I started with this same question before moving to Puerto Vallarta. So, I decided to find out the answer! Whenever Hillary and I moved to Puerto Vallarta I was lucky enough to survey some expats to find out about their experience in PV. Below is the treasure trove of information that I collected! The food, the beaches, and what to do-straight from the people that are fortunate enough to wake up in Puerto Vallarta each and every day!
What neighborhood do you live in?
Expats live all throughout Puerto Vallarta. My initial assumption was that most expats live in Amapas Conchas Chinas or Emiliano Zapata, but I was wrong! We had respondents from El Centro, Cinco de Deciembre, Bucerius, the Marina, Nuevo Vallarta, and many other locations. Each neighborhood offers a different experience and it is clear expats from all over have moved to Puerto Vallarta to experience a variety of things! If you are looking to move to Puerto Vallarta you will have ample opportunities to find good friends, rich culture, and of course unbelievable food in any neighborhood you choose. My advice is to visit PV first, do a little sight seeing, and determine which area is your favorite.
What is the name of your favorite restaurant?
This question could be debated for hours in Puerto Vallarta as there is so much good food! Among the most frequently answered from my survey were La Palapa, Archies Wok, Trio, and Fajita Republic. Although these were the most frequently listed, there were many others that were mentioned. I interpret this to mean that there are a number of excellent great restaurants in Puerto Vallarta. Our experience can speak to this as well. Almost every place that we tried in PV was excellent! Whether it was breakfast food, Italian, tacos, or vegan food, Puerto Vallarta has it all at an extremely high quality! If you are a foodie, PV will be like heaven for your stomach!
How do you exchange your dollars for pesos?
This is probably one of the more important questions if you plan on living in Mexico. I have read about many different ways in which to exchange money in different countries, so it’s important to know the best way in Puerto Vallarta. Although most expats have their prefered banks based on where they live, almost all Expats go to a bank to exchange get pesos. This is what we did as well. We found one bank close to us in which we felt comfortable walking home with a couple hundred USD from. As opposed to the airport or small exchange offices, banks seem to offer the best rates, and offer a high amount of convenience.
What do you like most about living in Puerto Vallarta?
The expat community in Puerto Vallarta seems to agree on one thing-everyone loves the weather and the people, and we couldn’t agree more! The beaches in Puerto Vallarta are nice, although not amazing, but it is not the scenery that makes Puerto Vallarta great. It is the people. I am curious though to those that answered “weather” as to when they live in Puerto Vallarta. I am not sure if these expats live in PV full time or only during the winter months. During the winter, the weather is great! However, during the summer and fall months, be prepared to sweat! Although, as hot as it is, Hillary and I both enjoyed watching the rain storms during the rainy season of September and early October!
What do you like least about living in Puerto Vallarta?
Responses varied from: nothing, tourists, complainers, bad sidewalks, and litter.
All seem to be valid concerns. In some places, the litter is certainly noticeable. Sanitation standards are definitely not the same as they are in the United States. I hated seeing garbage just set out on the corner of a street for animals to rummage through. This said, any bigger city in the US certainly has its share of litter-lined streets (Have you seen NYC?!)
The sidewalks are bad. If you have bad ankles, a stroller, or trouble walking around, moving around is going to prove challenging. Especially in the El Centro area, sidewalks are of below average quality, to say the least. We hardly noticed the bad sidewalks-they definitely shouldn’t lessen your experience.
If you want to avoid complainers, don’t join the “Everything You Need to Know about Puerto Vallarta” Facebook group. That’s the only place you will see any complaining! However, this group does occasionally provide valuable information that is relevant to visiting or living in Puerto Vallarta. What I did was join the group but mute notifications and hide the group from my timeline. Thus, I only see group posts if I am seeking something specific.
The fact that most people dislike nothing about Puerto Vallarta is a testament to how great it is 🙂
Can you speak Spanish?
Most expats answered that they could speak Spanish or that they could speak a little. You could certainly live in PV without knowing Spanish, but your experience is going to be greatly enhanced if you can communicate in Spanish at markets, restaurants, etc. I have found that people try and rip me off way less if I speak Spanish with them and establish some level of comradery with them!
If a friend was going to visit and explore PV for only three days, what would you suggest they do/see?
Most expats suggested checking out Los Muertos beach, going to the Malecon, and walking around Old Town (El Centro). I couldn’t agree more. Los Muertos Beach is a great beach right in the heart of Puerto Vallarta. It has plenty of food and drink options right on the beach! Hillary and I usually go to Swell Beach Bar, sit under an umbrella, and order a Pina Colada or Margarita!
El Centro has plenty of shopping and food options to explore, as well as the Lady of Guadalupe Church! You will definitely be able to feel the pulse of Puerto Vallarta by walking around El Centro!
The Malecon is the boardwalk that is in El Centro. We suggest visiting this area around sunset as you will have an amazing view of the sunset and the boardwalk will be full of activity. Here you can find street performers, amazing food vendors (street corn, tacos, ice cream, pies, etc.), and you will be able to shop until you don’t want to shop any more!
Whenever we had friends visit us, we made sure to take them to all of these locations and they all had a wonderful experience in PV.
What is your primary mode of transportation?
Some expats have their own car in Puerto Vallarta and many others just walk, use the busses, or take a taxi. Hillary and I didn’t have a car so we primarily walked and took taxis. If we were walking somewhere within a mile or so, we almost always just walked. If we needed to get across town to the mall or to walmart, we would take a taxi, and if we were headed out to Mismaloya we would take the orange bus.
The bus system can really get you anywhere you need to go within the area. They are by far the cheapest option, but they also are quite a bit slower than a taxi. If I was going somewhere alone and I was not in a rush, I would take the bus. However, if both Hillary and I were running errands, we almost always took a taxi. Although you can certainly get on the bus with your groceries, it’s not the most comfortable.
What is the name of your favorite beach?
Los Muertos, Playa Camerones, Playa Gemeles, Mismaloya, and Animas were the most frequent answers. With Los Muertos in first place. If you are just going to Puerto Vallarta for a few days, our suggestions is to check out Los Muertos, Mismaloya, Amapas Conchas Chinas, and if you have time, Los Animas or Yelapa.
So what is the best advice in the world regarding Puerto Vallarta? That is for you to decide! For some people it may be a restaurant suggestion, for others it may be how to exchange money. Either way, you have all of the information at your finger tips now-advice and suggestions right from the people that call Puerto Vallarta home.
If you haven’t noticed, there are many great things about Puerto Vallarta. Whether you love busy beaches with plenty of food options, or more secluded beaches, PV has it. Whether you like authentic Mexican food, or you want a taste of back home, PV has it. Whether you are a city dweller, or you’re more inclined to nature and hiking, PV has it!
Your experience in Puerto Vallarta is up to you. Take some time to get to know the amazing people and I guarantee you will never want to leave!
If you have lived in Mexico or Puerto Vallarta, what is the best advice you could give?
Keep it Kinetic,
Greg and Hillary
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