American support groups, easy flights to Seattle and satellite and Internet connections for Seattle TV and radio were among reasons Pete Johanson chose Lake Chapala over Costa Rica and Guatemala.

Profile: Pete Johanson, 65, Skagit County’s Lake Cavanaugh/Mexico’s Lake Chapala

Retired:
In 1997 after careers with the Army and city of Seattle, and in business and downtown Seattle commercial real estate. Now writes high-tech column for the English-language Guadalajara Reporter.


Where:

CasaJohanson — ¾-acre estate bought for $400,000 seven years ago, with sweeping lake views, pool, interior waterfalls, two kitchens, in Ajijic, Jalisco, south of Guadalajara, for eight months of the year. Skagit County summer home.


Why:

Culture, affordability, warm climate. In Ajijic, “I can have a choice of both cultures, still maintain close contact with my roots in Seattle, yet speak another language and live in another culture,” says Johanson.

    Most Read Stories

Its American support groups, easy flights to Seattle and satellite and Internet connections for Seattle TV and radio were among reasons he chose Lake Chapala over Costa Rica and Guatemala.

“You can make your life in Mexico as Mexican or as American as you want.” Among his local shopping stops: RadioShack, Sears, Costco.

“Many come here to make their dollars stretch … However, the richer you are, the greater the chance you have to stretch your dollar. Where one really saves money, is for labor.” Full-time gardener: $110 per week. Half-time maid: $40 per week.


Downside:

Some basics cost more; cars, computers and other electronic goods are 30 to 40 percent more expensive in Mexico.

Compared to Seattle, your cost of living would be roughly 25 to 75 percent cheaper (no exact salary calculations) to live in Lake Chapala, near Guadalajara, according to “Live Well in Mexico: How to Relocate, Retire, and Increase Your Standard of Living” by Ken Luboff.