During the past 28 years, International Living magazine has calculated its Annual Global Retirement Index; a resource intended to assist retirees and future retirees in evaluating and comparing the world’s most popular retirement destinations. It is based on a number of criteria, giving various weights to each, depending on its importance to retirees. Listed below are those criteria considered with their individual weighting:
- Cost of Living—20%
- Health Care—20%
- Special Benefits—20%
- Real Estate—15%
- Entertainment, Recreation, and Culture—10%
- Safety and Stability—5%
According to International Living, Panama, Costa Rica, Mexico, and Ecuador have been ranked as the top four countries in the entire world for which to retire. These four countries seem to rotate from one to another each year but they´re all highly ranked as retirement havens. The very latest ranking, dated in January, 2019, International Living ranked Mexico as #3, in 2018 Mexico was ranked #2, and according to an article recently published by AARP, Mexico has been ranked #1 in the world during five of the last twelve years. (As a side note, Canada has dropped from #19 in the world all the way down to #30 in the world and the US is ranked at #37 in the world!! If you can imagine that)
Aside from the fact that Mexico’s Senior Citizens´ Benefits Program offers up to 50% discounts on many services to retirees over the age of 60, that the Mexican government has enacted many new laws encouraging foreign investment, Mexico has become an incredible place to enjoy retirement, offering the quality of life that North Americans are accustomed to with numerous extra benefits, also, of significant importance (and not included in the grading criteria), is the fact that a Mexican Paradise Seaside retirement haven such as Puerto Vallarta is located half the distance to Costa Rica from US cities including Los Angeles, Denver, and Houston. In fact, during the seven month “high season” in Puerto Vallarta, there are at least 70 non-stop daily flights to the US and Canada (see Flightradar data for Jan 14, 2019). On the same date, there were 25 non-stop flights from the US and Canada to San Jose, Costa Rica, 8 non-stop flights from the US to Quito, Ecuador, and a single flight from the US to Panama City, Panama. As you can readily see, it´s a whole lot easier, faster, and cheaper getting from the US or Canada to Puerto Vallarta than any of the other highly ranked retirement destinations.
The major Mexican inland retirement communities are located in San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, and the Lake Chapala / Ajijic area. For the most part, these inland retirement communities are located in beautiful colonial cities with moderate temperatures year round. Most of the modern amenities and activities are available to retirees in these retirement cities with a very attractive cost of living. Being located inland, these retirees can purchase and own real estate with title as they would in the US or Canada.
For those desiring magnificent ocean views, the Pacific coastline offers many advantages over the Gulf of Mexico coastline; the major one being protection from storms. The entire Yucatan Peninsula area, including the Cancun and Cozumel areas are great for vacations; but due to its exposure to hurricanes, it is not considered by many to be ideal for retirement. On the other hand, the Pacific Ocean coastline seldom sees troublesome storms and offers more than a thousand miles of incredible Pebble Beach like views with a climate similar to that of Hawaii.
Pacific Ocean coastal cities such as Mazatlan, Manzanillo, and Acapulco have always been popular for tourists, but have become quite industrialized and commercialized and therefore not really considered as ideal retirement cities. The most desirable retirement locations from north to south along the Pacific Ocean are La Paz and Todos Santos in Baja, Puerto Vallarta, Ixtapa / Zihuatanejo, and Puerto Escondido.
La Paz and Todos Santos in Baja, Ixtapa / Zihuatanejo, and Puerto Escondido are more exposed to the elements than Puerto Vallarta, which is tucked behind the Sierra Madre Mountains next to Banderas Bay, safely protected from Pacific storms coming out of the south. Also, because Ixtapa / Zihuatanejo is approximately 500 miles south of Vallarta and Puerto Escondido is 300 miles even further south, the “high season”, or the time during the year with perfect weather conditions, is reduced from 7-8 months to perhaps 6-7 months. A month extra per year in Paradise is often considered to be substantial to retirees!
Using the above logic, it’s no wonder why so many retirees have migrated to Puerto Vallarta. This beautiful tourist resort area has become home to thousands of North Americans that have traveled the world, could afford to live anywhere on the planet, and have chosen Vallarta as their winter, if not full time, retirement destination.
Located at the same latitude as Hawaii, Puerto Vallarta has a perfect climate with an average daily temperature of 73°F from November through May with virtually no chance of rain. With a population of approximately 430,000 inhabitants, Vallarta now has a new and growing infrastructure including roads, water treatment plants and distribution systems, electrical power plants and distribution grid, airport, maritime terminal, hospitals, university, etc.
High speed internet, fiber optics, satellite TV, VOIP telecommunications, and US newspapers and magazines are all available in Vallarta. Most of the mega-stores found in the US and Canada have come to Vallarta including Sam’s Club, Wal-Mart, Costco, Home Depot, Office Depot, Staples, and of course, every fast food chain restaurant imaginable! Vallarta now has about a dozen world class golf courses with more either in the planning stage or currently under construction. There are hundreds of tennis courts, world class deep sea fishing, and every other activity available that you would expect in a city of this size. There are numerous new cinemas, theaters, and hundreds of fine restaurants and nightclubs.
Due to the explosive growth of Vallarta and the influx of North Americans, it is safe to say that its entire economy is based on tourism and the retirement of North Americans, thus creating thousands of new construction and service related jobs for the locals. It has also created an atmosphere where speaking English has become a prerequisite for a decent paying job. Therefore, most of the younger Vallartenses are now becoming quite fluent in English. The inability to speak Spanish is certainly not an obstacle to retiring in Vallarta! Also, because the economy is based on the North American dollar, safety is of prime concern to the locals. You will not find a safer, more hospitable city of this size anywhere. In fact, this was clearly revealed in a survey taken by Conde Nast magazine, where Puerto Vallarta was ranked the friendliest resort destination in the world.
Now, let’s return to our quest for the top retirement haven in the world. If we can accept what the latest surveys, polls, and indices suggest, Mexico is the country and Puerto Vallarta is the city.
We’ve owned property in Vallarta for 35 years and have lived here as permanent residents for 22 years and can attest to its magical characteristics resulting in a quality of life that can’t be surpassed anywhere in the world. The growth that we’ve witnessed since 1997 has been truly amazing. Per the Vallarta MLS, as of January, 2019, there are at least 30 active new condominium developments underway in the greater Puerto Vallarta area with many more planned in the future by Fonatur, the Mexican Tourism Board …(data through 2015).
If you’re a baby boomer, either recently retired or about to retire, you owe it to yourself to make PV your next vacation destination and consider all the qualities it has to offer. You’ll definitely be impressed with this glorious Paradise along the Mexican Riviera and will probably agree; Puerto Vallarta is the best place in the world to retire.