Retirement in Puerto Vallarta--ready to Live in Luxury?

by : Jim Scherrer

After a lifetime of hard work, isn't it about time that you enjoy the fruit of your labor? By now, you should be ready to start living large, living like a king, living the life of Riley, or just plain living in luxury!

James Whitcomb Riley's poems depicted the comforts of a prosperous home life, while those using the term 'living large' are referring to living with an extravagant or self indulgent lifestyle; able to pay for and enjoy a very wealthy lifestyle or as they say south of the border, able to enjoy the sweet life, 'la dolce vida'. If you are now ready to live in luxury, you've got only one small hurdle to jump; that is affordability! Herein lies the solution to your problem.

First, you pack your personal items and your dog into the SUV and you drive to Mexico. As long as your car remains in Mexico, you'll never need to renew your license plates nor will you ever again pay any taxes on it. As soon as you've crossed the border and get on one of the super modern toll roads, you aim directly for the Mexican Riviera on the Pacific Ocean with Puerto Vallarta being your destination.

When you arrive in Vallarta, where the average daily temperature is 73*F with virtually no chance of rain from November through May, you'll find your dream at an affordable price. As an example, a beautiful condominium with a 'million dollar view', which would cost $1,000,000 in the States, will cost $350,000 in Vallarta. With the mortgage financing that is now available in Mexico, you can purchase this condo for as little as 30% down or slightly over $100,000. Next, let's consider property taxes on the million dollar condo that you paid $350,000 for. Annual property taxes in Vallarta are .12% of purchase price or about $400 per year for your condo.

Now that you've moved into your luxurious condo, you'll need a maid to keep it tidy and perhaps prepare your meals. Remember, kings don't clean their own castles and seldom cook their own meals! A neat, honest, and loyal maid will cost you about $20 per day. If you'd rather prepare some of your own meals, you can share your maid with the neighbor, so that each of you pay $10 per half day for cleaning and tidying up. For about $250 per month and without lifting a hand, your condo will always look like a million dollars.

After you've settled into your beautiful and tidy condo with its panoramic view of the Banderas Bay, the Pacific Ocean, and the Sierra Madres, it's time to venture into El Centro or downtown, where there are virtually hundreds of fine restaurants offering every type of cuisine imaginable. The cost of dining in Vallarta is about the same as in the States. You can pay as little as $10 for a fine dinner or you can pay as much as $50 for the same dinner in a tourist oriented restaurant with the high society ambiance. Alternatively, you might just decide to tough it out like a commoner by going to one of the many modern supermarkets where the food selection, quality, and price are comparable to the States, and buy your own groceries. All food products, including water, and of course all restaurants, are closely regulated and quality controlled.

Daytime activities such as golfing on any of the seven beautiful courses, playing tennis on any of the hundreds of courts, or enjoying world class deep sea fishing, will cost about the same as back home. To conserve cash, you might consider joining any of the hundreds of clubs, societies, organizations, or even take a class in some subject you've always wanted to learn. There are so many things to do that you'll never get bored living in Paradise and you can spend as much or as little as you feel comfortable spending while still living a life of luxury.

Next, as much as we hate to think about it, let's assume you develop a medical problem or toothache. There are two new modern hospitals in Vallarta with all of the latest in sophisticated equipment. There are a number of modern dentist offices, clinics, etc., all staffed with English speaking professionals. The main difference between these facilities, doctors, and dentists, and those in the States is price. You can assume that medical care will be about one half to one third of that back home.

If you need mechanical work done on your car, painting or maintenance work in your condo, repair of your TV or CD player, or any other kind of service work, the cost should be slightly less than you're accustomed to paying.

In summarizing, excluding mortgage payments, a couple can live in luxury on their social security income in Vallarta. Keeping in mind that condo prices are expected to continue to appreciate at a rate of at least 10% per year, your 'million dollar' condo should increase in value by $35,000 per year, which when added to your social security income, should more than cover all of your living expenses and mortgage payments while living like a king in Paradise.