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.)
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.
Free eBook about home maintenance in Mexico
Download our free eBook about home maintenance in Mexico for more practical information and local knowledge about keeping your Mexican house and home in good working order.
Mexico in your inbox
Our free newsletter about Mexico brings you a monthly round-up of recently published stories and opportunities, as well as gems from our archives.