Here’s Everything You Need to Know
Living in San José del Cabo is a dream for many people and a very achievable one. The same charms that draw an estimated three million people each year to Los Cabos–year-round sunshine, beautiful beaches, spectacular ocean views–are also compelling reasons to move to this picturesque paradise on the southernmost rim of the Baja California peninsula.
Cabo San Lucas and San José del Cabo are the twin jewels of the Los Cabos municipality and each has its own enticements. San José del Cabo is the seat of local government and a regional mecca for culture and cuisine. It’s a quieter, more family-oriented community than Cabo San Lucas (the latter being better known for its boisterous nightlife) and thus a natural choice for those seeking to make a full-time move.
In this, our first-ever Q&A, we answer the most commonly asked questions about living in San José del Cabo, and what the necessary steps are to make the dream a reality. We’ll also dispel some common myths and misconceptions.
Can I Buy a House in Los Cabos?
The answer is yes, of course. The laws are slightly different in México, particularly when it comes to what is known as the “restricted zone”, the areas within 30 miles or so of the coast. U.S. and Canadian may legally buy properties in this zone but must do so within the Mexican fideicomiso system. Essentially it’s a bank trust, but equivalent in status to simple fee ownership. You may modify, sell or will the property to heirs; in other words, exercise the same rights you’d have as a homeowner in the U.S.
The top Los Cabos real estate companies and constructers like El Encanto de la Laguna are experts in navigating the ins and outs of the Mexican system and can walk you through the process one step at a time.
What Kind of Homes Are Available?
It’s also important to note that the Los Cabos municipality has over 100 miles of coastline, so there is a wealth of ocean view settings and microclimates. What that means is that if you love surfing, for example, there are specific areas that are better than others in this regard.
If you have children, you may also prioritize neighborhoods that are close to bilingual schools. Your Los Cabos real estate agent can walk you through the various neighborhoods and communities like El Encanto de la Laguna, and show you properties that meet with your budget parameters and specific lifestyle requirements.
When is the Best Time to Buy Real Estate in Los Cabos?
The good news for potential buyers is that stunning coastal properties are still available at much less than similarly vantage properties in the U.S. and Canada. As long as that trend continues, there is no bad time to buy.
Cabo prices will inevitably rise, however, so the sooner you are able to buy your dream home, the more it stands to return as a long-term investment.
Can I Work in Los Cabos?
Questions about moving to San José del Cabo for work, or moving to Cabo San Lucas for work, are among the most common we receive, since not everyone with dreams of living in Los Cabos, México is retired.
The short answer is yes. You can work, invest or even start your own business in México. But you should understand there is a process that you follow in terms of visa status. Tourists, for example, receive a temporary visa called an FMM that’s good for 180 days. For those who wish to stay in the country for six months to four years, there is a separate Temporary Resident Visa with optional work classifications.
Beyond four years you can become a Permanent Resident, and if you wish, apply for dual citizenship. There are many companies in Mexico that will walk you through the visa process for a small fee, and if you already have a job lined up before you move, the company employing you may sponsor and pay for the visa process on your behalf.
Can I Bring a Pet to Cabo?
If the pet in question is a dog or a cat, the answer is almost certainly yes, although it is important to have the correct paperwork done before the pets enter México.
Americans will need the standard international health certificate, APHIS Form 7001 (APHIS is an animal and plant health inspection agency under the direction of the USDA), or a certificate from a USDA accredited veterinarian on their own letterhead done for each animal. Both options are accepted by Mexican customs authorities as long as the information given–that the pets are healthy, dewormed, and had vaccines against rabies and distemper at least 15 days before entering México–is accurate. It’s also important, if the pet is flying, to check with airlines regarding the proper transportation requirements.
Is it Safe to Live in Cabo?
Of the estimated one million U.S. citizens currently living in México, the overwhelming majority make their home on the Baja California peninsula. The reasons for this are many, but safety is definitely one of them. Los Cabos, in particular, is very safe; and indeed, the local government has been very active on this front in order to assuage the potential fears of tourists.
Safety concerns in México are completely understandable, but it’s important to realize that crime has traditionally been focused in border areas, where people are trying to smuggle things into the U.S. The location of Los Cabos, México–1000 miles by car from the border–works in its favor in this respect.
If you’re living in San José del Cabo and have any concerns about safety or business practices, there are many Cabo ex-pat forums where U.S. and Canadian citizens pool knowledge and share their experiences.
But trust us: It’s safe. We wouldn’t be here otherwise.
It’s also spectacular.