The methylammonium lead halide perovskites have shown significant promise as a low-cost, second generation, photovoltaic material.Despite recent advances, however, there are still a number of fundamental aspects of their formation as well as their physical and electronic behavior that are not well understood. In this letter we explore the mechanism by which these materials crystallize by testing the outcome of each of the reagent halide salts. We find that components of both salts, lead halide and methylammonium halide, are relatively mobile and can be readily exchanged during the crystallization process when the reaction is carried out in solution or in the solid state. We exploit this fact by showing that the perovskite structure is formed even when the lead salt's anion is a non-halide, leading to lower annealing temperature and time requirements for film formation. Studies into these behaviors may ultimately lead to improved processing conditions for photovoltaic films. © 2014 Author(s).