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.
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.
Kathy and I connected immediately and our relationship became more than just a buyer-agent situation. I can honestly say from the heart that we instantly became “friends.” She made me feel so welcomed, like I had known her for years. She was so knowledgeable and explained the pros and cons of each development we had looked at. Her honesty and integrity is what won me over.
I feel in love with the warmth of the Mexican people, the delicious food and the homes with the most fabulous ocean views, all within my price range. Unfortunately, I did not have enough money in my savings account to make my purchase in cash, so I put my home up for sale to make this dream come true. It is not easy to make such a huge decision to sell your house and move to another country. But that inner voice deep inside told me it was the right thing to do and I just went for it. Kathy held my hand through the entire process every step of the way, and we had many conversations over the phone, in many instances to simply put my unease and fears to rest.
In January, after I had sold my home, I returned to Baja and continued on my journey searching for my dream home. I found it in Bajamar. I had narrowed my selection down to a few homes in different developments that were within my price range, but chose Bajamar because it felt so right and was a true paradise in every sense of the word. I met the staff there in Bajamar, and felt so comfortable and at “home” with them, especially the Broker, Mimi Mills, who is one of the most kindest-loving persons I have ever met, that I chose to live there and become part of their family. I found the cutest Mexican-villa in a gated community with an ocean view. My backyard is the golf course and I have the most spectacular views of not only the golf course, but the ocean and mountains as well. What a deal!
Once I went into contract, I began working closely with Max Katz, Kathy’s husband. He is very knowledgeable and savvy on the Mexican laws, as well as one of the most mild-mannered men that I have ever met. Max “takes care of business” and always immediately responded to all of my questions and concerns. His “soothing” nature actually balanced my hyperactive personality and eased my apprehensions.
I’m here to tell you that there is a lot of anxiety when purchasing a property in a foreign country, but when you connect with the right people that are knowledgeable and guide you through the process it makes the adventure so worthwhile, especially when you can trust them and consider them your friends. Max explained all the laws to me, and put to rest the myth about the 99 year lease. Yes there is a trust that is renewed every 50 years, but that trust actually protects foreign buyers. In fact, for all intent and purposes, Americans own the property outright and can sell or will/inherit the property to anybody, any time they like.
I ended up financing a loan, and got a really good deal. The interest and points are totally tax deductible like they are here in the States. The closing costs are higher than they are in the United States and I started to panic about that, but Max and Kathy explained that because the laws are different, the paperwork is passed through more hands. They told me when it is all over, I won’t even think twice about it.
On Friday, May 6, 2011, I signed off the escrow paperwork and obtained the keys. They were right. I am so glad I did and haven’t even thought twice about the expense of the closing costs. My place is beautiful and I am in a little paradise right next to the ocean. I will be retiring shortly and will be moving there full time very soon.
There were green lights all along the way showing me that Baja is where I was supposed to be. I have found contractors to complete the work I need on the house at a very inexpensive price, and even found a place called Baja Movers that will move my belongings from the United States and take it through customs for me for a very reasonable price.
If I had advice to give to someone who was contemplating purchasing property in Baja, it would be to “just do it.” Don’t pay attention to all of the horror stories you hear about Mexico and the cartel on the news. There is crime everywhere. If you don’t look for trouble, trouble will not find you.
Mexico is a wonderful country and so full of life. I know too many people that have retired here in the States and do nothing but sit in front of a TV all day. That is not the kind of life I imagine for myself in retirement and that will certainly not be the case in Baja. The people are so warm and friendly and there is always something to do there. I have this book of life sitting in front of me, as we all do. Many of the pages have already been written, but I have so many blank pages in front of me yet to write, and they will all be filled with experiences in Baja. I feel within my heart these next chapters are going to by far exceed the first chapters in my book, and the same can happen for you too, if you just hook up with the right people to guide you through the process and you “just do it.”