Real Estate

Splashing Out on a Swimming Pool in Mexico

There is nothing quite like having a swimming pool in your back garden to deliver immediate refreshment, fun for children, and healthy exercise

Swimming Pool in a Garden

On a hot, sultry afternoon there is nothing quite like having a swimming pool in your home’s garden to jump into for refreshment.

Planning and maintenance is key

The convenience and intimacy of a private pool are often sought after by home-buyers and extolled by vendors, but unless you have a plan to regularly service your pool, you’ll struggle to keep it in good working order.

Fortunately, property maintenance costs in Mexico are lower than the U.S., and with some foresight and planning, you can ensure your investment gives you and your family years of refreshing enjoyment.

This article shares a summary of the main things you need to consider when you have (or buy) a house with a pool to maintain:

Monthly pool maintenance

Your pool will need cleaning regularly, perhaps daily during some seasons, especially if it’s surrounded by trees with leaves. Checking the levels of vital chemicals to ensure your pool remains free of unwanted bacteria is essential, and purchasing the various chemistry sets to balance the alkaline levels are all part of the ongoing expense of pool ownership.

If you don’t have the time or inclination to do this yourself, you’ll have to pay someone else to do it for you; budget for around $1,000 pesos per month for someone to maintain your pool regularly, including chemicals. (Rates vary by region, check locally.)

Pool safety

If your house has a pool without a safety fence surround and you have young children (or young children visiting who will be regularly exposed to the pool area) you might consider installing a fence with a locked gate for access to the pool area.  The cost of doing this will vary depending on what type of fence and materials you choose. Inquire locally and get some quotes.

The pool’s pump and its filter system

Electricity rates per kilowatt hour in Mexico escalate when you go over a certain monthly usage.  Your pool’s pump and filter system operated several hours daily will probably push you through the usage barrier that will bump your electricity bill into the more expensive charging band; although you might operate the pump and filter on a timer for limited periods and mitigate this cost. You also need to maintain the filters, which usually means replacing the sand in the filter unit every few years, or sooner depending on local conditions and the pool’s usage.

Heating your swimming pool water

Some places in Mexico, especially towns and cities situated at elevation, get cool or even cold in the autumn and winter months (read also: Land of Three Lands).  Gas-fueled heating systems are available for pools, but if you use these, be prepared to pay considerably for the fuel they’ll consume heating large volumes of pool water.

If you want to regulate the temperature of your pool year-round, a good (and popular) solution is to install a solar-panel heating system; the initial costs are high, but they will save you money in fuel charges over the long term and make your property more attractive to renters and buyers interested in houses with swimming pools, as most people prefer temperate water in a pool instead of cold water.

Water supply for your pool

Pools, especially older pools that tend be larger and deeper, require a huge amount of water, and in areas where water is scarce (especially in the dry season between October and April) this can cause some challenges.

If you buy a house with a large and deep pool, you can save a lot of water (and money) by reducing the pool’s depth.  This can be done relatively inexpensively, by having a portion of the existing pool filled-in. Turning an old deep pool into a plunge pool, perhaps with only one lane or a selected area deeper, can reduce your water requirement by 50% or more; this will cost you less to fill and less to maintain as you’ll use less chemicals, and your pump and filters will do less work, costing proportionally less, too. With less water, the pool’s temperature will regulate faster, heating up more quickly via solar panels.  You can learn more about water in Mexico here on Mexperience.

Retiling and repainting your pool

Every so often, you will have to repaint and/or retile your pool. If you have bought an older house, where the pool has been there many years, this might be a job that needs doing sooner rather than later. Repainting is the least expensive option; tiling a pool can be expensive, but tiles will last far longer than coats of standard pool paint.  A ‘modern’ option is to use a special paint-like coating that offers the economies of paint with the duress of tiles. Check with your local pool merchant for options and prices.

The attractions of having a swimming pool

Swimming pools are picturesque and romantic, and in very hot climates can also be very practical and even essential during the summer months when a refreshing swim can serve as a substitute to expensive air-conditioning during the day.  The cost and efforts involved with pool ownership can be managed with some forethought and planning that will repay you with years of enjoyment.

Older homes and their pools

If you’re buying an older house in Mexico, the pool is likely to be old too, and may require some serious maintenance or even reconstruction, so check this as part of your due diligence and perhaps negotiate a discount on the price to cover any probable costs needed to get the pool in working order.

Pools in gated communities

When you purchase a condo with a communal pool, your home owner’s association will have to deal with the same issues private pool owners do.  Even if the building is new, and the pool is modern, there will come a day when wear-and-tear will call-in its dues, and the owner’s association will be faced with paying the bills. The advantage in these situations is that the costs (both on-going and maintenance or repair) are shared between all the residents who have access to the pool.

Deciding to remove and fill-in your pool

A final note about swimming pools: on some occasions, you might consider throwing-in the towel —and the soil— and turning your pool into a patio, garden or wildlife pond. You may consider this if you don’t have the cash to make repairs on a badly dilapidated pool, or if you want more garden/patio space in an otherwise small garden area.

Another option in some areas is to convert the hole into an underground water cistern, which is useful for gathering rain water that can be used in the dry season for watering the garden during or perhaps even to drink if the right filtering system is installed.

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9 Comments

  1. Rick Rezac says

    Hello
    Am a former Pool Tech in S. California now living in Huatulco/Copalita, Oaxaca. I’m building a casita in Copalita and have a desire for a small Spool(spa/pool), with a rock waterfeature. Could anyone direct me to some companies that supply pool equipment, finishing(lights, various surface finishes, etc.). Not sure how you would contact me if you have some good contacts.
    As a final note to pool people, choose your service person carefully, just dropping reagent drops in the water is not water chemistry! I had a service in Thailand and most foreigners want King type service for pennies, some of the same here.
    Any help would be very welcome, thank you.

  2. John Rutledge says

    Pool care is much cheaper than this in Merida in the Yucatan. We have a fairly large 5X7 meter pool. Once a week care is 80 pesos, chemical around 100 pesos. Total cost maybe 80 USD/month. Water is free. Everyone has their own wells dug. The pumps usually run on a timer one hour a day in the middle of the night so electricity is not that bad. Tiled pools do require more repair, but many now use polished concrete and add color to the mix when constructing, so no further paint is needed. Filling in a pool? Sorry, that is crazy talk. Construction costs are low. Better to build anew than create such a tragedy that might one day have to be all chipped out and hauled away one day. Our new 12′ X 30′ pool with infinity sides will cost about $11,000 USD. Sorry for the correction but it was important to not discourage anyone. Pools require a lot of care and maintenance and do add to the monthly budget, but the joys far outweigh the costs. Most of us here consider them an essential. Cooling off in the pool several times a day is far cheaper than running AC. it is how most who choose to acclimatize live.

    • Mexperience says

      Hi John,
      Thanks for sharing your story and experience – very valuable! The case study here was based on pool maintenance at a house in Cuernavaca, just south of Mexico City. Water there is an issue, especially in the dry season, but that might be a regional matter that you’re not experiencing in Merida. We know of a pool that had to be filled-in, because it was so poorly maintained by previous owners, it had turned into a swamp-like feature and attracted rats, mosquitoes, etc. The new owners did not care to do the necessary repair work, and it was also a personal choice – they wanted more garden space! Your point about using the pool to keep cool is important. The article isn’t meant to put people off having a pool, but it is meant to bring attention to the realities of maintaining one. Thanks again for sharing your story here.

    • Jane Hamilton says

      John,
      We are in the process of choosing a pool contractor to build our new pool in Progreso. Do you have any photos of your new infinity side pool? We are looking for ideas for the pool. Who built your pool and were you happy with the results? Jane

    • Todd says

      Hi John! We are in Guanajuato State and are wondering about the total, all-in cost range of building a beautiful (decent size) pool with tile, heat source (solar panels) and equipment. The whole project from scratch. Any guidance? Gracias!

    • Anne says

      Hi John!

      Am purchasing some condos in Tulum and would like to replace the existing pool at the property as it is very small and I would like to be able to swim in it! Could you please refer to me the name of your builder? I would like to add dipping pools to the condos as well. 🙂

    • Willie & Meinhold says

      Send me info on purchase and install. In PV

    • Patrick says

      John, I’ve never owned a pool but am considering one at my home in Mazatlán. The biggest question I have, how do I keep the water cool enough to enjoy? Are there “coolers” just as there are “heaters”?
      Thanks in advance.

    • William says

      11k for unground pool is amazing price , here in USA Florida you looking a start price of 35k and up , wow what a difference , well what’s not expensive in usa

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