Retirees Flock South of the Border for Savings

Mexico lures retirees with full-time services at a fraction of U.S. prices.

ByABC News
January 27, 2009, 1:18 PM

SAN MIGUEL DE ALLENDE, Mexico<p>Jan. 27, 2009&#151; -- At 76, Margie Hill and her husband, Homer, weren't quite ready for a nursing home. But they needed help around the house. So, three months ago, they moved from their home in Albuquerque, N.M., to San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, to be near their daughter.

What they quickly discovered is that Mexico affords them the kind of retirement that would have been beyond their means in the United States.

"Never, ever in my life did I ever think that I would retire in Mexico," Homer Hill said. "One of the factors we liked, too, is having the assistance you need at a price we could afford."

When Hill retired, he never imagined he'd be able to afford a housekeeper who cooks and cleans, six days a week. The Hills' full-time retirement help costs less than a $100 a week.

"In Albuquerque, we could not afford that permanently like we do here," Hill said.

The Hills have a better lifestyle in Mexico than they'd have anywhere in the United States. Less expense for everything from groceries to labor has allowed the Hills to hire their housekeeper, Gaby, full-time and someone to do heavy-lifting and tend to the yard.

With millions of baby boomers facing retirement just as their funds are getting hammered by the economic turmoil, many are facing the prospect of not being able to retire in the manner they had hoped, especially if they need assistance in their later years. Mexico believes it has a solution.

"We know that there's a big group of baby boomers who need to be someplace, and because we know we can offer much better prices, and very good service, we're trying to do this business," said Sergio Chazaro, a developer preparing to open one of Mexico's first assisted-living communities.

Chazaro is part of this emerging industry in Mexico, designed to cater specifically to aging U.S. retirees. In a few weeks, he will welcome his first patient at Cielito Lindo, an assisted-living facility in San Miguel de Allende that offers accommodations, food and nursing care for about $1,400 a month. That level of service would cost $6,000 a month or more in the United States.