“La Vida Cheapo – Revisited”

April 11, 2009

“La Vida Cheapo – Revisited”

In April 2004 Barry Golson wrote an article entitled “The Vida Cheapo” which caused a lot of interest about retirement in Mexico and at Lake Chapala Ajijic in particular.

Now that five years has swiftly slipped by I thought it would be fun to take a look at how our area was perceived then and how I perceive it now.

Some things have changed and some things have not.

The cost of living here is still very very affordable. Golson wrote in his article…” For 600 bucks a month, retirees in Mexico can live in a three-bedroom home, with a gardenaer. For a cool thousand…well, you won’t believe it” and yes this is still very much the case.

Regarding health care he wrote, “…on Mexican health care, which, as we find, is a popular topic among expats. Though U.S. citizens living in Mexico are not covered by Medicare for doctors’ visits and medical services (unless they travel back to the U.S.), the national insurance program is available to foreigners and costs about $300 a year. There is private insurance as well, at prices considerably cheaper than in the U.S., though costs have been rising.”

Yep, that’s the same too.

Then he quotes a retiree named Levy as saying,

“Levy says Americans she knows, many on modest incomes, pay for medical expenses out of pocket, because fees and lab costs are so reasonable. They’ll use insurance only for major procedures. “I’ve had back surgery and my gall bladder out, and the care was excellent,” she says. Virtually all drugs except controlled substances are available without prescriptions. “I pay $40 an office visit,” Levy says. “And did I mention how nice it is to sit and really talk to a doctor?”

The only difference here is that now the cost of an office visit is now under $40 USD at Lake Chapala Ajijic.

Next Golson quotes the same expat as saying, “We had another reason for traveling south of the border: to see what it would cost. According to my research, something like half of the people in my generation haven’t saved enough to retire comfortably. Meaning, if we hope to kick back in the lifestyle to which we’ve become accustomed, one of three things will have to happen. We’ll have to either a) save a lot of money fast or b) win the lottery.”

Does any of this sound familiar today !

A few paragraphs later the author begins to focus in on Lake Chapala and says, “We pack our bags and taxi south to Lake Chapala, a $30 ride. The view as we approach is breathtaking-a 50-mile-long lake, no urban haze, all sun and hills and marshes. Idyllic, but looks can be deceiving: the lake is polluted by industrial waste upriver. Where once there was fishing and water sports, the lake is now a view, nothing more. There have been ongoing efforts to clean it up, including a hands-around-the-lake protest several years ago, but significant results seem a long way off.”

Well finally something has changed in 5 years,

Lake Chapala is no longer in the grip of horrible pollution. While not totally out of the woods completely Lake Chapala is now well on it’s way to a healthy recovery.

See this article to see the current condition.

It is now safe to swim in Lake Chapala  and even to eat the fish caught from it. We’re now seeing recreational boating, water skiing and the like again and the lake even sports a Party Ferry boat, kayak rentals and a greatly increased water volume making it more beautiful than ever.

A bit later the author interviews other ex pats at Lake Chapala:

“… I meet a wide range of retirees over the next several days. We see gorgeous homes, landscaped with all of the dazzling garden foliage the climate encourages (“Stick a clothespin in the ground here, and it’ll grow,” says Ross-Merrimer). And while we didn’t collect data in a formal way, we were struck by how consistently retirees spoke of the reasonable cost of living in Lakeside compared with where they’d lived before. Here are a few of the comments we recorded. On housing: “A house that costs $600,000 in Phoenix might cost $300,000 here.” On taxes: “Real estate taxes in a New York suburb can run $12,000 a year for a house this size; here they’re $67.” On utilities: “Gas and electricity are $600 a month in Chicago; here it’s $100.” (Electricity in Mexico is expensive, but at Lakeside, there’s little need for air conditioning.) And finally, on amenities: “A maid in New Jersey, if you can afford one, can be $100 a day. Here, it’s $5 to $10 a day.”

Well much of this is the same now except I suspect the prices of those homes mentioned in Phoenix may not be as expensive now due to the housing crisis in the USA, but the rest of the statements strike me as still true.

Next Golson states referring to Karen Blue and Judy King…“Blue and King join us for lunch to talk about life in Lakeside for those without fat pensions or golden parachutes. Our first question: “Can Americans live comfortably here on their Social Security checks?” The answer is an unqualified yes.”

Strike another one up for things remaining the same as this continues to be the case here at Lake Chapala Ajijic.

So, as you can see life here at least for the last five years has remained almost the same… except that now the area has several new shopping centers, a new WalMart, a new Sorriana ( A Mexican version of a Big Box Store, a bunch of new wonderful restaurants and the old stand bys that have stood the test of time, high speed fiber optic DSL Internet, and an exchange rate that is the best in over 6 years now hovering at around 14 pesos for each US dollar and at about 10 pesos for each Canadian dollar.

So, while we are getting older we certainly are also getting better.

Has your area gotten better. Come join us to see the new and improved Lake Chapala Ajijic area.

We’ll leave the light on for you!

Want to know more about Lake Chapala Ajijic Mexico?

Then you owe it to yourself to give me a call or send me an e mail for a one on one consultation which is my gift to you for considering a move here.

Email for more information:

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