What better way to find out the truth about the Puerto Vallarta lifestyle than straight from the mouth of someone who has been an expat in Puerto Vallarta for more than 30 years. Brock Squire, founder of the Coldwell Banker La Costa franchise in Puerto Vallarta shares his impressions about life on Banderas Bay.
By Brock Squire, founder of the Coldwell Banker La Costa Franchise in Puerto Vallarta.
One of the first stories that people tell you when you arrive to Puerto Vallarta is about the romance between Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. The couple met on the set of the movie Cleopatra in 1961 and started a romance while both were already married. In 1964, Burton came to Puerto Vallarta to film the movie “The Night of the Iguana," joined by Taylor, which is when they both fell in love with what was then still a small fishing town. The couple bought two separate houses in Gringo Gulch that were united by a bridge. The local people say that when the couple fought, they tore down the bridge and when they made up, it was rebuilt again. It’s said that this happened 7 times! This is just one of the thousands of romantic stories that circulate in this pacific city.
Fast forward to 2003, Condé Nast names Puerto Vallarta as "The Friendliest City in the World" and then in 2010, AARP (American Association of Retired Persons) names Puerto Vallarta as "The Best Place to Retire in the World," while in the same year, USNews.com adds to the international acclaim, naming Puerto Vallarta the "Best Vacation Destination in Mexico,"and the list goes on. Something is definitely happening here!
When I first arrived in 1972 and then again in 1983, Puerto Vallarta was not what it is today, although in a lot of ways it has stayed the same, while in others it has gotten better. Certainly the thing that struck my wife, Bonnie and I the most was the open friendliness of the people. Being from the West Coast of Canada (Vancouver) we used to frequent Hawaii a lot before we discovered PV. Maybe it was the contrast from being called and treated as a ‘Haole’ versus an ‘Amigo’ – whatever it was it was, the difference was palpable. I had occasion to be in Hawaii on business a couple of years ago and I got that same ‘this is our island and you’re not welcome here attitude’. Never in all the years of living here in Puerto Vallarta can I say that I have ever had that feeling; on the contrary, the popular phrase amongst Mexicans: “mi casa es tu casa” (my home is your home) speaks volumes.
Beyond the friendliness of the people here, it’s pretty tough to beat the climate. Puerto Vallarta’s climate is semitropical and humid with an average annual temperature of 27 °C. Some people don’t like the summers but the mornings are often cool and breezy and as the day wears on it gets progressively more humid – until those huge black clouds burst and you think the world is going to end, but then you get treated to an amazing light show and formidable torrential rain for about 30 to 40 minutes. When it’s all over — about enough time to have sipped a tequila —, the air is incredibly fresh (ozone fresh) and there are stars in the sky within an hour or so.
Undoubtedly, the main attraction is Puerto Vallarta's beaches where you can see unparalleled sunsets, enjoy every water sport known to man -– diving, snorkeling, kayaking, parasailing, sailing, paragliding, SUP, waterskiing and deep sea fishing — or, just quietly, walk on their golden sands.
In season (November through April) you can see humpback whales and dolphins (year round) swimming in Banderas Bay as well as hatched baby turtles making their way to the sea. South of Puerto Vallarta is the Los Arcos National Marine Park, a small group of islands with stunning reefs that are home to numerous species of birds and beautiful marine life. This is the official sanctuary for breeding pelicans and other species. The Pacific blue waters of Banderas Bay and its beautiful beaches: truly the treasures of Puerto Vallarta.
With so many great reasons to visit Puerto Vallarta, it’s hard to think of a reason to not start planning your next vacation – or better yet, your next home. Puerto Vallarta is a hugely popular destination for Americans, Canadians and other foreigners to relocate and call home. A wonderful climate, spectacular natural surroundings, a safe environment, access to excellent medical care and exciting business possibilities all are important factors that draw expats to Puerto Vallarta.
One of the most common questions asked by those considering making the move to Puerto Vallarta, is what the true cost of living in Mexico is. This, of course, is a complicated question to answer and greatly depends on the standard of living and level of comfort that are required by individuals. That said, let’s say that a single person willing to live on a cautious budget can make their home in Puerto Vallarta for as little as $1,000 USD per month by using cost-cutting measures such as taking advantage of city transit, avoiding using air-conditioners in their home and eating a traditional Mexican diet including fresh, locally grown products. You won’t be living on the beachfront in Conchas Chinas but one can find modest accommodation in good areas that would allow you to fit into this budget.
For those looking for a higher level of comfort, the sky’s the limit in Puerto Vallarta. However, Luxury homes and condominiums can be had in the Banderas Bay region for a fraction of the cost compared to most other world-class resort destinations. Gourmet restaurants are plentiful in Puerto Vallarta and diners can enjoy spectacular meals for much less than they are accustomed to paying in other cities. And services such as gardening, housekeeping and laundry are offered at very reasonable prices.
Ask any expat living in Puerto Vallarta and they will all confirm the level of safety and security in the city. Many people who have moved here from American or Canadian cities report that they actually feel safer in Puerto Vallarta than in many cities in their own country.
Medical and dental care in Puerto Vallarta is of a very high quality with extremely reasonable prices compared to what Americans, in particular, are accustomed to paying for health care. There are a variety of private hospitals, medical practices and dental offices in Puerto Vallarta that offer state-of- the-art technology, medical professionals trained to the highest standard and services offered in English.
Enjoying a vacation in a tropical location is very different than actually moving and making a holiday destination like Puerto Vallarta your new home. However, for the expat community in Puerto Vallarta, the lifestyle advantages of living in Mexico makes moving away from home worthwhile.
Puerto Vallarta is blessed with a beautiful climate year-round and beach activities, outdoor sports, strolls along the Malecon boardwalk and dining al fresco are all popular ways to spend the day and evening for those living in Puerto Vallarta and Banderas Bay. Scuba diving, sport fishing, golfing and tennis are all popular recreational activities within the expat community in Puerto Vallarta.
Making social connections in new city is always important and Puerto Vallarta has a large selection of social groups that operate in town. Two groups worthy of a mention here are: Expats of Puerto Vallarta, a group that caters primarily to those who have retirement homes in Puerto Vallarta, and the Young Professionals Organization of Puerto Vallarta, or YPO, a group that brings together foreign and national professionals within the Banderas Bay area for social and professional networking. Not only are there professional organizations and associations, there are literally dozens of philanthropic organizations – too many to list here - that are heavily patronized by the expat community that are always looking for new participants.
The business climate is friendly for foreigners living in Puerto Vallarta, and having secured a Temporary or Permanent residency visa, expats are free to work in Mexico. Many expats work in real estate, the hospitality or tour industry, sales or as entrepreneurs. And foreigners can also work in the same industry as they did in their home country, i.e. health care, graphic or web design.
For most expats living in Puerto Vallarta, the warmth of the city and its people are reason enough to live here. But when the cost of living, available services, excellent healthcare and business opportunities are factored in, Puerto Vallarta can certainly be considered one of the best places in the world for expats to call home. In fact, the most difficult problem facing most expats in Puerto Vallarta, is scheduling all their visitors from home who want to experience the Puerto Vallarta lifestyle for themselves.