So Now That You Love La Paz…How Do You Actually MOVE Here?



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By Heather Borquez

So … you have fallen head over heels in love with La Paz and you want to live here. But how the heck do you do it? How do you move here, find a home, support yourself, get your money out and find a good doctor or medical specialist?

First is the move itself. La Paz has lots of rental properties you can try until you decide on a home to buy. There are neighborhoods for every taste and budget. Costa Baja, Pedregel La Paz, Palmira and Colina del Sol have in my opinion some of the best views in the city and are considered luxury or high-end properties. Alttus has several condominium projects up there as well as a series of townhomes. Prices range from 70k USD for a studio apartment to 1,000,000 USD for a luxury home overlooking the bay and city lights at night. Downtown has lots to offer as well, from smaller homes and bayside condos, close to the marinas. Many people love to live downtown, right where the action is, and close to the water. It is very walkable and properties close to the malecon are always in high demand. A lovely neighborhood outside the city is El Centenario, which boasts country living with sea views. Many beautiful homes are found there, and the area is very popular with American and Canadians.

Let’s talk about income first. Assuming you are retired (many La Paz residents are), you will have retirement income. Accessing your funds is very easy as ATM machines are everywhere. You will soon need a bank account.   There are many banks to choose from; Scotiabank, Banamex, Bancomer, Santander. We ended up with Inbursa on Nicolas Bravo at Isabella La Catolica, which is small and provides personal service. We also like their “one stop shopping’ approach, and we have purchased car and health insurance from them.   Opening a bank account is simple. Bring a copy of your temporary or permanent residence card, proof of your Mexican address (e.g. an electicity or water bill) and some ID.

The most common type of temporary resident visa is one for retired people. You have to apply for it, at the consulate or embassy near your hometown. Unfortunately, you can’t apply for it in Mexico. You must be able to prove that you can support yourself in Mexico and the minimum monthly requirement you will need to prove is about $1,600 USD a month, plus another $520 a month if you have a dependent. You will prove this income by submitting bank statements, perhaps up to one year’s worth. Alternatively, you can provide bank account or investment statements for the last 12 months that show an average balance of at least $25,880 invested.

A temporary resident visa is valid for one, two, three, or four years. After four years however, you must either leave the country or switch to a permanent resident card. The four years you’ve held a temporary resident visa automatically qualifies you for permanent residency status.

The specifics change from time to time, so be sure to check with your nearest Mexican consulate for the most up-to-date information. I would also urge you to consult with a Mexican immigration lawyer here in La Paz for help in understanding the requirements. I use several good lawyers here that I recommend to my clients. They deal with immigration matters, capital gains tax, real estate closing and wills and testaments.

So once you are established in La Paz, with a bank account, a home, and legal status, you will want to know where to get health care, get your groceries, and what there is to do here.

Health care may be your next worry. Mexican health care is very good. Many doctors and dentists in La Paz speak English and some have trained abroad. Dental work is inexpensive and of equivalent quality to Canada or the USA. There are several private and public hospitals in La Paz, and many clinics. The cost of a medical consultation runs from 30 pesos ($2.00 USD) to $100.00 USD depending on the specialty.  When you move to La Paz, you should acquaint yourself with the local medical and health facilities. The most popular hospital here is the private Ideas Hospital, just off Abasolo on the way to Walmart. It has a number of specialists, a laboratory and X-ray and ultrasound equipment. There is also the IMSS hospital, the social security Salvatierra hospital and a number of smaller, private clinics.   Foreign residents in Mexico who are retired, may purchase Seguro Popular health insurance, for a very modest fee.

There are lots of things to do in La Paz. In addition to simply gazing at the changing colors of the sea. The best resource is the Yahoo group La Paz Gringos. There you can find the answer to almost any question from “where can I find wasabi powder,” to “what cultural events are on this week”? Events such as art shows, painting classes, theatre, and cooking or gardening classes are advertised on La Paz Gringos. The website www.rozinlapaz.com is another excellent source for arts and cultural events.

Learning the language is key to your enjoyment of La Paz. One good school is “Se Habla” which offers Spanish classes, home stays and cultural presentations. It is located on Madero street – one block up from the malecon.

You can be as busy or as solitary as you want. There are charity fundraisers, marina events, sailing regattas, kitesurfing competitions, fishing derbies, book clubs, charity auctions/dances, dinner events and tango classes.

The Municipality of La Paz has an extraordinary offering in the way of local cultural events and parties organized almost every month on the malecon. This is one of the many charms of La Paz. You are living in an authentic Mexican town that goes about its daily life, with or without its annual influx of tourists and snowbirds. It is a wonderful window into Mexican life.

Food is maybe the best part of living in La Paz. Small and inexpensive restaurants are everywhere. And food shopping is fun. The two main markets, Bravo and Madero, are the least expensive options, with the freshest food and the most fun. We do the bulk of our shopping there and at the Organic Market on Tuesday and Saturday (8 – 12 pm. on Madero and 5 de mayo). It is a great little artisanal market with organic food and amazing French pastries, German bread, and Uruguayan sausages… and oh yes, pie!

Mail forwarding is also easy in La Paz.   Many of us share a mail-forwarding postbox at Postall. We pay annual fees to have our mail and packages forwarded to us. It makes shopping on Amazon a breeze. Postall is located on 5 de febrero, at the corner of Belisario Dominguez .

As a realtor with Diamante Associates La Paz, I love helping my clients relocate to La Paz. As part of my toolbox, I keep an up-to-date professional referral list of lawyers, accountants and tradespeople, which I share with my clients to help them in their relocation to La Paz.   I speak Spanish and I am married to a Mexican engineer, so perhaps I have ‘an inside track´.

I look forward to helping you find your dream home in paradise.

Heather is a resident of La Paz and a realtor with Diamante Associates.  She can be contacted by email at heather@diamanteassociates.com or by telephone at 612 157 1984.

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