Are you dreaming of retiring on the beach in Mexico? Then, Puerto Vallarta might be just the place!
With conveniences like an international airport, a wide range of dental and medical care services, and a sizeable expat community, Puerto Vallarta is a convenient and compelling place to retire in Mexico.
Not to mention, Puerto Vallarta is a gorgeous city with plenty of old-world charm, modern amenities, beautiful beaches, and endless activities to enjoy. Located on the Banderas Bay and nestled into the foothills of the Sierra Madre mountains along Mexico’s central pacific coast, the scenery in Puerto Vallarta is absolutely stunning. You’ll never get sick of watching the sunset over the pacific ocean!
If you’re considering retiring in Puerto Vallarta, this guide will help you determine whether the city is right for you.
Climate and Weather in Puerto Vallarta
Puerto Vallarta has a tropical climate, which is sunny and warm all year long. There are really only two seasons: wet and dry. The wet season lasts from June through October, and the dry season from November through May.
The wet season happens to be the hottest and most humid time of year, with the average daily high hovering around 90°F. From June through October, humidity is usually around 90%, which can feel oppressive. Many expats living in Puerto Vallarta escape the humidity by scheduling trips back home to visit friends and family during this time of year.
Precipitation during the rainy season is usually consolidated into heavy showers in the afternoon or overnight, so you can still enjoy the beautiful outdoors in Puerto Vallarta all year long. While they are rare, hurricanes can occur during the rainy season. But, since Puerto Vallarta is not directly on a hurricane path, most storms simply bring rain while passing by offshore.
Pro Tip: Summer is also an excellent time to visit Puerto Vallarta on a scouting/relocation trip – if you like the city at its worst, you’ll love it at its best!
How many ex-pats live in Puerto Vallarta?
The overall population in Puerto Vallarta is about 291,000, and the city has a sizeable population of expats and snowbirds that fluctuates throughout the year. It is reported that 40 to 50,000 foreigners live in Puerto Vallarta during the high season, while about 10 to 15,000 of them stay in the city year-round.
With such a significant number of expats, you will have an easy time connecting with other foreigners if you want to. In addition, chatting with others who share your experience– including the triumphs and challenges of adapting to a new culture– can make it easier to adjust to life in a new city and integrate into the local society.
Can I Live Here on Less Than $2000?
The cost of living in Puerto Vallarta can vary dramatically depending on the type of lifestyle you’re seeking. Puerto Vallarta has experienced an influx of expats and foreign investors in recent years, which has driven up real estate prices and the cost of living.
Puerto Vallarta has a higher cost of living than many other beaches in Mexico, but you can still live very well for less than you would back home. Rent can be pretty high in PV, sometimes even comparable to what you might pay in the US, but your other expenses will be much lower.
I’ve broken down the main living expenses below to give you an idea of what it will cost to live in Puerto Vallarta.
Like any touristic beachside city, the cost of rent varies dramatically depending on which neighborhood you live in, and you can expect to pay more to be closer to the beach.
Here’s an idea of what you can expect to pay for a furnished apartment in Puerto Vallarta.
- 2 bedroom apartment in the city center – $1,100 USD or $22,000 MXN (example below
- 2 bedroom apartment outside the city center – $800 USD or $19,000 MXN (example below)
Where do most expats live in Puerto Vallarta?
Expats in Puerto Vallarta don’t generally live in any particular area. Instead, they’re scattered throughout Puerto Vallarta.
However, some of the neighborhoods we recommend are
- The Romantic Zone
- Conchas Chinas
- Marina Vallarta
Because they offer appealing features like ocean views, grocery stores, retail shops, cafes, beach proximity, and beautiful homes, these are also some of the most costly neighborhoods to live in. Versalles is a neighborhood just outside the city center that is popular among both expats and Mexican families for its convenient location and more favorable rent prices.
- Water – $300 MXN or $15 USD
- Gas – $300 MXN or $15 USD
- Electricity – $1000 MXN or $50 (average monthly cost, based on low use during the winter and high use during the summer)
- Internet – $500 MXN or $25
- Cell phone data plan (for one person) – $400 MXN or $20
You may notice that many rentals include all utilities except for electricity. The monthly cost of electricity can fluctuate wildly depending on how much you use your air conditioning.
Heavy electricity consumers will pay higher rates, so it’s best to be conservative and run your A/C unit only when you really need to.
Running your air conditioner steadily during the summer (hot season) could cost you anywhere from $200-$2000 Pesos per month and up, depending on the size of your house and the rate you’re being charged. During the dry winter months, when you don’t need A/C, your electricity bill will probably be around $300 Pesos per month in a 2 bedroom apartment. (about $15 USD)
You can enjoy all kinds of delicious cuisine in Puerto Vallarta, from Mexican to Italian, American, and beyond. There are delicious restaurants at all different price points, too.
- Mid-range restaurant, 3-course dinner for two – $900MXN or $45 USD
- Budget breakfast for two – $120 MXN or $6 USD
- Street tacos for two – $100 MXN or $5 USD
Remember that eating at a restaurant downtown, particularly along the malecón, will inevitably cost you more than eating outside the city center. Touristy restaurants like Señor Frogs or the Hard Rock Cafe will also cost more.
Puerto Vallarta is home to many Mexican supermarkets like Soriana, Chedraui, MEGA, and international chains like Wal-Mart and Costco. You can also shop at local mercados, which are fantastic for stocking up on fresh produce and vegetables from local vendors.
Assuming you shop at a mixture of mercados and supermarkets, you will spend approximately $2000 Pesos or $100 USD per week on groceries for two people. If you purchase a lot of imported ingredients from back home, that amount might be a little higher, and it will be lower if you learn to grocery shop like a local and purchase primarily Mexican ingredients.
Plan to spend around $8000 Pesos or $400 USD per month on groceries for two people.
Transportation in Puerto Vallarta is very affordable. If you live in a central neighborhood, you’ll be able to walk most places easily. Otherwise, you can use taxis, the local bus system, and Uber to get around.
Here’s an idea of what each transportation method will cost:
- Bus fare: Approximately $10 MXN or $0.50 each way
- Taxi: $100- $200 MXN or about $5 to $10 depending on the distance
- Uber: $100-$200 MXN or $5 to $10 depending on the distance
Lifestyle and Culture in Puerto Vallarta
What makes Puerto Vallarta one of best places to live in Mexico is that it offers a wonderful lifestyle for just about anyone. Whether you’re active and outdoorsy, drawn to arts and culture, or simply want to enjoy the slow pace of life at the beach, you can do it all in Puerto Vallarta!
Many expats who retire in Puerto Vallarta enjoy participating in outdoor activities like fishing, golf, swimming, yoga, hiking, and surfing. Between the beaches and the Malecon, you can walk (or jog) for miles along the oceanfront.
The city hosts all kinds of events regularly, from concerts and theatre performances to parades and celebrations for holidays like Mexican Independence Day and Dia de Muertos. Puerto Vallarta is also very LGBT-friendly and hosts an annual pride event each May!
You can also enjoy live music (and dancing) of all different genres almost any night of the week in bars and restaurants throughout the city!
Ultimately, Puerto Vallarta is a fantastic place to retire, and you can live there comfortably on a budget of around $2000/month for two people.
Preparing for your Puerto Vallarta move
If you’re ready to take the next step in planning your move to Puerto Vallarta, consider joining one of our private relocation tours led by a local expert. Tours are fully customizable based on your interests and can last 1 to 3 days. This is the perfect opportunity to try out a city and ask the guide any questions you have about what it’s like to live there full-time. Click here to learn more!
In the meantime, I’ve created all kinds of resources to assist you with your move to Mexico.
- For more information on the Mexico residency process, check out my Complete Residency Guide.
- To learn about the financial solvency requirements at different Mexican consulates throughout North America, click here.
- Click here to access the Mexico Relocation Guide, a step-by-step plan teaching you how to move to Mexico the right way. That also includes a complete directory of trusted contacts throughout the country. These include immigration experts, real estate companies, health insurance companies, pet transport, and more.