St. Croix


Jonathan Roldan – BAJA BEAT

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Wednesday, May 22, 2019
The zing-powie fish

Living the dream
I think a week doesn’t go by down here where we live that someone doesn’t ask me about retiring to Baja or somewhere in Mexico. So many dream of “Living the Dream” after they walk away from the 9-to-5.

Kiss-off traffic and kiss-off the hassles and anyone who doesn’t like it can kiss something else for all you care.

The warm waters, blue skies and white sands call you and cold cervezas already have your name on them. The sounds of the mariachi and Jimmy Buffet beckon you like an irresistible siren. There has to be a way to do it.

And, in fact, so many have done it and are doing so with increasing velocity every year. Americans and Canadians alike have chosen Mexico as the #1 retirement destination in the world.

Despite travel warnings, Mexico has one of the highest tourism rates of any country. And, as more folks visit, they’re thinking that a permanent vacation might not be a bad idea.

If you have Mexico as a possible retirement destination, think on it carefully.

Remember, you’re not moving to another state. You are moving to another country with it’s own set of laws, customs, culture and language. It’s not like grabbing the U-Haul, calling some buddies with pick-up trucks and moving across town.

It’s not for everyone, but if you put some thought into it, the possibilities are worth exploring.

The first thing to think about here is what kind of lifestyle you think you want to have. And also, where do you want to live?

If you want a lifestyle similar to what you have north of the border, you can probably do it a lot cheaper here in Mexico.

If you really do not need a 3-bedroom home with the air-conditioner running all the time and you can turn things down a notch and live more like your local neighbors, you can do quite well.

When I first got down here almost 25 years ago, my roommate and I rented a 5-bedroom house with a 7-car garage! Not because the two of us needed it, but because it was $120 bucks a month! It came with a maid 5 days-a-week also!

The only reason we moved out was because the owner sold it.

Researching some online websites that specialize in retirement living and assets, the average cost of living for a retired couple is about $2,000 a month ($24,000/ year) here in Mexico.

And that’s living pretty comfortably.

Also, the dollar is extremely strong in Mexico against the value of the peso, so your dollars go quite far here in terms of purchasing power.

Of course, like all real estate, location is important. Are you living with an ocean view or in close proximity to the ocean? In the little towns in the mountains? A resort city? A regular urban location? All of those things factor in.

If you’re renting, housing is cheaper here than in the states. Gas is about what you pay for it in a major U.S. metro area.

But how much driving are you really doing? I put maybe 20 to 30 miles a week on our beater vehicle, but that’s also because I run a business. I used to commute 50 miles one-way each day back in the U.S. in traffic!

Food is definitely cheaper. Electricity is probably a bit more. Services like phones and internet are a little cheaper, but quality is not always great. It’s serviceable but not always reliable depending on where you live.

Several things you will have to get used to include possibly a lack of reliable mail service (again depending on where you live), or it can be very costly. Paying bills can be a chore… again very often related to mail service.

Getting someone to come by to do things — i.e. plumbers, painters, repairmen, electrician, the cable guy…

They’ll get there when they get there. No amount of phone calls will make it go faster. No amount of money will make it go faster or (laughing) telling people, “I’m an American!”

We have a saying here that if someone tells you, “Manana (tomorrow)” for the 3rd time, it ain’t happening. They’re just being too polite to tell you they can’t do it.

Go find someone else. When you find a reliable person for any job, grab and hold onto them! There are some great folks down here who do great work.

The problem is that everyone else has grabbed them as well. They are in high demand.

So, back to square one.

They might also have to tell you “Manana” as well. Not because they’re slackers. It’s because they’re extremely busy. It’s just part of living here.

Another big consideration for retirement is health care.

For the most part, I’ve found that health care here is pretty good. We live in a major city. La Paz also happens to be the capital of the state. So, the level of care is probably better than some other places.

Our U.S. medical insurance doesn’t work down here so yours won’t either, but we have always used private doctors and dentists and been able to easily use a credit card or cash.

For example, I had some back issues a few years back. I was in a private hospital in a private room with American meals and two personal physicians and two personal nurses for almost one week.

When I checked out, the doctors sheepishly apologized to me for the high cost. I held my breath as they handed me the bill.

It was a little over $1,000 dollars! That included everything even the meds! That might have covered only one single day in an American hospital.

Two years ago, I had two root canals and two fillings needed. Three visits to take care of everything was less than $200 in a dental office that was more like a health spa. They had classical music playing, plant filled rooms, aromatherapy fragrances, attentive friendly assistants and a U.S.-trained oral surgeon who spoke English!

Near here, places like Cabo San Lucas and other “tourism” centers also have good care as well. Many of the doctors and dentists I have met were either educated in the U.S. or go to the U.S. for continuing education.

Of course, the further you go from major population areas, the health facilities diminish. Keep that in mind no matter where you retire, much like anywhere in the world.

Many of our fishing clients come down and take an afternoon or day off to do some routine dental work like cleaning or a quick filling at a fraction of the cost.

The same with medications is also true. Many folks that live in close proximity to the border in states like Texas, Arizona and California routinely visit Mexican border towns to purchase prescription drugs.

Remember, that whatever medical policies you have in the U.S. probably won’t be applicable here in Mexico.

But there’s the local socialized medicine that anyone can get. And there are local health insurance policies as well that can be obtained. Just remember that like anywhere, it’s more difficult to obtain the older you are or if you’re past 65 or have pre-existing conditions.

Living the dream here in Mexico is a very viable and popular option. This column barely scratches the surface of the research you should do before making the move.

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Jonathan can be reached at his Tailhunter Sportfishing Fleet in La Paz at

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