How do you figure the dollar amount to spend each year? Do you feel you must
watch your expenses closely or do you live luxuriously?
I have been a “Quicken addict” for many years, and as such have always
tracked our expenses, but it is mostly for comparative purposes to monitor
cost of living. We live very comfortably. Ever since the Canadian Dollar
strengthened earlier this decade, every
Canadian down here got a 40% reduction in our rent, and in our cost of
living, so inflation has been negative for us. For Americans it goes up 4 –
5 percent a year.
The Gazebo in
Chapala's popular Plaza
Do you own a house or rent? Plusses and minuses?
We have always rented. It
never made any sense to buy. Long term rentals are inexpensive, so why bother
buying? A large percentage of the people we know who bought when
they first arrived were selling within a couple of
What do you do about health care? Do you
take advantage of local care or prefer to return to Canada? Do you have
local health insurance? (IMSS)
My company provides medical and dental care to its pensioners. It doesn’t
cost us anything. We find the local care exceptional. In Canada you can wait
weeks or even months for some procedures. Here it’s never takes more than a
How do you manage your finances from Mexico? Do you invest locally in the
Mexican Bolsa or elsewhere?
We have some money in a
Bolsa Index fund with
Lloyds, but it is an insignificant percentage of our overall portfolio. I
trade on-line in Canada and in the US.
players and volunteers at the Cristiania Park courts
What advice would you give to someone considering retiring in Mexico? Should
they buy a house, transfer their money to Mexican Banks or leave it in their
Never bring more than you need for emergencies into Mexico, and put it into
an Investment Company like Lloyds or Multivalores.
Mexican banks are nothing like Canadian and American ones. The
service is terrible, the systems are very basic, and the fees are high. Most people don’t bother with them.
There are ATMs everywhere, and we use them.
How complicated is it to obtain a retiree visa in Mexico? (FM3)
We have been “Inmigrados” (permanent residents) since 2001, so we don’t have
to do anything anymore, but when we came down almost everyone used an
Immigration Consultant. Now most people do it on their own. Lake
Chapala Immigration Services brings
people out to the lakeside every Wednesday. You don’t even need a
translator, but it is a painfully slow process that involves waiting for
hours on 3 consecutive Wednesdays. I would still recommend a consultant.
What do you do about transportation? Do you own a car or use public
transportation? How about the price of gas?
We own a Mexican plated car. Gas
is .74 cents per liter ($2.75 USD a gallon).
Share with us your best money-saving secret.
When we were working we always
saved 10% of our salaries. Now we don’t have to save. We live off our
pensions and never touch our investments.
is what retired Bankers do. A favorite actor in the Little Theater
Would you recommend Chapala as a retirement destination?
We are not as happy with the area as we used to be. We moved to a quiet
little Mexican village that in the past 5 years has evolved into a madhouse
in the winter months. A number of long time residents have left for quieter
places. There are over 20 gated communities that have sprung up. The traffic
jams are awful. Parking is very difficult. Up until 2000 there were no
traffic lights west of Chapala. Now there are 8. They are currently building
a 55 store shopping mall, and across the road from that, a Wal*Mart. Our
quiet little village is not quiet any more. It used to be paradise. Now it's
In the States we read
about gang shootings and kidnapping there in Mexico.
How about personal safety where you are in Chapala?
There are occasional purse snatchings and
burglaries, but compared to up north, it’s far safer down here. It’s
hard to tell numbers, because the majority of foreigners don’t
report the crimes. It’s just too difficult a process. Crime is not
Where do you get your news? Do you have to speak and read Spanish to live
Foreigners all have US satellite TV. Very few expatriates speak much
Spanish at all.
What keeps you busy? What is a typical day for you?
We play tennis 3 – 4
days a week, go shopping, and relax in the evenings. Tuesday and Friday
afternoons I play pool with a number of friends. We go out for dinner to
nice restaurants every Saturday with a group of friends. A couple of days a
month we go into Guadalajara to shop.
Do you have a maid and gardener? How much do you pay them per month and for
how many hours?
We have a maid one morning a week. She also cleans up
outside the house, so we don’t need a gardener. We pay her $15.00 USD for 4
In your opinion what's the best restaurant in the Chapala - Ajijic area?
There are 57 restaurants in Ajijic now, and many of them are very nice. It just depends on what we feel
like eating. We eat out 75 – 80 times a year. Dinner for 2 with a bottle of
wine usually runs around $40 - $45 USD including tip.
still has a laid back feel
What do you do for fun or entertainment?
The Little Theatre has plays every
month, and The Music Appreciation Society has regular functions. There are
always fundraisers for one charity or another. A couple of bars have
karaoke, and others have bands. You can go out every night of the week if you
Do you have problems with the Mexican mail system? Do you receive your mail
from Canada problem free or do you utilize another service?
A letter to/from Canada takes about 2 weeks, but we get very little mail. I
suppressed our bank and brokerage statements because they are all available
on-line. Don't send anything of value to Mexico, because you will never get it. Most
companies that sell on the internet will not send anything to Mexico. People
who have to get things like medicine from outside the country use Mail Boxes
What are the biggest changes you have seen in Chapala in the 13 years
you have lived there?
When we moved down in 1995 there were very few snowbirds. We all lived full
time in our nice quiet little Mexican villages. Then in 2002 an article in an
AARP publication caused a buying frenzy in Ajijic. Well the frenzy is over,
there are hundreds of houses for sale, but very few are selling.
We'd like to
sincerely thank Burt and Lucille Kennedy for taking their time to answer our
questions, and hopefully give our readers the inside view of what it's like
living in the Lake Chapala area. For more information about
Chapala and the
Retirement is right
around the corner and
you're ready to go
someplace where the
weather suits your
'round, Chapala, Mexico
is a dream come true and
the place for you!
If you're looking to
stay in chain hotels or
for a lifestyle that is
just like the States
then you're ...
Read more click here.
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