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The Real Cost of Moving to and Living at Lake Chapala

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Post by CanuckBob on Fri Feb 11, 2011 6:56 pm

I saw the question posed on TOB and thought it was good. I would love to hear from the members here.

Q. After moving to the Lake (or anywhere in Mexico) what surprises did you get in terms of unexpected costs or unexpected situations? I know I have been planning this move out for 5 years now and would like to figure out what I may have not foreseen.
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Post by lucky on Fri Feb 11, 2011 8:17 pm

bob, the only unexpected costs i've had as a renter are the costs for the gardener/pool guy. like you, i did a lot of research online before i moved down here, and i knew i would likely have to pay for a housekeeper since most rentals require that.

but a few months ago i moved into a place with a large garden and a pool and, let me tell ya, pool guys are not cheap! and neither are the chemicals for the pool, although my landlord pays for those. but if you are going to buy, you need to add quite a lot to the budget if you're going to have a pool at your house.

the only other thing that kind of surprised me was how high your electric bill can get if you go into the DAC. and if you have a pool and a pool pump, you WILL go into the DAC.

oh, and travel expenses to get back NOB. that may change in the future, but right now i can't afford to fly to the US and my son can't afford to fly down here to see me. when i moved down here in early 2008, it only cost about $350US for my son to get a roundtrip ticket. now it's double that. so neither of us can afford to go visit the other.

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Post by David on Fri Feb 11, 2011 8:34 pm

We have a large pool and my experience (after almost 6 years) is that the pool chems are an incidental expense, and not enough to worry about. I spend about $400 pesos every 6 weeks for Chloro, about $30US, big deal. The key is have a gardener that is also a "pool guy." There's no need to pay a separate "pool guy," although many people do. You'll get a year's grace period on the CFE bill, after that you'll be stuck in DAC, so your electic bill will be higher than you'd like. As for me, an electric bill of $125 US average per month is still a bargain. Electricity is the ONLY thing here that's expensive by NOB standards. Everything else is a bargain, so get over it!

On a side note; Mexicans are enanmoured with chemicals. Our maid used to put about 5 different cleaning agents into our washing machine until we caught her. We couldn't figure out why we had to keep buying all these things! Gardeners and pool guys are the same; they'll have you buying all kinds of crap you don't need. So keep your eye on them and ask why they need 5 different kinds of ant killer, etc.. Our maid said, "But it says here on the the bottle that......" she thought it was all "truth." We know it's advertizing.

The other surprise expenses are maintenance. The sun eats everything' the paint on your house, your patio furniture, your pool cover, your exterior EVERYTHING. The electric power will eat your applicances, stereo, TV, satellite box, phone, modem, cordless phone, and computer if you don't have surge protectors and voltages regulators for them. The good news is that you can get ANYTHING repaired here for peanuts.
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Post by Intercasa on Fri Feb 11, 2011 8:57 pm

A real eye opener is insurance for nationalized vehicles. I'm looking to nationalize my 2003 VW Jetta and 2004 Chevy Tahoe Z71 4x4 and for the cars few offered full coverage and the one insurer that did quoted almost $7,000 pesos a year for the Jetta (I pay now less than $400 US for full coverage with Lewis & Lewis) and $17,000 for the Tahoe (I pay $900US per year with Allstate and a Santa Barbara address and have kept it there for use in the US.
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Post by David on Fri Feb 11, 2011 9:03 pm

Full coverage on a Mexican plated vehicle provides substantially more coverage than your "Tourist Policy" on your NOB plasted car. Hence, the higher cost. It's often better to "self-insure" for collision, etc. on a Mexican plated car. Read the policies before you decide which is best for you.
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Post by Intercasa on Fri Feb 11, 2011 10:32 pm

My tourist policy has all the bells and whistles, liability, collision, partial theft, vandalism, and comp.
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Post by hockables on Sat Feb 12, 2011 11:04 am

Gardeners & Pool Cleaners? Electric bills? All worthy worries to be sure... but what scares me is costs of cuttin loose... and that there is no goin back on some of those deals if'n you change your mind...

Realtor Fees, Capital Gains, Tax Penalties, to name a few...

Like the dude who is goin to get " Raped " when he tries to sell his house in Californi...

I'd worry a lot more about the costs of gett'n outta Dodge!!

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Post by CanuckBob on Sat Feb 12, 2011 11:43 am

Hocks, I'm trying to get into Dodge, not out of it. Have you experienced any unexpected costs or situations with your place down there?
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Post by hockables on Sat Feb 12, 2011 12:07 pm

Nope.... nuth'n bad to report....

Bought our place... Realtor was great... Fella who processed the Titles, & Estate was friendly enough... all the little bumps that always seem to happen, were all little bumps... nuth'n a little cash wouldn't fix....

Maid & Gardener are terrific... costs about $75 per month each
Taxes are soooo cheap..... I smile when I pay em....

Worst thing that happened in the Land Deal wuz when I got home a week later.... In the time it took for Processing funds between banks .... dollar dropped... and some f*@k'n b%nker wall street type s#n * a b*t@# took an extra $12,000.00 difference..

I ain't no mathematician but as I said.... I'd worry more about expenses cutt'n loose...

I'm figuring Realtor Fees alone will equal my Mex electric bill for many years... Blackeye

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Post by oncesubtle on Sat Feb 12, 2011 5:17 pm

CanuckBob wrote:I saw the question posed on TOB and thought it was good. I would love to hear from the members here.

Q. After moving to the Lake (or anywhere in Mexico) what surprises did you get in terms of unexpected costs or unexpected situations? I know I have been planning this move out for 5 years now and would like to figure out what I may have not foreseen.

With the amount of planning, research and visits you have made I doubt you will have many if any surprises. Our surprises were how inexpensive medical care and taxes are. That in itself is enough to offset any electric, water or maintenance issues that have popped up since we bought our home. Daily living gets more costly by buying imports, luxury items, dining out and travel but all that is optional. Otherwise, if you buy locally produced foods and products, a quality life can be very affordable and a life of luxury about the same as living norte.
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Post by Intercasa on Sun Feb 13, 2011 9:26 am

Real estate closing costs and mortgages are expensive here but there is no way around any of it, like 2% tax buyer pays, notary costs. Mortgage rates are averaging 9% for foreigners and for Mexicans 11% and these are the best rates ever. People complain but there are no other options, we aren't in Kansas anymore.
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Post by CanuckBob on Sun Feb 13, 2011 10:29 am

Can't real estate fee's be negotiated around the lake? I have never paid the "book" rate for fee's on any of my home sales. There's always someone who will do it for less especially if you have priced it right for a quick sale.
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Post by David on Sun Feb 13, 2011 10:41 am

Realtor commissions can sometimes be negotiated. You can shop for Notarios. The other fees are set by law.
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Post by Intercasa on Sun Feb 13, 2011 10:47 am

Closing costs are high and much can't be negotiated. Another shocker I forgot to add is that foreigners need 25% to 40% down payment minimum to be financed. So many people come down and assume they can do 5% or 10% down. Add to that the closing costs and realistically you need 35% to 50% of the sales price in order to finance and there is really no getting around it.
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Post by johninajijic on Sun Feb 13, 2011 10:58 am

Don't kid yourself that it's cheap to live in Mexico. It's not and I have 10 years of accurate figures to prove it. The ONLY thing that's cheap here is property taxes and car insurance.

Highest Expenses: Electricity, if you have a pool runs about $ 2400 pesos a month or $ 200. USD, higher than any of the highest cities NOB, considering you're not running A/C here.

Private Medical Insurance, depending on age. We pay $ 66,000. pesos a year or $5,500. USD.

Water Bill: $ 5,600. pesos/year or about $ 466. USD a year.
Home Insurance: 4 6300 pesos/year or $ 525. USD/year
Internet: $ 4,200 pesos/year or $350. USD/year or $ 29 per month
Satellite Service: $ 11,520 pesos/year or $ 960. USD/year or $ 80 per month
Car Insurance: $ 4,125 pesos/year or $344. USD/year (a 13 year old Ford Explorer)
Maid (3.5 hrs x 2 days/week): $ 14,472 pesos/year or $ 1206. USD/year
Pool Man: $ 7,020 pesos/year or $ 585 USD/year (3 x a week INCLUDING Chemicals)
Electricity: $ 30,068 pesos/year or $ 2505. USD/year or $ 209. per month
Telephone: $ 3,330 pesos/year or $ 277. USD/year or $ 23. per month
Propane Gas: $ 6,085 pesos/year or $ 507 USD/year or $ 42.25 per month
Gasoline: $ 6,200 pesos/year or $ 516 USD/year or $ 43. per month
Groceries: $ 64,486 pesos/year or $ 5,373 USD/year or $ 448. per month (eating well, buying US brands including Costco's meat, the best)
Dining Out: $ 11,774 pesos/year or $ 981 USD/year or $ 82 per month (twice a month)
DVD'S: $ 1560 pesos/year or $ 130 USD/year or $ 11 per month
Gardener: $ 8,250 pesos/year or $ 687. USD/year or $ 57 per month (we do much of our own)

HERE'S THE KILLER: Repairs and Maintenance of a house.
Repairs, Maintenance and Misc: $ 58,221 pesos/year or $ 4,851 USD/year or $ 404. per month

You can pay Property Taxes on your house in the US with the repair costs here in Mexico.

Total of 2010 Expenses for the year: $ 386,688 pesos or $ 31,557 USD/year or $ 2,630 per month!!!

REFERENCE: Monies spent on House Repairs and Maintenance by Year
2005------$ 43,515. pesos/year or $ 3,626. USD/year
2006------$ 37,402. pesos/year or $ 3,116. USD/year
2007------$ 19,268. pesos/year or $ 1,605. USD/year
2008------$ 10,327. pesos/year or $ 860. USD/year
2009------$ 43,260. pesos/year or $ 3,605. USD/year
2010------$ 58,221. pesos/year or $ 4,851. USD/year

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Post by martygraw on Sun Feb 13, 2011 1:14 pm

Gee John that's a lot of house maintenance expences, considering that you had the BEST contractor, that did the BEST work, with the BEST materials, at the BEST site lakeside. And these are your words not mine.
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Post by Rolly on Sun Feb 13, 2011 3:02 pm

I agree that those house maintenance costs are crazy.
Is this like calling an expensive specialist to take care of a hangnail?
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Post by Intercasa on Sun Feb 13, 2011 3:52 pm

John's contractor is expensive, I had him give me a quote to put up a mirador and he said it would run $300,000 to $400,000 pesos. Too much for my blood, he may do great work but I am hands on and can help and direct. The maintenance costs seem high, perhaps some wasn't only maintenance but improvement or items that are once every 10 to 30 years. I usually do a big property fix up on my home, like putting a new roof and it cost me something like $4,000 pesos total. This year I tore down walls and redid the cement and repainted and sealed and had a worker each day for a month, it ran $8,000 pesos including materials.
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Post by oncesubtle on Sun Feb 13, 2011 4:10 pm

Dang John, you're electric expenses are almost twice ours and that includes 4 occupied apartments. I think you might have a short somewhere and one in your electric system too. Twisted Evil
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Post by johninajijic on Mon Feb 14, 2011 12:11 am

oncesubtle wrote:Dang John, you're electric expenses are almost twice ours and that includes 4 occupied apartments. I think you might have a short somewhere and one in your electric system too. Twisted Evil

oncesubtle - Electric costs all over Ajijic are so different. Mine is not the most expensive in the Community. We ARE consumers. We have a 26 cu ft refrigerator, a Home Theater Stereo and 57" projection TV on fror 6 hours a day. That eats electric as well as a CRT screen compiuter on 18 hours a day. A pool that runs 3 - 4 hours a day.

The range of electric bills in my neighborhood run from a very low of $ 2,200 pesos bimonthly to $ 10,000. pesos bimonthly. Most are in the $ 4,000 to $ 5,000 peso range. Believe me when I tell you that I don't think there is one accurate meter in Mexico.

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Post by oncesubtle on Mon Feb 14, 2011 9:34 am

Thanks for the details John and to give the opposite end of the electric cost spectrum for the OP: Two of our single friends live in their own 2 bd. homes and pride themselves on conserving energy, making a game of 'who has the lowest electric bill'. They want for nothing but are as 'green' as you can get. Anyway, their monthly electric costs are in the 200 - 250 peso range.
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Post by David on Mon Feb 14, 2011 11:11 am

We have a big pool, pump runs 6 hours a day at this time of year. We also have a small freezer, big fridge, 2 computers, 2 TVs w/satellite boxes, microwave,etc.. Our bill has been $2800 Pesos/2 mos. of late.
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Post by gringal on Mon Feb 14, 2011 12:47 pm

David wrote:We have a big pool, pump runs 6 hours a day at this time of year. We also have a small freezer, big fridge, 2 computers, 2 TVs w/satellite boxes, microwave,etc.. Our bill has been $2800 Pesos/2 mos. of late.

But isn't that with three meters?

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Post by David on Mon Feb 14, 2011 1:20 pm

We have 5; two for the house and two for the bodega which includes the water pump and pool pump. The 5th one never registers anything.
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Post by kipissippi on Mon Feb 14, 2011 2:31 pm

How did you luck out with five meters? A friend was trying to get a second one put in...with no such luck.
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