Our first trip to Mérida, Part 4

A large part of this first journey to Mérida was to do some house hunting of our own. All of my looking at homes on the internet had convinced me they were going to be amazing and we needed one. But I still had to convince Angie.

After our first excursionary trip into the city we were feeling positive vibes about our trip. As we cooled off in the pool and discussed everything, I was more than a little excited about the prospect of buying a house in Mérida and retiring here someday. I tried out my sales pitch on Angie about how great this could be. But she was still going to need to see the houses. And let's face it, that's most of the fun anyways.

Before we had left on the trip I had tried contacting different real estate agents in the area to possibly show us around and none of them were getting back to me. It was a little frustrating. If you have spent any time looking for homes in Mérida on the internet you know that the addresses are never given and there are no open houses like we'd have in the states. You can't just walk by a house to scopre it out, and you can't spend a Saturday or Sunday attending open houses.

Also, there are no lock-boxes on houses. To see a home an agent must track down who has the keys, sometimes it's another agent, sometimes the owner themselves, and arrange to get them so they can show the house.

You will need to find a good agent with a lot of patience and, so far, we were striking out.

Finally, the day before we were supposed to leave for our trip, I received a response. Yes, they could show us a house, were there any others we wanted to see? We agreed to meet Wednesday at 4:00 p.m. in Santa Ana Park.

I formed a list of other potential houses we would be interested in, with prices ranging between $160,000 to $220,000, and sent them off to add to the list. Since it would take more time to gather all the needed keys, we agreed to meet on Thursday at noon in the park instead.

The next couple of days we would drive into Merida each day and eat and wander the city. We also visited Izamal and Chichen Itza. Each day was a little easier going and a lot more fun.

When Thursday came around we were at the park early. There's parking at the park, but of course I had to park at my park, Lucia. We then walked up to Santa Ana and waited.

Gabriela and Isaac picked us up in a blue SUV and our house hunting had begun.

Photo by Angie
I don't remember how many houses we saw that day, but they were all very beautiful. Of course, the one we liked the most was also the most expensive. Shocking, I know.

One house we couldn't get the key to work on the lock. This happens fairly frequently in Mérida when house hunting. Sometimes the keys don't work because the wrong key was given to the agent. Sometimes the lock is old or rusted or sometimes the door is simply warped and stuck. I think this was a case of the latter. And not wanting to break the door we decided to wait a day on that one and meet again on Friday to see a couple more.

Being driven around from house to house is a bit of a whirlwind experience. As mentioned, Mérida has a lot of one way streets, a lot. That makes keeping your bearings if you're a passenger and unfamiliar with the city a bit of a challenge. Even a house two blocks away may take a lot of turns to get to thanks to the one-ways.

One of the things I did wrong the first time was not pay better attention to where we were. At the time I was all caught up in the excitement of seeing these houses. Location seemed kind of unimportant to me. It's in Merida, right? That's all that matters. Obviously, that would change as things became serious later on.

One of the houses we visited was in the process of being completed. We met the builder, who was an expat from the U.S. This was our favorite house and I would have bought it that instant had it not been about $30,000 over our budget.

I've seen a few other properties by this builder in the years since, I can always tell his style, but they have been larger properties that are definitely out of our price range.

We viewed one house that was a bit of a fixer upper. We hadn't asked to see this one but Isaac and Gabriela thought we might like to see it. It was a large house and had a lot of charm, but it was already well above our budget before we could even do renovations.

We hadn't been thinking in terms of buying a fixer upper. Even after this, we still weren't. I had built a house and dealt with construction and I wasn't sure we wanted to mess with it. Especially when there were so many completed houses at reasonable prices already. This feeling, too, would change in the future.

We said goodbye to Isaac and Gaby after our second day of house hunting. I offered to pay them for gas and their time, for driving us all over the city but they repeatedly declined. I hoped I would be talking to them again, soon.

The experience fanned the flames of my passion and convinced me that this was something that needed to happen. We needed a house in Mérida, but it would still take me a couple more years to sell it to Angie.