Frequently Asked Questions

If I am coming for a visit, how do I find a rental?

For stays less than a week, try some of the bed and breakfasts. We recommend Adobe Walls Inn. http://www.adobewallsinn.com/ Remember, if you are coming for the first time, you will want to stay near the Ajijic plaza or Lake Chapala Society. So search for rentals in Ajijic. For longer stays, try ROMA http://www.romawebsite.com/ or http://www.haciendaweb.com/

For very good references on moving and living here, try these books on Amazon. You can download these on your kindle or your computer.

Baby Boomers: Reinvent Your Retirement in Mexico by Karen Blue,
Moving to Mexico's Lake Chapala by Lisa Jorgensen.

Will I have a better lifestyle?

There are some common ways of measuring lifestyle. Lifestyle is generally measured in people, weather, safety, medical, money, food, clothes, activities, travel and availability of goods. In the Lake Chapala area we have well-traveled and well-educated people who are very interesting to know. The weather is superb, allowing you to be outdoors year-round. The towns around the lake are small and are much like small towns in the US with low crime rates, the medical is about a third the cost as the US. Your money goes about twice as far. It is like getting a raise in your retirement income. The food is less expensive, both at the grocery store and dining out. You need less clothes than in the US, mostly summer clothing, There are more activities than you can possibly do. We are about 24 miles from the second largest airport in Mexico with connections to anywhere in the world and there are many places you can travel to within Mexico. The Lake Chapala area is 30 miles from Guadalajara where just about anything can be purchased.

Can I purchase property in Mexico?

Yes, you can purchase land or a home in Mexico. We recommend that you move slowly so that you clearly understand the purchase and the procedures. You are in a different country with different customs and different laws, so take your time to learn the differences. We will answer some questions here, but it is not meant to be complete legal or real estate advice.
You can own real estate property with fee simple title just as in the US or in Canada with a legal deed outside the restricted zone such as in the Lake Chapala area. You can buy it directly from an owner, from an owner through the services of a real estate agent or from a real estate developer and you will have complete ownership rights to the property. However, the restricted zone is different.
Article 27 of the 1917 Mexican Constitution, prohibits foreigners from acquiring fee simple title to residential real estate (lots or homes) in areas referred to as “restricted” zones. These restricted zones refer to any real estate within 31 miles (50 km) of any coastline or 62 miles (100 km) of either border. Also included in this zone is the entire Baja Peninsula. However, foreign citizens are permitted to purchase use rights for property located in the restricted zone through the establishment of a land trust "fideicomiso" with a local bank. These use rights are good for two increments of fifty year terms, and the owners of these use rights may pass such rights on to their heirs who may then create a new land trust in which they too shall be able to renew their use rights for two increments of fifty year terms.

What is Ejido land?

This is land you cannot own. The large haciendas during the revolution of 1910/1920 were broken up into smaller parcels and given to groups of the native Indians. These parcels became known as ejidos. These village lands are communally held in the traditional Indian system of land tenure that combines communal ownership with individual use. The Mexican government always retains the ownership of the "ejido" land and provides that the communities hold and use it under the provisions of "ejido" land. If you are buying property, make sure you obtain a copy of the title for the land before buying it. Ejido land has no title.
If you have ever heard one of those stories about someone getting their property taken by the Mexican government, it is because the unfortunate person bought Ejido land, which is untitled land that only a Mexican national can legally own. Ejido land is the only land in Mexico that is without title.
Yes you can buy ejido land that has be converted to private property. The constitutional reforms of 1992 stated that ejido land now can be converted into private property and sold to third parties, including foreigners. However, most has not been converted.

What about Real Estate Companies in Mexico?

There are many real estate companies in Mexico, some with the same names as those in the US. Almost all property for sale is bought and sold though these companies. There are many capable real estate companies. Although they appear similar, they are not. There is no real estate board in Mexico and no licensing of realtors. Confirm that the real estate agent you are considering is an active member of the Mexican Association of Real Estate Professionals (AMPI). AMPI members operate under a code of ethics, and are affiliated with the U.S. National Association of Realtors (NAR) and the Canadian Association of Realtors (CREA).

How is property sold in Rancho La Salud Village?

You will be buying directly from the developer. The developer will sit down and work with you to write the agreement, and you and the developer will visit with a notario for advice and approval of your agreement. The notario is impartial and protects the interests of both parties. We will furnish proof of our titled land and that the subdivision of the land and the lot you select is approved by the building department.

What is Cohousing?

Cohousing Is an abbreviation for communities where people choose to live together as in a old-fashioned neighborhood that is friendly, very social and where they support each other. It has a strong sense of community where people connect and help each other.

How is it similar to a gated community?

It is ringed with a high protective wall, with a gated entry and a guard. The units are individually owned, the community center has a clubhouse, a swimming pool and a set of rules and regulations. The community is governed by the owners through their Board of Directors.

How different is it from other gated communities?

The average gated community maintains privacy at the expense of the interaction with their neighbors. The residents are more isolated from each other. This is created by being able to drive to their homes, open the garage door or enter the carport and then quickly entering the house. They do not see or talk to their neighbors unless they make a conscious effort.

In Cohousing, group interaction becomes very important, while providing privacy. The owners want to interact with their neighbors. Cohousing has certain physical characteristics which focus on the interaction with the neighbors. The cars are placed around the perimeter of the community. The residents leave their vehicles and walk to their homes along the pedestrian walkway. Kitchens and front porches face the walkway in order to see the neighbors walk by. The common house serves as a meeting place, a place to sit and talk.The outdoor common areas are shared by the residents. We see and chat with our neighbors when we go to get our mail, or when we go to a common meal. The community is designed for sociability.

If I am a senior and a expat, why might I enjoy Cohousing?

From Alice Alexander, Coho/US Executive Director we hear of many reasons:

•Cohousing provides a sense of belonging – of caring and being cared about – which is so necessary for most of us, and for seniors in particular, since US culture tends to marginalize aging adults.

•Cohousing provides a sense of purpose and meaning in collaboratively managing a community. While continuing care retirement communities can be a good choice for some, others resist following rules and being managed. Seniors who have raised families, achieved successful careers, and been involved in civic affairs may want to continue to take charge of their remaining years with the highest quality of life possible.

•Cohousing allows seniors to attend to their emotional well-being, especially when their children have moved away, their partners have passed on, and friends have died.

•Cohousing allows seniors not to be a burden to their children, especially in today’s world where daughters work as well as sons, family members may live far away, and there are fewer children to share caring.

•Cohousing can provide economic advantages over other retirement care. Smaller, more energy-efficient, well-designed homes translate to lower cost of living expenses. So does sharing resources. A strong social environment may contribute to better health and lower medical costs. And cooperatively hiring outside caregivers may be far more cost efficient.

•Cohousing allows seniors to help create their own community to meet their own needs, with other generations who appreciate their circumstances, or in senior Cohousing, to live with others who share a common bond of age and experience.

•Cohousing provides a vastly more sustainable model than many current options for retirement living, which often are socially inadequate, not health supporting, and a financial drain.

•Cohousing provides an excellent choice for seniors to house themselves with dignity, independence, safety, mutual concern – and fun!

I live in Guadalajara. I only want to use my home in Rancho La Salud Village just on weekends. Is that OK?

We would like you to seriously consider living here at Rancho La Salud Village permanently. It will be an enjoyable great place to live with your family. We will have a wonderful neighborhood much like living in a park, clean air, and interesting people. You will know your neighbors as friends. We believe it will be a better way to live. If you live in Guadalajara you might like getting away from the noise, the dust, the crime, the traffic and the flooded streets. You can always buy what you need in Guadalajara if you can't find it here.

May I buy a home now, and rent it for a year or two before I retire?

Yes, provided you rent through the our management company. We will rent and maintain it for you. Our purpose is to build community, so we will pick people who would enjoy being in community for at least 6 months or a year. From the rental income we will first pay for monthly fees, then the cost of our management company, and then hold in reserve money for rental repairs.

What purpose does the pedestrian walkway serve?

The pedestrian walkway allows the residents to walk to their homes in complete safety much like strolling in a park. The walks become a meeting place to meet neighbors and talk with them. The residents on the path are visible from the inside of the homes and the front porches and this increases interaction. They become places to walk for exercise. For children and grandchildren, it becomes a place to play.

How is Rancho La Salud Village different?

Ranch La Salud is similar to Senior Cohousing which is Intended primarily for adults who are retired. It is different as it concentrates on good health and on learning. We have a lot of community work performed by the local Mexicans. It provides employment and leaves the community residents with more free time. It is Cohousing with staff.

Why do I want to live here?

Whether we are a couple or live alone, we have left our families back home. We do not have connection with others as much as we would like and we want to belong to a community with common goals. We do not know later what will happen when we need help. This community offers an extended family and the opportunity to age-in-place.Here we can be healthy as possible, enjoy our neighbors, learn new things and have an adventure. We can remake ourselves.

Is Rancho La Salud Village wheelchair accessible?

We have made the entire outside areas in the complex wheelchair accessible, all the homes are accessible on the main floor area, the common house is accessible, the future conference area is accessible,the pool area is accessible and the shops to the front of the complex are accessible. The halls of the homes on the main floor have at least 3'-6" clearance, the doors are 3' - 0". Showers are roll-in type and have grab bars. Showers have seats and water wands. All doors showers and sinks have lever type handles. The places that are not accessible are the upper floors of the homes and upper units of the residential suites.

What does successful aging mean?

Is it living in the best climate in the world at one-half the cost of the United States or Canada? Do you see yourself living in a comfortable home in a community where everyone knows your name, a friendly caring place where we enjoy and help each other? Perhaps you seek that kind of personal connection. You can find this at the Rancho La Salud Village.
This will be a community where you belong. Perhaps you realize that when you leave your home and family behind, you will want an extended family here. You will enjoy this, and your family back home will appreciate that you are safe, and have friends you can count on. Do you want to be surrounded with well-educated, well-traveled people? They will be your neighbors.
Are you looking for the Garden of Eden, where a good portion of your food is grown locally? You can live in such a garden. Do you want the benefits of good health that come from organic food, exercise, and friends? We will follow guidelines established by AARP in the Blue Zone and other places where people live long fulfilled lives.
Do you want a place that is senior friendly and designed for you for the rest of your life? Do you want purpose in living, in being part of community? You can use your special talents here and we will appreciate you. Do you want to give back and leave a legacy? The village becomes a place to give to others and it will continue on for many generations.
Do you want to live lightly on the land, be in tune with nature, and be as sustainable as possible? The village will be this from the start. Would you enjoy continuing your knowledge and education? This is one of our goals. Would you enjoy doing all this with the spirit of friendliness and cooperation? We will study ways to communicate with compassion.
If this is how you envision your life, then Rancho La Salud Village may be the place for you. Come join us and let’s work together to achieve these goals. We want you to be part of this creation.

Is Rancho La Salud Village a good investment?

Rancho La Salud Village is an excellent Investment.
Rationale:
• In the US, houses in Cohousing villages sell for 10 to 20 percent more than similar homes in the surrounding area, and they are not affected by housing price drops in the market. Further, the homes are usually sold at an "open house" held by the owner thus saving the Realtor fee of 7 percent. We expect the same to be true here.
• You save the Realtor fee when you buy direct from the developer.
• The village homes will have no utility bills, a saving each and every month.
• The Village has a rental program whereby you can rent your home or a portion of your home that can offset your condo fees and provide extra income.
• The entire village is your home as well as your actual house.
• The good friends you will make in the Village will be like extended family.
• The Village will be improved over time, thus making your investment more valuable.
• You will have better health living in the Village through eating organic foods and exercise.
• You own one thirtieth of the common property such as the entry gate, the admin building, the common parking lot, the pool area, the community garden and the walkways. You also have the right of use of the common house with the option of making a community purchase in the future once there is collective financial strength and desire.
• You have the opportunity of community meals below the cost of a local restaurant.
• We offer beauty and quietness in our peaceful surroundings, a connection to nature through our organic landscaping.
• We offer learning through our informal adult classes.
• We offer a chance to express you special talents or hobbies and a way to help your neighbors.

You can see we offer great value, as we offer so much more than just a home.

Is this an village for old people?

No, the emphasis is on living better lives, meeting our neighbors and being healthy. However, we want to remain here as we grow older and we can do this by making the home safe, medical care and caregivers.

How do we select the residents?

The process is to self-selecting. When potential residents understand the nature of this community, the goals and expectations of participation, they can decide whether this community meets their needs. We want new residents to participate fully in the creation of the community.

How is the community managed?

Residents of the community manage themselves directly. Each Member of the Board of Directors and committees are formed to continue the work of the community. An Executive Committee reviews on issues and proposals and makes recommendations to the community. The community makes decisions on Proposals by consensus. First, present the proposal and discuss the pros and cons. We ask for ways to Improve the proposal. At the second meeting we ask for consensus. If we are not in agreement at the second session , If we can not reach consensus, we ask for a vote.

How do you resolve conflict issues? 

We will learn how to use the principles and methods of Non-Violent Communication. This is about empathetically listening and honestly expressing, and using the four steps of NVC: observations, feelings, needs, requests. One of the first workshops will be on NVC principles. 

How much participation is involved?

All involvement is voluntary, with the residents deciding for themselves. The minimum level is typically attending meetings once a month, being on a committee, and helping with community work 4 hours a month.  Community members understand that they must take a proactive part in the community for it to be a success. 

What are the benefits of being an early investor?

Early investors have the best discount on their lots and have the largest  selection. They have the most input in the selection of materials and the design of different aspects of the community. They help create the rules and regulations of the community and how it is governed.  

What if I don’t like some of my neighbors?

It is not necessary to like everyone in the community. This community will have people from different countries with different languages, customs and governments. It is necessary to be understanding as possible, to use methods of conflict resolution, and to use non-violent communication.

Who would find that Cohousing does not meet their needs?

People of different personalities still find their needs met. Those who don’t like meetings, feel uncomfortable around people, or want a very private home away from everyone would have the most difficulty. Those who are indifferent or do not believe in the goals of the community would find it difficult.

Do I have to be an extrovert?

Introverts do well in cohousing, because they know everyone from the begining, and it is easier to socialize with people you already know. It is an opportunity to share with many more people than you normally would outside of community. You have many more chances to talk with other community members on the walkway, at the common house, getting your mail, at meetings or when working together. 

How safe is it in Ajijic?

According to UN statistics, you’re 3 times more likely to be a victim of crime in the U.S. than you are in Mexico. From FBI statistics, The murder rate (per 100,000 people) in Baltimore is 43.3… in Washington DC it is 29.1… and in Detroit 47.3… But in Mexico, the murder rate again is just a third of that… about 13.”

The violence is localized to certain parts of Mexico such as the border towns and there is very little crime in Ajijic. To say it is unsafe in Mexico is like saying it is unsafe in the US because there is crime in the worst section of Chicago or San Francisco.  Ajijc is a small town of about 20,000 people with 5000 expats.  Many people feel safe walking around downtown after dark in Ajijic and most of the crime that we do have is non conformational. It is important to have good locks, watchful neighbors and if you plan on being away for a while to have someone (a maid, gardener, or neighbor) to look after your house.The expats have a strong positive influence on the economy of the town and are welcomed by the Mexicans. There has been a slight  increase recently in crime in Ajijic, and the expats have raised funds and used their influence to help fight this crime. Even with this slight increase, Ajijic remains a very safe place to be and to live. 

How do we know we will be safe at Rancho La Salud Village?

We plan to make it difficult for unauthorized people to get into the village. There will be only one main entry into the village where all people entering will be checked, photographed and be on video camera. The complex will be surrounded with a high masonry wall with metal spikes on top and Bougainvillea thorns. We will install flood lights with motion detectors facing the perimeter wall. Parking within the complex is limited to residents. Guests and repair vehicles must park outside the complex and check in before entering. We will take pictures of all vehicles and their driver’s license.
Living in community where everyone knows each other is like an ongoing neighborhood watch. We have the advantage of knowing when strangers enter the complex. Usually what happens is that a community member asks a stranger if we can help in finding someone. This further protects the residents. We will be careful about who we hire to do work for us, so we feel comfortable with them. I have found most Mexicans we have hired to be very honest.  

What is the difference between a cooperative and Cohousing?

Cohousing is much like a condo association where members own their own housing units. The general purpose is to create a neighborhood.  Upon resale, the seller works with the buyer to make sure they understand the nature of cohousing and the responsibilities to the community. The homes are sold at market value.  The neighborhood maintains a potential buyers list.
In a Cooperative, members do not own their homes; they own stock in the cooperative corporation. The cooperative corporation owns the homes. The stock gives them the right to occupy one of the units. It is difficult to obtain a mortgage. The general purpose is to create affordable housing. The board of directors of the cooperative corporation decide who can buy shares of stock and many times the price per share are the same as when they were purchased. 

What is the difference between a commune and cohousing?

Thanks to the 1960s, when you start talking about any kind of intentional community, everyone assumes you mean a commune. Communes share land, buildings, vehicles, tools, food, sometimes clothing, often income, occasionally spouses, which is the part that attracts the unfailing interest of the press. Any commune that lasts, however, including religious orders that have lasted for thousands of years, has to learn a remarkable degree of discipline and selflessness. In Cohousing, we own our own homes, and share common land and the common hoiuse. We are much more conventional than a commune. 

What about getting medical care in Mexico?

If you are over 65 years old and from the US, you can join an a stateside HMO and have full medical care while in the US. You will need some coverage in Mexico for the unexpected serious illness such as a heart attack or car accident where you can’t be moved. The least expensive at $300 US a year is IMSS, the Mexican National Heath Insurance. For minor illnesses, you can see local doctors where the cost is much less than in the states. If you are under 65, there are agents for International Health Insurance which will cover you here and other countries that vary in cost from $300 to $500 a month.  

Do we need fire insurance on our home in Mexico?

Most people do not carry fire insurance since most homes are masonry floors, walls, and ceilings, tile roofs, steel in roofs over porches and masonry columns. Wood is used in cabinets, doors, furniture. It would be prudent to have a fire extinguisher near the stove. You may want thief insurance on your belongings and auto.  

What are mail services like in Mexico?

Letters take sometimes as long as 6 weeks coming down from the states. That is for regular letters and Christmas Cards. We don't trust ordering anything that has bulk which sometimes doesn't arrive. There is a 16 percent tax on items that you do order by mail like electronics. The Lake Chapala society and churches have a type of mail serivce delivering to the states. Mail then takes about 10 days going north. There are local mail services coming south (you have a post office box in Laredo, they pick it up and bring it down). I think that it is about $30 a month. We rely much more on the internet, e-mail and vonage phone to stay in touch.  

Will we have a view of Lake Chapala?

The upper floor miradors may have a glimpse of the Lake. Most of our views are to the west of the sunsets and the mountains to the north. We believe that the main focus is creating connection among our neighbors and that we will be surrounded by beautiful landscaped grounds. We also have access to the lake and picnic areas on the greenhouse property.  

How far is Rancho La Salud Village from the airport?

It is about 35 miles to the Guadalajara International airport, the second largest airport in Mexico. The easiest way to get to ajijic is by taxi, and this cost about $36 US  

How about bringing dogs into Mexico and having dogs in the Village?

Dogs are allowed into Mexico with the right paperwork and shots. Your veterinarian in the states can do both for you. The village consider the companionship provided by pets important to growing older better. Currently we suggest one dog and one cat per household.

What sort of permits do we need in Mexico if we are retiring there and not working? 

You have three options, visitor permit, temporary resident visa and permanent resident visa. If you are just visiting for 6 months or less, then the visitor permit is a good option. Some people actually stay here year round on a visitor permit, but must go back to the states every 6 months. The next option is the temporary resident visa. Now getting this is more complicated. You must apply at a Mexican consulate in your country, and then come to Mexico to finish your application. It is easier to use a lawyer. The temporary visa is good for 1 year and must be renewed, but this can be done in Mexico. You can do this for 4 years. Then you must either go to the Mexican consulate in our country again and reapply for the temporary visa, or you may apply for a permanent resident visa.

Visitor Permit - Vistante

The 'Visitante' permit is for six months or less. Visitor's permits are issued when you arrive in Mexico by completing a Forma Migratoria Multiple (FMM) - these forms are issued by airlines and are also available at ports of entry. The visitor permit is valid for up to 180 days and cannot be renewed. For those who are here for 6 months or less, a visitor permit may be the best option.

If you are going to live in Mexico most of the time and plan on not working, you are going to need to prove that you have enough money to eat, pay rent and go fishing. To get the “visa” to live in Mexico for an extended period of time and not work, you will need to go to the Mexican Consulate outside of Mexico with the following:
• Identification documents
• Passport
• A color, passport sized photo (1.5″ x 1″)

Temporary Resident Visa - Visa de Residente Temporal

You will need:
• Original and copy of proof of investments or bank accounts with an average worth over the previous year equivalent to $95,000.00 USD;
• Original and copy of documents that prove that the foreigner has had for the previous six months an income from a job (outside of Mexico) or a pension that pays at least $1,950.00 USD per month;
• Proof of a any familiar bond with another Temporary or Permanent Resident or a marital (or equivalent) bond with a Mexican;
• Original and copy of a notarized public deed showing ownership (or trust rights) to a property in Mexico worth at least $195,000.00 USD;
• Proof of participation of at least $100,000.00 USD in a Mexican company;
• Proof of ownership in heavy equipment or machinery in Mexico worth more than $100,000.00 USD; OR
• Proof of doing business in Mexico and legally creating at least 5 jobs for Mexicans.
Once you have a temporary visa, you can renew it each year for 4 years. Then you have to go a Mexican consulate in your country to apply.

Permanent Resident Visa - Visa de Residente Permanente

You will need:
• Original and copy of proof of investments or bank accounts with an average worth over the previous year equivalent to $95,000.00 USD or;
• Original and copy of documents that prove that the foreigner has had for the previous six months an income from a job (outside of Mexico) or a pension that pays at least $2,400.00 USD per month or;
• Proof of parent-child bond with a Mexican citizen by birth (this would be birth certificates of everyone involved, plus any other documents proving the citizenship of the Mexican citizen) or;
• Proof of the same parent-child bond with another Permanent Resident; OR
• Proof that you have enough points (based on a points system that still hasn’t been published).

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