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August 12th, 2010 6:30 PM

Baja Sur's Irresistible Draw:

The Allure of a Simple Life in Mexico
Published in Holiday 2009 edition of Cabo Noche magazine

By L.D. Cortes on Wednesday August 26, 2009

A Simple Life in Baja Sur, Mexico

Baja Sur's Irresistible Draw

The Allure of a Simple Life in Mexico

For years, Southern Baja has held a special place in the hearts of the Americans, Canadians, Europeans and even mainland Mexicans who visit this extraordinary spot. Many who visit ask themselves the same question: Now that I’ve arrived, how can I stay?

Here’s the short answer: it’s both easier and harder than you think. But making the move, full or part-time, is extremely rewarding.

Today, you no longer need to be a seat-ofyour- pants RV traveler, a seasoned fisherman or a celebrity to make Baja Sur a permanent part of your life. And if you are considering the big move, here are some invaluable pointers and observations to make the transition smoother.

Whether you are a Mexican from the mainland seeking a new career in Baja Sur, a European in search of the simple life, or a North American snowbird looking to retire in the Baja, these tips are for you.

Task 1: DEBUNK THE MYTHS

  • Baja Sur is not in the tropics. Most of it is actually a desert. Unlike Puerto Vallarta or Playa del Carmen, sticky heat, stormy weather and jungle plants and insects are nonexistent in Baja Sur. Instead, look out for cacti, sand and year-long dry heat with cooler nights. And did we mention 350 days of sunshine?

A Simple Life in Baja Sur, Mexico

Common view in Los Cabos, Mexico.

  • Yes, foreigners can buy property in Mexico. You can even, in qualified cases, obtain cross-border loans from your home country to help finance your Mexican home. All you have to do is set up a bank trust or fideicomiso with assistance from a qualified buyer’s advocate who can walk you through the process from start to finish, along with a Mexican Notary Public to seal the deal.
  • Hey, you’re late! We’re on Mountain Time, not Pacific Standard as most believe. So set your clocks to Phoenix time when the plane hits the tarmac!
  • Yes, you can open a bank acount in Mexico. Ask a bank representative how, at international banks such as HSBC, or try Bancomer, which has a special English language Preferred Customers Unit.
  • Foreigners can work, but only in certain industries, like timeshare and real estate. Even then, you must obtain an FM-3 (a renewable, non-immigrant work-residency visa). Find out more from the Mexican Consulate nearest your home city, or contact a specialist in Baja Sur to assist you with the process.
  • The biggest culture shock isn't linguistic. But it does have to do with a word: mañana. Literally, it means tomorrow. In Baja Sur, it could mean next week or even next year. Out-of- towners are often frustrated by the slow pace of life. But until just a few decades ago, Baja Sur was mostly ranch land and unexplored beaches—so the vibe remains low-key, and some roads remain unpaved!

Task 2: CONSIDER THE PERKS

A Simple Life in Baja Sur, Mexico

Baja Sur is where desert meets the ocean.

  • Beer and dinner on the beach. It’s legal, but more importantly, it’s one of the biggest but least-talked about perks of life in the Baja. On Sundays, it’s a tradition for local families gather on the beaches to BBQ, drink, and splash in the water. Take your cue from them and bring a charcoal grill and a cooler—it really is as fun as it looks!
  • Low-commitment long-term visits are easy to come by. You can take the obvious route and buy or rent timeshare or an apartment. Or you can get more creative, and use classifieds in Baja Sur publications or online to help you land an exciting house-sitting gig—or even house-swap with snowbirds looking to flee north for a season.
  • Year-round warm water temperatures in the Sea of Cortez mean great surfing, diving and world-class catch and release sport fishing. Plus, for Baja Sur surfers and divers, wetsuits usually hang limply in the closet for most of the calendar year. 
  • You’ll get much more for your dollar or Euro. No need to fret about the economy when the dollar and Euro are so much stronger than the peso. Plus, investing in property in Cabo is a smart financial move. Doing so diversifies your portfolio, and tourist areas are relatively safe from the dramatic risks more prevalent in other housing markets, meaning a better return on investment in less time. 
  • Inexpensive but high-quality private medical care. From prescription medicines to prenatal ultrasounds, reliable medical and dental care is much less expensive in Mexico. In tourist areas, many private hospitals cater to English-speaking patients.
  • Retirees and non-working foreigners will find plenty to do beyond sun and sand. From world class championship golfing to becoming involved in one of many local charitable organizations, there’s always plenty to do in Baja Sur, other than bumming on the beach. Charity is a great way to network, meet other locals, and give back to the community.
  • Adventure is right outside your door, 365 days a year. Championship golf? ATVs? Ziplines? Swimming with dolphins? Snorkeling with sea lions? Shopping for local arts and crafts? A day trip to a rural mining town? Waterfalls? Mountain hiking? Surfing the best waves of your life? Scuba diving? Taking a private yacht on a three-day spin around the peninsula? A sunset catamaran tour? Renting a small fishing boat and nabbing a trophy marlin? Nightlife? Spas? Dining? All of these things, and much more, are anywhere from 3 minutes to 3 hours away from any point on the scenic loop (La Paz- East Cape -Los Cabos -Todos Santos). All you need to do is hop in a car or bus.

For an excellent article about exploring Baja Sur by car (or truck), visit www.hautter.com/camera

  • The Internet is revolutionizing the experience. No matter where you’re from, if you have an internet connection, you can meet thousands of Baja Sur’s foreigners before you even disembark from your plane, car, bus or boat. Do a Facebook search to find local businesses and groups, or use newsgroups and forums to ask town-specific questions to the best guides of all—other expats already living there!
  • And finally, that mañana word again. You may find it hard to get used to at first, but slowing down is never a bad thing. Among other things, it means beer or wine (or a siesta) at lunch, long walks on the beach, ruminative dinners out, and of course, a good deal less stress. Enjoy!

Task 3: MAKE IT HAPPEN! Resources to Assist Aspiring Expats

A Simple Life in Baja Sur, Mexico


A Simple Life in Baja Sur, Mexico

Immigration, Registering as a Citizen Abroad, and More:

  • American Consular Agency in Cabo San Lucas – Consular agents can assist with many things, from passport services to providing a list of professional services (doctors, lawyers, hospitals) in Baja Sur to American citizens. Visit Local C-4 in Plaza Nautica in Cabo San Lucas, or call 624.143.3566. Fax number is 624.143.6750. Email an agent at usconsulcabo@hotmail.com
  • Canadian Consular Agency in Cabo San Lucas – Consular agents can assist with many things, from passport services to providing a list of professional services (doctors, lawyers, hospitals) in Baja Sur to Canadian citizens. The Consulate of Canada is in Plaza José Green, Local 9 on Blvd. Mijares in downtown San José del Cabo. Call the consular agent at 624.142.4333, fax the office at 624.142.4262 or email loscabos@canada.org.mx.
  • Your nearby Mexican Consulate, with worldwide locations, can assist with visa and travel requirements. Here is a link to a directory of US and Canada locations for Mexican consulates and the Mexican Embassy: www. mexonline.com/consulate.htm.

Banking and Finance – How to Manage Your Money in Baja Sur:

Expats Online – Connecting with Other Expats Before You Take the Plunge:

  • La Paz Gringos – An English-language Yahoo! forum for La Paz area expats, locals and cruisers. Local events, news and “Where can I find…?” type of banter abounds. Very helpful to get a sense of life in La Paz! Join at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/lapazgringos/summary 
  • Baja Pony Express – A brief, regular, noncommercial communiqué on life in the slow lane, also known as the East Cape! Join at www.thebajaponyexpress.com/index.htm 
  • Baja Western Onion – An English newsletter for Todos Santos, El Pescadero and other points on the Pacific side. Read past newsletters or subscribe at http://www. bajawesternonion.com 
  • Cabo Vida – A social networking site focused mainly on Los Cabos that connects local residents, part-timers and Mexican, European and gringo residents in any easyto- use format. You must join to see member profiles at http://www.cabovida.ning.com 
  • Facebook and MySpace – Use the search tools to find other people living, working and networking in your dream town in Baja Sur and start making friends before you pack your bags. 
  • To find out about the contemporary side of Baja Sur—and particularly Los Cabos nightlife, businesses, and social goings-on— join Hautter.com and receive the occasional newsletter at www.hautter.com/join.

Task 4: PICK YOUR TOWN

Cheat Sheet to Assist Those Looking to Make the Move

EAST CAPE

CABO SAN LUCAS

  • Good for: Partiers, professionals, and families that want easy access to modern amenities, tourist town perks and residences with exclusive Arch views. 
  • Features : Popular swim beach, great contemporary nightlife and a gorgeous, high-end marina. There’s something for everyone. 
  • Plus: Enjoy the unbeatable sunset every night over Land’s End.

SAN JOSE DEL CABO

  • Good for: Burgeoning artists, gourmands, and professionals who are known to show up at work still wet from surfing. 
  • Features : A walkable Art District, a microbrewery, several organic farms (and markets) and twilight nature walks through the estuary. 
  • Plus: The renovated main town square and the new City Theater feature family friendly live music, shows and movies year-round.

LA PAZ

  • Good for: Retirees, students, culture junkies, government professionals (it’s Baja Sur’s capital city) and career cruisers. 
  • Features : Top marine research university, a gridlike downtown with a well-kept seaside promenade where locals walk, bike and eat ice cream, several marinas, and gorgeous natural resources (Balandra Bay, Isla de Espíritu Santo, etc.) just beyond town. 
  • Plus: Outlying suburbs are equally modest in pace, price and prettiness, and a road paving project is partly complete, connecting La Paz to points south with a four-lane highway.

Surfing at Cerritos Beach

CERRITOS BEACH, EL PESCADERO & TODOS SANTOS

  • Good for: Retirees, especially retired writers, musicians and artists seeking a simple life to live, play and make art. 
  • Features : Cerritos Beach Club (surf & swim), the original Charles Stewart home and gallery, Arts & Beer, galleries galore (in Todos Santos) and steak night at La Cañada del Diablo. 
  • Plus: Pacific Ocean breezes keep the air temperature cooler year-round, and turtle nesting is an exciting annual event.

LOS BARRILES, LA RIBERA & BUENA VISTA

  • Good for: Retirees, developers and small town homesteaders who like the idea of taking an ATV to do the food shopping. 
  • Features : Killer Sea of Cortez panga fishing, miles of white sand beaches, sunrise views, and the charm of knowing all your neighbors’ names. 
  • Plus: Flying manta rays have been known to take flight here, and nearly all East Cape resorts provide access to the renowned Gordo Banks fishing spot.

LA PLAYITA TO ZACATITOS (South East Cape) ° Good for: Millionaires who want prime views on the new marina, fishermen, retirees, and anyone with 4WD and a love of the sea.

  • Features: Puerto Los Cabos Marina and village, unspoiled beaches and impeccable, practically private summer surf spots. 
  • Plus: Funky gems like roadside fresh clams or live music at the Crossroads Country Club.

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Posted by Craig Harrison on August 12th, 2010 6:30 PMPost a Comment

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