Well, Usedcarsalesman doesn't directly own any real estate in Los Angeles or anywhere else in Southern California so he was kind of looking around to get a feel for prices in the area; of course, the prices in LA were higher than Rick James partying in a U2 Spy-plane (actually, higher than that :). So, Usedcarsalesman looked further, searched on this World Wide Web-thing and saw there were actually listings for real estate in Baja California. Heck, they were even listed by familiar sounding real estate companies like Re-max, Sotheby's, and so forth.
So Usedcarsalesman checked out the prices and pictures. Here's one example: "Beach-front cottage, 35 minutes south of San Diego, gated community, new appliances, $89,000!" Usedcarsalesman was impressed. Obviously he doesn't always judge books by their covers, but such a place on a beach-front in LA, OC, SD would probably run 10-20x as much, minimum. $89,000 was right in Usedcarsalesman's price range (vs. Baja, $89,000 in LA just means you get to live out of a nicer car, "used" of course :).
But, Usedcarsalesman was still a little cautious, thinking, "Its in Mexico, man... don't you want to have a place around familiar things and in a growth area?" Then, Usedcarsalesman read a really interesting thing in the real estate listing: "it's (the beach-front cottage) just minutes away from Fox's Baja Studio..." Yeah, as in 20th Century Fox. So, I'm like, "Fox has a studio in Baja?" (Usedcarsalesman currently lives right up the street from Warner Bros. Studios and gazes down on acres of studio lots that are some of the most valuable real estate in Los Angeles).
Usedcarsalesman investigated further and found that Fox established a studio on 40 acres of beach-front in Baja to save money/capitalize on favorable exchange rates when shooting the top grossing film of all time, Titanic, in 1996-7. Needless to say, Fox kept the production in California as the Unions demanded, just that it was in Baja California (grumble, grumble :)
Well Usedcarsalesman has a lot of respect for the historical real estate investments made by studio founders in Los Angeles. These guys bought acres of real estate in Los Angeles when it had the population of Pig's Knuckle, Arkansas and was in a state just a few decades old. But, they did it for concrete, defensible reasons:
- a) its warm and generally nice here, which means they could produce their films outside more consistently than elsewhere
- b) despite a few things that were not as convenient or safe as in Chicago or "Back East" they could still get the job done
- c) Dude, it was frigging cheap, man!
- d) Not like NYC with those pesky Kodak patent lawyers. Needless to say, Fox's Baja Studio was probably established along those same lines (except for the part about the patent lawyers). The added benefit was that it was on the water, making it less likely that Fox would take a bath shooting a risky Water-flick.
What does this mean for me and you in terms of real-estate, today? Well, I gotta admit, the prices in Baja are low and the beaches looks like Malibu. And, as we all know, Fox and the other Studios helped build Los Angeles, pulling people to it for work and a new life. Will they do the same for Baja? Based on their investment history, if Fox likes Baja and has operated a studio there successfully for 10 years, one that's just 30 minutes South-of-the-Border, then maybe they are on to something (just like they were when they established themselves in Los Angeles in 1913).