Monthly Archives: March 2010

ICF Survey finds that many U.S. retirees in Mexico live comfortably for less than $1,000 a month

This month, the National City-based International Community Foundation released findings of a survey they conducted of more than 840 senior retirees in coastal areas of Mexico who are over the age of 50. I’m republishing here portions of the Foundation press release that was posted on their web site: 

  • U.S. retirees in Mexico are relatively young and well-educated. Nearly 53% are under 65 years of age (and, in fact, 80% are 69 years or younger), perhaps indicating that Mexico may not be as attractive for older Americans that require additional medical care. In addition, almost two-thirds have at least a college degree, and another 28% had attended at least one-year of college.
  • The respondents chose Mexico for retirement due to its proximity to the United States and its affordability relative to other U.S. retirement destinations.
  • U.S. retirees residing in Mexico continue to maintain strong ties to the U.S.: 50% consider the U.S. their primary country of residency, and almost 22% return to the U.S. on a monthly basis. 85% remain in contact with friends and family in the U.S. through the internet, 64% used the telephone, and 33% used Skype.
  • Retirees living in Mexico are worldly and world-wise. Of those that had considered retirement locations other than Mexico, 41% considered retiring in Central America or the Caribbean; 19% considered other non-U.S. destinations as possible retirement locations. Should quality of life decline in Mexico, those that are financially able could begin to look elsewhere.
  • Mexico may become an alternative for those U.S. retirees facing economic challenges in the future. While survey results and focus group participants clearly express that economic reasons were a major factor in leading them south of the U.S.-Mexico border, the potential is likely greater than is being realized. In 2007, the California Elder Economic Security Standard Index (a financial measure that indicates basic financial needs for seniors in California) ranged from $21,000-$27,500 as the minimum needed for major California cities. The survey results show that nearly 44% of U.S. coastal retirees in Mexico live comfortably on less than $1,000 per month – an amount which underscores the potential demand for retirement options for low and middle income retirees in Mexico.

For more on the survey, go to the ICF website or read this story by San Diego Union-Tribune reporter Sandra Dibble. 

To get an insight into the life of senior citizens retired in Mexicali, go to MexicaliMaryAnn’s blog:  http://www.mexicalimaryann.com/

About the ICF (from their web site):  International Community Foundation is a public charity working to foster lasting philanthropy to benefit under-served communities throughout the Americas and Asia. With over 70% of International Community Foundation’s recent grantmaking benefiting charitable causes along the Baja California peninsula, International Community Foundation is committed to assisting US donors with charitable giving needs from Tijuana to Los Cabos.

At the SXSW conference…

Just a quick note to let readers know I will be out of town through next week at  SXSW (Interactive)  in Austin where I will be immersing myself in all things social media. I will try to promptly update the comments section during this time,  but I may not be able to provide immediate responses. Hopefully, the power of collective intelligence and crowdsourcing will allow you to help each other out with your travel questions.

Surfing along Baja: The Big Wave at Todos Santos

Let me begin by saying that I have not been to Todos Santos,  a pair of islands about 12 miles west of Ensenada, and that I don’t surf.

But surfing is a big part of Baja’s appeal  to sports-minded travelers. So I was glad to come across a recent travelogue posted by Nathan Gibbs on his blog – Nathangibbs.com –  of the  the Todos Santos Big Wave Event. Apparently, surfers wait out the appropriate wave conditions during the month of February until someone makes the call that the contest is on. In this case, the event took place Feb. 28 after forecasters predicted waves would get between 18-20 feet high.

I once interviewed some surfers (when I was a reporter) about what draws them to Baja California. Several told me it was the ruggedness and isolated atmosphere – the sense of what California must have been like before the urban sprawl and the knotted shoelace freeways.  The chance to have a wave all to themselves.

Or, as in this case, to simply ride some pretty impressive waves. To get a sense of the Todos Santos area’s alluring waves,  I’ve embedded a video (above) that Nathan made of his ocean excursion. But to get a more comprehensive sense of the event, do check out Nathangibbs.com to see some amazing shots of the surfers and waves that day.

And feel free in the comments section to suggest links to other videos or photos taken from that day.

YouTube video from NathanGibbs.com

If you happen to be around Hidalgo this weekend…

Ok, this this is a little far from the border. But this poster for “Extreme Adventure Hidalgo 2010”  really makes me want to go to Hidalgo this weekend to check out the sky divers, acrobatic planes – and break dancers. Apparently, Hidalgo (a central Mexican state) has hosted this extreme sports event for the past eight years. The competitive races will include cycling, hiking, kayaking and rope climbing, according to the event’s website. Featured Latin pop artist, Yuri, has been called “The Mexican Madonna.”

Traveling in Mexico: Passports and travel advisories, oh my!

Several travel-related issues along the U.S.-Mexico border are sure to raise some questions on this blog (and they already have started doing so), so I’m going to see if I can address them in this post:

Is is safe to go to Tijuana? Tijuana’s name showed up again in a list of cities linked to drug trafficking violence by the U.S. Department of State under their periodically-updated  travel alerts. This time, the alert seemed to focus more on the Mexican border towns south of Texas, but Tijuana continues to smart from being on this “black list.” Tijuana’s mayor Jorge Ramos has criticized the advisories for being too inflamatory (he would like the wording to change).

A story by ABC News points out that overall violence appears to be in decline in Mexico when compared to a decade ago, and in explaining that much of the impact of violence is influenced by perceptions rather than reality. Tracking and defining border violence is a complicated thing, especially since it tends to surge up and down and shift back and forth between regions. I have found the alerts to have no impact on my own travel decisions, but that’s just me.

Is Mexico requiring that I have a passport to go to Tijuana/Mexical/other border cities? The Mexican government created some confusion over this when they said that visitors to Mexico who travel through the land ports of entry would need to bring their passports starting in March. It became clear that having passports checked at these busy border entry points would be a logistical nightmare. Since then, the Mexican government has clarified that people who travel as far south as Ensenada in Baja California won’t have to worry about bringing their passports after all. Read more in this KPBS report. and The San Diego Union-Tribune.

Of course, the issue of whether or not people need to bring their passports to get back into the United States through the land ports of entry  – despite a U.S. government passport “requirement” announced last year – continues to be hotly debated. For more on that, go to this blog post or start a new conversation thread below.