Mazatlan Is It! (At least for a few years)

February 19, 2007

The Mazatlan Malecon at Sunset

I don’t even know where to start this post – so much has happened and Paul and I have been talking non-stop.

Basically, Paul knew right away that he could live in Mazatlan. I wasn’t so sure because my vision of our life in Mexico was in a place that had fewer gringos. I wanted the challenge of navigating without a safety net and was also leery of the way you might get prejudged by locals as one of the nasty kind of gringos even if we aren’t.

But then I realized that having others to talk to in English will really help us make the transition since a sense of isolation could really make life hard. We need friends, and we can’t wait for the year or two we expect it to take for us to become fluent enough to make Spanish-speaking friends.

Queretaro actually helped us realize that Mazatlan is right for us, for now. We loved the Centro, and the cleanliness, and we absolutely fell in love with a house we saw. But ultimately we realized that a city like Queretaro is a growing commercial city and that people rush-rush somewhat like the US. (Although the weekend is a different story) We just wouldn’t feel as relaxed there.

San Miguel de Allende was wonderful. We could probably be very happy there – but we would have to spend more on housing than we really want to, and it would be just a more expensive place to live.

One of our concerns is how hard it is to reach somewhere for friends and relatives from the US…and Mazatlan really is hard to beat. There are people who I feel certain will come to visit us in Mazatlan who just wouldn’t be comfortable navigating airports in Mexico City or Leon.

The thing that bugged me about Mazatlan at first is the hotel zone. It is crazy, overrun with fanny-pack wearing gringos laughing too loud and roaming from Carlos & Charlie’s to Senor Frog’s. There is even an Applebee’s coming soon! I really feel bad for them if that’s what they think Mexico is…but some of these folks do come to Centro (you can tell by the all-inclusive wrist bands) so perhaps some do see that there is more to Mexico than the hotel zone.

There are also cruise ships that come to town, and when they are in town the prices jump in the shops I’ve been told.

The hotel zone is pretty much just North of town. Cruise ships are South. Centro, regular shopping, parks, and the beach are accessible easily from the historic Centro easily.

View North from the Lighthouse Area

What Mazatlan has is a way for us to enter our life in Mexico without too much isolation. We can take language classes. There is an English library. The Venados play baseball there. (That is a big one) We can drive there in 5 days from Washington. Alaska Airlines flies direct for $520 round trip. Houses near Centro are affordable. The malecon is right there! We will bicycle in the morning, hike to the light house, or walk the dogs on the long tree lined boulevard. There are tons of places to walk. The fresh shrimp is incredible. The market has wonderful vegies. There are a couple of vegetarian restaurants and GREAT pizza. The beach! Whales! There is such a nice breeze off the water! We can just keep our Honda van!

We have looked at enough houses to know that we can find something perfect for us. Or have it made perfect. And we know that when and if the time comes to move on, we would be able to sell our place since we always have such a positive response to the way we decorate, etc.

There are a few negatives about Mazatlan, but really not many. It gets hot in the summer, but that is when we might head to the US to visit or inland to travel and visit. Or just read a book in a shady spot. I still want to see Jalapa, Cuernavaca, San Luis Potosi and Tepozlan. Paul hasn’t been to Guanajuato, Morelia or Patzcuaro. And housing prices are reasonable enough in Mazatlan that we should have money available for travel.

What this trip showed us is just how much we love Mexico and how we want to be there like crazy.

Now that we’ve decided on our first home in Mexico, we can really start figuring out the details.

More about Nancy

I'm Nancy, a US expat living in San Antonio Tlayacapan, Jalisco after 11 years in Mazatlán, México.

    1. Congratulations! Sounds like a good decision. I think the factor of having some gringos to talk with is important. Yes, you want to make Mexican friends but I think you would feel isolated without a few gringo friends. The tourist who come are the tourist. You will be a fulltime resident and for the most part you aren’t going to interested in the restaurants or shops that the tourist frequent. You’ll find a great fish taco place or taco place where the Mexicans eat. You’ll be shopping in the tiendas. You two are going to love it!

    1. Yeah, cheers to that. I have to say, your ability to write what seem like deeply personal and internal thoughts is not only admirable for the skill it requires but helpful and re-assuring in a lot of ways I bet you hardly realize. thanks once again.

    1. Congratulations! Mazatlan is a beautiful city and it has the soul and the spirit to embrace thousands of tourists without losing its identity. I think you will love it. I agree that cutting yourself off from all that is familiar is not comfortable, having outlets for your native language and culture is a good thing. It helps you adjust to the new. It’s the baby plus bathwater thing.

    1. Mazatlan is a good choice. I think I have been there more than anywhere in Mexico. The fishing beyond those rocks out there is outstanding. I hate to say it because some think it cruel but I enjoy the bull fights there too – in that very intimate bull ring – plus excellent food.

      It is quite remarkable that the tourist section is isolated from the rest of Mazatlan as you suggest – I thought it was just me that noticed that 😉

      I wonder how you will deal with the heat there after April? You will get a mix of gringos and natives.

      I hope you get over to our tropical side of Mexico some day – come and visit us!


    1. Congratulations on your decision. It is nice to be able to get books in english or just go somewhere once in awhile to speak some english. We go to a friends restaurant in San Carlos about once a week or every 2 weeks for our “english fix”. The rest of the time we are happy to be in our mexican neighborhood.
      Now the work really begins for you to get ready. Have fun.

    1. Congratulations!! to bad you are not going to be in my city (queretaro), to think that we where in the “jardín zenea” looking the dancers and we didn’t meet.

      I hope you will be really happy in Mazatlan, the beach, the sun, the smell (salty air is great and healthy)

    1. Thank you all for your kind words. I can’t explain how wonderful it is to have settled on a place!

    1. Just found your blog today, and coincidentally we sailed into Mazatlan a couple of days ago, and are currently in El Cid Marina. It’s a lot bus ride from here to Old Town but I do hope to get there while we’re here, as it’s also my favorite part of town. Today, Fat Tuesday, it’s Carnivale and the last big parade (Hotel Zone). We like Maz too, but we live in San Carlos, Sonora. If you’d like to trade blog links, mine is

    1. I’ve been following your progress and want to congratulate you on finding your “place”. Best of luck!

    1. Nancy, sounds like you and Paul have made a very good choice. I agree with your assessment that it’s good to start out somewhere where you can find some English speakers and also have easy access to classes and a library. I look forward to hearing about your continuing plans and adventures.

    1. Hi there,

      this is completely random, and i’m not even sure how i found your blog, but it’s a small world: I’m also from WA, and I have found myself living in the mazatlan area for the last 2 years. I live in Culiacan, about 2 hours north, but I travel to maz often for work. You’re going to love living in this corner of the world! If you want some non-touristy ideas about what to do and see all around the state of Sinaloa, drop me a line! I’m at

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