Soon to be Baja Expat. Help us to choose where.

  • Soon to be Baja Expat. Help us to choose where.

    Posted by AndyP on September 11, 2022 at 11:52 am

    Hello group, new member here.

    My wife and I are originally from Montana and have lived in the Riverside / San Bernardino area of SoCal for the last 30+ years for my job with a defense contractor. My wife was a teacher and with our investments and savings along with the proceeds from selling our home and a rental property, we should have more than enough to buy a home in Mexico and live quite comfortably even without my social security, which would kick in after 10 years when I turn 66.

    We have been considering different areas of Mexico for retirement and recently culled the list down to Baja. Having lived and worked in the desert weather for so many years we would much prefer to live somewhere very close to the Pacific Ocean – mild winters and warm but not overly hot summers, preferably where A/C is an option and not a requirement.

    We have a daughter living in north San Diego County and with our first grandchild on the way, we’d like to stay relatively close to the border to make visiting easy on both families.

    Also we would need fast, dependable internet as I will maintain a consulting contract with my soon to be prior employee for at least the first 2 to 3 years after I leave.

    We’d appreciate any tips and inside info you could provide us as to the pros and cons Expat life in Rosarito Beach, Ensenada and San Quintin.

    TIA!

    trekker replied 1 week, 2 days ago 15 Members · 43 Replies
  • 43 Replies
  • laguera

    Member
    September 11, 2022 at 4:30 pm

    I think it depends how “Mexican” an experience you are looking for. Rosarito Beach is basically San Diego south on Easter break where most people speak English. Ensenada is more laid back and not quite so many English speakers outside of tourist areas. I don’t know a lot about San Quintin but I think it’s a more like traditional Mexico, an agricultural town with few English speaking people.

    • AndyP

      Member
      September 11, 2022 at 5:01 pm

      We are fairly familiar with Rosarito Beach and Ensenada from a tourism standpoint and I did go sportfishing with a group of friends out of San Quintin about 7 years ago but I don’t know much about those areas from an Expat’s viewpoint. My wife’s grandparents on both sides came from Mexico, she teaches Spanish to high school students and marrying into a Mexican family I’ve got over 35 years of indoctrination, so we won’t come down as complete newbies to the experience.

  • JuanSoler

    Member
    September 11, 2022 at 4:45 pm

    There is a very different vibe to each town with Rosarito and Ensenada more geared towards tourism while San Quintin is agricultural and fishing. I suggest you spend some time in each area to see which one feels like a good fit for you.

    Rosarito Beach is a 20-25 minute drive from the border crossing, about 80-90 minutes from Ensenada and 4 hours from San Quintin, give or take based on traffic.

    @BajaGringo lives outside of San Quintin along the coastline and I’m sure he’ll check in to add his two cents.

  • AndyP

    Member
    September 11, 2022 at 5:14 pm

    Wherever we end up we certainly won’t lock ourselves up inside a gringo gated community; we do want to feel like we are living in Mexico. not a SoCal suburb. I haven’t been working on my Spanish all these years just to live in a community where all my neighbors only speak English.

    I guess I need to come up with some better, more specific questions like:

    1. What’s the local housing market like right now?

    2. How much are property taxes, property insurance?

    3. How fast and dependable is the internet?

    4. What does everybody do for healthcare?

    5. What are the average costs for doctor visits, lab analysis, prescriptions compared to SoCal when paying out of pocket?

    6. How often do most Expats cross north to go shopping for items not available in Baja?

    7. How soon before we move south should I start my residency visa paperwork?

    8. Is there a problem driving a vehicle with California plates in Baja?

    9. Is the drought seriously affecting the water situation down there?

    10. How is public transportation to get to the border if we don’t want to drive across?

    Too many questions???

  • BajaGringo

    Organizer
    September 11, 2022 at 9:26 pm

    Hi Andy and welcome to the forum.

    Before I answer your questions, give me a bit more background. Do either of you have any serious, chronic health issues that require specialty care attention? Are you okay with buying local grocery meats, vegetables and dairy products as well as Mexican branded goods or do you expect to continue sourcing U.S. goods as you have been used to up until now? Do you prefer a slower paced, quite lifestyle or a faster paced life with lots of activities?

    • AndyP

      Member
      September 12, 2022 at 7:45 am

      Fair questions.

      We are both in relatively good health with the normal wear and tear a half century of the daily grind will extract from ones body. We are both fine with local products found at local, Mexican markets but might pick up a few things on occasional trips north to see friends and family. We definitely want a slower pace but the wife would like to have some social/volunteer activities to keep her busy when I am on the golf course.

  • shark

    Member
    September 12, 2022 at 9:27 am

    I’d choose Rosarito south, we have perfect weather, close to your family in SD and we have two golf courses!

    • BajaGringo

      Organizer
      September 12, 2022 at 10:40 am

      I like that area. Does Uber offer you service there?

  • BajaGringo

    Organizer
    September 12, 2022 at 10:40 am

    Based on everything you shared, anywhere along the Rosarito Beach – Ensenada corridor should work for you. You’ll have access to fast and reliable internet, within 90 minutes max of border, great year round weather, 4 golf courses, a wide range of retirement properties to choose from, lots of stories and many social as well as volunteer organizations will keep you as busy as you would like to be. There are several good hospitals and access to many top notch specialists, should you need one.

    To answer some of your questions:

    The housing market along that corridor was a strong seller’s market that was in part fueled by a growing expat community that works in the San Diego area but has been moving south of the border seeking affordable housing in the face of skyrocketing home prices and rents in San Diego. Nice, oceanfront condos are hard to find for less than 300,000 today and oceanfront homes are starting out at about a half million and up. It has definitely gotten more expensive but friends in RE up there tell me the market has cooled off just a bit over the last few months.

    Property taxes are cheaper in Mexico and how much you pay depends on where exactly your home is, ranging from just a couple hundred dollars to 6 or 7 hundred dollars each year. Home insurance varies a lot and it’s based on many factors so you’ll just have to ask for a quote.

    Internet down here is fairly fast if you hook up with Infinitum which is offered by Telcel (40-50Mbps). Overall, it is usually quite dependable but there are some problem areas witht he service so it’s a good thing to check on before choosing a property.

    Assuming you are not of age yet to qualify for Medicare and living close to the border, a high percentage of expats in that boat usually pay for some level of healthcare insurance for the U.S. and cross the border for their healthcare needs. Some choose a policy that only covers major medical and then pay out of pocket for routine doctor visits and medications here in Mexico. It’s a balance that you will figure out over time what works best for you.

    Doctor visits are fairly cheap, usually 300 pesos or less although specialists can charge 1000 pesos or more. Prescriptions are in general, much cheaper in Mexico. Lab work on average is about 50% less.

    How often you cross north for “stuff” varies based on your lifestyle and preferences but for a lot of people, they slowly adapt more and more to life in Mexico and find they don’t need to cross the border as often as they did when first moving down.

    I would suggest that once you have an address in Baja, start your residency paperwork at the San Diego consulate.

    You won’t have any problem driving a California plated vehicle in Baja and it requires no special permit – just make sure you keep your driver’s license and insurance valid and purchase and annual policy for driving in Baja from our good friends and sponsor, Baja Bound Insurance.

    The drought is even worse down here and the state government is doing a terrible job (IMHO) on motivating the public to conserve the resource, although that has improved slightly over the last couple of months, so I would suggest you find a property without a LOT of high water consuming gardens and landscape.

    Public transit in that region can be a bit difficult to decipher at first but there are basically 4 types – large busses on routes, small busses/vans on routes, taxis and Uber. They are quite reasonably priced and I personally use Uber these days whenever I have things to do in Tijuana but have heard there are problems sometimes getting Uber to pick you up in Rosarito?

    • AndyP

      Member
      September 12, 2022 at 1:42 pm

      Lot of good information there, thank you! Just curious why you don’t think San Quintin would work?

      • BajaGringo

        Organizer
        September 12, 2022 at 5:21 pm

        A couple of reasons. You said it wasn’t important to stay close to your daughter/grandchild on the way and San Quintin is 4+ hours south of the border. Add an hour to North Sand Diego and up to a couple of hours border wait and you’re looking at 7 hours travel time one way.

        Also you said you would look forward to spending time on the golf course while your wife tends to her activities – the closest golf course is Baja Country Club and it’s a nearly 3 hour drive north one way.

        I really think that between Ensenada and Rosarito would be a much better fit, based on the criteria you listed as important to you.

        • mikel

          Member
          September 12, 2022 at 5:56 pm

          Good points to consider. You’ve given a lot of us thinking about retiring in Mexico some points to think about and discuss, thank you.

        • AndyP

          Member
          September 16, 2022 at 12:41 pm

          Valid arguments. I guess I was only thinking about how far from the border and not the realistic amount of time that would separate us when you factor in the time in line at the border plus the commute through San Diego traffic. Would probably be even more on weekends – especially 3 day weekends. Thanks.

  • BajaGringo

    Organizer
    September 12, 2022 at 10:45 am

    And another couple of BIG points I share with everyone thinking about moving to Mexico…

    Rent BEFORE buying. What seems like paradise on vacation may convert into hell when you are living there everyday. Take some time renting in an area you are considering to gauge how good of a fit it really is.

    The internet offers you LOTS of properties for sale and rent to look at but there is nothing better than investing a week to personally check out the areas you looking at. And if you are renting, many rentals don’t go through agents and don’t advertise online, you may see a SE RENTA sign on a window or even find out about a property for rent from a corner tacos stand or local resident you stop to ask for directions.

    • AndyP

      Member
      September 12, 2022 at 1:43 pm

      Great advice. The wife want to go house hunting NOW but this is good logic to put that off for the time being. What are the rental rates for a house close to the beach?

      • BajaGringo

        Organizer
        September 12, 2022 at 5:24 pm

        Rental rates in that area have been increasing and today a rental home will cost you anywhere from 500 to 2000 USD per month, based on how nice and how close to the water you want to be, with a realistic house rental average probably somewhere around 1200-1300 USD, more or less.

        • mikel

          Member
          September 12, 2022 at 5:58 pm

          Really? I had heard that we could rent a nice house close to the beach for 4 or 500 per month but that was a few years ago. Actually may have been as much as 10 or 12 years ago come to think of it but still surprised it has gone up that much.

        • AndyP

          Member
          September 14, 2022 at 5:41 am

          Are those rents unfurnished or furnished?

          • BajaGringo

            Organizer
            September 22, 2022 at 5:48 pm

            Generally unfurnished with many unfurnished houses requiring that you also supply a refrigerator and stove/oven.

            • AndyP

              Member
              September 23, 2022 at 9:15 am

              Kitchen appliances aren’t normally included? Dishwasher too?

  • cabodream

    Member
    September 12, 2022 at 10:48 am

    I would look further south: Bahia Asuncion, Todos Santo or La Paz.

    • AndyP

      Member
      September 12, 2022 at 1:41 pm

      I like those places in winter for a visit but we need cooler weather in summer. Plus they are too far from the border for us.

  • CRF450R

    Member
    September 14, 2022 at 4:37 pm

    Stayed with some friends at his in-law’s place at La Gaviotas south of Rosarito. I thought that community had a great feel to it and it’s only about 30-35 minutes from the border. There are several there for sale and some rentals are available too that I saw.

    • AndyP

      Member
      September 21, 2022 at 4:07 pm

      Las Gaviotas seems like it is more of a vacation rental neighborhood and don’t think that would be a good fit. We are looking for a community where we can develop good relationships with local residents and most of the residents who do live there full time appear to be Gringos.

      • offroadrage

        Member
        September 21, 2022 at 5:53 pm

        You have a problem living among people of your own kind? Reverse racism?

        • AndyP

          Member
          September 22, 2022 at 6:07 am

          Don’t be ridiculous. And who do you mean by “our kind”? Do you even know my racial heritage? We just prefer to experience Mexico as it really is and our vision of that isn’t living in an all gringo neighborhood.

        • trekker

          Member
          September 22, 2022 at 5:44 pm

          @offroadrage What’s wrong with you?

  • gaviota

    Member
    September 15, 2022 at 6:38 am

    We really like Bajamar as it has a very nice cultural mix there and seems far away from the busy city life of Tijuana, Rosarito, Ensenada and San Diego yet the border is only an hour away.

    • screeski

      Member
      September 16, 2022 at 5:52 am

      Bajamar is pretty nice if you golf.

    • AndyP

      Member
      September 16, 2022 at 12:43 pm

      We definitely have Bajamar on our radar. Others have told us it’s a fairly diversified community with a lot of local professionals living there. I am going to try to head down there with a couple of buddies and play there next month. I read it’s a 27 hole course, anybody know which are the best legs to play?

      • BajaGringo

        Organizer
        September 16, 2022 at 1:02 pm

        It’s been a few years since I last played Bajamar but as I recall the legs are called Lagos, Vista and Oceano. My personal favorite combination was Vista-Oceano with fantastic views, dramatic and challenging hole layouts and a great couple of holes to finish a competitive round. I would suggest you call ahead and reserve your group for those holes for your first time.

        • AndyP

          Member
          September 18, 2022 at 9:30 am

          Thanks!

  • enchirito

    Member
    September 20, 2022 at 5:11 pm

    Another area to consider is south of Ensenada out towards La Bufadora. There are several small camps / communities to live there although I believe most of them are on land leases if I am not mistaken.

    • AndyP

      Member
      September 21, 2022 at 4:01 pm

      We had heard about that area and while it may seem like a good area to investigate, the fact that living there is on property with land leases would probably cross the area off our list as my wife has Mexican citizenship and we would prefer to purchase vs leasing.

  • AndyP

    Member
    September 21, 2022 at 4:03 pm

    Two other communities we are considering is La Mission south of Rosarito and although it is a short distance from the coastline, the Valle de Guadalupe area.

  • offroadrage

    Member
    September 21, 2022 at 5:52 pm

    Rosarito Beach, Puerto Nuevo or Ensenada

  • DuckDive

    Member
    September 21, 2022 at 7:24 pm

    I really like the area on the north side of Ensenada, just as you pass through the toll gate. Lots of nice homes on the hill with killer views. I believe those all have titles – no land leases.

    • AndyP

      Member
      September 22, 2022 at 6:12 am

      Are you referring to the areas called “El Sauzal” and “Sibola del Mar”? Yes, we will be looking at homes in that area. Why do you like it there?

      • DuckDive

        Member
        September 22, 2022 at 5:54 pm

        I really like that area (have rented a few vacation homes at Cibola del Mar) for a bunch of reasons. It’s relatively far away from the problems at the border as well as a safe distance from the noise and hustle of downtown Ensenada. It’s a really quick drive from there to Valle de Guadalupe, has some great surf nearby and it’s relatively close to the toll booths, meaning that you won’t spend 45 minutes to an hour or more to get through Ensenada traffic to head north. Nice homes and neighborhoods and most of the people there that I have met seem pretty cool and laid back with a good mix of some gringo expats as well as local Ensenada business owners and professionals.

        • AndyP

          Member
          September 23, 2022 at 9:16 am

          Really good points. We had already marked that area to look at but I may just move it up near the top. Thanks for the great input.

      • amandae

        Member
        September 23, 2022 at 8:12 am

        We really like that area of Ensenada too. Compared to La Bufadora area southwest of Ensenada, it puts you at least an hour closer to the border without having to deal with the worst of Ensenada traffic. The OP mentioned that he likes to golf and from that area it’s only about a 20 minute drive to reach the BajaMar golf resort.

        • AndyP

          Member
          September 23, 2022 at 9:18 am

          Really appreciate the insight and what we hope to learn by renting first, before deciding where to buy. Looking forward to playing Bajamar as I’ve read a lot of really great reviews on that course.

          • trekker

            Member
            September 23, 2022 at 12:47 pm

            πŸ–•

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