9 Must-Knows For Living In Mazatlán, Mexico, As An Expat

Not sure where in Mexico you would like to live? Discover Mazatlán - the perfect coastal location on the Mexican Riviera.

A colonial port city in the Mexican state of Sinaloa, where the Sea of Cortez meets the Pacific Ocean, Mazatlán boasts miles of beaches, good infrastructure and travel connections and an enjoyable climate.

In this guide, you will talk about what life in Mazatlán is like, the areas, the costs, transport links, safety, amenities, infrastructure and the downsides of this location. This will help you understand whether Mazatlán can be the perfect destination for you to call home.

Is Mazatlán a good place to live?

An agreeable climate with a high standard of coastal living provides an attractive venture for those seeking the beauty of living on the ocean without commercialisation and a high concentration of tourist resort-style areas. 

The coastal area where Mazatlán is located is known as the ‘Mexican Riviera'. It's an excellent location if you enjoy outdoor activities such as walking, cycling, surfing, yachting etc.

Mazatlán and the Mexican Riviera on the whole are less humid than other locations on the Pacific coast such as Puerto Escondido or Puerto Vallarta which some may find more agreeable.

You will find plenty of amenities here from larger department stores and shopping malls to smaller tiendas that are local.

The downtown area has a colonial European vibe and look to it, with its plazas and courtyard restaurants with music and entertainment.

Galerias Mazatlán is very popular for shopping and eateries.

There are lots of cafes and restaurants here, where you can find incredibly tasty local dishes such as a super range of seafood from shrimp which is a speciality in Mazatlán as well as ‘ceviches’ and ‘aguachile’.

There has been a lot of investment in the region into ports, roads and various economic initiatives. Thanks to this Mazatlán is set to become one of the best destinations in Mexico for expats in the near future.

Is Mazatlán a safe place to live?

Even though this town is noted for where drug cartel leader ‘El Chapo' was captured on the boardwalk a few years ago, Mazatlán is a safe place to live and expats and locals live well.

Both have the understanding that tourism and new expats form an important part of the economy, and the locals can have good businesses as a result.

Of course, one needs to take the usual precautions and be sensible. Don't leave your belongings unattended, exercise caution at night and don't go to the areas you don't know alone.

Expats in Mazatlán

There is a large expat community here that provides various tips and opportunities to get involved in local get-togethers and events.

Groups such as Mazatlán expats on Facebook can be a valuable source of information and can make connections and new friends easily.

As to the locals, you will find that Mexicans are friendly and most speak good English because of the tourism in the region.

Travel links and transport

Mazatlán is located opposite the southern part of the Baja Peninsula.

A weekly car ferry weekly leaves Mazatlán to La Paz in Baja California Sur, as well as frequent cruise ships visiting from the US.

General Rafael Buelna International Airport has daily domestic flights and international flights to the USA and Canada. This popular destination for Americans is just one day’s driving distance from the US.

Open-air golf cart taxis ‘Pulmonias’ are a common form of transportation here.

Water taxis serve Stone Island (Isla de la Piedra) – an 8-mile-long beach with part of it lined with restaurants and cafes. 

Hospitals and healthcare in Mazatlán

You will find a good choice of walk-in medical clinics, hospitals and doctors' offices scattered all over Mazatlán. Walk-in medical clinics are in the tourist area and some of the major hotels.

There are private hospitals with good equipment and fully staffed to cater for emergencies – Sharp Hospital, Clinica del mar, Divina Providencia as well as Alma Medical Center and Hospital Marina Mazatlan.

The government-run public hospitals are Hospital General (Social security) and the Cruz Roja (Red Cross)

You can see a doctor here without a prior appointment during office hours and house calls can be made for around 500 pesos ($50). As it is a smaller location compared to say Mexico City or Puerto Vallarta, there is less advanced technology here and some complex illnesses may not be catered for.

There are several healthcare options for expats in Mexico including private insurance and international health insurance plans.

International health insurance can be quite expensive. To make sure you get the best value for money, compare international health insurance options from various providers to find the best deal. 

The pros of living in Mazatlán 

  • Good weather
  • Similar lifestyle to the U.S but cheaper
  • Good standard of public and private healthcare, as well as walk-in medical centres
  • Many locals speak English and there is a large expat community here
  • Good transportation system
  • No need for a car all the time, as the town is walkable and cyclable
  • Good stores from larger department stores and malls to local tiendas and restaurants, local markets etc.
  • Good cultural centre – Angela Peralta theatre, dance, and music as well as local cultural events. Ciclotour and Carnival are the other events to note.

The cons of living in Mazatlán

  • The downside can be that in some neighbourhoods it is common to see trash in the street.
  • Drainage and facilities, especially in older properties may not be modern
  • There is a small petty crime.
  • it can be hot and subject to tropical storms during the hurricane season between June to November

The cost of living in Mazatlán

Mazatlán is considered to be one of the most affordable locations on Mexico’s Pacific Coast and not as expensive as other locations further south such as Puerto Vallarta.

Living in Mazatlan
Mazatlan Golden Zone (Zona Dorada).

The cost of living can be varied, however, almost anyone can find a property to suit their budget and taste.

Variations such as living in the historical quarter, marina area, golf course, retreat-style, condominium, and local family area living are reflected in the prices.

Property styles are varied, and there is a lot of property development underway. Mazatlán is undergoing a transformation so is an attractive location for expats.

You can buy a house here starting at around $100,000.

The average cost of renting is $650 for a one-bedroom or two-bedroom apartment. A casa or condominium could be higher depending on the location.

If you are looking for a rental, either long or short term, the Facebook group “Mazatlan Snowbird Rentals & Housesit” can be helpful.

Local transport is inexpensive, and groceries can be plentiful with a good variety yet well priced.

The best areas to live in Mazatlán

Mazatlán can be divided into 3 zones all of which offer something attractive to expats. There are also some very attractive and popular areas outside of Mazatlán as some expats prefer to be away from the buzz of the town.

El Centro with Playa Sur

El Centro is situated near the cruise ship dock where weekly ferries leave for La Paz in Baja California.

The causeway or water taxi serves Isla de la Piedra (Stone Island). Some ex-pats do live on the island, but the downside could be power outages and unreliable broadband during harsh weather. 

El Centro Histórico

El Centro Histórico has many small ‘barrios’ with colonial buildings, casas and apartments. It's a vibrant area with lots of trendy European-style cafes, architecture, and local markets. Transport is easily available.

It can get noisy here with many social events going on throughout the year.

It's also worth noting that some properties here have old-style internal features and plumbing. However, some of the buildings have recently been restored by new investors who have improved the infrastructure, drainage and plumbing to more modern standards.

Malecon

Malecon is a strip of boardwalk that stretches for a few miles between Avenida Gutierrez Najera and Avenida Rafael Buelna. There are lots of ‘palapa‘ style beach restaurants here. The area has high-end condominium towers along with small to medium-sized beach-facing hotels.

El Malecon om Mazatlán

Luxury condos such as Las Gavias, the Paradise Bay Grand or the brand-new Torre Me Condominium tower can be found here.

Golden Zone

It is a lively area between the hotel and entertainment zones with restaurants, hotels, nightclubs, and bars. 

Lomas de Mazatlán

This is a beautiful residential area with a nice variety of residences of all sizes and types. It is located just on the other side of the Golden Zone strip. It's quiet and away from the main roads.

Zona Dorada

This is the main tourist area with well-known hotel chains and plenty of restaurants and entertainment. This is the area where you can easily find short-term apartment options to give you some time to look around properly.

El Cid

This area has a gated community ‘El Cid’ with luxury homes, condominiums and a country club, and a golf course.

Luxury condominiums can be found on nearby Soritas beach at the Los Gaviotas Grande.

Sabalo Country

This is a quiet area with plenty of night entertainment though with great beach access.

Marina Mazatlán

You can find a variety of high-end condominiums and townhouses here. Marina Mazatlán is situated away from the main part of town yet in a tranquil zone.

The marina area has luxury yachts and sailboats. If you love mall shopping there are Sam’s Club, Walmart, and shopping malls such as the Liverpool Mall in Nuevo Mazatlán. Around this area, you can find a lot of new builds and beach access is easy.

Cerritos

Cerritos starts at the marina north of Cerritos Beach. Here you can find a variety of high-end condominiums, townhouses, and luxury homes most of which are privately owned but often rented out. No stores, unfortunately, except for the little ‘tiendas’ such as Oxxo. It's a tranquil area but again is a long distance from town.

Final thoughts on living in Mazatlán 

It's an ideal location for those who enjoy a variety of options from entertainment to beaches and varied vistas, as well as the added bonus of pleasantly warm summer months with less humidity.

Mazatlán is also a good base to discover other parts of Mexico as it has great road infrastructure in and out of Mazatlán to other parts of Mexico and the US.

Everyone can certainly find what they are searching for here!

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Jasmina Nevada

A self-published author of the Mexican Duena, content planner and content writer for various publications, Jasmina is a passionate traveller and has lived as an expat in several locations in Latin America, the Caribbean, Europe, and the USA. She is planning to relocate back to a tropical location in Latin America again as an expat very soon.

You can contact Jasmina on Mack Ruck: Jasmina Nevada