What is the name of the city or town that you are reporting on?
Name three things that you wish you had brought and three you wish you had left at home.
I wish I had brought more electronics, books, and computer software. All are easily double or triple the price in the US. This includes computers and pc accessories, cell phones, stereos, tv's, books, and magazines, etc.
I also wish I would have brought a dehumidifier- they are impossible to find here but absolutely essential.
Quality cosmetics, beauty products, and health products are not available here and what is, is limited or made with locals in mind- for example, products for dark hair and skin tones or health shakes made from a local cactus.
Linens here are often not as soft and comfortable as we are used to in the states and Egyptian cotton is impossible to come by.
Comfortable furniture- beds, sofas, and chairs are usually hard as rocks here with rough fabrics.
What I could have left are most of my designer clothing and high heels- cobblestone streets ruin shoes and humidity eats fine fabrics. It's not uncommon to go to your closet and pull out a shirt with mildew on it after even a week.
If you're not too attached, there's no need to bring decor items- the art scene here is great and plenty of international decor shopping and boutiques.
What advice would you give someone preparing to move to your area about the actual move, choosing a neighborhood and finding a home?
There are a few neighborhood guides online, including on insidepv.com, with pictures and video of the areas. It's relatively easy to choose where you want to be, because Puerto Vallarta is divided into 5 distinct areas- Marina, Hotel Zone, Centro, Old Town, Mismaloya.
The marina is pricey, surrounded by a golf course and yacht slips, fine dining and art galleries. The hotel zone is a strip of resorts and modern shopping centers. These two areas resemble southern California or Florida. Centro is downtown Puerto Vallarta where the famous malecon boardwalk is located- loud, popular with tourists, fast paced Old Town Puerto Vallarta is slower paced, trendy, more traditional with cobblestone streets, residences, bars/clubs- this is also the popular gay area and has become quite stylish. Mismaloya is farthest south with different areas along the way, marked by "the crescent beaches." This area is lush in tropical jungle and lined with villas and luxury condominiums overlooking private beaches and the ocean.
What type of housing do you live in? Is this typical for most expats in your area?
I live in an apartment/condo. This is typical housing when living in town. Condos were built around the older homes of the locals which are usually very poor, built for convenience rather than for comfort.
If living out of town, or up on the hills surrounding Puerto Vallarta, villas and luxury condos are common and frequent. Some of latin America's most famous architects have designed villas in these areas.
How did you choose your neighborhood and find your home or apartment?
I initially chose to move to the marina area which is quite nice and a bit pricey but far from downtown Puerto Vallarta.
I then moved to the Southern area of Puerto Vallarta, Old Town. This is a very trendy area and the prices are often far higher than other neighborhoods, despite this being the less modern area.
Are your housing costs higher or lower than they were in your home country? What is the average cost of housing there?
Much lower. I moved here from New York where my rent was close to 3,000 USD for a loft. My rent now is around 700 USD for a very nice 1 bedroom.
Inland, apartments start at $100-$300 USD for decent apartments. To be near the beach however, expect to pay no less than $600 for something decent, and around $1000 for something really nice.
Utilities are unpredictable but inexpensive for the most part. I work for InsidePV.com so I have at least 2 computers running all day, and occasionally run the air conditioner. This runs me about $35 USD per month. If I run the air conditioner regularly, the bill can easily jump to double or triple.