As many of you my followers and subscribers may know, I am undertaking a series of trips to and around Mexico to determine the best location for my #Blaxit. I am traveling all around this incredibly beautiful country to find a relocation home as I pursue an authentic, unapologetic, and free existence in this world. I will chronicle all my stops here in this blog.
I am evaluating each place I visit to determine whether it is somewhere I can settle for at least 12-18 months after my Blaxit. I will be evaluating places on the following 10 factors.
- Short distance to the nearest International Airport; and direct flight to Washington, DC area or South Florida airport in the US available.
- The temperature and climate is stable. It is not excessively hot or cold majority of months of the year. Low to No Hurricanes or earthquakes risk
- Fresh Fruit and vegetables are easy to access and find.
- Cost of Living is low. Average 1-2 BR Rent falls between $400 -$1000 per month in secure building, 5–10-minute walk to the beach, downtown, gym, pool, ocean view (if in beach town), A/C, very hot bath water (smile), washer/dryer/dishwasher in unit)
- Stable Wi-Fi and cell phone reception
- Creature comforts like Walmart, Costco, Starbucks present
- Uber is an option
- Neighborhoods are walkable and safe for walking alone
- There is a black expat community accessible to me
- It Feels Like Home
The cities/towns I have or will visit in Mexico are:
Playa del Carmen
San Miguel de Allende
Some of these factors maybe of zero importance to many but they are of critical importance to me so as I travel this is the lens I will apply to each town or city. In future blog posts I will share my impressions of the following cities:
· Lake Chapala
· San Miguel de Allende
I have devised a Five Point Rating scale that I will apply to the towns I visit going forward.
5 – Perfect (all of the factors are present)
4 – Damn Near Perfect (8 or more factors are present)
3 – Almost Perfect (7 or more factors are present)
2 – Probably Not (6 factors or less are present)
1 – Hell No (3 factors or less are present)
Here are my ratings of the Mexican cities I have already visited based on this rating scale:
Playa del Carmen 2
If you have been following me you know that I am in relentless pursuit of my personal freedom. I have explained all the reasons why in prior post but if you are new (welcome) please check out my first post “America: I am breaking up with you” and “America is a Gilded Cage.”
I want to preface my comments by stating that these are my opinion and views. Other bloggers and residents of a town or city, may differ from me on many things so keep in mind that these are just my views. My trips are being financed by me. I am not being sponsored by any person or entity and therefore there is no one or entity influencing the views shared here.
This is my review of Puerto Vallarta. I visited Puerto Vallarta from January 10-17, 2021. Puerto Vallarta is a beach resort city that sits on the Pacific Ocean’s Bahia de Banderas (Bay of Banderas) in the Mexican state of Jalisco. Puerto Vallarta is sometimes called the La ciudad más amigable del mundo (The Friendliest City in the World). Puerto Vallarta or “PV” as many call it, is the second-largest urban area in Jalisco after the city of Guadalajara. In addition to being a popular beach destination, PV has a significant ex-pat community and is also known for being very popular with the LBGTQ community due to its open and friendly culture.
For more on the history of Puerto Vallarta, check out this link.
Puerto Vallarta has an international airport that allows for direct flights While there are no direct flights from Miami, Fort Lauderdale or the Washington, DC area, there are multiple direct flights between PV and major US cities like Atlanta, Houston and Dallas.
During my stay in PV I stayed at a wonderful Airbnb in Amapas right outside the Romantic Zone (Zona Romantico). You can check out a brief video Airbnb tour by visiting my Youtube Channel. Don’t forget to Like and Subscribe! This Airbnb is one of my absolute favorites and the host is my favorite Host ever. His name is Dixon and he is just one of the kindest and warmest humans. I highly recommend it.
Average temperature while I was in Puerto Vallarta was 80 degrees. However, during summer month Puerto Vallarta is very hot averaging 90 degrees and significant humidity.
So what do I think of PV? To put it simply Puerto Vallarta has everything. It has a charming Central (or “Centro”) lined with shops and restaurants. It has modern shopping at the Galerias shopping mall and the La Isla Shopping Plaza. There is a Costco as well as multiple Walmarts, Home Depot, and large and small Mexican branded supermarkets like my favorite Super Aki as well as Soriano. Multiple OXXOS (Mexico’s answer to 7-Eleven) and its sister Kiosko. Charming shopping districts along the River Cuale and Centro and Starbucks pretty much everywhere. And yes! There is Uber (yay!). It has cool neighborhoods with their own character like 5th de Diciembre; Versalles and the Marina to name just a few.
What I loved
Puerto Vallarta is walkable and easy to navigate
Puerto Vallarta is a big city and I didn’t see a fraction of it. But from what I saw it I easy to navigate thanks to Uber and consistent Taxi service. I walked from my apartment to the Romantic Zone, the River Cuale, and Centro. I took an Uber to Versalles for dinner.
I loved the vibe of PV. The people are friendly and charming. Not just in the tourist zone but also as I walked the length of the beautiful promenade or Malecon that runs along the sea.
Affordable food, great restaurants and transportation
I loved the easy and affordable access to fresh fruit, and vegetables. The Centro district has open-air markets where fresh fruits and vegetables can be bought inexpensively daily. I bought my favorite fruits – Bing Cherries and Blackberries from a street vendor multiple times during my visit.
And there are GREAT restaurants in PV! Some of my favorites were Oregano, Café de Olla and Maria Baja. For people watching I enjoyed the Margarita Grill.
Uber is more expensive in PV than in Merida but still much less expensive than in the US. For example, a taxi from the airport to the Romantic Zone is about 380 pesos, an Uber is $150 pesos which is about $7.50 USD. Average trips around PV costed me about $60 pesos ($3.00 USD).
Great food and UberEATS
I loved that I could walk to multiple Starbucks, or take a short ride to Super Aki, Walmart or Costco via Uber. And oh the shopping was pretty exciting as well, Sephora, Mac Store, H&M, Birkenstock and Zara (my favorite) are all available in the shopping centers in PV. All the creature comforts are here. All of them. UberEats and Rappi is also available for those who wish to eat in especially during the ongoing pandemic and have their meals delivered.
Thriving Black Expat Community
PV has a thriving expat community but most importantly for me PV has a thriving BLACK expat community. It is not as large as Merida but it is sizable enough that I saw many many black people as I was walking around PV each day.
I also liked that I saw black folks representing every age group and demographic. From single women and men to Single Moms and couples with young kids and teenagers. There are also black folks who are members of the LGBT community well represented in PV.
I never felt unsafe in PV. I never worried about purse snatchings like in Playa del Carmen (PDC) or petty crime of any kind. I walked the boulevards alone and never felt afraid or unsafe. There is petty crime in PV but it is not prevalent. There is also a police and military presence in PV as I saw them regularly driving around. I also have not heard about widespread shakedowns of tourists by police in PV as I have heard about in PDC. This is an important factor for me, especially as the parent of a black young man who will likely visit me from the US from time to time.
My cell phone reception (Verizonwireless) worked well in Puerto Vallarta. I always had reception there and the Wi-Fi in my AirBnb was excellent.
Spanish Fluency Not Required
I could get by in PV with minimal Spanish. Because of the number of Expats many people there speak English. While I would still learn Spanish, getting by day to day would be easier than say Guadalajara.
The Malecon in PV is simply beautiful. While the sands are brown and the water is not as clear in Tulum, the beaches in PV are very pretty. And the views from many points in the city such as Amapas are breathtaking.
Another great thing about PV is it proximity to Riviera Nayarit AND Sayulita. (Google them ya’ll). Great weekend or day trip spots.
Proximity to the United States
Puerto Vallarta has an international airport that allows for direct flights. While there are no direct flights from Miami, Fort Lauderdale, or the Washington, DC area, there are multiple direct flights between PV and major US cities like Atlanta, Houston, and Dallas. So flying through one of those cities I can get directly to PV in 6-8 hours depending on the route.
Mosquitoes and other biting insects
The mosquitoes and other biting insects are alive and well in the PV in the summer I hear but I was not bitten by anything while I was there. I recommend using very strong mosquito repellent in any beach coast town. Here are links to the ones I like here, here, and here.
What I don’t love
COVID-19 measures in place
Puerto Vallarta is a tourist mecca so social distance was not as consistent as in Merida. But I saw more masks and social distancing happening there than in PDC, and Cancun but still not nearly enough. I have found that in Jalisco there is more attention to COVID-19 generally than in Quintana Roo. I only ate in restaurants that were outdoors when I was there. Restaurants were not crowded and it was clear that COVID-19 has impacted the volume of visitors.
The weather was beautiful in PV. It averaged 75-80 degrees each day. BUT, this was in January. I have been advised that summer heat in PV can be brutal but my understanding is that the worst heat is from June to September rather than March to October as in Merida.
Hurricanes and Tropical Storms
Puerto Vallarta does have Hurricanes from time to time but they are much rare-er than in areas closer to the gulf coast like Merida, Cancun and Playa del Carmen. Jalisco state has a history of tremors and earthquakes as well but PV itself does not have a significant history.
Rating Score: 4
PV is on the higher side for rent in Mexico. I researched the cost of living in Puerto Vallarta and it is Medium. PV rent is 77% lower than the city I live in currently in the United States. You can review the cost of living by checking out Numbeo and Expatistan .
I loved just about everything else about PV I love how safe I felt there. I loved how walkable and easy to navigate it is, I love that I can access pretty much anything I need there. I loved the openness and friendliness of the city to people regardless of race, ethnicity, or sexual orientation.
The Single Girl Factor. The Single Girl Factor is my evaluation of my dating prospects in a city based on my use of online dating apps while traveling. There is nothing scientific about it. I simply utilize dating apps in the area and see how many matches or hits or solicitations I receive.
Applying the Single Girl Factor, I think I could enjoy being single in Puerto Vallarta if my first visit is any indication. While there I met lots of fun, interesting and SINGLE people in my age group (45-55). Some were on vacation but many also lived in PV. Online dating apps were popping as well.
I loved PV so much that I am returning for an additional week before I return to the US. Yes folks I loved it that much.
My Next Mexican City review will be about my visit to Guadalajara. Stay Tuned!