Why I chose to live in La Paz, Mexico
For 25 years, my career was luxury sales, marketing, and promotion with multiple billion dollar cruise lines. Because of this, I had the opportunity to travel extensively for work, especially to the regions of the world where cruising is common. If you’d asked me 10 years ago where I’d like to live in Mexico, I’d have answered quickly: “Playa del Carmen or Cozumel”. Both of these great spots boast an amazing culture, a growing economy, and a friendly expat environment. I was also very familiar with both towns, having visited both many times. Both seem to have a great balance of having all the amenities and conveniences that one could hope for, while still not feeling overwhelmed with traffic and tourism...like Cancun, for example.
When I finally got the chance to visit La Paz and stay for a week, I realized almost immediately that I was falling head over heels in love with the city. Like Playa del Carmen or Cozumel, La Paz has everything you’d want, and (for me), very little I didn’t. When I decided to stay for longer to really get to know the area, I rented a small one bedroom apartment within a 10 minute walk of the malecon and downtown...walking distance to both the water and restaurants. The cost? At the current exchange, I was paying about $410 per month...which included all utilities except the electricity bill - even high speed internet! And the electricity bill? I was billed every 6 weeks and often the bill was less than $40.
I also love to cook, and wanted to make sure that I could get fresh produce and good ingredients...and I was very pleasantly surprised. Within a 5 minute walk of my apartment I found a Fruteria (produce market) that sold organic fresh vegetables. Did they always have everything I needed? No...but they always had most of what I was looking for, it was always beautifully fresh and mostly organic, and filling my fridge with fresh produce usually cost less than $15. FILLING my fridge with fresh produce for less than $15?! Let that sink in for a second as you drive away from your grocery store at home. I probably cook less than I should here, actually...because when you can walk to your favorite local taco place and eat 4 of the best tacos with you’ve ever had (my preference is “arrachera” which is sliced and marinated skirt steak...with all the fresh condiments you could hope for) for about $5...it’s very tempting! When initially staying in La Paz, it was important for me to keep working. And as it turned out, that wasn’t an issue. Internet is inexpensive and fast (depending on your area), and phone service is good. I actually still have my U.S. cell phone number because I haven’t found a reason to change it yet...though if I did, my bill would go down by at least 30%, and I’d still have as good (possibly better) connection. Finally, the day I decided to take a tour to swim with whale sharks was the final puzzle piece that brought me to decide to stay in La Paz permanently.
The guide on the boat was a local marine biologist who spoke excellent English and was amazingly interesting. He was really great with the people who were a little apprehensive about getting into the water with the gentle giants (one was 28ft long, after all...and a shark), and he ensured that everyone had both an exciting and educational day. That experience was extraordinary. Mind-blowing. After the tour, still buzzing with excitement from the experience, I decided to try a recommended burger joint. The burgers were cooked on a grill playfully housed in the front end of an old pick-up truck which was fun, and the servers were attentive, friendly, and playful.
And, lest I forget: the burger was delicious...one of the best hamburgers I’ve ever eaten. After lunch, I was driving back to my apartment and got a flat tire. I wasn’t familiar with who to call, or what to do in that circumstance. I can change my own tire, but I was on a small street with nowhere to pull over to get out of the way of traffic...and I didn’t want to drive far on a flat. Not one, not two, not three, but FOUR cars full of locals stopped immediately, helped me push my car out of the way, and helped me change the tire. Nothing was expected in return, everyone was helping to HELP. How great is that? I did give a couple of men who helped through the whole process a 50 pesos each as a thank you, but it wasn’t asked for or expected.
That was the day. Whale sharks, a world-class hamburger, and the realization that I loved the local people and culture. That was it. I was in love with La Paz. When you come here, I hope that you have the same sense of warmth that I have experienced. Here’s the best part: the longer you stay and the more people you connect with, the stronger that sense of community and warmth becomes. I urge you to make friends with locals no matter where you decide to visit or settle...you’ll find it incredibly rewarding.
I moved here...and you can, too. Let me help.