Puerto Vallarta deserves top marks as a place to live or retire and could serve as a benchmark for any other retirement destination in Latin America. The reason boils down to it’s maturity as an established international destination for tourism and foreign residents.
With maturity comes high quality amenities, established infrastructure, and a dynamic expat community complete with a wide range of art and cultural activities.
Here’s why Puerto Vallarta will rank high on our list of international places to live or retire:
- Proximity – PV offers an international airport that is easily reached from Canada and the U.S., affordable air fare, close and cheap enough for friends and family to visit. While I had a hard time dragging friends and family for visits to Panama, getting them to PV would be far easier.
- Amenities - marinas (rent a boat slip for $100/month), golf courses (not one but several), shopping, nightlife, great variety of restaurants (many with beachfront locations ideal for a sunset serenade)
- Climate - gorgeous, dry and sunny almost year round, too hot from July – September but not dreadful
- Beauty – surrounded by lush mountains, clean beaches particularly in Nuevo Vallarta, Mismaloya and Punta de Mita, less pollution than most large cities
- English speaking - I speak Spanish but many people don’t – it’s easy to get by here on little or no Spanish
- Health – modern hospitals, highly trained doctors, variety of alternative healers available
- Expat Community – strong and growing, diverse
- Activities – fishing, surfing, mountain biking with infrastructure and equipment available to be outdoors
The streets are safe, the infrastructure is modern, and the natural setting and climate are hard to beat. The Puerto Vallarta lifestyle should remain attractive as long as the narco traffickers do not bring their war this far south.
It’s The Little Things That Make Maturity Attractive
Maturity comes with many benefits, but for me, it’s the little things that make Vallarta’s maturity attractive:
- the breakfast joints know how to make bacon, eggs, hashbrowns and pancakes, and they serve real coffee (ask for coffee on a beach in Ecuador and they’ll serve you Nescafe with a glass of hot water). I am all for trying local food, but after years of living abroad, you’ll find the little things you miss from home are nice to have once in awhile.
- there are things to do – 4×4 ATV rentals, zip lining, sailing excursions, surf board rentals, yoga classes, book stores, mountain bike trails, parties, gatherings, art shows, street performers, galleries, exhibits, etc. In many “emerging” retirement communities, your activities are limited to horseback riding, and, er, horseback riding… bring your own saddle.
While many other places in the world offer comparable beaches, few can challenge Vallarta in the area of nightlife, dining choices, entertainment, health and sporting facilities. Golf, tennis, marina, fishing, sailing, you name it, it’s here.
Puerto Vallarta Real Estate and Cost of Living
Although the cost of living in Vallarta is not as cheap as it used to be, it is not expensive in relation to other tropical coastal destinations. And after you spend some time here, you can learn to live more economically than in the U.S. If you don’t like the touristy areas, you can find alternatives, there is something here for everyone.
- souvenir vendors – In the heart of Vallarta, the souvenir vendors can be pesky, not because one vendor will not give up after he hears “no”, but because there is a new vendor 10 seconds behind him and another behind him…
- illness – not that other places in the world are immune, but my stomach can take a few upside down turns when it first arrives in Vallarta and I often found myself fighting off sinus and throat infections.
- wine – is expensive here for some reason – unless you drink Mexican wine which I don’t recommend.