Investing in an STR Business in Mexico (EP 304)

Investing in an STR Business in Mexico (EP 304)


Wish you could create space in your life to explore new things? To spend more time on creative interests or pursue the hobbies you love? Shawn Laidlaw is leveraging Airbnb to do just that, investing in a short-term rental (STR) business in Mexico that gives him the time freedom to live life on his own terms.

Shawn Laidlaw is an investor and STR host in Villas de Cerritos Beach near El Pescadero. He purchased land in an existing development there and built a three-unit property on the site, allowing him to rent the units on Airbnb and live there himself for six months of the year. Shawn is also a photographer, writer and avid surfer.

On this episode, Shawn joins me to discuss how he came to invest in an Airbnb in Mexico and explain the process of buying and developing land in the country. He shares the perks of running a STR business in a development with an onsite staff, the cost of doing construction in Mexico, and the mindset difference when it comes to scheduling work. Listen in for insight around what it’s like to host a vacation rental in Mexico and learn how Shawn is leveraging Airbnb to live a simpler life—and do a lot of surfing!

Topics Covered

Shawn’s journey to Mexico

  • Money from sale of property in Victoria, BC
  • House sitting in California for friend in real estate
  • Presented with development opportunity
  • ‘Open to whatever life brought me

What it looks like to buy property in Mexico

  • Foreigners can’t own outright within 50 km of coast
  • Sole beneficiary of third-party trust (fideicomiso)
  • 99-year term on lease hold construction

The benefits of buying in a ‘gringo development’

  • Fit Shawn’s goals for lifestyle and investment
  • Staff onsite for cleaning, reception + security

How much it cost to build in Mexico

  • $20K for 10×12 m of land
  • $100K for construction of three units

How Shawn’s property is structured

  • Two bachelor suites on first level (open air kitchens)
  • 700 ft2 unit on second level, hang out on roof

Hosting on Airbnb in Mexico

  • Platform collects sales and regional taxes
  • Shawn focuses on vacationers vs. business clients

The pros and cons of building in Mexico

  • Builders in place in existing developments
  • Things move slowly (mindset difference)

Shawn’s experience of managing units remotely

  • Leverage onsite reception, cleaning staff
  • Schedule through online booking portal

How much Shawn charges for his units

  • $55/night during busy season in winter
  • $40/night in summer
  • Discounts for weekly, monthly stays

The occupancy rates on Shawn’s units

  • 30% to 40% throughout year
  • Booked solid through March
  • Fewer tourists in summer (10% to 15%)

Shawn’s advice around investing in Mexico

  • Take leap when opportunity presents itself
  • Amazing people, rich culture and surfing

Shawn’s minimum income experiment

  • Create balance among lifestyle, investing and simplicity
  • Intent to live off rental income, stay in Mexico full-time

Connect with Shawn

Shawn’s Blog

Shawn’s Website

Shawn on Instagram

Shawn on Airbnb

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