To start with the basics, CDMX is divided into sixteen municipalities (delegaciones), each of which contains a variety of neighborhoods (colonias) with their own distinct energy and culture. The closest comparisons to the municipalities that I’ve seen in U.S. cities are the boroughs of New York City, so sifting through 16 of them might seem like a tall order. And that’s before you even start thinking about a neighborhood!
Navigating Mexico City: Start With Transportation
To narrow your search, transportation is a great place to start! Mexico City is famous for its extreme congestion and constant traffic delays, so many people living in the central part of the city find public transportation to be the most effective way to get around.
The good news is that the metro system is an economical, efficient, and reliable way to move around the city, with 12 underground train lines and seven bus routes with their own lanes available to commuters looking to avoid traffic.
Both the trains and metro buses can be trusted to get you where you need to go on time and cost only five and six pesos respectively, but be warned: the low prices and reliability make the metro a little TOO popular sometimes, so users should be prepared for occasional sardine-like conditions.
Another transportation option to consider is the city bike-share system known as “EcoBici.” Those without access to a bike of their own and brave enough to weave through the chaotic driving conditions can pay a modest fee of $480 for a yearly membership to unlock a traffic-immune form of transportation through many of the city’s most popular neighborhoods.
If this efficient and exhilarating form of transportation sounds like your thing, I highly recommend checking out the map of EcoBici stations and looking at places within the EcoBici Zone
Navigating Mexico City: Helpful Web Sites
Once you’ve found a neighborhood that suits you (check my breakdown of the most popular neighborhoods), it’s time to find an apartment! The services I found most useful were roomgo and dadaroom, both of which feature a wide variety of apartments to rent all over the city and sites that are easy to search.
The Facebook group ROOMIES-ROOMMATES CDMX / D.F. also has some good options but can be more difficult to search and leaves the user reliant on whatever is posted on any given day.
Roomgo and dadaroom both offer premium subscriptions that allow you to contact the vendors more efficiently, a feature that I found to be well worth the few dollars they charge.
Navigating Mexico City: Check It Out First
As a final note, as is the case with apartment hunting in any city, it’s always a good idea to see the apartment in person before deciding.
All the questions that you would normally ask when apartment hunting should be asked, as well as a few others that might not come as naturally, such as inquiring about hot water and a kitchen.
In my search, I found that many otherwise well-furnished places had a camping stove instead of a full kitchen, and some did not have access to hot water 24/7.
It is very common for apartments to require a boiler for hot water, but those are typically reliable as long as the vendor can show how to light it.
Beyond the practical advice, enjoy your search!
Mexico City is a fascinating, vibrant city, and I know I learned a lot about it just from searching for a place to live.
Happy hunting and let us know how it is going for you in Mexico City! Check out Part 2 of “Navigating the Mexico City Housing Market” where I discuss the different neighborhoods.
by: Ian Scholer