Different people want different things. We were most interested in colonial style houses in the historic center that were in need of restoration (like most expats moving here!).
The historic center of Merida radiates out from the Catedral de San Ildefonso, which is the oldest cathedral in North America. Construction on this cathedral began in 1561 and took about 40 years. Commissioned by Pope Pius IV and Spanish King Felipe II, the massive church was built with Mayan labor using the stones from their ancestors’ destroyed pyramids at the Mayan site of Tiho.
Most expats tend to want to buy and situate themselves north of this plaza either still in the historic center or further north still in barrios like Garcia Ginares. But these areas are of course more expensive and we felt that there were fewer opportunities to find that hidden treasure that we could restore and still be affordable.
So first we had to become acquainted with the different squares and their surrounding barrios and LeAnn (our realtor) was more than happy to show us around.
We of course came armed with many listings that we had found by scanning the internet and of course were bewildered at why every real estate site had the same property listed for different prices. Then to complicate matters we found many properties when walking around that were not listed on the internet sites.
It all become quickly overwhelming and we had to regroup and decide what were we really looking for. So we sat down and made a quick list of our priorities for our search.
1. Price...had to be affordable.
2. old colonial facade.
3. original features like tiles and doors.
4. Lot size...because we need space for our three dogs.
Ok so it didn't narrow down the search too much for us. Now location wasn't really high on our priority list but after looking at places a little further south from the grand plaza and out to the edges of the historic district we realized that we wanted to be more centrally located but the bargains were to be found south of the plaza. We really didn't look in the north of Centro and those that we did look at could not match those in the south for price and size.
On our first trip to Merida we saw 8-10 houses and it was all a blur, but one house just off Santiago Square stood out for us.
It was right off the square about a block and half away. It had a fairly ugly facade and additions that covered most of the lot. But under it all we could see the potential...an original L-shaped colonial with high ceilings and original doors, but no tiles.
We really loved Santiago and the location of this house, as Santiago offered many local conveniences that would make everyday living easy. Santiago has a medium sized super-market, a pharmacy, an Oxxo convenience store, the only movie theater in the historic district, and a market with food stalls and flowers. It even has an old age home for your golden years. The square is quiet and beautiful, with benches in front of the old church for sitting and a large simple fountain, and dancing with a big band under the stars one night every week. It was easy to imagine living a block away.
We decided to go back NOB and contemplate the actual thought of buying in a foreign country. We watched this house intensely from afar and decided to make an offer on our next trip but of course it was sold in the mean time. So back to square one for us..or was it? What we got out of this trip was the fact that we really could live around Santiago Square and felt it could be a good match for us and our search.
So off on round two and our next trip to Merida....