When I moved from Sandpoint, Idaho to Mexico in 2006, I wasn’t just seeking a lower cost of living. I was looking for a complete lifestyle renovation. I no longer wanted to waste my days toiling away at work and I wanted a warm and affordable location for my new life of leisure. I had spent a lot of time in Baja California in the 1960s and ’70s so Mexico was on the top of my list.
I’ve lived in Mazatlan, a beachside city on the Pacific coast of Mexico, ever since. It has great beaches, excellent weather year-round, as well as all the modern conveniences I require for a comfortable life. In short, it was exactly what I was looking for.
What I didn’t expect, was how comfortable this local culture and way of life became to me. Time in Mexico is not the driving force in people’s lives, like in the States. The laidback lifestyle I’ve settled into is the natural ebb and flow of the Mexican culture. Here in Mazatlan, when friends meet on the street, they take the time to stop and exchange a few words, because moments with friends are valued.
Having spent my life in rural settings, I was a little wary about living in a city of half a million people. But the open and friendly attitude of the folks living here give the city a real small-town ambiance. The close-knit, expat community is about 2,500 full-time residents with an influx of 8,000 to 10,000 snowbirds and tourists during the winter months.
I live on the edge of Centro Historico with my Australian partner Wendy. We rent a semi-furnished, three-bedroom, two-bathroom house that overlooks the city and the Pacific Ocean beyond—all for just $600 per month. Our city services—water and trash removal—costs about $7 per month, and our electrical bill never goes over $40 per month. Our propane, for cooking, hot water, and clothes drying is around $23 every six weeks.
Because my $20 cell phone service is for unlimited calls to Mexico, Canada and the U.S., I can contact family and friends whenever I wish. Our internet is fast and reliable and only costs $20 per month. Our housekeeper comes in one day a week and costs us $14 for four to five hours of work.
Our life here in Mazatlan is so affordable that we can afford to eat out a lot even on my modest income as a freelance writer.
We live within walking distance of everything that’s fun in the old town area. From high-end gourmet restaurants to delicious street food, it’s all within a 10- to 15-minute walk of our home. Dining at the elegant El Presidio costs $18 to $25 per person (without drinks). While only two blocks away, three tasty street tacos can be had for less than $3, plus you can bring your own adult beverages. The restaurants in the historic district offer excellent variety and there is live music somewhere almost every night. I never thought living in a city could be so much fun.
I’ve been living full time in Mazatlan for ten years and I have no plans to return to the U.S. I love being able to comfortably wear shorts and sandals 12 months of the year. And my carefree, laidback lifestyle is a pure joy.
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