Finding An Apartment in Sayulita


Iguana tree in Sayulita

Choosing to move to Sayulita was a spur of the moment decision. Dave and I were looking to head to Mexico in September and were overwhelmed by the recommendations we were receiving from friends: Puerto Vallarta! Acapulco! Mexico City! Oaxaca! Playa Del Carmen! Tulum! Cozumel!  We didn’t know which to chose, and we kind of wanted to choose them all. Our solution was to head to Skyscanner and find out where in Mexico would be cheap to fly to from Austin, Texas. For just $100, we found ourselves booked on a flight to Puerto Vallarta! So, uh, where is Puerto Vallarta? I knew nothing about it.

Iguana tree in Sayulita
The Iguana Tree in Sayulita, complete with enormous iguana.

With flights booked, we spent the next few weeks slowly eliminating cities and towns in the region — Puerto Vallarta for being full of resorts, San Pancho for being too quiet — before finally settling on Sayulita. Sayulita, a hippie beach town full of surfers and partiers and retired expats.

We began to search online for monthly rentals in Sayulita. Then came the real research.

You see, there isn’t really a lot of information on Sayulita online. There’s a few outdated blog posts speaking of $500 a month apartments… except now these posts are filled with comments from desperate travellers wanting to know how on earth they can find said apartments as nothing seems to be under $1000 a month.

There’s the website Sayulita Life, which lists quite a few apartments online. The majority of them were way out of our budget ($150 a night for a small 1 bedroom place?), and the rest unavailable for three months straight.

Airbnb was even more depressing, with prices showing as being higher than anywhere I stayed during my three months in the US. $2000 a month for a small apartment? No thanks. A friend of ours had a friend of a friend who had apartments he was renting out in the region. We emailed to ask how much they were and were told it would be $1500 a month. This wasn’t sounding particularly promising.

Our next step was to speak to friends who had lived in Mexico recently, and we were slightly relieved when they told us not to panic, not to book anything in advance and to just turn up and ask around.

Agreeing with Dave to stop researching and stop worrying, I still found myself anxiously browsing overpriced apartments in Sayulita and getting more and more frustrated. I even researched back-up plans and came up with a list of towns on the Pacific coast that would be cheaper. I was convinced we wouldn’t be able to find something.

And then we flew to Puerto Vallarta.

Views of Sayulita
Views of Sayulita

We had two nights booked in a Puerto Vallarta hostel that we intended to use as our base as we searched the region for apartments. Our vague plan was to speak to anyone and everyone at the hostel in the hope that they would know somebody who was renting out an apartment in Sayulita.

No luck.

And so we crossed our fingers and I tried not to vomit as we took a bumpy bus over a winding road to Sayulita.

It was 32 degrees and more humid than we were used to, and we had no idea where to even start looking. We trudged down the sandy path and spoke to the staff at the first hostel we came across:

“You want to rent an apartment? … For a few months?! I… don’t know of anybody doing that. Sayulita is very expensive though. It is so expensive here.”

“How expensive is very expensive?” I gulped.

Oh… I don’t know. I just know it is now so expensive here.”

We left the hostel and picked a dirt track to wander down. Half the houses had gaping holes in concrete blocks for windows and roosters roamed the “street”. There was nothing for rent that we could see, it was time to go back to the main street.

Surfing in Sayulita

Sayulita is a rather small town. Population estimates online put the figure at somewhere between 1000 and 4000 residents, and it’s growing every year. While I personally love small towns, especially when they’re by the beach, this was seriously limiting our accommodation options.

As we walked past Se Renta notices on empty houses with just a phone number listed things started to feel a little hopeless. While there was a time, around ten years ago, that I was somewhat fluent in Spanish, I hadn’t spoken it since then and could now only just get by ordering in a restaurant. Dave’s Spanish vocabulary was limited to around ten words. We’d be hopeless negotiating seeing an apartment and bargaining a price in Spanish — yes, calling around would be our last resort.

We just didn’t know what we were doing.

We wandered aimlessly down the street in desperation, unsure what to do. We happened to stop and look at the window of a real estate agent’s, scanning the listings to see if anything was for rent.

“Can I help you?’

“Yes! Um, we’re looking to rent an apartment for two or three months?”

To our disbelief, Eduardo, the guy working there knew of one place for rent, and took us there to see it.

The cemetery in Sayulita
The cemetery in Sayulita

The apartment was small, though. However, it was also very cheap. For $300 a month, I could barely control my excitement at finally discovering somewhere affordable!

WE SHOULD TAKE IT RIGHT NOW! 

But we’d brought with us a checklist — a must-have list and a would-be-nice-to-have list. On our must-have list was air conditioning, a kitchen and a work space. Of these it had just one — air conditioning. I knew that spending three months working on a bed in a tiny room would be unpleasant, and I really wanted a kitchen.

I just didn’t know if we’d find anything this cheap… and I liked Sayulita! I really wanted to live here.

Sayulita decorations for Day of the Dead
Sayulita decorations for the Day of the Dead festivities

And so we spoke to the landlady and told her that we’d have to think about it. We just weren’t sure because we wanted a kitchen and a work space and… she responded by taking us onto another floor that held the perfect apartment!

It had every single item on both our must-have and would-be-nice-to-have lists. It had everything and it was perfect. I exchanged excited glances with Dave and knew he was just as happy as I was. This was it.

We had found our apartment.

With approximately two minutes of half-hearted bargaining we had settled on a monthly rate of 8500 pesos.

That’s $650 to have absolutely everything we wanted in an apartment.

Two days later we moved in. Here’s a quick video tour:

  • We have a spacious living area with lots of places to work from.
  • We have an incredible kitchen that has inspired me to learn to cook for the first time ever.
  • We have a huge bathroom with a wonderful hot water shower.
  • We have a ridiculously enormous balcony that fits eight people at tables and still has room for me to pretend to do yoga.
  • We have a swimming pool!
  • We have drinking water delivered to our apartment every week from the singing water truck so we don’t have to carry huge 20 litre bottles of water up the hill with us.
  • We can get our laundry done for just 50 pesos, giving it to the landlady and having her return it to us the next day.
  • We have a weekly cleaner that we pay just 100 pesos for. She does crazy things with our towels.
  • We have air conditioning in both the living room and the bedroom, fans on the ceiling of our balcony, and all bills are included in the rent.
  • And we live just a five minute walk from this:
Sayulita
The main beach in Sayulita

I can’t believe the amazing value we’re getting!

However, despite being able to get an apartment within an hour of arriving, we were still extremely fortunate.

Our friends, Steph and Mike, arrived just two weeks after us (we arrived mid-September) and were told by nearly everybody they approached that they had arrived too late, that all of the apartments in Sayulita had gone. Steph wrote about their apartment hunting woes and it doesn’t sound pretty.

Much like in Chiang Mai, travel bloggers seem to gravitate towards the same places. Steph and Michael arrived two weeks after we did, Matthew arrived a week later. Matt and his girlfriend Emilie arrived two weeks after that. The past six weeks have been filled with blogger dinners, beers on the beach at sunset, releasing baby sea turtles into the ocean and eating so. many. tacos.

Releasing baby sea turtles into the ocean
Releasing baby sea turtles into the ocean

The food here is incredible. We have the Chicken Lady who charges $8 for an entire barbequed chicken, 10 tortillas, a bag of rice, coleslaw and hot sauce that lasts us all day. We eat $1 mahi-mahi tacos and $2 marlin quesadillas for lunch. Beers are 60 cents from the convenience store and I’m making my own margaritas.

There’s plenty to do here, but not so much that it’s distracting from our main reason for coming here — to get work done and replenish our bank accounts after a pricey three months in the US. There’s surfing and paddleboarding, though I’m frightened of both after Dave got stung by a jellyfish, and there’s the adorable town of San Pancho that makes for a relaxing day trip. A couple of weeks ago, there were baby sea turtle releases that took place every evening at sunset and, most recently, there have been the Day of the Dead celebrations.

Let’s just say that it’s going to be incredibly hard to leave Sayulita…

If you’re struggling to find an apartment in Sayulita, this is where we stayed: Villas Vista Sayulita. Best of luck in your search!

55 Comments

  1. alex
    November 5, 2013
    Reply

    Awesome apt, congrats, loved the video and colors at your new home town, the beach looks very relaxing and green all around :)

    • November 21, 2013
      Reply

      Thanks, Alex! It’s a very relaxing little town :-)

  2. November 6, 2013
    Reply

    I feel like there are so many blogs I read that are now residing or were residing in this tiny little town. Your apartment and that view look dreamy and I wish I could make my way down to the sun right now! Though, autumn here in Nashville is kind of killing it right now. Sayulita is now on my list of places to one days visit. Hope you enjoy the remainder of your time there : )

    • November 21, 2013
      Reply

      Yep, there are an awful lot of us renting apartments in Sayulita at the moment! I think I miss autumn the most after spending two years chasing summer around the world, so I’m a little envious of you too :-)

  3. November 6, 2013
    Reply

    A) You are gorgeous.
    B) Can I come live with you? I make a mean margarita.
    C) I am SO jealous. It’s about to be winter in Korea and all I want in life is to live by the beach. If I break my contract and end up in Mexico, it’s your fault ;) ;)

    • November 21, 2013
      Reply

      Awww, thank you so much! :-). Of course you can come and live with me! I’ll even sleep on the sofa if you feed me margaritas :-)

      Yeah, winter doesn’t sound all that appealing right now…!

  4. J from Travel on Inspiration
    November 6, 2013
    Reply

    Sayulita looks like a great place to live and also a great place to get your head down and get some work done.

    Congrats on finding your perfect apartment, that swimming pool looks incredible (English Sarcasm).

    • November 21, 2013
      Reply

      It’s definitely a great place to base yourselves. And yes, I’ll admit I haven’t spend much time in the swimming pool so far…

  5. Scarlett
    November 6, 2013
    Reply

    I’m SO glad you found somewhere! This is amazing and how cute are you on the video!! xx

    • November 21, 2013
      Reply

      Thanks, Jen! I’m so glad too! I was completely convinced we’d only be able to find apartment rentals for over $2000 a month!

  6. November 6, 2013
    Reply

    Sounds like you guys lucked into the perfect place! Sayulita DOES seem to be the blogger hotspot these days… you guys are all making me want to come visit!

    • November 21, 2013
      Reply

      You should definitely come and visit! :-) I’ll be sad when we all leave Sayulita behind…

  7. November 6, 2013
    Reply

    Sayulita looks like an amazing place to base yourself, and your apartment looks great! Now, if only I could get to Mexico…

    • November 21, 2013
      Reply

      Mexico is pretty great — you’ll have to visit one day! I’m especially excited because I’ve heard that Sayulita is quite expensive compared to most other places in Mexico.

  8. TimOc
    November 6, 2013
    Reply

    You lucked out in a big way, congratualtions. Btw, I am new to your blog but have enjoyed what I’ve read. You have a nice easy reading casual style. Keep it up.

    • November 21, 2013
      Reply

      Thank you so much, Tim! We definitely had some great luck in finding a place! :-)

  9. Sky
    November 7, 2013
    Reply

    This makes me wish that I had moved to San Pancho or Sayulita even more. That was my plan for the fall but it just didn’t work out. I’m glad everyone is having a great time, though!

    That baby turtle is adorable – I hope you’ll be blogging about that. I loved Steph’s post about the baby turtle release!

    • November 21, 2013
      Reply

      Ah, that’s a shame! It’s a lot of fun here — maybe you can visit another time? :-) Loved the baby turtle release!

  10. Jeff
    November 7, 2013
    Reply

    Sayulita looks like a beautiful place. Congrats you guys did get an admirable and cosy apartment. Sorry Dave got stung by a jellyfish, hope he is doing well.

    • November 9, 2013
      Reply

      Thanks, Jeff! I’m pleased with what we ended up with :-) Dave’s fine. He’s a lot tougher than I am!

  11. November 7, 2013
    Reply

    What an amazing score…I have a lot of friends who worked as surf instructors in Sayulita and they were paying hundreds and hundreds of dollars for crap apartments. Hope you love it, it’s a great town!

    • November 9, 2013
      Reply

      That doesn’t surprise me at all, given what I saw online before I came out here. We were pretty fortunate to find this place.

      Loving it so much!

  12. Fernando
    November 8, 2013
    Reply

    Está muy bonito tu departamento :)

  13. Lisa
    November 23, 2013
    Reply

    Hi Lauren,

    We’re thinking of renting an apartment in Sayulita over December and January for a couple of months but are now a bit scared we wont be able to find anything after reading a few posts about how busy Sayulita gets at this time of year. Would you recommend still going? Do you have anytips for finding a place to rent in December?

    Thanks.

    • November 24, 2013
      Reply

      Hi Lisa,

      Hmmmm, December will be tricky, and I’m not certain you’ll be able to find somewhere to rent. I would personally recommend trying to arrive after January, but if that isn’t an option, then some tips:

      *Don’t book anything online unless you find a fantastic deal. SayulitaLife, Craigslist, Airbnb are all around three times the price of what you can find while you’re here in person.
      *Once you arrive ask anyone and everyone if they know of an apartment going at the moment. You might be able to find somewhere that isn’t obviously advertised. We found our apartment by talking to an estate agent but several of our friends found theirs by just asking a random person on the street.
      *Expect to pay a lot more than the prices mentioned in this post. Our apartment triples in price if you wanted to rent it just for the month of December.
      *Consider getting a place further away from the beach — just outside of town, for example, or on Gringo Hill.

      Good luck!

  14. December 9, 2013
    Reply

    My parents live in Bucerias, Nayarit during the freezing Chicago winters. They just arrived last week. If I had found your blog sooner, I could have sent you to their place. Sayulita is one of my favorite places to visit. Have fun!

    • December 9, 2013
      Reply

      Ah, that’s so nice! Not to worry though, it all worked out in the end :-) Bucerias is where I go when the ATMs in Sayulita are out of money! :-)

  15. Daniel
    December 27, 2013
    Reply

    Wow! What an awesome apartment! I could probably live there forever!

    • December 29, 2013
      Reply

      Thanks, Daniel! It was pretty great :-)

  16. Patent Lawyer
    March 19, 2014
    Reply

    Looks like an incredible experience! The Sayulita cemetry is just beautiful.

    • November 14, 2015
      Reply

      It’s such a peaceful location, with a wonderful view!

  17. Radita
    July 15, 2014
    Reply

    Things have a way of working out in Sayulita but you did find an incredible deal. There are still places to rent under $500 (studio) and yes showing up is the best way to find them. I am moving to Sayulita and by some miracle I found a studio apartment online ahead of time…in the high season. But I online networked my butt off. (it was a lady’s neighbor). So I just want to say to anyone wanting to move to Sayulita, don’t get frustrated, just follow your dream.

    • July 28, 2014
      Reply

      Thanks for the advice, Radita! :-)

    • July 15, 2015
      Reply

      Hi! Do you have any advice for online apartment hunting for long term? Can’t seem to find anything but vacation rentals. Losing hope! Thank you :)

      • July 22, 2015
        Reply

        Your best bet is probably just to turn up and ask around. I don’t think Radita subscribed to comment replies on this post so I don’t think they’ll reply.

  18. Crystal
    June 19, 2015
    Reply

    Hi Lauren,
    Do you have contact information for the landlord here or know if this this apartment is available this year? Thanks!

    • June 19, 2015
      Reply

      Hi Crystal,

      There’s an email address to contact them on their website: http://www.vvsmexico.com/

      • Crystal
        June 19, 2015
        Reply

        thank you so much, I didn’t see that at the end of your blog, sorry! I emailed them, let’s hope the prices haven’t gone up too much! Thank you for the advice!

        • November 26, 2015
          Reply

          Hope it works out for you!

  19. KimberlyGayeta
    November 23, 2015
    Reply

    I love this post!
    I lived my entire life in the city and I always fancy living somewhere different and cozy like Mexico! (or at least travel and see Mexico)
    Your place looks amazing and you are such a sweetheart!
    More power to you and to your blog! :)

    • November 25, 2015
      Reply

      Thanks Kimberly! Sayulita is a great place to base yourself :-)

  20. apartment rentals baton rouge la
    February 11, 2016
    Reply

    Great article ! And read your full blog and watch the video.The Sayulita cemetery is just beautiful and the apartment looks great! and the. beach looks very wonderful.

  21. Anna
    March 24, 2016
    Reply

    Hi Lauren! Are you still in Sayulita? Do you work there? My husband and I are thinking of coming and thought we would ‘wing it’ and find a place when we come. I am happy to hear of your apartment. Are you still living in the same place? I am looking to move in July/August from Canada. Any advice for us would be well received! Thanks for the article!!

    • March 24, 2016
      Reply

      Hi Anna! I’m afraid I’m not — I just spent three months living there back in 2012/13. If it helps, we were super-happy with our apartment, even after three months. Normally I find things that irritate me about a place by that time :-)

      If you’ll be arriving in July/August, you definitely don’t need to find somewhere in advance. There’ll be tons of availability. Just a warning, though, that at that time of year there’ll only be a handful of restaurants and cafes open. We arrived in mid-September and there were only about five places to eat at then.

  22. JC Tan
    May 13, 2016
    Reply

    Beautiful location and amazing photographs.
    I am initially from Thailand but have visited Mexico once.
    Loved the culture & nightlife <3

  23. June 3, 2016
    Reply

    Hola, thank you, for giving me hope. My son, age seven, and I will be showing up to live in San Pancho at the end of August and we have no place to live. I know the best way to find a place is to be there and ask around, but I wish I could “secure” some thing before hand. It would just feel better. There are so many people looking for housing in S.P. and Sayulita! We may end up at Lo De Marco! Your story helps me fall more easily into trust. Thank you! Happy Travels! enza

    • June 8, 2016
      Reply

      No problem! Hope the apartment hunt goes well! :-)

  24. Nelson M. Castilloo
    July 13, 2016
    Reply

    Hey Lauren

    I was looking for visiting sayulita with my friends ,But every time they denied it by saying that there is nothing worth watching in Sayulita. But now I can assure them that there are beautiful views in Sayulita .I loved the cemetery ,Restaurant in Sayulita. Thanks for this post .I will definitely visit it soon.

    Regards
    Nelson

    • July 13, 2016
      Reply

      Thanks! There’s definitely lots to do and see in Sayulita. It’s a lovely place :-)

  25. Stefanie bartlett
    June 25, 2020
    Reply

    Love your decision to stay there. Most of My dad’s side of the family lives here and has been there for decades and his brother owns a hotel near the beach! My grandpa was living there as well paying only 200$ a month for rent ,he had retired there in sayulita as well. his place was also walking distance from beach! I miss it very much and hope to go back soon again . Hope you have fun there.❤️💚🇲🇽

  26. Rachel
    May 7, 2021
    Reply

    Okay girl you are living my dream! I want to move down there soon to teach english, but im really worried about finding a spot!

    • May 17, 2021
      Reply

      Ah, let me know if you need help with anything! Sayulita is such a wonderful place to base yourself :-)

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