Monday, June 3, 2024

A complete guide for Puerto Vallarta digital nomads

Puerto Vallarta is one of the easiest cities for expats to live in, so it’s no wonder it has become a trending hotspot for digital nomads over the past few years. This historic Mexican city on the Pacific Ocean is one of the safest in Mexico for travelers and is blessed with stunning mountains, beaches, history, culture, and fantastic food. While it has always been a top tourist destination, the rise in expats and a deluge of remote work-friendly services and North American creature comforts have made it one of the best destinations in Mexico for digital nomads.

Digital nomading, a.k.a., working remotely, has been on the rise ever since the pandemic, as a whole new wave of people have transitioned to being able to work online from anywhere in the world. Digital nomads have existed since well before the pandemic, but a massive influx into this new workforce has led to more people than ever before spending extended periods away from home.

Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco
Puerto Vallarta’s international community, great location and modern amenities make it a prime destination for aspiring nomads. (Chris McQueen/Unsplash)

If you’re a remote worker and you’ve toyed with the idea of relocating down to Puerto Vallarta, here is the complete guide for how to be a digital nomad in Puerto Vallarta.

Why is Puerto Vallarta good for digital nomads?

The weather in Puerto Vallarta

Puerto Vallarta fits the bill if you love scenic beauty and a delicious climate. A maze of cobblestone streets creep up the mountainsides, where lush bunches of purple bougainvillea drape across scruffy terracotta tile roofs. Mist-shrouded jungle peaks loom around the city, where gentle waves from the Bay of Banderas lap onto the shore. Today, Puerto Vallarta is a bustling amalgamation of distinct neighborhoods, making it one of the most interesting beach cities in Mexico.

The climate in Puerto Vallarta is tropical, with a dry season from November to May and a rainy season from June to October. While the heat and humidity can be overwhelming during the rainy season, this is a great time to be in Puerto Vallarta, as most tourists have left and prices tend to drop.

Cost of Living in Puerto Vallarta

Speaking of prices, Puerto Vallarta has a decent cost of living for digital nomads. It’s still a prime tourist destination, which means higher prices than in other parts of Mexico, but the cost of living in Puerto Vallarta is generally more affordable than many cities in the United States and Canada. For example, a typical grocery shop for two people at a high-end supermarket every two weeks will cost around 2000 pesos (US $117). An Uber ride from the Zona Romantica to the airport, from one end of town to the other, will cost about 200 pesos (US $12). The bus is even cheaper than that at less than 40 pesos (US $2.30) from end to end.

The Bay of Banderas provides the perfect backdrop to warm, tropical evenings in the city. (Puerto Vallarta/Cuartoscuro)

A Strong Expat Community in Puerto Vallarta

This can be a pro for some and a con for others. Many digital nomads want to explore destinations that haven’t been so affected by gentrification. Puerto Vallarta is no longer that place. It’s a city in a constant state of change and expansion, and gentrification has touched every corner of its most popular neighborhoods.

But for many digital nomads just venturing out, it’s nice to know that other like-minded travelers are already there. A built-in community is a plus when venturing to a new place. Most expats in Puerto Vallarta want to be part of and immerse themselves in the vibrant local community.

Digital Nomad Basics in Puerto Vallarta

Visas and Legal Requirements

For most nationalities, Mexico offers a 180-day tourist visa on arrival. If you plan to stay longer, consider the Temporary Resident Visa, which can be renewed for up to four years.

Accommodation

A quick scan of the Puerto Vallarta skyline will show the array of condominiums that are being constructed. All across the many neighborhoods, Puerto Vallarta offers a wide array of accommodations. 

Puerto Vallarta Centro still holds much of the original charm that attracted the international community to the city decades ago. (Alonso Reyes/Unsplash)

While Airbnb and Vrbo are some of the strongest contributors to gentrification, it’s no secret that these sites are how many digital nomads find places to live. But once you’re on the ground in Puerto Vallarta, there are other more socially responsible ways to find apartment listings, whether through local Facebook groups, inquiring about “Se Renta” advertisements, or going through local real estate agencies.

Internet and Workspaces

Puerto Vallarta is a well-connected city and most rentals are already equipped for Wi-Fi. Airbnbs, Vrbos, and many other property rentals are often already equipped with Wi-Fi, with the cost baked into the daily rate. In other instances, you may be required to set up your own internet. Some of the most popular internet companies in Puerto Vallarta are Total Play, Telmex, and Izzi.

Coffee shops and coworking spaces are abundant in Puerto Vallarta, as well. Vallarta Cowork, Natureza Cowork, and Joint are just a few of the coworking spaces around the city.

Daily Life in Puerto Vallarta for Digital Nomads

Puerto Vallarta is an easy city. That’s what makes it so attractive. It’s just easy to live there. That said, the rise in tourists and expats has exploded in recent years, and a new superhighway from Guadalajara has nearly finished, both of which have contributed to high volumes of traffic. Still, it’s one of the easiest cities to get around, even if it takes a little longer than usual. 

Buses are cheap and cover most areas of the city. Recently a new fleet of air-conditioned buses was introduced, as well. Puerto Vallarta is also flush with taxis and ride-sharing. Most neighborhoods are easily walkable, particularly Zona Romantica, Centro, Cinco de Diciembre, and Versalles.

Health and Safety

Puerto Vallarta is one of the best places in Mexico for digital nomads thanks to its comprehensive, cost-effective, and high-quality medical system. Healthcare services in Puerto Vallarta are abundant, from private hospitals and specialists to holistic healthcare. And while the healthcare system in Mexico is much more affordable than in the United States, it is still a good idea to purchase travel insurance. 

Allianz Travel is one of the most popular travel insurance companies, with plans that range from one-trip to annual and multi-trip plans. SafetyWing is another popular travel insurance company, which is marketed directly to digital nomads seeking travel medical insurance for extended stays.

It is important to note, however, that these plans do not cover you once you return to your home country, so you’ll still want to keep your home country travel insurance if you’re planning on returning home.

Healthcare in Puerto Vallarta is outstanding and generally cheaper than in the United States – although insurance is still recommended. (Patty Brito/Unsplash)

Food Shopping

You’re never far from a grocery store in Puerto Vallarta, whether it’s a megastore like Costco or a specialized organic market. No matter your cooking style, there’s a food shop to match in Puerto Vallarta. Some of the most popular among digital nomads are:

  • Costco
  • La Comer
  • Soriana
  • Organic Select
  • Ley
  • Walmart
  • La Europea
  • Weekly Farmers Market

Plus, stores like Oxxo or locally owned mini-supers often carry basics like coffee, milk, rice, beans, tortillas, and snacks.

Tips for Success for Digital Nomads in Puerto Vallarta

  • Learn basic Spanish: While Puerto Vallarta is one of the easiest destinations to get around for non-Spanish speakers, there is so much more depth added to an immersive experience when you speak the local language. Puerto Vallarta has many opportunities for Spanish lessons while you’re on the ground, and you can use apps like Duolingo to pick up some common words and phrases before you get there.
  • Embrace the local culture: Puerto Vallarta is a massive international melting pot these days, but its traditional roots can still be found if you know where to look. The city hosts multiple festivals and parades every year, from Charro Day on September 14 to the celebrations for Dia de los Muertos. Puerto Vallarta is also one of the top LGBTQ+ destinations in Mexico and hosts Puerto Vallarta Pride every year.
  • Stay Connected: Connecting with other expats and locals is a great way to see the city like an insider, as opposed to a tourist. Join Facebook groups and attend community events. It can be as easy as frequenting the same coffee shop or beach bar to become recognized as a regular and to start making social connections.

Meagan Drillinger is a New York native who has spent the past 15 years traveling around and writing about Mexico. While she’s on the road for assignments most of the time, Puerto Vallarta is her home base. Follow her travels on Instagram at @drillinjourneys or through her blog at drillinjourneys.com

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