My husband and I are Canadians that moved to Mexico about 7 years ago. That wasn’t the plan. In fact, if you told me 10 years ago that I’d be living in Mexico I would have laughed and said “yeah right!” The short version is we came here, we liked it, we came back and spent a few weeks here, and totally fell in love with Riviera Nayarit. We explored, we frolicked on the beach, we snorkelled in warm water, we revelled the sunshine every single day, we met interesting friendly people, we shopped and loved that our dollar went farther in pesos, we ate delicious local fresh fruit and vegetables, we had impromptu drinks with neighbours, and new friends called us to join them going to this restaurant for dinner, that place for dancing. It felt good being in the sun every day, seeing people here that are happy no matter what assets they have, and families having fun together. Living in Mexico for a short while was a huge contrast to how our life had become in Canada: a routine of work, work, work, go home, eat, watch some TV, go to bed. Everyone was busy, stressed out, glued to their phones/ipads, etc, and we felt we no longer really enjoyed our lives. We decided to come back to Riviera Nayarit and try to spend 2 months a year escaping the damp, dark, dreary winter weather. We had no idea how we were going to make it happen (work, dogs, family, house, life) but we decided where there is a will, there is a way.
The more time we spent here, the more we loved it and then one day we realized that our cost of living was about 1/3 of what we were paying in Canada, so it actually made more sense to have Mexico as our home base and visit Canada, than the other way around. I called my family and said “We’re moving to Mexico!”
I expected some culture shock moving to Mexico and I wasn’t disappointed, but what surprised me was the similarities of life on the Northern West coast vs the West coast much further South. We live in Bucerias which is about 20 minutes from the Puerto Vallarta airport, so this region caters more to tourists / foreigners than other areas of Mexico (excellent hospitals, English speaking people, services), but you still know you are in Mexico.
When I first arrived in Mexico, I knew about 10 words in Spanish (please, thank you, where is the bathroom – the basics). Fortunately almost everyone in Riviera Nayarit speaks at least some English. I had read a little about the country and seen a few movies. I was shocked at the variety Mexico offers (deserts to swampland, mountains to ocean and jungles, villages to massive cities with millions of people). Although I love different cultures, languages, trying new foods and going on adventures, after a while it’s also nice to have some of the comforts we enjoyed in Canada.
In the Riviera Nayarit area I was surprised and delighted to discover:
1. I hear American and Canadian popular songs in English on the radio.
2. There are shopping malls with brand names! There is Home Depot (Canadians will rejoice), Costco, and yes Walmart (several of them in fact). We like to support the local farmers and suppliers but sometimes you just need to go to Costco or Walmart.
3. There are nice theaters with movies in English for about $4 dollars (same ones you pay $13 for in Canada)
4. You can actually get an amazing steak, really good burger, excellent French cuisine, Italian food, Japanese food, etc. in addition to wonderful Mexican food (who doesn’t love variety?). It’s silly, but before I spent time in Mexico I thought almost all of the food served was, well…Mexican. Having the International airport and Puerto Vallarta nearby attracts more of an International pallet, and there are many, many amazing chef’s and restaurants, several of which have earned top awards.
5. The sun shines nearly every single day! People told me there was great weather but experiencing sunshine day after day after day after day is amazing! Bucerias sees about 330 days of sunshine per year. Seriously. Yes I am serious. No it’s not a desert, it’s tropical! So amazing.
6. Property taxes on an average condo or house here are $200 dollars a year or less!
7. You CAN own property in Mexico! In fact many Canadians and Americans do own property here. When I first moved to Mexico we rented from people that lived 20 minutes from where we grew up in Canada! A neighbour was from my home town!
8. I’ve found it seems to be actually much easier to make friends in Riviera Nayarit than in Canada. How well do you know your neighbours? Here everyone is outside enjoying the sun, relaxing by the pool, inviting you over for a BBQ or join them to go salsa dancing. Since many people here are either retired, or on a winter vacation, or enjoy the Mexican way of life of working hard and then going out to have fun with family and friends almost every person I’ve met is open and friendly, welcoming new people.
9. Moving to Mexico was surprisingly easy compared to trying to move to other countries. You can live in Mexico for up to 6 months without doing anything additional. If you want to be here for longer than 6 months at a time, you apply for a residency visa. Applying for a visa in Mexico is essentially like applying for your passport: you send in an application, some photos, some supporting documents and pay your fee. It can take a month or two and then you travel to Mexico and are issued your visa.
10. Real estate costs typically much less. You can have a decent 3 bedroom townhouse in a gated community with a swimming pool, gardens, 24-7 security/doormen a 10 minute walk to the beach, restaurants and shopping for about 120K USD – including furniture. Monthly fees are about $80 dollars. Taxes are less than $100 dollars a YEAR. Yes. A YEAR.
Of course there is swimming with dolphins, whale watching humpback whales, rescuing endangered sea turtles, 300 species of butterflies, beach volleyball, soccer, stand up paddle boarding, sailing, golfing, fishing and many more fun activities that I love, but I expected that from Mexico.
Moving to Mexico was a different experience from vacationing at resorts. I loved experiencing the communities of people from all over different areas of Mexico, Canada, the USA, and Europe. I find the Riviera Nayarit and Puerto Vallarta region the “happy medium” between Canada and being in a foreign country: we enjoy the Mexican culture, the gorgeous weather, stunning natural beauty of the landscape, flora and fauna, and of course the lowest cost of living. We also enjoy stable government and banking systems, highways, airports, shopping etc.
What are some of the things that surprised or delighted you about life in Riviera Nayarit? We’d love to hear from you, and are always happy to answer questions.