How is Mazatlán handling the Coronavirus?
I haven’t heard any later numbers because we are still locked down. We’ve only had about eight infections and one death. They’ve been very strict on the beach – they were empty for holy week. There is no alcohol – most restaurants are closed, some are still open. The main and only thing I saw missing from the stores were eggs and cleaning products.
When you say lockdown, you’re still free to do your own thing?
Yes – it is self-isolation. We wear masks and social distance. I see a few friends about once a week. I was going to go north to Arizona but I decided not to – it felt too dangerous. But here, most cases were recorded in Culiacan.
How have you found the healthcare system in Mexico? Any concerns? Do you have insurance or just pay for what you need?
I haven’t needed it – but I had a friend over from Rochester once and she had some problems and we took her over to a brand new hospital – we have very good, new hospitals – and she was there for five days – they ran every test and all the doctors were very kind. I usually go to the little clinics we have – they have a pharmacy right next to it where they send you right after for whatever you need, which costs around $5-15+ a consultation with a real doctor, so that is what I mostly use. People with permanent visas can get Mexican-insurance coverage. Mexico has very good insurance for people/employees. – I don’t need insurance down here. I refill my medications from home but I don’t need much.
You split your time between Rochester and Mazatlán… How much time do you spend there each year (normally)?
I usually spend about 4 months in Mazatlán – but I’ve been here for about 6 months now this year – I chose to stay here and I’m very happy I did. The weather is nice – definitely cooler than Arizona.
Does that require any visas?
I have a permanent residency. For other people there is a 6 month visa. You can have a temporary visa or a permanent visa. Most couples I know personally get one temporary, and one permanent.
How did you pick Mazatlán?
I picked Mazatlán because at the time I was in AZ – I like having the ability to drive 13 hours away, instead of being in an airport.
You usually drive to Mazatlán alone, with your dogs… How do you feel about the safety there and traveling in Mexico?
Yes – I try to be very careful now. Motels are closed now, I don’t like having to drive through the night, at least I try not to anymore. I don’t recommend it, it can be dangerous. You need to always travel with caution.
Do you need any permits, registrations for your vehicle?
You would need to have an American car nationalized – so it is better to just have one in Mexico, they try to get you to buy one here anyways.
The properties you own in Mexico are in a trust? Has that been OK to deal with? What is the process?
Yes – they are in a 50 year trust. A trust can cost you around 15k+, depending on the property. It’s not difficult to deal with.
Do you pay taxes in Mexico from rent on your condos? You report that income on your US taxes?
Yes – you should be reporting. Our income taxes are voluntary. I don’t do Mexican taxes – because I’m not renting full time.
What is your cost of living there vs in the US? Housing (taxes), food, entertainment.
I don’t recommend buying property. Be very careful about common fees, some can be extortionists. I do $500/month for housing. Taxes are nothing. You pay trust fees to your bank, about $200 a year. If you want to own a home on the beach, you pay a federal tax – that is a larger tax, maybe around 1k. It’s a good time to buy in Mazatlán for a young person. I need about $50-100 groceries a week, I like eating out 3-4 times a week at good restaurants, for very low prices.
How do you get money from the US to Mexico? Do you have a bank account in Mexico and transfer?
I write a check to get my pesos – I transfer into to a City Bank in New York City. I use Chase but I don’t do transfers – the fees cost too much. But it takes some time to clear. I can get money from a cashier or the ATM, but it can be time consuming.
Any surprises/learnings/things you wish you knew?
Rent! But Mazatlán is a good city to live in. It is not a village, not a resort. It has cultural elements, colleges and schools nearby, it is good to live close to universities. We also have a good expat community. People love going downtown. We have lots of historic areas, beautiful homes – and then we have the water. I came here for the beach, I can’t afford this in the US. You can live here for $2k a month, comfortably. I love the culture. People are very polite, especially to those who don’t speak Spanish. We have wonderful people. Everyone I deal with is very delightful.