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Assisted Living Baja Style by Partrick Osio

 The Connection

 By Patrick Osio

Baja-Style Assisted Living
Beyond ‘medical tourism,’ a new market spurs
interest in retirement projects along the Baja coast

Baja California’s north coast real estate developers are not satisfied with the price advantage and marketing edge their beachfront and ocean view homes enjoy over coastal communities in California, Oregon and Washington. Now they’re aiming at the senior assisted-living business known as ADLs (Activities of Daily Living). ADLs cover the gap between independent living and nursing homes.

ADL developments generally provide apartments that range in size from 400 to 1,000 square feet along with access to a dining hall providing three daily meals plus snacks. They also offer activities ranging from community outings to billiard and card rooms, spas, grooming salons, laundry services and shuttles. ADLs provide personal help such as housekeeping, dressing, laundry, assistance with medication and even medical care.

The price of living in an ADL, usually paid monthly, includes a standard package of services. Additional services cost more, but it is less expensive than a nursing home, which must provide a higher level of individual care. Prices of ADL developments depend on the type of accommodations — there is an ADL for almost any budget.

Baja California’s north coast is poised to enjoy a significant competitive advantage over similar ADLs in California. For starters, as a matter of culture, the Mexican people put great emphasis on respect and caring for the elderly. Also, ADLs are heavy on service, which translates to higher labor usage. Paying for such labor costs much less in Baja.

Baja real estate developments eventually will incorporate three phases of retirement living into their continuing care retirement communities.

The first phase is independent living, which may entail the purchase of a condominium but no additional assisted-living services. When residents need those services, they can move to assisted living units in the project. Later, they can move into nursing home care. As the moves are made, the original condos can be sold or rented to help offset the cost of rent and needed services.

Projects under consideration today do not include full nursing home services. However, it is likely that as projects develop greater expertise in assisted living, more intensive services will follow.

For Baja real estate developers, assisted living projects are a natural progression on what they already offer. The developments are more in line with full-service hotels, at which Mexico already excels.

Personal services required to meet assisted living demands will require additional skills but not intense training. Nursing home services will require more education and training. Mexico has excellent nursing schools as well as pharmacists and doctors capable of tending to the basic needs of residents and helping arrange for specialized medical care.

A service expected to be popular is medical evacuation insurance to ensure the speedy transfer of patients back to the United States for intensive and specialized medical attention.

It is not only Mexican real estate investors but U.S. and Spanish assisted living enterprises investigating the Baja opportunities in this fast growing field.

Baja’s public and private sectors are awaking to the potential. A conference organized by the Tijuana Economic Development Corp. identifies “medical tourism” as a growing sector that is fast becoming a major source of visitors who are seeking lower cost medicines, dental work, eye care and “vanity” surgeries. Assisted living also was recognized as showing great potential for growth.

So get ready for a new round of bustling activity along Baja’s north coast — one that will offer a new place for the U.S. population to affordably realize retirement dreams.

Patrick Osio Jr. can be reached at posiojr@sandiegometro.com. The veteran consultant also has issued The Mexican Perspective, an intensive primer on business culture and protocol. Copies are available at hispanicvista.com/sales/book_sale.htm.

Published Friday, September 14, 2007 1:03 PM by Laura Tierney


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