One Journalist’s View By Linda Ellerbee

Linda Ellerbee

Linda Ellerbee

Sometimes I’ve been called a maverick because I don’t always agree with my colleagues, but then, only dead fish swim with the stream all the time. The stream here is Mexico.

You would have to be living on another planet to avoid hearing how dangerous Mexico has become, and, yes, it’s true drug wars have escalated violence in Mexico , causing collateral damage, a phrase I hate. Collateral damage is a cheap way of saying that innocent people, some of them tourists, have been robbed, hurt or killed.

But that’s not the whole story. Neither is this. This is my story.

I’m a journalist who lives in New York City , but has spent considerable time in Mexico , specifically Puerto Vallarta , for the last four years. I’m in Vallarta now. And despite what I’m getting from the U.S. media, the 24-hour news networks in particular, I feel as safe here as I do at home in New York , possibly safer. I walk the streets of my Vallarta neighborhood alone day or night. And I don’t live in a gated community, or any other All-Gringo neighborhood. I live in Mexico . Among Mexicans. I go where I want (which does not happen to include bars where prostitution and drugs are the basic products), and take no more precautions than I would at home in New York; which is to say I don’t wave money around, I don’t act the Ugly American, I do keep my eyes open, I’m aware of my surroundings, and I try not to behave like a fool.

I’ve not always been successful at that last one. One evening a friend left the house I was renting in Vallarta at that time, and, unbeknownst to me, did not slam the automatically-locking door on her way out. Sure enough, less than an hour later a stranger did come into my house. A burglar? Robber? Kidnapper? Killer? Drug lord?

No, it was a local police officer, the “beat cop” for our neighborhood, who, on seeing my unlatched door, entered to make sure everything (including me) was okay. He insisted on walking with me around the house, opening closets, looking behind doors and, yes, even under beds, to be certain no one else had wandered in, and that nothing was missing. He was polite, smart and kind, but before he left, he lectured me on having not checked to see that my friend had locked the door behind her. In other words, he told me to use my common sense.

Do bad things happen here? Of course they do. Bad things happen everywhere, but the murder rate here is much lower than, say, New Orleans, and if there are bars on many of the ground floor windows of houses here, well, the same is true where I live, in Greenwich Village, which is considered a swell neighborhood — house prices start at about $4 million (including the bars on the ground floor windows).

There are good reasons thousands of people from the United States are moving to Mexico every month, and it’s not just the lower cost of living, a hefty tax break and less snow to shovel. Mexico is a beautiful country, a special place. The climate varies, but is plentifully mild, the culture is ancient and revered, the young are loved unconditionally, the old are respected, and I have yet to hear anyone mention Britney Spears, Lindsay Lohan, or Madonna’s attempt to adopt a second African child, even though, with such a late start, she cannot possibly begin to keep up with Anglelina Jolie.

And then there are the people. Generalization is risky, but— in general — Mexicans are warm, friendly, generous and welcoming. If you smile at them, they smile back. If you greet a passing stranger on the street, they greet you back. If you try to speak even a little Spanish, they tend to treat you as though you were fluent. Or at least not an idiot. I have had taxi drivers track me down after leaving my wallet or cell phone in their cab. I have had someone run out of a store to catch me because I have overpaid by twenty cents. I have been introduced to and come to love a people who celebrate a day dedicated to the dead as a recognition of the cycles of birth and death and birth — and the 15th birthday of a girl, an important rite in becoming a woman — with the same joy.

Too much of the noise you’re hearing about how dangerous it is to come to Mexico is just that — noise. But the media love noise, and too many journalists currently making it don’t live here. Some have never even been here. They just like to be photographed at night, standing near a spotlighted border crossing, pointing across the line to some imaginary country from hell. It looks good on TV.

Another thing. The U.S. media tend to lump all of Mexico into one big bad bowl. Talking about drug violence in Mexico without naming a state or city where this is taking place is rather like looking at the horror of Katrina and saying, “Damn. Did you know the U.S. is under water?” or reporting on the shootings at Columbine or the bombing of the Federal building in Oklahoma City by saying that kids all over the U.S. are shooting their classmates and all the grownups are blowing up buildings. The recent rise in violence in Mexico has mostly occurred in a few states, and especially along the border. It is real, but it does not describe an entire country.

It would be nice if we could put what’s going on in Mexico in perspective, geographically and emotionally. It would be nice if we could remember that, as has been noted more than once, these drug wars wouldn’t be going on if people in the United States didn’t want the drugs, or if other people in the United States weren’t selling Mexican drug lords the guns. Most of all, it would be nice if more people in the United States actually came to this part of America ( Mexico is also America , you will recall) to see for themselves what a fine place Mexico really is, and how good a vacation (or a life) here can be.

So come on down and get to know your southern neighbors. I think you’ll like it here. Especially the people. ***
http://wikipedia.org/wiki/Linda_Ellerbee


Considering the scenic landscape that Northern Baja California offers, you might want to have a look at real estate for sale in Rosarito especially in Palacio Del Mar, Calafia Condos, Las Gaviotas or Club Marena. Browse for Mexico Real Estate, Baja Real Estate, Ensenada Real Estate.

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Is it possible for Americans to work in Baja

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 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.

Browse for Rosarito Real Estate, Baja Real Estate and Mexico Real Estate.

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Choosing a Trusted Real Estate Brokerage in Mexico

Living In Mexico

Living In Mexico

When you realize that Mexican Real Estate is your best investment for your retirement with a saving of up to 30-40% on your cost of living, you need to then explore not only what area of Mexico you will live or eventually live.

You will also need to explore which community fits your lifestyle. Who are your neighbors and what amenities fit you or even your family. After all, when you live in Mexico, friends and family don’t just come for dinner they come for the weekend. You become their Mexico vacation.

Other common questions are: how close are the markets? How accessible is health care? What is the status of the Home Owners Association? Is it well funded? Well run? Reasonable CC&R’S, and of course is it a safe investment.

This is when you realize that you need not only a long time established Broker with years of experience in Mexican Real Estate, but you need a Broker with years of living in the area and that is also part of the community. A good Brokerage will keep their agents trained and updated on the market, different communities and new developments, starting pre-sale or already delivering. A good Brokerage will make sure that every buyer or seller their agents takes on, they will be well represented and informed with the good or bad.

Most of all you need an experienced and knowledgeable Broker when choosing your Brokerage. Kathy & Max Katz have more than 19 years living and doing business in Mexico, they have become the most trusted names in Baja real estate as well as their Agents.

Contact a Baja Real Estate Group Agent today and see the difference yourself. A group of agents that exclusively represent Baja’s best real estate developments, who have inventory to sell in some of the best ocean front communities in the area. If you are currently working with an Agent, this is not intended for solicitation, just information. We gladly work with all Brokers and Agents.

Thinking about a long term Baja rental before you buy? Or just to explore what the Baja lifestyle is like on a long term basis? Contact us about our rent to own listings.

Browse for Ensenada Real Estate, Baja Real Estate, Mexico Real Estate.

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How Americans are Stretching Their Money South of the Border in Baja California Mexico

Americans struggling with the economy are finding relief south of the border. The overall lower cost of living, affordable beach front housing, lower property taxes as well as proximity and accessibility to US services, have made Baja California a preferred choice for relocation among retirees and families alike.

How Americans are Stretching Their Money South of the Border in Baja California, MexicoROSARITO, BAJA CALIFORNIA. MEXICO – Many Americans with reduced and fixed incomes are looking outside of the US for retirement and economic relief in these tough times, finding it just south of the border. Baja California, Mexico is leading the trend to cater to retirees, by offering services that appeal to the growing number of foreign residents. These services include assisted living, property and personal care among others at significantly lower prices than in the US.

US store names like Home Depot, Wal-Mart, Smart and Final, Applebee’s and Ashley Furniture are some of which are becoming more common in strip malls around the area. State of the art medical facilities equal to those on the US have been and are being constructed in order to provide quality medical care services to the growing number of foreign residents, the only difference being the lower cost. Read the rest of this entry »

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Baja Developers Halt Is this a sign of good things to come?

Calafia Condos: One of the developments that never stopped construction

Calafia Condos: One of the developments that never stopped construction

With the collapse of the money markets on both sides of the border, it had become almost impossible –or so it seamed- for Baja developers to finish their projects.

Finding investors or financing for the final completion of their development seemed impossible. The financial situation in the U.S. did not make matters any better. Potential buyers stopped investing in Mexico because of the economy. Current buyers began to doubt the developers’ ability to complete their development. In the last few days –and weeks- however, we have seen a change.

Could it be the end of the bad times for the region? Here are some clues: Read the rest of this entry »

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Adam Behar: The changing face of Baja Norte

he rugged beauty of “The Gold Coast,” the 70-mile stretch of coastline that leads to Ensenada, is reminiscent of Big Sur. (Photo courtesy Baja Breeze Magazine)

he rugged beauty of “The Gold Coast,” the 70-mile stretch of coastline that leads to Ensenada, is reminiscent of Big Sur. (Photo courtesy Baja Breeze Magazine)

There’s more to Mexico than swine flu and drug cartels. But you wouldn’t know it by watching cable news.

It’s true that President Felipe Calderon’s efforts to crack down on the Mexican drug cartels have unleashed inter-gang killings. It’s a face of Mexico that we may find grim and frightening even though it poses little, if any, risk to law-abiding Americans.

But Mexico has another face, another story that runs counter to the conventional wisdom: Baja norte is coming of age.

Behind the scenes, a new Tijuana has been hatching into a vibrant, multi-layered city, arguably more cosmopolitan than some U.S. cities. And in spite of its problems, it is experiencing something of a cultural renaissance. Tijuana’s creative community, named among the top eight in the world by Newsweek, includes a new generation of bold, contemporary artists, writers, graphic designers and multi-media artists, film makers, and advertising agencies. The Tijuana Cultural Center, an architectural triumph in itself, is now an important venue for the arts. Read the rest of this entry »

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Hot Topics in Mexico Resort Real Estate Market

Hot Topics in Mexico Resort Real Estate Market

Hot Topics in Mexico Resort Real Estate Market

By Matthew Miller

As the Mexico resort real estate market continues to gain popularity among North Americans, one common theme exists; an increasing demand for insightful and relevant information among the entire Mexican resort real estate community, including developers, realtors, owners, resellers and potential buyers.

This is especially true in light of today’s more difficult economic times. Therefore, it seemed worthwhile to highlight the hottest current topics in the industry as discussed at the fourth annual Mexico Resort Development Conference in Carlsbad, California held in December 2008.

This year’s conference was once again well attended among the most knowledgeable industry players, spanning a broad range of function, including debt and equity investors, banking/lending institutions, developers, land planners, designers, architects, consultants, real estate executives and professional service firms, all of who possess significant and direct experience throughout all of Mexico’s resort areas. The 2008 Mexico Resort Development conference focused on the changing global economic landscape and its direct effect on Mexico’s resort developments and buyers. Read the rest of this entry »

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Upgraded Baja Condo For Sale In Calafia Condos

Upgraded Baja Condos For Sale In Calafia Condos

Upgraded Baja Condo For Sale In Calafia Condos

This home has many upgrades and is fully furnished with modern furnishings with cute rustic accents.  There are bay view windows throughout the length of the ocean view side of the home for ocean, sand, and white water views.

This includes big windows in the kitchen, dining area, living area, and the master bedroom. Both the master bedroom and the living area have access to the ocean view patio, which is large enough for a barbeque, and to have family and friends together.

The kitchen has excellent ocean views, and is large enough for several to cook together. The kitchen has a stylish Italian glass tile back splash, and custom dark stained maple cabinets to compliment. Also, the stainless steel appliances include a dishwasher, refrigerator and a flat top stove. The granite counter top island is the center piece of the kitchen and has plenty of space for bar seating. Read the rest of this entry »

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Beachfront Architectural Dream Home For Sale in La Mision

Beachfront Home For Sale in La Mision

Beachfront Home For Sale in La Mision

An Architectural Masterpiece carved into a beachfront paradisaical setting; this La Mision home fronts the most spectacular beach on Baja’s north coast. Architect Arturo Coman created 3200 square feet of air, luminosity and marine magic. Brilliant use of light, space and vista leave the resident of this home living in an oceanfront dream scape.

The home features 4 bedrooms and 4 baths including a separate maids quarters (with a private entrance that is locked off from the rest of the residence). There is also a maid’s office with laundry service on the upper floor. There is a shaft ready to accept an elevator in a central location if you so desire. A full security system has been installed with immediate response available from only meters away. There is a whole house intercom system and the music system has been installed to symphonize the entire home from one central location. Read the rest of this entry »

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Sales under way on Tower III at Calafia Condos

Sales under way on Tower III at Calafia Condos

Sales under way on Tower III at Calafia Condos

The first two towers of Calafia Condos Resort and Villas are sold out and sales on the third tower, which is still under construction, are already being booked in advanced.   The second tower sold out in less than a year.  Tower III is currently 20 percent sold.

Mexico’s tropical weather, lifestyle rich in culture, strong currency, tax benefits and property taxes starting as low as $120 a year, added with the minimal cost of living, continue to draw American and Canadian retirees and vacation lovers south, according to Kathy Katz of Prudential California Realty’s Northern Baja Division.

“In addition, Calafia Condos recently gained an advantage over competing builders in the Baja California area by a savvy move made over a year ago,” Katz pointed out.  “Constructora Gor, the builder, purchased a vast amount of steel for its Tower III over a year ago when prices were significantly lower and is now able to pass on these lower prices to the home buyer. Read the rest of this entry »

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