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Retiring to Ajijic - could use some (lots of) advice....

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Post by toedippers Sat Sep 26, 2015 12:48 pm

And away we go….

The good new is my wife and I have settled on the country and town where we wish to retire - that would be Mexico and Ajijic.  

…the less good news is -  that’s all we’re settled on.

We have read everything we can on the topic from this site and others (thanks to all) but still have so many questions…

We’ll be down at the end of October – and have a real estate guy arranged –but we’d love to hear from anyone vested in the area – but not the real estate business.

So here’s question 1: We’re thinking we’d prefer to walk to most everything – so a relatively central location.  Are we crazy?

Is it too noisy? too dirty? too something?? What are peoples views on the good and bad of living close to the center of town?

Thanks in advance

The toedippers

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Post by CanuckBob Sat Sep 26, 2015 1:15 pm

I live in Ajijic Village on 16th de Septiembre very close to the LCS. Other than during the usual festivals it is very quite down here. We can walk to everything. 1 block to the lake malecon, 2 blocks to the plaza. I have friends living 1 block up and 1 block further east on Constitucion. It is very noisy there because during the day that street is a bus route and for some reason at night they can hear a lot more noise. They have stayed at our place prior to moving here and can't believe how much more quiet it is at our place versus theirs. The point being that location is everything. If you want to live in the village and want it to be relatively quiet you need to pick the right location and be very aware of what is happening in all the neighboring properties (bar/restaurant, autoshop, wood working place, etc.).
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Post by brigitte Sat Sep 26, 2015 1:20 pm

and also realize that things can change, a quiet place can become noisy ans a noisy one quiet. Stay away from lots that are not built as you just do not know what will become of that lot. Stay away from bus routes inside the village and from restaurants and special event places , observe the traffic, watch out for parking lots or open spaces where people can park or gather...

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Post by RickS Sat Sep 26, 2015 2:06 pm

You will undoubtedly get some good, if conflicting, recommendations here. Although one will find conflicting thoughts on another subject.... rent or purchase.... most will say rent first. That way one can take their leisure and FIND the right spot for them whether it be for noise or other factors. Your openness to walking the streets will let you 'patrol' many areas 'on the ground' and thus probably find both the good and bad. Be aware that a seemingly otherwise quite street (anywhere) might have a shop (grinding metal) or rooster haven right next door to a nice casa. Zoning is an unheard of concept.

Late October will begin a good test for you as that is right before festivals start and you will get to experience first hand just how noisy the area can be, as there will be 'non-stop' cohetes (explosive rockets) being shot off beginning before sunrise.

IMO, the best advice one could give you is.... take your time. And then enjoy!

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Post by Pogo Sat Sep 26, 2015 2:20 pm

Rent! Do not buy for two years at least. Live in different neighborhoods. Find out what they are like - during the high season, the low season, the rainy season and the fiesta season. Find out about noise, flooding, geography and geology of neighborhoods. I can just about guarantee you can find a place you will love. There is a LOT of that here.

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Post by gringal Sat Sep 26, 2015 3:50 pm

I live in Ajijic in the same general area as CBOB.  I love the convenience of walking everywhere and besides, driving in Mexico is no pleasure on these crowded, narrow, cobblestoned and potholed streets.  You need to pick the right street though.  One block can be a bus and truck route and the next one, fairly quiet.
But, no matter what..........rent first.  You'll find out quickly where the "good spots" are.  Never rush into either marriage or home ownership.  Easy to get in to: hard to get out of.
lol!
Good luck and welcome.

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Post by juanrey Sat Sep 26, 2015 5:41 pm

Ajijic is a small village and there are many places you can live and you'll be able to walk to everything. You can live in the village centro, or just outside it, or above the caraterra and still walk to everything. You'll just have to take your time and find what works best for you. Agree with the advice about renting. We rented for over 3 years before buying and glad we did. Just come with an open mind and you'll fit right in and love it here.
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Post by Zedinmexico Sat Sep 26, 2015 6:44 pm

We lived in the center of Ajijic at Zaragoza and Colon and sometimes it was too noisy. A block away would have made a big difference as Cbob noted in his post. We had buses going on Zaragoza every 15 minutes. After a while you could tell which bus or driver from the sounds. We now live above the Carraterra and while I miss many things about living uber El Centro we really are happier a little farther away. You may be different but rent and move around a little and go to every open house you can to see whats out here. Long term renting is an option here. Owning a house is not for everybody as it seems much harder to sell a house here. Bring Juanrey open mind and you will do fine most likely. Our opinion for location is not too close and not too far from centro Ajijic. Also remember that great view lot might be much noisier than a more secluded lot. It all depends....

Z

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Post by Jim W Sat Sep 26, 2015 7:01 pm

I would never buy a home at lakeside. The gringo clicks seem to drive the market at lakeside! Make your own decision! My advise is don't buy. We lived @ Lakeside for 8 years! We will be renters for 6 months per year! When You decide to leave pack it up and go! Buying in Mexico is extremely risky! Ask Zed why he hasn't bought a home @ Lakeside........either he can't afford it or he is smarter than the rest!
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Post by REC Sun Sep 27, 2015 12:00 pm

When we were first coming down to visit (10 years ago) we stayed in various parts of town just to get a feel for different neighborhoods. And then we rented for a year before buying. Loved the house we rented but as we learned a little more we found other areas we liked a little more.

After renting we bought a house one block above the highway on Marcos Castellanos - the street where the main church is across from the plaza. We get some noise during the day with delivery trucks but no buses but very quiet at night. We are within a couple of blocks of the plaza and easy walking distance to lots of other places. We really love our neighborhood and feel very safe and welcome.

Look around, do your homework and you will find something that will be a great fit for you. Take your time.

Lots of people would never buy in Mexico and I can understand that from their perspective. We know people that have lived in the area for years and have rented the entire time. Certainly a reasonable decision. However, for us we are really glad we bought - never have to worry about what the landlord will or won't do and won't ever be forced to move. We love our neighborhood and our house and personally wouldn't be happy renting. Something everyone has to decide for themselves.

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Post by RVGRINGO Sun Sep 27, 2015 12:23 pm

When we arrived in 2001, we bought a home within a few blocks of the Ajijic Plaza, where we lived happily for a few years. Howver, wanderlust and the desire for a larger home intervened and we sold it in 2004. Our new home was in Chapala Centro, just a few blocks from the mercado, plaza, bus station, malecon and anything else we might need. Chapala offers better walking and shopping plus access to the lake‘s nicest malecon and its attractions and restaurants. For gringo restaurants, hop a bus to Ajijic. For fine dining, head for Guadalajara. The only problem is that finding a home in Chapala is difficult. It is quite well settled and the real estate folks centered in Ajijic seem to want to keep you at the center of their universe. However, there is one agency that does serve Chapala well and keeps their main office there on Calle Hidalgo. So, what to do? Draw an arc about three blocks from the Chapala mercado publico to the east, north and south. Walk every nook and cranny of it with your notebook. You might get lucky. At least you will get familiar with the town.

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Post by wildharp Sun Sep 27, 2015 2:59 pm

Hi, Toes.....I'm newer to the area so don't have much 'weight' in this conversation, but I knew when I came here that I would be adjusting to a different culture. Yes, it's noisy at times, and yes, there are roosters.  The bus goes by and depending on the driver it can be loud.  I get over it.  But I know that when I leave I miss being there and can't wait to get back.
I'll be there sometime in Oct too. Feel free to look me up when you guys get here (on my noisy street ;)
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Post by toedippers Sun Sep 27, 2015 3:44 pm

First - thanks for all of the thoughtful responses... it only convinces us further that we're doing the right thing in looking at Ajijic/Chapala and that the folks in Lakeside are open and welcoming.

With my wife being Mexican (with family in Guadalajara) and me being Canadian - we really are very excited about getting started and our trip south cannot come too soon.

If I may - here's question 2: Better to build or buy? Some have said building is cheaper and you get exactly what you want - others say a money pit where you must watch every brick being laid to ensure its in the right place... thoughts? And is there any property in town even available... I don't see much on the MLS?

thanks again!

toedippers


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Post by gringal Sun Sep 27, 2015 4:08 pm

Don't build or buy until you've lived here long enough as a renter to hear who the good and bad builders are; where to put your house or whether to buy one at all.

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Post by juanrey Sun Sep 27, 2015 4:35 pm

There's land and lot's all over the place. All depends what you want to do. Gringal is right, your first challenge is getting a quality, trustworthy builder and that's going to take you a while.
Rent a place that's comfortable for you and enjoy your arrival. Then,
spend some time looking around, figure out where you want to be, look at what's on the market and what comes on the market. After a while you will know the answers to all your questions.
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Post by Zedinmexico Mon Sep 28, 2015 8:16 am

Jim W wrote:I would never buy a home at lakeside.   The gringo clicks seem to drive the market at lakeside!   Make your own decision!   My advise is don't buy.  We lived @ Lakeside for 8 years!  We will be renters for 6 months per year!   When You decide to leave pack it up and go!   Buying in Mexico is extremely risky!   Ask Zed why he hasn't bought a home @ Lakeside........either he can't afford it or he is smarter than the rest!


Renting just makes more sense to us and many as we want the flexibility to go somewhere else if this place becomes less desirable. Besides I know folks love to own houses but we don't. Rentals are great here and good prices. Where else can you live in a civilized place for the money we pay for rentals? Buying a house may make sense as insurance against rental creep cost wise and I get that but we prefer the good value of rentals here. This is our fourth rental in Ajijic in six years. We learned so much from each house about mexico, Mexican neighborhoods and just life in general here. We look back and we wouldn't do anything different even the mistakes were good learning lessons and didn't hurt much. JimW had a hell of a time selling his house lakeside. We do not wish to repeat his experience and it is not a unique experience. Sorry Jim but hey at least its gone now!

Z

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Post by gringal Mon Sep 28, 2015 10:12 am

Zedinmexico wrote:
Jim W wrote:I would never buy a home at lakeside.   The gringo clicks seem to drive the market at lakeside!   Make your own decision!   My advise is don't buy.  We lived @ Lakeside for 8 years!  We will be renters for 6 months per year!   When You decide to leave pack it up and go!   Buying in Mexico is extremely risky!   Ask Zed why he hasn't bought a home @ Lakeside........either he can't afford it or he is smarter than the rest!


Renting just makes more sense to us and many as we want the flexibility to go somewhere else if this place becomes less desirable.  Besides I know folks love to own houses but we don't.  Rentals are great here and good prices.   Where else can you live in a civilized place for the money we pay for rentals? Buying a house may make sense as insurance against rental creep cost wise and I get that but we prefer the good value of rentals here.  This is our fourth rental in Ajijic in six years.  We learned so much from each house about mexico, Mexican neighborhoods and just life in general here.  We look back and we wouldn't do anything different even the mistakes were good learning lessons and didn't hurt much. JimW had a hell of a time selling his house lakeside. We do not wish to repeat his experience and it is not a unique experience. Sorry Jim but hey at least its gone now!

Z
Four moves in six years? Oy. I wouldn't mind renting, but I'm thinking six years in one house would be more my speed.
Fact is, there are renters and there are incurable "nesters". Even though I have serious doubts about the wisdom of owning, I've never been happy to be a renter. I like to CHANGE things; like paint colors. I did rent a house some years ago that had been painted ALL "desert sand" aka Landlord Beige with a "no painting" clause in the contract. Ugh.

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Post by CanuckBob Mon Sep 28, 2015 10:53 am

I'm like you Gringal. I always owned NOB, hate moving, and like fixing places up. I also don't like giving money to someone else every month. I'd rather be on the receiving end....jaja.
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Post by RVGRINGO Mon Sep 28, 2015 11:34 am

We bought upon arrival in Ajijic, sold within three days at a profit in 2004 and bought in Chapala, where we remodeled and lived for another 10 years. The last sale was slower, by far, but at a satisfactory price which cost us less over the decade than we would have spent on rent for a mucy smaller place. It worked out very well for us and we wish that age and health matters had not forced us north.

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Post by gringal Mon Sep 28, 2015 12:12 pm

RVGRINGO wrote:We bought upon arrival in Ajijic, sold within three days at a profit in 2004 and bought in Chapala, where we remodeled and lived for another 10 years. The last sale was slower, by far, but at a satisfactory price which cost us less over the decade than we would have spent on rent for a mucy smaller place. It worked out very well for us and we wish that age and health matters had not forced us north.

Newcomers need to be aware that 2004 was a "hot" real estate market in this area, and today's market is "cool", meaning that it can take years to sell one's property, especially in the upper price range. Therefore, be careful and don't believe all that the real estate agents tell you. Also be aware that there are no mandated "disclosures" as there are NOB. There could be serious problems and no one is obliged to tell you about them. Some problems can't even be found with a decent house inspection. I'll spare you the ones I encountered, but can assure you than it was both expensive and inconvenient. Rolling Eyes

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Post by RVGRINGO Mon Sep 28, 2015 12:58 pm

That is all true, Gringal. However, I have built two homes and a yacht with my own two hands, so may have more comfort in judging a prospective purchase. That said, we did have to replace the HVAC here in Tucson, as Murphy‘s Law caused the 20 year old AC compressor to start failing in our first summer here. That too was expensive and inconvenient. Glad we did not need such systems in Chapala.

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Post by Fastfox Mon Sep 28, 2015 1:58 pm

Living here and the choices remind me of a cafeteria. I'm fairly new here as well. We have been here a few months and have moved twice. If you can find something which does not require a long term lease, it's a good idea. We had lived in the same house in the US for more than 20 years, so we' not typically movers. However, you just won't know enough at first.

It's really nice that there is so much choice, and it is a different lifestyle. My suggestion is try not to look at a rental as a long term selection because the reality is you will learn about what you really like through change and visiting people.
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Post by CanuckBob Mon Sep 28, 2015 2:00 pm

gringal wrote:
RVGRINGO wrote:We bought upon arrival in Ajijic, sold within three days at a profit in 2004 and bought in Chapala, where we remodeled and lived for another 10 years. The last sale was slower, by far, but at a satisfactory price which cost us less over the decade than we would have spent on rent for a mucy smaller place. It worked out very well for us and we wish that age and health matters had not forced us north.

Newcomers need to be aware that 2004 was a "hot" real estate market in this area, and today's market is "cool", meaning that it can take years to sell one's property, especially in the upper price range.  

But on the other hand one will purchase a place for 50% of what they would have from 05' to 08'. If you stick to 300K and under, in a desirable location, I think it is a pretty safe bet that you can at least get your money back if/when it comes time to sell. I don't see RE going much lower than now and the lower priced stuff is selling quite well. Just don't go crazy sinking too much money into a place........
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Post by gringal Mon Sep 28, 2015 2:29 pm

I have a couple of friends that are trying to sell homes in Rancho de Oro; beautiful views and fine houses but they are (suitably) priced over $300K.
It's taken months already, but no luck yet.
So........patience.

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Post by CanuckBob Mon Sep 28, 2015 2:49 pm

Yeah, anything over 300K is moving slower. I imagine as the lower priced stuff sells out then the next rung on the ladder will pick up. I was talking with Laura Duran this morning. She is a new Mexican RE agent, and she said she has sold 10 places in the past 11 months. All were to Tapatio's and all were under 300K.
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