The Beach Is The Main Attraction (It Doesn’t Hurt That Life Here Is Also So Comfortable, Convenient, And Affordable)
I wish I were there. But someone had to stay behind and mind the store.
“Boy, it really is nice here. This region of Mexico is really comfortable…convenient…easy. You could be in any resort area of southern California. The amenities, infrastructure, services, they’re all of a comparable standard. The difference is the cost. The cost of everything is much lower here, even at the resort hotel where we’re holding the event.”
Then, a couple of days later, Lief called again:
“I had lunch at the beach yesterday: chicken, rice, beans…typical, for the equivalent of US$2.50. And I bought a can of Pepsi in a shop for 50 cents. Even room service here at the hotel seems like a bargain. Everything is so cheap that you don’t have to think about the cost of anything…you don’t have to worry about it.”
As I couldn’t be in Puerto Vallarta to report live from the scene myself, I asked one of the speakers, Sandra Munguia, a transplant from California who has been living in Puerto Vallarta full-time for five years, if she’d fill in for me.
Specifically, I asked Sandra to tell you what life is like in this sunny, sandy part of the world…
“I was born in the California Bay Area and grew up going to beaches in Santa Cruz, Monterey, and San Francisco,” Sandra explains.
“Each California beach town has a different vibe. Puerto Vallarta reminds me most of San Francisco, especially the downtown malecon (boardwalk) area. As you walk around the malecon of Puerto Vallarta (PV), you see street musicians, artists, and vendors. It is very much like the fisherman’s wharf area of San Francisco.
“As you travel up the coast north of PV into Nuevo Vallarta, the area is more developed, more expensive, and more upscale. Even farther up the coast it’s like a Mexican version of Santa Cruz, California. There’s a small beach and a fishing village…very typically Mexican.
“You’ll be happy in PV if you like the beach. That’s really the main attraction here. But it’s supported by things like upscale shopping malls and Costco. You don’t move to the beach to shop at Costco, but it’s awfully nice having it nearby.
“Meantime, though, again, you can also find the ‘real Mexico’ here…things like open-air markets where you can shop pottery and handicrafts…plus giant Tiger shrimp (for about US$7 per kilo). This is one thing I really appreciate about this place. The contrasts…the mix…of upscale and comfortable with local and charming (and cheap).
“Movies cost about US$3. We just went to see ‘Men in Black III’ at the M & M Theater, which is a first-class theater with reclining, rocking, and stadium seating and movies in English. There is also a Boutique Theater with large-scale productions. And we have an Art Walk in downtown PV each Thursday evening during high season.
“I’ve really come to appreciate the quality of life here in Mexico. There is a different rhythm here. Even though I work full-time, I am more relaxed and happier here than when we lived in the States. Plus, there is such a big American and Canadian community that I’ve found many new friends, and the Mexican community is warm, generous, and welcoming.
“My life here is very busy. I work and have a busy social life. Living here has compelled me to make connections, to seek out new things. I no longer have the life that I grew up believing was normal, you know, go to work, come home, eat dinner, watch TV, sleep, and do it again, until the weekend, when maybe something fun is planned. Living here, I often feel as if I am on permanent vacation.
“I have more friends now, living here, in my mid-50s, than I have ever had in my life. It’s so easy to meet people. Pick up the local paper. Join a club or a class. Go to church, to the park, to the beach, the market. People start up conversations at the drop of a hat.
“A lot of expats like the downtown area of PC because it is easy to walk everywhere. However, you can live in any area really and use public transportation (for a very lost cost) to go anywhere you want. The areas north of PV, such as Guayabitos and La Penita, are becoming very popular among expats and retirees because the costs to buy and live there are much lower than in the big city.
“Rents can be as low as US$200 per month in outlying towns…or up to US$1,000’s per month for luxury penthouses and big homes in the heart of PV. All things considered, a retired couple could easily live here on US$1,000 a month, more or less, depending on entertainment, travel, and outings. A big consideration would be where, exactly, you choose to live.
“I know that safety is a big concern for anyone considering relocating anywhere in Mexico. My experience? For the first time in my life, I live somewhere that reminds me of what it must have been like living in small town America in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Honestly, the only time I think about crime is when someone from the United States asks me if I saw some report on CNN. I often meet my girlfriends downtown for dinner and then walk back to my car alone at 10 p.m. or later.
“The bottom line is that I love being able to afford living by the sea. Seeing the water…being able to walk along the beach every day…that is the biggest draw for me about life in Puerto Vallarta.”
More from the scene in Puerto Vallarta mañana…