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What You Need to Know Before Pulling Up Stakes!

With great weather, a booming economy and a quality of life hard to match, moving to Cabo sounds like a no-brainer. But you must weigh this life changing decision before you leap. There are many things that naturally come with time and comfort in a new circumstance, but this change is HUGE, and once made, can be difficult to un-do.

One of the most important things to do as you ponder moving to foreign soil is to plan at least one (hopefully two or more) short trips for a sight inspection. You can obtain a great deal of information and insight from the Internet, but there’s nothing quite like the learning found in walking local streets.

Employment is a key factor when considering a move to Cabo. Some people think that just by showing up in a place that has plenty of jobs that getting hired won’t be a problem. Moving to Cabo without a specific job commitment is risky business, and not the best way to plan your move south of the border.

The Mexican government realizes the employment opportunities that a destination resort area like Baja Sur offers, and they work hard to make sure that the vast majority of available jobs go to Mexican nationals (citizens). Mexicans come from all over Mexico to try to get a job in Los Cabos, so new gringos have quite a bit of competition.

Even though the Mexican government tries to steer most jobs to it’s citizens, some gringos are very successful working in Cabo. It helps if your skills are unique and hard for the employers in Cabo to match with local talent. For instance, construction workers looking for a job have a very hard time edging out the local labor force, a physician, nurse, instructor/trainer, etc., have an easier haul finding work. If you’re an Employer wanting to relocate your business, check this website for the information you’ll need in order to get started on the right foot, equipped with the information and resources to make a smooth transition.

Part of the formula for making a move to Cabo is deciding if this is a place you would enjoy living every single hour/day of the year. Yes the weather is nice a majority of the year, but it does get very hot and humid in summer and occasionally, hurricanes (chubascos) hit Cabo with amazing intensity. Summer months are when you’ll most likely find your ex-pat comrades traveling north to the U.S. to do annual shopping, visiting family, and taking care of any issues remaining ‘back home’.

Another serious consideration for many of us is that of working in a place where everybody else seems to be playing. Anyone who has had a job working at a beach, ski resort or any other vacation destination knows it takes a good amount of personal discipline to stay focused on the job when everyone else is partying.

Another important piece of the puzzle in making such a life-changing move is accommodations. While it is true that housing costs decline once you leave the coast, prices are on the rise even further inland as more citizens compete for affordable housing. In general, you’ll find the areas south of the Los Cabos Highway close to the ocean more expensive than the foothills and inland. Also just outside of Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo along what’s called the Corridor are more affordable homes with your choice of privacy or community pool, tremendous views, and occasionally resort amenities that are just a few moments’ drive from Centro or beach access. Check our MLS login page for details regarding current possibilities.

While it is possible to find a job within walking distance to your home in Cabo, don’t count on it. Most workers commute from their home to their job, so a car is usually necessary unless you’re comfortable with the local bus transport system. Since the Los Cabos Corridor is only 20 miles long most workers are never more than 20 minutes from work. In fact, you’ll find that pretty much every destination in the ‘Los Cabos’ region is about 20 minutes’ drive away.

One important issue that many people may not think about when moving to Cabo is health care. Although prescriptions are easily filled in Los Cabos farmacias, health care itself may not be as available – or of the same quality – you’re accustomed to back home. But health care insurance is available through companies such as West Coast Insurance Services. WC provides all insurance benefits, including Homeowners, auto,boat, ATV, waverunners, commercial, airplane, and international medical coverage. Numerous providers include the option to be flown to the nearest facility of your choice. You’ll also find local insurance outlets providing a cheap alternative, but if driving the baja, it’s best to ensure coverage for yourself and your vehicle prior to beginning a several thousand mile road trip.

Many expats who live in Mexico make it a point to plan a medical appointment back in the U.S. during that summer trip we mentioned earlier.

A frequently asked question from buyers relates to taxation issues. We know some of the ins and outs, but are not the experts in this regard, so we prefer to refer you to the local experts who understand both Mexican AND American tax liabilities. Though it is apparent due to the ongoing economic crisis north of Baja that these two governments will eventually communicate and coordinate efforts to ensure no foreign trust ownership goes undeclared, up to this point having a vacation home in Mexico has not made the mandatory declaration of foreign trust an issue. That will, we’re certain, change in the future. It would be a wise decision on your part to be in the know in this regard by visiting the TaxMeLess website, or making inquiries on their blogspot.

The key to moving to Cabo is to plan ahead and nail down as many of the variables as possible before you go.Still thinking about joining the thousands of expats moving south of the border, where it’s sunny 300+ days of the year? Visit one of the web sites available to you, such as Living or International for information and expert advice.

Our local economy has been affected by the economic crisis in the north, but in more peripheral ways you may not think of. For instance, with the addition of U.S.franchise outlets, such as Walmart, Costco, Home Depot and Office Depot, costs for purchases many expats would like to make have gone up. This is due to the costs for shipping and customs. If you can live without name brand products, living well here in paradise is not only easy, it’s almost foolproof. You simply need to know where to find what you’re looking for, and understand some things are just not available. Community resources are readily available, and you’ll find the expat community one of support, friendly welcome, and ready advice. In the interim, for your research purposes, you may enjoy articles found in our news pages greatly helpful and informative.

Another consideration is your daily transportation. The inter-city bus system is terrific, and easy to use/ you just stand anywhere on the street and flag down the bus with your destination printed on the windows for a few pesos, and simply call out “Alto” when you are ready to get off again. There are, however, a few basic rules you need to be aware of regarding driving your own US licensed vehicle here in BCS versus buying a locally licensed vehicle:

If it’s purchased in Mexico, it must have a Mexican license plate; and you will be required to have a Mexican Driver’s License. Do not mix your usage…if driving a US/Canadian licensed car, be SURE to have your gringo driver’s license that matches. You can be the unhappy recipient of huge fines and have your car towed if you’re driving a foreign registered car while in possession of only a Mexican license. Hence, you won’t see many Mexicans driving imported cars.
If it comes down with you from the USA, as long as you maintain your yearly tab renewal from your state of purchase, there’s no need for you to take further action, your car is considered legal as long as you don’t let a Mexican national drive it, and you’re carrying the right license and legal docs.

Below are a few questions you should be asking and finding solutions/answers to as you prepare to make a final decision regarding heading South of the Border full-time:

  • Is all your travel documentation in order?
  • Have you remembered to prepare legal documentation, such as your Will, Power of Attorney, etc: will they be legal in Mexico?
  • If something happens to you while traveling, what are your options for care & returning to the U.S.?
  • What will you do for income?
  • Where will you live?
  • What about the home you’re leaving: will you rent it out or sell it?
  • If you rent your U.S. home, what about legal ramifications as a landlord, drawing monthly income?
  • What about your U.S. taxes; will they be affected by any international income or debt?
  • What about the belongings you’re leaving behind: should you store, sell, or bring them with you?
  • If you bring your belongings, what are the customs requirements?
  • What about your vehicle? Insurance? Permits & Licensing requirements?
  • What about your pet? Can s/he come with you? What are the legal requirements for animals coming into Mexico?
  • What about your family & friends? How will you maintain these relationships?
  • How will you stay aware of what's happening politically and locally back home?
  • What about your cell phone: is it programmed by the service provider to work in Mexico?
  • What about your health care coverage; does it extend internationally, or is it regionally binding?
  • What about your current prescriptions; do you have originals to present to a Mexican farmacia?
  • What about your U.S. identity for credit card billing accounts?
  • What about your U.S. mail? There are no mailing addresses in Mexico except for businesses; how will you receive information?
  • What about information stored on your current PC hard drive?
  • If you have an e-business, how will you maintain control of customer service and account accuracy?
  • What about the need for a fax line: will you establish an online fax account, or use an internet café/service in Mexico?

We can’t be your full resource for answers to these and the many more questions you may ask as you make your decisions, but we can aid in directing you to resources providing requirements and the voice of experience through the links provided above.

Here at Cabo Properties, we want your experience to be exciting, fun-filled, and as worry-free as possible. We hope you find the information provided in these pages helpful as an aid in eliminating some of the stress found in international moves.