Like many of you my followers and subscribers may know, for four months, and some change, I took a series of trips to and around Mexico to determine the best location for my #BLAXIT.
In pursuit of the authentic, unapologetic, and free existence that I know I will never have in the United States, I checked out 9 cities/towns. I ultimately settled on San Miguel de Allende (SMA) for my initial relocation and you can read about why HERE.
Traveling around Mexico trying to figure out where I wanted to settle, made me realize that there is SO much more to learn and explore in this beautiful country. So I promised myself that once I settled in a bit in SMA, I would take some weekend jaunts to other cities and towns. I am not visiting any of these cities/towns with the intent to move any time soon, but I figure it can’t hurt to have other places on my radar in Mexico in the case at some point I decide to move on from SMA.
As I check out new places I will continue to share them with you and I will share whether I think they are suitable places for relocation versus vacation. I will continue to apply my evaluation factors and I will also share a summary of what I loved, and what I didn’t love AND I will also share a shortlist of cool things to do and see and cool places to eat.
Here is a reminder of my evaluation factors as they are still pretty applicable:
- Short distance to the nearest International Airport; and direct flight to Washington, DC area or South Florida airport in the US available.
- The temperature and climate are stable. It is not the excessively hot or cold majority of months of the year. Low to No Hurricanes or earthquakes risk
- Fresh Fruit and vegetables are easy to access and find.
- The cost of living is low. Average 1-2 BR Rent falls between $400 -$1000 per month in a secure building, 5–10-minute walk to the beach, downtown, gym, pool, ocean view (if in beach town), A/C, very hot bath water (smile), washer/dryer/dishwasher in unit)
- Stable Wi-Fi and cell phone reception
- Creature comforts like Walmart, Costco, Starbucks are present or nearby
- Uber is an option
- Neighborhoods are walkable and safe for walking alone
- There is a black ex-pat community accessible to me
- It Feels Like Home
Here is my Five Point Rating scale that I will apply to the cities/towns I visit
5 – Perfect (all of the factors are present)
4 – Damn Near Perfect (8 or more factors are present)
3 – Almost Perfect (7 or more factors are present)
2 – Probably Not (6 factors or less are present)
1 – Hell No (3 factors or less are present)
Here are my ratings of the Mexican cities I have already visited based on this rating scale:
Playa del Carmen 2
Puerto Vallarta 4
Aminic, Lake Chapala 2
Oaxaca City 3
San Miguel de Allende 4
If you have been following me you know that I am in relentless pursuit of my personal freedom. I have explained all the reasons why in a prior post but if you are new (welcome) please check out my first post-America: I am breaking up with you and America is a Gilded Cage.
I want to preface my comments by stating that these are my opinion and views. Other bloggers and residents of a town or city may differ from me on many things so keep in mind that these are just my views. My trips are being financed by me. I am not being sponsored by any person or entity and therefore there is no one or entity influencing the views shared here.
I visited Mazatlán from May 27 thru June 1, 2021.
Mazatlán (MZT) is located in Sinaloa state. It is located on the Pacific coast across from the southernmost tip of the Baja California Peninsula. Mazatlán has been a popular destination for Western tourists for years and there are many ex-pats living in the city. The primary airport is General Rafael Buelna International Airport.
For more on the history of Mazatlán, check out this link.
For the majority of my stay in MZT, I stayed in an Airbnb near the Playa Dorado. I would recommend staying at a hotel closer to the Malecon and within walking distance to Centro and Plaza Machado, the heart of Centro Historico Mazatlán. Because I was so far up the beach, I used Uber and DiDi to get around a lot.
What I loved
Mountains, Sunsets, Views
In many ways, Mazatlán reminded me of Puerto Vallarta as the beaches look similar. They are not white sand and the water is not turquoise blue as you will find on the beaches on the Caribbean Sea. But the juxtaposition between the mountains and the sea is just magnificent. I had dinner at La Marea and witnessed one of the most magnificent sunsets I’ve ever seen. It rivaled the ones in Bali and THAT is high praise. The dinner itself was not the best I had in Mazatlán, that honor goes to El Presidio. BUT the view alone was worth the visit.
Mazatlán has a pretty cool and bustling Malecon that rivals the one in Puerto Vallarta. The Malecon goes for miles and miles and I advise that you follow it all the way up the mountain. There are restaurants along the beach of the Malecon of varying quality but definitely worth checking out. Just the walk alone up the hills to the overlook is worth the trouble.
IF hiking is your thing. If hiking is really your thing, take a hike to the Lighthouse, I hear the view from there is breathtaking. I am NOT a hiker so I didn’t make the trip but maybe next time!
Plaza Machado is a square that lies in the center of Historical Mazatlán – Centro Historico. It was my favorite place to walk and browse. There are boutiques, galleries, and cafes. It really had a New Orleans vibe with its old-world architecture. There are also cool Murals and fantastic restaurants to be found. My favorite restaurant was El Presidio which can be found a block from Plaza Machado.
Mazatlán is Walkable
Mazatlán is one of the most walkable cities I’ve visited in Mexico. The Sidewalks are pretty even and easier to navigate than in many Centro’s I’ve visited in Mexico. I was able to easily walk my dog in Centro, on the Malecon, and in the neighborhood where my Airbnb was located. I also easily walked to the Soriana grocery store and other restaurants. It was super easy on my ankles and joints. I greatly appreciate that.
Great Nightlife and Restaurants
I LOVED the nightlife and restaurant options in Mazatlán. My friends and I went out to dinner at Mihle Cocina on Saturday night and dinner turned into a 80’s/90 Dance Party. It was so much fun hanging out singing along to the fantastic tunes being spun by the DJ and watching folks just dancing their tails off. Dinner at El Presidio followed by drinks at Casa Analco was also a highlight.
Affordable and Easy Access to Fresh Fruit and Vegetables
There is easy food shopping in Mazatlán. You can buy fresh fruit, flowers and vegetables, and fresh juice at local mercados, as well as the multiple Soriana grocery stores across the city.
Transportation Was Easily Accessible
While Uber was technically available in Uber, I had a really hard time getting one. The average wait time was up to 18 minutes. I used DiDi more. When using DiDi you need to make sure you have small bills to pay the driver. Most will not have a chance to break anything larger than 200 pesos.
Point of Information
SOME (not most) taxi drivers and DiDi drivers will try to short you in the change department if they think you don’t understand Spanish and aren’t well versed in the currency so bone up and know the difference between cien (100), cincuenta (50) and doscientos (200) and so on. There is a great Spanish app (Spanish Numbers) I keep on my phone to make sure I understand. AND Count your change before you get out of the car especially if they give you a bunch of coins.
Also, there appears to be an Uber shortage across Mexico right now. It is not limited to Mazatlán. I am reading about similar challenges in Merida and I am also experiencing them in San Miguel de Allende where there is no DiDi as a backup.
Major Comforts and Conveniences Are Present
I spied multiple Starbucks along the Malecon road and I also saw a Home Depot. There is also a Walmart and I read that a Costco is being proposed. There is A LOT of development and construction going on in Mazatlán along the Malecon. A LOT.
Safety Is Not a Major Concern
I know the state of Sinaloa gets a bad rap but I honestly felt quite safe in Mazatlán. I did not do a lot of night walking which I generally avoid when traveling solo but I walked around during the day with my toy poodle and without her and I never felt unsafe.
Black Expat Community
There are many American ex-pats in Mazatlán, some are retirement age (60 plus) but many are of varying ages and demographics. There is also a small Black Expat community in Mazatlán. They are closer to the size of the community in GDL. They are small but incredibly tight-knit and super kind and helpful and welcoming. I had an easy time figuring out Mazatlán because of the kindness of members of the Black in Mazatlán Community (you can find them on Facebook). I am also lucky to have a good friend who lives in Mazatlán (Hey Natilee).
Spanish Fluency Helpful but Not Required
If you are planning to live in Mexico, plan to learn Spanish and at least seek to be conversational. Period. You seriously limit your ability to truly appreciate the country, its history, and its culture if you cannot speak the language. It is my primary struggle now. Even if you can get by without Spanish, try to learn it all the same.
That being said, if you are on the Malecon or staying in the historic Plaza Machado area, Spanish fluency is not required. But if you venture at all outside those areas you will need it. I was able to get by for the most part with my beginner Spanish. I found that many of the locals in Mazatlán that I encountered understood English and many speak English quite well.
Wi-Fi Reception Was Good as Was My Cell Phone Service
WIFI was good in Mazatlán. I had a good reception at Airbnb and pretty much everywhere. My cell phone service also worked well in Mazatlán.
What I don’t love
I HATE being Hot. Mazatlán is HOT ya’ll. I was lucky to arrive ahead of the humidity that hears will arrive later in June and through the summer. But that sun is HOTTTT. Bring sunscreen and drink lots of water. You will need it especially if you are walking the Malecon.
COVID-19 Precautions Seemed Pretty Lax
I did not see a lot of masks being worn in Mazatlán. I had a driver tell me that I didn’t need to wear one (big side-eye – I kept it on). While staff in restaurants and bars and Uber and DiDi drivers did wear them, many locals seem very unconcerned which I found concerning.
I made a point of avoiding indoor dining and keeping my human interactions outdoors. People were out and about and packed into restaurants, especially for brunch in places along the beach, Centro, and Plaza Machado I would advise wearing your mask even if others don’t. COVID-19 is still with us.
Getting to Mazatlán
There are direct flights into the United States to/from Mazatlán via Atlanta (ATL), and Dallas Fort Worth (DTW). There is no way to fly to the Washington, DC area without a connecting flight through ATL or DTW and the shortest flight length I found was 12 hours — not a short flight time. Flights to/from Fort Lauderdale are equally lengthy about 14 hours. There are shorter flights between Miami (MIA) and Mazatlán about 7 hours. Though I hate flying into MIA so that is not a plus in my book.
On the brighter side, from SMA, there are direct flights via Queretaro (QRO) on TAR Aerolinas. Flight time was about 1 hour and 30 minutes or less. Note: There is a time difference between Sinaloa and Guanajuato so that should be factored in when you consider the flight time.
Ok. I saw more crawling things (dead and alive) in Mazatlán than I have anywhere in Mexico and honestly anywhere since I left South Florida in 1989. Y’all I saw more palmetto bugs aka roaches aka La Cucaracha than I have EVER seen and that is NOT a good thing. Couple that with ants that invaded my first Airbnb (I left) and sightings at the second (for one night after I fled Airbnb #2) and the sightings of multiple dead roaches (outside thankfully) at Airbnb #3. Ya’ll! I cannot! And yes there are also mosquitoes that are hella disrespectful.
Another peeve was that Mazatlán could be cleaner. It would actually be a rival to Puerto Vallarta if it were cleaner. There was a lot of trash piled up, especially on Sunday and Monday, and litter along with parts of the Malecon and the Beach, which encourages certain types of infestations. So for me, that was a bit of a turn-off.
Verdict Relocation: No
Verdict Vacation: YES!!!!
Rating Score: 3
I enjoyed Mazatlán and I actually plan to return again for a weekend. One of my good friends lives there and it’s a cool fun place to hang out.
But to live? No.
The primary reasons I would not live there long term are the climate/weather (too hot), and the bugs (Ya’ll).
But Mazatlán is a vibe, especially for a long weekend getaway. I’d love to check it out in the Fall months and see if the Bug issue is less of an issue. There is a LOT of development happening in Mazatlán and I think it is going to experience a renaissance in the next year or so it is definitely worth checking out now.
Rent in Mazatlán is comparable to Puerto Vallarta and SMA. It is on the higher end especially if you want to live in Centro or have an ocean view. There are really beautiful apartments to be found there. The Airbnb I stayed in (after the first misfire) was beautiful and a short walk to the Zona Dorado beach. There are also really beautiful apartments and homes in Centro and closer to the Malecon but they are not cheap per se. They are priced at about what you will find in Playa del Carmen, Puerto Vallarta, and SMA.
The Single Girl Factor. The Single Girl Factor is my evaluation of my dating prospects in a city based on my use of online dating apps while traveling. There is nothing scientific about it. I simply utilize dating apps in the area and see how many matches or hits or solicitations I receive.
Applying the Single Girl Factor, I could have a pretty popping social life in Mazatlán. The hits on the dating apps were very good and the options were very nice. Very attractive men in Mazatlán I must say (smile).
Cool Places to Go & Things to Do
- Visit Stone Island (Isla de las Piedras)
- Visit Catedral Mazatlán Basílica de la Inmaculada Concepción and Plaza Machado and check out the gorgeous architecture
- Walk the length of the Malecon,
- Hike, or if you’re me take a car, to the El Faro Mazatlán and visit the Lighthouse and check out the view
- Have dinner at La Marea and watch the Sunset
Cool Places to Eat
- El Presidio
- Casa 46
- Mihle Cocina
- Topolo Mexican Restaurant & Wine Bar
- La Marea Mazatlán