How to Buy a Fridge

I was waiting for it to happen. About five months ago, our eleven-year-old fridge started making this loud, humming noise. A few months prior, the water dispenser on the door began leaking, and the ice dispenser completely stopped working. I knew that we were likely living on borrowed time because the average life span of a fridge is about ten years. Sure enough, this week, the humming noise increased in volume for nearly a minute and then went deathly quiet.

With so many options available for fridges, it can be overwhelming to determine which one is the best for your needs. Rather than looking at them all and trying to compare each one, it is best to narrow the field. I do this with almost all big-ticket purchases. It keeps me from being overwhelmed so that I can purchase correctly and quickly. Selecting from three options is less stressful than choosing from thirty. To eliminate options that won’t work, start with the size of the fridge.

If your fridge is for a new condo, you will want to measure the space allowance. Space allowance is the size of the cut out in your kitchen allocated for your fridge. Depth and height are not usually as important as width, but it is a good idea to get all measurements to be sure. Pay special attention to your upper cabinetry and baseboards since they can impact space allowance. Another word of advice – walls, ceilings, and floors in Mexico are not always flush. Check each dimension in a few spots.

This way, you can make sure there will be no surprises such as one side sticking out or it not sliding in easily.
If you are replacing an existing fridge, like I am, and the fridge fits well in the space, you can measure the dimensions of your current refrigerator. When measuring depth, make sure to measure from the wall to the front face of your fridge.

It’s a good idea to leave an extra inch all around the fridge for circulation and ventilation. If you don’t, the fridge motor will have to work harder, and it may lessen its lifespan.

It’s equally important to measure your counter depth. Some fridges can stick out far beyond your counters, jutting into your kitchen. If you have a kitchen island, check how much clearance there is to open the fridge doors or walk past the fridge.

Before you put away your measuring tape, also record the dimensions of any doorways. Sometimes fridges come as part of a condo sales package and the developer might have put the refrigerator in the unit before the door jams. If you need to remove the jams, at least you will know ahead of time so you can plan for it.

The next decision to make is the style you prefer. There are four main styles from which to choose. These are the french door, side by side, top freezer, or bottom freezer. Check out next week’s column for more information on how to select the best style for your needs and some more tips, including where to get the best deal in Vallarta for appliances.

Need appliances for your home in Mexico? Email me at

Sheryl Novak
Sheryl Novak is an expat Canadian who has owned a home in Mexico for over ten years. She is the owner of SOLutions Mexico – the online furniture store for your home in Mexico and The Furniture Store by SOLutions Mexico, a brick and mortar show store in Bucerias. She is considered the expert on sourcing all styles of furniture for all sizes of budgets, in Mexico.