Why Mazatlan’s Historic Center Is The Ideal Second Home

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Why This Coastal City Is An Ideal Second-Home-In-The-Sun Location

As I wrote earlier this month to report, I closed recently on the purchase of an ocean-view apartment in Mexico.

I explained why, after having lived and spent extended time in countries across South America (including Ecuador, Uruguay, Brazil, and Colombia), I’ve chosen now to make this investment in Mexico.

Today I want to detail why I made the decision to make this second-home purchase in Mazatlán specifically.

I chose Mazatlán after several visits and an extended stay in this city. I found that the more time I spent in Mazatlán, the better I liked it.

When here, my days fall into a pleasant routine…

Each day starts with a morning walk along the beach at sunrise (fellow dog owners will understand why I’m out there so early), followed by a day of exploring the colonial historic center and beaches that make Mazatlán a famous vacation spot.

My apartment is both on the waterfront and within easy walking access of the city’s historic center, allowing me toenjoy the best of both worlds. Mazatlán is a unique place in this way, and this ability to enjoy the conveniences of city living with the beach still on my doorstep was one of the biggest attractions for me.

Founded in 1531, Mazatlán lies about nine miles south of the Tropic of Cancer on Mexico’s Pacific coast. It enjoys pleasant sunny winters—with warm waters—that draw visitors from the rest of North America, including Mexico itself.

Summer temperatures, however, can hit 90 degrees, with periods of high humidity. This is not a great place to be for Canadians and Americans in the summer.

That’s why I say that Mazatlán qualifies as an ideal second-home destination.

Here’s Why Mazatlán Appeals To Me As A Second-Home Destination

You can “go local”… or not.

Mazatlán is a true city of almost a half-million people. When you move here, you can choose to be part of the American/Canadian community, speak mostly English, and ease your way into Mazatlán aided by people who have come before you.

But within a few hundred yards, you can also live in one of several Mexican environments, speak mostly Spanish, and immerse yourself in Mexico’s rich culture.

It has a large and well-maintained colonial center.

Many colonial centers are just a few blocks of Spanish colonial architecture, but the historic district in Mazatlán is quite large, offering a wide range of prices and styles.

More on what’s happening in the colonial center in a moment…

Mazatlán offers almost 20 miles of beautiful beaches.

The city boasts mile after mile of well-maintained, sandy beaches with warm, swimmable waters. Much of this beachfront is bordered by a wide “boardwalk,” normally busy with people strolling, jogging, or biking.

Prices are great.

Whether you’re dining out or buying a property, you’ll find prices to be remarkable at today’s exchange rates. The best property bargains are often priced in Mexican pesos or Canadian dollars, but most properties are low when compared to other beachfront markets around the world.

Home Depot, Sam’s Club, Walmart, Costco, and company…

Mazatlán has an entire city full of local shops and Mexican supermarkets both large and small. But it’s nice to know you can go to Home Depot or Walmart for some one-stop shopping, if you’re working on a home-improvement project, say. They’re also good for items that can otherwise be hard to find in Latin America.

A newly completed highway adds a “path-of-progress” angle to the market.

Durango is the inland city closest to Mazatlán, and the drive between the two used to be an arduous, all-day affair. But a new highway (including 60 tunnels) was recently completed between the two cities and has drastically reduced the drive time to around two and a half hours. This makes Mazatlán an easy destination from Durango—a city of 650,000 people in a state of 1.7 million—and has made it much more viable as a second-home market.

Last but not least, you can drive here.

You can drive from Arizona in just one long day or two easy days of driving.

Mazatlán’s historic center continues its renaissance.

The colonial center in Mazatlán begins right at the beach, and it’s the heart of the city. While somewhat seedy in years gone by, Mazatlán’s historic center has undergone a major renaissance in recent years. It’s an attractive and walkable area with an orderly Spanish colonial street layout.

But the big surprise for me is more recent. I was impressed with progress in the historic center when I left here in 2015… but the progress that’s been made in more recent months is amazing. On some streets, almost the entire block has been converted from decaying buildings to attractive colonial homes.

And the restaurant scene is blossoming in the historic center. We’ve eaten out every day for the past two weeks and are having a great time discovering Mazatlán’s culinary treasures hidden away among the old buildings. And I’m not talking about burritos and rice. Many of the chefs here in Mazatlán are doing an impressive job.

And the renovation of the historic district seems to be snowballing. The nicer it gets, the more investors and expats it draws… and the more buyers it draws, the faster its renovation proceeds. It is encouraging to see.

Ground zero for this renaissance is the square called Plazuela Machado, which is now surrounded by a pleasant collection of outdoor cafés and international restaurants. At the west end of the plaza is Teatro Angela Peralta, the city’s most famous theater, which opened its doors in 1874.

Located about four blocks west of Plazuela Machado, the closest beach to the Centro Histórico is called Olas Altas, which means “high waves.” The beach itself is a crescent-shaped, sandy cove about a quarter mile in length (400 meters).

The shoreline of Olas Altas is lined with cafés, restaurants, and a couple of hotels. Bright and early each morning, the tables at these seaside venues fill up with locals and expats who come down for a good cup of coffee and breakfast.

If you walk just two blocks north and two blocks east from Plaza Machado, you’re in the middle of a bustling downtown that is genuine Latin America with hundreds of small shops, banks, businesses, produce markets, and parks.

Mazatlán’s historic center is an excellent choice for those who seek Spanish colonial living with easy access to the beach. It’s a great option if you want “more Mexico, less resort.” The areas around Plazuela Machado and Olas Altas beach have plenty of visitors and expats, but the rest of Centro Histórico is old-fashioned Mexico.

If a non-touristy Mexican lifestyle is your objective—or you like the idea of purchasing an old colonial property to restore—then you should take a look at Mazatlán’s Centro Histórico.

As I said, I’m completely sold on this location. I look forward to spending part of each year here for many years to come.

Lee Harrison
Editor, Overseas Property Alert

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About Author

Lee Harrison

Lee has been living overseas for nearly 15 years, making his first purchase abroad in the colonial city of Cuenca, Ecuador. After that first investment, he traveled extensively across Latin America and Europe looking for the best property deals possible. Lee’s network of property insiders from those travels, along with his understanding of local cultures and languages, has helped him develop insight into local property markets that only the locals usually possess. He offers overseas real estate advice in his weekly Overseas Property Alert.