I have not lived there, but visited briefly in the fall. It's a beautiful area, and the people were great, but I found the beach-town vibe a little much. Given the bad economy, everyone seems to be hustling tourists all the time. Couldn't walk two blocks without being asked to sign up for a time-share tour, for instance.
I'd be interested in hearing what it's like for fulltime living.
I lived there for three months in the summer of 2009. I fled to Michoacan in October to avoid the massive cruise ships and their passengers, I lived on Isla de la Piedra. I liked the locals and summer was great.
Our family of three lives here full-time. With a son in middle school and two working parents, we pay little attention to the tourist activities. If you are asking for a place to visit, yes you will be approached in the tourist zone. If you are looking for a place to live, you can live amongst the tourists or far from them.
The city is not what it was five, ten, fifteen or twenty years ago. The violence is real and you have to be mindful of your surroundings. You are not a target, but the people around you might be. The economy is bad so people are desperate and desperate people do desperate things.
Learn some Spanish, respect the culture, learn patience and you'll do fine.
The vast majority of expats, who live permanently in Mexico, tend to avoid living in tourist resort destinations. Instead, they choose interior locations with much better climates and freedom from the 'time share hype' and 'vendedores ambulantes'. You'll find these expats living around Lake Chapala, San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, Querétero, Cuernavaca, Patzcuaro, etc. When they want a 'beach fix', it is only a day trip away by car and they soon learn to find the out of the way beach rentals without the intrusive flock of tourists.