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Old 08-20-2014, 12:33 PM
 
Location: Silicon Valley
18,094 posts, read 22,952,534 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by signalfire View Post
Ever thought of Lake Chapala, Mexico, or any of the other ex-pat filled towns in Mexico? Cost of living is supposed to be much less, medical care as good as the US and much cheaper, and depending on where you go, air travel to the US not a big issue. The central highlands in the Lake Chapala area are supposed to have some of the best weather in the world, eternal spring-like, rainy season is summertime. The coastlines will be hotter and filled with tourists and the Baja is famous for being a bit of a hide out for people who need to do that sort of thing (from the law) but I've also heard people rave about the feeling of freedom compared to the US. One friend who retired there after the military said he would never return to the US...

Here's a randomly picked blog, a quick googling will bring up much information: Our New House in Mexico - RambleCrunch | RambleCrunch
I actually moved to Ajijic on Lake Chapala in 1999 and moved back in 2000. My thought was to retire early there. I couldn't wait to get back.

For one thing, the truth of living in Mexico, even in an ex-pat area, is that most people in the area do NOT speak English. Don't believe it when they say you don't need to know Spanish.

You can shop at Wal-Mart (I heard they built one at the lake, but I shopped at the one in Guadalajara), but all of the products will have Spanish labels. Any of the clerks you need help from won't speak English. Same for Costco and Sam's Club, etc.

The ex-pat community is VERY, VERY small. Think about being part of a community of a handful of people you see all the time.

The people I met who moved there mostly wished they hadn't done it. They pretty much sold everything, and now can't move back.

The towns have very limited numbers of phone numbers. You have to get on a waiting list to get a phone number. They don't create new ones. And, after waiting about 6 months to get a phone number (and the internet that would go with that), the only way I finally got a number, was to have someone I met, who knew someone at the phone company, get me a number. The bribery system is alive and well in Ajijic. My phone number was not free.

Anything you want to get done will take EONS longer than you can ever imagine. One of the beautiful things about the Mexican culture, is if someone needs help, or a friend has a party, they drop everything and go. Unfortunately, this will often be the workers you are waiting for.

Picture going to the local hardware store and trying to explain that you need a 5/8" bolt, if you don't speak Spanish. And everything is behind the counter, so you will have to get the clerk to go find things to hold up for you to point at or do some kind of drawing for what you need. And if you think your Spanish is pretty good, it can't cover situations like this.

And cable, internet, electricity is VERY expensive. Living in Mexico is not cheap, if you want to live like an American does. Gasoline is very expensive. Their sales tax is through the roof.

You can be arrested for wearing a t-shirt that can be considered political. You don't have the same rights as a Mexican citizen as far as freedom of speech.

If you try to make friends with Mexicans, you will always be an outsider. This is a different culture with different cues and body language. They find teasing offensive, for instance. Just when you feel comfortable enough to joke around with someone, you can make a permanent mistake by offending them with something that would be funny here.

I could go on and on.

The good things I got from living in Ajijic: 1) My best friend from Canada, who also couldn't wait to leave, but they had a house they had to sell first (and the seller's relatives were fighting in court over whether or not my friends had the right to buy it and who owned it, on and on). 2) the realization that I love America and will never move away from her again.

A lot of the blogs and websites you will find about the Lake Chapala area are done by people who want to sell their places, or who are real estate agents.

There is also a LOT of crime. I met several ex-pats living in Ajijic who had been mugged. Home invasions are not uncommon, either. The bars on the windows of the houses are there for very good reason.

At any rate, go visit. Rent for at least a year before buying anything. And really check into what you would do if you needed health care. The health care in Mexico is good, but not free. Really educate yourself about whether or not your Medicare or other health insurance will cover, etc.

It didn't work for me. I don't even want to ever go back to Mexico to visit. Neither does my Canadian friend, though her husband would (he likes being far from her family lol!). The magic is gone for us.

I sold my condo to move to Mexico, and what I should have done is keep it, and rent it out, while I rented a place to try out living in Mexico. I should have kept the condo. That's what I'd advise anyone thinking of moving to any other country to retire.

Oh, forgot to mention the mouse-sized scorpions.... and the packs of feral dogs you need to be careful of. Forget walking your dog around town...

Last edited by NoMoreSnowForMe; 08-20-2014 at 12:43 PM.. Reason: forgot about the scorpions and feral dogs...
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Old 08-20-2014, 02:46 PM
 
Location: Sierra Vista, AZ
16,133 posts, read 20,822,095 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by StealthRabbit View Post
in Tuscon there are some nice Senior co-housing, Intentional community options, and a few Co-ops.

ic.org might help,
The Cohousing Directory | The Cohousing Association

I see a lot of options on a simple Google Search.
I didn"t go into enough detail, I am an Army Retiree and a Disabled Veteran. I need to be in close proximity to Davis Monthan AFB, and the VA Hospital. Those criteria eliminate almost all of the searches. There are plenty of houses but the last thing i need is another house.
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Old 08-21-2014, 11:36 AM
 
Location: SW US
2,218 posts, read 2,035,221 times
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Would a townhouse work for you, or a patio home? I think here may be more of those than of apartment type condos. Apartments are mainly rentals. The area around the VA may not be the safest place to live.
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Old 08-25-2014, 10:18 AM
 
Location: St. George, Utah
756 posts, read 883,768 times
Reputation: 1971
We are some years out from retirement, but trying to muddle through all these difficult questions so that we make the right choices, and set ourselves up for the sort of retirement we had imagined. We want to have our course laid out (with some flexibility) ahead of time. Threads like this one help me immensely.

Priorities for us are our children, warm weather, golf/other activities, and for me accessibility to a beach. Of course nearby health care will be a bigger and bigger consideration, but we are accustomed to the level of care offered by our small city, so are not too hard to please right now. We like to have options for socializing, but value our privacy as well.

With 4 kids, who knows where they'll all end up? That's the wild card. We'd love to be part of their daily lives but that will likely not be a reality. So we'd like to live somewhere that I'd have a chance of having them gathered at the table for Thanksgiving from time to time!

This brings us to the problem many on this thread are having, and at this point we are wrestling with whether we need to have THREE locations to meet our needs! At the same time, prices in coastal areas are prohibitive for us except in a few remaining spots, so I feel pressure that if we're going to get a coastal property, it needs to be soon. Aaaah! High stakes. With real estate, one always feels they have just missed the boat.

Now, I should have listed as priority number 1 for me: Feeling settled. Feeling "home."

We have already settled on Phoenix as our winter place, and bought a small home there last spring. It's affordably accessible from MT (no small thing), and drivable if we must. Buying now gives our kids a chance to get to know the area and feel like it is a sort of second home to them as well, we hope.

We chose a planned community in the Phoenix area instead of an age-restricted one. We could have qualified for one of the 45+ communities, and have friends who did so. Lots of fun things about those communities, and we found a really wide variety of activity levels even in different sections of larger communities, but definitely between different communities. A big drawback for us was the activity fee which seemed pretty steep to us. Our HOA fee will almost certainly rise, but it's nowhere near the fees we saw in the ARCs. We also just felt like we prefer a bigger mix of age groups, etc., so we focused our search on "regular" planned communities. One downside of this is that we found in a retirement community, locking and leaving the home is very easy, with really no worries. It is not quite as simple in our "regular" neighborhood, though there are plenty of services available to help. That's something to consider for those, like us, thinking of snowbirding.

The section of the planned community (mix of ages) we chose has smaller houses and is largely retired folks and snowbirds, but still a mix. We're near an elementary school and we like that. We like the variety of residents, and can see ourselves being in that home (though it's small) and most definitely that community long-term, probably until we need ongoing care. It's a practical choice, and I love the dry heat (even in summer) and the desert's beauty. The community offers clubs and social activities if we want to join up, so in that way we've not compromised one of the big benefits of the ARC.

Still, I would really like to have regular access to a beach!! Some people you cannot please....

Back "home" in Montana--will we keep the current house so that my children have a place to "come home" to? That's a difficult question for me. Montana is beautiful and unique. I do appreciate all it has to offer. I love that my kids love it, and that they feel connected. But all my life it's never felt like "home" to me. The weather for literally 8 weeks in the summer is nice. The fall weather is lovely, and I don't even mind a little bit of winter. It's the long, cold, windy "spring" (really just more winter) that wears me down every year. We have acreage that's a challenge to maintain even now, and we'd definitely need to hire a lot of help in the future. I suppose it will depend on whether the children stick around MT as adults or not--we'll surely have 4 different opinions on what we should do if we asked them, so I want to make the choice based on what's best for DH and myself. Trying to get that clear in my head, and it's hard! Do we hang onto the largest asset we own for nostalgia's sake? And if we sell it, well, that's such a permanent break. What if we change our minds?

Do I wander about, renting, as suggested here and in other threads, then, trying to find my "home" for the next few years? We've been back and forth heavily in the past 2 weeks as to whether to pursue a coastal property (Florida panhandle or NC) or just rent there for a month or so every year, and never own. I have never rented in my life. I am a real estate junkie from way back. I like to own, and I like to be settled. I like a place to look the way I want it to look, lol. (Control Freak?!) We'll take a trip or two in the next year to begin the decision-making process. I don't think wanting to decorate a beach house in my preferred colors is probably a great reason to buy, lol. If we purchase a coastal home, it will likely need to be a vacation rental that produces income when we're not using it. That's a part-time job in itself.

I can imagine splitting time between 2 homes, but I'm not so sure about three. The upkeep alone would be a pain. I think we are coming to the conclusion that we'll have to let go of some of the things we'd hoped to have. Always compromises to make.
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Old 08-25-2014, 10:51 AM
 
Location: SoCal desert
8,093 posts, read 13,231,206 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Montanama View Post
We've been back and forth heavily in the past 2 weeks as to whether to pursue a coastal property (Florida panhandle or NC) or just rent there for a month or so every year, and never own.
My brother and sister-in-law live and own in a snowy cold area of the country.
For the past 7 years, they've been renting a condo on South Padre Island TX for 1 to 2 months a year.
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Old 08-25-2014, 03:43 PM
 
Location: St. George, Utah
756 posts, read 883,768 times
Reputation: 1971
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gandalara View Post
My brother and sister-in-law live and own in a snowy cold area of the country.
For the past 7 years, they've been renting a condo on South Padre Island TX for 1 to 2 months a year.
Ah! South Padre was the first area we considered, mainly for its affordability, when we started this process. Phoenix won out over SPI because it takes dang near a full day's air travel to get there from MT, while we can get to Phx in under 4 hours. I'm still open to renting there. After a LOT of research I'm not as excited about owning there, but it's still a place I'd like to spend some time.

For that matter, a few comments on these forums about rising sea levels sometimes makes me wonder if buying on a beach is.advisable at all, lol. We'll see . VRBO is going to be our friend in the next 2 years as we continue this process.
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Old 08-25-2014, 04:09 PM
 
Location: SoCal desert
8,093 posts, read 13,231,206 times
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Quote:
Ah! South Padre was the first area we considered, mainly for its affordability, when we started this process. Phoenix won out over SPI because it takes dang near a full day's air travel to get there from MT, while we can get to Phx in under 4 hours.
They get in the car and drive. Slowly. They explore, LOL
Usually takes them a week or so to get there.
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Old 08-25-2014, 05:34 PM
 
Location: St. George, Utah
756 posts, read 883,768 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gandalara View Post
They get in the car and drive. Slowly. They explore, LOL
Usually takes them a week or so to get there.
It would us too--in retirement we will likely drive wherever we're going. Right now, travel time is of the essence. We're trying not to make TOO many decisions based on proximity to MT (in case we don't keep a home base here) but for now it is a factor. That's why Phoenix came first.

I hear more about surfing in South Padre than NC or FLA panhandle, so that was appealing to us as well. I know nothing about surfing, but if we buy near a beach we'd like for it to be one where our younger daughter can get some more lessons and practice in. She is Hawaiian at heart.

I also love the idea of Texas, but really haven't spent enough time there to know how well we'd fit in. Since all the places we are looking are in the south, we do wonder if we'll always feel like outsiders. I think near the beaches there will tend to be more transplants, retirees, and vacationers, though.

Last edited by Montanama; 08-25-2014 at 05:55 PM..
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Old 08-25-2014, 06:11 PM
 
Location: We_tside PNW (Columbia Gorge) / CO / SA TX / Thailand
22,558 posts, read 39,944,045 times
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What is you nearest affordable airport in MT?. My Powell, WY location choice missed out due to having to drive to DEN for a direct flight. I still have desire for WY and MT but it will only happen for a few yrs. Probably will stay within access to Spokane or Bozeman or Whitefish. Tuscon was on the list, but not cheap airfare (tho cheap airport parking!). Too brown for SO.

Since I get only 90 days of decent summer in rainy PNW, I like to jet out of here a lot, and Portland airport is 20 min away. Nice!

I bought my various rural acreage places based on ez accessible, direct, and CHEAP airfare. (I can choose AUS or SAT to access my Hill Country, TX place, and DEN as a hub keeps CO accessible). East bound does eat up a day travel, but how far can you get in a car in 6 hrs and under $100. each. I keep a cheap diesel car at each location (<$1000) They are happy to sit several months or even yrs and still run fine.

The main home is rented at each location and I stay in guest house (free).
The renters take care of acreage, but I still have plenty to do 2x a yr in PWN GROWTH zone to keep major stuff done. (field grass will grow to 7' during June). Plants / trees add a few ft too.

Main home has a daylight basement apartment (1800 SF) that rents for enough to pay taxes, utilities, and insurance, + someone to take care of animals and acreage. We keep 'happy' renters and if we need the whole place for family... we provide accommodation for renter to 'vacation' at beach (one hour) or Mtn (1 hr) or nearby scenic lodges (15 min).

Works OK, and is of minimal hassle and decent cash flow (for pre age 50 retirees / no pension / SS / HC).

Beach home is not in our future. They are very EZ to rent once you establish report with an absentee owner. (vacant most the time...)

Better to put your RE equity into something that WORKS for you while you play. (NNN commercial property).
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Old 08-25-2014, 10:02 PM
 
Location: St. George, Utah
756 posts, read 883,768 times
Reputation: 1971
Quote:
Originally Posted by StealthRabbit View Post
What is you nearest affordable airport in MT?. My Powell, WY location choice missed out due to having to drive to DEN for a direct flight. I still have desire for WY and MT but it will only happen for a few yrs. Probably will stay within access to Spokane or Bozeman or Whitefish. Tuscon was on the list, but not cheap airfare (tho cheap airport parking!). Too brown for SO.

Since I get only 90 days of decent summer in rainy PNW, I like to jet out of here a lot, and Portland airport is 20 min away. Nice!

I bought my various rural acreage places based on ez accessible, direct, and CHEAP airfare. (I can choose AUS or SAT to access my Hill Country, TX place, and DEN as a hub keeps CO accessible). East bound does eat up a day travel, but how far can you get in a car in 6 hrs and under $100. each. I keep a cheap diesel car at each location (<$1000) They are happy to sit several months or even yrs and still run fine.

The main home is rented at each location and I stay in guest house (free).
The renters take care of acreage, but I still have plenty to do 2x a yr in PWN GROWTH zone to keep major stuff done. (field grass will grow to 7' during June). Plants / trees add a few ft too.

Main home has a daylight basement apartment (1800 SF) that rents for enough to pay taxes, utilities, and insurance, + someone to take care of animals and acreage. We keep 'happy' renters and if we need the whole place for family... we provide accommodation for renter to 'vacation' at beach (one hour) or Mtn (1 hr) or nearby scenic lodges (15 min).

Works OK, and is of minimal hassle and decent cash flow (for pre age 50 retirees / no pension / SS / HC).

Beach home is not in our future. They are very EZ to rent once you establish report with an absentee owner. (vacant most the time...)

Better to put your RE equity into something that WORKS for you while you play. (NNN commercial property).
There are direct flights to Salt Lake, Denver, Phoenix, Minneapolis, Seattle, Las Vegas depending on where you are in MT--Missoula and Billings having more direct flights, then Great Falls and Bozeman, then Helena. I don't know about Butte, Kalispell. Might be a few other direct flights. So virtually anywhere you go, you're connecting which means more $$ and more time. Driving, fuhgeddaboudit of course if you're talking anywhere warm unless you've got serious time to spend on the road.

I know renting a beach house is a much more practical approach for the amount of time we'd want to be there. I am just so unaccustomed to renting, and I'm still working through this emotional (silly) idea of finding "home" somewhere--which would be my own of course, not someone else's. I go back and forth between feeling like the beach is a pipe dream and feeling like it's MY pipe dream and I don't want to compromise it!

It sounds like you've got it working nicely, and you've given me some great ideas to consider! For now we'll keep exploring the options in NC and FL as we've been discussing. I did see a few listings with two or more houses included--now I see how that could be a real plus for us.

Oh, I know all about being practical with our real estate investments, but we're so far beyond that now it's not even funny....well it's kind of funny.
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