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Moving to Mazatlán for the Second Time

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Mazatlan Golden Zone
Credits: skylarkstudio | Adobe Stock images
Maureen Geraghty in Mazatlán, Mexico
Credit: Janet Blaser

Maureen Geraghty sits on the beach in front of her condo, relaxing at the end of another day in proverbial paradise. Watching the sunset has become a nightly ritual now that moving to Mazatlán for the second time is behind her.

Maureen (who goes by Mo) had originally moved to Mazatlán, a bustling city of over a half million people on Mexico’s Pacific coast, in 2004 with her then-boyfriend. It was supposed to be “happily ever after,” but after four years the relationship ended. By then, they had bought two houses together—both paid for—so each kept one as their residence.

Yoga class in Mazatlán, Mexico
Credit: Janet Blaser

A career fitness instructor and yoga teacher, Mo, who is 62, had 250 regular students all over Mazatlán, plus crowds of cruise ship passengers attending her cooking classes. Financially, she was doing fine. But as her fiftieth birthday approached, she decided to go back to the U.S. to build up her retirement savings. She sold her Mazatlán house for a tidy profit, and in 2010 moved back to Loveland, Colorado.

“When I left, I had no intention of ever coming back to Mexico,” Mo recalled. “My plan was to go up there and just live my life, in the same town, with my sister, my yoga students and my family and friends.”

The timing could not have been more perfect. On the heels of the stock market crash, with cash in hand from the sale of her Mazatlán home, Mo got a great deal on a foreclosed house in a good neighborhood. The property cost US$78,000, so she spent about $15,000 on improvements, kept it as a rental for a few years, and then sold it for $232,000.

“It was the luckiest thing I’ve ever done,” she said.

Using her connections in the community, she had quickly found a job in her field as an account manager for online wellness platforms with a corporate wellness company. After three years she changed jobs and went to work for the City of Loveland as Fitness & Wellness Recreation Coordinator.

“A lot of people think they won’t get a job, that no one’s going to hire them at that age,” she said. “But look at me!”

She purchased a second house on a short sale, which she also successfully flipped.Then she bought what she thought was her “forever home,” a charming three-bedroom, two-bath cottage with a big fenced yard and a freestanding garage (for those Colorado winters) within walking distance of her job and downtown Loveland.

Mo’s life seemed to be in order; she had met all her goals, had a loving community of students, friends and family and felt financially on track. It had been almost 12 years since she had left Mexico and moving back was not part of her plan. Then came the pandemic, and suddenly everything changed.

“The rec centers closed, the company was losing money, and they offered early retirement, with 10 weeks of pay,” recalled Mo, who had just turned 61. “That was the real impetus—it allowed me to early-retire for a year while I waited for Social Security to start.”

It was the winter of 2020. Colorado was cold and snowy and Covid was surging everywhere. Stuck at home, with no in-person work, Mo considered going to warm, sunny Mazatlán for a few months after a friend offered her the use of her beachfront condo, sitting empty. She struggled with the decision to travel, but ultimately decided to chance it.

“So, I came and fell in love again,” she laughed.

church
Credits: dbvirago | Adobe Stock images

Mo was in Mazatlán from January to April 2021, and one day, close to the end of her trip, a friend took her to look at a condo for sale near where she was staying. In the back of her mind she had started thinking about moving back to Mazatlán, maybe as a part-time snowbird. She loved the condo—especially the spacious remodeled kitchen with its turquoise cabinets—and thought if it was still available when she came back for another visit in the fall, she would consider buying it.

Back in Colorado, she talked to her realtor, who said now was the time to sell if that is what she wanted to do. Two days later she heard an offer had been made on the Mazatlán condo, and she knew she had to make a decision. Her counter-offer was accepted and she put her Colorado home on the market.

Were her family and friends surprised at her decision to move back to Mexico?

“Some of them were, but most knew Mazatlán was a place that has always pulled at my heart,” she said.

Now began the process of packing to move—and sorting through 12 years of accumulated stuff. Mo had multiple yard sales, made lots of trips to Goodwill and gave things away to friends. As expected, her Colorado home sold quickly, but she had included a clause that gave her 90 days to vacate.

“There were a couple of times, in the midst of selling everything I owned and getting rid of so many precious things …” she paused. “The only thing that kept me from thinking I’d made a terrible mistake was knowing I had so many dear friends in Mazatlán.”

Mo made a careful plan to try and cover all the bases and give her the time she needed to both complete everything in the U.S. and be back in Mazatlán in time for the closing. She decided to continue working for the same company as an independent contractor and does five Zoom classes a week. Additional income comes from an annual yoga retreat she holds in Sayulita, nearly six hours south of Mazatlán.

There was a mountain of things to do in preparation for living full-time in Mexico. Application for a resident visa begins in your home country, and because of the pandemic, appointments were backed up for months. She planned to drive, and the car import and insurance requirements were detailed and confusing. Her rusty Spanish made understanding the condo purchase documents and online information difficult.

Coastal Mazatlan, Mexico
Credit: photomatz | Shutterstock

Somehow everything fell into place, and on a sunny Sunday in August, Mo and her sister pulled up in front of her new condo after a five-day drive from Colorado. The complex is only three stories, set in front of the ocean with a big greenspace area between the two buildings. There is an Olympic-size pool and tennis courts, and while she cannot see the ocean from her balcony, she can hear the waves and walk easily to a private beachfront patio for residents.

Almost a year later, Mo has no regrets about moving back to Mazatlán. She said her biggest challenge has been trying to balance her life with so many friends coming to visit from the U.S.

“I’m so happy to be back!” she said. “It’s beautiful all year, and I love the warm weather. I’m glad to have learned the ins and outs of finding things and getting settled, and I’m still excited that there’s so much to experience that I haven’t had a chance to yet.”

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