After living for six years in a small, classic hacienda-style concrete block and stucco house with a yard in a Mexican barrio (neighborhood) of Sayulita, we decided to move to a condo in Puerto Vallarta for multiple reasons. Life in a rustic casita surrounded by friendly locals was a great experience and we’re glad for that period of our adventures. But what a contrast our new home is!
Here are the next 7 of 14 things we love about condo living in Puerto Vallarta:
8. Almost No Mosquitoes and No Scorpions!
We’ve only seen one mosquito in our condo since we moved into it almost a year ago. Leaving all the windows and the patio door open for fresh air doesn’t bring mosquitoes in, even without screens! It seems mosquitoes live at ground level so that’s one reason we had more of them in our Sayulita casita. Living next to the jungle with a garden full of tropical plants there may have contributed to an increase in the mosquito population.
Now we live about three floors above street level, so we have virtually no mosquitoes, even with mango and palm trees surrounding the condominium and potted plants on our balcony. We still have to be careful not to have any standing water where mosquitoes breed. But we don’t need those bug zappers any longer.
My favorite bug-related improvement is that we have no scorpions! We had several scary scorpion incidents in Sayulita, even though we regularly sprayed for insects with an insecticide perimeter treatment around the house and garden. The condominium Home Owner’s Association hires a company to fumigate the building every two months, one of the services we pay for with our monthly dues.
Living in a tropical climate means learning how to deal with insects. Moving to a condo has brought the unexpected benefit of minimizing those pests. (We still have ants occasionally and are glad we brought some Terro Liquid Ant Baits with us from the U.S.—that sends them away quickly!)
I don’t mind sharing our home and garden with geckos and other lizards. But I prefer that the iguanas and tejónes stay out in the jungle. In Sayulita, Bella did a pretty good job of running those critters out of the yard. In case you missed the story about Bella and the iguana, you can view it HERE.
Here in our Puerto Vallarta condo, the only critter we’ve seen is a scraggly squirrel looking for a drink of water and to see if Sophie left any crumbs of her treats on the balcony after we play fetch in the evening. No iguanas or tejónes when you live above ground level, I guess.
I did learn that there are iguanas in Puerto Vallarta because I almost got pooped on one day when we were hiking along the Rio Cuale and walked under a giant tree that they favor. Now we watch the sidewalk for signs of large, messy iguana poop and veer around those trees. But, so far, no iguanas on our condo balcony—they can be dangerous if a small dog like Sophie attacks them.
10. My Favorite—Cabinet Doors on the Kitchen Cabinets
In Sayulita, our casita had open cabinets allowing the dust to settle on the dishes and food. I understood the reason—in a humid climate, if cabinets are enclosed, the contents can become mildewy. But I never liked how the kitchen looked with the shelves open.
With our new kitchen, there is minimal dust on the dishes. The kitchen looks so much less cluttered and more professional. The food doesn’t get moldy or stale, partly because I keep open packages sealed in Ziploc bags and partly because we run the air conditioner part of the day when the weather is too humid. Cabinet doors are great now that we have Sophie, still in her puppy phase. We can just imagine her dragging lids from the Pyrex dishes out to play with, probably destroying them before I noticed what she was chewing!
11. A Swimming Pool!
I always wanted to have a swimming pool built at our Sayulita casita. Our lot was small so it would have been a soaking pool. But wouldn’t that have felt so good in the hot, humid summer months? Jon said it would be too much to take care of. He was the one who would have been responsible for the maintenance, so I had to agree with him. Anyway, who needs a pool when the Sayulita bay was only a three-block walk from home and great for swimming or just cooling off?
Now we have a beautiful pool on our rooftop. The view is wonderful and a good place to watch the sunset. There’s a bar and food service at the pool, so when I don’t want to cook, we head up for chicken skewers, hamburgers, a grilled chicken salad with fresh fruit, or another light meal. The best part is that we don’t have to take care of the pool, lounge chairs, and gardens on the roof—we pay for maintenance in our monthly HOA dues. During our retirement years, having less to take care of and more to enjoy is especially important.
12. Jon’s Favorite: Low Maintenance
Not everything was great when we moved into our 6-year-old condo unit—those terrible leaks in the master bedroom and laundry room ceilings during the early days after we moved here were extremely stressful. But our apartment has been very low maintenance since then.
Gardening in terracotta pots on the balcony has been fun, not requiring much work. We installed a drip irrigation system with an automatic timer so we can leave for vacation and the plants continue to thrive. When the upkeep of our garden and the palm trees in Sayulita became drudgery, it was time to downsize the garden. So we eliminated the yard by moving to a condo and are glad we did.
I thought Jon might get bored with no palm trees to prune and nothing to repair. But he enjoys reading the world news and planning small improvements in our apartment. Next month we’ll have our Mexican building contractor coordinate adding ceiling fans in the two bathrooms and repainting the bathroom walls. Oh, boy! That means a trip to Home Depot for supplies—Jon’s favorite place to shop.
13. Security on Site 24/7
The lobby of our condominium has a friendly, welcoming atmosphere. The security guys greet everyone with happiness in their voices. We can now enjoy the bright smiles they give us when we come and go since the mask requirement has been lifted as of May 2022.
But the security personnel do more than greet residents and guests. They close and lock the two doors into the lobby around 10:00 PM, ensuring that only those of us who live or rent here can enter with a scan card. They enforce the quiet hours that start at 11:00 PM. They take action when needed if guests at the pool become too rowdy—thank goodness we’ve never seen that happen, but it’s nice to know that security is there for us. They help keep our community quiet enough for everyone here to enjoy it.
14. A Community within a Community
With over forty units in our condominium, it’s a little community within the Romantic Zone of Puerto Vallarta where we get to know our neighbors. There are quite a few Americans and Canadians who live in their units at least six months a year. The pool and surrounding common area are ideal places to meet others, make friends, and share information.
Occasionally, there are special events held at the rooftop bar and pool area in the evening. The lighting after dark gives it a magical feel. The Halloween Masquerade Party of 2021 was one of my favorites, with performers providing entertainment including live music and fire-dancing.
As the event was held during COVID, masks were still required in public unless eating or drinking, so some of us wore decorated masks to the public gathering. The open-air setting allowed others to wear eye masks, uncovering their mouths and noses while social distancing. Everyone enjoyed getting together after almost two years of the pandemic. We talked and laughed with new friends that night, happy that we had chosen to move to this condominium community.
Bonus: Our Amazon and Restaurant Deliveries are Accepted by the Front Desk Security
This is a wonderful convenience whether we’re at home or away when Amazon delivers our packages! Sometimes the Security guys even bring the items to us at our condo unit. This is especially helpful if the item is heavy. Of course, we tip the guys for carrying the orders to our front door.
Is Purchasing a Condo a Good Idea?
We wondered a few times in the first month after we moved in if it had been a good decision to purchase a condo unit during our retirement, given the high prices of real estate in Puerto Vallarta. Some people choose to rent. But we don’t wonder any longer—we’re grateful that we made the move.
We feel that withdrawing money from our mutual funds to purchase our condo unit was a good investment. (We were fortunate to have sold funds during a peak before the current recession started.) Our retirement funds are much less than our goal had been during our working phase. After the 2008 recession demolished our real estate investments in the United States, we stumbled financially. Then we realized we could live a good life in México on our Social Security and save the modest IRAs we had managed to hang onto to be used for health care.
We’ve learned that during our retirement years, condo living is better than owning a house with a garden. We now have more time for day trips, vacations, exercise, reading, and other things we want to do.
(Healthy Living in Mexico #5)
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