Baja California Sur, Mexico Report of what it's like to live there
Personal Experiences from Baja California Sur, Mexico
1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?
I spent a month in Stockholm.
2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?
I moved there from Los Altos, CA.
3. How long have you lived here?
I lived there in 2007.
4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?
Housing, Groceries & Food:
1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?
Housing ranges from little shacks to fairly fancy homes.
2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?
There are two main grocery stores--both quite nice and modern!
3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?
Books! Also, the clothes selection is not very good. There is only one decent department store. Everything else you can buy in town. There is a CostCo and store similar to Wal-Mart in La Paz.
4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?
Yes--food of all price ranges is available.
5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?
No real bug problems except some big roaches.
1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?
I had them sent to the harbor. We had a system there where people on the sail boats picked up our mail and took it to San Diego. The postal service in Mexico can NOT be trusted!! Items are stolen all the time.
2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?
I had a cleaning woman who came once a week. She was going to charge me $12, but I paid her $15. She was fantastic! You can get inexpensive gardeners as well.
3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?
4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?
I used my ATM card all the time with no problems.
5. What English-language religious services are available locally?
No. The churches are mostly Catholic.
6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?
I never saw any. Buy a DVD player there and you can get videos in English.
7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?
I was there to study Spanish so I was trying not to use English. I would say that most of the staff in the restaurants could speak some English, but in the stores...not much. La Paz isn't a tourist town at all.
8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?
Uneven sidewalks everywhere.
1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?
Yes -- there are nice buses that run to Cabo. Taxis around town (make sure you agree on a price upfront). No trains.
2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?
Do not bring a nice car down here. The roads are dirty and rough--full of potholes! Your car and tires will get torn up! If the cops stop you and try to give you a ticket -- tell them you will accompany them to the station!! They are scamming you in all likelihood.
Phone & Internet:
1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?
I did have trouble getting Internet in my home b/c I wasn't close enough to a cable pole, so I don't know how much it cost. But there were several Internet cafes in town that I used on a regular basis.
2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?
Get one that can be used internationally.
1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?
No -- you need to bring a certificate from your vet stating that your pet has had a rabies vaccine and is healthy.
2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?
NOOOOOO!! The vets are waging a losing battle. My biggest complaint. The locals do not take care of their animals like Americans do. Animals aren't vaccinated -- stray dogs may be all covered with ticks & have distemper. Cops round the strays up every few weeks and shoot them all. It's horrific. Don't bring any pets. My cats all got sick! Vet care is rudimentary at best. Surgeries done on wooden tables with no IVs, and vet dressed in jeans!!
Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:
1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?
2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?
Health & Safety:
1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.
Yes! I was burglarized, but once I put decent deadbolts on the door I was OK.
2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?
Excellent medical/dental care and it's not expensive. Doctors make house calls. So do the vets.
3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?
4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?
Nine months out of the year, paradise. The other three are hellish! Be prepared for humidity and heat!!
Schools & Children:
1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?
2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?
I doubt if there are any.
3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?
Only in Spanish.
4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?
1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?
There was a small expat community at the harbor where I received my mail. They also had an Engish book library.
2. Morale among expats:
Pretty good since they all leave during the hot months! Most of them arrive in October and leave in May, the cowards.
3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?
Nada, aside from a few night clubs.
4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?
It's a very family-oriented city.
5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?
I never saw anything that would make me think otherwise.
6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?
Not that I knew of.
7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?
La Paz is known for its marine life and deep sea fishing. If you enjoy the water, fishing, boating, and snorkeling, you'll love La Paz!
8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?
Lots of water activities. Not a lot of culture. A big cinema with fairly new releases. Cabo San Lucas is 2 hours south. Todos Santos is about 45 across the Peninsula.
9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?
I never found anything worth buying.
10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?
La Paz is the capital of the Baja Peninsula. It is a typical Mexican town with a large harbor and beautiful beaches on the bay. You can rent a home anywhere from $200-$900 month. The cost of living is relatively inexpensive.
11. Can you save money?
I'm sure you could, depending on how much you brought with you.
Words of Wisdom:
1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?
Yes, but not by myself.
2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:
3. But don't forget your:
bathing suit, sandals, and books.
4. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:
5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?
6. Do you have any other comments?
I really liked La Paz. The people are friendly. The weather is gorgeous most of the time, and it's a very relaxing way of life.