Condominium or Villa?
Invariably, when North Americans visit Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, they
have such a good time under absolutely ideal conditions, that they hate
to leave. Upon returning home, many start planning their next trip to
Vallarta and can only dream about retiring here someday. The fortunate
ones, either currently retired or about to retire, often start thinking
about how they can own a piece of Vallarta and spend at least a part of
their retirement in Paradise.
Many visitors interested in pursuing the idea of retiring in Vallarta
will rent a condominium during their first extended stay, and while doing
so, will experience all the benefits Vallarta has to offer, and will explore
the market for condos and/or villas. Once they have determined that Vallarta
will be their full time or part time retirement destination, they are
ready to start considering which is most appropriate for them, a condo
There are certain aspects of condo and villa ownership that are constant;
for seven months from November through May, the climate will be ideal,
there will be numerous activities to enjoy and an abundance of friends
to enjoy them with, and every condo or villa will have a panoramic, breathtaking
view of the Banderas Bay and the Sierra Madre mountains.
The following discussion is to address the differences between condo and
The first variable that most consider is the percentage of time expected
to be spent in Vallarta each year. For those planning full retirement
in Paradise, a villa with staff might be the best choice; association
fees are minimal, there are no neighbors or renters upstairs, value appreciation
is most favorable, furniture and personal items can be shipped into Mexico
making living conditions more similar to back home, and most importantly,
the old house in the US or Canada can be liquidated, thus freeing up the
capital for retirement and travel.
Those planning part time residency in PV might favor condo ownership;
they will be close to many of the restaurants, shopping areas, and activities,
they will be able to turn the key and forget about it at the end of the
“high season”, they will have an opportunity to generate rental
income while away, their maintenance expenses will be minimal, and they
will retain their permanent family residence back home.
The second variable to consider would be the number of friends & family
that might be expected to visit each year. When you live in Paradise,
you’ll be amazed at how many “dear friends” you had
back home! Of course, the smaller the condo, the fewer “dear friends”
you’ll have. Whereas, if you own a grand villa, you’ll have
more “dear friends” than you ever knew you had.
The third variable has to do with the age and health of the retiree. A
younger retiree might favor a villa where he can call it home, living
there as he would in any permanent residence, without having that temporary
or transient feeling. Also, since most of the villas are located on the
mountainside, they are usually multi-story and involve stairs, thus presenting
obstacles for those less fit. Maintenance of a villa requires much more
time, effort, and money and therefore, to many of the older or less healthy
retirees, it alone might rule out villa ownership. Typically, the older
retirees find the advantages of condo life outnumber those of villa ownership,
whereas the younger retirees with many healthy years ahead of them, prefer
Due to the ever increasing cost of land, as a “rule of thumb”,
you can use an average cost per square foot for a villa of $250, whereas
the average cost for a condo would be a little less, at $200 per square
foot. Of course, there are many properties in Vallarta that sell for substantially
less, however, we’re only considering those with magnificent views
and all of the modern amenities. On the surface, these prices may seem
high, however, similar properties with comparable views would be two to
three times as much in the States. Furthermore, association fees are much
less and property taxes are negligible in Mexico.
An additional consideration that every retiree must have relates to real
estate future values. In Mexico in general, and in Puerto Vallarta specifically,
there is no housing slump or fear of recession, as prices continue to
escalate at a rate of 10% or more per year.
All properties, whether condos or villas, are purchased through 50 year
trusts, held by a designated bank. These trusts give the holder exclusive
right to property usage for 50 years and can be renewed after 50 years,
can be given to a designated beneficiary upon death and then renewed for
another 50 years, or can be sold, allowing the buyer to renew the trust
for new 50 year term. These bank trusts are as safe as the title and deed
used in the States or Canada; plus, since they are Mexican bank trusts,
virtually untouchable by any outside entity.
Since all real estate legal transactions in Mexico are done in Spanish,
it is imperative that the buyer is represented by a qualified attorney.
Also, much of the Mexican coastal land is classified as ejido land, and
as such, was designated by the Mexican government many years ago to be
used by the natives as farm land. North Americans are unable to purchase
some of this beautiful coastal land and therefore, any North American
retiree considering real estate ownership in the Vallarta area, must have
competent representation to assure them that the land is appropriate for
Due to the differences in laws and language, an exclusive buyer’s
agent is a prerequisite in order to avoid the potential pitfalls associated
with real estate purchases in Mexico. Having a truly professional agent
with 100% buyer dedication and loyalty will assure you a safe and pleasant
real estate purchase, regardless of whether you’re buying a condo
or villa in Paradise.