We invite you to share in our experience and knowledge of real estate ownership in Mexico, the home of the Aztecs, plus retirement and relocation to Mexico, as well as our understanding of the colorful Mexican Culture and Language.
Buying property in a foreign country can be an exciting and most rewarding life investment.
As real estate professionals who have lived happily in Cuernavaca for XX years, we're often asked what it's really like to live in Mexico. And we can say with conviction that it's a life of colors and contrast, hassles and humor, and definitely not for the unadventurous. As in any large American City (our population is estimated to be between 750,000 and one million), there are infrastructure issues (traffic, road repair, graffiti) but they are largely offset by the spectacular, spring like climate and the abundance of tropical vegetation at every turn. Traffic is less bothersome when you're looking at a cascade of bougainvillea as you wait at a light! If you're thinking of moving to Mexico, we can tell you that life in Cuernavaca will be an enriching and life-changing experience.
Here are just a few things you might like to know if you're contemplating such a big change:
Communications are right here in the 21st century, with excellent landline and cellular service, reasonably priced high speed Internet access, and both cable and satellite television in Spanish and English. The only facet of communication that just doesn't work is the mail; expats tend to use U.S. based delivery services that courier their U.S. mail to them weekly or, for really important mail, the services of Federal Express, UPS and the like.
Transportation is a breeze, even if you should choose not to own an automobile. There is an abundance of safe, cheap radio taxis in the city, a network of local buses for the adventurous traveler, and a fleet of safe and luxurious motor coaches that will get you to the heart of Mexico City or to the airport in two hours. A network of luxury buses will also take you anyplace you'd like to go throughout the country (you can be on the beach in Acapulco in 3 hours!). In addition, Mexico boasts several discount airlines with destinations all around the country, emanating from the Mexico City hub. If you choose to own a car, which most people do, the purchase and registration process is analogous to that in the U.S., and there is a wide choice of car brands and types from which to choose; auto insurance is readily available at prices comparable to those in America. Driver's licenses are also easy to obtain and renew annually.
Just about anything you might want or need is readily available in Cuernavaca, or in the international Mecca that is Mexico City. Cuernavaca boasts several large nationwide supermarket chains that are spanking clean and modern, as well as those indispensable American big box stores, Costco, Sam's Club, Wal-Mart, Home Depot, Office Depot and Auto Zone. In addition, of course, there are the traditional markets, which offer an overwhelming quantity of just about anything you can imagine, from superb coffee to pork chops and everything in between, along with the most beautiful produce and flowers the country has to offer. And there are two modern shopping malls which feature such names as Zara, Sears, Liverpool, McDonald's, Lacoste and Petland. And all of the things that make up daily life---from spa treatments to shoe repair-- are inexpensive here, and readily available.
Cuernavaca boasts a plethora of cultural activities, including visiting world class symphony orchestras, dance companies and concert performers, both classical and popular, which appear regularly in the restored Teatro Ocampo downtown. We have several first-run movie houses (American movies are generally subtitled in Spanish), a thriving arts community (with showings in both public and private galleries), and a superb children's' museum. And the availability of first-rate private schools, such as Marymount, is another important aspect of life here, along with a number of well-known Spanish language institutes. The city also offers a wide range of restaurants, ranging from humble but fabulous taquerias to world-class gourmet eateries, all at prices far lower than you would ever find in the United States. A highlight of the city's offerings is the Palacio de Cortes, with its spectacular Diego Rivera mural of the history of Mexico. And only 90 minutes away from the city lies the vast treasure trove that is Mexico City, with its incomparable museums, ruins, shopping, restaurants, and pulsating artistic and cultural life. A day spent in the Distrito Federal, as Mexicans refer to the city, will revitalize you and at the same time truly make you appreciate being back in the peace and quiet of your own garden.
Many potential home buyers ask about health care and medical facilities, and we can truthfully say from personal experience that the quality of our best doctors and dentists ranks with that found in any American city. Many of our best professionals have trained in the United States and are fluent in English, and our better, newer hospitals are excellent, with nursing care (and costs) that are unimaginable in America. And, for catastrophic illnesses and the like, the facilities of Medica Sur, the ABC Hospital and the Cardiology Institute in Mexico City, among others, are absolutely world class.
Safety and security are frequently questioned by prospective home buyers, and we can say that, as in any large city with bustling day and night life, being alert and street smart makes all the difference. While the crime rate has indeed risen in recent years, due in part to drug-related activity that is focused in the northern part of the country, we've found that proper precautions (locking your car, perhaps installing a security system in your home, vetting anyone who works in your house, staying out of suspect areas in your car or on foot) will in all likelihood keep you safe. The vast majority of violent crime is committed by criminals and is directed at other criminals, not to innocent bystanders or residents.
The Mexican banking system has improved markedly in the past few years, with many new options having arisen in the wake of the last devaluation in the mid-1990s. A number of Mexican banks now have reciprocity in whole or part with American banks, or are multinationals, such as Citibank, HSBC, BankAmerica, Scotia Bank and Banco Santander. Establishing a checking account and obtaining a debit or credit card requires some patience (banks here just love red tape) but is eminently do-able, and you can find ATMs all over the city.
Home ownership here in Mexico is similar to being an owner in the US, with the delightful difference that real estate taxes are a fraction of those you're probably used to paying. In fact, there is a discount on taxes and services if you pay in full in the first 2 months of the tax year. Water costs far less than it does in the States, while electricity costs are comparable to those in many American cities. Home renovation and remodeling in Mexico is far less expensive than in would be in America, with labor a fraction of the price and with broad accessibility to top flight trades people and artisans who can truly make your home your castle.
In sum, while living in Mexico in general, and Cuernavaca in particular, is not for everyone, it certainly suits a growing number of North American and European expats and/or retirees. The foreign community here has grown by leaps and bounds, and is a diverse, warm and welcoming group, far less insular than is found in some other Mexican cities. It's fair to say that a newcomer to town will quickly be overwhelmed with social activities, and will find him or herself yearning for a day or evening without a luncheon, dinner or cocktail party.
If you've decided that living in Cuernavaca, the Land of Eternal Spring, might be right for you, we look forward to showing you some of the beautiful homes that can help make your dream come true.
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