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Mexico Tops List of Favorite Boomer Top 5 Vacation Spots
By Megan Ray on August 8, 2013

Many older adults use retirement to visit certain countries they may not have had the chance to explore while they were working. While there are no bad choices when it comes to traveling during senior living, a recent survey from WatchBoom revealed the most popular destinations among baby boomers.

Mexico Tops List of Favorite Boomer Top 5 Vacation Spots

Mexico Tops List of Favorite Boomer Top 5 Vacation Spots

Mexico came in as the top spot, as it earned more than 1,100 votes from the surveyed boomers. Its popularity among the older population should not come as much of a surprise, according to The Huffington Post. For starters, it’s teeming with activity and is famous for having beautiful weather. It’s also affordable and easy to get to. A little further south, Costa Rica landed at the No. 4 spot

“Costa Rica doesn’t have the preponderance of all-inclusives, [but] it’s still a fantastic destination because of all the natural beauty,” Nina Meyer of the American Society of Travel Agents, told the news source. “The dollar value is still very good, [and it has] easy access.

Tropical destinations weren’t the only places to make the cut. Canada came in at No. 5, while Spain landed at No. 3, thanks in large part to how easy it is to get around while still speaking English.

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Look for homes for sale in Baja.

 

By Sandra Dibble | Sign on San Diego News

TIJUANA — Baja California has been losing cruise-ship visitors, sales of coastal real estate have plummeted and many resort hotel rooms sit empty. Yet the range of tourism offerings for visitors to the state has never been greater.

Fans cheer on the Xoloitzcuintles soccer team in Tijuana, which has developed a growing following on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border, particularly after its ascension to Mexico’s Primera Division in May. / Photo by K.C. Alfred * U-T

Fans cheer on the Xoloitzcuintles soccer team in Tijuana, which has developed a growing following on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border, particularly after its ascension to Mexico’s Primera Division in May. / Photo by K.C. Alfred * U-T

Among this year’s choices: a large agricultural fair in Mexicali, new fine-dining restaurants in Tijuana, an expanded wine festival in Ensenada, and surfing and rock-climbing classes in Rosarito Beach.

In the wake of a difficult decade for tourism, government and private promoters in Baja California are finding more ways to attract visitors as they launch into the traditional summer peak season. The state’s tourism secretary, Juan Tintos, speaks of “reorganizing, redefining our strategies in the tourism sector.”

That means continuing to target Hispanics living in the United States but also relying more heavily on Mexican domestic tourism. It means depending far less on the traditional flow of Americans to Baja California’s beaches and focusing on new niches: athletes and sports fans, food and wine devotees, convention visitors and medical tourists.

When things were going well, “the state didn’t have a need to look in general at what it can offer,” said Laura Torres, whose family owns and operates Rosarito Beach Hotel. Then a series of crises in recent years forced the search for a broader range of offerings.

Torres, the head of Baja California’s Business Coordinating Council, has started a tour agency that takes guests on excursions such as whale-watching trips, visits to a Spanish mission, rappelling classes in nearby La Mision. continue reading…

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. continue reading…

Villanueva, far left; Rosarito Mayor Hugo Torres, center in striped maroon sweater; and Bruce Howard, far right in yellow vest

Villanueva, far left; Rosarito Mayor Hugo Torres, center in striped maroon sweater; and Bruce Howard, far right in yellow vest

ROSARITO BEACH, BAJA CALIFORNIA, MEXICO—Seven members of a California Rotary club joined with about 20 local Rotarians and Rosarito residents Saturday in an event to demonstrate this tourist area is perfectly safe for visitors.

The event organized by Rotarians from Cambria, California was officially a beach maintenance session but Bruce Howard, past president of that club, said its main purpose was to help eliminate inaccurate perceptions that have developed in the U.S.

“We want to tell people that Baja is safe,” said Howard, who owns a vacation home in Rosarito. “We’re coming down, we love coming down and we feel safe and welcome and comfortable here.”

Howard said media coverage of the Mexican government’s aggressive crackdown on drug cartels, including some sensationalized stories, has created the impression among some in the U.S. that the area is unsafe for visitors. continue reading…

Drug cartels. Murders. The news is often bad out of Mexico. Peter Ferry journeys beyond the headlines.

Finally Some Good News on Travel in Mexico

Finally Some Good News on Travel in Mexico

Poor old Mexico. Talk about kicking a guy when he’s down! Just when the price of oil plummets, American jobs dry up, and the fear of drug violence cuts tourism in half, along comes swine flu to cut it in half again.

OK, it’s time for a little good news. In May, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control lifted its recommendation against travel to Mexico; the swine flu isn’t so bad after all, and it probably didn’t come here from Mexico in the first place.

And now a little more good news. Drug violence is not a threat to ordinary tourists like you and me. This is according to the Mexican government, the U.S. State Department and me. Let me give you a little background. continue reading…

By Keith Darcé, Union-Tribune Staff Writer

TIJUANA — About 1 million adult Californians seek health care in Mexico each year – and that figure is likely growing as the recession expands the ranks of the uninsured who are drawn to cheaper care south of the border, said the lead researcher of the first major report on the topic released Tuesday.

The pharmacy business in Tijuana is still booming, despite crackdowns by the state to weed out illegitimate operators. - John Gibbins / Union-Tribune

The pharmacy business in Tijuana is still booming, despite crackdowns by the state to weed out illegitimate operators. - John Gibbins / Union-Tribune

These people live from the Bay Area to San Diego County. Most come to Mexico for prescription drugs and dental care, and a smaller number go for surgeries. Beyond finances, other factors prompting individuals to head south include language and cultural barriers.

Living within 15 miles of the border also greatly increases the likelihood of someone obtaining health services in Mexico.

Angela Tapia, 45, of San Ysidro crosses the border several times each year to see her gynecologist. She also had back surgery in Tijuana a decade ago.

“It’s cheaper to go there,” said Tapia, who doesn’t have health insurance. “When you go to those doctors, they give you time, they ask a lot of questions and they care about you.”

Roughly half of the cross-border patients are Mexican immigrants, a statistic that might challenge the popular notion of Mexicans burdening California’s hospitals and clinics by receiving all of their health care on this side of the border, said UCLA public health professor Steven Wallace, lead author of the new report.

“What this helps document is that (some) immigrants are facing barriers to receiving care in the United States, and they are turning to Mexico for that care,” said Wallace, who also serves as associate director of UCLA’s Center for Health Policy Research. “And it’s not just immigrants facing barriers here.”

Approximately half a million U.S. citizens living in California also seek health services in Mexico, Wallace and his UCLA colleagues found.

Altogether, about 4 percent of adult Californians traveled to Mexico for some type of medical care.

Wallace’s study was published Tuesday in Medical Care, a journal for the American Public Health Association.

He and his fellow researchers based their analysis on data from the 2001 California Health Interview Survey, which questioned more than 55,000 random households across the state.

The wide-ranging survey, conducted once every two years, is funded by a coalition of agencies and groups including the state Department of Public Health, the National Cancer Institute and the California Endowment. Those done since 2001 have not asked about accessing health care south of the border.

Wallace’s group was the first to delve deeply into the statistics on medical treatment in Mexico. Previous research relied on anecdotal accounts or small localized populations.

The cross-border trend likely will intensify as the number of Mexican immigrants living in California increases and the recession costs more people their jobs and health insurance coverage, Wallace said.

Between 2001 and 2007, the population of Mexican immigrants in California grew by 756,000 to 4.6 million, according to the Center for Immigration Studies in Washington, D.C.

“The numbers that are bad in this study have only gotten worse,” said Margaret Laws, director of the California HealthCare Foundation’s Innovations for the Underserved program. “Under the current climate, they will continue to get worse.”

The UCLA researchers found that more than 13 percent of Mexican immigrants traveled to Mexico for care, with the largest number visiting dentists.

Such patients make up the diverse range of U.S. residents who visit the Bartell Dental Clinic on Avenida Revolucion in the heart of Tijuana’s tourist district, said Dr. William Bartell Jr.

“Probably 95 percent of my clientele are self-employed or their jobs don’t provide any dental insurance,” he said.

The clinic, which has a Web site that targets Americans, sees about 10 patients a day – nearly all from north of the border. That’s enough to keep three full-time and several part-time dentists busy, Bartell said.

Mexican immigrants who lived in California for less than 15 years were less likely to cross the border for care than those who had been in the country longer, the UCLA report said. Many shorter-term immigrants are undocumented, so they face risks every time they leave the United States and try to return.

Among all other Californians, the top health-related reason for going to Mexico was to purchase prescription drugs.

Much attention has been given to doctors performing cosmetic and weight-loss surgeries on Americans in Mexican cities such as Tijuana. But Wallace found that only 7 percent of the 464,000 non-Latino Californians who sought treatment across the border went there for medical procedures, including surgeries and treatments for serious illnesses like cancer.

Health insurers offering relatively low-cost coverage plans that allow Southern Californians to receive care on both sides of the border should be encouraged by the study’s findings, Wallace said.

In fact, several of the largest players in the cross-border insurance market have recorded steady growth in recent years.

Membership in Health Net’s U.S-Mexico plan has reached 40,000, up from 23,700 in late 2007, said Brad Kiefer, a spokesman for the health maintenance organization.

Sistemas Medicos Nacionales S.A., the only Mexican HMO licensed to operate in California, now has about 21,000 members in San Diego and Imperial counties, said Christina Suggett, the company’s chief operating officer.

Staff writer Sandra Dibble contributed to this report.

Keith Darcé: (619) 293-1020;

Broswe for Rosarito Real Estate, Baja Real Estate and Mexico Real Estate.