There are many great places to retire in Mexico, as evidenced by the over 1.2 million expats living in cities throughout Mexico. But a recent report showing Puerto Vallarta in second place on a list of the world’s best places to retire caught our eye. Is Puerto Vallarta the best place to retire in Mexico?
Live and Invest Overseas, an online publisher of resources for those who want to live, retire and invest abroad, has been collecting data and publishing a list of the top 15 places to retire for the past 13 years. Its Annual Overseas Retirement Index 2022 shows Puerto Vallarta as the second-best place in the world to retire, just behind Comporta, Portugal, about 75 miles south of Lisbon.
Run by travel veteran Kathleen Pedicord, Live and Invest Overseas, started tracking the world’s best places to retire in 2009, using a score card of 13 categories to rank each city recommended by the publication’s far-flung team of writers and contributors posted throughout the globe.
“We begin by getting our core editors together, which includes our staff of in-house editors and dozens of contributors and correspondents we work with around the world,” Pedicord told us. “We begin with a meeting where our key editors each have a chance to suggest a destination they would like to have included in the index that year. I’ve been covering this beat for 37 years and we have a number of editors who also have decades of global experience. We begin the conversation every year by having them suggest, based on their real-world experience, points on the globe they think are deserving of inclusion in the list. That’s how the conversation starts.”
Pedicord said the next step in the process is to whittle the list of hopefuls down to the final 15.
“On the one hand, it is a really subjective process to identify, not the countries, but the specific, targeted destinations to feature, because these 15 are places we think really deserve attention right now for a lot of reasons,” she said. “The biggest challenge for us is whittling down the whole world map to a shortlist of 15 places.”
Each of the 15 finalists is ranked on 13 criteria, including:
- Cost of living
- English spoken
- Expat community
- Access to North America
- Environmental factors
- Real estate restrictions
All of the categories are weighted equally, according to the company’s editorial director, Sophia Titley.
“They are all weighted equally, just to give a broad overview of which places are the most well-rounded. And then we present this information in charts in the Index,” she said. “So, if your main criteria in retiring abroad is cost of living, you can go through the charts and find which places got an A+ for that category and filter it that way.”
The A through D letter grades are assigned to each place by team consensus and additional statistical information as required. For the cost of living category, for example, the team creates a range to determine what qualifies as an A+. They also use the current average social security check in the U.S. for that year as a guide. If you can live on that amount or less in a destination, it typically gets an A+ for cost of living, Titley said.
Puerto Vallarta has made the list three times, but ranks as the second-best place in the world to retire in the 2022 report, scoring an A+ or A in nine of the 13 categories.
- Cost of living A+
- Healthcare A+
- Entertainment A
- Recreation A+
- English spoken A-
- Expat community A
- Infrastructure A
- Access to North America A+
- Environmental factors B
- Crime B+
- Real estate restrictions B
- Residency A-
- Taxes B
Breaking down the monthly cost of living category for Puerto Vallarta, here are key sub-categories:
MXN$20,500 for a furnished two-bedroom apartment in a desirable location.
Transportation: MXN$1,350 (10 pesos per person per trip and taxis 60 to 100 pesos per trip)
MXN$500 (for heating water and cooking)
MXN$650 (electricity cost including A/C use)
MXN$225 (20-liter jugs)
MXN$4,880 (eating out, drinks, movie theater)
MXN$45 (local GP MXN$40-50/English-speaking clinic MXN$750)
MXN$1,100 (one five-hour visit per week or MXN$55 per hour)
As an expat who calls Puerto Vallarta home, a few of these categories may be a bit understated, even for someone living in a two-bedroom apartment. For example, as a tropical climate coastal city, Vallarta’s summers are sweltering and require air-conditioning. Depending upon the size of home you live in, with mini-splits, you will find that your electricity bill is your most expensive monthly utility expenditure. My CFE bill for a 2,000 sq. ft. home, with judicious use of A/C during the five hot months, still averages between MXN$5,000 and $7,000 for each two-month billing period. Smaller apartments or condos, of course, consume less.
Titley said Portugal has tended to be the country to beat, but Mexico is always hot on its heels. Over the 13-year period, Mazatlán and San Miguel de Allende have made the top 15 several times, also. Although Puerto Vallarta has appeared three times, 2022 is the first year it has ranked in the top three worldwide.
“I think Puerto Vallarta makes so much sense, especially for Americans and Canadians,” she said. “It’s easy to get to, it has lots of local healthcare options, residency requirements are comparatively easy and it’s a familiar environment. Then add in a year-round tropical climate, lots of recreation and a vibrant cultural environment.”
So, is Puerto Vallarta the best place to retire in Mexico? This report subjectively makes the case, although the monthly expenses are based on just one set of living circumstances. Retired or not, Vallarta consistently ranks as the first or second most desired destination for aspiring expats, according to our Expats In Mexico annual surveys. With well over 10,000 expats currently living here and a booming real estate market, Vallarta continues to be a top choice.
If you want to see the complete list of countries and cities, check it out at the Live and Invest Overseas website.
Expats In Mexico will also be publishing the results of our Expats In Mexico 2022 Survey next month to give you even more details on the lives of expats currently living in a wide range of cities in Mexico, including cost of living.