Sunday, 3 November 2013
How to find a rental and live inexpensively in Mazatlan - Part 3
Probably the most-read posts here are the ones about the cost of living in Mazatlan so I thought I would do an update. Is it still cheap to live in Mazatlan?
I now live in a spacious two-bedroom, 2 bathroom apartment in a secure building steps from the ocean. Because it wasn't furnished, the rent for a one-year lease was 4,500 pesos per month - or about $350 Canadian or US. It isn't fancy. It's a little rough around the edges. The kitchen needs an overhaul, and the bathrooms an update. But, it has a front patio with lush plants that were left by a previous tenant, a utility room off the kitchen for a washer and dryer (I only bought a washer - used - for about $300), a cement sink, the water heater and gas tank. It is open-air - the back wall is a lattice of brick facing the back parking lot. I'm on the ground floor so no stairs to climb but any patio furniture will have to be chained down because it would be easy to steal at street level, whereas my upstairs neighbours have a small deck but can leave their furniture out.
The gas tank costs about 400 pesos to fill - usually about every 2 or 3 months depending on usage. It is used to heat the hot water tank and for the little second-hand gas stove in the kitchen.
I pay the landlord 100 pesos a month for water that comes from the tinacas (big water storage units) on the roof - that's water for the kitchen and bathrooms. I buy bottled water for drinking - a cost of about another 100 pesos a month because I use the convenience of having the building maintenance guy bring the big water bottle to my door when I put an empty one out.
Electricity is normally only about 200 pesos a month but goes up to about 500 a month with using the air-conditioner in summer.
Megacable kind of rips me off for internet - I may look into switching to the only other service, Telmex. Megacable forces me to take a package that includes cable TV and phone in order to have internet which is 649 pesos a month. I don't own a TV and probably won't. I can't stand watching TV with commercials anymore and watch movies or TV series on Netflix instead.
So, all told, my monthly fixed costs add up to about $460 a month on average.
Food and entertainment. Well, that is quite variable depending on how often I eat out (lots). But, someone on a stricter budget could eat well at home for about $200 a month by mainly shopping at the Central Market. Going out is a lot cheaper than in North America - a lot cheaper. I was just up in Canada and the US and, particularly in Canada, eating out is a budget-buster. Here you can still have a full meal for about $5.00 to $10.00 if you don't drink alcohol, and even then, the beer is cheap - about $1.50 a bottle, or less. Drinking wine is more expensive at about $4.00 to $5.00 a glass. Mixed drinks might be somewhere in between unless you ask for an imported brand. Mexico produces a brand of vodka and gin that is cheap but not great. And, of course, there are plenty of brands of tequila.
The variety and quality of restaurants have increased in the last three years, with new ones popping up every year. I must admit that it is a popular activity in my group to make the rounds and try them out, or to just hang out at one of the favourites. Most of them are indoor-outdoor, and along the malecon in Olas Altas where I live, it is just wonderful to sit and watch the sun go down and all the people walking along the waterfront with a group of friends.
Going to the movies is refreshingly inexpensive. There are several good multiplexes that run new releases in English for as little as $3.00 per ticket. Even the popcorn and snacks are reasonably priced.
I also buy a travel health insurance policy for emergencies but for minor illness, I can see a doctor in a local clinic for about $30 and prescriptions for most common medicines like antibiotics are cheap. I can see a specialist for just about anything the next day usually for about $40 to $50. The best money-saver though is dentistry. The dentist and endodontist I see are extremely professional, pain-free, and the prices are a fraction of what I would pay in Canada. My husband recently needed two root canals and two crowns. He was able to get everything done in 5 days with no prior appointment for about $1,200. Can that even be done in that short a time in North America, let alone at that price?
I recently went and looked at some alternative properties just to see what was out there. I was considering renting a house instead of an apartment because I have the two dogs who might be better off with more access to the outdoors. I am rather stuck on living in Old Centro though, and I love being so close to the waterfront, so my choices are limited. There are many other areas to live though. I did see a one-story home in Centro, but 8 blocks from the waterfront. It was two-bedroom, one bathroom, very spacious with a modern kitchen, a washer AND dryer, two outdoor patios and a secure parking spot. It was furnished too. I could have rented it for about $450 to $500 a month if I committed to a one year lease, but the previous tenants had rented for 6 months for $600. The big drawback for me? The distance inland. But it was closer to the Central Market and about equal distance to the main public square, Machado Square. So, for now I have decided to stay where I am. I hate moving anyway.