This article is from the December 2003 - January 2004 The Mexico File newsletter.
Back Issues and Subscriptions available.
The Gated Community

by Bruce McGovern 

Several times, The Doctor in the little village where my wife was born, and his wife, have invited us to visit their home in Puebla. They had mentioned the fact that it was in a ‘gated community.’ That is, it has high walls around it, and to enter, a person must convince some very suspicious security people they have a reason to be there. Usually security will call your house for permission to admit them if they are not sure. I had visited a gated community in Puebla, but it had $250,000 homes. So, I paid little attention when he said he lived in a gated community, assuming it was out of our price range. 

My wife and I have gradually over the last three years begun to think we should live in Puebla, since it is a direct bus ride to every place we want to go – Cordoba, rural Puebla, Mexico City, and Texas, therefore the United States. The rough plan would be to keep our old van in storage here in Texas, as the Winter Texans often do, with our traveling needs in it, and when we come to the States, bring it out and go driving away to visit family wherever they are. 

Last week, I told The Doctor and his wife I had a lot of questions to ask. They didn't mind at all. In fact, they were all excited at the prospect of having us for neighbors. 

Nice, ample‑sized homes in their gated community have two or three bedrooms and a nice patio. Rent for the houses runs about 3,000 pesos a month, a little over $300 USD; to buy one runs around $35,000 USD. Small apartments rent, and probably sell, for about half that money. 

Owner pays water. The renter pays electricity and telephone, also gas for the roof tank for the gas stove and water heater. The security charge is almost nominal, perhaps $10 a month. The Doctor's house has a 5,000 liter cistern, and the water is on at least 3 days a week, so water would not be the problem it is for Raul, who gets water only once or twice a week, and only has a 3,000 liter cistern. 

The central bus station is within walking distance. A supermarket/mall is within two blocks of the security gate. A combi (microbus) route that can take you across the city for a few pesos runs in front of the mall. This would be perfect for my wife, who does not drive, but has a strong desire to go places. 

Security only permits the gas truck, the garbage truck, the bottled water trucks, the meter readers, and not much of anyone else in without permission from the owner/renter. This neighborhood is quiet – no street vendors. Even the parents take their kid to the large park a few blocks away, instead of letting them play noisily in the streets. 

In 1999, we visited Raul about a mile from this place, and I already know I like it there. 

We have a date to meet them at the security gate in January. If my wife loves it, well, wish me luck! 

And, those who think they'll send me a mail to find out exactly where this little paradise is located, no way! In Iowa, we never told where we found morel mushrooms. No one tells where they catch fish. So, sorry, go find your own gated community. Someday, if I sign a lease, maybe I'll share. Maybe not. 

However, The Doctor assures me there are other such gated communities around Puebla, and almost certainly in other cities as well. So, if you are considering another community, and this appeals to you, ask locally for such a community.

Frankly, I don't like the thought of living in a closed community. However, since we tend to travel a lot to visit family, the high level of security while we are gone overrides the strong desire I have to mingle with the general community around me. 

Writing from my home in McAllen, Texas