Comparing Puerto Vallarta to Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Cincinnati, Buffalo, and Toledo

Being typical Midwestern US cities, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Cincinnati, Buffalo, and Toledo all have populations of approximately 300,000 +/- 20,000 inhabitants. Their populations have been continuously decreasing during the past twenty years.

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico has a population stated to be approximately 350,000 people; its population has doubled during the past twenty years and its growth is expected to continue well into the future. In fact, just recently the Greater Metropolitan Area of Puerto Vallarta has been listed as 430,000 inhabitants.

Aside from having roughly the same population, all six of these cities are similar in a number of other respects, however their differences are substantial. First, let’s consider their similarities. They all have adequate infrastructure and services to support the residents; i.e., travel terminals (airline, bus, train, and cruise boat where applicable), schools and universities, hospitals, police departments, water treatment plants, power plants and distribution systems, parks, theaters, stadiums, convention centers, etc. Of course, with this number of residents and consumers, they all have the “big box” stores such as Sam’s Club, Wal-Mart, Costco, Home Depot, Office Depot, major super markets, shopping malls, etc. They also all have many fine restaurants, night entertainment, numerous clubs, golf courses, tennis courts, and other social activities. High speed internet, satellite TV, VoIP telephone, and all other modern day conveniences are also available in these cities.

Next, let’s compare the cost of living in these cities. In Puerto Vallarta, the cost of housing, automobiles, imported goods such as clothing, electronics, and hardware, and certain food products is higher than in the Midwestern cities. Real estate taxes, labor related to almost all services including medical, dental, legal, etc. and the cost of products manufactured in Mexico is much lower in Vallarta than in the Midwestern cities. Gasoline, electricity, restaurant dining, social activities, etc. are comparable in all cities. As a note of interest, the Mexican peso has weakened relative to the US dollar during the past five years. Currently the exchange rate has been hovering just under 20 MX Pesos per 1 US Dollar. In summarizing, the overall cost of living in Puerto Vallarta is roughly the same as in the Midwestern cities and nobody should move to Vallarta to save money, nor should anybody avoid moving to Vallarta due to any excess costs associated with living in this tourist resort destination. However, due to the US Dollar gaining by more than 50% relative to the MX Peso in the past five years, folks from the US can expect more for their Dollar today than five or ten years ago. On the other hand, the Canadian Loonie has gained less than 20% relative to the MX Peso during the past ten years.

With so many similarities, we have to ask why the population of the Midwestern cities has fallen while that of Puerto Vallarta has increased by 50%. To answer that question, we simply have to compare the climates and the environments that these cities have to offer and the reason becomes quite obvious.

During the winter months of November through May, the average daily temperature in the Midwestern cities is 41*F, whereas in Vallarta the average daily temperature is 73*F. During those seven months, there is virtually no rainfall in Vallarta while the Midwestern cities are inundated with rain and snow. If you have any interest in outdoor activities such as fishing, golf, tennis, etc., the climate in Vallarta during this time period is absolutely perfect whereas the miserable winter climate in the Midwestern cities is not very conducive to doing anything outdoors except perhaps shoveling snow!

Now, let’s consider the environment. The Midwestern cities really don’t have an awful lot to offer in the way of beautiful mountains and ocean side vistas! Located in the Sierra Madre foothills on the shoreline of Banderas Bay, along the Mexican Riviera, Puerto Vallarta offers some of the most magnificent views to be found anywhere in the world.

With the ideal climate and the world class views, it’s no wonder that 50,000 North Americans have made PV their winter retirement haven. Some might complain about unemployment in those aging Midwestern cities, however those fortunate retirees in Vallarta are able to brag about their 98% unemployment rate! Therefore, virtually all of us have tomorrow off and with predictably beautiful weather, we can plan on doing whatever pleases us with whomever we want to do it!

Because Vallarta has been enjoying this explosion in growth, there is virtually full employment of the native Mexican residents. Most all of their jobs are related to serving the tourists and with an economy based on tourism, the majority of the younger locals are now speaking some degree of English. Those that speak little or no English are usually employed in construction or other jobs that have little interface with the foreign visitors. There is plenty of work available to all the local citizens; consequently, their standard of living has improved tremendously during the past eight years with many now having automobiles and living in new casitas in new subdivisions which are springing up everywhere. Also, due to the importance of tourism and the governments pursuit of foreign investment, the local officials place a great deal of emphasis on cleanliness of this resort destination as well as provide a maximum degree of safety and protection for all North Americans.

Although there are many similarities between the Midwestern cities and Puerto Vallarta, the differences are substantial; so much so, as to create a steady stream of retirees heading south of the border; talk about a caravan! With the combination of perfect weather, beautiful scenery, all of the modern day conveniences, numerous activities, and friends to enjoy them with, it’s very obvious as to why tens of thousands of retirees are now making this Paradise their winter, if not year round residence.