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Jonathan Roldan – BAJA BEAT

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Wednesday, August 10, 2011
Can’t go wrong Baja primer
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
Don't laugh if it works!


So...you wanna sit under a palm tree?

A week doesn't go by where I don't get asked several times about moving/ retiring/setting up a business in Mexico.

"Man, you got the life.You fish all day. Siesta under the palm trees and drink beer!" is often how the conversation starts.I have to inwardly laugh.It's always fun to dream, but being down here in vacation and having to actually live or work here are different issues.

First some general stats:

— It is said that more Americans live in Mexico than any other country in the world.It's close proximity to the U.S.; relative lower cost of living; climate; and ease of lifestyle make it an attractive destination.Studies (speculative at best) put the number of Americans living in Mexico between 125,000 and 1 million with "600,00" most often quoted.

— A 2009 poll of Americans retired in coastal communities in Mexico showed most are "baby boomers" with 53 percent being under 65 years old. Sixty-seven percent have at least a college degree.Sixty-one percent are married.

— Most are financially comfortable by Mexican standards with over 70 percent having an income of over $25,000 a year which is more than $2,000.00/month compared to less than $1,000/month of most Mexicans.

— The majority of those polled spent less than $2,000/month but felt their lifestyle was actually higher than in the U.S. with 75 percent feeling that cost of living was a major factor in their desire to retire south-of-the-border.

We've been down here now for almost 16 years and been full-time residents for about 7.Folks always ask us what we think. Here's a few thoughts below.For everyone who's down here, there are probably several dozen we know who didn't make it or had to leave and dreams turned into disasters.

— Do your homework.Read. Read. Read.The bookstores have tons of resources and the internet has the freshest stuff.I can't believe how many folks just seem to "show up" expecting to start whole new lives just by "being here!" Here's a good place to start:http://www.icfdn.org/publications/retireeresearch/

 

— Talk to folks who have already done it and have attempted to live down here.There's nothing like local knowledge.No matter how many books or pamphlets you read, someone who's down here can give you immeasurable insight.Talk to LOTS of them!

 

— Yes, you can have a really great life down here, but it's all relative.What do you want in a lifestyle?Do you need everything you had in the states?Shopping? Golf?Movies?Restaurants?Or are you just fine walking along the beach without another soul and living "off the grid?"There are cultural, economic, and tremendous social differences between the two countries and peoples.It's not for everyone.

 

— Living here day-to-day is alot different than being here on vacation.If you have a chance and think you might like to set up roots down here, rent a place for awhile.See what it's like to go shopping; pay bills; get a plumber; go to Church; interact with the community and being away from family and friends back in the U.S.Maybe part-time residency works better.Also, there really are seasons!Most folks show up here on vacation in the spring, summer and fall.Winter here is not like the other seasons. Can you handle it when it's not all beach weather?

 

— Do you have some personal medical or dietary needs? What will you do if there's an emergency?Mexico has great facilities, but not all of them are accessible in all places.

 

— If you plan to set up a business, do even more research.My main advice is not to invest more than you can lose.Be able to walk away if you have to.It's not easy for foreigners to operate businesses here as in most countries if you're a foreigner.Mexico is especially heavy on bureaucracy even if you're local! If you have a business plan, triple it.The "model" you learned earning your MBA doesn't work in Mexico.

 

— Don't take shortcuts no matter what kind of "deal" someone offers you!Whether it's banking, real estate, contracts, labor laws, construction permits,immigration; etc....adhere to the law.It's no fun looking over your shoulder or worrying.The law is the law and citizens and visitors alike are expected to respect it.Just like in the U.S.If you follow the law you can never go wrong. Plus, being a gringo...you're higher profile.Not like you can hide!

 

— Learn Spanish...even a little!It's the best investment you can make in living and working here.

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