Moving to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

I moved to Puerto Vallarta from the U.S. almost 2 years ago and it has been quite the experience. I’m planning to move to Cabo in a few months, which got me to thinking… “if I’d known then what I know now…” Well, it certainly would have made the move easier. So here are a few of my tips for moving to Puerto Vallarta:

Tips for moving to Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, Mexico from the United States.

A few things I wish I’d brought when moving to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico:

Electronics, books, and computer software. Electronics are easily double or triple the price in the US. This includes computers and pc accessories, cell phones, stereos, TV’s, etc. Even paying for shipping, you will save a significant amount of money compared to the price of purchasing new electronic equipment in Puerto Vallarta.

Books and magazines in English- Shape magazine is $9… if you can find it. Books are nearly impossible to find.

Software- really expensive, hard to find, or pirated copies poorly disguised as the real thing. Really best to purchase before moving.

I also wish I would have brought a dehumidifier- they are impossible to find here but you will be grateful if you have one. I lost an entire closet of designer clothing to mildew, even with the moisture absorbers.

Cosmetics and beauty products. Quality American cosmetics and beauty products are not available in Puerto Vallarta. Occasionally you will luck out and find Neutrogena, but it’s possible that was a one time occurrence. For example: Walmart now carries a few John Freida products- never more than 5 or 6 on the shelf and it sometimes takes a month for restocking. Also, keep in mind that most beauty products here are stocked with locals in mind- if you’re looking for blonde hair dye, you won’t find it easily!

Linens here are stiff and hard. If you’re used to top of the line Egyptian Cotton, bring it with you!

Furniture in Puerto Vallarta is almost always hard and uncomfortable; beds, chairs, sofas- all worth importing or plan a trip to Guadalajara for furniture shopping.

And finally, a car. I purchased a Jeep Cherokee here for about $2,000 more than it would have been in the states… and this was after they came down on the price! If you can drive a car or have it brought down, it’s worth it. Depending on the year of the vehicle, you will have to pay an import fee and register it here, but this with the price of the trip will still be less than if you buy something locally. If you must purchase your car here, try have a local friend help you out- they’ll know where to take the car to have it checked out, what questions to ask regarding import/registration fees already paid, and of course, help lower the price.

What I could have left behind in my move to Puerto Vallarta:

What I could have left are most of my designer clothing and high heels- cobblestone streets ruin shoes and humidity eats fine fabrics. It’s not uncommon to go to your closet and pull out a shirt with mildew on it after even a week.

If you’re not too attached, there’s no need to bring decor items- the art scene here is one of the best in Latin America and plenty of international decor stores and boutiques.

Advice for preparing to move to Puerto Vallarta- about the actual move, choosing a neighborhood and finding a home?

There are a few neighborhood guides online, including on, with pictures and video of the areas. It’s relatively easy to choose where you want to be, because Puerto Vallarta is divided into 5 distinct areas- Marina Vallarta, The Hotel Zone, Centro (Downtown) , Old Town (Zona Romantica) , and Conchas Chinas to Mismaloya area which covers the crescent beaches that stretch south of Puerto Vallarta.

The marina is pricey, surrounded by a golf course and yacht slips, fine dining and art galleries.

The hotel zone is a strip of resorts and modern shopping centers. These two areas resemble southern California or Florida.

Centro is downtown Puerto Vallarta where the famous malecon (boardwalk) is located- loud, popular with tourists, fast paced.

Old Town Puerto Vallarta is slower paced, trendy, more traditional with cobblestone streets, residences, bars/clubs, and endless boutiques- this is also the popular gay area and has become quite stylish.

Conchas Chinas to Mismaloya is the area south of Puerto Vallarta. Known for the “crescent beaches” this area is lush in tropical foliage and lined with villas and luxury condominiums overlooking private beaches and the ocean.

We’re in the process of adding videos and photos of each of these areas but some are already posted in the photos and videos section of Inside PV.

What I miss after moving to Puerto Vallarta:

What I wouldn’t give for mayonnaise without lime in it, crunchy peanut butter, and organized grocery stores.

Things to expect if you move to Puerto Vallarta:
When the phone company says they’ll be there Thursday, notice they didn’t say which week. If they said before noon, notice they didn’t say which day. When they don’t show, don’t be surprised when they say, “We had to reschedule” even though they never let you know. In other words- expect no schedules, poor customer service, and a very relaxed attitude regarding matters you thought were important. For most of us, it doesn’t take long to get used to.

Tipping- grocery store bag boys will count the tip you hand them before thanking you. In the states, this would be considered extremely rude- here, I find it amusing and cute. Go figure. Taxi drivers, bartenders, and waiters too will do this, although not in fine dining restaurants such as La Palapa and Cafe des Artistes where the staff actually take courses to learn American culture (as well as about fine wines, cigars, presentation and English.)

Things that will shock you for the first six months:
Chickens and other farm animals on buses. Bus drivers that stop in the middle of their route to do their grocery shopping (leaving passengers waiting patiently on the bus.) Naked mannequins getting into bed in a department store window display for Valentine’s Day. Oh, you know what, this could take a while. I think I’ll make thise one a whole new article!

Things That Will Shock You for the First 6 Months of Living in Puerto Vallarta

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