editor’s note: A reader named Sarah wrote us with the subject line “retire to baja.” Of course I passed this on to our resident retirement/baja expert El Codo, who demanded to know more about Sarah’s needs/situation.
I plan to go to Mexico this summer. I have limited funds so will need inexpensive housing. Would a long term older hotel be a good choice? I have few belongings to bring. Having a place furnished would needed. I am 71 and not as able to labor for myself as I was even though I am still very capable and will drive down. A small house on a ranch would be good too. Guess I should tell you I am a female, though the name pretty we’ll says that.
In order to answer your question intelligently, a person would need to know some facts from you to base a recommendation on.
- How much of a monthly budget do you have to work with?
- Do you speak Spanish? Beginner? Intermediate? Fluent?
- How is your health? If you need special medicines this really can affect things. Same with supplements.
- How is your tolerance for heat or cold? Can you handle 90F with 70% humidity?
- Or trips to the bathroom at night when it’s 48F or even chillier?
- Are you a “people person”?
- What will you do when there is no TV, no radio, no internet, no books?
- Is your car in good shape and not something weird like a Saab or Mazda? Some ATM runs can involve a hundred mile drive in really rural locations.
- Can you walk 300 yards carrying 20 lbs of grocery sacks?
- Are you vegetarian?
Try and answer point by point and I will do my best to give hints and tips…
I am halfway down the peninsula on the Pacific side at the moment. No Wi-Fi. I have a friend who owns a large market and I tie into their Wi-Fi daily. At the market.
Food is not cheap out here in the wilds. Figure on 20-40% more expensive than USA discount market prices. For example russet potatoes are around .50 a pound. Chicken is a dollar a pound or more depending on the cut. All the food travels hundreds of miles and tropical fruit from the mainland scoots thousands of miles to get here.
The nearest ATM from where I am is a 150 mile round trip, and if it does not work, up the mileage to a 225 mile round trip.
Housing is not abundant. Gringos illegally rent gringo homes for high prices, but on a whim kick a person out when someone comes along and offers them 50 dollars more a month.
Be prepared to do the Chinese checkers thing from house to house, upgrading as a home is built or becomes available.
Here’s my advice on strategy: Drive south to GUERRERO NEGRO, hole-up at a cheap place like the hotel MGM next to the supermarket LA BALLENA next to the huge aerial orange water tank (tower). They have a weekly rate. Start asking around. Then migrate to Vizcaino, make a right toward BAHIA TORTUGAS but 50 miles down the road make a left and head to BAHIA ASUNCION, 22 miles. All excellent road. There are a couple of cheap hotels here. You will have passed the dirt road turnoff to LA BOCANA and PUNTA PRIETA. Mind you fifteen dollars a night = 450 dollars a month – you’ll need to find a place fast to stay within your budget.
I’m going to be leaving within the next several months to migrate to TECATE so I can get operated on. If you want, you can have the place I helped to fix up. Probably your dream home. Furnished with large refrigerator, stove, pots, and pans, too much furniture, bed, table, and a ton of appliances. 2500 pesos a month + water and power. The landlandy does my laundry and housekeeping for 600 pesos a month. New small wooden house. Concrete floor, do-it-yourself shower but a great toilet. It’s really not a bad place. Asuncion has a population of around 1,500 and very little crime. One nice market but four others somewhat smaller, a gas station, several water plants. no land line telephones, and no WiFi. The commercial Wi-Fi here is a joke – it does not work for weeks at a time and when it does the baud rate is around 6. About two dozen gringos, but I do not mingle. My friends and family are Mexican. Once my surgery is done I’m going home to my family in Michoacan.
This July marks 50 years since I first visited Baja and Mexico…
Desde Bahia Asuncion.