Monitoring real estate listings from your computer in the States or Canada is an uphill battle. The best values are bought locally, possibly by a real estate agent who saw it first. You have a tremendous advantage if you can rent in the Centro first, and if you know a little Spanish. Otherwise, you’re considering something the experts took a pass on.
Thinking ahead, you want to know you’ll be able to sell your Centro home one day. You have to decide if the Centro today is an up-and-comer, something like SoHo was in 1965.
The SoHo effect won’t happen until residents get some protection from the city. Not from criminals, but from machine shops and auto mechanics, which are allowed to co-exist side by side with homes. Lack of zoning undermines otherwise lovely properties. It’s not just land use, but height. A nouveau riche neighbor can build a ostentatious monstrosity that, while abiding by the laws regarding setbacks, still stares back down at you while shading your pool. I saw one of those from the courtyard at the Merida English Language Library. Those houses next door will never, never recoup their owners’ investment, and that’s a prime residential block. A few doors down are some skinny-dippers who are insisting on continuing their naked swims, even with their privacy compromised.
If those nuisances aren’t there now, they could be this time next year. Little will stop a bad neighbor from moving in, ruining your paradise. If the city starts to seriously crack down on what we call these “quality of life” issues, real estate values will soar, but I don’t see that coming any time soon. The live-and-let-live mentality of the population, normally a good thing, is a double-edged sword.
When I think of it, why did I consider Mérida to begin with? It was economics and the wintertime weather. I’m not on a mission, per se, to save a crumbling ruin, although that goal does make for fairly grand cocktail party chatter.
In the end, we all have options, as International Living will attest. Hardened expats ridicule IL’s gushing articles and its optimistic financial calculations, but there’s a good bit of solid information in there about alternate destinations. If my romance with Mérida doesn’t pan out, I only have the rest of the world to explore.