General Discussion If it's Baja Related but Don't Know Where? Post it Here...

Old 01-21-10, 09:36 AM   #1
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Default La Paz

SInce there are more reasoned and experienced voices here I will start this journey here.
I have been away from the net for awhile so forgive me if this has been addressed.
We are returning from Fort Collins, CO after a discovery trip to see if that is a city we would like to retire to after my career as a firefighter.
I will retire in 3 years at around $5k/month pre-tax and probably on a comp so my first %50 should be tax free so I would have to work part-time to make that happen.
Granted, FC is a beautiful city and lots of fun but after 10 days there we don't think it is where we want our life. We have our little casita in BOLA but with twins that will be 8 when I take the leap it is a bit remote for our needs even though we are homeschooling.
We are going to journey to La Paz next and see if that is a city we can wrap our heads and, prospectively, our lives around. Every time we explore a city this side of the line our hearts are constantly longing for Mexico.
We looked at Playa del Carmen but it is too damn expensive and we love baja anyway. With access to a large city we are hoping La Paz has what we desire. That Mexican 'tude and reasonable costs of living.
Where would you that are experienced there suggest we start so we don't re-invent the wheel, so to speak. We are curious about looking at long term rentals in areas of the city us fair skinned wanna be Mexicans would be safe and comfortable. We are not interested in some gated, isolationist, community but a place where we can learn and fit into the culture. My wife is a Spanish teacher and my kids are learning and I am pretty awful at Spanish but will learn as time goes by.
What say ye?
Old 01-21-10, 12:24 PM   #2
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Default Re: La Paz

Soulpatch, since I'm not shy, I'll jump right in.

Obviously, La Paz was the perfect place for me, or I'd be longlegsinsomewhereelse! Just as obviously, you're having young kids does add a factor that wasn't part of my decision-making process...nor any of my friends here.

So much depends on the type of lifestyle you in town? Living in a smaller "bedroom" community farther away from the traffic & noise of the city, yet still within easy reach of larger grocery stores, good medical, dental, etc? IMO, La Paz offers all the flavors anyone could ask for. I could do a Tourista Dept. sales spiel, but it'd be easier if you could spell out your must-haves.

I've lived within 20-25 minutes of La Paz since 2000. As with anywhere, there is crime here, but I believe it's low & it has never effected me personally. I feel safe & have no qualms about going pretty much anywhere alone. But I drive mostly during day light hours & avoid doing stupid things which could put myself in harms way (well, except for that wasp thing!)

For me, building my own home was a given....3 times actually! I know a few people who bought & remodeled existing older homes in town. I know many more who chose to build from scratch. I honestly feel whatever type of lifestyle you're looking for, you could find it in or near La Paz.

From my perspective & in my experience, hurricanes would have to top the list of things to get my blood pumping.

The only person I can think of off the top of my head that has young kids would be flyfishingpam in Loreto on BN, you might U2U her & ask if she has any tips for acclimating & raising young kids in Baja. She'd probably be a good person to give you feedback on the Mexican school system. I know you said you home-school, but at some point in time it might (or not) change from a socializing & acclimating viewpoint.

The first 2 years here my mother & I lived well on $830 a month before she opted to go back to Oregon. As with anyplace, costs have gone up over time & I've lived the past 8+ years on $1,035 USD. I just got a "raise" in October when my SS kicked in, but I'm trying to stick to the same expenditures to build up an emergency fund; which is hard to accomplish with remaining finish detail work to be done on my casa! I live well & rarely feel deprived.

IMO, electricity & gasoline are the two biggies. Both can be held to an affordable level, but I'm just one person & I've trained my dogs to never leave the lights on in the other room! My trips into town are multi-tasking & rarely do I go in for just one thing or stop.

Many, many things are a lot less expensive here than in the USA. So, barring any extraordinary expense, you should be able to get along fine here on your anticipated retirement income. I live on a LOT less here than when I was in the states & still working!

Feel free to pose specific questions; it's hard to know what's important to someone else. Also, there is a wealth of information about most areas of Baja on the internet....just do a search by city/town & research to your hearts content. There's no such thing as too much research....or stupid questions! There is no best place or best way for's where/whatever speaks to your heart & works for you!
Old 01-21-10, 01:45 PM   #3
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Default Re: La Paz

Hola Soulpatch ... I moved to La Paz in 2007 and am very happy here. I'm one of those who bought and remodeled a small house downtown. My neighborhood is mostly Mexican, and several neighbors have young children. Most people I know are very family oriented and consider this a good location for raising kids. Like Longlegs, I feel safe here. Walking or driving after dark is fine in town, but I avoid the outskirts and highway at night, mainly because of bad night vision, goofy drivers, and invisible cows.

You should be able to do fine on your income. Mine is a lot less, but I own my home and don't have a family. To find a rental, I suggest making contacts while you're here and having people keep an eye out for something good. Many places (apart from pricey "vacation rentals") aren't advertised on the internet or even listed with agents.

"That Mexican 'tude and reasonable costs of living" pretty well describes what I love about this town, along with the nice weather and availability of goods and services. La Paz is a working Mexican city, not just a tourist or retirement destination. More foreigners live in some areas than in others, but for the most part we're scattered around in various residential neighborhoods rather than concentrated in a particular place. Personally, I wouldn't enjoy living here without learning Spanish. Apparently some folks get by, but it must be pretty limiting. With the head start your kids have, they'd pick it up in no time.

So c'mon down and check it out!
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Old 01-21-10, 04:45 PM   #4
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Default Re: La Paz

Soulpatch- As I recall, you live in Coastal Southern California. Obviously, pondering places like Ft. Collins, Playa Del Carmen or La Paz would take you to a very different climate situation. One with cold winters and two with heat, especially in the summer. As was noted in the replies by our friends from La Paz, the more you can share about what your specific requirements are, the easier it will be for folks to offer suggestions.

I have a handful of retirement destinations that I'm juggling. a couple are non--California US locations, and a couple are in Mexico. La Paz is on my list, and I have visited there several times over the past few years. As was mentioned, although it is a tourist destination (and surprisingly for many Europeans), it is, above all, a working town, and State Capital. It actually has almost twice the population of Ft. Collins. That said, if you locate to a suburb, such as Centenario or Comitan, to name a couple, you would be able to have a small town environment and be only a short drive from the amenities a city provides, such as big box store shopping. The latter has tended to tip me away from Loreto and towards La Paz.

There is an international airport right there. There is a university. Perhaps our friends who already live there can chime in on what's wrong with La Paz, but from my perspective, beyond the occasional pesky hurricane and the hot summertime temps, I don't know of anything.
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Old 01-21-10, 11:59 PM   #5
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Default Re: La Paz

Congrats on your retirement plans seeming to be coming together!

8 year old twins, homeschooling....awesome!

The only thing I would chime in about is a personal conversation I had with a Mexican father and the school system in Mexico. He chose to private school his son, I think it's expensive. From what I gathered, 5th grade students in Mexico were learning 2nd grade USA level material.

Just something to keep in mind with the youngsters. Since you said "home school", that might not even be an issue.

La Paz is a CITY, with all the city noise etc any other city has. But it also has outlying communities like El Centenario (where LongLegs resides) El Comitan, La Ventana, and many other smaller, quieter communities that are really close to the city amenities.

Have Fun!

Lots of great folks here who are more than willing to share!

(ps-that's a good thing!)
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Old 01-22-10, 06:34 AM   #6
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Default Re: La Paz


It's good you're out looking early. That last 2 1/2 years goes by fast. It's the last 6 months that seems to take forever!

Sorry, I have nothing to offer until it comes time to make the move. I've learned a lot about that recently. When the time comes, don't hesitate to ask questions if you need any info.

After what I just read in the news about the ouster of your Jefe, the last three years may be a little more bearable
Old 01-22-10, 05:24 PM   #7
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Thumbs up Re: La Paz

Thanks for all the replies! I will refine my questions based on these and start defining things.
Just arrived from Vegas....which really is not fun to me anymore but beat the hell out of driving into San Diego last night in the rain and snow.....snow was CRANKING on the Cajon!
I am going to have a beer and mellow out a bit......3 days driving from Fort Collins and I get to sleep in my own bed.
Old 01-23-10, 12:04 PM   #8
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Default Re: La Paz

I really like your idea of wanting to immerse instead of isolating yourselves away. Growing into the local culture in lieu of shying away will give you a very different and I believe positive experience.

As far as how far your money will go, that will totally depend on your lifestyle. I know folks who live quite happy down here on less than $1k per month and other who struggle on $6K.