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Retirement Real Estate in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

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How would you like to have a really intelligent, honest and well educated president? How about a Harvard graduate? Well, would you believe that Mexico has a 12 consecutive year run of Harvard alumni presidents? They have had a dramatic effect on the Mexican economy in general and real estate values specifically.

Prior to the new millennium, the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) or its predecessor revolutionary parties, had held power for over 70 years in Mexico and was a member of Socialist International. Thanks to the PRI philosophies toward nationalization, expropriation, authoritarianism, and state control of the economy, Mexico held a Third World status for 80 years. With those philosophies, Mexico was probably not the best place for foreigners to invest in real estate, or for that matter, anything else.

The situation in Mexico changed dramatically in 2000 when Vicente Fox of the National Action Party (PAN) first took over power for a six year presidential term lasting until 2006. Prior to his presidency, Fox had earned a Top Management Skills degree from the Business School of Harvard University and had then worked his way up to the presidency of Coca Cola Mexico and head of all Coca Cola Latin America. He was one of the few Mexican presidents to avoid a major economic upheaval during office, whereas previously, the Mexicans were accustomed to devastating peso devaluations. During the ten years that we've lived in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, the peso has held firm at about 10.8 pesos per US dollar.

Fox’s term expired in 2006, when his successor, Felipe Calderon, also with the PAN party, won a very close election. Calderon holds a Master of Public Administration degree from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, and will serve as President of Mexico until 2012. He supports balanced fiscal trade, flat taxes, lower taxes, and free trade. His motto is to Drive Mexico Into the Future which represents privatization, liberalization, political freedom, and market control of the economy.

These two Harvard graduates have taken Mexico from a Third World Country to a Newly Industrialized Country (NIC) in a very short period of time and are continuing to advance the economy. As an NIC, Mexico has joined the ranks with countries such as China, India, Brazil, Turkey, etc. en route to becoming First World Industrialized Countries. Recently, Mexico has changed from being a beneficiary to a full contributor to the United Nations Development Program. The Mexican Bolsa, or stock market, has more than tripled during the ten years that we've lived in Vallarta. The PRI party, still holds local power in the poorest states of Mexico; those where the inhabitants have the least education and are still waiting for subsidies from the government. However, the state of Jalisco where the capital is Guadalajara and the second largest city is Puerto Vallarta, is one of the many states where the local PAN party is in power. This change in power has been quite remarkable and evident in Vallarta during the last seven years.

During the past seven years, the Mexican government has spent billions of dollars improving and upgrading the infrastructures throughout the resort destinations. Puerto Vallarta has new water treatment facilities, power distribution systems, hospitals, university, upgraded airport, maritime terminal, highway system, etc. and is being prepared for the next five years of growth.

We have owned property here in Vallarta, located in the foot hills of the Sierra Madres overlooking Banderas Bay on the Pacific Ocean, for 24 years and have made Paradise our permanent residence for the past ten years. During the first 15 years, there were virtually no changes made here and the property values reflected it. However, during the years that PAN has been in power, the changes have been obvious and dramatic. Our villa has tripled in value and is expected to double again in the next five years as the baby boomers discover Paradise.

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, the once sleepy little Mexican fishing village located in the foothills of the Sierra Madres on Banderas Bay along the Mexican Riviera is no longer sleepy or little. The population has literally exploded since the filming of “The Night of the Iguana” in 1963. Vallarta has grown from 2,000 inhabitants prior to 1963 to the current figure of 350,000 inhabitants in 2007.

Aside from having a progressive government in power, the following are some of the other reasons accounting for this explosive growth:

Climate--Located on the same latitude as Hawaii, the seven month “high season” of November through May has an average daily temperature of 73*F with virtually no chance of rain.

Scenery--Vallarta, located in the foothills of the Sierra Madres on the Banderas Bay, one of the largest and most beautiful bays in the world, is in the center of the Mexican Riviera on the Pacific Ocean. Beautiful beaches, rocky cliffs, mountain sides overlooking the bay, tropical flowers and wildlife, and all the sights that one would expect to find in Paradise.

Safe--With tourism being the life blood of the economy, North Americans are “off limits” regarding any sort of criminal activity. Since guns are strictly prohibited in Mexico, burglaries, robberies, etc., are virtually unheard of. The primary objective of most all of the young generation of natives is to assure all North Americans a pleasant and safe visit to Paradise so that they’ll return soon and often. Fear of a terrorist attack in Vallarta? Forget it!

Friendliness--In 2001, a readers poll taken by Conde Nast magazine listed Vallarta as the friendliest resort destination in the world. The locals treat North Americans with dignity, respect, and as friends, family, and almost as royalty.

Clean Food and Water--The explosive population growth has caused a complete revamping and expanding of the city infrastructure. This includes the road system, power generation and distribution, and of course, water treatment and distribution systems. The water is pure and safe to drink from the tap throughout the city. All food products are now available in the many new modern supermarkets equal to the finest in the States. Food for home or restaurant consumption is closely monitored for cleanliness and controlled as in North America.

Medical care--Two new huge modern hospitals and one smaller modern clinic in Vallarta are fully capable of handling all emergencies as well as complicated surgeries. Modern dental clinics are also in Vallarta offering crowns, caps, implants, as well as all the basic dental practices. All of the doctors and dentists speak English and many of them have had at least some professional training in the States.

Friends--Every North American that you see in Vallarta, and they are easy to spot, is either on vacation or retired, i.e., none of them have to go to work tomorrow! They are all open to new friendships and new comers are always welcome. It’s one big party with no looming pressures of the office or the commuter drive in the morning.

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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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