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Bud

Is Ajijic (México) the "Real" Boquete?

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An interesting YouTube video clip (about 16.5 minutes runtime) about Ajijic, México. This video clip was sent to me by someone who has visited Boquete, but decided not to immigrate to Panama. His main comment was that Ajijic is what "a lot of people told him that Boquete really is." He then said it is more like what many Boqueteños think it is, or want it to become, or words to that effect.

https://youtu.be/6lYA7c1Pnuo

I will say only that Ajijic sounds like a nice place.

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The guy who sent it to you is right.  Looks 1000% better than Boquete.  I wonder what the downside is (there always is one)?

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Kate and I spent the first two weeks of August in Ajijic, so it is very fresh in my mind. We also have a lot of background in Mexico, having spent many months in each of Puerto Vallarta, La Paz, Mazatlan, Zihuatenejo, the Mayan Riviera, as well as having visited most of the "Silver Cities" (Zacatecas, Aguascalientes, Taxco, Guajanajuato, and more, including San Miguel de Allende). We love Mexico, but the consequences of what I will call the civil war have made us choose to settle elsewhere.

Ajijic is a little oasis in the Sierra Madre - the authorities are making sure that the lucrative, public relations-generating community of expats are protected from any molestation. I can assure you that the crime level 30 minutes away in Guadalajara (second largest city in the country) is elevated - homicide statistics have turned up since 2015.

The video is an accurate representation of what we found. A traditional Mexican village, but overrun by expats, with a high density of really "geriatric" folks (and the video certainly shows that). The average apparent age has to exceed, by a very large factor, the profile of the Boquete gringo community. The expats we met struck us as less adventurous than our Boquete friends and acquaintances. Although the video plays up local involvement, we didn't find anything close to the varied and vibrant charity & volunteer activites in Boquete. Very few locals were interested in conversing in Spanish with me - they automatically default to English. They don't mention the lake very much, because no one goes swimming in it due to pollution. Hardly any boating, either.

Ajijic has a WalMart and and an Autozone. We drove 30 minutes to get to the big mall where we could choose between Costco, Sam's Club, Home Depot, and Sears. We lunched at Applebee's but could have chosen PF Chang's, Chili, Carl's Junior, etc. You get the idea. Our first meal on the lake was at the American Legion Post... We felt like we were in an outer suburb of San Antonio or something. Ajijic has a lot to offer, and we may well visit again (easy destination during the peak of our rainy season), but we will confine ourselves to just a visit.

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Jim,

It appears that you have done quite a bit of on-site research. Would you elaborate on why you chose Boquete over Ajijic and the other locales that you mentioned. Just a bit curious.

P.S., I did read the last sentence of your first paragraph.

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It seems to me that, when expats take over an area, there is some destruction to the social and financial aspects of the community over the long haul.  Boquete is a good example in my opinion.  Housing is out of reach for most Panamanians (and a lot of expats) and, in just the 3 years I have been here, I have found rising prices affecting food, restaurants, clothing etc.  The government has implemented price controls on some food items just so the locals can afford to eat.  I think Medellin is worth taking a look at.  

 

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2 hours ago, MarieElaine said:

It seems to me that, when expats take over an area, there is some destruction to the social and financial aspects of the community over the long haul.  Boquete is a good example in my opinion.  Housing is out of reach for most Panamanians (and a lot of expats) and, in just the 3 years I have been here, I have found rising prices affecting food, restaurants, clothing etc.  The government has implemented price controls on some food items just so the locals can afford to eat.  I think Medellin is worth taking a look at.  

 

Price controls apply to the entire country, not just to those areas harboring expats.

I have heard that Colombia, unlike Panama, taxes income received from outside the country. Anyone considering a move there may want to check this out.

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Read the history of Boquete.  This is a town that has historically been the residence of foreigners of many nations from the time the canal was completed.  As a result Boquete had amenities that no other city had very early in it's historical growth.  For example: electricity from hydoelectric, advanced agriculture and automobiles...are just a few that come to mind.   Inflation  that you describe  is not unique to Boquete by the way.  

When I watch that video I did not get the impression that the residents felt they were "taken over" by any means.  They seemed to be enjoying the benefits of the contributions brought to them by these foreigners.  That was my take.  Of course the video was meant to show the positive side of foreign settlement there.. 

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On 9/27/2017 at 6:24 PM, Bud said:

Jim,

It appears that you have done quite a bit of on-site research. Would you elaborate on why you chose Boquete over Ajijic and the other locales that you mentioned. Just a bit curious.

P.S., I did read the last sentence of your first paragraph.

Happy to elaborate, but perhaps in a private conversation, not in a broadcast. I can say that we have lived as retirees in the USA, Chile, Australia, and Panama, and have scouted other venues such as Mexico, New Zealand, Singapore, Uruguay, South Africa, Mauritius, Argentina, Hong Kong... and our first choice remains Boquete, warts and all. The knocks on Mexico include the burden of heavy security imposed by the civil war, urban congestion, taxation of one's worldwide income, and the complexity of estate planning.

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Thanks for expanding on your post Jim.  After thinking it sounded 1000% better than Boquete, I realized the tranquility there is artificial, maintained only by the vigilance of the security people who are keeping the gang wars away from the town.  I even know Mexicans who won't go to Mexico.  They are too scared.

You certainly have been busy in your scouting.  Thanks for doing some of the work for the rest of us.

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7 hours ago, Jim Bondoux said:

Happy to elaborate, but perhaps in a private conversation, not in a broadcast. I can say that we have lived as retirees in the USA, Chile, Australia, and Panama, and have scouted other venues such as Mexico, New Zealand, Singapore, Uruguay, South Africa, Mauritius, Argentina, Hong Kong... and our first choice remains Boquete, warts and all. The knocks on Mexico include the burden of heavy security imposed by the civil war, urban congestion, taxation of one's worldwide income, and the complexity of estate planning.

Jim,

No need to expend more energy on this for my needs/desires. Your quoted reply provided sufficient information to satisfy my curiosity. Thanks mucho for elaborating on your experiences and decision logic.

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7 hours ago, Jim Bondoux said:

first choice remains Boquete, warts and all.

Same for us, but probably for different reasons.

There are positives and negatives associated with living anywhere. It's how they're scored on a personal basis that counts.

Thanks for sharing, Jim.

Edited by Keith Woolford
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On 9/28/2017 at 12:28 PM, Bonnie said:

Price controls apply to the entire country, not just to those areas harboring expats.

I have heard that Colombia, unlike Panama, taxes income received from outside the country. Anyone considering a move there may want to check this out.

If you are in Colombia more than 183 days they not only tax worldwide income, but worldwide assets, where the imputed return is 4% of the value of those assets.

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On 9/29/2017 at 5:38 PM, JudyS said:

Thanks for expanding on your post Jim.  After thinking it sounded 1000% better than Boquete, I realized the tranquility there is artificial, maintained only by the vigilance of the security people who are keeping the gang wars away from the town.  I even know Mexicans who won't go to Mexico.  They are too scared.

You certainly have been busy in your scouting.  Thanks for doing some of the work for the rest of us.

Checking www.numbeo.com, I have found 3 large cities that are safer than Boquete. Having said that, those cities are outliers, as most of Mexico is pretty bad.

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1 hour ago, Pantah said:

Checking www.numbeo.com

Not exactly a stellar source of statistics. The indices for Boquete are based on 13 inputs, some of whom could be duplicates.

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2 hours ago, Pantah said:

You got anything better?

No, but I wasn't offering anything ..except my opinion that the statistics from your source are questionable because of the unscientific manner in which the information is gathered.

Probably not anything I would want to use to make life changing decisions such as relocation but that's just me.

Edited by Keith Woolford

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We must have been traveling as we totally missed this post. Really well done positive video.

We were there in 2002 taking a bus from Guadalajara. At that time Chappa was not the paradise that is shown in this video. The Lake was practically nonexistent due to a severe drought throughout Mexico and the town was nowhere as vibrant as today.  It is a polluted lake and we found the climate to be hot more then it should for that elevation. The fact that 15,000 expats live there now is enough for us to never consider a place like that for us. There were too many back in 2002 for our liking!

That being said, good for those folks that have settled there. They have made their version of paradise but they are not in the real world of Mexico. Hope it lasts long enough for them.

 

As Keith so brilliantly  stated:

On 9/29/2017 at 6:08 PM, Keith Woolford said:

There are positives and negatives associated with living anywhere. It's how they're scored on a personal basis that counts.

 

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