By Carol Kaufman | International Living
Next month, for her 65th birthday, Karen Vrilakas is taking a trip to Morocco, Monaco, and India. “The great thing is, that when I return, I get to come back to my beautiful home in Ajijic,” she says.
The year-round warm weather was a huge draw for Karen when she decided to leave her home of Portland, Oregon for a new adventure in this Mexican lakeside town. “I felt done with all the rain and was fortunate to have discovered Ajijic. Finally, I found a place that could support my aging process. My mother had severe arthritis and I moved her here as well.”
Karen had been visiting Ajijic for 15 years before she made her final move, in the fall of 2016. “I was staying at my friend’s house there for two weeks when I realized that I wanted my own place.” Through a recommendation, Karen found Travis, a friendly, experienced real estate agent.
While taking a walk down a nearby cobblestone street, Karen came upon a sign advertising an open house in a small, gated condo complex. Upon viewing the three-bedroom, three-bathroom unit, she fell in love with the owner’s colorful style and vibe—as well as the small community and the location. She felt ready to make an offer.
Karen flew back to Portland to finish up some business and pack up her belongings while Travis made an offer on her behalf. The owner’s asking price was $249,000. They settled on the final price of $201,000, which was within Karen’s budget. Although the unit was move-in ready, she had it painted inside and out before settling in.
Karen is now the owner of a 1,950-square-foot, two-level condo, paying a yearly maintenance fee of $450, plus a small amount for property taxes. She moved in on Cinco de Mayo, 2016 and she couldn’t be happier.
Karen says, “I found the buying process to be easy. First, I obtained my Mexican permanent visa in Oregon and completed it in Mexico. I then worked with a notario (lawyer), who worked hand-in-hand with my lawyer. Happily for me, all the forms were in both Spanish and English.”
Having a will is a requirement for buying property in Mexico. Karen adds, “You also need to have cash, since mortgages don’t exist in Mexico. For me, the process of transferring money from my U.S. bank to the notario was a breeze.”
As a single woman, Karen observes, “There are plenty of single women living in Ajijic, and I feel completely comfortable being here without a partner. Plus, there are numerous opportunities to meet single people.”
“Since moving to Ajijic, I have immersed myself in the yoga and Buddhist communities and have many good friends. I have carved out a peaceful life for myself, including adopting Scubi, a dog from a local animal rescue,” she says.
Karen’s condo is one of 10 units. Five of them are owner lived in and five are rentals. Karen says, “This is a very friendly group and living here feels safe, since everyone knows each other. Some of the other tenants have keys to my house. We have a common area where folks gather to socialize. I’m in walking distance to everything and half of a block to my bank. What could be better than that?”