We get quite a bit of email, and we try to answer each and every message we receive. Many times, however, the questions are basically the same, so to save you the trouble of asking, and us the trouble of answering, here are our answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about Mazatlán in particular, and Mexico in general.
Can you recommend a good hotel or motel in Mazatlán? [top]
Sorry, but we really can't. Even though Mazatlán is a big city, it is also a small town and I want to stay on good terms with all of the hotel owners in the area, so I try to refrain from expressing any preferences. I always want to be able to honestly tell them that I didn't say anything bad about their place. See the next FAQ item, however.
Is there a mailing list or forum about Mazatlán to which I can subscribe? [top]
There are several. Check out The MazInfo Group or at the WhatsUpMaz forum or the Pacific Pearl Bulletin Board. All are excellent resources, and chances are if you post a message there, it will be answered promptly.
I want to spend a few months in Mazatlán, what kind of jobs can I get down there? [top]
I often get questions about starting a business or getting a job here in Mazatlán. I don't like being the bearer of bad tidings, but neither do I want to mess up someone's life with the promise of a rosy future that winds up dashed against the rocks. Here is the truth, as I see it. All of Mexico, and especially Mazatlán, is basically an economic mess. There is a lot of unemployment in Mexico, which is one reason why there are so many Mexicans trying to cross the border into the US in the search of opportunity. The only jobs that are somewhat available here in Mazatlán for gringos are in the timeshare sales industry. If you are a good salesman, and are willing to work on a pure commission basis, you have a chance at earning good money in that industry. You will also receive the co-operation of your employer in attaining the required working papers.

I think pretty much any other line of work will be very difficult to obtain down here. There is no shortage of labor, both skilled and unskilled. Often people have an idea of starting their own business down here. While this is perhaps possible, it is by no means easy. There is quite a bit of paperwork that you have to go through to create an "enterprise." Next you will find that while people may be willing to buy your product or service, they will not be willing to pay for them, and collection is EXTREMELY difficult. The minimum wage down here is around 5 dollars a day. Many other wages scale comparably. I strongly suggest that if you want to come here to work, you bring enough money to support yourself for two months, and have enough money left over for a return ticket home.

Finally, let me add that you should reverse your situation if you want to see how the locals will react to your working here. Imagine a Mexican coming to your country, and working in your chosen profession, probably without the proper papers. Would he/she be welcomed or shunned by your co-workers. You can expect similar treatment here.
We are coming down for Thanksgiving/Christmas/New Years/Easter.. do you know of anyplace special we can go for dinner? [top]
Nobody down here advertises their dinner specials until just a few days before the event, so your best bet, if you are coming down here during a particular holiday, is to either ask at your hotel when you arrive, or look in the local (Spanish) newspaper for ads promoting these various special occasions.
We want to come down for a few months but are on a budget, how can we find inexpensive accommodations? [top]
I think it is possible to find an inexpensive long term rental, but probably the only way to track one down is to go there and look around. Your best bet is to stay in a hotel or motel for a few days while using the newspaper and an agent who is willing to help you, to track down something suitable. You might find the agents rather reluctant, since there will be "very little in it" for them, which is why the local classified ads are your best bet. There are two local newspapers in town, widely available. They are both in Spanish, so if you don't speak it, be sure to bring a dictionary.
How has El Nino affected the weather in Mazatlán? [top]
El Nino has caused day after day of heavy rain. I expect flooding in February if this continues. The weather has been described as nothing short of miserable -- for the San Francisco Bay Area. For Mazatlán, we have had a warmer than usual winter, with day after relentless day of blue skies and perfect temperatures. Everyone here is hoping for another El Nino next year.
What exactly do you mean by elegant attire? [top]
Okay, here is the scoop on what I mean by elegant attire. No restaurant in Mazatlán is going to refuse you service no matter how you are dressed. But there are some very nice restaurants here, where the decor is beautiful, and the waiters are dressed in tuxedos. Almost every time I go to one of these places, some Americans show up in shorts and a T-shirt. I feel personally embarrassed by my fellow countrymen when they treat such a nice place with such disrespect. By encouraging tourists to wear something elegant, I am trying to prevent folks from showing up in shorts and T-shirts. You do not have to wear a coat and tie, though it certainly would not be out of place, but please show some respect and wear something reasonable. Enough of sermon.
Can you recommend a good fishing tour operator? [top]
I'm afraid that Nadine and I have learned that the only thing that happens to us when we go out on a boat is that we pollute the water with our stomach contents. Thus neither of us have any personal experience with fishing in Mazatlán, other than eating some delicious zarandeado at Los Arcos. That is not to say that the fishing there isn't very good. There are several big fishing fleets in the area. Billie Hempel's fleet comes to mind, as does the Aires fleet. For more personal attention, try calling Mark at 916-5609. He as his own boat and always does his best to make sure his passengers have a good time. My best advice is to refrain from buying a fishing tour from a beach vendor. I have heard about several people who bought a fishing trip from someone on the beach, only to discover that the fleet operator doesn't use beach vendors to sell their tours. Use a travel agency, or book directly with the fleet operator. Pick up a copy of the Pacific Pearl when you get there and look at the ads.
I just saw a report on TV that said Mexico isn't safe! Should I come? [top]
First of all, let me say that Mexico is not safe. Neither is the USA, Canada, Europe, or anywhere else in the world. Everything in life entails certain risks, the question is always a matter of degree. We often get this "Is Mexico Safe?" question, especially after some recent media exposé like the recent 20/20 program. This program was very misleading, I suspect intentionally so. While displaying beautiful panoramic pictures of the beaches, the narrator described the "crime wave" that is plaguing Mexico City. This leaves the viewer with the impression that the resort areas of Mexico are in the middle of this "crime wave." This confusion is heightened when the narrator drops the word "city" after Mexico City, as is the custom here. Then all of his comments suddenly apply to all of Mexico, not just the capital. Again I think this was done deliberately. We have been reading in the local papers some of the same stories that were described in the 20/20 broadcast, but the stories clearly specified that the events described took place in Mexico City. After reading these stories and watching the broadcast, I think it would be prudent to take precautions when using a taxi in Mexico City, but to the best of my knowledge the rest of the country does not have this problem. I have never heard of a tourist, or anyone else for that matter, being robbed or attacked by a taxi driver in Mazatlán. Nadine and I have had far scarier taxi rides in San Francisco than we have ever had in Mazatlán.
Let me ask you this: After watching the recent coverage of all the "school shootings" have you decided not to send your child to school anymore? If the answer is "yes" then I would stay home, otherwise come down, relax, and get ready for a wonderful time.
Some friends told me that the Mexican police are criminals in uniform. Is that true? [top]
Of course such stories are true. It is also true that a bunch of crazy Americans blew up a huge Federal Building in Oklahoma. Does this mean you should no longer visit any government offices in the USA? It all comes down to probabilities. Nadine and I have lived here for 7 years, and have never had an encounter with the police of any kind. All the police that we have met have tried to be helpful. And yes, we still visit government offices in the USA too.
I really like to play golf. Can you help me play at the El Cid course? [top]
Here is the scoop on playing golf in Mazatlán. The only "legal" way to play golf at El Cid is if you stay at the hotel, have a membership, or are an El Cid timeshare owner. If you are neither, you can attend a timeshare presentation, and choose a day of golf as your "free" present. (Though by my calculations, you would be paying yourself about $5 per hour.) The only other possibility is to befriend a current member, who would be willing to take you along as their guest. These rules relax somewhat during the off season, say between May and November. It is basically a private club. There are two other golf courses in Mazatlán. One is Club Campestre, which is out towards the airport, and not what I would call first class. The other is brand new, and is called Estrella del Mar. It is also further out near the airport, and is quite beautiful. You can see more about it at here It is currently public and green frees run around $85.- per round.
Please don't ask us to use our club membership to get you onto the golf course. We live there for 8 months of the year, and the last thing we want to do is jeopardize our good standing with the El Cid community.
We are thinking of renting a car and driving around the area. What do you think? [top]
Personally, I think using a rental car down here is a waste of time and money. They tend to be expensive, and the really bad part is that you are the one who has to drive them. Unless you really want to travel around out of town, I would stick with taxis and busses. A private taxi from the airport to your hotel runs around $25 or you can catch a shuttle bus for around $7. Taxi fares within the city run between 15 and 25 pesos, and the bus fare is 2 pesos. The busses run frequently, are clean, and have mass on their side. If you really want to tour around, you can hire an air conditioned van and driver for around $75 per day. I believe I even have a coupon for Antonio, the van driver. For comparison, rental car rates start at about $40 per day, which you pay whether you use the car or not.
We'll be down in Mazatlán next week. Can we buy you a drink and ask you about xyz? [top]
Thanks for the kind invitation, but Nadine and I usually have a lot going on. Hard to believe, I know, but there is a difference between living somewhere and vacationing there. We once tried to hold a "Retire in Mazatlán" seminar, but too few people responded to make it worthwhile. Try searching this web site to see if you can find the answer to your question, and failing that, ask your friends and neighbors once you arrive in Mazatlán. The people here are generally very friendly, and might be able to point you in the right direction.
How much money should we bring? [top]
The flip answer would be as much as you can afford to spend, but of course it all depends on what you are planning on doing here. Let's assume you're excluding the hotel expense. At the low end, you can have breakfast for about $3US, lunch for $4US, and dinner for $5US, so that makes it $12 per day, or less if you skip a meal. If you beer or margaritas, figure on an extra $2-$3US. On the other hand, if you want to eat in the fancy places, you should triple the numbers above. Tours range from $15 to $50, depending on the tour, and when it comes to shopping, it all depends on what you want to buy, but prices are generally 30% less than comparable items in the US. So the real answer to how much money you should bring is: as much as you can afford to spend.
I tried to print our your map of Mazatlán, but I only got part of it, what should I do? [top]
Believe me when I tell you, that hundreds of people have successfully printed out this map on their printers. There is nothing wrong with the map, but there is probably something wrong with the software on your computer that is printing it. The flip answer would be to switch over to Linux, but I doubt that many of you will do that. Try copying the map to your local disk and opening it in one of your graphics editing/display programs, and having it try to print it out. I've heard that that often "fixes" the problem.
Some friends of mine want to come for spring break but we are wondering about this package that we got quoted? Also are there a lot of parties? Is it safe? What do you think about hotel xyz? [top]
First let me say that I don't have any direct knowledge about your particular package, but I do know that this has been going on for many years now, and I have received few, if any email complaints. There are lots of parties, in fact every day you will see some number of young kids totally blasted and falling down drunk. If that is your idea of a good time, it is here for you. As for safety, every year at least a few kids die here. Are they the victims of banditos? No, they usually fall off of balconies or are drowned after having tried to drink all of the tequila in Mexico. It is as safe here as you are willing to make it. Finally, as for hotel xyz, please see my answer to question 1.
You guys look so young. How is it that you managed to retire already? Something is fishy here. [top]
Thanks for the compliment. We looked a lot younger in 1986, when we really retired, but after all these years out of the rat-race, perhaps we are experiencing a time dilation effect. Anyway, the truth is that Henry was once involved in a small computer startup, called Paradise Systems. We made video boards and eventually video chips for the original IBM PC, when it first came on the market. A few years later, we were bought by a public company called Western Digital, which allowed me and some of my partners to "take early retirement." I told myself that I never wanted to work that hard again, and so far I have no regrets about life in the slow lane. So there you have it.
We are staying at hotel xyz, and are considering their all-inclusive plan. What do you think? [top]
If all you want to do is hang around the hotel all day, and eat three meals a day at the same restaurant, then go ahead, why not? But, if you plan on touring around, or like to try different things, you'll probably wind up buying a bunch of meals out anyway. Furthermore, food is quite inexpensive here in the first place, so why not try out our favorite local restaurants? So our take on it is -- pass.
Can I really live well down there on $1000US per month? [top]
Well, chances are you can live better here than in the US or Canada on $1000 per month, but it isn't a large sum of money, here or there. You can probably rent a small apartment in a decent area for around $300 per month, perhaps less if you are willing to live in a less decent area. If you have a car, gas down here is more expensive than in the US. Water is cheaper, but propane and electricity are higher than in the US, so you won't be using a lot of air conditioning during the summer, or your electric bill will quickly reach $200 to $300 per month. Food is less, especially at the grocery stores, and the cost of all services are much less, but manufactured goods are pretty much the same price. Can it be done? Yes. Do people do it? Yes. Are they living a life of luxury? Probably not, unless you consider just being here a luxury unto itself.
I just came back and met this great Mexican guy. He was polite, respectful, sweet ... I think I'm in love! What do you think? [top]
Well, I never thought I would wind up writing a Dear Abby column, but this question has come up several times now, so I'd better address it in the faq.

This is from Henry:
From my perspective, I would advise caution. Of course everything might be on the up and up, and there are many happy couples where one partner is Mexican and the other is American, but from our (second hand) experience, they are the exception and not the rule. Mexican males are known to promise the moon while courting, and then treat their wives like property after they are married. Again, this is not a universal truth, but unfortunately is what happens more often than not. Go slow. Take your time.

This is from Nadine:
I don't want to rain on your good time with your new friend but I do have female friends who live here who have had relationships with some of the locals. I wanted to share their experience with you just for some insight. One of my best friends was engaged to a local. She decided to come here and live a month with him before getting married. She said she thanks God every day she did this! The Mexican men have a very different way of treating women. They are more like owners of women. It is not uncommon for them to have a wife and many women on the side as long as they can afford the women - meaning taking care of them with housing etc. The entire society is very behind times on women's rights. For example there is only room for one name on checks. A woman can write a check but she can not have her name on the check in print unless her husband doesn't mind being left off. I have a difficult time getting a man that works for us to take orders from me. He will treat Henry with respect much more than me. Believe me I asked him more nicely than Henry does when I do ask him to do anything. I could really go on and on but I think you get the picture: it is a different culture here and Men are kings and women are second class! I truly think you would find this out in time with your new friend. If you are very serious about him, do as my friend did and spend some real time with him and see how you are treated on an everyday basis! Then you will know how your life would be if you ended up with this man. We are talking about your life happiness!
Of all the places to live, what made you guys choose Mazatlán? [top]
Nadine had been coming down to Mazatlán since she was a little girl. While we met in Mexico, it was actually in Club Med at Sonora Bay. A few months later, as we were falling in love, we decided to go to Mexico for a vacation, and Nadine suggested that we go to Mazatlán, where she had many fond memories. We booked a one week stay at the Hotel Playa, and as we fell in love with each other, we also fell in love with the area. We came back a few months later and rented a "Tennis Villa" at the El Cid resort. It was during that stay that we bought a lot and started building our first house here, Casa 338. We've been here every winter since then. Flattr this
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