Sunshine is everything to Cindy Dahl. She has followed the sun from California to Nevada to California, but for the last four years, she has been worshiping the sun in Cabo San Lucas.
“I always say that I moved to Cabo for three reasons: the weather, the weather and the weather,” Dahl told us. “We’re blessed with 350 days of sunshine down here and it just doesn’t get any better than that!”
Raised on a farm near Lake Tahoe in Northern California, Dahl, 47, moved to equally sunny Reno, Nevada after high school graduation in 1989. She attended a local community college there for a while before marrying and having three children. Before the kids were old enough for school, though, she moved again, this time to Denver, Colorado, a city well-known for abundant sunshine year-round.
“I was able to get my associate’s degree from the University of Phoenix in Denver,” Dahl said, “which helped me get a sales job with AT&T. I worked for them for five or six years before leaving in 2001 to start a company with several others from AT&T. We were one of the first companies in the market to sell ringtones for cell phones. Our goal was to sell the company within five years and we did, to a company in Montreal, Canada.”
With a little cash in her pocket, Dahl began exploring other life options. She had visited Los Cabos about a dozen times over the years and loved its year-round warmth and perpetual sunshine.
“Every time we went down there we loved it,” she said. “We found the climate to be phenomenal, we felt safe, we loved the people and the fishing was outstanding. Many of our trips were organized around fishing tournaments, which my husband loved.”
With more frequent trips to Cabo, Dahl started thinking about living there full-time.
“Because we were spending more and more time in Cabo, I started exploring employment opportunities there,” she said. “Real estate seemed to be the best opportunity, so I got my real estate license in Colorado, although in Mexico a real estate license is not required. I got it because I wanted to feel comfortable that I was knowledgeable about real estate. I think a lot of people who get their real estate license have decided that if you are going to be working in high-end real estate, you really need to know what you are talking about.”
She landed a job with Engel & Völkers Snell Real Estate after she and her husband Gary made their move to the southern tip of Baja California in 2014. They purchased a two-bedroom, two-bathroom condo in Pedregal, an upscale, hillside area with sweeping views of the Cabo San Lucas Marina and the Pacific Ocean.
“We bought our 2,100 sq. ft. place right after Hurricane Odile passed through Cabo in 2014,” she said, “and were able to purchase it for just US$150,000 in the Andalaya Condominiums section of Pedregal. Most of our neighbors are American and Canadian expats.”
Dahl said their Home Owners Association (HOA) fees are based on square footage and run about US$460 a month, which covers both Andalaya and Pedregal fees.
“We were going to buy the condo as a place to spend six months each year,” she said, “but it was so nice living there we ended up initially spending eight months each year and now we are up to 10 months. We spend two months each summer in Colorado when the temperature soars in Cabo.”
Now that the couple has sold their house in Colorado, they have settled into the expat lifestyle in Mexico, which includes getting serious about learning Spanish to help them integrate better into their local community.
“Knowing Spanish not only helps you in your work and getting around more easily, it also is respectful for living here,” she said. “I took some lessons with some other girlfriends of mine for three months, but as soon as I stopped, I lost it. I’m going to start again with a friend of mine but it is tougher the older you get. I’ll keep trying though.”
Fishing is a favorite pastime for the couple, especially when friends and family visit, but golfing is a passion they both share.
“Gary is a marshal at Quivara Golf Club in Cabo, so I am able to golf there for free with him, which is fabulous,” Dahl said. “There are so many great golf courses in the Los Cabos area and the weather is always perfect. I also do a lot of walking with my friends, especially around the marina. We usually walk three days a week, and that’s a lot of fun.”
As a major international tourist resort, Cabo San Lucas has a wide variety of dining options, but Dahl and her husband do not eat out often, preferring to stay at home and dine on the fish they catch, as well as other local favorites.
“We like the taquerias in town where you can get a fantastic taco for about 25 pesos or less,” she said. “That’s about US$1.25. It’s actually amazing how inexpensive the cost of living is down here. The only thing that I think is comparable to the U.S. is gas prices.”
Dahl goes to the local farmer’s market for her fresh fruits, vegetables and some meat. She was worried about her diet after moving to Cabo, but one visit to the market convinced her that her worries were unfounded. She also shops at the local Costco store, La Comer and other large chains.
“It’s been wonderful to shop here,” she said. “I get great prices, great fresh vegetables and wonderful meats.”
Unfortunately, Dahl and her husband were introduced to local healthcare when their barbeque exploded and her husband received second degree burns on his leg. They rushed him to a local emergency room for treatment.
“We had international health insurance we had gotten in the U.S.,” she said, “but it was cheaper for us to go a local ER to get treated and pay the cost out-of-pocket. It was a very bad burn but it cost us just US$320 for treatment. The medical care pricing here is unbelievably good for doctors, dentists and hospitals, but you do need to shop around. Our international health insurance policy is very limited, so we don’t even worry about it.”
She also told us that she is concerned about perceptions of safety in Los Cabos and many other expat locales in Mexico.
“I don’t feel like the U.S. media does justice to our situation in Cabo,” she said. “The Baja is our own world and you can’t lump it in with the more violent areas of Mexico, like the border and some of the cartel-controlled regions of the country. I have never felt safer anywhere, not even Colorado. I wish more people would realize how safe it is here.”
Although she has many reasons for loving living in Cabo San Lucas, Dahl is still at heart a sun worshiper.
“I love the 350 days of sunshine we get here best,” she said, “but I also love hanging out at the beaches that aren’t so touristy, fishing and golfing. I have to say that I’ve become a real golfer now!”