I’m often asked why I love Puerto Vallarta. Why would I risk leaving everything behind, including family, friends, career, and everything else that provides comfort and familiarity, only to move to another country without any guarantees or financial security in place? How am I going to find work when I’m not fluent in Spanish? How am I going to make ends meet?
How? How? How?
Why? Why? Why?
If I were to constantly stress over all the how’s and why’s, I’d probably get so frustrated at not having all the answers at my fingertips, that I would probably would have done nothing. But that’s not me. Instead of worrying about answering everyone else’s questions, I focused on what was important for me, what I needed to do to get myself to a happier place. I was confident the how’s and why’s would reveal themselves once I made the decision to go for it – and that’s what I did. From my first visit in 2001, I fell in love with Puerto Vallarta. It was instant, effortless and natural.
What was it about the little colonial resort town that connected with me? Here some reasons why I love Puerto Vallarta and why I moved there:
1. Mother Nature
Puerto Vallarta is all connecting with nature. The Sierra Madre Mountains offers the outdoor enthusiast a number of activities, from hiking and ziplining, to ATV tours through the rivers and jungle. With a coastline that stretches over 60 miles, Banderas Bay has a number of beautiful beaches stretching from Punta de Mita (Northern tip of the bay) down to Cabo Corrientes (Southern tip). Some you can drive to, whereas others, such as Yelapa and Quimixto, may require a boat ride. Whale watching tours between December and April offer a spectacular experience watching the humpback whales breach with their newborn calves. Seeing a pod of dolphins year-round is breathtaking, as well as experiencing the magic of hundreds of baby sea turtles hatching on the beach. I’ve snorkeled at Los Arcos with a variety of vibrant and colorful school of fish, swam to the hidden beach at the Marietas Islands, and kayaked on the calm waters off of Caballo Beach. Additional outdoor activities throughout Puerto Vallarta and Banderas Bay include surfing, wind sailing, fishing, deep sea diving, swimming in the ocean, or just catching some rays on the beach.
2. The Weather/Climate
Vallarta is located on the 105 degree east Prime Meridian, the same latitude as Hawaii. Its unique coordinates allow for warm tropical weather year-round. Daytime temperatures during the Winter/Spring dry season can be as low as the mid-70s to mid-80s Fahrenheit. The humidity tends to intensify heading into summer/rainy season, where temperatures can be in the 90s. Add in the humidity factor, some days feel well over 100F. The tropical downpours and lightning storms during the summer months are spectacular. Sometimes the rain is so dense, you can’t see two feet in front of you.
3. The People
Puerto Vallarta is often referred to as “one of the friendliest cities in the world”. The local people are warm and inviting. People throughout the city, both Mexican nationals and foreign residents, are genuinely hospitable. They love living here and the lifestyle it provides. When I was a tourist, going back and forth from Southern California every few months, I made it a point to speak with expats and nationals about what it’s like living in Puerto Vallarta. Every single person I approached took their time to speak with me about their experience and their transition to Puerto Vallarta. It’s not uncommon for another customer at a local retail store to strike up a conversation with you. Try getting away with something like that in the States.
Not only is Puerto Vallarta known for its beaches, it also has some of the best gastronomy in all of Mexico. From traditional Mexican dishes to modern culinary cuisine with exotic flavors, the city has it all for the discerning mouthwatering palate. There are no shortage of family-owned taco/street stands and restaurants throughout town, some passed on by multiple generations, serving authentic Mexican dishes at reasonable prices. If you are a big foodie looking for an exceptional and unique gourmet experience, Banderas Bay is full of world-class restaurants, ranging from French, Mediterranean, Italian, Asian, to an endless variety of international cuisines.
5. Walkability & Proximity
For the first two years living in Puerto Vallarta, I didn’t have a car – I simply didn’t need one. Virtually everything was within walking distance, from cafés and restaurants, to the local produce market, neighborhood grocery store, retail stores, beach, boardwalk, to the nightlife, and more. Heading over to the big box supermarket or mall was a 10–20 minute bus ride. As the city continues to experience growth, more entrepreneurs are opening up businesses in a number of neighborhoods, adding more value and convenience to vacationers and residents alike.
6. Relaxed Atmosphere
There’s something in the air in Puerto Vallarta that decompresses the body and spirit. Coming from Los Angeles, it seemed that everyone was on the edge for one reason or another, whether it was the high cost of living, gridlock traffic at all times, or the long commute back and forth from work. In Puerto Vallarta, the pace is a lot more laid back. So much so that it took me some time to adjust. When I first moved here, I was used to the fast pace of LA, and was expecting my life to be moving at the same speed. It took me some time to finally realize my new surroundings were moving at a different rate. When I was finally able to slow down and smell the roses, I realized all the things I was missing from my day-to-day life due to the unsurmountable pressure of living in a large metropolitan city like Los Angeles. Relocating to Puerto Vallarta allowed me to bypass all the traffic, long commute, high cost of living expenses. Living in Puerto Vallarta, I’m better able to make the most of my time, see the ocean and Sierra Mountains every day, take in the fresh air, and see a lot more smiling faces.
Though the affordability factor in Mexico isn’t why I fell in love with Puerto Vallarta, it just so happens that a number of things do cost less here compared to the United States and Canada, such as food, insurance, public transportation, entertainment, property tax, affordable ocean view and beachfront homes (there are expensive luxury homes as well), healthcare, medicine, high-speed internet, to name a few.
I’m definitely enjoying a better quality of life living in Mexico–from the warm climate, to the friendly people, rich culture, natural beauty and so much more. Not only am I grateful for being in Mexico, as it has afforded me many opportunities and incredible experiences, it’s also offered me to have a place where my family and friends can come over for visits and a place they can call home as well.