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Outside of Puerto Vallarta
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Real Estate
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General:

Retirement to Puerto Vallarta is a good option for many expats looking to retire early or wanting to experience a higher standard of living on a limited retirement income.
The main reasons for considering this is your quality of life and the cost of living here, or just leaving the 'rat race'.
Several things should be considered though. You'll be moving to a country with a different language, culture, laws, environment and climate.
Many of the things you may be used to might not exist here, or, if they do, are strangely different.
It's highly recomended that, before taking the plunge, you spend an extended amount of time as a visitor first, especially in the hot and humid summer months.
The town is not really built for vehicles, especially now with the limited parking available. Even walking around may not be what you expect. We don't have wide sidewalks and, in some of the older parts of town, they are sprinkled with utility poles and trees. In areas below our the steep hills you'll find very high kerbs, essential for the amount of water which will flow down those streets in the rainy season.
By the way, this is not a country which has much litigation, so if you step in a hole on the sidewalk and hurt yourself, it's considered your fault for not looking where you were going.
Speaking the language is probably the one most helpful abilities you should aim for. Several classes are available here.

Climate:

Yes, the weather can't be beat, better than nearly any other place North Of The Border (the acronym NOTB will be used in the rest of this page). The winters are wonderful, in the summer it's hot and humid with brief downpours of warm rain, very similar to Miami Beach.

Cost of Living:

Less expensive, but, depending on your lifestyle, it will vary.
If you come down and want all the amenities you had back home, your savings won't be a lot. If you choose a simpler life, with a few less conveniences, you will save a bundle.

Real Estate:

Although prices continue to increase, you'll get a better deal over the price NOTB. Again the higher luxury properties will give you less savings than the lower ones. Location very much determines the price, near a beach? got a view of the bay? = higher price. Property taxes are very low. More assistance on buying Real Estate:

  • Real Estate Appraisal Service make sure you're not paying too much, click link to send an e-mail enquiry.
  • Building Inspection be certain there are no problems with the construction, click link to send an e-mail enquiry.
  • Legal Requirements for Foreigners Wishing to Purchase Property in Puerto Vallarta:
    Mexico is divided into two legal zones: The Restricted zone and the Non Restricted Zone.
    The Restricted Zone encompasses all property located within 50 kilometers of any Mexican Coastline or 100 kilometers of the border with the U.S., Belize or Guatemala. Puerto Vallarta is located within Mexico's restricted zone since it is located on the Pacific Coastline bordering the ocean.
    Foreigners are NOT allowed to buy or hold a legal title to any property within the restricted zone. This includes restrictions on all land and property located within Puerto Vallarta.
    Foreigners can and do however legally purchase property in Puerto Vallarta through a legal loophole in the Mexican law known as the Fideicomiso.
    Fideicomisos basically allow a Mexican corporation or financial institution to buy a property on your behalf and hold it in a trust which you control. The financial institution is basically the legal owner on record but you retain full ownership rights including the right to live in, rent or sell the property. You are also responsible for any fees, taxes, expenses or any other costs associated with home ownership.
    There are several fees associated with having the trust deed drafted, getting it registered before the secretary of foreign affairs as well as a yearly administrative fee. These combined fees could be for a couple of thousand dollars initially and the subsequent annual fee is of approximately 500 US dollars; charged to keep the trust current.
  • Taxes and Fees
    Property taxes in Puerto Vallarta (impuesto predial) are very low when compared to taxes in the US. The amount charged depends on several factors including the property's locations, the type of construction, the neighboring constructions, how good public services are in the area, etc. This tax is generally due from January to February of every year and there is often times a 15 percent discount for early payment. Some people negotiate the payment schedule and are often allowed to make bimonthly installments. It is usually a couple hundred dollars a year or less unless you are living in a very high priced luxury mansion or villa.
    Government Transfer Tax: 2 percent of the transaction amount when property changes hands.
    Registry Fee: 1.3 percent of the transaction amount.
    Notary fees for property transfers are typically 1 percent of the transaction value but these fees can be negotiated with the notary.
    The capital gains tax on property sold which had an increase in value is of 26 percent. This can be lowered to only 5 percent if you prove that the property was your primary place of residence. The basis for this pay is the final transaction amount or the appraised value of the home, whichever is higher.
    Transfer Taxes
    The annual fee for trust/deed administration is usually around 500 US dollars.
    The property appraisal fee could be around 500 US dollars.

Some properties can be seen HERE.

If you do move down and need help in furnishing your place, be sure to check out my friend Brischa, she can save you a load of money, see Professional Shopper.

Utilities:

Electricity is charged at 3 different rates, depending on usage, if you have to have Air Conditioning, you'll go into the high bracket. See here for rate examples, it's not a constant price year round.
We don't have piped gas, it comes in cylinders or, in larger buildings, there is a static tank that gets refilled. Cost in June 2007 = 280 pesos for a 30K cylinder.
Water is about 12 pesos a cubic meter, that includes the sewage charge.
You won't get any heating bills.
The basic telephone charge is about 180 pesos a month this includes 100 free calls (Note: Calls not minutes)
you pay per call over that number and for National/International long distance, also calls to cell phones.
You can add DSL Internet Service to this for 350 pesos (that's for 1Mps service, but it's seldom that fast)
Cable TV and Satellite TV are widely available. Two companies Telecable and Cosmored take care of TV for from 175 - 300 pesos, depending on your plan. Internet is from 220 pesos to 350 pesos, if you have a combination of the two, it's a bit less. Satellite TV is provided by Sky,

Maid:

Something you may not be used to, but will learn to love.
I love to cook but not washing up afterwards, my maid does that, she also dusts, sweeps, mops and irons my clothes.
I pay her 100 pesos for about 4 - 5 hours work. I take my laundry to a wash and fold place around the corner, costs about 30 pesos per kilo.

Transport:

If you bring a car down it may sit outside your house a lot.
Parking is a big problem in any area close to the beach. Most of our roads are narrow, cobblestone and, sometimes, quite steep. The local driving style is a bit aggressive and for these reasons, unless you're living outside the city area, a car is not very much use. We have an extensive bus system and it covers the city very well. There are also bus lines that go to areas outside of Puerto Vallarta.

Food:

Overall costs are similar.
Except for fresh produce, which includes meat, fish, vegetables and our wonderful tropical fruits, these are usually lower in price and much higher in quality. We have several large supermarkets, Mega, Comercial Mexicana, Soriana, Leys, the original Gutierrez Rizo's, Walmart and Sam's Club.
Several Colonias (neighborhoods) have a Central Municipal Market, selling fresh produce and household articles. These are great places to shop, some prices maybe a little higher than the supermarket, but you get individual attention, like, if you need an avocado to be used today, you can ask for "Un agacate para hoy" -"An avocado for today" and you'll get a nice ripe one. Variations "Un aguacate para mañana" - one that will be ripe tomorrow. If you don't need a whole head of celery, you can just tear off the number of stalks you need. Half a cabbage? no problem. The same goes for the "Semilla" (literally 'Seed') store, where you have a choice of rice, beans and many other dried goods in bulk, you just put the amount you need into a bag and pay just for that. This is also the place to find spices and dry Hibiscus flowers for making "Agua de Jamaica'.
But, for the ultimate convenience, we have the "Corner Store" (not always on the corner), seldom more than one block away. These small tiendas sell a little bit of everything. I get my daily bottle of milk from the small store just 1/2 a block away.

Drink:

Costs vary.
A wonderful selection of Mexican beers are available. If you buy by the case (usually 20 bottles), it will be about 150pesos, NOT including the bottles, you buy them the first time and switch between empty and full ones. Local alcoholic drinks, such as Tequila, rum, Brandy, Vodka and Gin are reasonably cheap, anything imported will cost you. We get some very good wines from Northern Baja, Chile, Argentina,Spain and even Australian, but French and Californian are expensive.

Entertainment:

We now have several very nice, multi screen, modern, movie houses, showing first run movies, very often in English with Spanish subtitles.
Some local theater groups put on shows during the high season.
We have many first class Golf Courses, see Golf.
Local residents are always looking for excuses to have a party, make a day trip or go to an eight ball pool tournament at a local bar.

Medical & Health:

We have several really good, modern, up-to-date hospitals, a short list HERE and many Doctors, Dentists and Specialists. Some of whom will take Insurance Coverage from NOTB. For more information, Click Here.
Americare Advantage Insurance Group International. World Wide Health Insurance for ex-pats. Representing over a dozen insurance carriers, we can usually provide the lowest premiums with the best coverage. Phone US 414-431-8147, local 322-209-0642.
Mexican Health Insurance is also available at very attractive rates, some only 20% of the NOTB equivalent.
Non traditional health treatments are also widely available.

Legal:

In order to stay more than six months (the maximum on a tourist visa) you will need to acquire a FM3 or FM2 visa. You will also need this to open a bank account here. You can also import your family belongings including a car, tax free, with this visa. For the real lowdown on this, I'll refer you to my friend Rolly Brook's excellent site "How to Move to Mexico".