LA PAZ, Mexico

La Paz, Baja California Sur, Mexico.

I must start by saying, La Paz is in Mexico.  So is Cuernavaca, so is Ciudad Victoria, so is Oaxaca, so is Morelia, so is Mazatlan, so is Acapulco.  You would look long and hard not to find a beautiful cathedral in almost all Mexican towns.  In La Paz, in the middle of town, you’ll find the Cathedral of Nuestra Senora de la Paz (the Cathedral of Our Lady of La Paz) near lots of art galleries and shops along cobblestone streets.  Since La Paz is the capital of Baja California Sur, and also the largest city, you will find the Government Palace and the Legislative Palace.  La Paz is a cultural center having a University, theater and a number of museums. The per capita income is among the highest in Mexico.

La Paz is located on the east coast of the Baja, along the Sea of Cortez, in a large, natural  bay.  Tourism is the first ranking source of income for La Paz, and because of its location on the bay and Sea of Cortez, fishing ranks second.  Health care is perhaps the best in all of Baja.

North Americans have not overrun La Paz, and estimates of four thousand to nine thousand Expats are reported in the area.  I tend to think closer to four thousand or under.  The total population of La Paz is somewhere between 150,000 to 200,000.  Whichever, it is a large city, but has managed to retain a small town feeling of original Mexico for the most part.

The weather in La Paz basically is nice – if you enjoy the hot, sunny climates with some evenings cooled off by the ocean breeze – and who wouldn’t enjoy that!  The hottest months will be summer – July, August, and September…when you will definately appreciate the air conditioning.  Because the Baja peninsula is getting pretty narrow at this point, tropical storms can sometimes affect the weather, but that season is only during the summer and early fall seasons.  The mountain chains that run down the Baja are getting pretty gentle at this point, so the terrain around La Paz for the most part, is easy to travel – even good to bike and walk.  Sunsets can be spectacular – but, again, so many places in Mexico can claim the same thing.  Everyone enjoys the wide, beautiful malecon that runs for miles along the water.  So much nicer than places in the States, where you have to fight to get to the ocean, through the mazes of huge hotels and resorts.

La Paz

As in all big towns, you will find the large food markets plus chains you’d expect – from Soriana to Sam’s and Wal-Mart.  But, for real bargains, the place to shop is in the native stores – get really fresh fish – the tastiest of vegetables – from the people who catch them or grow them.

Transportation to La Paz includes:  Air, with the La Paz (PAZ) International Airport, just a few miles out of town;  Highway, Mex 1 is the main highway that vehicles and buses travel south from the American border, with the “Green Angels” (read about them in my book, Retire In Luxury) patrolling the entire distance; and by Water – drive onto the Ferry for a trip across the Sea of Cortez to the mainland and Mazatlan and Tompo Lobompo.  La Paz is about 100 miles north of Cabo San Lucas at the tip of the Baja.  You can also dock your own boat at one of the many, many facilities along the shore.  Just about everything that arrives into the lower Baja comes by ferry from the mainland or down Mex 1.  La Paz is a major port.  The Baja peninsula is about one thousand miles long, running from just south of San Diego, California to Cabo San Lucas at the bottom tip.

The North Americans and Europeans who live in La Paz can choose to live comfortably and inexpensively or live a life of the rich and famous – It takes all kinds.  But, an average Expat’s lifestyle on a modest income easily can include a nice home and a maid.

La Paz

As a general rule, you will find living on the Baja cheaper than in the states, but usually higher than many other parts of Mexico.

To wrap up this blog, here’s another email from a very happy retiree:

Hi Barbie, Hope all is well with you and Dick.

Thought you would be interested to know, we have just spent eleven weeks in Ajijic, Chapala.  What an amazing place, fell in love with it, weather  fantastic every day we were there.  You can at least plan a family reunion three months in advance and know what the weather will be doing!!!!!!  Where can you hop on a bus and take a 20 minute ride to the next village for 7 cents one way?  Cost of living we found extremely cheap compared to Canada.  Found the Mexican people in the area so friendly and wonderful.

We had the pleasure of meeting a great dentist, doctor and rheumatologist during our stay, and were very impressed with their knowledge, care and the cost.

Through your contact, we met up with Charlie, (I have deleted Charlie’s last name – Barbie) what a great guy he is.  He drove us to the south side of Lake Chapala to San Luis Soyatlan where he lives.  We had breakfast together, then he drove us around the village and took us to see his house. What a great place he has which he pays $225 a month rent for.  He gave us some very valuable information which we are very grateful for.

We arrived back in Canada this morning and are now making plans to  move to Mexico.

Keep up the good work, your information has been so helpful to people like us.

La Paz
Border Crossing

La Paz article by Barbie

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14 Responses to LA PAZ, Mexico

  1. Jorge

    June 27, 2011 at 12:22 pm

    I’ve lived in BC for 20 years. La Paz is hot, not nice and sunny in the summer–hot. It is not fresh and nice in the evening in the summer, it is hot. Very hot. No cool Pacific currents here. Senior citizens will not enjoy a La Paz summer, and it will be unlivable without a/c–so count that in as a several month expense–as in from June through October.

    There is a significant difference even between San Lucas and San Jose. San Jose is always hotter in the summer. And as you move up the coast on the Sea of Cortez side it gets progressively hotter: La Paz, Loreto, Santa Rosalia–these are real ovens in the summer.

    Even on the Pacific side, southern Baja is hot in the summer, but on this side you get an extra month of nice weather, since June normally is quite pleasant. The humidity and heat build up everywhere as the hurricane season progresses. August and September are not nice. The switch usually comes around mid-October, and we’re back to some 8 months of wonderful weather.

  2. SimonLoftus@AmistadRealEstateLaPaz

    August 23, 2011 at 5:07 pm

    I will start with saying that I am biased as I sell homes here in La Paz, however I wouldn´t have recently moved here from England were it as bad as you made it out to be Jorge.

    I agree that on the hottest weeks if you are outside doing activity other than the pool/beach it can be uncomfortable however I do disagree that it isn´t nice in the late evenings once the breeze starts to kick in. I would say the best places to see this cooling effect are in the open by the sea though, otherwise the heat from the houses etc can keep it hot.

    Air conditioning is needed to get through the summer months in my view, but I believe the majority of the USA has that, and if not it has to have the heating on all winter (which in my view is the same hassle).

    I would recommend visiting and staying during some colder months, if you love it enough to want to move visit in the summer months too and then make up your mind. I have fallen in love as well as many many others but everyone is different.

    Simon.

  3. Barbie

    Barbie

    August 27, 2011 at 7:10 pm

    Thanks again Simon – Wise words, indeed :) Barbie

  4. Nancy

    February 14, 2012 at 8:49 pm

    My husband and I are in our mid 60s and looking for a NICE place to retire at an affordable price. We live in the rural Rocky Mountains now, 20 min. for a town of 25,000 and a university. We have winter at least 7 months/year. So, we hope to find a nice beach town in Mexico (north of PV or in Baja. I hate humidity, but can get by with air conditioning. We’d like a nice beach town with cafes, espresso bars, and clean infrastructre and housing. We hope to rent a furnished apartment for half the year or permanently, depending on what we find. So far, these are places on our list. We do not have the funds to check out every place, so hope someone can give us some REAL feedback. Here are the top places on our list. (Also, we do not speak Spanish yet!)
    We also would like to be very near a hospital and airport. We do not want a large city, but if La Paz has quieter outskirts, that would be nice. We do not like noise!

    From PV: Sayulito, San Francisco/San Pancho, San Miguel de Allende, Lake Chapala, Aijhi, Balandra, Playa Tecalote, San Felipe, Mulege, Lareto Nopolo, Rosarito-Ensenada Corridor, Puerto Peñasco, Los Cabos and Todo Santos. This is all overwhelming to research, so we want to find out from real people what these places are like before spending $$$. Any help will be greatly appreciated.
    Thanks,
    Nancy and Gary

  5. Syd

    February 28, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    To Nancy & Gary,

    We’re in a similar position….as we’re planning on an early retirement to Mexico later this year. We have pretty much homed into the southern Baja, we love the beautiful landscapes and the incredible Sea of Cortez. We are not fans of Cabo…to touristy and too trashy. But San Jose del Cabo is very nice and seems an easy place to live while you pick up more Spanish. But we really think our favorite is the La Paz area. There are some very nice areas for ex-pats on the outskirts of La Paz and really La Paz doesn’t seem like too much of a big city for us. Rentals don’t seem to be as prevalent in the La Paz area as they are in San Jose. We enjoy Todos Santos as well…but I don’t think that is where we would want to live long term. Again, I can’t pretend to be an expert since we’re not there yet but thought I’d throw in my thoughts.

  6. Syd

    February 28, 2012 at 7:55 pm

    To Nancy & Gary,

    We’re in a similar position….as we’re planning on an early retirement to Mexico later this year. We have pretty much homed into the southern Baja, we love the beautiful landscapes and the incredible Sea of Cortez. We are not fans of Cabo…to touristy and too trashy. But San Jose del Cabo is very nice and seems an easy place to live while you pick up more Spanish. But we really think our favorite is the La Paz area. There are some very nice areas for ex-pats on the outskirts of La Paz and really La Paz doesn’t seem like too much of a big city for us. Rentals don’t seem to be as prevalent in the La Paz area as they are in San Jose. We enjoy Todos Santos as well…but I don’t think that is where we would want to live long term. Again, I can’t pretend to be an expert since we’re not there yet but thought I’d throw in my thoughts.

  7. Nancy

    February 29, 2012 at 9:41 am

    Since we found the PV areas of San Francisco/Nyarit and the La Paz area. We have since gotten information that both places get very hot, humid, and buggy in the summer and most people leave the beach during the summer months. Have you been there then? If so, does the Pa Paz area have places that are a bit cooler? In fact, we have never been to Mexico yet. When we looked at San Miguel de Allende, it seemed more run down and noisy than we wanted. I would love to hear anything you can tell us about the area. If there are not rentals, that could be a problem, since we were hoping to not own a home again. But, then again, I heard that many rentals require the renter to do all the repairs, etc. So, thank you for your input, and if you have anything to add, PLEASE do!

    Nancy.

  8. Barbie

    Barbie

    March 1, 2012 at 11:12 pm

    Hi Nancy – well, air conditioning is a must for me in hot, humid areas – and yes, that will run up your electric bill. The bugs – well, lots of caulk and diligence will keep those under control – also help with the ac. There are rentals almost anyplace – and, unless it’s a condo, sure, you will do your own repairs, or find a good worker who will help you. Barbie

  9. Barbie

    Barbie

    March 1, 2012 at 11:16 pm

    I really appreciate you taking the time to send an email that adds information for my readers! Thanks! Best regards, Barbie

  10. Jorge

    March 5, 2012 at 11:01 am

    @Simon

    I never said La Paz was “bad.” I said it was hot in the summer–more especially July through September, when the temperatures are not only high, but it is also humid, therefore the shade offers little relief. I wrote with elderly retired people in mind. After a certain age you don’t tolerate high temperatures too well. Now, the fact is that average daytime temps in La Paz, July through September, are all in the 90’s. That’s average. And it is humid heat. As you say, you need a/c to “get through” the summer months. You also say that “I agree that on the hottest weeks if you are outside doing activity other than the pool/beach it can be uncomfortable.” That is precisely my point; if you’re living in La Paz, and not just vacationing, you are going to be doing more than staying at a pool or at the beach. And “the hottest weeks” are roughly 10 in number. As for the nice breeze in the evening, remember that the Coromuel breezes more or less cease to blow in August and September. When there is a breeze, I agree, the evenings can be pleasant.

    I have no quarrel with La Paz. It’s a nice city. But like every place under the sun, it has its pros and cons which you have to take into account, especially if you are planning to live there and invest money. There are people who love the heat, and there are those who do not. So it is good to be aware of the facts of the matter regarding your intended location.

  11. Sandy

    March 6, 2012 at 10:13 pm

    Hi Syd,

    I live in the Baja and have also lived in the Vallarta area. Both have their pluses and minuses. Vallarta is really nice 6 months in the winter, but the summer is very hot and humid. But Vallarta has many more amenities than the Baja, since it is a much larger city and near Guadalajara. In the Baja the summer is also hot and humid, but it is shorter than Vallarta, where the humid heat really kicks in in May, believe it or not, and becomes unreal by August and September, whereas here ( live in the San Jose area) May and June are quite nice, and even July, although hot, is nothing like Vallarta. Really, only August and September are downright awful, along with a couple of weeks into October, and then it suddenly changes. As for La Paz, it is hotter than the Cabos area because the cold Pacific current is not nearby; it is also colder in winter because it is more exposed to the north winds from the States. Vallarta and the Nayarit coast are more buggy because it is tropical there, whereas Baja is like Arizona with a seacoast! Nayarit around the area of San Blas is famous for its mosquitos and its “jejenes” or “noseeums”–very pesky. Anyway, if you want “cooler” in the summer, you’ll have to look elsewhere than on the coasts of Mexico, where even International Living says the summer heat is “brutal.” The trick is to go inland and gain elevation–lots of places there have an “eternal springlike” climate. There are many, many nice inland places–depends on whether you’re a city mouse or a country mouse. There’s every size and climate you can imagine. I will say, though, that if you don’t know Spanish, I’d stick to the places that have some Anglo-American presence, unless you’re very adventurous and savvy about foreign living. By the way, I’ve heard good things about the Synergy Spanish method. Good luck!

  12. Sandy

    March 6, 2012 at 10:17 pm

    Oops, I meant Hi Syd and Nancy! Sorry! :-)

    Also, it occurred to me that the Ensenada area is one coastal location that has a nice climate year round–like San Diego. But being so close to the US it lacks that Old Mexico feeling and the special laid back atmosphere.

  13. Danika

    April 13, 2012 at 2:00 pm

    La Paz looks absolutely amazing. I can’t wait to travel to Mexico in 2013!

  14. Austin Davis

    May 1, 2012 at 12:47 pm

    Great article Barbie,

    La Paz looks amazing. I will surely consider a vacation their one of these days since i live in nearby california. Thanks!

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