Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

By Joshua Wood, LPC

Last updated on Sep 24, 2021

Summary: Puerto Vallarta is a very popular destination for expats, retirees and digital nomads. With a population of close to 300,000 (close to 500,000 in the metro area), PV is diverse and LGBTQ-friendly. Life in PV revolves around beaches, nightlife and recreation (golf and fishing are popular here). Temperatures in PV range from highs in the mid 80s most of the year to low 90s from June through September. Real estate tip: rent before you buy so that you can decide which of the many neighborhoods is right for you (Centro, Conchas Chinas, Southside, the Marina, Neuvo... the list goes on).

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What do I need to know about living in Puerto Vallarta?

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When we asked people what advice they would give someone preparing to move to Puerto Vallarta, they said:

"We visited Puerto Vallarta for 15 years before moving here. I would tell my friend to visit at least 6 times, renting in different places each time. The areas of this city/region are quite different, so that person should rent in Centro, Southside, Conchas Chinas, Mismaloya, the Marina, the Hotel Zone, and even in Nuevo and Bucerias before he or she commits to anything long term. Of course, I would also advise my friend to start learning Spanish and start saving money. Most real estate transactions are in cash because interest rates are very high here. There are long term rental opportunities, if one is comfortable living with a certain amount of uncertainty about availability year to year. I would also tell my friend that, after buying our condo, we have never been happier or so free of financial worries. We love living here," explained one expat living in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.

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Need health insurance in Mexico? William Russell's private medical insurance will cover you and your family wherever you may be. Whether you need primary care or complex surgery, you'll have access to the best hospitals & doctors available. Unlike some insurers, we also include medical evacuation and mental health cover in our plans (except SilverLite). Get a quote from our partner, William Russell.

How do I meet people in Puerto Vallarta?

Live in Puerto Vallarta? Answer this Question

When we asked people living in Puerto Vallarta about club and activities where newcomers can meet others, they responded:

"Expats Vallarta is active and easily found on the Internet. They offer monthly get-togethers and other social events. Although mostly geared to people who vacation here every year, there is also a group that meets at Pour Favor every Tuesday evening. We have found, however, that going to the pool in our condo building is the best way to make new friends," remarked another expat who made the move to Puerto Vallarta.

What is life like in Puerto Vallarta?

Live in Puerto Vallarta? Answer this Question

When we asked people living in Puerto Vallarta what life is like and how people spend their time, they said:

"For Mexicans, it is all about family. Many expats here are retired and spend their time golfing, socializing, enjoying the beaches, painting, or writing. Other expats are working in real estate or own businesses like restaurants or art galleries," added another expat in Puerto Vallarta.

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Is there a lot of diversity? Are people in Puerto Vallarta accepting of differences?

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"People here are very accepting of differences. The dominant religion is Catholic. There are a few storefront nondenominational or Protestant options in our area. There are few people of African descent here. This is an international city, however, with expats from the US, Canada, Germany, England, Italy, and other countries in Central and South America. It is a gay friendly area, offering many bars, clubs, and even resorts that cater to same sex weddings and events. People here are warm and welcoming, managing to cross any language barriers with smiles and laughter," said another expat in Puerto Vallarta.

What are the schools in Puerto Vallarta like?

Live in Puerto Vallarta? Answer this Question

"We had a very mixed experience. We wanted our daughter to experience another culture and learn Spanish. In this respect, we were very successful. Our daughter speaks Spanish fluently and with a Mexican accent. And, exposure to a new and different culture has left her a more mature person. Further, Puerto Vallarta is a beautiful place to live. On the down side, this success did not come without a cost. Mexican children are very class oriented, they are good at treating people (and often teachers) as 2nd class citizens. New students are treated as 2nd class. Our daughter reacted to this with righteous indignation. This brought down a tidal wave of pressure and isolation. Other new students seem to be better at figuring our the power hierarchy and moving with it, instead of against it - and they seem to have a somewhat easier time. But this is not an easy school to be "new" at. Finally, the school is behind the USA academically. The school tests their students against MAP scores. MAP scores seem to use the USA public school students as a base. Our daughter scores in the 90th percentile in MAP. However, when we tested her in ISEE (Independent Schools Entrance Exams) comparing her against U.S.A. private school students, she scored in the 40th percentile. So, the school would count as a very good U.S.A. public school, but significantly below average as a U.S.A. private school. However, in fairness, most of the children in the school are not native English speakers, so you must make some allowances when comparing them against NYC private schools," remarked another parent with kids at American School of Puerto Vallarta in Puerto Vallarta.

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Are healthcare and health insurance expensive in Puerto Vallarta?

Live in Puerto Vallarta? Answer this Question

"Ask for receipts as many places don't issue one.....my health insurance would not cover my pedicures even though I went to the hospital for medical pedicures as the person doing it was not the officially accepted PODIATRIST. My massage visits are wonderful and reasonable 500 pesos for 75 minutes! My insurance companies pay those to a limit as long as the receipts show all necessary info... so check with your insurance company what is necessary. Many Mexicans don't or can't write properly, so make sure they spell your name correctly and have all the info correct, even the date as on one of my receipts the girl put 2010 when it was 2017 and my insurance company refused it even though I had submitted many receipts together and it was an obvious error. There are many walk in clinics with doctors, but quality is questionable, so stick to well known ones in your area. Similaries are good and lower cost. I also lived in Mexico for 2 yrs and worked and had the local Seguro Social medical coverage... covers basics. I speak Spanish so it worked out ok, but it was a bit of a drive and a different process... so when I felt stressed I just used the local private clinic and paid 500 pesos to see the doctor," mentioned another expat living in Puerto Vallarta.

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About the Author

Joshua Wood Joshua Wood, LPC joined Expat Exchange in 2000. Joshua has a BA from Syracuse and a Master's in Clinical and Counseling Psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Some of Joshua's more popular articles include Pros and Cons of Living in Portugal, 8 Best Places to Live in Croatia and the Living in Mexico Guide. Connect with Joshua on LinkedIn.

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Join our Mexico forum to meet other people living in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.

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Help other expats and newcomers by answering questions about the challenges and adventures of living in Puerto Vallarta.

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Expats and global nomads in Puerto Vallarta share their experiences with health insurance, healthcare in Mexico, local hospitals and specialists, quality of medical care and more.

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Expats offer advice about everything you need to know before moving to Puerto Vallarta: what to bring (and what to leave behind), how to find housing and more.

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Take off your rose-colored glasses and learn what expats and digital nomads have to say about the pros and cons of living in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.

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Advice about renting and buying real estate in Puerto Vallarta

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An expat in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico talks about healthcare options in PV - public and private. She offers tips for insurance claims, the best pharmacies, speaking Spanish and more.

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An expat talks about living in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. She describes social gatherings, recreational activities and more. One tip: visit Puerto Vallarta many times and stay in different areas before making the move.

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