Both the birds and I fly south for the winter

I’m finally going back to my Puerto Vallarta condo for a while. I will be able to spend New Year’s Eve there. Everyone says it’s pretty spectacular as to the fireworks in Banderas Bay as well as the hordes of visitors enjoying all that a paradise can offer.

I’ll be able to exhale after the Thanksgiving to Christmas rush. I’m going to go join most of the 1 million American and Canadian owners of full- and time-share ownerships. I’ve written in previous columns that I have found, terrain-wise, that Puerto Vallarta is comparable to the stretch from Santa Barbara to Gaviota Pass (Hollister Ranch for all you surfers in the know). I see all the expansion possibilities there.

Coupled with near-perfect climate of 82 to 89 degrees every day of the year, Puerto Vallarta also has some of the nicest beaches and surf you’ll find. Especially for a baby boomer like me — big, small, point, reef and beach break spots all over the place. And if you’re a stand up surfer, no one will sneer at you. There are plenty of breaks with no one there, and yet steps away from a little café or a five-star resort.

Here’s the rub, you’re thinking, “He’s nuts.” They behead people and kidnap people in Mexico and the streets are filled with headless bodies. Who in the world wants to go to Mexico?

Here are some facts. Five to 7 percent of Mexico’s GDP comes from medical tourism.

Puerto Vallarta currently has seven world-class American- and Mexican- staffed medical hospitals. Two are in the planning and building stages. Even with insurance in the states or even socialized medicine abroad, Mexico is now the number one country in the world for attracting patients seeking specialists in all areas of medicine and surgery available immediately, at competitively low cost and very high quality.

The country of Mexico itself is sitting on a cash surplus and a nearly balanced budget. Mexico trails only South Korea, Sweden and Luxembourg in the unemployment rate at 4.5 percent. Ranked the seventh safest destination city in the world, the area of Puerto Vallarta to Punta Mita is an investor’s dream.

This stretch of about 45 miles has the comprehensive infrastructure in place, as mentioned, world-class hospitals and dental care; natural investment protection from the Sierra Madre Mountains, an endless future water supply, low to nonexistent crime, an international airport; first-class, private bilingual schools, mixed Mexican and American private schools at low cost — especially with the exchange rate on the dollar and higher-than-average appreciation potential in home and condo purchases.

Like many areas in Mexico, there is large demand for full- and part-time retirement living. A lot of construction is under way to meet the demand. Mexico has the world’s 13th largest GDP and is no longer called a “Third World country” but rather a fast-growing, economically secure state.

The government doesn’t impose the same strangling growth restrictions on industry. The pay scale is low, but adequate for most citizens to shop at their new Costcos, Wal-Marts and Home Depots.

American industry eyes the close proximity and growth potential. So, to me, Puerto Vallarta seems like Southern California in the 1950s about to explode in economic and cultural growth.

I bring this all up because I write about us baby boomers trying to decide whether it’s best to stay put and ride it all out, or possibly seeing how you can retire on a very limited budget just a two-hour/$200 round trip flight from Tijuana to Paradise.

I’ve figured it out.

I’ve bought the oceanfront condo for the same price as a condo in El Centro. I let my kids take care of me when I’m in San Diego and not there. Turnaround is fair play and they only get me part time. Besides, it’s starting to get pretty cold. Not too much longer and it will be cold and wet. I’ll take the sun.

The autumn here has been great but I’m ready for a real summer again and no one is going to behead me or kidnap me unless I want to get into the drug trade and that ain’t gonna happen. Lighten up everyone. Have you noticed that the illegal immigration has slowed dramatically? The work and play is down there.

They’re taking care of all the boomers heading south. Take a vacation and check it out.

It might just fit into that retirement budget after all.

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