MEXICAN VISAS AND IMMIGRATION

Mexico has a comprehensive legal and statutory Immigration Policy affecting Mexicans and foreign nationals.

This guide gives an overview of the Mexican immigration system and outlines the principal visas and options open to persons seeking to visit Mexico for leisure, business, for retirement, for living and working, as well as those seeking permanent residence in Mexico or Mexican Citizenship.

What is Mexico’s Immigration Policy?

Mexico’s General Law of Population sets out the rights and obligations of foreigners, as well as the different statuses associated with foreign immigration.

Types of Immigrant Permits

There are two kinds of immigration permit: Non-Immigrant and Immigrant:

Non Immigrant Permits are for people who intend to visit Mexico for a specific purpose and then depart;

Immigrant Permits are for people who wish to gain long term permanent residence in Mexico.

Applying for Mexican Visas

You may apply for your visa(s) in person, or you may hire a representative to advise you, make the application on your behalf and do all of the paperwork. See Immigration Lawyers for more details.

Please Note: The information on this page is intended as a summary of basic principles and immigration procedures in Mexico. For detailed information contact an immigration lawyer or download the Mexico Immigration Guide eBook

What are the Non-Immigrant Visas?

There are various classifications of Non-Immigrant visitors to Mexico – the main ones are listed below.

Vistante – Vistitor Permit for Short Term Visits

The ‘Visitante’ permit is intended for visitors, usually tourists and business visitors, to Mexico on short term (six months or less) visits. For trips of longer than six months, a non-immigrant or immigrant visa should be considered

Visitor’s permits are issued when you arrive in Mexico (by air, or travel inland by road beyond the ‘free border zone’) by completing a Forma Migratoria Multiple (FMM) – these forms are issued by airlines and are also available at ports of entry. The visitor permit is valid for up to 180 days and cannot be renewed. Upon its expiry you will need to leave the country*. There is a fee of about US$20 for this permit, which is usually included in the price if your flight (under taxes and fees). If you arrive by road or ship, and travel beyond the border zone, you will have to pay for this permit separately.

*The exception to this rule is if you have close family relatives (parents, spouse, children in Mexico) or you apply for residency for humanitarian reasons: in these circumstances a visitor’s permit can be exchanged for a resident visa.

Visa de Residente Temporal – Temporary Resident Visa

Mexico operates what is known as a Temporary Resident Visa, intended for people who wish to live in Mexico for more than 6 months and not longer than 4 years. The Temporary Resident Visa is a renewable long term (more than six months) permit which gives non-immigrant temporary residency status to the holder. The visa can be issued for 1, 2, 3 or 4 years (max), can give work permissions, allows unlimited entries to and exits from Mexico. This means that it gives a person the right to live in Mexico for up to 4 years under terms as set out in the visa.

There are various categories under which Resident Visa visas are granted, and these relate to the activities you intend to undertake while in Mexico. Under the terms of the Temporary Resident Visa, you are authorized to only undertake certain, specific activities which may be lucrative or non-lucrative, depending on the visa’s classification.

One of the criteria that the Mexican authorities require for the issuance of a Temporary Resident Visa is that the applicant prove that they have ‘sufficient funds to sustain themselves while in Mexico’ and/or a proven steady income. The financial requirements have been tightened-up following the introduction of the new immigration law that was enacted in 2012.

With few exceptions, the Temporary Resident Visa cannot be issued in Mexico; you must apply in your home country of residence. This is a change to the old regime, where Visitor Permits could previously be exchanged for Resident Visas if the person(s) fulfilled the criteria. There are two exceptions to this if you are currently hold a Visitor’s Visa and want to exchange it for a residency visa without having to return to your home country: 1) if you have close family in Mexico, and; 2) if you apply for residency on humanitarian grounds, then you are able to change your status from visitor to resident without leaving Mexico.

When applied for from overseas, the Temporary Visa itself is not issued by foreign consulates. Instead, they process and pre-approve the application and when you arrive in Mexico you have to register at your local immigration office within 30 days and acquire the Visa (a plastic card) in Mexico.

Once applied for and granted, the Temporary Resident Visa may issued for up to 4 years (or yearly, with annual renewals required in Mexico) and after this four year period, it cannot be renewed: at the end of the four year period you must apply for a Permanent Resident Visa or leave the country.

By: Mexperience

Learn More: http://www.mexperience.com/store/vuitem.php?itemid=26

RETIRING IN MEXICO´S LAKE CHAPALA

Lake Chapala and its surroundings is one of the most charming places in the world to spend a great retirement. A place where natural beauty, tranquility and beautiful weather all year round, are just some of the attractions. This destination in the state of Jalisco is the largest water reservoir in Mexico and provides for the drinking needs for much of the city of Guadalajara. Here, a variety of cultures and nationalities come together, resulting in an exotic blend that coexists in a typically Mexican environment.

Chapala is located just one hour from Guadalajara, the second largest city in Mexico, which offers modern airports and roads for your use. From Chapala you can easily travel by car to San Miguel de Allende, Cuernavaca, Puerto Vallarta, Zacatecas, Patzcuaro, Manzanillo, Morelia and Mexico City.

The bounty of the local food is a great advantage for foreigners living here, because there is a great variety of food, it is plentiful and available all year. This certainly is a better option than buying imported food which is more expensive, but there are also many supermarkets where you can find whatever you are looking for.

How easy is it to settle down?

Properties on the banks of Lake Chapala have not increased in price in years, and, with the appropriate permits, foreigners can buy a property according to their needs. Currently, about 12,000 immigrants, including Americans, Canadians and Europeans enjoy their retirements on the shores of Lake Chapala, in towns such as Ajijic or San Juan Cosala, due to the generous living standards offered in the area surrounding the lakeshore. There, you will be able to buy a property of up to 10764 feet2 paying property taxes of only USD $90 per year.

“I came to live in Chapala mainly because of the climate, and also because of the cost of living. I am single and it is very difficult for me to live out my retirement in the United States, I would not have been able to live on my pension there at all. Here my money lasts longer.” – Bridget Darby, a 63 years old retiree, cnnexpansión.com

Although the cost of living varies, depending on the lifestyle, many retirees live well with only their monthly retirement check. What is most attractive for many foreigners is that here they can live better for a lot less than what they would spend in the United States or Canada. For example, the pleasant climate that can be enjoyed in the area (between 73ºF and 93ºF all year round) results in the fact that heating costs in winter or air conditioning costs in summer are virtually unnecessary, unlike in their home countries.

What recreational activities are offered?

The production of handicrafts and the abundance of materials has meant that beginners, as well as established artists allow their imagination to run free, and open workshops and art galleries where local and foreign artists exhibit their work. All arts have a place here, and there also are spaces devoted to writing, music and much more. There also are cultural centers, museums, movie theaters and a couple of theater groups, as well as a philharmonic orchestra. For those who enjoy sports, they will also find a couple of golf clubs in the area, a yacht club, several spas, tennis courts, boats, horseback riding, hiking, fishing, water parks, boat tours, and much more. “People were wonderful. Wherever we went, we literally made friends on the street.” – Elaine Cholas, International Health blog.

Medical care

One of the additional attractions of living in Chapala is the warmth of its people and being able to socialize easily as there is a friendly atmosphere where new friends can be made every day at clubs and organizations for retirees, as well as health care institutions for seniors where you can communicate in English or Spanish.

Elaine had to take care of her parents when they moved to Ajijic, where both liver for about three years in an assisted care facility for seniors. In her experience, they saved a lot of money without sacrificing the care her parents received. Even when Elaine had a case of ovarian cancer, she was taken care of in our country. “And let me tell you, the care was much better in Mexico” -Elaine Cholas, International Health blog.

By: Visit México

SIXTY IS THE NEW FORTY

In each generation, foolish advice is often mistaken for brilliance. In the sixties, for example, a well-known rallying cry was, ‘Don’t Trust Anyone over Thirty.” Twenty years earlier, the line was, “Live fast. Die young. And leave a good-looking corpse.” That line was actually more memorable than the movie it came from. In any case, neither line is exactly a pearl of wisdom. But each generation owns its own silly if not mind-numbing nuggets.

Today, Boomers, those born between 1946-1964 – perhaps the most prolific generation in history – are thankful they quickly forgot these rallying cries. Otherwise, they would not have made it this far, to the threshold of retirement and more than ready to pass on the baton. It’s estimated that Boomers are retiring at a pace of nearly 10,000 a day. But unlike previous generations, Boomers aren’t the retiring type.

“It’s not the end of the road,” says Kelli Fritts, of Colorado AARP. “Retiring is just a bend in the road.” Fritts is the State Director of American Association of Retired Persons, a national organization that lobbies on behalf of retired people. But, being retired doesn’t necessarily mean sitting on the porch counting down the minutes to the ‘Early Bird Special.’

Today’s retirees, along with people who have reached the once-dreaded ‘Five-Oh,’ have a lot of life left and want to make sure they live it. Who are they? For starters, they’re the ‘who’s who’ of entertainment, academia, politics and millions of others. Today’s ‘seniors’ are actors, from Edward Olmos to Meryl Streep to Johnny Depp, singers Madonna and Sheryl Crow, Good Morning America’s Robin Roberts, all of The Rolling Stones and, the country’s most famous over-fifty guy, President Obama.

Today, older people and retirees are doing things their parents never dreamed of doing. Seniors are climbing mountains, jumping from planes, hiking ‘fourteeners,’ and a lot more. Not simply to stay active, either.

“I had a wonderful time when I was young,” says Fritts. “But I’m so grateful for right now, too.” While age, naturally, draws some boundaries, older people adjust and move ahead. And with a flair unlike any generation before.

“It’s different nowadays,” says Robert Rey, an AARP community organizer. “We’re not our parents or grandparents. We exercise more and are more conscious of things we have to do to stay in good health.”

Rey, 63, is religious, though not fanatical, about lifestyle. “I run four or five times a week, lift weights and just exercise,” he says. He’s also keenly aware of diet, often the cause of things like high blood pressure and cholesterol – two health issues that have plagued older people, particularly Latinos.

“I retired at 62,” says attorney Awilda Marquez. But despite not having to go to work, which included stints in the Clinton White House as well as time working in Denver City Government, the ebullient Marquez has almost outraced her shadow with her frenetic travel pace.

While retirement has meant the freedom to go places, wanderlust has been in her genes from an early age. “By senior year, I knew I wanted to go on adventures,” she says. Two weeks before college, “I told my mother, ‘take your money back. I’m not going to college.’”

She then took her savings and “got a one-way ticket to Europe,” where she visited countries she’d only seen on a map or in a movie. “I hitch-hiked my way through Europe for a year, slept on the ground, stayed in hostels and just took everything in.”

When she returned, Marquez finished college and law school. But on her time off, she also took up skydiving and continued to travel. Earlier this year, her travels took her to Kenya and Uganda, where she hiked the bush and mountains to see gorillas in a natural habitat.

“I don’t know if travel keeps me young or young at heart,” says the 66-year-old Marquez. “What I do know is that it has been a great part of my life.” The retired world traveler makes only one concession to age. “On every trip I go on, I’m the oldest,” she says with a chuckle.

Marquez says her globetrotting avocation has only been possible because of a lesson she learned and was stressed early and often. “My mom taught me how to save. So for my entire working career I saved until it hurt and when I retired, I had a pile of cash

Her nest egg allowed her to pay the $2,500 for the Kenya-Uganda excursion. Her next planned trip, to Cambodia and Vietnam, will be a little more – about $5,000 more. But, Marquez sees it more as an investment in her life than purely an expense or extravagance.

Marquez uses pushpins on a map she hangs on the wall at home to tally the places she’s visited. Beside her recent trip to Kenya and Uganda, the pins record stops in Costa Rica, Egypt, France, Greece, India, Italy, Israel, Jordan, Morocco and Turkey. Of course, this list is only since retirement.

Her passport is also stamped with trips to Amsterdam, Argentina, Austria, Brazil, Canada, the Caribbean Islands, Chile, England, Spain and Uruguay. What it won’t be stamped with is Russia – “I won’t give (President) Putin one (expletive) cent!” Marquez also is “not really interested in Denmark, Norway or Sweden.” If she needs to see Scandinavia, “I can watch them on TV,” she says with a laugh.

The Maryland ex-pat who has made Denver her second home also has no plans to visit Antarctica. “I would love to go but it costs about $45,000. I’m not going to spend that much to go to just one place.”

The over-fifty crowd will be hitting the road regularly in 2015. In a recent survey, AARP says this growing demographic will be taking “four to five” trips this year. And why not? According to U.S. News & World Report, Boomers – not millennials – control 70 percent of the country’s disposable income. They will also be spending it. An average Boomer vacation will cost between $1,000 and $5,000 this year.

The majority of these trips will be within the United States but more than 40 percent will be international. The most popular international destinations for Americans? London, Paris and Rome.

But leaving home isn’t for everyone. For Denver retiree Lilly Flores, travel would be great but staying close to home is also just fine. Flores’ escape is books. “I love to read,” says the vibrant senior. Through books, Flores has traveled the world and enjoyed – vicariously – the grand adventures that have flowed from the imaginations of great writers. And when she’s not ‘traveling,’ Flores, says simply, “I like to meet new people. People are good for me. They make me laugh, smile, feel good.”

Despite her voracious appetite for books, Flores, like many in her age group, says a sedentary life is not an option. She walks every day, weather permitting. “I love being outside,” she says. “It keeps me young.”

By: La Voz Bilingüe

RETIRING IN MEXICO´S PUERTO VALLARTA

Puerto Vallarta lies on Mexico’s Pacific Coast at the junction of the states of Nayarit and Jalisco. Situated in Banderas Bay, the region is divided by the River Cuale. It sits at the foot of the Sierra Madres, so as you move inland its pristine beaches give way to quaint hillside villages.
The area shares the same latitude as the Hawaiian islands and enjoys an almost perfect climate. It’s mostly dry and sunny year round, with temperatures ranging from 80 to 85 degrees by day, which drop to between 55 and 65 degrees at night. Summers (roughly June to October) are hotter and more humid.
Another important factor to note about Puerto Vallarta’s location is that it is comfortably removed from most of the more dangerous cities in Mexico, many of which are in close proximity to the U.S. border and whose crime rates and drug trafficking are well documented by U.S. news sources.

Accessibility

A more appealing aspect of Mexico’s proximity to the U.S. is the ease of access for those who wish to make it their retirement destination. Not only could you inexpensively travel back and forth as needed, but you’d have no trouble convincing friends and family back home to come and visit.
Now given the fact that Puerto Vallarta offers the same or better amenities than many desirable U.S. cities, you might have some difficulty getting them to leave. Luckily you won’t have to go far to drop them off at the city’s own international airport, which has direct flights to many major cities across the U.S.

Development

While the climate and accessibility of Puerto Vallarta are great, they’re not what sets this desirable retirement destination apart from the rest. Unlike many similar tropical locations, this region does not claim to be up-and-coming. Puerto Vallarta, by contrast, has already arrived.
Thanks to decades of investment into the area by developers, as well as the Mexican government itself, the area boasts a highly developed infrastructure and many modern amenities. Its paved roads, power plants, high-speed internet, water treatment and distribution facilities, cable television and other features easily rival that of any U.S. city.
In addition, the area offers quality healthcare, including modern hospitals, highly-trained English-speaking physicians, and even those practicing alternative healing methods.

Puerto Vallarta’s Cost of Living

So, exactly what is the price tag on this piece of Latin American paradise? You might be surprised to find out that you can get by on a mere $2000 per month in Puerto Vallarta and that decent housing can be found for as little as $700 monthly.
While this is still higher than the cost of living in nearby Panama, and certainly more than that of countries like affordable Ecuador, it’s considerably less than its U.S. counterparts. By comparison, this is a far cry from what you would pay for the same lifestyle in any U.S. city situated on the picturesque Pacific Coast.

Activities and Amenities

Essentially it isn’t the cost that should be compared to other retirement cities in Latin America. It’s the amenities. Few other places offer the same number of dining, entertainment, and other leisure options.
For instance, it would be absurd to imagine renting a boat slip in a California bay for as little as $100 per month. In addition to the high level of infrastructure and other conveniences, Puerto Vallarta boasts a wealth of options for your amusement.
With seven golf courses, numerous marinas, world-class dining, shopping malls, beachside restaurants and nightlife, there’s no shortage of things to do.
Due to its location, the region offers activities such as hiking, zip lining, horseback riding, and other attractions. Also available are opportunities for absolutely anything you ever wanted to do in the water. From snorkeling to surfing to fishing to boating to scuba diving…Puerto Vallarta has it all. Due to the established expat community, the area also has numerous cultural attractions such as museums, theaters, and festivals.

Puerto Vallarta’s Expat Community

Speaking of expats, Puerto Vallarta has its share. More American retirees relocate to Mexico than any other country. The influx of U.S. retirees has rendered the need for Spanish almost useless in Puerto Vallarta. In addition, the country, and Puerto Vallarta specifically, is also home to expats from nations across the globe.
The area is a melting pot of cultures, and has greatly benefited from their influence. Those who have gone before have only paved the way for the hosts of expats that are to come. For that, we thank them.

-By: Viva tropical

TOP 10 SENIOR DESIGN DIRECTIONS IN 2015

Today’s seniors are looking for choice and extravagance instead of boring and bland communities. As we continue to change the senior living world through design, our team members at studioSIX5 have put their heads together to come up with a list of must-watch industry trends for 2015. This list is developed over a wide range of knowledge about senior living secrets collected through working with dozens of diverse clients across the country.

We believe these trends demonstrate how the industry is growing and evolving.

1. Design that appeals to residents and their children

Many baby boomers’ first point of contact with senior living communities is when they go with their parents to visit a potential home. They’re not only looking for a place their parents feel comfortable with but they are asking themselves, “Would I live here?” If the interior design defies stereotypes and appeals to those boomers, chances are they’ll recommend the community to their parents and even consider it for themselves down the road.

2. Reflecting your brand in the environment and experiences.

Share your brand’s voice through interior and exterior design. For example, choosing a style or color palette unique to the area and creating activities that engage all residents will set your community apart from the others.

3. Open, flowing common spaces and enclosed rooms with flexible uses.

Closed-in, cut-off common rooms are being pushed aside in favor of layouts containing rooms with multifunctional possibilities, implementing partitions and adjacent amenities like restrooms, prep areas and storage spaces.

4. Expanded, interactive “third-place” dining areas.

A new trend studioSIX5 is incorporating into its designs is the addition of small lounges within a community’s common area. The lounge can serve as a coffee shop during the day and easily convert to a bar for happy hour in the evening. These small additions quickly become the social heart of the community and add something special to each family’s experience.

5. Spaces for development of mind, body and soul.

Many communities are choosing to add resort-caliber spas and fitness rooms as their residents are seeking to have all their wellness needs met on-site. We have seen an increase in requests for yoga rooms, Zen gardens and other meditation aids in senior living communities across the country.

6. Increased demand for pet amenities.

This can be one of the items that will “make or break” a potential resident’s commitment to a community, and must be discussed. Increasingly, communities are creating “Bark Parks” for residents’ pooches to wander and play in, along with other indoor amenities such as pet salons or mobile pet grooming.

7. Finding ways for residents to give back.

Activities that allow residents to give back to the community through volunteering or hosting community events have been growing in popularity. These activities give the residents a greater sense of purpose and satisfaction through helping others. Many residents are lifelong volunteers and want to continue that tradition as seniors.

8. Incorporating hospitality-style amenities into short-term rehab or health centers.

After elective surgeries, many baby boomers spend time recovering at senior living communities. Communities are finding that they’re more interested in hotel- and hospitality-style amenities. It’s important to recognize and identify the changes that make the next generation of senior living residents comfortable.
9. Increased cross-platform technology integration.

Gone are the days of community computer labs; now communities are hardwired for Wi-Fi to accommodate the iPads, Skype and social networking devices seniors rely on. USB plugs and other technology connections are being installed in common areas to accommodate this demand. Resident monitoring systems connected to electronic records also is growing in assisted living and memory care.

10. Emphasis on elevated, restaurant-caliber dining venues.

It’s not uncommon for communities to request display kitchens, which are popular in many upscale restaurants, or to establish farm-to-table food options with local vendors. Residents are expecting as much choice as possible, and food is quickly becoming an important vehicle to provide that amenity. An engaging food experience has become the biggest request in lieu of the traditional banquet-style room with limited menu options. Hiring a talented chef to help design the dining experience is the best way to begin this process, and oftentimes the chef becomes the star of the community as a result. At right is a photo of Melangé Restaurant at Vivante on the Coast in Costa Mesa, CA, which offers residents a restaurant style, open-display kitchen complete with rotisserie, pizza oven, sushi bar, carving station and salad bar.

By: McKnight’s

A NEW KIND OF LOVE: LIVING APART TOGETHER

Does absence make the heart grow fonder?

Retirees Joyce Huber and Bob Dolliver are among the increasing number of adults who are in committed relationships but live apart.

They’re known as LATs, which stands for “living apart together,” said University of Missouri Extension gerontology specialist Jacquelyn Benson. She studies LATs 60 years of age and older.

LATs live in their own homes, sometimes in different ZIP codes and time zones. Still, they are committed, monogamous, intimate, romantic partners.

Huber, 73, and Dolliver, 80, have been together apart for 12 years. “We felt at our age,” marriage “really wasn’t necessary,” Huber said.

Their children find comfort in knowing that their parents are not lonely. Friends tell them they have the best of both worlds.

They’ve cared for one another through broken bones and strokes. Declining health and end-of-life decisions are part of discussions LATs have. It’s a new take on “till death do us part.”

They pursue their separate interests most of the week.

“We’ve learned each other’s differences and learned to respect them,” Huber said.

“There’s no real conflict,” Dolliver said. “The partnership, the working together is the core.”

They keep their love alive with daily phone calls, scheduled meals and weekends together.

Older LATs often struggle for a label when introducing their partner. Many aging baby boomers are uneasy calling a partner “boyfriend” or “girlfriend,” and “friend” is too ambiguous.

“Labels and terms were really difficult for them to work through,” Benson said. The term “LAT” remains unfamiliar in the United States; European countries, where the arrangement is more common, often have words to describe LAT partners.

Cohabitation rates for adults 50 or older more than doubled from 2000 to 2010, according to a 2012 study by Bowling Green State University researchers, Benson said.

Baby boomers experienced high rates of divorce during middle age. Remarriage rates declined but interest in forging new romantic partnerships remained, she said.

This potential trend in the United States follows Europe. As many as a third of European adults over 50 are in a LAT relationship. U.S. rates between 1996 and 1998 were significantly lower. The University of Chicago’s General Social Surveys showed a rates of 6 and 7 percent for men and women age 23-70, respectively. More recent data in California suggest rates up to 13 percent.

Benson said LAT couples give many reasons for their lifestyle choice. Reasons appear to differ by age, she said. Most young couples live apart temporarily for financial reasons, educational pursuits or jobs. They might be in transition from steady dating to cohabitation or marriage.

Older couples cite reasons such as independence, separate finances or wanting to remain close to aging parents, adult children, grandchildren and friends. Some may have jobs in different cities. They might also want to avoid inheritance issues for their children.

Others find the arrangement keeps the spark and sizzle in a long-term relationship. It keeps monogamy from becoming monotonous because LAT couples can focus solely on each other when they are together, rather than on mundane tasks such as taking out the trash or balancing the checkbook. “It is a way to balance intimacy and their desire to maintain autonomy and independence,” Benson said.

Older LAT couples can be compatible despite different housekeeping habits, hobbies and routines. “They don’t have to be exposed to their partner’s ‘warts,’” Benson said.

Benson said the study of older adults in LAT relationships is in its infancy. She said there are virtually no published U.S. studies, but numbers of LATs are likely to increase as baby boomers retire.

By:Columbia DailyTribune

OLDER SUBURBAN HOMES APPEAL TO BABY BOOMERS WHO DOWNSIZE

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Baby boomer empty nesters are bringing new life to 1950s and 1960s ranch homes in established communities.

“Over the last two years, in particular, we are seeing empty nesters who are still working and living active lives coming to us because they want to purchase an older ranch home on a large lot that they can rework,” said Roseann Schumacher, a real estate broker and owner of Century 21 Langos and Christian in Mount Prospect.

“For the most part, they are between the ages of 45 and 64. They want to stay in the same area because of work and family but most of them no longer want to live in a two-story colonial. They want one-floor living, the privacy and security of a single-family home, low maintenance and an attached garage,” she continued.

“When we take them out, they are literally looking at each home with a different set of eyes than other buyers. They want a big lot so that they have room to expand the home and they are buying it with the intention of removing walls and totally reworking the insides,” Schumacher said.

These buyers want to downsize, but they want to create open floor plans with wide doorways. They know which rooms they actually use and concentrate on them in their renovations — family rooms, kitchen and master bedroom/bathroom suites.

“This group of buyers is not interested in resale because they don’t anticipate leaving the home. So, they do what they, personally, want to do and that is to create an easy living space where they can move from room to room with ease and without stairs,” she said. “In most cases they have lots of equity from their old homes so cost is not a big issue and they are wanting to get away from old colonial homes, which usually have no more than a powder room on the first floor.”

The creation several decades ago of age-restricted communities on the edges of metropolitan areas tipped baby boomers off to what can be done in homes to make their lives more comfortable and convenient. But many of them don’t want to leave their longtime communities.

They may plan to travel or go to a second home part of the year, but coming back to friends and family is important to them. Therefore, they aren’t likely to pick up and move wholesale to a warmer climate, for instance, or to a far-flung community, Schumacher said.

Marty Meadow, vice president of the design department at Airoom Architects Builders Remodelers, with locations in Naperville and Lincolnwood, said he is seeing some of the same thing, although additions of first-floor master suites to existing two-story homes are still more common among empty-nesters, in his experience.

“We do have a retired teacher in Arlington Heights right now who bought a dated ranch home especially so that she could remodel it. She is having us add an attached garage and update the kitchen, laundry room and windows,” Meadow said. “She doesn’t want to leave (living near) the Arlington Heights library.

“We also see our well-healed clients adding exercise areas, hobby/craft rooms and doing major retrofits of the insulation since many of these homes built in the ’50s and ’60s are very poorly insulated,” he said.

In essence, Meadow said, these homeowners are hiring companies like Airoom to transform ranch homes into the home of their dreams — without stairs. And many want to stay in the more mature communities because they are familiar with them, but also because of the quality of those cities and villages’ libraries, park districts and senior programming.

Ed and Linda Burns of Mount Prospect are perfect examples. They had raised their two children in a 1940s colonial in that village, living in the home for 17 years. But it was becoming more and more onerous for Ed to navigate the narrow stairs because he had ruined both knees playing years of recreational basketball.

“The old house also desperately needed to be updated because it had a very small kitchen with little storage and no bathroom or powder room on the first floor,” Linda said, “so rather than renovating it, we started looking for a ranch home.”

“Ed’s knees were a big factor and we wanted to move to a house that we could enjoy for many years to come. So we started looking at ranch homes in the same general area because we wanted to stay in Mount Prospect,” she said.

They weren’t originally looking for a “project.” They just wanted a three-bedroom ranch home with an open floor plan and an attached 2½-car garage. But they couldn’t find one that fit the bill.

Then they found the home that they eventually purchased. It was located less than a mile from their longtime home and in an area they knew well. It was solidly built, had a huge yard, an attached two-car-plus garage and big windows. And, Linda added, it had great potential for being transformed into an open floor plan.

“This was the spring of 2008 and the market was crashing. We felt this house had a ton of potential and it was right where we wanted to be,” she said.

“We had an inspector look it and he felt that the house had ‘good bones’ and wouldn’t turn into a money pit. We also liked the fact that it had large windows, which is rather unusual in a ranch,” Ed said.

So they listed their colonial and put in a contingent offer on the ranch. The road wasn’t smooth, however. Others tried for the house, too, but in the end, the Burnses got the custom-built 1959 ranch with its two bedrooms, 1½ baths, living room, spacious dining room, outdated kitchen, three-season room and utility basement. They purchased it from an estate.

Ed and Linda, both of whom were 50 at the time, along with their 23-year-old daughter, moved into the house and lived in the outdated structure for six months while plans for the update were made. They hired Airoom to do the renovation, which started in the fall of 2008 and was completed six months later with the three of them living through the construction mess and havoc, knowing that the best was yet to come.

They removed the three-season room and added a master-bedroom suite, family room and informal dining space to the rear of the home. They also reconfigured and expanded the kitchen and laundry room area and created a hallway through part of the original second bedroom to provide easy access to the new master suite.

Hardwood floors were installed in all the new rooms.

The home grew from its original 2,000 square feet to its current 2,900 square feet and was completed by the spring of 2009.

They also removed the outdated half wall next to the front door, replastered ceilings, removed a large firebox next to the living room fireplace to further open up the living room/dining room connection, transformed a tiny office next to the kitchen into a spacious pantry, replaced the existing hardwood floors with wider planks, replaced the kitchen floor with hardwood and repainted every room.

“Airoom was great with the design of the kitchen area. We just couldn’t figure out how to do it and they were wonderful,” Linda said.

“Linda had a vision and Airoom understood it. They were totally in sync with what she wanted and it was great,” Ed added.

“The house isn’t huge but it fits us perfectly. At least once a week we still say to each other that this was the greatest thing we could have done,” Linda said.

As for their advice to those who are contemplating renovating and expanding an existing ranch home, Linda smiled and said, “go for it, but don’t try to live there during the construction.”

By: Daily Herald Correspondent