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Livint in La Paz

Have you ever asked  yourself what it would take to leave all the rat race, hustle and bustle behind you and move to paradise?  Well of course you have!  We all ask ourselves that question from time to time. The thought of palm trees, white sand and a cool blue ocean has universal appeal and there aren’t many who would stick with the daily grind when the good life is within reach.  So if that question has become more than an occasional, passing thought, maybe it’s time to start seriously considering  a more relaxed, and fulfilling way of life. 

haciendas Palo Verde in La PazThe quick response to that suggestion is ofen “easier said than done”   but you certainly aren’t getting any closer to living the dream if you simply fall back on that statement without taking the first step.  (And, while I appreciate that you are taking the time to read this article, you won’t make too much headway surfing the internet from the comfort of your favorite chair either.)

So what would it take to transition into a relaxed, tropical  lifestyle where you can slow down and really appreciate the things that matter?  That’s the question that I’ll help to answer here and the first response is obviously money.  But don’t let that scare you off.   It doesn’t take nearly as much as you might think and, with the economy getting continually worse, it’s not just affordable, it’s downright smart.  So let’s start at the top and work down.

The first priority is a home but you probably don’t want to settle for second rate, right?.  What about  a quality home on a large lot with a view, near the ocean,  granite and marble finishes, stainless steel appliances, cantera stone terraces  and custom cabinetry?   You might expect to pay over $ 500,000 for all  of these features and amenities but you can have it all in a beautiful, palo verde style hacienda for the price of $198,000 USD.  And while you might not have instant access to that money, there are ways to make this purchase using the funds in your 401K or IRA that are penalty free.  (This is a topic that will be discussed in greater detail in an upcoming article.)

Haciendas Palo Verde Affordable Homes in La PazThe  cost of living in Mexico is significantly less than the US or Canada  and a realistic household budget could be as little as $650 per month.  That may sound impossible to some of us northerners but here’s a breakdown of the monthly living expenses: 

food - $275 (this is about what I spend to feed a family of 3, 2 dogs and keep cold beer in the fridge) electric - $125 (but more if you want to keep your house as cold as the weather you moved down here to escape), water - $40 (this includes watering your plants and trees a few times a week); natural gas - $30 (for the hot water heater, oven & stove and clothes dryer), gasoline - $100 (assuming a 4 cylinder car for local driving), cable TV - $15, and internet - $30.  Phone plans vary considerably but you can find offers from Vonage or Magic Jack that won’t run you more than $25 a month to have a US or Canadian phone number and make international calls.  A Mexican cell phone is also handy for making local calls and they can be purchased for about $25 and paid as you use them. 

Sky view of the bay of La pazForeigners living within 50 Km of the ocean will also need a fideicomiso in order to own property.  This must be maintained annually and, while the annual fee will vary depending on the property value, a budget of $40/ month is appropriate. To cover all the details, property taxes should also included.  At this point, I hope your are sitting down.  I just paid mine (and got a 20% discount for paying early) and it was just under $75 for the year!  For those of you who havn’t already reached for the calculator, that works out to $6.25/month. If you’re still working the numbers, it’s probably becoming clear that your annual living expenses in Mexico start to look pretty darn good when compared to what you pay in annual property taxes up north. 

OK, so what’s keeping you?  It’s beautiful, safe, and most of all, it really is very affordable.   I’m hoping that you stopped reading this article at the end of the last paragraph or at least opened up a new browser window to start looking at flights.  You don’t have to be filthy rich  to enjoy the lifestyle that everyone longs for but isn’t going to just fall in your lap, either.  In the immortal words of my good friend Tim, who’s also my neighbor down here in La Paz, Mexico “stop dreaming and start living!”

For more information on home ownership in Mexico, visit www.haciendaspaloverde.com

Published Friday, March 9, 2012 2:05 PM by Zinnia Q.

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