Living in Los Cabos: How It’s Done

Last Sunday at the Caboholics convention Meet & Greet I had several people come up to me and ask the same question. That generally means there are others out there who would appreciate the same information. So, for those of you who want to know how I managed to make my dream of moving to Cabo work here is my story.

We knew we wanted to retire to Mexico (well he could have been humoring me) and started visiting various cities. On our first trip to Cabo I knew this was the place. We started looking at real estate during that first week, but there was a problem. I’d consider us comfortably middle-class; we both had good jobs but we were in no stretch of the imagination wealthy. We saw what was in our budget for a starter vacation home and it wasn’t pretty. Anything we could afford would have been too expensive to repair and then maintain. It wasn’t until our second visit to Cabo that we were successful. The real estate agent was showing us the same inventory we’d seen several months ago when the agent on one of them piped up and asked if we’d ever considered buying a lot. Actually, we had never thought of that. Since she worked for the developer of the neighborhood we liked (Pedregal) she started showing us lots that she considered good buys.

One building site in particular intrigued us. It seemed priced low compared to the others and we were fairly certain there would be a view of both the Pacific and the Sea of Cortez from the second floor. So we shocked ourselves by snapping it up. And did absolutely nothing with it for several years. Since property taxes are so low, and lots only pay ½  the homeowner’s dues it was inexpensive to maintain. In the meantime it was appreciating in value and we were paying down our first mortgage. When the housing market in California started to recover we were in a strong position to take a home equity loan and start building a little gem of a vacation home. And yes, it did have a double view! Alternatively we could have sold the land for at least twice what we’d paid, to be used against a finished property. When we were ready for Bob to retire we were all set for the move to Cabo.

So that’s how the game is played. And now is a good time to get into that game. It’s no secret that Cabo’s real estate market took a major hit during the recession and prices are down considerably.  Building lots in particular have been dead and prices have plummeted. Some sellers are financing, which is particularly attractive. For example, on the Cabo side of the corridor the median price for a house rose 18% in 2014. Lots didn’t budge. So buying a lot on the corridor would seem like a smart move: you know lots are going to catch up sooner or later. If you’re three to four years from retiring to Cabo it would behoove you to consider this strategy as the timing is impeccable. Who knows? Maybe a few years from now somebody will be asking you how you made your dream work.

Carol Billups is Broker/Owner of Cabo Realty Pros. She has enjoyed working with both buyers and sellers for over fourteen years and still thinks hers is the best job on earth. She is also the real estate columnist for Los Cabos Magazine and a member of the Board of Directors of our Multiple Listing Service MLSBCS. You can read more of her articles on the website blog www.caborealtypros.com. You can reach her from the U.S. or Canada at 1-760-481-7694, or in Cabo at 044-624-147-7541. You can listen to our 24/7 broadcast on http://www.livecabo.net for a mix of happy music, weather reports and local information.

© 2015 Carol S. Billups

pretty sunset in Cabo San Lucas
pretty sunset in Cabo San Lucas

Living in Los Cabos: Tis the Season…. For Chocolate

choc

 

People sometimes ask “Don’t you miss the changing of the seasons?” No, I don’t miss COLD at all! And besides, we have plenty of seasons here in Cabo San Lucas. Obviously we have high season, windy season, turtle season and whale season (we won’t mention hurricane season just yet). And we’ve got Chocolate Season. YUM, one of my favorites. Let me explain.

 

Chocolate was unquestionably the Aztec’s gift to the world. So you would think we’d have mastered it long ago. But sadly, no. To a confirmed chocoholic Mexican chocolate is a giant “why bother?” With the advent of Costco we can now buy American chocolate fairly reliably, but the stores stock chocolate that would appeal to someone who doesn’t really truly appreciate it. It’s very similar to a liquor store next to a university: they are more likely to stock Boone’s Farm wine than a fine vintage. Until Chocolate Season.

 

Food is a huge part of the traditional Mexican Christmas. And with Christmas lasting almost a month we need a lot of it. Starting in early November the stores start bringing out the special holiday merchandise. The stores are so full they’re bursting at the seams with yummy treats we don’t see the rest of the year (at least not here in Cabo). There are dried fruits and spices to make Ponche, delicacies such as pate for the cocktail party spread, wines and liquors, imported cheeses, traditional candies and…. chocolate. French Truffles. Belgian chocolates.  Italian bon-bons. A world of wonderful, top quality chocolate. And some us take full advantage of the opportunity, knowing that after the first week of January treats of this quality will disappear for another year.

 

November to January: party season, high season and most deliciously chocolate season.

 

 

 

 

Carol Billups is Broker/Owner of Cabo Realty Pros. She has enjoyed working with both buyers and sellers for over thirteen years and still thinks hers is the best job on earth. She is also the real estate columnist for Los Cabos Magazine. You can read more of her articles on the website blog www.caborealtypros.com. You can reach her from the U.S. or Canada at 1-760-481-7694, or in Cabo at 044-624-147-7541. You can listen to our 24/7 broadcast on http://www.livecabo.net for a mix of happy music, weather reports and local information.

 

 

 

© 2014 Carol S. Billups

 

 

 

Living in Los Cabos: 10 Reasons to Cabo NOW

 

Facebook is breaking my heart. On one hand I see wonderful postings about how every man, woman and child is working their buns off in the clean-up/recovery effort and what great strides they are making. There are near-constant reports of workers helping rebuild even though they lost their own homes. Even so they are very concerned about the return of the tourists.

And then there are the other threads: tourists discussing putting off their trips. NO!!!!!! These people rely on you, they are making huge sacrifices to get Cabo ready for high season, and they are winning the battle. So, don’t cancel your trip. Here is my TOP TEN LIST OF REASONS TO COME TO CABO RIGHT NOW.

  1. FISHING. Sport fishing is what put Cabo on the map in the first place, and fall is under normal circumstances when it is the best. But fall after a storm? The fishermen tell me that’s when it is spectacular. On the morning of the 19th at a neighborhood meeting Brian Solomon of Solomon’s Landing restaurant said that as soon as he could get his boat in the water he was going out to catch food for his employees. The next day he posted that he caught 16 dorado!!! A single fisherman with 16 dorado in a few hours???? Oh yeah, the fishing is fine right now. [As an aside Solomon’s Landing is now back open for business and even has live entertainment.]
  2. TOURNAMENTS!! Bob Bisbee Sr. has committed that his tournaments will continue as normal. While I don’t know about the other scheduled tournaments, the Bisbee Offshore will be held October 17-19 and the mother of all tournaments Bisbee Black & Blue will run from October 21-25. I don’t lump these into fishing because they really have nothing to with fishing: they are legal, extremely high stakes gambling and everyone gets in the act. At this level one is not a fisherman, but an angler. The B&B is the world’s richest fishing tournament with millions of dollars on the line. Everyone in town gets into the spirit of things, following which boats are hooked up, who’s caught what, going down to watch them come in for weighing, etc. There are booths set up on the marina and it’s basically just a big festival. From the shot-gun starts to the last weigh-in, tournament season is a hoot.
  3. FORE THE KIDS. On November 15 at Palmilla you will find one of the rarest events: the 100% fundraiser when Casa Hogar, which is the boy’s orphanage, holds their annual golf tournament. I’ve done fund-raising for years and it’s extremely rare for the charity to have zero out-lay. But in this case the venue, the meals, the beverages, the SWAG bags, prizes and every other element of the fundraiser has been donated by sponsors so 100% of your entry goes to the boys. Wow. So not only do you save money on golfing Palmilla you know that you are helping raise over 40 boys. And this year is very special. The original grant stipulated the money was to build a boy’s orphanage. But recently the board acquired the land to build a girl’s orphanage, too. I work with a board member and the executive director who told me that just from the sisters of the boys they are caring for they would have about 30 residents. Since I’m not in Cabo I don’t have the contact info if you want to participate, but if you call my office at 624-143-3011 you can ask for Chris or Ed and they’ll take care of you.
  4. LIFE’S A BEACH. When people talk about beaches in Cabo more often than not they’re talking about Medano beach. Beautiful, swimmable, diverse Medano. From the elegant to the rowdy and raunchy there are restaurants, bars, ambulatory vendors, music, certainly lots of laughter, and oh-by-the-way an ocean. Every day I’m getting more reports of those bars and restaurants re-opening and the beach is clean. There are a number of live web-cams that came back online if you don’t believe.
  5. GOLF. Admitted, I’d have a hard time picking Tom Fazio, Arnold Palmer or Tiger Woods out in a line-up. I don’t know golf. But I do know golfers. One friend of mine who plays daily told me that he has to go to the States from time to time to play their “cow pastures” so that he appreciates what we’ve got in Cabo. Cabo is world class golf and this is your opportunity to try it out without the crowds.
  6. FOOD. Yum! I’ve said it before and it’s still true: Cabo is a city of Foodies. And our chefs don’t disappoint. But right now? The chefs, the wait staff, and management: everyone is anxious to make your Cabo dining experience over the top. Everything will be super-fresh, and it will be prepared and served with special care to impress our brave first tourists.
  7. WEATHER. Right about now God should be flipping the switch. Every year our weather ‘flips’ overnight from summer to gorgeous. Bright sunshine, warm days and cool nights: can you tell me you wouldn’t enjoy that?
  8. MOUNTAINS AND DESERT (oh and a few turtles). Cabo isn’t just about the beach. We’ve got gorgeous mountains and deserts to explore with hidden waterfalls, and lush vegetation. The desert in bloom after a storm is a sight to behold. Once seen, it will never be forgotten. Don’t miss your chance. And fall is when you might have a chance to help a just-hatched baby sea turtle find his way home to the sea.
  9. FUN. Back in the old days we were a ‘big box’ franchise. I remember being at a meeting during the recession when we were advised to switch our focus from tourism to ‘other industries’. Great, I thought, we HAVE no industry. Then I realized we do have a manufacturing sector. We manufacture fun. If you can’t have fun in Cabo there is no hope for you.

AND NOW>>> DRUMROLL PLEASE >>>>> NUMBER ONE REASON TO COME TO CABO RIGHT NOW IS >>>>>>>>>>>>

THE PEOPLE. It’s not just me. It’s not just the results of the International Community Foundation survey. It’s not just the United Nations survey that determined Mexico is the happiest country. The number one reason people move to Cabo, and the number one reason people visit Cabo repeatedly is the warmth and friendliness of our people. For centuries the Baja, and Cabo, were literally cut off from the world. What resulted was a culture of kindness, respect, manners and most of all caring for one another. That culture, that spirit, lives on today. You will never, ever experience such a loving and nurturing environment. This one you have to experience for yourself. And there is no better time than now. CABO STRONG.

Carol Billups is Broker/Owner of Cabo Realty Pros. She has enjoyed working with both buyers and sellers for over thirteen years and still thinks hers is the best job on earth. She is also the real estate columnist for Los Cabos Magazine. You can read more of her articles on the website blog http://www.caborealtypros.com. You can reach her from the U.S. or Canada at 1-760-481-7694, or in Cabo at 044-624-147-7541. You can listen to our 24/7 broadcast on http://www.livecabo.net for a mix of happy music, weather reports and local information.

© 2014 Carol S. Billups

The arch in Cabo San Lucas by Jen

 

Living in Los Cabos: Are We Confused Yet?

 

Yikes what a day! I’ve been working the phones trying to find the earliest flight home and it’s a mad-house. None of the airlines seem to be taking reservations yet, but they all have a different idea of when the airport will re-open. It’s taken all day to compile this, and I figure there may be someone else who needs the info, too, so I might as well post it. I plan on checking daily… it will be interesting to see how it changes…..

Airline Customer Service Phone Estimated Date of First Flight
Volaris 866-988-3527 October 5
American 800-433-7300 October 19
United 800-864-8331 October 2
Southwest 800-435-9792 After September 30
Alaska 800-252-7522 November 1
AeroMexico 800-237-6639 October 9
Delta 800-221-1212 September 30 via DF, 24+ hrs
GAP – Owners of airport On or before Oct 5

Wonder about chartering a plane to the CSL field and how many we could jam into a little jet?

 

Carol Billups is Broker/Owner of Cabo Realty Pros. She has enjoyed working with both buyers and sellers for over thirteen years and still thinks hers is the best job on earth. She is also the real estate columnist for Los Cabos Magazine. You can read more of her articles on the website blog http://www.caborealtypros.com. You can reach her from the U.S. or Canada at 1-760-481-7694, or in Cabo at 044-624-147-7541. You can listen to our 24/7 broadcast on http://www.livecabo.net for a mix of happy music, weather reports and local information.

© 2014 Carol S. Billups

 

Living in Los Cabos: Lessons Learned After the Worst

 

We were prepared for a storm, not a natural disaster. As anyone reading this probably knows Cabo was trashed on Sunday night, September 15, 2014, by Hurricane Odile. On Saturday we went to bed with the prediction of a near miss by a Category 1 hurricane. When we woke up on Sunday the prediction had been changed: a direct hit by a Category 4. By that time there was really not much to do but maybe buy more food and stress.

What actually happened? We got a direct hit by a Category 3 (on winds) and a Category 5 (on pressure), three tornados and a 4.5 magnitude earthquake. Cabo’s perfect storm.

Don’t ask me about the storm. I’m sure it’s just a coping mechanism but my memory of the actual storm has been pretty much blanked out. I recall the family being in the ‘safe’ area of the home protected by hurricane screens, then windows popping and running to another room and finally downstairs into a window-less hallway. I recall driving through the eye to try and find safety, being turned down at the Wyndham because of the dogs, and then driving home. It was harrowing. No wonder the rest is blanked.

Thank God (and I’m not taking that in vain) we were in Mexico. When it comes to disaster relief my adopted country has their act totally together. I’m in awe. Both local people and the officials just instantly starting pitching in to help. I’m not there right now (wish I were) but am keeping close tabs on the recovery and everyone I’m in touch with agrees it is going much faster than anticipated. Cabo should be back open for tourism as soon as next week.

Now, every year I’ve blogged about hurricane preparedness, including this year. I stand by most of it, but have found a few things I’d like to add based on having experienced the worst hurricane in the history of Baja.

In addition to everything in the three blogs previously posted I need to add three items to put in your kit:

  1. HEAVY LEATHER WORK GLOVES. I believe I did note real shoes (not sandals) to avoid stepping in glass. But when you’re cleaning up multiple windows and doors you’ll want to protect your hands, too. We’ve swept up before but this is the first time we had to handle window FRAMES full of broken shards. Gloves. Get them.
  2. FACE MASKS. My good friend had to be hospitalized for a day from the effects of breathing so much dust. Having face masks in the hurricane kit might prevent that.
  3. ANTIQUE PRINCESS PHONE. Remember phones that plugged into the wall? And handsets that had cords to the body of the phone? People who had one of those did not lose their phone service and were able to notify family of their condition. The rest of us were and remain cut off from the world.

One other note. After Hurricane Marty I informed Bob that he need never buy me a birthday, anniversary or Christmas present if he just got me a generator. He did. Much of my preparation was predicated on having that generator up and running. It failed. And so began the migration of the dog’s food. Here’s the thing…. I had to keep moving it (and the wonderful friend now in charge of their care continues to) as other generators failed. So it wasn’t just us. Bob is thinking if we had run it more often, I don’t know. I just know that you can’t bank on your generator. I do know one of the neighbors’ continued to run UNTIL THE PROPANE RAN OUT. So topping off your propane tank should also be added to your hurricane preparedness list.

Wow. We camped out but due to health concerns we evacuated Bob after four days. I can’t say enough about the people who handled that. It’s not easy being here while so much is going on there, but luckily for me we’re surrounded by good people who are taking care of the girls, have secured the house and are staying there for us. I’m just overwhelmed. We’ve even had to turn help away! If you think I loved the people of Cabo before…. Well…. That was nothing to what I feel after the worst. Hopefully these lessons will never be needed, but just in case. I’ll sign off with what has become our rallying cry: CABO STRONG!!!

 

Carol Billups is Broker/Owner of Cabo Realty Pros. She has enjoyed working with both buyers and sellers for over thirteen years and still thinks hers is the best job on earth. She is also the real estate columnist for Los Cabos Magazine. You can read more of her articles on the website blog http://www.caborealtypros.com. You can reach her from the U.S. or Canada at 1-760-481-7694, or in Cabo at 044-624-147-7541. You can listen to our 24/7 broadcast on http://www.livecabo.net for a mix of happy music, weather reports and local information.

© 2014 Carol S. Billups

DSCN1059

 

 

Living in Los Cabos: Stormy Weather Part 3

20140824_115207

 

There’s no doubt about it. Getting ready for and actually making it through the storm are a lot easier than living with the after-math. Now is when we need to address the damage.

 

Obviously the first priority is any injuries; that must be the first focus. The reason you got a first aid kit together before the storm is that it might be a while before the ambulance can get to you. Be ready. Hopefully you will never have to use it.

 

Barring any injuries, your first priority inside is going to be drying off. Once the storm passes the weather will heat back up and you want to get things dry before the mold can start growing. I’m a real estate broker: I’ve been in houses valued at $100,000 all the way up to $10,000,000. One thing they all have in common is that they will take water in a storm. Find the leaks and use your squeegee to dry the floor. Take any wet upholstery, etc out onto the patio and let the sun dry it. Open all the doors and windows to let air circulate. Consider mopping with chlorine bleach as a preventative measure.

 

This is a golden opportunity for you to experience life off the grid. Your power will remain off for some period of time. If you live in one of the nicer gated communities you will also lack water (no electricity to run the pump). If you’ve got a back-up generator you might be able to run the refrigerator, pump and a few lights but forget the A/C. The closer you live to downtown the better. Say what you will about our city government, they ‘get’ tourism. That area will be the first to have power restored if at all possible. The resorts have massive generators so they will have plenty of water and air conditioning; if need be you could check into one until your place is habitable.

 

Outdoors you will want to check for damage to your car, and of course the plants. You might notice places where the storm sand-blasted the paint right off your house. Time to clean up the mess, being diligent about clearing up any stagnant water that might breed mosquitoes. Dengue fever is a real concern after a storm.

 

The city will be cleaning up as soon as the storm clears, concentrating on the tourist zone. They’ll be cleaning up the mud and hauling it off. That’s the good news. The bad news is that some will remain behind, dry up and become dust. That dust becomes airborne. Remember what we said in the last blog about the water flooding the streets not being specifically clean? This dust isn’t ordinary dirt. You don’t want to even THINK about ingesting it in any way. If you’re driving through town keep your windows up and set the air conditioner to recycle interior air. This is not the time to dine at outdoor restaurants; stay home or find an inside venue.

 

From there on it’s only a matter of patience. Eventually CFE will get the power back on; the linemen are some of the hardest working people in Mexico. With time the water company will find the break in the aqueduct and patch it up (hint: it’s broken where it broke last time and the time before that and the time before that…..). We’re on the end of the supply chain and the storm may have torn up the roads so it will be a while before the stores can re-stock.

 

Two storms come to mind. Julietta in 2001. Julietta was a bitch. She wasn’t that strong but she arrived in Cabo and like some tourists, didn’t want to leave. Four days!!! The guys at CFE were kind and put power back on periodically during that ordeal. I can’t remember the exact year Marty visited us, seems like it was mid-last-decade. Marty was stronger, but he breezed through in record time in the middle of the night. All I remember of the storm is waking up with the rattling of windows, Bob & I each grabbing a couple of dogs, and heading down to our old downstairs bedroom where we slept through the whole thing. You would think Julietta was the worse of the two, right? Wrong. As quickly and painlessly as Marty dashed through Cabo he decided to take a quick detour to the Sea of Cortez, ripping across the peninsula. He downed power lines between Cabo and LaPaz that took ages to fix, destroyed large sections of the road and took out numerous bridges (I don’t recall the exact number). It took several weeks to recover from Marty. But, the message here is recovery. “Life will be normal again” is my mantra after a storm. And I know that come December I won’t have any complaints about the weather at all!

 

 

Carol Billups is Broker/Owner of Cabo Realty Pros. She has enjoyed working with both buyers and sellers for over thirteen years and still thinks hers is the best job on earth. She is also the real estate columnist for Los Cabos Magazine. You can read more of her articles on the website blog www.caborealtypros.com. You can reach her from the U.S. or Canada at 1-760-481-7694, or in Cabo at 044-624-147-7541. You can listen to our 24/7 broadcast on http://www.livecabo.net for a mix of happy music, weather reports and local information.

 

 

 

© 2014 Carol S. Billups

 

 

 

 

Living in Los Cabos: Stormy Weather Part 2

20140824_115207

 

Water! How could I have forgotten that? Going back to ‘before’ stuff for a moment: you’ll want to stock up on drinking water. Big Time. First of all, the aqueduct will break. It always does, but we never know how long it will take to fix. So stock up. While you’re at it, get paper plates so you don’t have to use drinking water to do dishes. If you’re lucky enough to have a tub, fill it up as well and put a bucket next to it to use to flush. So sorry to have overlooked a critically important piece of preparation. Now on to DURING.

 

When the storm hits you are hopefully fully prepared and have sought shelter. Stay there. And most importantly:

 

STAY AWAY FROM THE WATER!!!!

 

This cannot be stressed enough; it seems every storm we lose a few people to the waves. They are bigger and more powerful than you think and can strike without warning. Yes, I will admit to succumbing and sneaking outside to check out the wind and the rain at the start of a storm, but try not to overdo it and for sure stay far away from the beach.

 

Once the rain starts downtown Cabo will flood. Period. Heck, certain intersections flood even during a light rain. And it’s important to:

 

STAY AWAY FROM THE WATER!!!!

 

Some of that water isn’t specifically clean (is there a polite way to say sewer run off?) and it’s traveling too fast. Stay somewhere warm, dry and safe.

 

Once the wind and rain really crank up there’s not much to do other than ride it out. If you’re lucky you might be able to sleep through it. Try to stay away from windows and sliding glass doors to avoid being cut if the glass breaks. If there is a quiet corner in your house take your pets and cuddle up there.

 

It’s almost impossible not to go out when the eye passes over. Try not to go too far away as you don’t know how long it will last and the inner wall can slam you into next week. When it’s finally over you can relax, assess the damage, and get into post-hurricane mode, our next topic.

 

 

 

Carol Billups is Broker/Owner of Cabo Realty Pros. She has enjoyed working with both buyers and sellers for over thirteen years and still thinks hers is the best job on earth. She is also the real estate columnist for Los Cabos Magazine. You can read more of her articles on the website blog www.caborealtypros.com. You can reach her from the U.S. or Canada at 1-760-481-7694, or in Cabo at 044-624-147-7541. You can listen to our 24/7 broadcast on http://www.livecabo.net for a mix of happy music, weather reports and local information.

 

 

 

© 2014 Carol S. Billups

 

 

 

Living in Los Cabos: Stormy Weather

hurricane preparedness in Cabo San Lucas

 

After all these many years I do not ever recall being up to N on the hurricane names before it’s even September! YIKES! So I figure a few words on storm season are in order. I think we’ll deal with Before/During/After. Frankly the Before and Afters are the most important.

 

Most of the BEFORE actions can be taken weeks or even months in advance of a storm. You might want to assess your home for risk and consider hurricane shutters (solid) or hurricane  screens (Kevlar-type fabric). In our case, we have protection for the great room but not the bedrooms, figuring that we’ll have one central ‘safe area’. Not everyone will need to do this, but we’re in prime wind location.

 

You will also want to buy (trust me on this) a squeegee with a long handle, a large dust pan on a long handle and a plastic bucket. In my experience these are the fastest, most effective tools for cleaning up floods. And you will have flooding, no matter how grand or humble the home. Once the water starts puddling up on the floor squeegee it into the dustpan then dump in the bucket. Repeat. Build up a rhythm. It works much better than mopping. Other necessary supplies include LOTS of flashlights and extra, fresh batteries. Prior to the storm hitting shore the electric company will shut down power. Why? Because we have overhead lines, and in some parts of town home-made connections, so for safety reasons they shut us down in high winds. While normal flash lights are great (have a minimum of one per person) there are two additional I’d like to suggest. Camping lanterns are real conveniences when the power is off for extended periods of time. I also love my teensy tiny one inch long flashlight. Last big storm I stashed it in my pocket. Sure enough, when the lights went off I was halfway down a staircase. That little guy sure came in handy. Depending on your home you may need tarps and bungee cords to cover or tie down various items. A hurricane force wind can move just about anything, so when in doubt bring it indoors or secure it. And an ice chest is a handy item to have as well.

 

All of these precautions can be done months in advance; you know you’ll need these things eventually so you might as well stock up well in advance. You’ll also need a good first aid kit and be sure not to let your inventory of any needed medications run too low.

 

And now: food and drink. Mid-summer I try to begin accumulating canned foods. That isn’t terribly easy in Cabo; we love fresh food and not too many things are sold in cans. If your stove is propane you’ll be able to boil water for coffee and soup. If not you’ll be eating tuna sandwiches. But whatever it is, just buy a bit at a time and build up a hoard of non-perishable food. The experts suggest enough for at least three days but being at the end of the supply chain it might be a good while before the stores can re-stock. Please don’t forget your little four-legged friends and stock up on food for them, too. You might consider building up a little inventory of cash as well. When power goes out so do ATM’s and credit card readers. You’ll need to have enough cash to cover you for a few days.

 

Again, without power you’ll get bored. Have a few good books you’ve been hoping to read on hand— real ones. You won’t be able to charge your reading device without electricity.

 

Now: crunch time.

 

Be monitoring the weather. I check the National Hurricane Center daily during season at http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/?epac. If it looks like we’re going to get a storm it’s time to get the house ready (and yourself). You’ll need to go to the store and buy last-minute supplies. Bear in mind that, this being Cabo, most of town will be there frantically trying to get all the things you already stocked. But you’ll want to fight the crowds and pick up some semi-perishable foods like eggs, bread and fruits with a slightly longer shelf life like apples and pineapple. Fill the ice chest. Top off your car’s tank; you never know how long after a storm before we can get gas. And last: bear in mind that if we get significant damage martial law will be declared and the town will be dry. Make sure you’ve got plenty to cover any vices you enjoy.

 

Get yourself home and go get ready for the storm…… to be continued….

 

 

 

 

 

 

Carol Billups is Broker/Owner of Cabo Realty Pros. She has enjoyed working with both buyers and sellers for over thirteen years and still thinks hers is the best job on earth. She is also the real estate columnist for Los Cabos Magazine. You can read more of her articles on the website blog www.caborealtypros.com. You can reach her from the U.S. or Canada at 1-760-481-7694, or in Cabo at 044-624-147-7541. You can listen to our 24/7 broadcast on http://www.livecabo.net for a mix of happy music, weather reports and local information.

 

 

 

© 2014 Carol S. Billups

 

 

 

Living in Los Cabos: Cutting Your Cost of Living

Tabachine Tree in Cabo San Lucas

 

As promised, we’re back on topic with the cost of living in Cabo. Recently I posted the prices of many commodities at the supermarket. For some time now my shopping habits have been dictated not so much by value as time. I need to get in and out as quickly as possible. But if you have the luxury of a little free time you can save yourself quite a bit of cash, get better quality, and have a cultural experience.

 

Once I start naming names you’ll probably realize you’ve seen those names on little trucks all over Cabo. They are the purveyors for the restaurants and hotels and they don’t mind selling retail. Las Palmas, Lizzaraga, ComNor, Ocean Leader, Valle Hermanos are a few you might recognize. I’ve been shopping Las Palmas and Lizzaraga for years (and years) but my colleague and fellow foodie Ed Langton is introducing me to some others. And since he was able to get their price lists I thought a little comparison might be in order. So, let’s see….

 

 

Item Supermarket Wholesale
Chicken Breast $1.74 per pound $1.52 per pound
Ground Beef $2.68 per pound $2.27 per pound
Ground Pork $2.44 per pound $1.92 per pound
Pork Loin $3.67per pound $2.97 per pound
Ribs not baby back $3.14 per pound $1.92 per pound
Baby Back Not available $2.65 per pound
Beef Filet Mignon Not in stock this wk $8.74 per pound
Beef Prime Rib Not available $5.06 per pound

 

Now just a few words on how this works.

 

Looks are deceiving. The two I use are Las Palmas (butcher shop) and Lizzaraga (green grocer). Both are HUGE commercial operations that take up most if not all of the block they are on. But both kept on the little ‘tiendita’ or corner store that started their parents out many years ago. They look like what they are: old. And the products in them are the products that will be in demand in a working class neighborhood. Pay no attention to the butcher case at Las Palmas, after you wait your turn tell the nice butcher what you want. If you’re timid about your Spanish make a list, translate it, and simply hand it to him. Remember: you’re ordering in kilos. A pound is approximately half a kilo so make the adjustment. The butcher will get your meat and bring it to the cash register. They do custom cuts so be ready to tell them how thick you want your chops or bacon, etc. Las Palmas is on Felix Ortega street: go up Hildalgo, turn right on Ortega and go about two blocks.

 

Lizzaraga is on the right side of route 19 (the road to Todos Santos) just past the Bordo (the road that runs from the corridor to route 19). It is sandwiched between the Pemex station and the Chedraui grocery store. If you don’t see what you’re looking for don’t be afraid to ask; they’ll call someone in the commercial department and see if it’s available.

 

Last, I realize I didn’t have any seafood prices in that last blog. So here’s a couple of teasers from the Ocean Leader price list. Giant shrimp (U-15 size, basically a giant prawn) are $7.69 per pound and fillet of sea bass (cabrilla) is only $2.97 per pound.

 

Kind of makes you think surf and turf, right?

 

 

Carol Billups is Broker/Owner of Cabo Realty Pros. She has enjoyed working with both buyers and sellers for over thirteen years and still thinks hers is the best job on earth. She is also the real estate columnist for Los Cabos Magazine. You can read more of her articles on the website blog www.caborealtypros.com. You can reach her from the U.S. or Canada at 1-760-481-7694, or in Cabo at 044-624-147-7541. You can listen to our 24/7 broadcast on http://www.livecabo.net for a mix of happy music, weather reports and local information.

 

 

 

© 2014 Carol S. Billups

 

 

 

Living in Los Cabos: We Interrupt This Topic

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We were discussing the cost of living, and we will go back to it. The last post was the cost of groceries in the store, next we’re going to talk some strategies to cut that pretty dramatically. But in the meantime I got sucked into a Facebook discussion about whether to rent or buy if you’re moving to Cabo. And I think what I have to say may be important to someone out there.

First, obviously I *AM* biased. My work is to sell houses, not rent them. So of course I’d rather see someone buy rather than rent. And I was pretty much completely out-voted on that discussion with most people suggesting that it would be better to rent for a year or two before deciding to buy. What really got to me was a whole lot of folks who are not in the business advising the person who started the discussion that there’s no hurry: there are plenty of homes on the market. Well, I have access to a state-wide MLS and I beg to differ.

Most people who are re-locating to Cabo are looking for what I call ‘real people houses’.  They don’t have an unlimited budget but still want a nice home. I don’t know if it’s this blog or just a sea change in the market, but I’m working more and more with this demographic:  people who are moving to Cabo as full time residents. Some are retiring and others coming down to start a business. And their needs are quite different than those of the high end vacation home buyer. Probably the most common search for these full time buyers is: Nice home in a nice neighborhood, located on the corridor near Cabo San Lucas, under $300,000 USD, with an ocean view. Many of them would also like seller financing. So what’s available?

About two minutes ago I ran a search on the MLS. And here are the results:

Single family homes listed for sale: 778.

On the Cabo side of the Corridor: 178

Under $300,000 USD: 90

With an ocean view (yes, we can search on that): 25

With seller financing: ONE.

So my point is that yes, there are too many properties on the market in Los Cabos. But in certain segments (read that real people homes) the inventory is getting very picked over. If you wait too long you might not have many choices. In fact, I re-ran the same search but changed the maximum price to $200,000. There were zero results. And as with everything else, supply and demand are going to determine price. I don’t think it will be too long before prices in this category are going to start creeping upward. So you might want to re-think the rent first option. By staying out of what is the best buyer’s market in Cabo history you may find that when you are ready to buy you are either priced out of the market, or will need to settle for less than you wanted. But what if you buy now and then decide to move back to the US? Well, it is still a buyer’s market but you’ll be selling in the hottest segment. While no one can predict the future, based on current trends you should be able to sell for at least what you paid for the house. I also just ran the closing costs for establishing a new trust on a $300,000 home: $14,480. I don’t do rentals but it seems to me you’d be paying more than that for one year’s rent. So if you’re thinking of coming down here to paradise, and you fit this profile, I’d suggest buying NOW.  Not a sales pitch, just some friendly advice.

 

Carol Billups is Broker/Owner of Cabo Realty Pros. She has enjoyed working with both buyers and sellers for over twelve years and still thinks hers is the best job on earth. She is also the real estate columnist for Los Cabos Magazine. You can read more of her articles on the website blog http://www.caborealtypros.com. You can reach her from the U.S. or Canada at 1-760-481-7694, or in Cabo at 044-624-147-7541. You can listen to our 24/7 broadcast on http://www.livecabo.net for a mix of happy music, weather reports and local information.

© 2014 Carol S. Billups