retiring in Mexico 3

Retiring in Mexico, 3




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Americans have long crossed the border with Mexico, in search of cheaper medical procedures, dental work and prescription drugs.

Now a new trend is afoot: finding a place to live out retirement years.

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Somewhere in Mexico, there’s a field of dreams

David Truly, known as the “Barefoot Professor” plays in a local band near Lake Chapala in central Mexico. He wrote his PhD dissertation on the migration of retirees to this area.

David Truly, Autonomous University of Guadalajara: “A range from eight thousand to about fifteen, sixteen thousand full-timers. And then in the winter, it can blow up in just this community to thirty thousand.”

Mexico’s largest lake is surrounded by emerald, green mountains.

The village of Ajijic draws artists and writers. Cobblestone streets are dotted with galleries and restaurants serving international cuisine. No Spanish, no problem.

With Hawaii’s latitude and Denver’s altitude, the temperate climate has attracted retirees for decades.

Mexicans have traditionally taken elderly relatives into their own homes. So the demand for assisted living and elderly care wasn’t high — until foreigners, many of them Americans, flocked here.

Now they are getting older and they need more care.

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David Truly, Autonomous University of Guadalajara: “People are not just aging here, but for the first time, they’re staying here, and their not returning home. So they’re aging and dying in place here.”

When eighty-one (81) year old John Simmons’ doctor told him he shouldn’t live alone, he came here to Abbyfield, an independent senior living facility. His one-bedroom casita sits in a lush garden, near a lap pool and a covered patio.

John Simmons, Expat Retiree: “I love the light. I love the cross-ventilation. I like the kitchen tucked away. And so it gives me room for an office. And of course the view out the windows with all the plants. The landscaping here I think is fantastic.”

The average cost for independent living in the United States is about twenty-five hundred dollars ($2,500) a month. Here . . .

John Simmons, Expat Retiree: “The rent including all utilities: connections for internet, television, all these things, plus three meals a day, is just a little over a thousand dollars a month.”

One reason for the cost difference: labor is cheaper. The minimum wage is just seventy (70) pesos, or less than five dollars a day.

For those who need a bit more care, there’s been a boom in assisted living and nursing homes.

Seventy-two year old Rosemary Grayson came here from Wales. She made headlines fifty years ago when she was the first Playboy centerfold from the United Kingdom, and later went on to be a journalist.

Rosemary Grayson, Expat Retiree: “I was spent out. I was in a state of being in a nervous breakdown. Lakeside Care put me together again.

Ron Langley is a Floridian whose Mexican wife has a degree in geriatric care. Together they run Lakeside Care. He’s proud of the food he serves and the caregivers he employs.

Ron Langley, Lakeside Care: “They have a great respect for the elderly. And they will go out of their way to help an elderly person.”

Rosemary Grayson, Expat Retiree: “The people here have compassion written into their DNA. They do it before they know it. The caring is like being in an extended family.”

Assisted care like this in the United States thirty-eight hundred dollars ($3,800) a month. And nursing homes can cost upwards of seven-thousand ($7,000). Langley charges between fourteen thousand and two-thousand a month for meals, cleaning, laundry and more.

Ron Langley, Lakeside Care: “The only other thing that a patient or resident here would pay for would be their medicines and their doctor.”

And that raises a potential concern: does the area have top-notch healthcare?

A new hospital just opened on the lake, though Medicare benefits don’t apply in Mexico. Doctors’ visits and prescriptions are often less than co-pays back home.

And Mexico’s second largest city, Guadalajara, is just an hour away.

David Truly, Autonomous University of Guadalajara: “We’re very close to Guadalajara, which can really be considered becoming the medical hub of Latin America with some of the finest medical colleges. There are three universities there.”

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The Lake Chapala area is beginning to draw younger retirees. And some a bringing mom and dad along.

Sixty-four (64) year old Mark Woolley and his wife Ann bought a house here a year and a half ago. When his eighty-six (86) year old mother Campy McKenna came here for a visit, she like what she saw and chose a room at Abbyfield.

Campy McKenna, Retiree: “The second time I came, I came with suitcases. It’s so relaxing near the pool. Sun going down. The birds are up there. The flowers are blooming. It’s just lovely. And we’re just sitting and chatting.”

Mark Woolley: “She always considered it more like “old-age storage”, one of the homes in the United States. And they weren’t very nice. And these are literally homes here that people live in and retire in with a bunch of friends.”

Senior care is a cottage industry in the Lake Chapala area now with little oversight, little government regulation, no scheduled inspections. Many homes appear well run.

But there’s not guarantee, so buyer beware.

Most places have just a handful of rooms, but that’s about to change.

Dr. Trino Zabeta, Developer: “We want to create a retirement community, with all the service related to aging in place.”

Dr. Trino Zabeta is working on a new, large-scale development. He expects to break ground later this year on a thirty-five million dollar ($35 million) US-style community, eventually housing three-hundred-fifty (350) people, offering independent living, assisted nursing and memory care.

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Whether those plans succeed may depend on whether Mexico can overcome an image problem: the drumbeat of news about drug cartel violence has included the 2012 kidnapping and killing of eighteen Mexican nationals near Ajijic, and the US State Department warns citizens to exercise caution in the state of Jalisco.
But none of that worries Rosemary Grayson.

Rosemary Garyson, Expat Retiree: “You are a lot, lot safer here, than I felt in the UK — and certainly in the US. I think a hundred Americans were killed in Mexico last year, and they said it’s not a safe destination.

Well, you tell me how many safe destinations in American cities there are.”

And one more concern: life moves at a slower pace here.

David Truly, Autonomous University of Guadalajara: “When you look to be in manana or the day after manana — or a week after manana, there is something to be said for the laid-back, almost “Wake me up when you’re ready mentality.”

Still the thriving foreign community has lured Baby Boomers. The Lake Chapala Society, in business for sixty years, offers services for expats and others, from free eye exams to bridge to book clubs, and volunteer opportunities.

Mark and Ann Woolley can imagine themselves at Abbyfield.

Ann Woolley, American Expat: “Oh, we’re putting our names on the list here.”

If the Woolleys are any indication, Mexico can expect an influx of Americans crossing the border for retirement.

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5:00 am (Five o’clock am, five am). Americans never venture into Mexico because it is a very poor and dangerous place. True or false?

6:30 am (Six-thirty am). Is David Truly a full-time professional musician?

8:15 am (Eight-fifteen am). Many young, foreign engineers and IT experts have moved to Lake Chapala and the village of Ajijic because it’s a tech center. Is this right or wrong?

10:45 am (Ten-forty-five). Why have many retired Americans settled in Mexico?

12:00 (Twelve noon). Do Mexicans have close or loose family ties?

13:34, 1:34 pm (Thirteen-thirty-four, One-thirty-four pm). Are big enterprises becoming involved? Is the retired expat community becoming an industry?

15:17, 3:17 pm(Fifteen-Seventeen, Three-seventeen pm). Mexico is a paradise. Everything is perfect in Mexico. Is this correct or incorrect?

16:28, 4:28 pm (Sixteen-hundred twenty-eight, Four-twenty-eight pm). In Mexico, are people very punctual, responsible, disciplined and organized?

17:06, 5:06 pm Seventeen-o-six, Five-o-six pm). Will the foreign expat community in Mexico increase in number, decrease or remain the same?
18:43, 6:43 pm (Eighteen-forty-three, Six-forty-three pm). What do people in your country do when they retire?

Do some of them move to other countries or places when they retire? Are there any favorite destinations to move to? What are some popular destinations?

Where would you like to live?

19:16, 7:16 pm (Nineteen-sixteen, Seven-sixteen pm). Do people from other countries move to your country as expats? Who are they? Where do they come from? Why do they come to your country? What do they do in your country?

20:05, 8:05 pm (Twenty-o-five, Eight-o-five pm). I know some foreign expats in my country. Yes or no? Do you know anyone (classmates, friends, colleagues) who has moved abroad? Where did they move to?

21:59, 9:59 pm (Twenty-one-fifty-nine, Nine-fifty-nine, pm). What might happen in the future?

12:00 (Twelve Midnight). Should governments and locals encourage migration in either direction?

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