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Pacific Mexico with Personality: Real Estate in Mazatlan, Page 2

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At twice the size, the more extravagant Royal Marbella homes start at $700,000 and include an array of terraces, a two-car garage, four bedrooms, and huge living spaces. All benefit from 24-hour security and purified water.

“We make it very easy to buy here,” says Jorge Fernandes, director of sales. “You can finance here with 30 percent down and we often give new owners a hotel room while they are coming to check on construction or get their home furnished for move-in. We can take care of keeping your bills paid, open the doors for deliveries, and hold onto your mail.”

Lots for building your own custom home start at $115,000 around the golf course and $147,000 in the marina area, only a few rising above the quarter-million-dollar level.

Most gated community developments come with common area perks, but here you have the run of the whole sprawling complex: beach chairs at the resorts, seven hotel pools, water sports, a full-service marina, and 27 holes of golf. There is access to a doctor 24 hours a day and a supermarket by the marina.

Mazatlan El Cid Marina HomeWhat does a million bucks get you here? Walfre Real Estate has an El Cid marina home of 6,500 square feet with a heated pool, two-car garage, servant’s quarters, screened terrace, huge lot, and 5.5 marble baths. It’s listed for $999K.

Carol Sinclair of Walfre, a long-time resident of Mazatlan, took me to a golf course home owned by friends of hers to get an idea of the lifestyle here. Owners Tim and Nancy Rumsey have mostly said goodbye to cold winters up north, only flying home to visit relatives now and then. Between golf, cultural activities, and social engagements they express the retired expat’s refrain, “We seem to be busier since we moved here than we were before we came to Mazatlan.”

They like the mix of cultures, the sunny weather, and the ease of life here, including the ability to have a maid cleaning up all week. Being in a spot like this, “We haven’t had much trouble getting people to come visit us.”

Mazatlan El Cid Marina

See more at El Cid Real Estate for new offerings or check local agency sites for resales.

On the Beach or in Old Mazatlan

Mazatlan Beach CondoCarol from Walfre also wanted me to see what luxury living with an ocean view was like, so we visited a condo of 3,000 square feet at the 360 Tower, a high-rise with only 27 units. Everything is high-level here, from the fingerprint recognition entrance to the elevator opening just for you on your floor. A showpiece kitchen, garage space, three bedrooms, office, and laundry room are inside, while the balconies look down on the beach and community pool—and out at a panoramic ocean view. The unit is listed at $725,000.

You have plenty of other developments to choose from either finished or going up right on the beach, with low-end two-bedroom units starting at just under $200,000 and climbing up from there. Entry price units tend to be narrow, with smaller balconies, but in Mazatlan even these usually have granite counters, custom tile work, 24-hour security, and parking. A larger budget gets more space, a view from more rooms, and possibly a penthouse with a roof terrace.

Mazatlan 360 Tower

Mazatlan has spread out like an oozing blob over the years, reaching its fingers further down the coast to what is now called “New Mazatlan.” More big developments are on paper for Stone Island and land further to the south once the economy turns around. This city has never been as congested as Puerto Vallarta or Acapulco though and with no big mountains right on the shore creating barriers, you don’t have the traffic nightmare of those two cities (or their counterparts across the border in the U.S.)

Some buyers ignore all the new development anyway and go for the original part of town, the area with the most character. They may enjoy a round of golf or a dip in the ocean now and then, but they prefer the ambiance and aesthetic benefits of Old Mazatlan, the heart of the city for two centuries. It has benefitted from a wave of renovation and rejuvenation in recent times. The foreigners who live in this area love being able to skip the roads altogether and walk to dozens of cafes, restaurants, bars, and entertainment centers—including the lovely rebuilt Angela Peralta Theater.

Old Mazatlan Home

“I have a car here, but I really only use it to load up on groceries or go to Guadalajara,” said one transplanted Texan I met at a seaside happy hour by the malecon. He finds it so cheap to hop in a pulmonia (the unique local open-air taxi) that he usually goes that route when he doesn't walk. “No parking hassles and I don’t have to watch how many beers I’ve had.”

Prices in old Mazatlan are quite reasonable compared to many other expatriate colonial hotspots around Mexico. I saw one home of 1,500 square feet, with a garage, two bedrooms, and one bath for just $120,000. It’s listed by Invest Mazatlan. They were also offering a mansion of 5,798 square feet a block from the water. It’s in move-in condition, but retaining plenty of historic details, for $500,000.

Preservation laws exist in this historic district, but their main intention is just to keep up a good face. Inside, you can choose to keep all the original walls and details intact if you’d like, but you don’t have to. You can gut a crumbling interior and rebuild to suit.

Mazatlan is not for status seekers. It is not your ideal vacation home spot if you’re looking for the swankiest shops, the most elegant restaurants, and a steady stream of Hollywood celebrities jetting in and out. For enjoying the pleasures of a seaside town with fresh seafood, year-round golf, and superb fishing, however, this beach resort area may be your paradise.

Story and photos by Timothy Scott
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