Do expats in Mexico miss shopping in the U.S.? On one of our many vacations in Cabo, I remember meeting an American real estate agent who worked here who told us that he and his wife loved living in Cabo, but his wife really missed shopping in the States. I wondered why would that be, but I didn’t really push him to give us any details. At the time we were tourists, not locals, so I wasn’t really worried about whether or not I would miss shopping in the U.S. as an expat.
Fast forward three years and we are now full-time residents in this paradise called Los Cabos. Do I miss the shopping in the U.S.? Well, the answer is not a simple yes or no as it truly depends on whether you are shopping for groceries, clothes, art or something else you might need or want.
Let’s start with grocery shopping. There are many options available, from farmer’s markets that have wonderful fresh fruits and vegetables, homemade salsas, breads and more. There are local mercados, or markets, that sell a mix of mainly Mexican products. There are large Mexican superstore options like La Comer or the new Chedrali Select, which feels almost like a Target Super store. They sell food, as well as housewares, appliances, clothing and more.
There are even local stores that cater to affluent residents of Los Cabos and tourists, like California Ranch Market and Santa Carmela. These smaller stores stock Mexican brands as well as American brands that you can’t find anywhere else. Things like Johnsonville Sausage, Daisy Sour Cream, I Can’t Believe Its Not Butter, the full line of Campbell’s soups and other familiar brand name items.
There also are American-based options like Walmart and Costco. On the surface, you walk in and feel like you are in any Walmart or Costco in the U.S. because the layouts are almost identical to their stores in the States. But then you start looking at the prices in pesos and the mix of merchandise and you think: “Toto, we’re not in Kansas anymore!”
Unless you are shopping for everything you need or want in a gourmet market like the California Market, you can definitely save money on groceries. For example, you can get a dozen eggs for under 50 pesos, which is about US$2.60. The meat at Costco is butcher shop quality and very affordable, and of course, you can buy fish off the boat for great prices. You can cook fresh fish at home or if you want to dine out, you can have a local restaurant prepare your fish.
So, grocery shopping gets a big thumbs up. There is really nothing we miss, lots more new things to try and we feel like we are saving money.
Now, let’s talk about clothes shopping. This is where I understand what that real estate agent’s wife missed. There are just not a lot of options available and unless you are shopping the high-end boutiques that target tourists, or even Puerto Paraiso, our local shopping mall in Cabo, you are not going to find the quality or the options you are used to in the States.
The good news, for me anyway, is that I have saved a lot of money because I can’t find clothing to buy when I go shopping! There are some American stores and brands here, but not many. Stores like Forever 21, Harley Davidson, Hugo Boss, Kenneth Cole, Lacoste, Nautica, Adidas, and Tommy Bahama can all be found at the mall. A small Victoria’s Secret even opened a month or so ago.
But think about all the stores you see at an American mall or just driving down the street in any good-sized city…you won’t find them in Cabo! I have had the best luck finding basics like sweatshirts, fun tank tops and t-shirts at Costco.
What about ordering online? Well that sounds good, but there is an import tax plus shipping, so your bill automatically jumps up 28 percent. I’ve done it a few times, but I have to be feeling pretty desperate to want to pay the Mexican government that much for a pair of shoes.
While shopping for clothes can be a challenge, shopping for art is a blast in Los Cabos. There are tons of galleries, especially in San José del Cabo, and there are also many local artists who display their arts and crafts in the streets. You can spend a fortune or you can find something special for a song. It can be an adventure and one we love doing now that we live in paradise.
So, I do miss some of the shopping in the U.S., especially clothes shopping, but believe me, that is a minor inconvenience and is far outweighed by all that I love about living in Los Cabos.