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How Far Will The Strong Canadian Dollar Go in Mexico Today?

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Upon retiring from Houston, Texas more than ten years ago, we were very fortunate to have chosen Puerto Vallarta, Mexico as our retirement destination. Fortunate, because during the past decade, more specifically during the past seven years while the PAN Party has governed Mexico, the Vallarta area economy has virtually exploded with growth resulting in a doubling in population and a tripling in real estate values, thus attracting all of the modern day conveniences that you would expect to find in any other US or Canadian resort destination.


In Vallarta, located on the same latitude as Hawaii, we have some of the finest weather on the planet for seven to eight months per year. The "high season" of November through May provides about 220 rain free days having an average daily temperature of 73°F. It is absolutely ideal weather for doing whatever pleases you; and you can rest assured, everything that might be of interest to you is available in Vallarta!


Because the summer months in Vallarta are similar to those in Houston, i.e., hot, humid, and rainy, most of us retirees head north for the summer. We have spent the past three summers in the Lake Tahoe area; however, the summers of 2001, 2002, and 2004 were enjoyed in beautiful Victoria, B.C., Canada. During those years, the Canadian dollar was at an all time low. In 2004, the Canadian dollar was equivalent to about .66 US dollar or about 66 cents, US currency.

At that time, there were a number of beautiful condos on the Inner Harbor of Victoria that were termed, "leakers". Rain and moisture were somehow able penetrate the walls, probably around windows, and then migrate down between the inner and outer walls, causing substantial damage to the buildings. Each of the condo owners were assessed an average of $80,000 for the repair work and the buildings were draped in tarpaulins for months while the restoration work was done. Consequently, many of the frustrated and dollar poor residents were anxious to unload these troubled properties.


There we were, with strong US dollars in our pockets and eager sellers all around, and like fools, we did nothing! Of course, since then the buildings have been fully restored to better than new condition, and being in an absolutely prime location, they have tripled or quadrupled in value. During this time period of price appreciation, the Canadian dollar has increased in value by 50%, relative to the US dollar (and the Mexican peso, which has held steady with the US dollar). Therefore, for those of us holding US dollars, those "leaking" condos in Victoria have become almost cost prohibitive.


That being said, there are now many fortunate Canadians holding valuable real estate in Canada and strong Canadian dollars. It´s therefore time for those rich Canadians to start shopping for their winter retirement destinations! What better place to shop than in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, where three or four years ago the Canadian dollar would buy 7 pesos, whereas today, it´ll buy close to 11 pesos?


Of the nearly 50,000 North Americans in Vallarta, we estimate that 30-40% of them are Canadians. This percentage will surely increase as the Canadian dollar strengthens and the US real estate prices and the US dollar weaken. Just imagine, summers in Canada and winters in Vallarta; retirement just doesn´t get much better than that! The head of the Puerto Vallarta Chamber of Commerce has recently estimated that the greater Vallarta population will reach 600,000 residents by 2015, and therefore, if it were located in Canada, would rank among the top ten largest Canadian cities! By 2015, there will probably be about 100,000 North Americans in Vallarta, half being Canadians. Just imagine, more Canadians living in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico than in Brandon, Manitoba or Prince Albert, Saskatchewan!


There are over 100 condo complexes currently under various stages of construction in the greater Vallarta area with more than 7,000 units recently placed on the market. During the next decade, Fonatur, the Mexican tourism agency, has forecasted at least 20,000 additional units to be built along the Riviera Nayarit, 40 minutes north of the Puerto Vallarta airport. This doesn´t even include the incredible expansion plans for the land south of Vallarta which is slowly but surely being converted to privatized land, available to foreigners. There is certainly no housing slump along the Mexican Riviera, no real estate recession in the foreseeable future, and an infrastructure that´s improving daily.


In summarizing, now, is the perfect time for all of you loonie laden Canadians to head south this winter and check out the wonderful opportunities that await you in sunny Puerto Vallarta. You'll be amazed to learn how easily you can afford to live in luxury while enjoying your favorite pastime activities with fellow retirees in Paradise.
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Jim Scherrer has owned property in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico for 25 years and resided there for the past eleven years. The mission of his series of 47 articles pertaining to retirement in Puerto Vallarta is to reveal the recent changes that have occurred in Vallarta while dispelling (more...)
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