Gringo Guide to living in Baja Tony Brogdon

I had visited Baja for 30 years before moving here over 2 years ago. I was very surprised at how much different it was to live here than just come occasionally visit. As a Gringo there were many lessons to be learned but the end result is discovering what a great place Baja is to live once you are established. The standard of living is much higher, safer and more affordable than one can imagine when you lived your first 60 plus years in the US. After choosing where to live, the first priorities we search out are the things we are the most comfortable with in the US, such as mail service, laundry services, high speed Internet, high definition TV, cellular phone service, utility services such as gas, electricity, and water. These services will be at the top of our list. Next feeling more secure and comfortable in areas where other English speaking Americans gather to eat and entertain themselves and have frequent events for local residents. Gated communities with Home Owners Associations help to ensure a standard of living similar and in many cases better than which you are accustomed to in the US. Another important aspect of living in Baja is becoming a legal resident and able to cross the border in a reasonable length of time. Another very important service is medical services in Baja. Now you can combine all this with an incredible lower cost of living and then you will ask yourself “ why did I take so long to move here.” Where to live is one of your most important and first decisions you should make. It requires considering several factors. First is if you love the ocean and want to continue to work in the US or Tijuana in some form, and like having the convenience of living near shopping areas, banks and Churches, you might want to consider Playas de Tijuana, or gated communities like Real Del Mar or San Antonio Del Mar to name a few. If you prefer a more rural setting then you should look into somewhere between Rosarito and Enseneda like La Mision. The Scenic Highway gives you this option to Tijuana and San Diego. Then by using a bar-coded pass called Sentri you cross the border in an average of 5 to 10 minutes. This also works well if you have a Home Office via the Internet, as quite a few do in Baja; you have all the technology available at your disposal to work in an exceptional tranquil setting. In addition there are numerous ocean front restaurants with live music and great food frequented by local Gringos who all share the love of the Baja lifestyle. Exceptional restaurants include Poco Cielo (La Mision KM 58), Splash (KM 52), Villa Ortega (Puerto Nuevo) and many more. Leasing before buying can also be a way of discovering the best location for the long term where to live. Since mail service does not come to your residence, you may want to use one of several US Postal Services available. They provide a US Post Office box address and mail pickup service, which is picked up in the US and brought to the local Postal Service daily. If you travel to the US once a week or more you may want to maintain your mail service there. Most of the homes you rent or buy have laundry facilities, but some were originally designed to be lived in on weekends and not full time. Many of those do not have Laundry facilities. You can find nearby laundry mats that for a small fee will wash and fold your laundry for you. It’s very convenient to drop off your laundry and pick it up later that day. Utilities are very easy to acquire and are very affordable compared to the US. Depending on the area you live your utility cost may vary. If you are near Tijuana or Rosarito, utilities will be more affordable as well as the service when needed. Water is acquired two ways. Public Water and sewer services are provided via the local City or by the Home Owners Associations and are extremely reasonable. That water is for showering, doing dishes, laundry, etc. Drinking water is acquired in 5-gallon containers and run from $0.50 to $2.50 according to where you purchase the refills. This is the water you use for drinking and cooking. Some homes in the more rural areas have water delivered to water tanks. That is the most costly. CFE is the Electric provider and bills are delivered to you door every other month. Expect to pay between $40-$60 per month due to the mild Baja weather. If you lease, the service is provided in the owners name and you will either pay directly to CFE or reimburse the owner. You can also acquire a service to automatically pay your utilities for you. Propane gas is provided by either cylinders or by refilling your standalone tank and they arrive usually come within an hour or less. TV is provided again depending on where you live via a Satellite Service. You have a number of options. Cablemas and Telnor can combine Satellite, Internet, and Telephone service at a very reasonable rate but you will have a lot of Spanish channels and the English ones are Spanish sub titled. There are providers locally for US Dish and Direct TV, which allow you to use your US account and have your Baja dish as a extra room. You can also subscribe separately and chose the services you want. There are also independent Internet Service providers that provide high-speed Internet service to a wireless antenna mounted on your home. One is Baja Wireless. Baja Wireless can also provide packages, which include telephone - TV – Internet. Cellular, landline and VOIP services are important decision to make early. You will find in most cases you need a US number to regularly communicate to the US and a Mexican cell to communicate within Mexico. A landline from Telnor or Cablemas can allow you have access to local businesses and 066 (Mexico’s 911). US Boost Mobile is a good choice with a Mexico plan for $55 per month allows you to have unlimited access to the main business and government network with their Nextel walkie talkie service on both sides of the border. You also have unlimited US calling to US phones when in the US and unlimited texting on both sides of the border. ATT can provide you with a prepaid unlimited cell service to US and Mexico for less than $80 per month or at a rate of 25 cents a minute if you need that service on the go. Magic Jack provides very low cost US service and US numbers for home and office. Magic Jack Plus now has a device that plugs into standard outlet then to your router to provide unlimited calling for $20 per year using a standard telephone. Magic Jack Plus requires no PC just an Internet Router. It is low up front cost and no monthly fees. One of the areas Baja excels in is the array of medical services that are available. Baja has many urgent care facilities and Hospitals that are staffed with Doctors whom in many cases come from the US. Baja is the largest center for alternative medicine in the World. Over 300,000 US citizens cross the border into Mexico for medical services every month. Treatments available are Stem Cell, Human Growth Hormone, Cosmetic Surgery to name a few. Baja also has many very professional Dental Clinics with highly professional Dentist providing the same services as the US at a high level of quality at a fraction of the cost. Medical Insurance is available in Mexico as well at a very reasonable cost. Prescription medicine is also available over the counter in many instances at a fraction of the cost as well. General practitioner Doctors are available also at a very reasonable cost as well. If you live in Baja full time you should strongly consider acquiring a FM3 (Mexican version of a green card) there are several companies who can locally can assist you in getting your FM3. I hope you find the information above useful and helpful. The best source for what services you may need is a certified Realtor. They will guide you each step of the way including knowing Baja is a safe and a good choice to make Baja as permanent place to live. Don’t be distracted by negative media reports, come and see for yourself. If I can be of help or answer any questions regarding what has just been discussed, you can email me at [email protected]

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wiseone1958 Oct. 17, 2012 @ 6:56 p.m.

For those who may be interested in considering as your internet provider in Baja Mexico, keep the following in mind. On Sunday October 14th, 2012 I sent an email to Customer Service requesting info on startup costs and an idea of reliability as wireless services can vary. I did not receive an answer to this request until Wednesday the 17th. In the email the price of the monthly service in question had been inflated from the website's price of $45 for the "Faster" level of service to $75 and installation/startup costs were quoted at $375. Personally, from a customer service angle alone I have a problem with a 3 day turnaround on a request for information. While Sharron Tate's explanation of their service was concise and made sense, it did not reflect what actual customers have told me in the interim. I am grateful the response was unforgivably slow to allow me the opportunity to research the Company further and give me an idea of the level of Customer Service I would be able to expect. For those who do not have Telnor as an option I realise this may be your only option. Fortunately for me, it is an option. Best of Luck and have a Great Day!


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