moving them about my itty bitty living room, delighted with my purchase.


The mother of two of my students had sold me a bronzey mirror for my son’s room awhile back. (See Ladykiller’s room remodel) She said she had a second one that she also wanted to sell, but at the time I didn’t really need it. Now, though, I said I would like to buy it. She surprised me my last class before Christmas vacation by telling me she was giving me the mirror. Score!

Curtains were another issue. The two front windows had those slatted Venetian blinds, but it was still possible to peak in. After pricing vinyl window paper, I decided to just use the plastic contact paper I had bought to forar (cover) my son’s books at the beginning of the school year. It added a bit of privacy to both front windows and the back door. The two remaining windows were larger than typical, so I had to make some curtains. I bought a set of sheets for that purpose, kept the bottom fitted sheet to use as a sheet and cut up the top flat sheet. It was cheaper than buying fabric.


I ordered some bedding from Zulily which actually arrived before the beds. I ordered matching bedding so that it all could be washed together in the washer. Practical huh?

After an exhaustive search, I finally found a twin size mattress for just over $1000 pesos at La Bodega. A little bribery in the form of “I’ll buy you a bag of cement if you will take me to pick up the mattress with the truck” to my husband and the mattress was mine.  Well, my son’s.

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I had in mind a little table to set between my two living room chairs. I found an unvarnished one that would do in el mercado (market) however they wanted $250 pesos for it. Too much, in my opinion. But wait, my son is still taking carpentry classes as his school and his current project was a small coffee table. There we have it!


I also wanted a tree stand. Draping our coats on the chairs and dropping our helmets on the floor got old real fast. And as the house is itty bitty, well, there’s no room for that sort of disorder. It didn’t take much effort and only 250 pesos to get that necessity. A carpenter shop on Pipila had just what I wanted.


But I wasn’t finished yet. In August I joined the school teacher tanda. A tanda is a Mexican money saving scheme. One person is in charge and receives the money. Each participant is given a payout number. Since we get paid bi-weekly at the school, our tanda was also bi-weekly with a contribution amount of $500 pesos each time. I choose the last number because in my mind I didn’t see the sense in continuing to make payments when I wouldn’t be receiving anything more. Sort of like paying for the cake when it’s already been eaten. The thing is, you have to be sure of the people involved. I’ve heard tell that sometimes the organizer refuses to pay. Or participants don’t give their contribution so others end up short. So it’s a risky business, to say the least.

Anyway, my number came up at the end of February. I received 3,500 pesos after 4 months of waiting. I don’t know that I’ll participate in any more tandas. Seems like I could save the money myself just as well. My plan was to get a loveseat for the living room, or maybe a small kitchen table and chairs. But the universe had other plans.




Filed under Economics