Wednesday, August 5, 2009

We're buying some land.....

One of the things I wanted to do if I decided to settle in Cozumel was buy some land, with a view to building a house. I'm 37 and, although I did briefly own an apartment from the age of 18-23, my assets currently amount to a car, a computer and some fairly sexy dive gear.
Anyway BF and I decided that buying land was a sensible way to go. We searched the Island tirelessly for the ideal spot. Let me tell you, it is difficult. Land falls into 4 rough categories here on the Island:

Jungle: Anyone with a 10 year plan and a little cash to risk should think about buying land in the Jungle. We've found plots as big as 30 meters x 20 meters selling for as little as $15,000. People are buying these plots and building like crazy. Some really interesting neighborhoods are likely to develop with properies boasting nice large gardens. I love space and I also love peace and quiet and so was initially attracted to these pieces of land. There are, however, some drawbacks:
  • No electricity, water or sewerage. These will likely be connected at some point in the future if enough people build property in a given area, but there are no guarantees. Could be 6 months, 6 years or never. It is possible to dig a well - and find good water. Electricity can be difficult though. Solar panels and wind generators are expensive and limited in capacity.
  • Mosquitos - the jungle mosquito is significantly larger and more ferocious than his down town brother. In town, trucks spray bug spray at night to keep the little blighters under control. not so in the jungle. My skin has become pretty immune to the city mosquito, but the jungle variety leave huge weilds on my skin. They are bigger, meaner and more prolific.
  • The distance to town. We have one car between us. Neither of us really wants a scooter and biking it into town would be a pretty sweaty task in the summer.
Down Town/ Town Center: Unfortunately due to Cozumel's popularity as a vacation destination, down town prices have been forced through the roof by wealthy Americans buying up land (I appreciate I own my job and actually just being here to this fact as well). A piece of land measuring 20 meters x 8 meters, will set you back $70-80,000. Simply out of the price range of anyone living on the Island and earning local wages.

Neighborhoods / Suburbs: Land is very difficult to come by in nice neighborhoods. Often land sales are opened up to only certain categories of worker (like hotel staff). BF's mother lives in a nice neighborhood but finding a plot of land for sale at a reasonable price is extremely difficult.

Government sponsored developments: Several large construction companies are developing neighborhoods in areas just outside of the suburbs. These neighbrhoods look a little like the English council estates. There is a very small house on a piece of land flanked very closely on each side by an identical very small house/ piece of land. The added incentive with these pieces of land is that locals are able to take a loan from their own social security funds to finance the property. This is a pretty inticing deal, especially as the building company will readily finance the balance you need to buy. What is the catch?? Well BF and I were a little short on the cash we would have needed to pay for the property outright and it turned out that the building company loans applied extortionate rates of interest and rediculously honorous payment terms. We very nearly did this as there were a number of properties on street corners with larger pieces of land. It was only when we discovered the rediculous terms of the builders loan and reasoned that we would actually be paying for a building that we intended in the most part to demolish and re-build that we decided to go back to the drawing board.

And so it came to pass that on one sunny Sunday afternoon we decided to go on a real hunt of the neighborhoods. It was this day that we stumbled on a neighborhood that we really liked with two blocks of empty lots for sale. The price was high but something that we decided we could manage. Here is the piece of land that we are in the process of buying:and again a few steps in with BF in what will be our yard/ garden. You can see from this one that it is a fairly decent sized piece of land:We are pretty excited. The street is currently dirt road...But we are told that a proper road surface will be laid this or perhaps next week (we are on Mexican time after all).
Our first project will be to clear the land. An advantage here, over jungle, is that the land has already been partially cleared. We'll be out with machetes on Sunday. I will definately try a little clearing, but think I might soon become, cool drinks and pizza delivery person.
After clearing the land we want to build a big wall around it. Firstly because we like privacy and secondly in the hope that any building supplies that we store inside of the wall will be relatively safe. Then on with our house. We will build a first floor to begin with and then eventually a two story, 3 bedroom home. I also have a secret scheme to make a third floor palapa hang out. But that is way down the line.
Exciting stuff - more to come.


naidyfinn said...

cool stuff lovely....keep me posted! we've finally got the builders out of our hair. now its cleaning!
2 recommendations from me:
1. you cannot have enough detail on your plans/schemes/lists
2. you will need plenty of yoga/good Christian/Buddhist thoughts to get through it!

good look!


Anna said...

Sinead - you know I am anal about planning!! Also BF is good at building stuff. I think one good thing for me is that we will be living in our apartment until its finished, so we won't have to live in the mess.