Home Articles Canucks in Cabo

Canucks in Cabo

Canucks in Cabo / Photo by Vania Medina

For Rick Parks the move to Los Cabos, Mexico, almost five years ago, was the lifestyle decision he will never regret.

Canucks in Cabo, Rick Parks
Canucks in Cabo, Rick Parks

“I had been through a divorce (after being married for 25 years) and I needed to move on to my next adventure,” said the 52-year-old Canadian. “I was tired of the (high) taxes, the politics and the weather.”

He sold his house, located in the city of Abbotsford, British Columbia (72 kilometres from Vancouver) and moved to Los Cabos, which he had previously visited.

Parks, who had worked as a minister for the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada and who had also been a realtor and property developer in Canada, soon realized his knowledge of real estate would lead to a business opportunity.

He established his own real estate brokerage, with a website aimed at Canadians and others moving to the area, located on the tip of Baja California Sud.

“I came here and realized the opportunity,” he said. “The growth (over the last four years) has been staggering.”

The firm he established, Coastaro Real Estate, has a wealth of information about the area on the site. And it includes links to other sites, including “Cabo chic”, a luxury real estate site, and “CaboforCanadians”, which, as the name suggests, is aimed at Canadians.

In fact, the majority of his clients are Canadians.

Parks, who lived in Seattle for a time, has also lived in many parts of Canada, including Toronto, Calgary and B.C. He worked as a pastor for NASCAR Canada for four years, which led to extensive travel.

The Cabo area consists of two main communities, including Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo. Cabo San Lucas has several gated, upscale communities that have attracted most new buyers and renters over the last few years. Nearby San Jose del Cabo is “more of a traditional Mexican town”, says Parks, but one that has also started to attract more luxury buyers.

Prices can vary significantly, but he said there’s enough of a price range to appeal to many different buyers.

He said there has been a shift in the nationality of buyers in the last few years, from 70 percent Americans and 30 percent Canadians to 60-40.

As in all of Mexico, financing for a real estate purchase is challenging, given high borrowing costs, with mortgage rates hovering around 10 percent.

However, if his Canadian clients still own houses in Canada they are able to use a line of credit linked with their place in Canada.

With major cities in Canada, such as Vancouver and Toronto, having some of the highest housing prices in the world, purchases with cash are often not a strong barrier.

The combined population of Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo is about 125,000, he said, with significant new growth occurring.

And that’s a problem.

“We’re in a desert,” he said. “Water will always be a problem.”

Most of the area’s water comes from wells, with a new desalination plant being developed to provide Cabo San Lucas with water.

The area also has another problem.

“It’s hurricane prone,” he said. “We usually see a category 1 or category 2 hurricane every year.”

The good news is the area hasn’t been hit with a major, category 4 (or higher) hurricane for about 40 years.

But the positives greatly outweigh the negatives, in his view.

“We get 350 days of sunshine every year. The weather is perfect from November 1 to July.”

After that, the summer weather is usually hot and humid, for about four months.

There are other positives, including some of the best deep sea fishing and scuba diving in the world, whale watching and other sea-based activities. 

The area also has 16 golf courses. 

“The (restaurant) food choices are amazing,” he said, with some internationally recognized chefs.

In addition, shopping choices include some of the best known retailers, such as Costco and Walmart.

Another plus is the area’s outstanding health care options, with top notch private hospitals, aimed at expats and snowbirds.

He has a private insurance plan that costs him about $1600 U.S. a year (the older one is, the higher the cost).

As with all of Mexico, ongoing living costs are much lower than in Canada or the U.S.

For instance, property taxes average about $400 a year, cell phone rates are one-third of what they are in Canada and auto insurance rates are about $500 U.S. a year.

Parks can gauge the interest in the area from monitoring his CaboforCanadians site, which gets about 50 hits a day.

While many of the Canadians moving there are of retirement age, there is a trend towards more “digital nomads” moving there.

“The lifestyle is wonderful,” he said. “You swim everyday, rather than being trapped inside.”

Parks said he is in the area to stay, especially after he returned to Canada last summer for the birth of a grandchild (he has two adult daughters in Canada).

“Nobody is happy there (in British Columbia),” he said. “Everybody I talked to was experiencing financial stress.”

Canucks in Cabo, Gerry and Jean Rattray
Canucks in Cabo, Gerry and Jean Rattray

Canucks in Cabo, Gerry and Jean Rattray, who are 75 and 72 respectively, moved to Cabo in 2016, after having discovered the area in 2013, on the recommendation of a son.

“Our son is an off-road racer, who had been to the area as part of his crew,” she said. “He said; ‘You have to see this place’.”

They bought a 5th-wheel and traveled to the area in 2013-2014 and also stayed with friends who run a cookie bakery. She had experience in Canada working in food safety, so ended up helping out in the business. That experience led to their decision to move there, although her husband still works as a safety officer in construction in Canada and commutes.

They had owned an orchard in the Okanagan Valley in B.C. (it is one of the few areas in Canada with a warm enough climate to do so), which they sold before considering life in Mexico.

They now own a house in a gated community in Cabo, where the 15 homes are almost all owned by fellow Canadians.

They have four adult children in Canada, as well as three grandkids, and they go for visits to Cabo. She doesn’t enjoy visiting Canada.

“When the government started mandating things (during COVID), I no longer wanted to visit,” she said. “I don’t like being bossed around.”

She loves the freedom she feels in Cabo, the weather, the lower cost of living than Canada and the social life. She is very involved in a local church, as well as in other local activities. Rattray stays year-round and has adjusted to the hot and humid summers.

Although the area is experiencing a condo building boom and housing prices have risen “a lot”, it remains an affordable area for retiring Canadians or digital nomads, she said. She estimates the cost of living, despite rising costs for food, is about one-third of what it is in most of B.C. 

But there are negatives.

“It’s a desert. We get about three good rains a year,” she said.

That should limit growth there, but it hasn’t, with Canadians, Americans and others moving there on almost a daily basis.

Although there have been plans for significant investment in desalination plants, very little has occurred, so water access will continue to be an issue.

Despite that concern, she has no plans to ever move back to Canada.

That decision was reinforced after she accessed the area’s outstanding private health care system.

“I had knee surgery here,” she said. “I would have waited for over two years in Canada but here I got the surgery when I wanted it.”

It cost here $13,000 Canadian dollars($9700 U.S.) but it was well worth it, she said.

She suffered from arthritis in Canada and the warm Baja climate has been a relief.

Canucks in Cabo, Gail Milliken and Colin Meier
Canucks in Cabo, Gail Milliken and Colin Meier

Gail Milliken, 66, and her husband, Colin Meier, 60, are “newbies”, with her having moved to Cabo a year ago and Colin planning to do so in the future, after he winds down a construction business. Although his business takes him throughout Canada, their home base is in the Edmonton, Alberta area.

“I love it,” she said, after having lived in Cabo for almost two years. “There are no bad days. Although the locals (Mexicans) don’t have a lot of money; they’re happy.”

They bought a house in a gated community, but are considering downsizing to a smaller house or condo.

The negative for her, after many years of living in a cold climate, are the hot and humid summers. She returns to the Edmonton area for about four months a year, both to escape the hot summers in Cabo and to visit family (they have four adult children from previous marriages and four grandchildren). This past summer they bought a small condo in Edmonton, which will be their Canadian base.

But the pluses far outweigh the negatives, she said.

It’s easy to travel anywhere in the area (she has a vehicle), the airport is nearby (about 40 minutes away), and many Mexicans in the area speak English (she is studying Spanish).

She has qualified for permanent residency and Colin is going through the process.

Aside from the excellent weather for most of the year and the presence of a large expat population, she agrees with others about the lower cost of living.

Thanks to the lower cost of living, Colin is planning to fully retire, something that might not be as likely in higher cost Canada. He spends several months a year in Cabo, where he engages in his passion of fishing, in one of the best areas in the world to do so. 

One thing she has noticed, since her move to Cabo, is that the relationships she has with friends back in Canada have changed. Parting may not make the heart grow fonder, it seems.

“They are involved in their own lives, so it becomes a different relationship,” she said. “I’ve lost track of some of them but it’s not the same relationship.”

As for her relationship with her children and grandchildren, she maintains contact by phone, text and FaceTime, reinforced by her time back in Canada.

Ultimately, she said: “You have to live your own life”.

And in the future most of that life will be in Cabo.

“I don’t see myself moving back to Canada,” she said.