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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Howdy-
We are planning to retire full-time to Mexico in a couple of years and now beginning research on the possibilities. We've been several times to Yelapa and love its friendliness and unspoiled beauty, but are concerned about the hot, humid summers. Next year we plan to Christmas in SMA. I've long wanted to spend time in Guanajuato city for its beauty and theater culture.

We are both artists who've made our living by gardening, storytelling and now teaching (him), and writing and executive assistant in non-profit world (her).

We would like an ambience where we can continue our work in theater.

We also appreciate friendliness, beauty, culture and comfortable simplicity.

Advice on the ambience issue and especially on how we could budget $2100/mo is greatly appreciated.

Thanks,
Tom:bowl:
 

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Welcome to the forum. Many try the 'hot & humid' but some of them later find a need to escape, either half the year or permanently, to higher and cooler climes. As such, Lake Chapala has the largest expat population in Mexico and a very active Lakeside Little Theater, now in its 45th season with "Regrets Only", "The Mousetrap", "Don't Dress For Dinner", "The Dresser", "The Boy Friend" and "Dracula", as the regular offerings this year, plus special plays and other events. You might want to investigate.
 

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Thanks, RV. How is the cost of living there?
It depends. I'm renting a modern 4bdrm, 3 bath (1 bathtub), large yard with fruit trees, solar water heater (no gas), secure covered parking for 3 cars, lawn I have to mow .... for $4000 pesos

It takes luck to find a rental like this ... but it can be done. Buying a place will be another can or worms
 

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Rentals Lakeside....

It depends. I'm renting a modern 4bdrm, 3 bath (1 bathtub), large yard with fruit trees, solar water heater (no gas), secure covered parking for 3 cars, lawn I have to mow .... for $4000 pesos

It takes luck to find a rental like this ... but it can be done. Buying a place will be another can or worms
Sparks,

May one assume that you had been in the Lakeside area for a period of time to learn the "local" rental scene before finding such a deal? Or do you feel it was just plain "luck of the draw?"

It would be very informative to know if you found this place through a rental agency or word of mouth, public rental notice, friends etc.

Were you required to sign a long term lease? What sort of deposits, did you pay up front?

If this is more information than you wish to divulge that would be understood.

Thanks
John
 

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I've been in Mexico for over 5 years and know quite a few people in Jalisco. I made a 4 day trip up from the beach house hunting and one of my friends suddendly heard from neighbors that this house was for rent - so yes, luck. We just heard of a larger house for rent for $5000mx in the neighborhood. Both are unfurnished. I'm also on the west end of the lake in Jocotepec and things are cheaper here. Any town away from Ajijic is cheaper

Renting from Mexicans will usually be cheaper, often unfurnished, deposits and last month vary. I paid no deposit and just first month but have a one year contract. Most landlords prefer longer term.

Being new to the area you may have to go thru a realtor to make it easy and deal with the language. With them there will certainly be 2 months and a deposit - especially with a furnished house
 

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Spark's good fortune is possible to replicate with a lot of footwork and/or connections and friends who may know of unlisted possibilities. Ajijic is generally more expensive than Chapala or Jocotopec. All three should be investigated for living in town. Another possibility is San Juan Cosala and, of course, all the area in between those towns. All will share the micro-climate of the north shore of Lake Chapala.
Once you have your home purchase or rental established, you will find the cost of living very manageable. It will depend a great deal upon your lifestyle and adaptability. First, you'll have to find your way around and learn how to find things at the best prices. The big box stores aren't always the least expensive, since small tiendas have very low overhead and are very competitive with each other. That process will take some time and your budget will benefit from your experience. Of course, using Mexican products is always less expensive and often superior in quality. My frequent example is to taste canned fruit cocktail from Herdez, vs. the American brands. You'll be surprised at the difference. That said, you'll probably make your own from fresh fruit available everywhere.
The short answer is that friends who have had to travel to the USA always return aghast at the prices up there.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
GTO city or SMA?

Is it reasonable to assume that a nice, furnished rental 1-2 bedroom apartment is quite possible to find in one of these locations for about $500US/month? We've rented all our lives so know how connections and being ready to move at the right time are key elements in finding a place.

What about other expenses: utilities inc internet, food, and things I might not think of?

We are looking to get away from big box and chains and want to engage in the local culture and commerce.

Tom:focus:
 

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You may have to look hard and very early to find two bedroom rentals at that price range. I know of one in Chapala which was just found and reserved for the winter of 2010 in that price range. As for utilities, that can be all over the map. If your predecessors used a lot of electricity, you may find yourself locked into a higher rate for the next year with no recourse if you rent, since utilities remain in the property owner's name. Conservation is encouraged in Mexico by escalating rates for higher usage. Internet and telephone packages from Telmex are reasonable and less than 500 pesos per month should take care of most needs. Your grocery bill will be closely tied to your lifestyle and how much you entertain. Only you can control that. In general, if you compare apples to apples, it will be less than in the USA. Owning our home, we usually spend a bit over $2000 USD per month for routine living, including medicines and doctor visits. Then, there are the annual things like taxes, water, auto registration and insurance.
 

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RV is referring to expenses for a couple and I believe he owns his house. I (single) could easily live on $1-1200 a month here as a renter. If you don't cook much, go out a lot and don't watch your electric ... it's gonna be more
 

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Retiring in Mexico

Howdy-
We are planning to retire full-time to Mexico in a couple of years and now beginning research on the possibilities. We've been several times to Yelapa and love its friendliness and unspoiled beauty, but are concerned about the hot, humid summers. Next year we plan to Christmas in SMA. I've long wanted to spend time in Guanajuato city for its beauty and theater culture.

We are both artists who've made our living by gardening, storytelling and now teaching (him), and writing and executive assistant in non-profit world (her).

We would like an ambience where we can continue our work in theater.

We also appreciate friendliness, beauty, culture and comfortable simplicity.

Advice on the ambience issue and especially on how we could budget $2100/mo is greatly appreciated.

Hi, Tom!

If you don't want hot and humid, I would definitely not advise anywhere on the coast, except to visit in Winter. The Western Highlands have a generally good climate. Altitudes range from 5000 ft (Lake Chapala) to as much as 8000+ (Zacatecas), with Guanajuato, San Miguel Allende, Morelia, Patzcuaro, Uruapan and Queretaro falling in between. All of these are wonderful places with much to recommend each of them. However, the higher the altitude, the cooler in the winter. In my opinion, Lake Chapala has the ideal climate, largely because the huge body of water moderates the climate year round, and the altitude is neither too high nor too low.

I live on the north shore of Lake Chapala in Ajijic. My wife and I have lived on almost exactly $2100/month for the last 2 1/2 years. (All money amounts quoted here are in US dollars) Our rent is $550/month (2 br, 2 ba condo with about 1400 sqft), our utilities (electricity, propane, cable TV, telephone and DSL broadband internet) totaled $115 last month. I would say our total utilities range between $100-150/month year round.

We have a car, but because we live in the village, we don't use it much except for grocery shopping (groceries: about $40-50/week), or errands to places too far to walk (defined as 2 miles), or on trips out of the area. This not only saves us considerable money, but is much healthier, and walking is a generally more enjoyable way to travel. Mexican car insurance for US plated cars is inexpensive. We pay about $450/year, but that has some add-on riders. The basic policy is about $350. Gasoline is about $2.25/gallon, but I only fill up about once per month and recently went for 60 days without a fill up.

Our hobbies are all very inexpensive: photography, blogging, and hiking for me, and painting, quilting, reading for my wife. Much of our entertainment is also free or nearly so: going to fiestas and other community events, visiting with friends, hanging out in the Plaza people watching. I'd say, without our regular lunches out and travel to colonial cities (see list above), we could probably live on $1700-1800/month.

There are some who feel that they couldn't possibly live down here on less than $5000/month. Others live on considerably less than we do, although a north-of-the- border quality of life on $1000/month or less is pretty hard to do. But it's not impossible depending on the compromises you are willing to make. We are very comfortable on $2100/month, which includes literally everything, and have a general quality of life superior to that which we lived in the US, where we were paying more than twice as much.

As artists and people interested in the theatre, you will find both in the Lake Chapala area. In fact, the area has been a magnet for artists for at least 100 years. DH Lawrence and others of his world lived and or visited in the early 20th Century. There is a great deal of public art (wall murals, dead trees turned into wonderful sculptures, etc) and Ajijic is loaded with galleries, art shows etc. It has been a tradition for the last 70 years for local ****** and Mexican artists to teach art to local children. All of the Mexicans who own galleries learned their art this way. The Lakeside Little Theatre has had a very active theatre program for many years. As I am not much of a theatre buff myself, others could probably tell you more.

San Miguel Allende has a very vigorous arts program and is a beautiful colonial city to boot. It is higher and colder in winter than Lake Chapala, and tends to be a bit more expensive. Many people find it a great place to live, however. The other places I listed are also wonderful, but have much smaller English-speaking communities. If you are not fluent in Spanish, I would advise not initially settling somewhere you will be socially and culturally isolated. Once you learn Spanish, this is much less of a problem.

In any case, buena suerte with your search! Remember that the best way to find out about all this is to come down and visit various places in various seasons to see what suits you best. There is no substitute for "boots on the ground."
 

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The 1st question you need to ask is beach or no beach. There are pros and cons to both but you need decide. 2nd question is how much expat company do you want. This is a language question but also a life style question. Let's assume that beach not an issue and that at least to start, you want to make the transition as easy as possible. Given these, I would think that you have two choices, Lake Chapala area or San Miguel. We went through this decision about 6 years ago and decided on San Miguel. My wife is a painter and I am a history buff/wanderer. I don't have a lot of personal experience with Lake Chapala but the pros/cons versus San Miguel occur a lot. My view is that San Miguel is more pure art with a very heavy artist population and a lot more historical. We love going to Tlacapaque and the Tonala markets in the Guadalahara area but it is too big for me.
In fact, after 4 years, we decided that San Miguel was great but a little too crowded for living full time. We starting looking in the surropunding country side and ended up in Mineral de Pozos, 45 min away.
I wrote an article on this for the Our Mexico website called Magical Tranquility that you can find by googling Mineral de Pozos.
Anyway, I would suggest San Miguel to start as very easy transition and a great base. Costs very but a lot of expats live on less than $2K/month. 1st, you don't need a car to get araound, utilities are cheap as no air conditioning and heat is gas logs to take off the chill on colder mornings. San Miguel gets into 70's basically everyday and rarely out of the low 80's except May which is the warmest month.
Once you get settled, you can explore Guanajuato, Dolores, San Luis Potosi and Queretaro to see what you might like. About 50% of the people that start in San Miguel stay there and the rest use it as a cultural base and stay within 30-45 minutes.
 

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I've been doing my homework on this for two years now. Best book on the subject is "Retirement Without Border". Panama offers the greater incentives with Costa Rica being a good spot to investigate...large expat community...The Canadian Club of Costa Rica being a good starting point.(My son was there for two weeks prior to Christma and while he loved it...the heat and humidity he described is not my cup of tea.):plane: But if Mexico is your choice...and it may be mine...I'd choose San Miguel de Allende. World Heritage designation as are two other cities within about 60 miles.i.e. Queretero is gorgeous and the choice of many expats. Going to wait to see what this year brings for Mexico though. A businessman and good friend who has lived there off and on for years is caling it a failed state.
 

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Great Info

I commented out of turn I see....caught your message after leaving mine. Will check out your blog next...but am very interested in how you both feel about the move to Mineral de Pozos. Haven't a lot to retire on....the ex didn't believe in CPP so going to be tring to do it on 1200. a month. Slim pickings I realize. But I have found two bedroom aparmtnets being offered in San Miguel for 300-350 CD and they look nice. Would it be your guess that a single frugal artist...cannot live on that amount in San Miguel? I know I can do it in Ecuador, and Costa Rica but not sure if I can swing it in San Miguel. Would very much appreciate your advice...going to be doing this alone.
 

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We love Pozos but as I said in my rambling "story", it isn't everyone's cup of tea. I'd probably start with San Miguel as very easy way to test and a big artist community. If you decide to move to Mexico beyond tourist visa, you need check on the new income minimums.
 
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