The new falcon herald logo.
General Articles

Mexico: a haven for midlife mavericks?

Jim Justus, president of Olive Real Estate, and Karen Blue, a writer and former Hewlett Packard project manager, are among those who have found a bit of paradise in Mexico. Justus is building his dream retirement home, and Blue has lived in Ajijic, a village near Lake Chapala, since 1996.”There are two groups of people (Americans) living there,” Justus said. “Those who try to make their retirement dollars go further, and those who could live anywhere but like the lifestyle.”For Justus and Blue, it was lifestyle.Blue, at age 51, decided to move to Mexico to search for her life’s purpose. Shortly after moving to Ajijic, she published her first book, “Midlife Mavericks: Women Reinventing Their Lives in Mexico.”Blue became a mentor for single women toying with the idea of moving out of the country. She said the Lake Chapala area, at least, is “much safer than most cities in the U.S. – certainly safer than Los Angeles.”Whether a single woman, single man or couple, Blue said there is a common denominator among the profiles of ex-patriots.”We’re all risk takers, adventurers and more accepting of differences. There are many well traveled … and interesting women here, as well as many talented ones,” she said. The average resident is in his or her mid-60s, she said. “Each year, there are more and more younger people … but it’s difficult to find work that pays enough to support someone who doesn’t have other sources of income.”Americans flocking to Mexico have driven up the market values, and Blue expects the trend to continue as baby boomers realize “they can’t retire comfortably on what they’ve managed to put away,” she said.But, those baby boomers will be paying higher prices for their foreign castles.Blue bought her property 10 years ago, when bargains were plentiful. She purchased a home for $48,000 and spent $35,000 on renovations. She said the home is now worth about $200,000.And the boomers will make up the difference in living costs, said Mike Nelson, author and a guru on Mexico, according to the Wall Street Journal.Nelson, in an article he wrote, “Who Lives in Mexico?” said most foreigners live on $800 to $1,200 a month. “As a general rule of thumb, you can live in Mexico for roughly one half to three quarters of what you spend in the U.S. or Canada, and have a comparable lifestyle,” he wrote.Nelson also said housing prices outside “gringo havens” like Lake Chapala are in the $35,000 to $60,000 range. “It all depends on what you want and what you are willing to give up.”Blue dispels any notion that the “gringo haven” of Lake Chapala mirrors an American city. “There are perhaps 15 percent gringos here … and we have an infrastructure of services … the library, computer professionals, one of the best little theatres anywhere,” she said. “But walking down any cobble-stoned streets with brightly painted houses, donkeys, horses and cars all peacefully coexisting does not remind me of any American city.”Something else that isn’t reminiscent of an American city is the cost of health care.Blue and Justus agreed that there is excellent health care available in Guadalajara, and it’s not expensive by U.S. standards. Blue said doctors still make house calls, and there is no rush in the doctors’ offices. Justus said many of the Mexican doctors were trained in the United States and the care is superb. “A complete health care package can be purchased for under $400 a year,” Justus said.Regardless of the benefits, living on foreign soil is not for everyone.Justus said that if someone favors a fast-pace life, forget about Mexico. It’s a lot slower, and things don’t get done in a few days or even a few weeks, he said. Blue agreed. “It may take five days to get a telephone line fixed. The electricity goes down frequently during the rainy season and with it the water pump,” she said. “Workmen don’t always show up when you expect them. Language communication problems frequently occur.”Justus recommends visiting for long periods before jumping in to purchase property.”It’s still a Third World country,” Justus said. “Life is a lot different.”

StratusIQ Fiber Internet Falcon Advertisement

Current Weather

Weather Cams by StratusIQ

Search Advertisers