Choosing a place to live in Los Cabos is a tale of two cities. Los Cabos, or the capes, is actually made up of two towns, San José del Cabo and Cabo San Lucas. While they are only about 20 miles apart, Cabo and San José offer very different experiences for both tourists and expats alike.
We had been coming to Los Cabos for years, staying at our different timeshare properties in the Corridor, the 20-mile stretch of beach between San José del Cabo and Cabo San Lucas. We would make it a point to visit both during our vacations.
My husband and I would head to San José del Cabo to wander the charming cobblestone streets and visit art galleries and jewelry shops. We would often find small, charming restaurants where we could sit for hours over a bottle of wine and dinner, usually making conversation with a bartender or waiter. We also loved people watching in the plaza by the town’s beautiful church and dreamed of moving here and going to church here.
We generally had a different agenda when we headed into Cabo. It was typically a more tourist experience. Surrounding the Cabo Marina, the town is loaded with bars, restaurants and tourist shops. I’m not sure why but we would go shopping at the Puerto Paraiso Mall, the closest thing to an American shopping experience with its mix of well known American brands like Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse, Harley Davidson and Tommy Bahama, and local stores selling everything from souvenirs to high end fashion and art.
We loved walking through the Cabo Marina, checking out all the fishing boats and being asked over and over if we wanted to charter a boat. Medano Beach has every activity you could want, from dune buggy rides, horseback and camel rides, parasailing, jet skis and more. The beach vendors line the beach hoping to sell you a dress, a shirt, a hat or some jewelry and you can always find a bar with lots of tequila, wet t-shirts and loud music.
When we decided we wanted to buy a home and move here, we knew (or so we thought) that we definitely wanted to be in San José del Cabo. We were not going to be tourists but rather full time residents. San José was quieter and felt more authentically Mexican. It had charm and a sense of community that we hadn’t seen in Cabo San Lucas.
We found a realtor and asked her to find us a place in San José. We didn’t have a huge budget but we had a decent list of things that were important to us. We wanted a great view. We needed at least two bedrooms and two bathrooms. We have a dog so we didn’t think we wanted an elevator, but we were open to a condo. We wanted character and we didn’t want to be in a box. Importantly, we also didn’t want a fixer upper. And did I say, we wanted to be in San José?
Well, we looked and we looked in San José and nothing felt right. On a whim, our realtor took us to a small, 22-unit condo complex just outside of Cabo San Lucas, in an area called Rancho Paraiso in El Tezal. I wasn’t enthused as we headed there, but I think the realtor knew that we were not going to find what we were looking for in San Jose. And she was so right.
We walked into the complex to a home that had never been lived in before. We could truly make it our own. And we saw the most amazing views of the Sea of Cortez, the Pacific and the city of Cabo San Lucas. We fell in love and bought the home.
We have been living in our new home for almost seven months. I can’t say I am an expert on the differences between San José and Cabo, but I can tell you that the people who live in one or the other will definitely tell you they like their town better. You hear things like “it’s too hot in San José. Did you know that it’s always warmer there?” or “I could never live in Cabo. It is too crazy for me.”
We have found a community that suits us well, and I think that is what happens when you settle into a new home that you love — in a place that is your “happy place.” You seek to find the good, to meet new people and to settle into a lifestyle that works for you. I thank our realtor all the time for listening to us and at the same time not listening to us. She read between the lines of what we said and saw our reactions to different homes in very different towns. She found us the kind of place we truly wanted but had to venture outside of the area that we thought we wanted to be in. That is a good realtor in my opinion.
So if you visit Los Cabos, be sure to check out both San José del Cabo and Cabo San Lucas. If you decide to move here, think about what is important to you in your new life, but at the same time be open-minded. And find a good realtor who can help you see what your options are and perhaps even expose you to something you would not have known was right for you.