Thursday, May 31, 2012

Spring maintenance

We had planned on changing the color of the fachada of our house on our trip to Mérida in late April and had arranged for the painter to come early on in our visit. We had also asked our property manager to have the pool drained and the sarro (buildup of minerals) scrubbed away. The price for painting the facade was 1600.00MX, or about 112.00US. This is, literally, a tenth or less of what we would pay for the same amount of painting here at home. I figured the pool cleaning would not be much either, even though scrubbing a quite large concrete pool in the hot sun is work. I was not wrong. The cost was 1700.00MX ($119.00) and included in that price was some woodwork cleaning inside the house by the wife of the contractor.

I have been told that the mini-split A/C units should be cleaned and serviced at least once a year to keep them operating efficiently. We have seven units, one in each room. The cost 2450.00MX ($172.00 or about $25.00 per unit). In February, one of the units needed a part replaced ($2200.00MX or $154.00).
We've about decided that if other units breakdown, with the exception of the two bedrooms and the studio where our computers will be located, we will remove them and patch the walls. This is an expense that we will want to avoid once living on retirement income.

I suppose the point of this post is to just say that, even though the labor costs in Mérida are quite low (sometimes embarrassingly low), all these little maintenance costs add up. Pool pumps, filters, fountain pumps, water softener systems, water purifiers, tenacos -all require maintenance with some degree of regularity. In January, a tenant complained that the dishwasher wasn't working properly. It had to be removed, taken away and cleaned to remove all the mineral deposits (875.00MX or $61.00). Dishwashers are nice if you entertain frequently (we don't), so if after we move down and it fails, out it could possibly go -one less appliance to drain the costly electricity and break down. Besides, they don't sell automatic dish washing detergent in our local grocery store. Time to experience the Zen of hand washing our dishes.

With all expenses for the month, including management fees, weekly housecleaning, once a week pool maintenance, bi-weekly gardener to keep the small garden (literally) hacked down to manageable levels, salt, chlorine, gas, phone and internet, April was an expensive month -over $1200.00. Thankfully, every month is not that bad. Owning a home in another country, with the cost of airfare to Mérida now over $800.00, can be challenging. It's still  worth all the expense and I don't regret a thing, but I do want to hurry up and move.


  1. I don't have a dishwasher, and even with entertaining sometimes large crowds, I don't find the dishes a daunting task.

    I wonder if running a few cups of vinegar through once a month with a load would help diminishing the mineral buildup???

  2. Debi, that's a possibility and worth a try! Thanks for the suggestion.

  3. I think you are on the right track with your AC's and dishwasher. I didn't put a dishwasher in my house. Instead I have a double sink and large utility sink in the kitchen and cleanup is always pretty easy. I've never had a dishwasher and like to keep things simple and low-maintenance. If you do have larger gatherings, you can always hire someone to help out with washing dishes and other cleanup. It doesn't cost much.

    I also didn't put in AC's, although the wiring and tubing is in for AC in the bedrooms. I don't want to pay the cost of AC, and prefer to live with the heat. Having the pool and not having to dress up and go to work all the time makes it tolerable.

    As long as you rent your house to foreign visitors, I think you do need the AC, and probably the dishwasher is an advantage. I believe, however you conclude correctly that after you are here you can let some of that stuff go. Cooling a whole house is really costly, and after you get used to the weather you may only want AC in the bedrooms. You can take out units as they go bad, and just keep them going where you most need them. Your monthly expenses should go down a lot once you are here taking care of more details yourselves, and not renting the house out all the time.

  4. We have put in AC in the bedrooms and a bigger one in the kitchen. We hardly ever use them except when we have guests. Seems like this year hasn't been as hot, or maybe we're just getting acclimated. Marc is right about hiring someone to help when you have get togethers. You'll find someone that you like that does a good job, and they are worth every peso.

  5. That sounds like good advice. Thanks Sara and Ty.