One of the tricks many North Americans like to perform at least once in their lifetime is that of discovering the next “up-and-coming” trend; this means seeing what everyone else is going to like before the majority of people realize that they’re going to like it. In Mexico real estate, while many favorites have already been discovered, have had their boom and are now almost synonymous with beachfront luxury, in this country there are still many hidden gems, which could very well be the next place to be.
One of these markets is Morelia real estate. Morelia is a very well preserved colonial city located in Mexico’s central interior, half way between Mexico City and Guadalajara – the country’s two biggest cities. While it is far enough away to enjoy distance from the hustle and bustle of those huge urban centers (and the city itself offers just about all services), a 3-4 hour drive will get you to either of them, should you need any extra services. Distance to Guadalajara is 175 km, and to Mexico city it is 190.
So, if it’s still undiscovered, what does this mean for you as a real estate buyer? There are a few key points. One is you can find real estate for less than $25,000 USD! The other is that you can begin enjoying life in colonial city or a charming little town on the shores of the nearby Patzcuaro at very special stage – the stage that during which a large amount of funds have been invested to restore and beautify the area, so that it offers the full atmosphere of Mexico’s traditions, but also before it has been discovered by large numbers of foreigners, altering the area’s character. This is the goal of those seeking hidden gems!
Real estate in Morelia has four main styles to consider. The first is the traditional style Mexican homes near the city’s historic center. There is no better way to enjoy this romantic city than to live right in the heart of it all. Within a very short distance you will be walking through narrow streets lined with classic old homes, and majestic buildings from centuries gone by. Lush, green parks will be surrounded by cobble stone roads with little old churches nearby.
In 1991, Morelia was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and a recent program has added wonderful night-time illumination to many of the key landmarks. The city has an large variety of incredible places to see, including:
- 12 historic churches and former convents
- 10 colonial government buildings, universities and hospitals
- 7 noteworthy mansions – many more not listed as official sites to visit
- more than 10 museums
- 10 historic city and community squares
- dozens of other historical sites
- many, many parks and green areas
The second primary type of real estate are the homes and cottages on the nearby Lake Patzcuaro, on average about 45 minutes from Morelia. Beautiful Mexico homes around these lakes can be found for excellent prices. A four bedroom home, with beautiful countryside design typical of the area, with beautiful mountain views and a large parcel of land can be found for less than $125,000 USD. It may also include some luxuries such as a Jacuzzi and a fireplace. (Yes, you will have a chance to use it; a few of the the coldest winter nights in January get as low 50 degrees Fahrenheit; but don’t worry, the midday sun usually brings temperatures back up to around 70.)
The town of Patzcuaro is also colonial, and has been named among Mexico’s “Magic Towns,” towns which have preserved and developed an excellent visual atmosphere, traditions, handicrafts and festivities unique to the area. There are traditional plazas throughout the town, as well as the wonderful Basilica and numerous museums. Many excellent options for homes are also available here.
Tzintzuntzan, is tucked between the shore of Lake Patzcuaro and the surrounding hills. This ancient town, which was once the capital of the Purhepecha Indians, is now home to a growing number of people who choose to immerse themselves in the area’s very relaxing lifestyle.
In addition to the lakefront cottages, there is a good deal of Mexico land for sale among the rolling hills, with views of the fields spotted with woodland. These are still places where neither international demand nor demand from Mexicans coming from the larger cities have pushed up prices, but enjoy close drives to Morelia and many of the surrounding villages.
A lot slightly more than half an acre with all connections ready, only 25 minutes from the city can be found for under $70,000. A full 60 acre parcel within 30 minutes can be found for about $150,000 USD. This would probably have dirt road access, and there would be a cost to install services; but if you really want to “get away from it all” without being too far from civilization, there couldn’t be a better place (especially since the nearest outpost of civilization, Morelia, is a also a very relaxed place.)
Finally it is worth noting that within each of the above mentioned options, there are plenty of modern homes such as townhouses in gated communities, or luxury homes with lots of glass and windows. Even traditional style homes can have all the fittings of a modern lifestyle, or can be renovated to include them – it’s a trend that’s common enough among many Mexicans in the area.
Also on the theme of modern, Morelia is a medium sized city (700,000) and offers many services you would expect from back home. 5 malls, many movie theaters (some of which play movies in English), Walmart and similar large stores of this type make living in or near Morelia convenient. An international airport offers direct flights to Los Angeles, San Diego, Houston and Chicago, with many connecting flight options; a drive to Guadalajara or Mexico City will also allow many other direct flight options, often at cheap prices.
In addition to the modern services an entertainment, in both Morelia and the towns of Lake Patzcuaro there are many little market places where residents can buy very fresh fruit and vegetables, enjoy local meals, buy artwork and crafts and much more. Morelia also hosts annual festivals, ranging from traditional art, music and dancing to modern film festivals.
You may be asking yourself, “If Morelia is so great, why hasn’t it been discovered?” The truth is, it has been. Some say that among Mexican vacationers it is the most visited non-beachfront tourism spot. For buying real estate, most of these tourists still choose options closer to home, but a hand full have been buying cottages on the lake. The “hidden” part is only true looking from an international perspective.
The Downside …
Of course, living in Morelia you might run into some problems with the language; learning the basics of Spanish is recommendable. Schools right in the city will help with this. These same schools are teaching Mexicans English. Some people will be surprised that their classes have paid off, and they actually understand you, others will be shocked that despite their classes they don’t understand a thing, and others will know more English than they let on. In any case you will find a hand full of foreigners as well as Mexicans who speak near-perfect English. This problem will disappear within a short time of living in Morelia. Living in Mexico provides an excellent opportunity to become immersed in a new culture, and a place like Morelia leaves you little choice in the matter!
The weather ideal for those who love very moderate temperatures; as mentioned above, winter nights drop to about 50, and rise up above 70 during the day to warm things up. Summer days get as hot as 85 (almost never over) and the nights go down to a refreshing 60. If you don’t like temperatures below 70, this might not be the place for you; but if you like to be able to put on a sweater in the mornings during a few months of the year, and you find the beachfront vacation areas too hot and muggy, nothing could be better.
Consider being among the first to discover Morelia, its colonial charm and splendid countryside. Only a few have done so, and they do not regret it.
TOPMexicoRealEstate.com: Mexico’s Leading Network of Specialists for Finding and Purchasing Mexican Properties Safely
About the Author: Thomas Lloyd, Founder and President of TOPMexicoRealestate.com
Originally from Indiana, and a graduate of Purdue University in the Krannert School of Management, he holds a degree in management with a speciality in finances. Lloyd has several diplomas and certifications in Mexico Real Estate topics and is one of only a few professionals to hold Mexico’s new degree in real estate. This degree is accompanied by a Professional Identification Number, “cedula profesional,” which is issued for trained professionals such as those in the medical field, or in law. He has over 15 years of direct experience in Mexico’s business culture.
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