Vallarta and Mexico Attracting Flood of
Expatriates for Retirement and Part Time
By Les Christie, CNNMoney.com staff writer
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com)
- In the past 10 years, new Mexican beach
resorts have attracted a flood of American
expatriates to retirement and second home
the Dallas Morning News reported that
more than 1 million Americans now live
in Mexico, at least part time, five times
the number of 10 years ago. The U.S. State
Department reported in October 2004 that
385,000 live there year round. That number
is almost certainly higher today.
"Mexico is a foreign setting with
a familiar accent," Bruce Greenberg,
an appraiser/market consultant for Mexican
real estate, who cites Mexico's proximity
and hospitality as two big draws for Americans.
Mexican beach resorts have another big
factor going for them: weather. Winters
are warm and summer heat is tempered by
the waters of the Pacific, the Sea of
Cortez, or the Caribbean.
And, even though property prices in Mexico
have increased, the costs of homes are
still low. In addition, according to Greenberg,
there are low property taxes averaging
about $300 a year on property of $300,000
and low monthly costs.
What's more, creature comforts of American
life are increasingly becoming available
south of the border. Satellite and cable
television bring news and entertainment
right into ex-pat's living rooms, the
Internet keeps them in touch with hometown
newspapers, and American food brands are
available at the supermarket. There may
even be a Wal-Mart not far away.
With so many migrants, however, resorts
of choice are getting crowded, and other,
even newer developments, are springing
forth to take up the overflow.
The "Fab Four"
There are four major waterfront corridors
where Americans live in Mexico, according
to Greenberg: southern Baja, from Cabo
San Lucas to La Paz; Puerto Vallarta,
from San Blas to Manzanillo; Sonora, on
the northern arm of the Sea of Cortez,
from San Felipe to Puerto Penasco; and
to Tulum area.
He says as they get crowded, newer development
go up on their outer edges. Several communities
are poised to become the new Cabos and
One up-and-comer is Loreto Bay, about
a quarter the way up the Baja Peninsula
from Cabo. The American community there
is still small. But a Scottsdale, Arizona-based
firm, The Loreto Bay Company, is building
a planned town of condos and single-family
homes there with as many as 6,000 units.
Loreto, like Ixtapa, Los Cabos, and Cancun
before it, was researched by FONATUR,
the Mexican tourism development agency,
which determined that Loreto's beaches,
mountains, and historic village made it
capable of becoming a world-class tourist
Further south, another new development,
Paraiso del Mar, sits right on the edge
of the Cabo/La Paz corridor. It's on a
spit, a ferry ride from La Paz. There'll
be golf, tennis, water sports pools, and
a marina. A 1,700 square foot, three bedroom
condo, five minutes from the water costs
$239,000 with big sea-side homes going
for $1.1 million. Similar homes in California
would cost three or four times as much.
a third up-and-comer, sits on the mainland
directly across from Cabo San Lucas. It's
a Pacific port and fishery center attracting
Americans crowded out of nearby Puerto
Vallarta, the resort that garnered world-wide
fame in 1963 when Richard Burton and Elizabeth
Taylor invaded a sleepy fishing village
to film "The Night of the Iguana."
Since then, Puerto Vallarta has grown
into a major playground for affluent gringos.
Mazatlan is more than just a tourist
town; it's a vibrant, working city of
400,000. It has a huge shrimp fleet, a
major brewery, great beaches and restaurants,
and one of the largest Carnival celebrations
in the world.
Another wannabe, according to Greenberg,
is the stretch of Pacific coast below
Tijuana. The area around Ensenada has
become a hot spot for working-class Americans.
Its biggest advantage is proximity to
vast hordes of Southern Californians;
it's only a 90-minute drive from San Diego.