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Mexico is one of the most affordable countries for digital nomads to live in, and the charming city of Puerto Vallarta is no exception to this. While there are certainly places in Mexico with a lower cost of living, Puerto Vallarta provides a great lifestyle.
Why live in Puerto Vallarta?
There are so many reasons to choose Puerto Vallarta as your digital nomad base in Mexico. It offers beautiful accommodation options, and tons of fun things to do with quick access to the beach and mountains. It’s a great base to explore the many surrounding towns on day trips, plus it’s got an international airport making it easy to get back home if needed.
Your exact cost of living in Puerto Vallarta will depend on the lifestyle you want to live, but most Puerto Vallarta digital nomads spend about 1000-2000 USD a month. In this post, I’ll break down my total monthly costs to show you how affordable it can be to live here.
Cost of living in Puerto Vallarta by category
Cost of apartment rentals and utilities in Puerto Vallarta
Renting an apartment will be your biggest expense living in Puerto Vallarta. If you plan to stay for a few months and don’t mind having a place outside of Zone Romantica (the most touristy neighborhood), you can find great deals on long-term accommodations.
I lived in a 3-bedroom apartment with two other digital nomads in Las Glorias (near the hotel zone and Versailles). We signed a 3-month lease, and our rent is $270/month each.
The apartment is older, but it has 24/7 security, a pool, AC, Wi-Fi, laundry, and the beach is 5 minutes away. It also includes a cleaner who comes twice a week! The only extra thing we pay for is drinking water (a 20-gallon jug is 70 pesos and lasts about a week) and electricity which ended up being less than $50 each for the entire 3 months.
We found our apartment by simply calling numbers posted on apartment buildings! Just look for signs on apartments that say “Se Renta” and communicate directly with the landlord. The only thing to know about this approach is that you’ll need to know Spanish fairly well, as most landlords don’t speak English.
After talking with other digital nomads in Puerto Vallarta, I’ve realized that I’m getting a great deal on rent, and most people I know pay way more than this (however, their apartments are nicer and newer). Here’s a snapshot of a poll someone did in the Digital Nomad Puerto Vallarta Facebook group asking people what their monthly cost of rent is in pesos.
From this poll, it looks like only 6% of people pay less than 250 USD, and the majority pay at least 500 USD, while almost 20% pay over 1000 USD. I know people who have paid 2500 USD for a one-bedroom, but that’s a luxury apartment with a rooftop pool and hot tub in Zona Romantica booked on Airbnb.
If you want to secure a place before you get here, book a week on Airbnb, and then once you meet the host talk to them to see if they will give you a better deal off the platform. This is especially likely if you’re willing to pay in cash and are staying a few months.
With a bit of searching and flexibility on what part of town you live in, you should be able to find something for less than 500 USD/month and even less than 300 if you are willing to have roommates (just don’t expect luxury). Obviously, if you’re a couple you can save tons on accommodation by sharing a room.
The cheapest time to rent an apartment is during the low season, from May to October in the summer months. During the high season, you’ll have a harder time negotiating. This post has more info on the different seasons in Puerto Vallarta.
Cost of eating and drinking in Puerto Vallarta
Like rent, the cost of food in Puerto Vallarta varies dramatically on your lifestyle and where you go. If you’re mainly cooking at home or only eating out at local restaurants and taco stands, you can eat extremely affordably here. However, if you’re eating out at beach restaurants frequently, it’s going to add up quickly (especially if you’re drinking).
The cost of groceries is quite reasonable, especially if you shop at the local markets. Me and my roommates buy groceries at Soriana for 1200 pesos/60 USD which lasts us just over a week – so only around 80 USD a month each.
Here are some examples of the cost of eating out:
- Filling lunch from a taco stand: 2-3 USD
- Lunch and coffee at a cafe: 5-10 USD
- Fresh ceviche at local restaurant: 5 USD
- Seafood dinner at nice restaurant with drink: 30 USD
As you can see, the price of eating out varies considerably where you go. Since I work from cafes most days and go out to restaurants with my friends frequently, I spend between 300-400 USD/month eating out and drinking.
Transportation in Puerto Vallarta
Transportation is very affordable in Puerto Vallarta. You don’t need a car to get around as the city is walkable, busses run everywhere, and Ubers are dirt cheap.
If you’re living in El Centro, 5 De Diciembre, or Zone Romantica you’ll be able to walk to the beach, restaurants, and nightlife easily. The Malecon (boardwalk) stretches from 5 de Diciembre all the way through Zona Romantica and is fun to walk or bike on – it takes you right along the beach and is always entertaining for people watching.
The bus system is good in Puerto Vallarta. It can take you all over the city, and only cost 10 pesos (50 cents). There are also busses to nearby beach towns like Sayulita that only cost 2.50 USD.
The busses run frequently – I’ve never waited more than 5 minutes for one. However, they can be crowded, and only some have AC. There are also water taxis that can take you to secluded beaches around Puerto Vallarta for about 5 USD.
Uber’s and indrivers (a local car ride app) are so cheap. I use Uber to get around at night, which costs me anywhere from 2.50 to 5 USD for a 15-minute ride depending on demand.
A taxi will be about double that so I rarely use them. If you need to get a taxi, always remember to negotiate the price beforehand.
My transportation is a mix of walking, busses, and Ubers which adds up to about 80 USD/month.
Health, dental, and wellness
Medical care is very cheap in Mexico. A visit to the doctor is only going to cost you a few dollars. Same with medications, and you don’t even need a prescription to get most of them.
That said, I always recommend traveling with travel insurance as you never know what can happen. I use and love SafetyWing, insurance designed for digital nomads that only costs 40 USD/month.
Mexico is famous for having cheap dental care. So much that people come here specifically for dental tourism! If you’re visiting from the United States and need dental work, you can actually save money a considerable amount of money by having it done in Mexico. I got a teeth cleaning and check-up here for 25 USD.
I signed up for a one-month gym membership, and it was 30 USD. Had I signed up for three months it would have only been 25. The gym was clean, spacious, had lots of equipment, and offered fitness classes.
There are also plenty of ways to stay fit and active in Puerto Vallarta without joining a gym. You can do workout videos at home or go hiking on nearby trails. Many people walk up to the Mirador for daily exercise. There’s also swimming and surfing!
Additional costs of living Puerto Vallarta
These are additional costs that you may incur depending on your lifestyle.
While you don’t need Spanish to get by in Puerto Vallarta, it’s always nice to learn the language of the place you’re living and locals will appreciate the effort.
There are plenty of free resources and apps out there to learn Spanish, but adding in-person classes can be a nice thing to do while living in Puerto Vallarta. Plus it’s a good way to meet people if you’re taking group classes!
I took a 3-week in-person class at Spanish School Vallarta with 3 other students. It cost 250 USD, including the course materials (75/week). I’ve seen many people advertising private Spanish lessons for anywhere from 10-15 USD/hour.
One thing that’s great about Puerto Vallarta is that it’s easy to get anything you need here. There’s a Walmart and Costco, as well as tons of local vendors.
Since I live out of a backpack, I rarely buy household items, but my apartment was pretty basic when I moved in, so I had to pick up a few things. I spent 200 USD to get everything I wanted (yoga mat, kitchen supplies, toiletries, etc.).
There are a handful of co-working spaces in Puerto Vallarta which range in prices. I bought a month pass to Natureza for 1000 pesos (50 USD) but then paid the same to go to Vallarta Co-work for just one week (one month is 150). I got sick of the co-working spaces, so now I just go to cafes or work from home.
SIM cards are easy to get at any corner store (Oxxo) and only cost 30 pesos. A top-up of 500 pesos (25 USD) will get you unlimited calls and texts and 6GB of data with several social apps included.
It’s been over a month since I topped mine up, and I am constantly using my data. Their 4G speeds are fast, with download speeds up to 16 Mbps.
If you do a lot of tours while living in Puerto Vallarta it’s going to hit your budget. Here are some example costs:
- Two tank dive as Los Arcos: 85 USD
- Zip-lining at Eden park: 15 USD (we got a great deal, they were advertising it for 80).
- Isla Marietas: 60 USD (secret beach not included)
- Luxury Yacht cruise: 85 USD
- 2 night trip to Yelapa with accommodation and guided hike: 85 USD
If you don’t have the budget for tours, don’t worry. There are plenty of free activities in Puerto Vallarta to enjoy.
Cost of one month of living in Puerto Vallarta
On average, this is what I spend living in Puerto Vallarta per month (all prices in USD):
- Rent: 270
- Eating out and drinking: 300-400
- Groceries: 60
- Tours: 200
- Phone data: 25
- Transportation: 80
- Travel insurance: 40
- Spanish Lessons: 250
- Co-working: 50
- Gym: 30
- Misc (shopping, dentist, ATM Fees): 100
As you can see, it’s pretty easy to get by on less than 1500 USD/month living in Puerto Vallarta! I have a great lifestyle here – I go out almost every night, do activities on the weekend, and take Ubers everywhere.
I don’t feel like I’m holding back living in Puerto Vallarta, yet I can get by on a fraction of what it would cost to do the same in North America.
Thinking about moving to Puerto Vallarta? Check out these posts!