I’m a beach guy. So days here in Puerto Vallarta couldn’t be any better. Start by taking a dip in the Pacific each afternoon. Enjoy fresh-made guacamole and a cold Pacifico beer at a place right on the sand. Then, a little afternoon nap, a seafood dinner, and a gypsy jazz band at Incanto, my favorite venue in town.
Puerto Vallarta is one of Mexico‘s best-loved seaside resorts. With bustling beaches, a top-notch and varied restaurant scene, quality live entertainment, and more…it’s not hard to see why it welcomed over 3 million international visitors in 2017.
It’s also ideal for snowbird living. You can easily escape brutal winters back home for daytime temperatures here that climb into the 80s F. You’ll have a rich and active social scene. You’ll catch world-class musicians perform for a mere $15, go sailing, hiking, and pack your calendar with dinners out, art exhibitions and cocktails on the beach.
You’ll also find highly rated private hospitals half the cost, or less, than that which you’ll find in the U.S. And—like all of Mexico’s established expat havens—English is widely spoken.
Puerto Vallarta is crowded this time of year, even though “high season” has traditionally been January to April, coinciding with North American winter and the arrival of snowbirds. Now people are coming throughout the year from around the world…and around the country. The growing Mexican middle class (said to be 41% of the population) flocks to PV, especially during Semana Santa (Holy Week), Christmas time, and summer, when the kids are off school.
Some stay at the many large beachfront all-inclusive resorts to the north of town. They rarely, if ever, leave the property. But like many visitors—overseas and Mexicans alike—I prefer to stay in a vacation rental so I can get to know the town and have a more “authentic” experience. Plus, for extended stays it’s much more comfortable, convenient, and affordable, especially when traveling with a family.
That creates opportunity. I stayed in a simple but comfortable condo a quick walk or taxi to the beach (people don’t want to rent a car). I was close to restaurants, and the miles-long malecónthat runs parallel to the shore. The building was secure and had a community pool.
Rates for one-bedrooms, perfect for couples, go for $40 and up a night. Two bedrooms, $70 and up a night. With locals telling me there isn’t really a low season, you can stay booked much of the year.
That could give you a decent return, especially if you hire a property manager to book the property and handle maintenance and check-ins. A bonus, you have your own place to stay when you visit on your own vacations. And it’ll be there for your own use whenever you want to get some downtime in on the beach.
You can often buy fully furnished, down to the bed linens, cutlery, and bath towels; turnkey and ready to list on Airbnb or VRBO.
Another potential market are expats and snowbirds who are staying for months at a time. The same properties could go for $800 and $1,000 and up per month. That gives you a reliable income, with less need to aggressively market the property each week.
You can charge a premium for ocean views, proximity to the beach, and any luxury amenities in your building. Oceanfront condos? Think $100 or more a night.
Much of the action—nightlife, entertainment, shopping, and the most popular beach, Los Muertos—is in the Zona Romantica, also known as Old Town and Emiliano Zapata. A one-bedroom condo here, four blocks to the beach, with rooftop pool with views, is on offer at $225,000. A one-bedroom penthouse, two blocks from the beach, is $184,000; there is no pool. These are being sold furnished, which is common in this market.
Also popular are nearby Conchas Chinas and Amapas. A two-bedroom townhouse-style condo in Amapas, with a large rooftop terrace with ocean views perfect for entertaining, is available for $239,000. Much of these properties are up on the hill. That’s not necessarily an obstacle. You can simply walk down to the beach and then taxi back. You get great panoramic views. In Conchas Chinas, you have a great opportunity to maximize rental income. For $249,000 you get two properties: a two-bedroom condo and one-bedroom apartment with its own bathroom. You could rent out both or live in one and rent the other.
A bit to the north is the up-and-coming neighborhood of 5 de Diciembre, about 20 minutes walking to Old Town. It’s generally more affordable to buy than in the “hot” neighborhoods. There is a two-bedroom condo with great sunset views over skyline and water for $189,000. In the same colonia (neighborhood) is a one-bedroom condo for $116,627.
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