This 65-year-old retiree simply moved to a $420 per 30 days condo in Mexico by the seashore

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In 2006, I packed my bags and moved from Santa Cruz, California to Mazatlán, Mexico to start my own business (and eventually retire).

In the 15 years I’ve been here, I’ve moved several times for a variety of reasons – twice as many buildings sold, too much maintenance, or something better.

Earlier this year, I moved into a 1,100-square-foot, two-bedroom, 10-foot-high apartment just minutes from one of my favorite beaches. Rent is $ 420 per month, excluding utilities.

This is what the apartment hunt was like and why this is one of my favorite places I’ve lived:

Find an apartment to rent in Mazatlán, Mexico

It is difficult to find a rental apartment here. Near the coast, where everyone wants to live, there is an increasing demand for holiday accommodation with which the owner earns more money (faster) than if he would rent them out as a one-year lease.

For example, a previous landlord is now renting out my old one-room apartment for a three-day weekend for $ 200 – the same price I paid monthly.

Asking friends and locals is a great way to find something. I also checked Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist but couldn’t find anything in the area I wanted that was on my budget.

Then a good friend told me that an apartment in her house was going to become vacant, and when we peeked through the windows, I was mesmerized.

The sea wall near my apartment has a great view of the sunset!

Photo: Lucas Mullikin for CNBC Make It

First impressions

When I walked into the apartment for the first time, it was love at first sight – despite the chaos and major renovations.

The old-style shutters and interior doors had been sent to be drawn out, repaired, and painted; the beautiful old tiled floor was filthy and covered with rubble; the kitchen was an empty shell. But I could see the bones of the place and I knew it was a gem.

My cat Luna loves to sleep outside in her “Catio”.

Photo: Lucas Mullikin for CNBC Make It

It was within my budget and had everything I was looking for: perfect location, nice architectural details and two outdoor areas. I realized what a great thing this was, and although it would only take a month or more, I immediately made a deposit to secure it.

Location, location, location

Realtors like to say that a property is “steps from the beach,” but I actually am: 124 to be precise (about half a block from my front door to the sand).

With Mazatlán’s three islands just offshore, a sunset surf session is twice as wonderful.

Photo: Lucas Mullikin for CNBC Make It

I can also walk to a variety of cafes, shops, and restaurants. And my apartment is on the first floor so I can easily get on and off my bike or surfboard.

I love that one friend lives across the street and another one across the street. It’s so easy to have sunset happy hour or morning coffee together on my balcony, which we do pretty often!

Rent and utilities

I’m 65, retired and living on my social security. I also get some income from my book sales and a little freelance writing.

Although the monthly rent of $ 420 was twice what I’d ever paid in Mazatlán before, it was within my budget. I want to keep my basic expenses as low as possible, but still be comfortable.

My office is in progress – a real desk and chair soon! The door leads to the front balcony with sea views.

Lucas Mullikin for CNBC Make It

I can do that in Mazatlán. Water costs $ 4.50 a month. Due to the air conditioning, the current is highest at this time of year; Mine is around $ 25 but is usually half that. I use propane for cooking; A tank costs $ 30 and lasts about six months with me.

I paid to add some of my own accents to the apartment:

  • Painting a wall the same golden ocher color as the floor tiles: $ 15
  • Handcrafted Bookcases for the Office: $ 225.
  • I had cabinets made by a local carpenter: $ 350 (cost sharing with landlord)

Viewing of the apartment: inside & outside

From the front door you enter a large living and dining room that extends to the kitchen and my bedroom.

My living room is spacious and pretty, with great natural light and 10 foot ceilings.

Photo: Lucas Mullikin for CNBC Make It

The two bedrooms are separated by a spacious “Jack and Jill” bathroom. One is an office and guest room that overlooks a plant-filled balcony and its splintered view of the ocean. My bedroom has large corner windows overlooking a back yard.

The high ceilings, white walls, and tile floors can make the rooms feel a little cold, so I use lots of natural fibers, wicker, and jute to add texture and absorb sound. I also have a lot of plants that add color and thrive from the natural light.

The “Jack & Jill” bathroom is bright and pretty.

Photo: Lucas Mullikin for CNBC Make It

There is a galley kitchen that leads to a former maids room and toilet. The fridge is there, along with the washing machine and my surfboards.

The back yard has tons of potential! I can see planters full of herbs, vegetables and flowers. At the moment I only use it to hang laundry. (Why use an electric dryer when the sun can do the work?)

Did someone say happy hour? My balcony is the perfect place to meet up with my friend Ray.

Photo: Lucas Mullikin for CNBC Make It

A special room that already feels like home

My interior design style is pretty versatile. I love certain traditional Mexican folk arts and there are many special pieces scattered around my apartment.

But I also have a contemporary-style couch, a chalk-painted farmhouse dining set, and a few signature antiques from the area. One of my favorites is my headboard, a set of three carved cedar shutters from one of the oldest hotels in town, the Belmar.

My bedroom is a cozy, peaceful oasis in the back corner of the apartment. The headboard consists of 100 year old shutters from one of the oldest hotels in Mazatlán.

Photo: Lucas Mullikin for CNBC Make It

I try to mix and match styles in a way that highlights the beauty of each one and somehow it seems to work. I like to get a feel for the atmosphere of the room and decorate it accordingly.

My lease is for a year and unless my life changes drastically in some way, I intend to extend it. Cant wait for my grandchildren to visit – there is enough space for everyone and they will love going to the beach!

Janet Blaser is an author and has lived in Mazatlán, Mexico since 2006. The former California journalist now focuses on the lives of expats. Janet’s first book “Why We Left: An Anthology of American Women Expats” is an Amazon bestseller. Follow Janet on Instagram and Facebook.

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