A Taste Of Mexico’s Wine Country – Valle De Guadalupe

A Taste Of Mexico’s Wine Country
As seen on Forbes Magazine, Amanda Arnold , Contributor

Just a two-hour drive south of San Diego across the Mexican border lies a peaceful Baja California valley brimming with ripened grapes, delicious wines and gourmet cuisine concocted from the freshest of fresh local ingredients. Our Forbes Travel Guide editors take a peek at Mexico’s lovely—and somewhat little known—Valle de Guadalupe (Guadalupe Valley), a wine country destination screaming for a late summer getaway of the great outdoors, delicious food and plenty of vino.

Interested in trying a sweet alternative to beer? Venture over to our blog to explore Washington’s cider scene.

A Taste Of Mexico's Wine Country

A Taste Of Mexico’s Wine CountryThe Fiestas de la Vendimia, a celebration of the annual harvest, runs from Aug. 2 through 18 this year, which is why we recommend a late summer visit to the Valle de Guadalupe.

Where To Play
The Fiestas de la Vendimia, a celebration of the annual harvest, runs from Aug. 2 through 18 this year, which is why we recommend a late summer visit to the Valle de Guadalupe. Many of the valley’s wineries participate in the festivities by hosting special events: This year, there’s a wine pairing dinner at oft raved about restaurant Laja with special guest and prominent Mexican chef Daniel Ovadia on Aug. 7; a street party at the Plaza de las Artes in Ensenada on Aug. 8; and a wine pairing dinner at Viñas de Garza on Aug. 15—to name just a few of the happenings.

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Mexico Real Estate Testimonial – Why I choose to live in Northen Baja California

Why I choose to live in Northen Baja California
Written By: Tomas Dolcini

Since I was a child growing up in a predominately Spanish-speaking neighborhood, my dream had always been to buy a home and live in Mexico, preferably by the ocean. On May 6, 2011, that dream came true for me and I signed off the escrow paperwork for my beautiful Mexican-style villa in a Golf Resort called Bajamar located in Ensenada.

Mexico Real Estate Testimonial - Buying A Home And Living in Mexico

Mexico Real Estate Testimonial - Buying A Home And Living in Mexico

The entire experience was an adventure for me. Having purchased a home here in the United States, I was somewhat familiar with how a real estate purchase worked, but was unfamiliar with the Mexican laws. I had heard that Americans could not purchase property along the Baja Peninsula and could only lease for 99 years, so that concerned me. I wanted to reside in Mexico, but be close to the United States, so my family and friends could easily visit. I never thought in a million years I would be able to afford a home with an ocean view in Mexico, because homes with ocean views in the United States cost over one million dollars.

I decided to do some research and stumbled across a website titled www.owninginmexico.com. I was blessed to have found that website. This website had links with thorough explanations to all the various developments in Baja California, and lots of pictures to see what I was up against. I was flabbergasted at the inexpensive prices that were totally within my budget. I made a phone call to ask some questions and spoke with Kathy Katz. She was very enthusiastic and answered all of my questions in a friendly and professional manner. I enjoyed the conversation so much and hung up feeling so positive, that I booked a flight and headed out for Baja that same week to look for houses.

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Two Baja Real Estate Firms Merge To Become Powerful Force In Northern Baja

ROSARITO, BAJA CALIFORNIA, April 4, 2011 – Baja Real Estate Group, the leading Real Estate brokerage in the Rosarito area, has announced plans to merge with Bajamar Premier Properties, a firm with significant presence in the Ensenada region.

Two Baja Real Estate Firms Merge To Become Powerful Force In Northern Baja

Two Baja Real Estate Firms Merge To Become Powerful Force In Northern Baja

According to Max Katz, owner of Baja Real Estate Group, the new company will be called Baja Real Estate Group but will operate two divisions, Beachside Realty in Rosarito and Baja Premiere Properties in Bajamar and Ensenada. A new office is already planned in the Guadalupe Valley, just north of Ensenada.

Mimi Mills and associates have an outstanding reputation in the area,” said Max Katz, “and her long history throughout northern Baja will contribute greatly to the strength of our new organization.”

Bajamar Premier Properties began within the gated oceanfront golf community of Bajamar, since 2005 guiding American and Canadian expatriates through safe and successful transactions.

“Max and his wife Kathy Katz represent some of the most respected real estate developers in the region and, as we combine our forces, we will be able to serve more new developments and spread our expertise to those who need our services,” said Marianne “Mimi” Mills.

New residential developments currently represented by the Baja Real Estate Group include Calafia Resort and Villas in the area known as Calafia, 10 Miles south of Rosarito; Palacio del Mar in El Descanso, 20 miles south of Rosarito, and Naos, where sales recently began in the northern beach corridor of Rosarito Read the rest of this entry »

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Mexico’s big hope: get 5 million U.S. retirees

BY ANDRES OPPENHEIMER
aoppenheimer@MiamiHerald.com

Mexico's big hope: get 5 million U.S. retirees

Mexico's big hope: get 5 million U.S. retirees

MEXICO CITY — Mexico is silently working on proposals aimed at drawing millions of U.S. retirees to this country, which could eventually lead to the most ambitious U.S.-Mexican project since the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement.

President Felipe Calderón is likely to propose the first steps toward expanding U.S. retirement benefits and medical tourism to Mexico when he goes to Washington on an official visit May 19, according to well-placed officials here. If not then, he will raise the issue later this year, they say.

“It’s one of the pillars of our plans to trigger economic and social well-being in both countries,” Mexico’s ambassador to the United States Arturo Sarukhan told me. “We will be seeking to increasingly discuss this issue in coming months and years.”

Calderón brought it up during a U.S.-Canada-Mexico summit in Guadalajara in August last year, but President Barack Obama asked him to shelve the idea until he was able to pass healthcare reform, another official told me.

Now that Congress has passed healthcare reform, Calderón is preparing to charge ahead.

A GROWING MARKET
There are already an estimated 1 million Americans living in Mexico. And according to Mexican government estimates based on U.S. Census figures, that number is likely to soar to 5 million by 2025 as the U.S. population grows older and more Americans look for sunny, cheaper places to retire.

The U.S. Census projects that the number of U.S. retirees will soar from 40 million now to nearly 90 million by 2050. Already, 5 million American retirees live abroad, of whom 2.2 million are in the Western Hemisphere — mostly in Mexico, the Dominican Republic and Brazil. Another 1.5 million live in Europe and 850,000 in Asia.

The key to luring more U.S. medical tourists and retirees to Mexico and other Latin American countries will be getting hospitals in the region to be certified by the U.S. Joint International Commission, which establishes that they meet U.S. hospitals’ standards. There are already eight Mexican hospitals certified by the JIC and several others awaiting certification.

According to Mexican government estimates, healthcare costs in Mexico are about 70 percent lower than in the United States. And from my own experience, those estimates are right: As I reported at the time, when I was hospitalized in Mexico two years ago for an emergency operation, my hospital bill was indeed about 70 percent lower than what it would have been in Miami.

So what will Calderón specifically propose to Obama? Most likely, the Mexican president will suggest starting with a low-profile agreement that would allow the U.S. Health Care Financing Administration to pay for Medicare benefits to U.S. retirees in Mexico. Under current rules, Medicare only covers healthcare services in the United States.

IT JUST MAKES SENSE
My opinion: Mexico and much of Latin America are bound to become growing U.S. retirement and medical tourism destinations, much like Spain has become a permanent living place for Germans, Britons and Northern Europeans.

You won’t read much about it now because neither Calderón nor Obama will emphasize it publicly while the drug-related violence in northern Mexico is making big headlines, and while the political wounds from the recent U.S. healthcare debate are still open in Washington, D.C.

But I’m increasingly convinced that, as the violence in Mexico subsides and the healthcare debate becomes a distant memory in Washington, medical benefits’ deals will become a top U.S.-Latin American priority. Just as free-trade agreements were the big thing of the 1990s, healthcare agreements will be the big deal of the coming decade.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Calderón and Obama take the first baby steps toward a U.S.-Mexico healthcare agreement by finding a way to pay for Medicare benefits for U.S. expatriates in Mexico, or getting U.S. states to allow similar payments. Then, most likely after the 2012 presidential election in both countries, the two would start negotiating a more ambitious deal.

Demography, geography and economics are pointing in that direction. With the U.S. population getting older, a record U.S. budget deficit, rising U.S. healthcare costs, and Mexico and other Latin American countries badly needing more tourism and investments, this should be a win-win for everybody.

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Retire to Mexico — the price is right

By Les Christie, staff writerApril 28, 2010: 10:48 AM ET

Retire to Mexico -- the price is right

Retire to Mexico -- the price is right

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) — The years-long trend of Americans buying homes and expatriating to Mexico has collapsed, done in by a trifecta of the recession, swine flu and an epic crime wave.

Sales volume plunged nearly 70% last year for Coldwell Banker, according Phillip Hendrix, director of the firm’s Mexican operations. And at Costa Baja, a residential resort development a few miles north of La Paz, sales have slowed by about 40% in the past 12 months.

“Sales are off like crazy. The recession is really hurting and the headlines have been driving people away. The narco-wars especially have bit into the housing market in Mexico,” said Tom Kelly, a follower of Mexican real estate trends and author of Cashing In on a Second Home in Mexico.

But that’s good news for Americans who have always dreamed of retiring to Mexico but could never afford it: The bust has made homebuying a bargain. Prices can be less than half of what an equivalent home would run in the U.S.

Although the crime wave is confined to a fairly limited area, the perception of it has hurt markets all over the nation, said Alejandro Yberri, CEO of Costa Baja.

Information on prices of homes being sold to expatriate Americans is sketchy, but Kelly estimates overall declines of between 20% and 30% since the peak. In the high-crime communities close to the U.S. border, the drop has been even steeper, perhaps 40% or more. Read the rest of this entry »

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Culinary Tour of Baja, Mexico

Lured by spicy quail, tuna ceviche, and Mexico’s best fish tacos, T+L lights out for Ensenada—and from there, things just go south.
From May 2010 By Peter Jon Lindberg

Culinary Tour of Baja, Mexico

Culinary Tour of Baja, Mexico

Ensenada and the nearby Valle de Guadalupe, in northern Baja, are known outside Mexico for three things: the burgeoning local wine scene, which has been hyped ad infinitum; the food, which hasn’t been hyped enough; and the spectacularly bad roads, which everyone warns you about, though you never fully believe them. Really, you think, how bad could they be? And then one night in the gathering dark you take an innocent shortcut across the valley and drive your rented Hyundai into a riverbed. A dry riverbed, but a riverbed all the same. You and your equally baffled companion spend 40 minutes spinning the car’s wheels in what might as well be quicksand, then digging frantically, then panicking, then digging and spinning some more, until finally you resolve to abandon the car and hike the two miles back to the highway—suitcases sinking in gravel, sand filling your socks. And as the coyotes wail in the ink-black hills you decide that you probably should have paid more attention to that part about the roads.

“Ah, the Baja shortcut!” said our innkeeper, Phil Gregory, when, at the conclusion of said ordeal, he collected us and our dusty belongings from the side of Highway 3. “Never a good idea!” Severe rains the previous week, our host explained, had caused the river to flood, washing away a whole chunk of the road we were on. Those tire tracks I’d followed across the sandy riverbed—believing we were still on course—had been left by a backhoe, dispatched to repair the road. No one had bothered to post a sign, let alone erect a fence. “Honestly, this happens all the time,” Gregory said as we rattled down the inn’s rutted dirt driveway. He meant this to be reassuring. “But let’s get you settled, pour you some wine, and we’ll retrieve your car in the morning!”

Gregory’s tone was oddly chipper—maybe this did happen all the time? After showering off the dust, we sampled the inn’s own Tempranillo beside a crackling mesquite fire in the lounge. Not the smoothest specimen, but it worked: two glasses later I gave up worrying about the Hyundai. Read the rest of this entry »

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Health-care challenged Californians flocking to Mexico

The pharmacy business in Tijuana is still booming, despite crackdowns by the state to weed out illegitimate operators. - John Gibbins / Union-Tribune

The pharmacy business in Tijuana is still booming, despite crackdowns by the state to weed out illegitimate operators. - John Gibbins / Union-Tribune

By Keith Darcé, Union-Tribune Staff Writer

TIJUANA — About 1 million adult Californians seek health care in Mexico each year – and that figure is likely growing as the recession expands the ranks of the uninsured who are drawn to cheaper care south of the border, said the lead researcher of the first major report on the topic released Tuesday.

These people live from the Bay Area to San Diego County. Most come to Mexico for prescription drugs and dental care, and a smaller number go for surgeries. Beyond finances, other factors prompting individuals to head south include language and cultural barriers.

Living within 15 miles of the border also greatly increases the likelihood of someone obtaining health services in Mexico.

Angela Tapia, 45, of San Ysidro crosses the border several times each year to see her gynecologist. She also had back surgery in Tijuana a decade ago.

“It’s cheaper to go there,” said Tapia, who doesn’t have health insurance. “When you go to those doctors, they give you time, they ask a lot of questions and they care about you.”

Roughly half of the cross-border patients are Mexican immigrants, a statistic that might challenge the popular notion of Mexicans burdening California’s hospitals and clinics by receiving all of their health care on this side of the border, said UCLA public health professor Steven Wallace, lead author of the new report.

“What this helps document is that (some) immigrants are facing barriers to receiving care in the United States, and they are turning to Mexico for that care,” said Wallace, who also serves as associate director of UCLA’s Center for Health Policy Research. “And it’s not just immigrants facing barriers here.”

Approximately half a million U.S. citizens living in California also seek health services in Mexico, Wallace and his UCLA colleagues found.

Altogether, about 4 percent of adult Californians traveled to Mexico for some type of medical care.

Wallace’s study was published Tuesday in Medical Care, a journal for the American Public Health Association.

He and his fellow researchers based their analysis on data from the 2001 California Health Interview Survey, which questioned more than 55,000 random households across the state.

The wide-ranging survey, conducted once every two years, is funded by a coalition of agencies and groups including the state Department of Public Health, the National Cancer Institute and the California Endowment. Those done since 2001 have not asked about accessing health care south of the border.

Wallace’s group was the first to delve deeply into the statistics on medical treatment in Mexico. Previous research relied on anecdotal accounts or small localized populations.

The cross-border trend likely will intensify as the number of Mexican immigrants living in California increases and the recession costs more people their jobs and health insurance coverage, Wallace said.

Between 2001 and 2007, the population of Mexican immigrants in California grew by 756,000 to 4.6 million, according to the Center for Immigration Studies in Washington, D.C.

“The numbers that are bad in this study have only gotten worse,” said Margaret Laws, director of the California HealthCare Foundation’s Innovations for the Underserved program. “Under the current climate, they will continue to get worse.”

The UCLA researchers found that more than 13 percent of Mexican immigrants traveled to Mexico for care, with the largest number visiting dentists.

Such patients make up the diverse range of U.S. residents who visit the Bartell Dental Clinic on Avenida Revolucion in the heart of Tijuana’s tourist district, said Dr. William Bartell Jr.

“Probably 95 percent of my clientele are self-employed or their jobs don’t provide any dental insurance,” he said.

The clinic, which has a Web site that targets Americans, sees about 10 patients a day – nearly all from north of the border. That’s enough to keep three full-time and several part-time dentists busy, Bartell said.

Mexican immigrants who lived in California for less than 15 years were less likely to cross the border for care than those who had been in the country longer, the UCLA report said. Many shorter-term immigrants are undocumented, so they face risks every time they leave the United States and try to return.

Among all other Californians, the top health-related reason for going to Mexico was to purchase prescription drugs.

Much attention has been given to doctors performing cosmetic and weight-loss surgeries on Americans in Mexican cities such as Tijuana. But Wallace found that only 7 percent of the 464,000 non-Latino Californians who sought treatment across the border went there for medical procedures, including surgeries and treatments for serious illnesses like cancer.

Health insurers offering relatively low-cost coverage plans that allow Southern Californians to receive care on both sides of the border should be encouraged by the study’s findings, Wallace said.

In fact, several of the largest players in the cross-border insurance market have recorded steady growth in recent years.

Membership in Health Net’s U.S-Mexico plan has reached 40,000, up from 23,700 in late 2007, said Brad Kiefer, a spokesman for the health maintenance organization.

Sistemas Medicos Nacionales S.A., the only Mexican HMO licensed to operate in California, now has about 21,000 members in San Diego and Imperial counties, said Christina Suggett, the company’s chief operating officer.

Staff writer Sandra Dibble contributed to this report.

Keith Darcé: (619) 293-1020;

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How To Get An Advantage Negotiating On A Great Baja Real Estate Find

House Search

House Search

So you finally find your dream beachfront home within one of the best Baja Communities and what’s better, at an amazing price. Here are a few tips that can help you gain the upper-hand when negotiating the price on that special Baja property.

  1. Keep in mind that there are no perfect homes in the market unless you are prepared to pay the price for them, fix some details or better yet, construct your own.
  2. Write down your necessities, features and things that you want, on that same list mark things down that you can live or do without. This will get rid of uncertainty, indecision and evade buyer’s guilt.
  3. Act swiftly when you come across a good Baja real estate deal. Waiting will only craft more opportunities for contending offers.
  4. Once you’ve found what you want, get a market analysis (CMA – comparable market analysis) of properties sold in the last three or six months, your Baja real estate Agent will be more than happy to help you get this information. The nearer the comparables are to the existing market the more precise your offer will be.
  5. Resolve your financial reach – how high are you prepared to go and be at ease with the payments.
  6. Write down your best offer, price and stipulations. Stay away from multiple offer situations by being the first to take the advantage and get it under contract. This isn’t the time to be undecided and play guessing games.

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Baby Boomers Buying In These Locations Now For Their Future

Boomers Buying Baja Lots

Boomers Buying Baja Lots

Since the early days in Baja, US Citizens have been buying residential Beach Front and Ocean View lots , building their dream Beach House, and for an increasing number, their retirement homes. Many of the older and more stable communities in Playas de Rosarito such as Las Gaviotas , Real Del Mar , San Antonio Del Mar and Mission Viejo and Punta Piedra all started out selling lots, most of which had very good building restrictions in place.

These Baja communities have established a reputation as a great place to live or buy a home. Over the last few years, with the increase in demand along the coast, many Americans had given up the idea of building and went with new condo construction. However, once again retirees are looking at their future and they are opting to cash in now for the perfect location and buying a lot while taking advantage of the current pricing advantage here in Baja.

In the 3 to 5 years as the real estate markets return to normal these lucky buyers will already have their future in place at today’s favorable prices. Currently to build a home in Baja would cost on average 45.00 to 70.00 per square foot for quality construction. Timing is typically between six and nine months from start to finish. Octavio Serrano of OCA a well known architect says that while the idea of building can be scary for many Americans, that the over all cost savings far out ways any head aches the client my have. And in the end they all say they would do it all over again. Permitting is much like the US where you first need to obtain an official topographic drawing, a building permit and then finally a completed work report. All of these can be handled by your architect.

Working with a good architect who is not only reputable, but also has Vision beyond what a clients needs are for today is KEY says Kathy Katz, owner of Baja Real Estate Group . Katz says that in many of these communities such as Las Gaviotas which started out offering lots Americans built there dream homes over the years, and when they came up for re-sale she always knew which ones would re sale the fastest strictly due to the architecture styling, she adds that you can change the color of the walls and tile, but the architecture stays with the home for ever. Just recently she has seen an increase in quality Baja lots coming on to the market, where in the past they were either not available, or cost prohibitive.

For example a 2200 sq ft lot in Real Del Mar a Golf Course Community that once sold for 75-80 thousand, is listed today for $43,000. An ocean front 7500 sq ft lot in Punta Piedra a gated community is now available for $450,000, where once prices for the same size lot were approaching 1 million.

Can you imagine having your own lap pool with the waves crashing at you front door says Katz. In this market buyers are not only looking at cost of living and a life style, but they are looking at the values in the market, making this a time to act.

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The Villa’s at Club Marena- Relaxed Riviera Style

Club Marena Villas

Club Marena Villas

In 1989 the partners of the Club Marena Development decided to take beautiful strip of the Baja coast in a well know cove, south of Rosarito, to create some of the most premium Baja Real Estate that the area had ever seen. The land was originally owned by the Cota family and was a popular camping spot from as far back as the 1940’s. Surfers from around the world would set up camp to sample the smooth pealing point waves. Surfing Legends the likes of Skip Fry, Corky Carrol and Jerry Lopez would dawn the point for pleasure and even a few completions.

Marena’s decision to transform this idyllic piece of Baja into the Coast’s first true luxury development turned out to me a monumental one. Twenty-Seven luxury villas & one custom home-site were planned, for phase one, of what would become one of the coasts most successful residential resorts. An impressive clubhouse, a spectacular spa and an infinity edge pool were all part of the plan.

Each villa would have an idyllic layout for a seaside retreat. Drive into a private, two car garage with complete laundry facilities. Pull in and park in safety and comfort. Walk into a lush, well appointed personal courtyard and feel the Mediterranean essence of this Riviera style resort. The courtyards offer a special space for private puttering in your own garden. It is the perfect place for a private hot tub, koi pond or outdoor kitchen. Some of the villas have a casita with a third bedroom bordering the courtyard.

The charm of the architecture and the well planned layout of this location are exceptional and were unprecedented, at the time, in this sleepy village in the area south of Rosarito know as Bahia Descanso, “restful bay”. This area represented the premium Rosarito Real Estate and a unique geography on this section of the coast at the time of construction.

People who know the area are very cognizant of the unique micro-climate in this locality. Southern orientation with coastal hills keep the winds side shore, the weather patterns a little sunnier and the area more temperate than just 15 minutes up the coast.

The oceanfront master suite represents the dream we all have in coastal sleeping comfort. The sounds of the waves pour past the private balcony and into the spacious sleeping space accented with the warmth of a cozy fireplace.

The open floor plan of the lower level provides a spacious living space with great accommodations for home entertainment and adorned with another fireplace. A well designed kitchen opens up to the dining and living area. Walk though the space and onto the brick patio and your private wood sundeck. Outdoor living space is what the villas bring better than any condo and most homes in the area. This is what makes life in a Club Marena villa so special.

By 1992 this first phase of what would become one of the coasts most coveted developments would be completed. Villas Marena, as it was know back then, launched a new era of development on Baja’s Gold Coast. Baja had not yet scene this Riviera style of luxury architecture and planning combined with stylish oceanfront amenities. Many phases of development have followed and additional amenities have been added. However the unique character of the villas makes then one of the most desirable acquisitions in Rosarito real estate.

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Larry French

Larry French

Larry French is an Executive Sales Agent with Baja Real Estate Group with 10 years experience with web based and multimedia marketing. incorporated in Mexico for Real Estate and investment business for over 6 years. Active investor in Northern Baja with very successful portfolio. Certified member of AMPI/NAR Full-time resident of the Northern Baja area with visa and work permits.

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