I have a weakness for real estate. No matter where I go, I want to see what’s for sale, for how much, what kind of style, and what kind of amenities are available. Here in Mexico City, I’ve literally been window-shopping real estate for years. OK, make that a decade. And given what prices have done, I should probably have stopped fantasizing and actually bought something when I first had the idea. But as some of you know, I’m not the kind of person to come to big decisions quickly.
But I’ve now lived here for six months, and I’m loving it. The city is constantly pulsing with life, and there’s a ton of stuff to do. The climate remains close to perfect, though it has been quite rainy of late. But only in the afternoons. And I’ve met someone (Luis) who I’ve been seeing pretty steadily for the past three months. (Part of the reason there’s been a dearth of posts here, haha.) And I’ve also discovered that my Bostonian friends, who were formerly begging me not to leave, mostly seem to have quietly gotten on with their lives without me.
So I’m getting a bit more focused about actually buying a place here. And I’ve found a place perfect enough to really make me start to seriously consider taking the plunge. The object of my fantasy is an eleventh floor penthouse, located basically right behind the US Embassy, a terrific spot in many ways. It’s on a quiet street, but nearby there are tons of restaurants, bars, theaters, and a couple blocks away, across Avenida de la Reforma, lies the Zona Rosa, Mexico City’s gay central. There’s a Superama, Mexico’s upscale supermarket a couple blocks away, and various other shopping options also near to hand. The Insurgentes subway stop is 5 blocks away, and there’s a Metrobús stop about equidistant, though I could pretty much walk to wherever I’d want to go. In short, the place is ubicadísimo, fabulously located.
The neighborhood, Colonia Cuauhtémoc, is a mix of houses and apartments mostly from the 1920’s and 30’s, with a few tall buildings, and increasing numbers of newer 3-6 story condo/apartment buildings. According to my sources, there’s now a height limitation on new buildings of 6 stories, so my view would never be obstructed. In terms of quiet, aside from Río Lerma, which is full of bars and restaurants, there are not a lot of stores or businesses. The neighborhood is safe, and the presence of the US and many other embassies probably helps that too. So it’s a great place to live, quiet, but close to everything you’d want.
The penthouse itself is 220 square meters or about 2,400 square feet, the only unit on the floor, with three bedrooms, two-and-a-half baths, and a maid’s quarters with its own bath. So I suppose you could call it four bedrooms and 3.5 baths. The kitchen is fully enclosed (no open plan here, thank God!), decent sized, and has a spot with plumbing where I could put a dishwasher. (Since I have no desire to use the maid’s quarters for its intended purpose.) The kitchen and baths were remodeled within the last couple of years, and are fairly nice. The building was built in the 1970s, which is why the apartment is so large and why it has an enclosed kitchen. Most of the apartments that are being built today are about half the size and not nearly as nice. Oh, and it has two covered parking spaces inside the building, behind a security gate. (Though I’ve been living quite nicely without a car these last six months, it’d be nice to at least have the option.)
The drawbacks? The building, while in decent shape, needs to be painted, and it needs a little exterior plasterwork. Nothing major, but it does look a smidgen dowdy. I don’t know if the other owners have paid their monthly dues, which is apparently a common problem in Mexican condos. And there are a few other things I need to research.
Alas, the biggest drawback is me. I’m having a very hard time pulling the trigger. My biggest worry is the exchange rate. Though the peso is almost back to all-time lows, I can easily envision it going lower, especially if Donald Trump wins in November. But in all fairness, when I first saw the place in late April the peso was in the low-to-mid 17’s; now it’s pushing 19 to the USD, a nearly 10% move. Meanwhile they dropped the price of the apartment from 6.5 million pesos to now 6.3. This means that without any further negotiation, the USD price has seen a 12% drop, from about $377K to $334K USD. And per square meter, the price is quite reasonable.
I’ve been told by a few agents that real estate here tends to keep pace with the USD and whenever there’s a big drop in the peso, foreigners rush in to buy. I’m a little skeptical about that, and have wondered if most of them have already blown their wads. But current prices for places comparable to some of the properties I’ve looked at in the past in Condesa or Roma Norte do seem to mostly bear that out. And the location of this penthouse should be fantastic for appreciation. The pace of tower construction on Reforma, 2 blocks away, continues apace, and there seems to be no further development of either roads or public transit. Which means that the premium for living close to work can only increase.
I guess the other thing is that while this place is close to perfect, it’s not 100% perfect. I’d still like a roof deck or some kind of outdoor space. But I’ve wondered about buying the cuartos de servicio on the roof, knocking them down, and building a roof deck. I need to investigate this.
But I’m happy in Mexico City. Even if I don’t give up my Boston home, I love it here. I’ve spent enough time over the last ten years, and now having lived here for six months, I can truly say this is a place I could happily live a long time.
So maybe I should just take the plunge. What do you think? Please tell me in the comment section. Thanks
Here’s a video of the interior the realtor put on YouTube. I downloaded it and replaced the Spanish narration with my own.