One of the biggest hurdles of living in Latin America is finding good accommodation.
Most travellers opt for Airbnb - after all, it's one of the most convenient ways to find a short or long term rental in almost any Central or South American city, and its terms and services protect both owner and tenant from any unexpected issues that may arise.
But, unfortunately, it's not the cheapest option. Airbnb rentals are around 20% more expensive than what you'd pay if you rented a similar apartment in the same neighbourhood directly from the owner.
You'll also likely have to pay a cleaning fee on top of the Airbnb service charges, regardless of the fact you're probably capable of cleaning a place yourself. Also, Airbnb hosts often have a no-guest rule, meaning you can forget about having any friends or girlfriends over.
Another option is to check local listings and rent directly. While this is sure to save you some money, there are a few troubles with this option as well. First of all, you'll have to call the owner or representative. This can be tough if you don't speak the local language.
Second, many people in Latin America will only rent to you if you have a co-signer who is a homeowner. This person acts as a reference, and as someone they can hassle if you stop paying your rent. Again, it will be hard to find a co-signer who meets these requirements if you're new to a city.
Finally, when you rent directly from an owner, you're chances of getting scammed increase exponentially. The owner can refuse to give back your security deposit, refuse to make repairs, raise the rent without notice and do a host of other things to make your life miserable.
So, what's a man to do?
I first signed up for DADA ROOM when I moved to Mexico City - you can see me recommending it here, as far back as 2015. At the time, I was in need of both a roommate, and a room. DADA ROOM drew my attention because it killed two birds with one stone, offering the chance to rent a place with another person(s) in their home, or the home they were renting. While I never ended up using the service back then (a friend came from Canada and we snagged a phenomenal deal from a generous owner), I was immediately impressed by its interface, prices, ease of use and customer service.
Even though I tend to favour private apartments these days, DADA ROOM is still one of the first websites I check when I'm planning a longterm stay in LATAM.
What Is DADA ROOM?
DADA ROOM is a platform that helps you find roommates and shared apartments quickly and easily in your desired city/neighbourhood. If you're looking for a room, it will link you up with people looking to rent out a room. If you already have an apartment and are looking to split the rent, you can use the service to find a roommate best-suited to you.
How Does It Work?
One of the best things about DADA ROOM is how easy it is to use. It's completely free, and you can sign up in seconds. If you're really hard-pressed to find a room or a roommate, you could probably find one the same day with DADA ROOM.
They make things very straightforward.
Basically, if you've used Airbnb, you've used DADA ROOM - the platforms are very similar. Where DADA ROOM differs is that - in addition to information about the place you're looking to rent, you'll also be provided with information about the roommate(s) that you'll be sharing the house or apartment with. This will help you sort out whether or not its a person you'd like to share space with (they'll be judging you too, so make sure you're profile is on-point!)
Like Airbnb, you'll be able to view pictures of the listings, prices, locations, house rules etc.
You're free to message the potential roommates beforehand, and can even arrange to meet them in person to see if you guys would be a good fit.
Where does dada room operate?
DADA ROOM currently operates in the major cities of the following countries:
Pros & Cons
The main pro of DADA ROOM is that it will allow you, a foreigner who perhaps doesn't speak the local language or have any personal connections in the country, find a room safely, easily and cheaply. Its system allows for proper vetting of roommates, so your chances of ending up living with someone crazy are reduced.
Rental times are also flexible, so if you plan on staying in the city for only a month or two, you should still be able to find something quite easily. This is a huge plus, as many places you rent from an owner will require a minimum six month lease. Airbnb offers this flexibility as well, of course, but I've found that DADA ROOM has better prices for those willing to share a house or apartment.
If you're a digital nomad, you can also easily find a living environment that is conducive to working. Many people who rent rooms on DADA ROOM will understand the work-from-home lifestyle, and may even be location-independent themselves.
The only arguable con of DADA ROOM is that, with due diligence, you'll be able to find better deals on rooms and apartments if you go directly through an owner. But in order to find deals like this you'll have to do a lot of walking around looking for listings, calling and talking to doormen. And, as mentioned before, there's always the chance the landlord will screw you over. Tenant rights aren't exactly a thing that is taken seriously in these countries.
Unless you're planning to relocate somewhere permanently, DADA ROOM is one of your best options for finding reasonably priced accommodation in major Latin American cities.
DADA ROOM is the perfect solution for location independent travellers looking to stay semi-longterm in Mexico or South America.
The service is free, reliable and easy to use, the listings are flexible and plentiful and the users are generally responsible young professionals.
Finding a place to live in Latin America can be frustrating and time consuming (I speak from experience!). DADA ROOM has done a supreme job of making the process simple and painless. As a foreigner that opts for longterm stays and that travels frequently in Latin America, I can say that DADA ROOM has immensely relived the stress that comes with trying to find a place to live.
Whether you are looking to rent a room out in your apartment, or looking to rent a room, use DADA ROOM.
You won't regret it.
Until next time,