Puerto Vallarta has been an elite destination since Richard Burton, Ava Gardner, and Tennessee Williams arrived in 1963 for the filming of “The Night of the Iguana”… and it was made even more famous by the affair Burton had with Elizabeth Taylor during the filming.
Since then, Puerto Vallarta has enjoyed the status of a “branded” city that conjures images of sun, fun, surf, beaches, fine dining, and natural beauty.
Branded cities hold a big advantage for property investors… as their public image alone goes a long way toward making the case for visiting, buying, or investing. When it comes time for renting or resale, your life is easier if you’re in a branded city.
What’s more, the operating cost for a property in Puerto Vallarta is cheap these days, thanks to the current strength of the U.S. dollar. Your taxes, restoration costs, furniture, and upkeep will be half of what they would have cost at the exchange rates of just a few years ago.
And it’s not only the operating costs… the cost of living here is now also incredibly low, which makes Puerto Vallarta even more attractive to visitors, renters, and resale buyers. Everything from fine dining to clothing and car repairs is a bargain these days. Back in the 60s, Puerto Vallarta was a famous jet-set destination… today, it’s affordable for most any traveler or expat.
There’s no better place for escaping the harsh winter weather than coastal Mexico, and Puerto Vallarta (PV) is one of Mexico’s most popular destinations. The climate in PV is absolutely magnificent during the North American winter with warm, dry days and cool nights. The average high in January is just over 83 degrees, while the average low is down at 62 degrees.
But it’s hot in the summertime, with August temperatures averaging almost 93 degrees. That may not sound like much if you live in Arizona, but humidity at this time runs about 70%… so it feels a lot warmer.
Ocean temperatures are fairly warm all year… at least by my Northeastern U.S. standards. The rainy season goes from June through October, with most rain falling between July and September. Dawn-to-dusk rainy days are unusual though, and afternoon showers are the norm.
Puerto Vallarta excels when it comes to dramatic scenery and long ocean views, as it’s located at a point where the western Sierra Madre range joins the ocean. Its elevation rises rapidly as you go inland from the beaches, which provides for a wealth of magnificent ocean and sunset views in this area. Thanks to adequate summer rainfall, the hills around Puerto Vallarta (and points south) are green, lush, and thick with vegetation.
The city of Puerto Vallarta is centered on the Banderas Bay, with the greater PV area extending for miles in both directions. And make no mistake… there are a lot of good living options outside of the original downtown, both to the north and south.
But downtown Puerto Vallarta is the most popular with expats. It not only offers a sought-after, walkable lifestyle, but also the best liquidity, the strongest short-term rental market, and good property price performance.
The city proper includes Centro (along with El Cerro, 5 de Diciembre, and Gringo Gulch) and what’s popularly known as the Romantic Zone (Zona Romántica), along with Emiliano Zapata and Alta Vista. Centro and the Romantic Zone are divided by the Cuale River.
Centro is on the north side of the river, and it’s the heart of Puerto Vallarta. It has preserved its original cobblestone streets and buildings, and has maintained the appearance of old Mexico. Centro offers everything you need, within easy walking distance. There are plenty of shops, cafés, fine and casual restaurants, markets, and some of the city’s best nightlife. The long and beautiful Malecón (boardwalk) begins here, which is the hub of seafront life.
El Cerro and 5 de Diciembre are also on the north side of the river, just inland from Centro, located where the terrain begins to rise into the surrounding hills. And while not as polished or well-maintained as Centro, they still maintain the appearance of old Mexico while offering some amazing ocean views.
Here you’ll find some areas in beautiful condition, while others can be run down… but there are some good property deals here, so it’s worth a look. Gringo Gulch is another (unofficial) area inland of Centro, and as the name implies, it’s very popular with Anglo expats from the United States and Canada. This is the original American sector in PV, from the days when Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor owned a home here.
This is a convenient area, located along the north bank of the Cuale River just east of Centro. You can walk easily to all the conveniences of Centro… although the uphill walk back won’t be quite so easy. Gringo Gulch is a good place to live and a popular place to buy property.
The Romantic Zone is still in PV proper, but south of the Rio Cuale. I’m not sure how the Zona Romántica got its name. Apparently, someone’s idea of “romantic” includes hordes of tourists and cruise passengers, crowded beaches, souvenir shops, and plenty of places where you can buy a Puerto Vallarta T-shirt.
In fairness, the Romantic Zone also includes PV’s best restaurants and cafés, best nightlife, and elegant beachfront dining. The south side of the river also includes the old-fashioned neighborhood of Emiliano Zapata and the more-upscale Alta Vista.
Puerto Vallarta offers beautiful beaches, an iconic boardwalk, and more fine dining and entertainment than you can ever explore. It’s well worth your consideration for a winter home or for that vacation rental property to provide you with some extra income.
Moreover, this is a branded city… one that’s well-known throughout the world.
Puerto Vallarta is also a good example of a place where it’s critical to keep your objectives in mind. Are you planning to live in the city part-time? Full-time? Is your objective to earn the best rental income… or just to cover costs for a second home?
Honest answers to these questions are important in Puerto Vallarta.
The highest rental demand will be in the Zona Romántica, near Los Muertos beach… but this is also the noisiest section of the city, and won’t be ideal for a long-term resident. The most peaceful areas are up in the hills south of town… but these areas are not walkable to all the action, as your potential renters will want.
So take stock of your objectives and priorities honestly… then plan a visit.
Then enjoy shopping for real estate in one of Mexico’s most exciting coastal cities.