Today’s post is prompted by a question I saw on one of our local expat Facebook pages. Comments to the post suggested numbers from 1,000 to 10,000 but nobody really knows for sure. INM (Mexican Immigration Service) might have the most accurate estimate, but they aren’t sharing. And while all expats with temporary or permanent resident visas must check in with INM when they first arrive, I doubt if many bother to check out when they leave for good or pass away! And there are many expats who come down just for the high season on 180-day tourist visas. Some of these “snowbirds” return year after year and even buy homes here but wouldn’t be officially counted as residents.
We’ve lived in La Paz more than 9 years and I’m always surprised when I run across a “new” expat on Facebook who has been here as long (or longer) than I have. How have our paths never crossed? Just today I read replies to the above-mentioned post by two former Portland, Oregon, residents who I’d never heard of before.
One of the interesting characteristics of La Paz is that most of the expats are integrated into the local community. There are a few neighborhoods, including the marinas, where expats tend to bunch up, but for the most part we’re dispersed throughout the city. Personally, I love this about La Paz, because the cross-cultural exchange is good for those born on both sides of the border, but it also means that I might never meet an expat who moves to La Paz and settles into a neighborhood across town. The widespread use of Facebook among La Paz expats helps but it’s still easy to get locked into a small circle of familiar friends unless you really make an effort. It may be a small world, but it’s still easy to get lost in it!