HOW TO RETIRE IN THE PRETTIEST TOWN SOUTH OF THE BORDER

Suzan Haskins and Dan Prescher | HuffingtonPost.com

 Is San Miguel de Allende the prettiest colonial town in Mexico? Many people think so.

Home to one of Mexico’s largest communities of N.O.B. (north-of-the-border) expats for several generations now, American GIs are credited with kick starting the trend after World War II when they discovered they could use their education grants to study at Instituto Bellas Artes under the direction of an American artist and writer named Stirling Dickinson.

In 1947, Life magazine sent a reporter and photographer to San Miguel to report on this post-war phenomenon. Under the headline “GI Paradise: Veterans go to Mexico to study art, live cheaply and have a good time,” it reported the possibility to rent an apartment for $10 a month, pay 65 cents a quart for rum, and 10 cents a pack for cigarettes. More than 6,000 American veterans immediately applied to study in San Miguel.

Today, as many as 10,000 expats call San Miguel home, and it continues to attract international artists: designers, sculptors, painters, writers, musicians … You’ll find top-notch local artisans here, too and you’ll love browsing the shops and markets.

And although San Miguel has traditionally been a haven for retirees, these days many younger singles and couples with children are discovering its charms — opening businesses or working remotely via the Internet. You’ll find at least four bilingual schools, including a private academy offering an international baccalaureate that covers kindergarten through grade 12.

Why is San Miguel so popular?

The city’s striking beauty is, of course, a big reason for its appeal. Walking through the central historic district, known simply as “centro,” is like stepping back in time. Stroll the winding cobblestone streets, past the historical old buildings painted shades of rose, ochre and umber, and you never know what you’ll see. Behind giant and intricately carved wooden doors are flower-filled patios, restaurants, bars, boutiques, art galleries, offices, and homes.

History is a constant companion in San Miguel. Founded by the Spanish in 1541, the little town became an important stop on the so-called ‘silver road’ between the rich silver mines north and west of here, and on to Mexico City to the south. Wealthy landowners built homes here, many of which still remain.

In the state of Guanajuato, this part of Mexico is called El Bajío — the colonial highlands — and is known as the “Cradle of Independence” where the cry for independence from Spain began in 1810 in the town of Dolores Hidalgo, not far from San Miguel.

One of the most important leaders of the independence movement, Ignacio Allende, was born in San Miguel in a home that is now a museum. After the revolution, his name was added to the town’s official designation, and that’s why it’s known as San Miguel “de Allende.”

All this well-preserved history earned San Miguel a UNESCO World Heritage designation in 2008, and even more attention came in 2013 when Conde Nastnamed it the world’s “most livable city.”

Today, San Miguel is one of Mexico’s top tourist destinations — including for Mexicans themselves who are well-acquainted with its charms.

Beneath the porticoes that line the main plaza — called el Jardín (the garden) — are boutique-style shops, sidewalk cafés, and more. Pull up a chair and relax for a minute while you take in the view, including the frothy pink creation known as la Parroquía, San Miguel’s parish church and the emblem of the city.

The action fans out from here. Whether you’re looking for a good hotel or restaurant or romantic colonial home to make your own, you’ll probably measure by how far it is from el Jardín.

Just a few blocks from el Jardín, the public library — la Bibliotéca — serves as a community center for locals and expats alike. You’ll find a comfy café and the second-largest collection of English-language books in Mexico here. The library publishes Atención, San Miguel’s bi-lingual local newspaper, a must-read each week to keep abreast of local events.

And of course, you’ll find good healthcare facilities in San Miguel. Local public and private hospitals can satisfy just about every need. For extremely serious procedures, you’ll find excellent hospitals in Querétaro, a major city of well more than two million inhabitants that’s only about an hour’s drive away.

(Querétaro is also where you’ll find an international airport that services San Miguel. Another is near Léon, an hour-and-a-half to the northwest. And Mexico City is just three-and-a-half hours south.)

Another big draw for this area is the agreeable climate. San Miguel sits at about 6,000 feet above sea level. Days are usually warm to hot, but dry. Nights are cool, but temperatures seldom get below freezing, even in winter. You’ll seldom need more than a light jacket, but you might want a heater for cool winter evenings. Many homes have fireplaces, but few bother with air conditioning

Where to live: The most popular neighborhoods for expats have typically been in or near centro, for its proximity to all the action. Most of the largest colonial homes here have been beautifully restored, and most come with multi-million-dollar price tags.

But as more and more tourists come to enjoy the lively culture (including nightlife) of San Miguel, you’ll find both locals and expats looking to quieter neighborhoods, such as Guadalupe, Independencia, San Antonio, and beyond … even into the high-desert countryside.

Long-term rentals of, say, a two-bedroom property in centro can run $1,500 to $2,000 a month and up. Short-term rentals of these properties start at about $1,000 a week. To get better deals, look farther from centro.

In Independencia, for example, a two- or three-bedroom furnished property can be rented for less than $1,000 a month. On our last visit, we toured a newly built 1,400-square-foot home in Independencia with two bedrooms and three bathrooms. Completely furnished, the asking price was $175,000. Across the street, a modern 2,400-square-foot home, unfurnished, was priced at $275,000. Or you can rent it for $1,200 a month.

An important note: In this part of Mexico, you can buy property via direct deed instead of using the fideicomiso bank trust option that must be used along the coast or a border.

Isn’t San Miguel expensive? That’s certainly what you’d expect in a world-class city and major tourist destination. But the answer to that depends totally on your lifestyle.

As one longtime San Miguel expat told us recently, “We’re busy all the time. The social scene in San Miguel is lively, and there’s always something to do. Mostly, we have dinner parties at friends’ houses or have them come to our house. Our utility costs are low, our property taxes are hardly anything at all, we live in a beautiful place, and it doesn’t really cost us much to do that. We have a good life here.”

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/suzan-haskins-and-dan-prescher/retire-to-san-miguel-de-allende_b_10010308.html

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MEXICO: A LAND OF THREE LANDS

By Mexperience

 Mexico’s geographical territory is composed of a diverse topography including coastal plains, temperate highlands, and extensive mountain ranges which climb to heights of over 10,000 feet above sea level. This diversity gives rise to a range of different climate zones.

If you’re planning to visit Mexico, and especially if you plan to live here full time or part-time, it’s worth getting acquainted with the different geographical areas which make up the country’s terrain. The local climate will influence a location’s characteristics and attractions, and so choosing the right terrain is an important part of your decision-making, especially if you’re planning to live, retire or buy property here.

A location’s climate patterns depend upon the combination of its geographical latitude combined with its altitude above sea level.  Mexico has three distinct ‘land types’, and these are denoted in Spanish as: Tierra Caliente, Tierra Templada and Tierra Fria.

Tierra Caliente – hot lands – comprise of those areas which range from sea level to around 750 meters (2,460 feet) above sea level.  These lands are predominantly found at Mexico’s beach locations and along coastal plains which extend out from mountain ranges that descend into the Pacific Ocean or Gulf of Mexico: these lands are typically found in the country’s northern deserts; the lowlands on the Baja Peninsula; the Isthmus of Tehuantepec (between the state of Oaxaca and the Yucatan Peninsula); and the Yucatan Peninsula proper.

Tierra Templada – temperate lands – are those which lie at between 750 meters and 2,300 meters (7,545 feet) above sea level.  These include most of Mexico’s attractive colonial cities, as well as the country’s three big cities: Mexico City, Guadalajara and Monterrey.

Tierra Fria – cold lands – are those places extending 2,300 meters above sea level.  In Mexico, these lands are composed of mountain ranges and some volcanoes, most notably Pico de Orizaba, the highest peak in Mexico and the second-highest peak in North America.

Here is a synopsis of the characteristics of each terrain type:

Tierras Calientes

Tierras Calientes offer year-round warmth; but get very hot and, south of the Tropic of Cancer, humid during the rainy season (May to October).  Choose these areas if you want to vacation (or live) in a year-round warm climate, but be aware that summers can get extremely hot and be accompanied by drenching humidity in places.  Some people choose to visit or live in these areas only during the autumn and winter, when the temperature is more moderate, and humidity subdued.

Tierras Templadas

Most of Mexico’s temperate climates are to be found inland—up in the mountains. Tierras Templadas offer, as the name suggests, a mild and moderated climate all year-round.  However, late autumn and winter can get cool or cold, depending on the local topography; during these seasons the daytime high temperatures (which can reach mid-70sF/23C) can collapse sharply overnight to drop around freezing (32F/0C).  The rainy season, May to October, tends to finish abruptly, and the dry season is very dry indeed.

Tierras Frias

Mexico doesn’t have too many settled towns and villages in regions classed as Tierras Frias: those at least 7,500 feet above sea level.  There do exist some settlements – usually populated by long-standing indigenous residents – at these very high altitudes.  However, most people who come to Mexico experience these places only on certain mountain hikes and expeditions into Mexico’s wilderness.

http://www.mexperience.com/land-of-three-lands/

MEXICO: A FIRM EXPAT FAVORITE

By: International Living

Mexico has long been a favorite for expats looking for a haven where they can make the most of their retirement.

Mexico’s close proximity to the U.S. as well as its cost of living make it an ideal expat haven. From real estate to groceries, entertainment to healthcare, life in Mexico simply costs less.

But that’s not all. The lifestyle in Mexico is also attractive. You can enjoy a slower pace of life full of family, gorgeous weather, and culture. Indeed, culture abounds in Mexico with ancient ruins dotting the country.

Thanks to Mexico’s large size you will also be able to pick your climate. If beaches are what you desire, Mexico has nearly 6,000 miles of coastline with beautiful beach resorts such as Puerto Vallarta. If you prefer a mountain lifestyle with temperate weather the Colonial Highlands could be for you.

Today’s Mexico is largely First-World, with excellent highways, sleek airports, and high-speed telecommunications. You will even be able to find most of your favorite foods in supermarkets here.

Mexico is a no brainer. It has everything an expat haven needs. Low costs, ideal weather and locals that are both welcoming and warm. This tried-and-tested retirement haven is still a great place to live.

https://internationalliving.com/2016/02/mexico-a-firm-expat-favorite/

 

GLORIOUS WEATHER, CHEAP LIVING: A LAKESIDE RETIREMENT HAVEN IN MEXICO

By: Liz Phillips | Telegraph.co.uk

A warm climate and low cost of living are two of the main reasons that Brits are flocking overseas. And tucked away on the shores of Mexico’s largest inland lake is a haven for those looking to enjoy both.

The towns and villages spread alongside Lake Chapala, just 40 minutes from Guadalajara, Mexico’s second largest city, are home to up to 40,000 foreigners.
It’s a favourite spot for American and Canadian retirees. Brits are a rarer breed – most of those to be found there were living in America or Canada before.

The climate is ranked the second best in the world by National Geographic with average temperatures ranging from 86F (30C) in May, the hottest month, to 75F (24C) in winter.

The lake sits about 5,200 feet (1,584 metres) above sea level so there is virtually no humidity and the mountain range surrounding it protects the area from prevailing northerly winds.

The villages and towns are rustic, reminiscent of Greece in the Eighties or the Algarve in Portugal before the golf courses arrived.

Jean and Robert Morris found out about Lake Chapala on the internet and moved there from Milton Keynes seven years ago.

“We came here for four weeks in January 2009 and decided to retire here,” said Mrs Morris, 65, a former nurse.

“It’s such a sociable, friendly place. We could be out every day if we wanted,” added Mr Morris, 68, who’s a keen bridge player.

They rent a house in Ajijic, having decided the property market was too depressed to buy locally.  They’re learning Spanish and love the Mexicans.

“The only things I miss are friends, family and curry,” said Mrs Morris, who returns to Britain twice a year. “We can live very comfortably here without counting the pennies.”

The retirees are spread along Lakeside, as it’s called, from Chapala in the east to Jocotopec in the west with the village of Ajijic in the middle being the centre of the expat community. This is home to the Lake Chapala Society, a hub for information, clubs and community charity work.

There is also a British Society which meets for lunch once a month.

Housing

One-bedroom apartments rent for around US$500 a month, rising to $900 for two-to three-bedroom houses (£350-£625).

There’s a vast choice of properties to buy in the $150,000 to $250,000 range (£105,000-£175,000).

Lakeside’s British consular agent, Ceri Dando, 85, originally from Guildford in Surrey, decided to build a home for him and his late wife Peggy at the exclusive Racquet Club in Ajijic when they retired there 21 years ago from North Carolina.

Mr Dando, a former engineer whose wife died two years ago said: “We liked the climate, cost of living and laid-back culture. Mexicans are very caring and sharing.  Many speak English because of the large expat community.”

Cost of living

Most expats estimate they can live on $1,000-2,000 (£700-1400) per month. The Morrises say they spend £1,500 a month in total, including rent.

Briton Helen Gallagher, 65, and her American husband James, 66, live on about £1,100 a month.

“It’s 50 per cent cheaper here than in the States,” said Mrs Gallagher, a former ballet teacher who moved to Chapala a year ago from the Catskills in New York State.

Health

An important consideration for older people moving abroad is the cost and quality of medical treatment. Apart from private health care, Mexico has two main systems – Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social (IMSS) and Seguro Popular.

With IMSS you pay an annual contribution based on your age: 6,150 pesos (£240) for those aged over 60 up to 6,500 pesos (£260) for those over 80.  IMSS can decline coverage for pre-existing conditions.

Seguro Popular, however, is free for over 60s and must cover all patients, regardless of age or pre-existing conditions.  But you have to use drugs, doctors and hospitals on their approved list.

Visas

Newcomers can apply for a temporary residence visa which is valid for four years, renewed annually. After that time you must apply for a permanent residence visa.

You must show you can support yourself. At the moment you need to prove you have an income of 21,912 pesos (£840) a month for a temporary visa and 36,520 pesos (£1,400) for a permanent visa (see chapalalaw.com).

Downsides

Although Mexico has a problem with drug cartels in the major towns, crime in Lakeside is usually petty theft or burglaries.  Houses have high walls, solid gates and bars on the windows, but expats don’t seem overly concerned about it.

Driving in Mexico is appalling. The main highways are riddled with potholes and high streets have large speed bumps at regular intervals. The side roads are cobbled and rutted and the pavements are no better.

The water cannot be drunk so you have to use bottled water even to wash your fruit and vegetables.

The sewage system is basic so you can’t flush paper down the toilets. Most of the locals are poor which is reflected in the shops and housing.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/expat/health/glorious-weather-and-cheap-living-mexicos-lakeside-retirement-ha/

 

A QUARTER OF AMERICANS WORRY ABOUT RUNNING OUT OF MONEY IN RETIREMENT

By: Rodney Brooks | WashingtonPost.com

What is our biggest fear when it comes to retirement?

Well, according to a new survey from the Indexed Annuity Leadership Council, our biggest fear is running out of money. Twenty-five percent of Americans are worried about that. And it’s not the first survey to show that trend.

“I think when you look at the top fears of people and what’s on their minds, and 25 percent of Americans are concerned about outliving their retirement, the immediate reaction is a lot of people aren’t thinking about that or don’t want to because they haven’t’ looked at what their future holds,” says Jim Poolman, executive director of the council.

Millennials are the most worried. Twenty-nine percent cited running out of money as their biggest concern. But Gen X’ers were not far behind, at 28 percent. Nineteen percent of Baby Boomers have the concern and 21 percent of people 71 and older are worried, according to the survey.

The next two biggest concerns: Covering health care expenses (19 percent) and maintaining their current lifestyles (23 percent). Not surprisingly, the age group most worried about  health care expenses was baby boomers (24 percent), while the concerns about maintaining current lifestyle seemed to cross all generations: millennials, 20 percent; Gen X, 23 percent; boomers and people 71 and older, both 25 percent.

For Poolman the biggest surprise was in the answers to questions on how much people have saved for retirement.

“When you look at the top three fears, they all have to do with not saving enough for retirement,” he says. “That’s not a surprise. When you dive down into that, one in four baby boomers has less than $5,000 saved for retirement. “That’s shocking to me. It tells me we need to keep having a national conversation about retirement, about saving and about planning.

“The average couple that retired last year will need $240,000 to cover future medical expenses in retirement,” he says. “Showing people those kinds of facts can only educate them about the need to start saving now.”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/get-there/wp/2016/07/18/a-quarter-of-americans-worry-about-running-out-of-money-in-retirement/?wpisrc=nl_finance&wpmm=1

GETTING YOUR DOCUMENTS APOSTILLED FOR MEXICO

By Mexperience

For certain legal procedures, usually related to immigration, residency, investment, or marriage (or a combination of these) it may be necessary to present Mexican authorities with foreign legal documents as part of application procedure—foreign birth certificates and foreign marriage certificates are the most common.

Before the Mexican authorities will receive foreign-issued legal documents for processing, it’s necessary to get these Apostilled.

The Apostille Convention, as it’s known, is an international treaty which many (but not all) countries are signatory to. The convention sets out a procedure through which a document issued in one of the signatory countries can be certified for legal purposes in all the other signatory countries.  Mexico signed up to the treaty in 1995, making it far simpler for foreigners to present their legal documents here.  The US, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Russia, India, South Africa, and Japan are among major countries also signed-up to the treaty.  If your country is not a signatory, alternative certification procedures may exist, and you should contact your consulate for advice.

US Documents: If the documents that you need to get Apostilled emanated in the United States, Apostille.net offers a useful guide of procedures for all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands, and if you need help—including assistance if you’re overseas and need someone to do the legwork for you locally—you can get the firm to take care of it for you; they’ll ship the Apostilled documents within the US and internationally.

Note for Canadians: Canada is not signatory to the convention, and the procedures do not apply there. Canada has instead a notarization procedure for legal documents.

In practice, when you need to submit legal documents in Mexico which were not issued in Mexico—such as birth, marriage, divorce, and death certificates, diplomas, certificates of company incorporation, etc.—you need to go to a “competent authority” in the country where the document was issued, and get any certified copies Apostilled.  Each country has its own procedures for doing this and you should look online for more information: search for “apostille of documents in [country] or [state]”.

If you show up at the application center in Mexico (most usually an Immigration or Registrar’s office) without these types of documents having been Apostilled they will turn your application away.

Another point to note: If you get married in Mexico and live abroad (or plan to live abroad with your Mexican spouse) it’s a good idea to get your Mexican marriage certificate Apostilled in Mexico in case you need this for official use outside of Mexico; it needs to be done in the Mexican state you were married in.  The local Registrar’s office or your wedding planner will be able to advise you about how to do this.

http://www.mexperience.com/getting-your-documents-apostilled-for-mexico/

RETIRING TO MEXICO: THE WORLD’S BEST BEACH CITY

Suzan Haskins and Dan Prescher | Huffingtonpost.com

In 1963, Elizabeth Taylor followed Richard Burton to a sleepy little port on Mexico’s west coast where he was starring, along with Deborah Kerr and Ava Gardner, in a John Huston-directed film called Night of the Iguana.

For his movie set, John Huston chose Mismaloya, a small village just south of Puerto Vallarta in the Mexican state of Jalisco, for its resemblance to a crumbling coastal village of the 1940s. Elizabeth Taylor took up residence in nearby Puerto Vallarta, which in the 1960s already had a small community of both Mexican and expat artists and writers, drawn by the weather, natural beauty, and relative isolation.

As the spotlight of celebrity shone on the stars and their love affair, the Mexican government soon realized the tourist gem it had on its hands. Fast forward through the construction of an international airport and land reforms that encouraged private ownership and development, and Puerto Vallarta has today grown into one of the most vibrant and modern vacation and residential destinations in Mexico.

Development stretches north and south all around the crescent-shaped Bay of Banderas, the largest bay in Mexico and the eighth-largest in the world. The Sierra Madre mountains provide a stunning backdrop as they drop right to the water’s edge in some spot, resplendent in all their green-jungle glory.

If you’re thinking of retiring overseas or buying a vacation home or just getting away from the winter doldrums back home—and you’re looking for a culturally rich seaside city, with absolutely gorgeous beaches, there’s no better place than Puerto Vallarta. In fact, there are few cities in the world where you’ll find this combination.

(It’s a bonus that there are more than three dozen direct … and relatively short … flights and charters from Puerto Vallarta to destinations in the U.S. and Canada.)

For these reasons … the stunning beauty, excellent flight connections, an extraordinary culinary scene, modern shopping, and great infrastructure … you’ll find a good number of English-speaking expats here. They say they don’t lack for anything, especially fun activities.

“You can bird watch, you can be involved in the garden club or the botanical gardens,” one expat tells us. “You can be involved in ecology things. You can do as much charity work as you want … you can sit on the beach and drink beer. You can go for long walks on the malecon. It’s almost overwhelming. When you live here you really have to kind of pick and choose or you can overdo it.”

And it’s not just expats moving into the Vallarta area. Mexican nationals are coming here, too, for work and/or to buy vacation and retirement homes. (It’s a big draw for locals from Guadalajara, Mexico’s second largest city and just a few hours away by car.)

Let’s take a tour of the city’s most popular neighborhoods…

Just south of the Ameca River and the border with the state of Nayarit is the international airport, serving nearly three million domestic and international passengers a year. Go south from there to the Hotel Zone and the many name-brand hotels (and affordable efficiency apartments for rent), clustered around the Maritime Terminal where large cruise ships dock. Puerto Vallarta is the third most-active cruise ship destination in Mexico. Many of the fishing, sightseeing, diving, and snorkeling boats that ply the bay are based here, too.

Continue south to Puerto Vallarta’s Centro or Old Town district, with the iconic church of Our Lady of Guadalupe, dedicated to Mexico’s patron saint. The city’s famous malecon with its interesting modern sculptures runs along the shore, lined with shops, bars, restaurants, and more.

When you get to the Rio Cuale, pop down the steps to Isla Cuale, a large island in the river that’s been repurposed as an entertainment district. Here’s where you’ll find a bronze statue of John Huston who not only directed Night of the Iguana, but also built two vacation homes on the bay. His family, including daughter Angelica Huston, launched the Puerto Vallarta Film Festival in his honor.

Across the Rio Cuale to the south is the Zona Romantica and one of the most popular beaches in Puerto Vallarta, Los Muertos—not called “Beach of the Dead” because it’s dangerous, but because of a legendary pirate battle that left it littered with bodies. Today, though, the only bodies littering the beach are sunbathers and patrons of the rows of oceanfront restaurants and bars.

The Zona Romantica, home to one of Mexico’s most popular gay, lesbian, and transgender scenes, contributes to Puerto Vallarta’s status as one of the top gay tourist destinations in Latin America.

It’s also one of the most popular areas for expat residents. As one says, “It’s totally a walking neighborhood. We have a central vegetable market with a meat market, too. Some stores bring in bulk items from Costco (yes, there is a Costco in Vallarta!) and break them down for those of us too lazy to go to Costco. Sometimes we joke that we haven’t been across the river in a month because we don’t have to … everything we need is within about three blocks of where we live.”

Keep heading south to even more idyllic beaches and associated neighborhoods, including Conchas Chinas, Venados, Punta Negra, Gamelas, Mismaloya, and the famous Los Arcos, the most recognizable geological feature of the Bay of Banderas.

Other neighborhoods popular with expats include Fluvial, between the airport and the Hotel Zone and not on the beach but close … where you’ll find a mix of condos and standalone homes. Marina Vallarta, developed in the 1980s, is just west of the airport. From a home or condo here, you can walk to shopping, restaurants, or the local golf course, and gaze upon beautiful yachts from your balcony.

Nuevo Vallarta, about 15 minutes north of the airport, is one of many planned residential resort communities. Increasingly popular for its modern amenities (and less big-city traffic than downtown Puerto Vallarta) the population of Nuevo Vallarta has exploded since development began there in earnest in the 1990s.

There are fairway homes and condos, beachfront homes and condos, and canal-side opportunities. You’ll find many of the newest resorts, spas, and golf courses here, too. If golf or access to the ocean is important to you, Nuevo Vallarta is a good option.

Go farther north along this stretch of the Bay of Banderas coast to the towns of Bucerias and Cruz de Huanacaxtle, also very popular with expats.

What’s daily life like? You won’t give up a thing when you live in Vallarta or along the Riviera Nayarit. We’ve already mentioned the shopping — along with Costco, Sam’s Club and Walmart, you’ll find all the Mexican-brand big-box stores, too.

And you’ll find excellent healthcare facilities, including several top-notch hospitals, laboratories, rehabilitation centers, and clinics. AmeriMed, San Javier, and Medasist are some of the most popular.

Expat Pamela Thompson-Webb, who helps foreigners navigate local health care options through HealthCare Resources Puerto Vallarta, says, “We have brand new hospitals and fabulous physicians. They place stents, they do microsurgery, you name it … Obviously someone has to pay for the equipment, but it’s much less than prices in the U.S. Outpatient services are unbelievably less expensive. Many people travel here for dental work or to have a colonoscopy or such because the prices are low but really state-of-the-art.”

Real estate options and prices: Naturally, a long-standing tourist and expat draw such as this will also have an active real estate sales and rental market.

It’s easy enough to find reasonably priced rentals. In the popular Zona Romantica, for instance, you can expect to pay $1,000 to $1,500 a month and up for a long-term furnished apartment just a few blocks from the beach. You’ll pay about that same amount to rent a vacation property for one week in the high season. If you choose to buy, you’ll find considerable options in all price ranges, but with beachfront prices at a premium. Look farther inland for the bargains.

What about the cost of living? 
Like elsewhere in the world, your cost of living will totally depend on your lifestyle. If you frequent upscale restaurants and nightclubs and have expensive hobbies like golf (which you can enjoy to your heart’s content in this part of Mexico) you’ll spend more, of course. But expats say that for all this city has to offer, it’s remarkably affordable.

“I think you could live on $2,000 a month,” says Pam Thompson-Webb. “It depends on how much your rent is and if you live here year round and are going to run your air conditioner all the time and you want to go out to eat a lot … There are a lot of things you can do here that don’t cost a lot of money. To walk the malecon or just enjoy the beach … those kinds of things are free.”

Are there some challenges?
 Yes, of course. The city is served by a modern waste treatment plant, but requirements for homes and businesses to actually connect to the municipal system are hard to enforce. And there is little control over inland runoff that affects the several rivers that drain into the bay. So pollution count in some places occasionally reaches high levels, especially during rainy season.

And there have been some growing pains. Over the years, building booms have brought workers from far and wide to work in construction and associated services. While agriculture and manufacturing are important industries, nearly 50 percent of the workforce is in the tourism sector. During economic downturns and annual tourism low seasons, the economy can be seriously impacted.

Another drawback for some can be the tropical climate. While most would say that winter months — during the tourism high season from roughly December through March — are a great time to enjoy average daily temperatures of 86 F in the daytime, and 70 F at nighttime (with an average humidity of 68 percent), summer months can be tougher to deal with as daytime temperature often hover in the 90s and with higher humidity.

The rainy season extends from mid June through mid October, with most of the rain in August and September, usually concentrated in large, intense downpours. Hurricanes can occur but are uncommon, as the headlands on the south side of the bay generally protect the city from the worst of most Pacific storms.

Most who live here, however, will tell you that the climate is one the biggest draws, and that a few months of heat is a small price to pay for perfect beach and swimsuit weather during the winter.

Definitely this is one of Mexico’s most beautiful regions … and for expats it comes with all the comforts of home and it’s close to home. And right now (in June of 2016 with the dollar buying you an extraordinarily high 18.5 pesos) it delivers over and over when it comes to bang for your buck.

If you’re looking for affordable Pacific Coast living with all the amenities of a world-class city, there’s no better place…

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/suzan-haskins-and-dan-prescher/worlds-best-beach-city_b_10815480.html