Friday, April 14, 2006

Is the RGV a good place to retire?

I received this email from an RGV Life reader:

Estimado Shaine,

Stay with it. You're going to find a good job.
Anyone who is trying as hard as you are,...... will have success.My name is Thomas Chubco Bear, currently retired in Mexico (Queretaro, Queretaro) and I have a question. For medical reasons, we have to move back stateside and I was wondering if you think the Rio Grande Valley is a good place for retired folk like us? We have been here in Mexico about three years and love the weather and inexpensive living, but think RGV may be a good second choice.Your opinion, please.

Thank you so much.

Thomas C. Bear, Queretaro,

I'm sorry to hear that health reasons bring you back to the U.S, señor Bear. I think that living in the Rio Grande Valley is a good compromise. The U.S. doesn't actually start for another hour north of here at Falfurrias. However, we do enjoy the quality of life experienced with other parts of the country. Our cost of living is cheaper than other parts of the country as well due to our proximity to Mexico. So, labor and goods are generally less expensive. Most retired people I have known like to keep expenses low, so this is a plus. You can save more money by taking the occasional trip across the border.

Many people who retire here come from up North. The pattern I have seen from my Masonic friends is that they come here for a season or two in their RV before finding a lot somewhere and setting down roots. There are plenty of 55+ retirement commmunities around. We do get flooded with Winter Texans every year, but in the early Spring, they start heading home. This is good because you can always strike bargains for things that they don't want to schlepp back home.

The only thing that makes it tough living here is the heat and high humidity. This is easily solved by doing activities during the morning and evening hours while taking the afternoon hours off. Of course, you'll spend about $150/month on electricity for the air conditioning. You'll save more than 50% of that during the Winter as there will be days you can leave the windows open and you will rarely need to turn on the heater.

Depending on which county you choose, the heat is mitigated. As you get closer to the coast, the temperatures become more moderate, but your insurance goes up due to the hurricane threat. The further west you go, with my hometown, Mission, being the practical limit, your insurance rates go down, but it gets hotter.

An important decision on where in the RGV to live will depend on the medical condition that brings you here. If it is general medical, Harlingen may be a good area in which to live. They have plenty of doctors and the Valley Baptist Medical Center, which I understand gets high marks for excellence. If your condition is heart related, McAllen has the McAllen Heart Hospital and also plenty of doctors. They are really good at what they do. They specialize in and only treat heart conditions. McAllen also has the McAllen Medical Center and the Rio Grande Regional Medical Center. My father, who had heart problems before a bypass, stayed at the heart hospital a few days. I was impressed.

As the RGV Life description says, hardly anybody leaves the Rio Grande Valley. Many of the people who leave eventually come back. And those who come here by choice stay here. Believe or not, a large part of the population in McAllen are middle to upper class Mexicans who have second homes here and come over on weekends. Of course, their children often end up staying here during the school season and go home for the summers. It's not a bad place to live.

I hope this helps. If you have any more specific questions, I'd be glad to reply. Good luck.


Anonymous said...

Hello, RGV Life,
Very good insights you gave to the retirees from Mexico. You forgot one important thing, though. If you buy a home in Mission, McAllen, or Pharr, and your are 65 years of age or older, or you are disabled, your property taxes will be frozen; that is, they will never go up any higher, even if the property tax rate goes up. However, if the property tax rate goes down, your propertyt taxes will have to go down as well. That is the result of Propositon 13, passed by Texas voters back in the fall of 2003. In addition to those cities, the property taxes are also frozen by South Texas College and Hidalgo County for homeowners who are 65 years of age or older, or who are disabled. However, this property tax freeze doesn't apply to people who rent or people who live in mobile homes, and it only applies on a person's primary homestead. The property tax freeze is a big selling point for these cities and the county. Other area communities are looking at the freeze as well.
There are negatives to the tax freeze as well, though, including limiting the amount of revenue a city, county, and community college can generate in the future for programs, which can force the rest of the homeowners to pick up the difference.
Regardless, you put some good info out on why to come to the Valley. Don't forget also, that it is easier to stay cool in the Valley than it is to keep warm in the northern winters. Brrr!
David A. Diaz

Writer said...

Thanks for the additional information David. I had not considered the tax freeze. That is a great advantage of retiring in the RGV.

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