On the crystal aqua shores of the Sea of Cortez in Baja California Sur, Mexico, La Paz is being quietly discovered and checks every box on retirement or relocation lists: climate, safety, lifestyle, affordability.
Boasting 340 days of sunshine a year, La Paz has beaches as beautiful as the Caribbean and a desert climate that keeps the days warm and dry, and the nights cool.
La Paz, whose name translates “the peace,” is not only one of the safest cities in Mexico, but it is also one of the safest cities in the world. The U.S. State Department’s 2012 travel update cites no security concerns and “no advisory” in effect for Baja California Sur.
Anyone visiting La Paz will be drawn to the malécon – the boardwalk by the beach – which is considered one of the most beautiful in all of Mexico. People stroll along the malécon safely any time of day or night, but especially to take in the stunning multi-colored sunsets.
Dubbed “the world’s aquarium” by Jacques Cousteau, La Paz rests breezily on the Sea of Cortez and offers a variety of activities: world-class sport fishing; sailing out to one of the secluded islands for a picnic on the beach or a hike for panoramic bay view; swimming, snorkeling and scuba diving with friends or, if you prefer, coordinate a swim with a wild sea lion colony, whale sharks or dolphins. Kayaking and stand-up paddle boarding in the shallow, calm waters of Balandra Bay are popular activities. And for landlubbers, there are pro-designed golf courses to tee off.
Healthcare is affordable and the hospitals are modern. In June 2010, the Juan Maria de Salvatierra General Hospital opened, offering 28 medical specialties. Paramedics are fully accredited doctors. Many feel that the care is better than that in Canada or the U.S. because the doctors are well trained and spend a good deal of time with each patient.
La Paz is a close-knit community that feels like a small town, but with the conveniences of a city of 215,000. Socializing is easy; La Paz contains a unique blending of nationals and expats not found in many other places in the world. Some expats opt to live with other expats, especially near the Sea of Cortez, while others prefer to live in the charming neighborhoods of La Paz, immersing themselves in the welcoming population.
If you like fresh fish and local fruits and vegetables, you will find them in abundance. There are a variety of eateries, from street stands selling daily-caught fish tacos to upscale yet affordable restaurants offering tasty tapas such as tuna ceviche, duck taquitos, and sautéed octopus. A gigantic breakfast of coffee, juice, two eggs, bacon, potatoes, beans, and tortillas, overlooking the ocean is about $3.50. Or, fresh fish can be purchased daily in the many fish markets and taken home to cook.
You can find a one-bedroom apartment rental in downtown, close to the malécon, for about $300 a month which includes propane for cooking and water heater, off-street parking, water, sewer, garbage collection, and internet.
For homeownership, there are lots of opportunities. For those seeking luxurious, upscale accommodations, the gated Playa de La Paz offers expansive, open concept, Mediterranean-style condos with high-end finishes and dazzling views of the Sea of Cortez at a fraction of what you’d expect to pay for similar lodgings almost anywhere else in the world.
There is another opportunity to get in on pre-construction deals in the Azul de Cortez, a new eco-conscious development of homes and condos overlooking the Sea of Cortez. The location, just 15 – 20 minutes from downtown, is removed but not remote.
Josh Schroeder was so impressed with the Azul de Cortez project that he uprooted his young family from the United States to become the Director of Business Development on the project. “We are building in the true Baja spirit,” beams Josh, “using varied architecture and sustainable materials to blend the ocean and the dessert seamlessly with the natural terrain.” Azul de Cortez’s plans call for using more stucco near the pristine beach along the Sea of Cortez and more rock for the hillside villas which offer panoramic views of the sea. There are also marina condominiums and golf course homes.
Construction for the Azul de Cortez is set to begin at the end of 2012. A two-bedroom home right on the Sea of Cortez will be in the $275,000 range.
Retire in Baja Paradise, first published in Yahoo Voices, November 16, 2012