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Living in Baja

Living in Baja by Ann Hazard

Have you ever dreamed of living in a real Mexican city? One that doesn't revolve around tourism? If so, La Paz could just be it. The capital of Baja California Sur, La Paz is a thoroughly enchanting city and we Pazenos are deeply proud of it. The heart and soul of La Paz is our malecón-the oceanfront promenade that stretches over three miles along the edge of a deep-water bay from the original La Paz Marina on the southwest to La Concha Resort on the north.

La Paz has a long and colorful history. Discovered by Cortez in 1535, the city didn't become a permanent Spanish colony until 1811. Its rich oyster beds lured fortune seekers in the early days, and its deep harbor was a haven for Spanish galleons. Pirates like Sir Frances Drake hid out in its coves, waiting for the opportunity to pillage and plunder. Battles were fought in our streets in the Mexican-American War, but the U.S. military leaders advised Washington, D.C. that the Baja peninsula was not worth fighting for, so they left.

We're grateful that they did. La Paz is a perfect place for sailing, diving, fishing and kayaking expeditions. There are beautiful, calm beaches to the north of the city. Most famous are Playas Tecolote, Balandra and Pichilingue. Playa Coromuel, nearest to the city, has recently been developed as a family water park, complete with a long pier, beautiful swimming beaches with lots of palapas, shops and restaurants, an entertainment pavilion and a water slide. Just offshore are the uninhabited islands, Isla Espiritu Santo and Isla Partida, where you can kayak and snorkel in deserted bays and also with sea lions.

Renowned for our dramatic skyline and spectacular sunsets, aquamarine water, diverse restaurants and authentic Mexican nightlife, this is an exciting city—one that can grab you and never let you go. It's common to hear people say with a sigh after visiting: "I love La Paz" It sounds even better in Spanish: "Me encanta La Paz"

A few years back, Money Magazine listed La Paz as one of the best places anywhere for U.S. citizens to retire. It is the most sophisticated and modern city on the Baja peninsula. There is an international airport serviced by Alaska Airlines out of L.A. There are modern hospitals and affordable, easy to obtain medical care. Here you'll be on a first name basis with your doctor and you'll be astonished to pay so much less for top quality medical and dental care. La Paz has a deep natural harbor with daily ferries to and from the mainland. We are not a resort town and our economy is not dependent on tourism, which makes us very different from Los Cabos, Todos Santos and the East Cape. We have affordable dining everywhere. You can eat lunch in a restaurant with a bay view every day and do it for between $10 and $20 US. La Paz has attracted residents from all over the world, and you can eat Uruguayan food, Chinese, Sushi, Italian and French whenever the mood hits you. Nightlife is lively. Music abounds and people stroll the malecón at sunset, in the evenings and walk and run its lengths in the morning.

In La Paz something is always going on. Culturally diverse, you can enjoy live theater, the movies and concerts celebrating Mexican music. Food at grocery stores is fresh. Organic produce is grown nearby, fishing is local and beef from Sonora (across the Sea of Cortez) is famous nationwide. There is abundant shopping and if you buy a home, you can completely furnish it without leaving town! If you want to build, the contractors here are top notch, dependable and will cost you a lot less than in the U.S. or Canada.

Reasons to be in Baja!!

1. The cost of living is quite low here, compared to most places in North America and a retiree can lead a very cost-efficient lifestyle. Groceries, food, entertainment, restaurants, utilities, property taxes, transportation and health care are very reasonable. Most food and products from the States and Canada are available locally, with big box chains such Walmart, Sam’s Club, City Club, Soriana, Ley, Costco all present locally. Smaller markets also offer fresh products for very low prices.

2. Baja itself is a great place for those who love outdoors activities. No matter where you live, everything is nearby, including fishing, snorkeling, scuba diving, camping, walking, golfing, bird watching and more. There is truly something for everyone here.

3. In comparison to other destinations, Baja has a great selection of affordable real estate opportunities to suit everyone—from a lovely lot overlooking the Sea of Cortez, to a high end beach front home, to a more humble home in an authentic Mexican neighborhood.

4. Communications are excellent. It is incredibly easy to stay connected to your country of origin, to be informed and up-to-date on the news back home. Cable and satellite TV are available, international newspapers are available, high speed internet is available and phone services such as Skype, MagicJack and Vonage are widely used to call internationally.

5. The weather in La Paz is excellent. Many US and Canadian citizens prefer to live here in the colder months, where they can wear shorts and flip flops in January and never have to worry about shoveling snow!

6. Many expatriates choose Baja California Sur as their retirement home. Health insurance is available, and because this is the state capital and the largest city in the state, there is an excellent selection of doctors and dentists.

7. Baja California Sur is the perfect place to retire. Enjoy a stress-free life, get to know the other expatriates in town, and make friends with the locals (many of whom speak English, and who are well known for being very hospitable). Take some Spanish classes and really get involved in your new hometown!

8. Get acquainted with the high quality of life here in La Paz. Dine in an international restaurant and then stroll the malecón as the moonlight dances across the bay. Do that once and you will be hooked. You will see why this is such a magical place to live!

9. La Paz is a city rich in culture and history, and our local Government has worked hard to provide frequent presentations of dance shows, music concerts, art expositions and in the rehabilitation of places of interest in the area.

10. La Paz has it all! Come find out for yourself!

ABOUT ANN HAZARD...

A San Diego native, Ann Hazard has followed her father and grandfather's footsteps up and down the Baja peninsula since she was nine years old. She has written four books about Mexico, including the popular Cooking With Baja Magic Dos. Her other writing credits include the San Diego Union-Tribune, The Coast News, Destino Los Cabos, The Baja Times, Baja Traveler, Discover Los Cabos, Discover Baja, Visit Los Cabos and Los Cabos Magazine. After living on the East Cape for four years, Ann and her photographer husband, Terry Hauswirth moved to La Paz in 2008. More information on Ann's books can be found at http://www.BajaMagic.com

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