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How did I lease an apartment in the most expensive part of Mexico City with my personal brand?


Woman of Afro Caribbean descent sitting in a classroom with a school bag by her feet and she is smiling
Pauline at Spanish Class in Mexico

If you’ve been following my journey, you know I’m enrolled in in-person Spanish classes while working remotely from Mexico City. This has been a dream come true, with many hurdles. It’s been four months since I migrated from Trinidad and Tobago, and I spent half of that time in an Airbnb before frantically searching for a more permanent living arrangement.  


Although Mexico City is known to be accommodating to foreigners, there are expectations regarding the legality of working remotely. More specifically, something called a Temporary Residency Visa that assigns a unique number and showcases your ability to live comfortably without working for a local company. The process to obtain this visa includes three months of your bank statement, which correlates to being able to rent an apartment without having to pay an astronomical amount for a downpayment.  


Unfortunately, I could not obtain the visa before leaving Trinidad, so a month after landing in Mexico, I was up at midnight, obsessing that I could not find something suitable before my Airbnb time was up. I did what I’ve done in the past and joined multiple Facebook groups to discover the lay of the land and decipher unfavourable behaviours to avoid being scammed.


For instance, if I saw a post reposted multiple times over a few months, chances are it was not a great offer. Most good options didn’t last longer than a week or two before they were taken off the market.  


The Facebook groups included Female Roomies in Polanco, Anzures, etc., Pet-friendly apartments and VIP apartments in Mexico City.  I was overwhelmed by the sheer number of new posts that were published every day, but I also knew it was important to keep stalking to find something that was suitable. Speaking of which, I made a non-negotiable list that included a Mexican roommate, my own bathroom, ample space for my clothing and pet friendly.   


It took three weeks before I saw photos of an apartment from someone within my age group who also owned a cat. I reached out via WhatsApp and shared my social media profiles to make her feel more comfortable allowing this stranger into her home. Her responses were warm and welcoming, as she expressed excitement to be able to share her home with ‘someone like me.’ We arranged for me to see the place the following week. 

 

When I arrived at the apartment, the security guard and I exchanged an expressive ‘hola’, and he sent me up the elevator. When she opened the door and ushered me in, I was greeted by a sitting area that was one of three living rooms! We sat closer to the balcony and began discussing what living with each other would be like. We were sharing our jobs when her 2-year-old white cat found her way into my lap and my mind already knew this was the best place. Afterwards she showed me the room, which included a walk-through closet and a bedroom big enough to be $3,000/month NYC apartment. It took less than 24 hours before I decided to move in. It was the first place I saw, and it was mine.  


We shared messages back and forth about banking information, payments, and dates for me to move in. As I was acutely aware that we were both strangers, I reached out to my former roommates from Remote Year and requested their testimonials on what it was like living with me. They all agreed, and I made an Instagram group and asked if my future roommate would be open to them sharing that I am not a serial killer. She responded, ‘It’s okay, I trust you.’ It was weird and validating at the same time.  


I’ve landed clients from people who follow me on LinkedIn and jumped into a stranger’s car in Lima at 4 am because we follow each other on Instagram. There is a blurred line between online personal branding and how people treat you in the real world. My social media is carefully curated to represent a part of my life I have chosen to share. Instagram is filled with my triathlon stories, while my LinkedIn is a masterclass for B2B content. I have shared my stories over the years and built a following of people who have chosen to join my journey. Recently, my classmates from Spanish class added me to Instagram and shared their surprise that my videos were ‘very good.’  


In the past, I have created strategies on the best way to receive sponsorship for triathlon, but I have never executed as much as I would like due to time. Lately, however, I have realized that my online personal brand has created a unique ROI as I build a new life in Mexico.


I don’t have access to the communities I had in Trinidad, such as my triathlon team, my hockey family and the professional relationships I built through past jobs. Therefore, I need to start from nothing and without social media, I would not have been able to land my dream apartment after one visit.  


That’s the thing about social media: the ROI isn’t as obvious as one lead = one sale. Most of the time, it’s about expanding your reach through brand building.  


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