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Post by pamarie on Wed Jun 11, 2014 4:52 pm

I'm a newbie on here. I am looking to retire in Lake Chapala if if if....many ifs but mainly I'm here to ask is it realistic to afford to live on low income under 1200/month covering basic needs, I'm very simple in my needs; rent, basic TV, Internet, phone, food, insurance, electirc, gas, water, car insu./upkeep, pet food/vet and medical insurance would like a maid and gardner. I would rather cook for myself than eat out, because I love to cook and I see eating out as a special event not ordinary and I prefer to spend money traveling than eating! I will have the means to buy a house for under 80K if there is a good place to buy, but that hinders on many ifs as well....So is it wise to buy a house after being there for 6 mos. to a year or better to just rent ongoing? When is the best time to rent places long term and where is the best location to stay while looking and deciding on a place to rent? I'm a single woman who is very independent and prefers to live alone but I want to feel safe and I don't want to struggle with contractors being a single woman and not being real fluent in Spanish although I plan on learning the native language out of honor and respect.
I worry over the scorpions and spiders, I'm extremely afraid of spiders, I'd probably faint if I ever were to be confronted with a tranchula!! They really creep me out! I would have a dog because I would always feel better with a pet than without for so many reasons! And finally I do worry about the gringos being robbed and murdered even though its not as much crime here in the states it all relative because it's in a foreign country it's a whole other ball game with legalities there than here.

Sorry for the book! Thank you for any feedback. Pam.

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Post by brigitte on Wed Jun 11, 2014 5:03 pm

tarentulas are not dangerous, they will bite if you bother them but you will not die plus we do not have them in the Ajijic area. THy live in the jungle not around here.
Last year we were in the jungle near Palenque and a guide grabbed a taentula and started having her walk all over people thenhe grabbed her back and she tung him..should teach him to bother spiders.

What kind of visa are you planning to come in with?

By the way you may ask the moderator to move your thread to the general forum to get more responses.

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Post by pamarie on Wed Jun 11, 2014 6:31 pm

Thank you Brigette. I read that someone did experience seeing Tarentulas at Lakeside higher up in the mountain areas though but still part of Lakeside area. Scorpions would bother me a lot too, but not nearly as much as spiders do! My daughter lived in Mexico City for 6 years and only got stung once at a party during the mating season for them. She said it freaked her out but the sting was less painful than a bee sting and she had no allergic reaction to it.

I'm unsure but I'm thinking I would just come in on a temporal or tourist visa and hop over the border when it would be time to renew it. I know I wouldn't qualify for a permanent one because of my income with the new laws they have in place. I have to sort out how to get medical insurance while there as well. So much to look into which I'm making a list as I'm thinking all this over. Really would like to get my hands on Sid's book and attend the Focus on Mexico program.

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Post by Chapalagringa on Wed Jun 11, 2014 6:55 pm

Pam, I'm the one that wrote about the tarantulas but we haven't seen any for a couple of years.  If I was going to go house hunting for you I know exactly where I'd put you :)

There's a little subdivision called Coto La Mora.  It's located in Riberas del Pilar on the lake side between Chapala and San Antonio Tlayacapan.  The homes are smaller but cute and I know the "coto" pretty well.  It's safe, has a family feel and it's rather refreshing.  The kids will play hide and go seek at night.   There are a few other gringos that live in there and homes rent for about 2000 pesos a month.  They cost about $65K and with the money you save, you could add an extra floor to have a view of the lake.   I don't think you're going to find any home that couldn't possibly have a bug in it but there are ways to work around that.  Stay on top of the spraying schedule and you should live fairly bug free, you can at least have the outside around the home,windows and door frames sprayed.  You'd be close to the walking/biking lane, city buses and shopping.   The houses are wall to wall but that is part of the security in living there.  The neighbors look out for each other which is important for security.  Little yard work and small home so not much maintenance.  There is a small community pool and rec area for little get togethers.  Fees or dues are low.  There's a gate and remote.  Living light will leave your pocket book with plenty left over for traveling and little responsibilities at "home."  For those who like to travel, it's not a good idea to leave your home vacant for vacations so living somewhere like la mora will be a benefit because your neighbors will watch your home for you while you are away.  

http://www.casasyterrenos.com/detalle-casa/venta-ribera+del+pilar-chapala-jalisco-45900-442456

this home was done up a bit, they're asking about $85 which is high, imo, an old listing from 2010 explains the price.  These homes have a little den between the bedrooms apart from the living/dining area.
http://chapala.olx.com.mx/hermosa-casita-en-riberas-del-pilar-chapala-iid-46669433#
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Post by LaChula on Wed Jun 11, 2014 7:19 pm

I noticed this house says no pets.  Is that a policy of the Coto or just that owner?

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Post by CanuckBob on Wed Jun 11, 2014 8:44 pm

To answer the OP's original question.........

It would be difficult to live here comfortably on $1200 per month if you have to pay rent out of that. Rent for a decent place is going to cost $500 USD per month plus utilities (say $100 month for phone/internet, elec. and propane). That would leave you $600 per month. This will not likely cover a maid, gardener, vehicle insurance/upkeep, vets, medical insurance and food as you have requested above.

Having a vehicle and pets can be a huge unknown $$ each month. And medical insurance will depend on your age and health.
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Post by Chapalagringa on Wed Jun 11, 2014 10:16 pm

Yes, there are owners/renters with pets.  

Wow, if I were a single gal, I could live quite well on $1200 month! But, i guess I may be frugal chic ;0)  She said she prefers cooking for herself which will save her loads from eating out.   She could come down and live Mexican and be very comfortable on $1200.  But if she wasn't comfortable in La Cota Mora, it will be bit more difficult, not impossible to find a safe rental for under $300.  I guess I can chime in for another side.  I was in a home last week that had more Mexican charm but there really wasn't a living room.  The bedroom was a great size, had a huge full kitchen, nice garden but I didn't feel it was nearly as secure as la cota.
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Post by zenwoodle on Wed Jun 11, 2014 10:49 pm

I agree with cbob, 1200 a month, exclusive of rent, is cutting it tight.
In just the past year we have seen inflation at my estimate of 10+ % on many items.
Yes, it can be done, but you need to give it a whole lotta thought and a bigger bunch of research before you take that first step.
Many people on the boards (myself included) own their home, and many others rent.
The benefits of one over the other are an entirely different discussion, but if your 1200 a month does not cover accommodation, you will be struggling.
That said, I love it here.  Beer
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Post by CheenaGringo on Wed Jun 11, 2014 11:23 pm

How are you planning to explain how $1200/month meets the current income requirements of Immigration?

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Post by Chapalagringa on Wed Jun 11, 2014 11:31 pm

you can't get a temporal with $1200???
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Post by Flamingo on Thu Jun 12, 2014 12:03 am

Cheena - You get what we used to call a Tourist Visa and cross the border every 6 months.

First, you can find rentals under $500 but you have to look around. Living in villages other than Ajijic lower the rental prices considerably. You could live frugally but comfortably for $1200 a month.

In 6 years I have only seen one Tarantula and that was in Brisias de Chapala. And he moved pretty slow so I figured even I could out run him.

I would think long and hard before investing a big hunk of your nest egg in buying a house. Make very sure you are going to want to stay for a good long time.

I suggest you get a copy of "Living at Lakeside" by Judy King. She offers a wealth of down to earth tips.
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Post by Sunnyvmx on Thu Jun 12, 2014 7:14 am

I've been living on $1300 now $1400 going on seven years. First five years in Catemaco, Veracruz and now in Lakeside, in Riberas. I prefer to rent and keep my savings for medical instead of buying. I paid out of pocket for two surgeries necessary to save my life from a burst appendix and I'm replacing that $10,000 from what I save each month. I can't say that I live frugally with 8 pet birds and an extensive container garden including many orchids. My car is a scooter so I do save on gas. I never refuse an invitation to go out to eat and at home my food choices are mainly fresh fruits and veggies, meat and seafood. I love shopping the Bazars and garage sales for kitchen needs, furniture, home decorations, plants and clothing. Most buys are from expensive homes where residents are moving back NOB and I could never afford to buy new. The housecleaner comes weekly for 3 hours and she's paid 150 pesos ($11.50). I've just rented a lovely one bedroom casita with covered garage (patio for me), internet and cable TV incl. for $400 or 5000 pesos. I pay gas and electric. This is on a quiet street in an upscale neighborhood. I just received my Residente Permanente, but if I had to make a trip to the border every 180 days, I wouldn't mind, especially if it was a 4 day snorkel trip to Belize.

I could never live like this in the U.S. and I love it here for more reasons than just the financial aspect. There are many of us here living well for less and from what you wrote I believe you can too. If you would like to hear more, send me a PM.
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Post by Mainecoons on Thu Jun 12, 2014 7:27 am

First off, you may or may not be able to get a Temporal depending on the size of your bank account.  Otherwise you will have to go to the border every 180 days, turn in your Tourist visa and get a new one.  The  new immigration rules are making it hard for people with limited incomes to reside here full time.

You would have to live very frugally NOB on $1200, you can live better here as the above post shows with a little planning.  Rentals outside of Ajijic are less.  I'd look for a casita somewhere where you are not responsible for upkeep of the grounds.  It would be nice to have a maid once per week but not mandatory in a smaller, less expensive place.

Without a pool, you should be able to keep electric bills reasonable.  It is not necessary to either heat or cool a home here.

Look for a rental in Chapala, Riberas or San Antonio first.  Prices will be less there and with Chapala, you can walk to virtually all shopping easily.  Just pay attention to the neighborhood noise level before you commit, that is also true of San Antonio.

With a little common sense you should be able to live considerably better here on that amount of money than in the U.S.  Of course you'll need to take medical into account as well.  If you have Medicare and established doctors, you would spend little on medical there but here you pay cash for doctors and medicines.

This is a good time to come down and check it out as there are a fair number of rentals available now.  Landlords generally prefer full time, as opposed to seasonal, tenants and generally you can negotiate a better rent on that basis.

SunnyMx sounds like a great contact for you!
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Post by Zedinmexico on Thu Jun 12, 2014 7:40 am

You might do it if you split a house or rent a room but I agree with others it is a little tight. No room for car  in your budget.  How about group housing in Riberas near Mirasol. I have a couple of friends living there and they like it. Someone else might know the name. Michael is one of the folks running it. Do study the inflation problem as you might live on this amount now but in future ???. Chapala will be cheaper but more mexican. I like San Antonio. Its a wonderful village and you can walk to Ajijic without walking along the highway which is a big plus. If I left Ajijic I would go to San Antonio first Chapala second. Chapala is a great walking town. Ajijic is hills and narrow sidewalks. I would rent first. Come to LCS or American Legion in Chapala and meet some folks when you get here. People are very generous with time and help to newbies here because we all went through this at one time.

I have a Tarantula in the garage that I am taking care of for a Canadian off season.  They really are quite nice and nothing to worry about here.  Look up Black widow and Brown (??) Recluse. These are the ones you have to look for.  Also get a tube of topical (cream) antihistamine as it is very useful for spider bites.
In six years had one bad bite.  Antihistamine cream took care of it.  Actually we have more spiders in Oregon than here as CG will attest to. Scorpions are little for the most part about 1 to 2 inches. Wear shoes and shake em out before putting em on if you live in an open house which many of us do.  I would say these are more a problem than spiders. We don't have the big ones around much like they do in the deserts of US. I never had the fear because I am use to the larger ones up north but one does look in Corners and under things you will find them eventually especially if you live on the hills.  Seemed fewer down by the lake in my opinion.

Z

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Post by CanuckBob on Thu Jun 12, 2014 8:15 am

It really depends on ones definition of "comfortable". I wouldn't want to live down here on $1200 per month. Maybe 10 years ago but not now. High inflation has been a budget killer and I think it is going to continue as the Mexican economy grows. It seems some things have doubled in price over the past 10 years here.

CPI Mexico 2013 3.97 %  
CPI Mexico 2012 3.57 %  
CPI Mexico 2011 3.82 %  
CPI Mexico 2010 4.40 %  
CPI Mexico 2009 3.57 %  
CPI Mexico 2008 6.53 %  
CPI Mexico 2007 3.76 %  
CPI Mexico 2006 4.05 %  
CPI Mexico 2005 3.33 %  
CPI Mexico 2004 5.19 %

In the mid - late 90's there were a few years of double digit inflation.

$1200 10 years ago requires $1813 today.
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Post by Chapalagringa on Thu Jun 12, 2014 8:50 am

From my perspective I know what some people live off of, the working class, and as you said, it may not be comfortable to your standards but put it this way...when I read the post out loud last night there was an eruption of laughter and a, 'Heck ya," response.   Meaning, a single person could live comfortable on $1200.  10 years ago, $1600 a month is what a family of 4 could live off of.  May not have been super comfortable but it was happening.

and then there is another working class that lives a lot more "comfortable" than I will ever live.
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Post by Grizzy on Thu Jun 12, 2014 8:55 am

Are you coming down for a visit before you move? I would suggest contacting Tom at Hotel Perifico. He has bery affordable studio accomodations, nice grounds, dog friendly, social group, pool, etc. you need a car as it is up the hill but a wonderful place to land and look around.
I know many who live here on $1200 month amd do it well. It means living like locals rather than like gringos. And you get used to the spiders, cockroaches etc.
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Post by CanuckBob on Thu Jun 12, 2014 9:13 am

OK......I was answering the OP's original question which was "Can I live here comfortably on $1200 per month and have":

Rent
Food
Utilities
Maid
Gardener
Vehicle (insurance, maintenance, fuel)
Medical insurance
Vet costs (and pet food)

She didn't ask "How can I live there on $1200 per month"? We all know it is possible.
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Post by coffeeguy on Thu Jun 12, 2014 9:26 am

CanuckBob wrote:OK......I was answering the OP's original question which was "Can I live here comfortably on $1200 per month and have":

Rent
Food
Utilities
Maid
Gardener
Vehicle (insurance, maintenance, fuel)
Medical insurance
Vet costs (and pet food)

She didn't ask "How can I live there on $1200 per month"? We all know it is possible.

Exactly! We (a couple) live on ~$1600-1800 a month here, but: no car, no maid, no gardener, no pets, no TV, lots of local food and bare-bones catastrophic insurance. We also know the ropes, and here as anywhere else it takes time - figure a year or more at a minimum - to learn how and where to shop, how to find rentals, etc.

As others have pointed out, your money still goes a lot further here than N.O.B., but if the OP has or soon will have Medicare or the like I would really factor that in, as N.O.B. you do have some sort of safety net and here you are on your own. On $1200 I'd think you'd be looking at a studio or small 1 BR apartment or casita for under 4000 pesos in order to have enough for everything else, but forget about the car, maid, gardener etc. Good luck whatever you decide!

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Post by CanuckBob on Thu Jun 12, 2014 9:48 am

There are places in the warm states (Florida, Arizona) where one can almost live as "frugally" as here in Mexico now. I suspect that is one of the reasons the American ex-pat population is declining here.
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Post by Jerry00 on Thu Jun 12, 2014 9:53 am

I lived in Mexico for over fifteen years 1997 till 2012.  Currently I live in Florida and my expenses are no more  than in Mexico.  Plus I have Medicare.  My medical expenses in Mexico were over 70,000 dollars.
The inflation figures that were quoted were official figures.  In reality the they were much higher.

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Post by CanuckBob on Thu Jun 12, 2014 10:41 am

Thanks for confirming Jerry. I agree that the actual inflation here in Mexico was probably higher than those published figures. The gap between NOB and México is slowing closing. If the trend continues Mexico will be around the same cost as many more places in the US within 10 - 15 years. And beyond that maybe the Mexicans will start retiring NOB as it will be cheaper for them........jajaja.
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Post by Chapalagringa on Thu Jun 12, 2014 3:28 pm

At least the exchange rate has been pretty good.
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Post by pamarie on Thu Jun 12, 2014 4:26 pm

Thank you all so much for the great feedback and especially recommending a place to me that is affordable! I follow another blog that Pat Walker owns and she lives in La Floresta on very low income but she lives in a one room casita and that wouldn't work for me. I need space and safety! She now has to climb over a barbed wired barrier to go anywhere and the blockage went up after the couple was murdered so brutally there. She had a very bad ankle and the board of the community wouldn't accommodate her at all so I'm not impressed by that community at all! Seems only the wealthy are heard! Not my cup of tea even if I had wealth I wouldn't live in a place that has no regard for the less fortunate!

I wouold live on $1200 if I bought a house for under 70-80K. If I don't buy I'll have about 1600 month to live on to rent instead. I'll be 63 when I plan to retire there. I'm looking at Mazatlan but I'm really drawn to Lakeside...it just keeps pulling me back and it's weird because I've never been there. I loved Soyolita (sorry spelling?) when my daughter took me there for a Christmas vacation while she was living in Mexico City.

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Post by CanuckBob on Thu Jun 12, 2014 4:54 pm

Both Sayulita and Mazatlan are great places but unbearably hot and humid for 6 months of the year. Unless you can afford the $300 - $400 per month for air conditioning you should really try living there for a few months in the summer to see if you can handle it.


The bottom line though is that only you can decide what your comfort level is and what you can survive on down here. Your best bet is to take a few exploratory trips to see what it takes.
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