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For some East Bay retirees, Mexico an affordable alternative

By Kathleen Kirkwood

Brad Billingsley and his Wife

Brad Billingsley and his wife Linda

Brad Billingsley could have been waiting for his tee time at an Arizona golf course.

Instead, the former Lafayette resident and his wife Linda were in a lagoon off Cabo San Lucas, snapping photos of gray whales bobbing next to their small charter boat.

“Every day, it’s an adventure here,” Brad Billingsley said. “It’s added 20 years to my life.”

Brad, 62, and Linda Billingsley, 61, are among the “silver surge” of baby boomers seeking alternative retirement nests in Mexico, according to a recent report by the International Community Foundation.

It’s not certain how many U.S. retirees are living in Mexico — a 2004 study puts it between 500,000 and 600,000 — but the foundation and other researchers say the number is bound to increase as more boomers settle into their golden years and find Mexico an affordable alternative. Almost half the retirees living in coastal areas are getting by comfortably on less than $1,000 per month, said the report, which cites the growth of real estate projects targeted at retirees as proof that expatriates are flocking south of the border.

The Billingsleys had seriously considered a retirement community with a golf course in central Arizona. But they lacked the enthusiasm for fairway living that seemed to consume retirees there. “Their entire lives were involved with golf,” Brad Billingsley said.

In 2007, the couple became expatriates and settled into a $300,000, two-bedroom beachfront condominium in Rosarito Beach, in Baja California.

They’ve made the most out of their retirement dollars, Brad Billingsley said. The cost of living — from groceries to health care — is low in their beachfront town and there’s plenty to do, such as driving down the coast to Cabo, walking on the beach and shopping at the local mercado. read more »