How I Live in a Tropical Paradise on Only $1,000.00 US Dollars per Month.
Cafe Del Mar
From Proud Hard Working Army Veteran and Family Man to Disabled, Divorced, and Adrift. Starting over in a Tropical Paradise.
- This article is specifically a summary of how I live comfortably and safely in Mexico on a limited budget.
- Please remember that Mexico is a very large and diverse country, the information you read here is based on my personal experiences, mainly here in Puerto Vallarta and the surrounding Banderas Bay beach towns.
- I recently traveled through several towns in the states of Sinaloa and Sonora where the US State Department has Do Not Travel Advisories. I did not have any problems at all in these areas but I did not venture out late at night or go to any bars. In Puerto Vallarta, I walk alone at all hours and feel safer here than anywhere I've lived in the United States.
- The only aggressive act I have witnessed in a year and a half in Puerto Vallarta was a road rage altercation initiated by an American tourist, and luckily for the ignorant gringo, did not result in anything more than a few ill words between the two parties.
Some Monthly Expenses
Cost in pesos
Equivalent US dollar amount
Electric (CFE), Included
3 Cervezas from Oxxo or Kiosko (Local convenient stores)
33.00 (11 pesos each for three on sale)
1.73 ( 58 cents each)
Latte at a tourist cafe
Four carne asada tacos in my neighborhood
Haircut at a neighborhood salon
Whole cooked chicken with side of white rice, corn tortillas, and hot sauce
20 Liters of Spring water
A Page in the Sun
Cost of LIving in Puerto Vallarta
- My rent is forty-five-hundred pesos per month, at today's exchange rate that is equivalent to two-hundred and forty US dollars. I live in Zona Romantica also commonly called Old Town. There are condominiums that rent for three to four thousand US dollars per month in my neighborhood. It was not easy to find and secure an apartment two blocks from the beach at my level of income but there are also many apartments for even less than what I pay outside of the tourist areas.
- In my previous apartment, my electric bill averaged 210 pesos each two months, electric is billed every other month. The equivalent in US dollars was $11.00. When I utilized my AC from about June to early October my bill increased to about 2,000 pesos per billing cycle which is over one hundred US dollars.
- I was paying 500 pesos per month for Dish Network but canceled it and gave my television to a Mexican friend and her daughter along with a DVD player. The savings from canceling Dish Network was $26.31 per month US. I had purchased the television and DVD player at a Bazaar for about fifteen US dollars and they both worked well, however, a new flat screen from Costco or WalMart would set you back significantly more than what you would pay in the states. Computers and phones are also more expensive even when purchasing older models that would be considered outdated in the states. The upside is that phone services, which include international calling between Mexico, Canada, and the United States, as well as data, are rarely above fifteen dollars per month US.
My Favorite Hike
- There is truly something here for everyone. Hiking, scuba diving, sailing, snorkeling, surfing, fine dining, or simply relaxing on the beach beneath the palm trees with a margarita. It is common for tourists to ask me what the one thing would be not to miss with so many activities to choose from. My favorite activity here is taking the bus from downtown Vallarta to Boca de Tomatlan and then hiking to Las Animas. It is a moderate hike with some decent elevation gains and descents but there are many small beautiful beaches and places to stop along the way. Las Animas is only accessible by boat or by hiking. Often I'll hike in, enjoy the day at Las Animas, and then hop on a boat (water taxi) back to either Boca for the bus or all the way back to town. The scenery is spectacular on this hike. Lush green jungle, secluded beaches, waves crashing as they collide with rocks, and tide pools.
- The bay is actually in two separate Mexican states, Jalisco and Nayarit. There is Puerto Vallarta,Jalisco (where I live) and Nuevo Vallarta (New Vallarta) which is actually in the neighboring state of Nayarit. I don't go to Nuevo Vallarta often as it reminds me of Scottsdale, Arizona or Boca Raton, Florida. Nothing against it, different strokes for different folks, it just doesn't seem representative of Mexico.
- Puerto Vallarta was the last port of call for "The Love Boat". This tropical paradise became well known when Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton were making headlines while buying property in a neighborhood currently known as Gringo Gulch.
- Puerto Vallarta is a playground for many foreign tourists as well as Mexican nationals. There are very expensive hotels, time shares, restaurants, and activities. I certainly learned some financial lessons the hard way. I spent several of my first months here during the height of the tourist season which is December to April.
- Mainly a fishing village until the 1960's when tourism started getting a firm hold it hasn't stopped growing since.
- The pier is at the Los Muertos beach, which translates to "beach of the dead". There are stories about miners fighting pirates upon this beach but there never was any mining done here in the bay that I am aware of. The pirate part of the story does merit some truth as Banderas Bay certainly had pirates and likely there are still unfound treasures buried in the Sierra Madre.
- Two years ago I never imagined I would be single and living in a tropical paradise. I am an Army veteran, three years active as a forward observer, five years as a combat medic in a reserve unit, and four years in an Airborne Civil Affairs unit. I've worked as a carpenter, front loader operator, truck driver, bridge repair technician, and video engineer. After multiple serious neck surgeries I had to accept the harsh reality that physically demanding work was no longer an option for me.
- By 2012 I was barely able to walk. I was on daily morphine and many other prescription pain killers. The doctors, both VA and private care agreed that I had no chance of recovery and wanted to implant a pump beneath my collarbone that would automatically deliver morphine into my spinal canal in my neck. I refused the surgery and stopped taking all pain related prescriptions against the advice of VA.
Have you ever considered going to México?
© 2018 David Warren