Wednesday, April 11, 2007

How to Find a Vacation Home in a Foreign Country

Now that you have read the Casa Tranquilidad home tour, you may wonder how we found this place. In fact, I am frequently asked this question. The trick is the wonder of the internet. You can go to Google and type in “vacation homes in…(name the country or city).” That will bring up all sorts of options which will get you started on your search.

One thing you need to keep in mind is lead time. I was surprised when I started searching in San Miguel in October for a March arrival. It seems that in locations where there is a heavy snow bird population, that many properties are just renewed year to year. Thus you have to reserve a year ahead. In various websites when I selected a home I found out there were not a lot of vacancies. Most websites of this type of subject will break down into location, price range, photos, and on the best sites there are calendars showing availability.

For a little tutorial let us go to the website where our casa is found:

This company has a very helpful agent by the name of Jennifer Rockett who lives in San Miguel de Allende. We have met her while we have been in San Miguel when she has brought by folks to look at the casa, I assume for next years or next falls rental. Next click on “search rentals” and then go to the section on monthly rentals of $2,000 to $3500 a month. Scroll down until you see Casa Tranquilidad and then click on the name. That will take you directly to the description and information about our casa. The full website for that view is:

Directions show you how you can work your way through the possibilities available for this company. Be sure and click on more information and photos at the bottom and you will see a complete description of the property. From my writings you know we usually are the happy recipients of dumb luck (except for certain exceptions like 4 days in Chihuahua and the robbery in Johannesburg) and that was the case with the rental of Casa Tranquilidad. After I enquired about of couple of properties Ms. Rockett quickly responded that the properties I requested were not available, but she had a new casa just coming available, that had never been rented before. She sent photos and the description and the rest is history. We have been the very first “guests” other than the owners and hope we have been good stewards of this magnificent home. In searching for a property we actually had very few requirements. We wanted a home with a washer and dryer (little did we know that the maid would do all the laundry), access to an internet DSL line, and a place to park the car. The only thing we missed on was the car garage, but you know our parking lot saga from the blog.

You might wonder (as a lawyer and a Judge I did) about the legal parts of the rental. We entered into a lease with the rental company and not with the actual owner. In fact I did not know who the owner was until a phone bill arrived at the casa. We paid half of the lease payment at the time of the acceptance of the rental and the other half fourty five days before our arrival. There is also a $500 damage deposit for such things as excess phone bills, DSL line, etc. The rental payment covers all the utilities and the payment of the maid, gardener, and ordinary repairs.

As for San Miguel de Allende, there are a lot of rental opportunities on the internet. Other companies that you might look at are:

There are, with a little searching around the internet, a lot of individual properties that seem to be rented by private owners without using a rental company. One site that fits this category is:

Quirky Living Note: As you wander around San Miguel natural curiosity draws your eyes to the property for sale flyers in the windows of the many realtors. When you read these flyers, or the real estate ads in AtenciĆ³n newspaper, your eyes become very large. The prices are extraordinarily high. When talking with some of the natives (meaning Gringo residents) they advise that this price inflation is solely due to the gringos with all their home sale proceeds from the United States. Over the last few years the prices have been driven up by sums paid by foreigners with just too much money in their pockets. Apparently, the market is a bit soft at the moment, following the slow down in U.S. real estate. If I was buying, I would be very reluctant to pay any listing price.

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