Like many people who dream about retiring to Mexico, Nancy Dardarian and Paul Pattee had a host of things to consider about starting a new life in an equally new country. After living for 10 years in a tiny rural community in Washington state, the couple put together a list of “druthers” to help them decide which city in Mexico would work the best for what they wanted their lifestyle to be.
Methodical by nature, Nancy had been blogging about their life in the country and now started a new blog called, appropriately, “Countdown to Mexico.” For about five years after retiring they visited different parts of Mexico, using their list of criteria to assist them in looking beyond the eyes of a tourist. As time went on, three main points stood out as most important—and Mazatlán, on Mexico’s west coast, had them all covered.
“First of all, we were tired of the car culture in the U.S. and wanted a good place to walk—to meals, cultural events, and for exercise,” explained Nancy. “Living in Mazatlán’s Centro Historico has been perfect, as everything we want to do is within five or 10 blocks. The five-mile-long oceanfront boardwalk has been my ‘gym’ as I run, walk, and bike almost every day. And the setting couldn’t be more beautiful!”
Lots to Do
After spending the previous 10 years in a small town, they were looking for a bigger city experience, with multiples of things like coffee shops, movie theaters, and event spaces. Yet they didn’t want it to be too polished, like many beach towns in Mexico that feel like resorts. Nancy often says that Mazatlán has just enough of everything she and Paul were looking for.
“We also wanted there to be a large enough expat community for us to have English-speaking friends during the time we were learning Spanish,” says Nancy. “We knew it would be too lonely and hard to navigate 100% in Spanish, especially at first. Mazatlán has been a great, soft landing place in Mexico as there are plenty of English speakers, and the locals are very helpful and forgiving of our mistakes.”
Nancy and Paul found a beautiful colonial home to buy, just a few blocks from the main plaza in Mazatlán, with a charming central courtyard, original woodwork, and gorgeous tiled floors. The beach is about a 10-minute walk away, and there are cafés, shops, a theater, and the central mercado (market) all close by. Since moving to the “Pearl of the Pacific,” the couple have made many close friends, both with other expats and many locals as well. They couldn’t be happier and love the new life they’ve created.
“The discussion and thought necessary to create our list was time well-spent, and we feel our choice of Mazatlán was a good one,” said Nancy. “The city suits us. The people are friendly and smile a lot. The expats we’ve met are interesting, adventurous, outgoing people. All in all, it has been a great choice for our first 10 years in Mexico.”