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Expats Buying Real Estate in Puerto Vallarta and Retiring

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Did you ever dream it would be possible to enjoy life in a safe, idyllic tropical paradise, with everything you need (and more) at your fingertips – all at an affordable price? As CNN reports, many U.S. retirees have already discovered there is a place you can have all of this and more – Mexico!

“According to the U.S. State Department, one million American citizens of all ages live in Mexico, and 20.3 million visit as tourists – making it the No. 1 destination for U.S. travelers,” writes senior Latin American affairs editor Rafael Romo for CNN.

In recent years, local officials in Mexico’s top retirement destinations, including Puerto Vallarta, Cancun and Playa del Carmen, have reported a steady rise in the number of expats buying real estate and living here full or part time. When not occupied by the owners, properties in Mexico can also provide rental income, making it even more affordable to retire here one day.

“We have an ocean view, 3,000-square-foot condominium that I can afford on my Social Security,” Mike Altman, a 68-year-old retiree from California told CNN. “We have 24-hour security and indoor parking.”

Gaining access to affordable medical care is another huge plus for expats in Mexico, where prices are between one-quarter to one-half the cost in the U.S. In fact, according to the Global Retirement Index – evaluated annually by International Living – the quality of Mexico’s healthcare is among the top five worldwide, while Bloomberg ranked the nation’s health care system among the world’s most efficient at #15, which was well above the U.S. at #46.

Safety is also an important factor for expats who decide to live or retire in Mexico, since the nation’s tourist destinations and big cities are largely – if not entirely – untouched by the drug violence that has taken place in isolated pockets thousands of miles away along the U.S. border.

“I feel very safe here,” Sara Wise, a 63 year-old expat from Minnesota who has been living in Mexico with her husband for six years, told CNN. “I go for walks with my dog at midnight. I go alone and don’t worry about it. When we lived in northern Minnesota, I’d wake up every morning and hear how many people were killed in Minneapolis overnight. We don’t have that down here.”

Business Insider has also reported on the growing number of U.S. retirees heading south to Mexico, dubbing Latin America the new “Sun Belt” and citing the affordability, health care and amenities available here at a fraction of the cost.

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“They’re looking for places that will allow them to stretch their 401(k)s after they lost a lot of money in the last stock market collapse,” writes Business Insider. “With health care costs so aggressive, retirees want to live where whey can afford greens fees and where a trip to the emergency room won’t bankrupt them.”

Finally, it’s important to note that current President Enrique Peña Nieto is investing billions in tourism and infrastructure projects, aimed to continue Mexico’s transformation into a global economic powerhouse. With tourism numbers up 18 percent in 2013 compared to the prior year, it’s no surprise that Mexico is the No. 2 destination in the Americas and among the top 25 most-visited nations worldwide.

“Mexico rode out the worldwide economic downturn better than many other countries and its real estate market never suffered on the same level seen in the U.S.,” writes The Yucatan Times. “While the U.S. real estate market is still somewhat sluggish, things are picking up fast in Mexico.”