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Living in San Miguel de Allende VS Living in Puerto Vallarta

Welcome to our deep dive into the beautiful cities of San Miguel de Allende and Puerto Vallarta! In this blog, we will be comparing everything from housing costs to the local culture, real estate market, and climate.

Living in San Miguel de Allende VS Living in Puerto Vallarta

Welcome to our deep dive into the beautiful cities of San Miguel de Allende and Puerto Vallarta! In this video, we take you on a journey through two of Mexico's most popular destinations, comparing everything from housing costs to the local culture, real estate market, and climate.

We start off with an overview of both cities, delving into their unique history and features. Then, we explore what life is like in each city, discussing the cost of living, types of housing available, and the vibrant culture and lifestyle that residents enjoy.

A major highlight of this video is our analysis of the real estate markets in both San Miguel de Allende and Puerto Vallarta. We provide insight into average property prices, types of properties available, and potential investment opportunities. We also discuss the weather and climate in both cities, providing you with a year-round perspective of what to expect.

Finally, we wrap things up with a comparison of the two cities and share personal opinions about which city might be best suited for different types of people. So, whether you're considering a move to Mexico or just curious about what life is like in these two cities, this video is a must-watch! Don't forget to leave a comment sharing your thoughts and experiences about living in either city.

We'd love to hear from you! Remember to like, share, and subscribe for more content like this. Thank you for watching, and we hope you enjoy the journey!

Ready to start your adventure in San Miguel de Allende? Contact Greg Today!

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Living in San Miguel de Allende VS Living in Puerto Vallarta

[TRANSCRIPTION]

Maya:

Welcome viewers. I am Maya, your interview host for Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices here in San Miguel de Allende in Central Mexico. Today we have a special guest, Lisa Babincsak, one of the realtors with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, and a recent transplant from Puerto Vallarta. Welcome, Lisa.

Lisa:

Thank you for having me.

Maya:

Thank you for being here. Today's video is a very exciting one. We're comparing living in San Miguel de Allende and Puerto Vallarta. So Lisa, having lived in both places, can you tell us a little bit of what inspired you to explore this topic?

Lisa:

Well, a lot of foreigners are very interested in moving to both places, and there are some things that I didn't consider when I lived in Puerto Vallarta in comparing the two and what they have to offer that I think are really important to consider before deciding where to move or invest.

Maya:

Of course, they are two very famous destinations. So before we dive in, viewers, if you find this video informative, don't forget to hit the like button, share it with your friends and subscribe for more content like this. We release videos like this on a weekly basis, so if that's something you're interested in, please hit the subscribe button. Let's jump into the comparison. Lisa, if you're ready, could you give us just a brief overview of San Miguel de Allende and Puerto Vallarta, including their locations and a bit about their history maybe?

Lisa:

Sure. Puerto Vallarta is a large sprawling city, comparatively, on the Pacific coast of Mexico, and it sits inside the Bay of Banderas or Bahía de Banderas, and the Bahía de Banderas spans two states. Part of it is in the state of Jalisco, and part of it's in the state of Nayarit. So when people refer to Vallarta, they often mean the entire bay. So it came to fame really in the early sixties when John Huston chose that location. Hello Oso.

Maya:

Oh, we have a little visitor. He's so cute. He can stay, I don't mind.

Lisa:

Whoa. A little behind. Anyway, when John Huston chose that location to film Night of the Iguana with Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor, and then their love story that ensued while they were there, created a lot of interest in the city. So what was once a small fishing village became a popular tourist destination and has grown immensely over the years.

Within the Bay there's basically five major cities that people choose to live in, and that's Puerto Vallarta to the south. South going north, Puerto Vallarta, Nuevo Vallarta, Bucerias, La Cruz de Huanacaxtle, and Punta Mita.

And then San Miguel, in contrast, is in central Mexico in the state of Guanajuato, and it's a very historic destination, a very small walkable village. It was given UNESCO historical site designation in 2008 for its cultural and historical significance to the world, and therefore it's protected, the UNESCO historical site is protected under that designation. Its history dates back to the mid-1500s with a lot of the 16th century architecture remaining and beautiful Spanish colonial architecture.

So I would say those are the two main differences other than population. So within Bahía de Banderas, the population of just really Vallarta, not even the whole bay, is about 550,000. And in San Miguel it's 178,000 roughly. [Inaudible 00:04:13].

Maya:

Each city has its unique charm. So what are some standout features that make San Miguel de Allende and Puerto Vallarta special in your eyes? We already said that it was a very popular destination for foreigners, but what makes them special independently in your eyes?

Lisa:

Well, Vallarta is beach destination and beautiful. In the south of Vallarta, south of the romantic zone in Vallarta, you have where the mountains and the jungle and the ocean all meet, and it's stunningly beautiful. The beaches are... A lot of people love water sports and just to spend time in the sun. So that's the main attraction there. And in San Miguel, you're in the mountains, you have the historical architecture, you have lots of other large cities within short driving distances to explore. They're just very, very different destinations.

Maya:

Yes, of course.

Lisa:

Climate too.

Maya:

Yes. Weather. I'm sure we will get into that, but let's get started first with San Miguel de Allende, let's focus on San Miguel de Allende first. I would like to talk about the housing and cost of living. What can you tell us about the average cost of living, including housing, utilities, and groceries so that we can make this comparison? And also what types of housing are available in the city?

Lisa:

Well, one of the main standout differences in cost of living in San Miguel versus Vallarta would be electricity. Because San Miguel is known for its year-round temperate climate, and in Puerto Vallarta, you have to run air conditioning most of the year, I mean, especially for foreigners, we're used to lots of air conditioning, so the bills can be quite high depending on where you live. They could be comparable to bills you're paying in the states, although they're typically billed two months at a time. And now we have another one joining.

Maya:

Oh, yay. I love them.

Lisa:

It's a party. But in San Miguel, the electricity bills are very affordable. They're very, very low, depending on your usage, it's a fraction of what you would pay in Vallarta.

The types of housing available here. Did I miss... oh, I missed cost of living. Cost of living, you asked me about that. Yeah. Cost of living, I would say is similar. Both destinations have become quite popular, so the cost of living is very similar.

Housing here, I think in San Miguel, you get more for your money here than in Vallarta. And the types of housing here are a lot more varied. In Vallarta, unfortunately, there's very little of the original architecture that remains, most of it has been torn down, and modern high rises or mid-rises have been built. Whereas here in San Miguel you have a lot of the original Spanish colonial architecture remains, and within, of course, Centro and Centro Historico. And then outside of the city and where there's new buildings, they still incorporate a lot of the charm of the original architecture mixed in with modern. So there's a lot more interesting architecture here, I would say, and variation in architecture.

Maya:

This is very interesting, and thank you for sharing the differences in housing because I think that's something people really want to know about, how are homes different in San Miguel from the coast? Because people usually think of when they are planning on moving to Mexico, they think of the coast right away. So that's I think something very important to tell our viewers, that it's more of a colonial place rather than the very modern buildings that you would find at the beach. Like you said before, you didn't do a lot of research before moving to Puerto Vallarta, and it ended up being something different from what you expected, right?

Lisa:

Yes, it was.

Maya:

Yeah. Well, thank you for sharing this information. And beyond the numbers, how would you describe the housing atmosphere in San Miguel de Allende? You already talked a little bit about it, but more of the daily life and the housing atmosphere that we get here?

Lisa:

As I mentioned, there's a lot more variation. In Vallarta, the variation is more which city you're in along the bay. In San Me Miguel, you have the differences from Centro Historico going out to the country, living and vineyards, equestrian developments. There's just a lot more variation. Living in the country, you can be 10, 15 minutes from Centro in San Miguel, so it's very close, yet you can escape to the country. You feel like you're in two different places almost. It's really beautiful that you have the option of the different settings.

Maya:

Moving into the cultural aspect, what makes San Miguel de Allende unique in terms of its local culture, art scene, festivals, events? Can you talk a little bit about this, Lisa, please?

Lisa:

Yes. The cultural scene in San Miguel is unbelievable. There's just so much to do here. You could do something every single night, culturally speaking. I mean, there are all types of live music and theater, opera, art, just anything you can think of. There's lots of... He wants to be on film today. There's lots of very well-known festivals here, gastronomic festivals. There's over 700 restaurants in San Miguel. And pretty much all of the top chefs in Mexico have restaurants, at least one in San Miguel. The San Miguel Writers Conference is held every year here. The Guanajuato International Film Festival is nearby. Jazz and blues festivals. There's just so many, it's like non-stop here. You could literally do something every night of the week and amazing, amazing events all the time.

Maya:

And how does the expat community contribute to the lifestyle in San Miguel de Allende?

Lisa:

Well, they're very involved. It's more of a community in San Miguel because it is such a different... Beach life, a lot of people investing in Vita are investing for investment, so they buy to have rental, and they use it when they're not renting. In San Miguel, people buy here primarily to live here. And so there's more of a community, and there is a large expat community here that is very involved in preserving San Miguel and its culture and all that San Miguel has to offer. So the expat community is very, very involved.

Maya:

Yeah, it definitely is. Well, let's shift to the real estate market, Lisa. Could you share insights into the market in San Miguel de Allende, touching maybe on average prices, property types, and any notable investment opportunities?

Lisa:

The average price of a home in San Miguel is about 750,000 U.S. dollars, and as I said, it ranges from historical properties in Centro to newer condominiums within Centro or on the outskirts of Centro to country living and beautiful country developments with great amenities to vineyard properties. There's just such a wide range of what San Miguel has to offer in real estate.

Maya:

For those considering a move, what should they know about the real estate landscape in San Miguel de Allende?

Lisa:

It is a hot market. You need to really explore and understand which... well, anywhere you live, I think it's important to understand which neighborhood you choose to live in. And there are so many different popular neighborhoods here, and they all offer a different experience. So it's just a matter of what it is you want your experience to be.

Maya:

Yeah, of course. There is a section on the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices website here in San Miguel de Allende that touches on what you just said. We have a video for every neighborhood. In case you're curious, you can always check those out. And well, let's talk about the weather. Considering climate, what is the weather like here in San Miguel de Allende throughout the year? You just mentioned that it's pretty stable throughout the year, but tell us a little bit more. How does weather impact daily life in San Miguel de Allende?

Lisa:

Well, it's a really nice climate. It's very temperate year-round. The average temperature is in the mid-seventies to low eighties throughout the year. Mornings and evenings are cooler throughout the year, so you do get that variation being in the mountains. And it's just a lot more comfortable. Most of the homes here do not need, you don't need air conditioning, so you don't have that large bill for cooling your home. So it's just a really lovely climate. And it's little to no humidity, very dry, so that's nice as well.

Maya:

Yeah, that's nice. We're in the desert, right?

Lisa:

Yes.

Maya:

So it's great weather, I can also attest to that because I've been living here for 14 years almost. So yeah, beautiful weather in San Miguel de Allende. So why don't we just shift gears to Puerto Vallarta, just we could do the same kind of order. We could start discussing housing and cost of living. So what's the average cost of living in Puerto Vallarta, and also what are the housing options available?

Lisa:

Again, the cost of living is very comparable to San Miguel de Allende. I'd say the main difference lifestyle-wise here, or cost of living-wise is that San Miguel has much more sophisticated offerings grocery-wise and shopping-wise. But the cost of living in both towns is very similar, the main difference in Puerto Vallarta being the high electricity bills because of air conditioning, that would be the main thing. But otherwise, the cost of living is very similar.

Maya:

And how does the housing scene in Puerto Vallarta differ from San Miguel de Allende?

Lisa:

The average housing and average cost of housing in Puerto Vallarta is 450,000 U.S. dollars. And mostly condominiums. I mean, there are lots of homes there too, but there are so many condos being built, many, many condos throughout the bay, very modern architecture, and they're all newer construction.

Maya:

I've been there a couple of times and just everything's white. There is not as much variety as we have here in San Miguel in terms of architecture, right?

Lisa:

Nor character. Yeah, it's lacking a lot of character because, I don't mean this in a derogatory way, but they're kind of like modern boxes because they're very simple and modern.

Maya:

Well, let's explore the cultural side. What characterizes the local culture in Puerto Vallarta, especially with its beach life, but also festivals and events.

Lisa:

That's one of the main things that inspired me to do this is. Many people when they think about moving to Mexico, think about beach life and how amazing it would be to live at the beach. And it is amazing to live at the beach if you are a beach person, if you like to spend your time doing water sports and laying out on the beach all day. But other than that, there are not a lot of cultural offerings. There's not a whole lot to do there. There's lots of restaurants, but that's pretty much it. I'd say probably in all beach towns it's that way because the focus is the beach.

Maya:

Of course. And how does the expat community influence the lifestyle in Puerto Vallarta?

Lisa:

Well, they're very involved in a lot of organizations there to... lots of expats are involved in animal rescue and those types of things. But I wouldn't say there is as many organizations should I say where expats get involved because there's not as much culture there. So there's a lesser degree of involvement across the board because of that.

Maya:

Of course. And as you said, maybe a lot of expats just buy a property there to use it during the holidays, but they don't actually live there, so they don't create a community and they're not as involved, right?

Lisa:

Exactly. And I think that that's what happened to me, and I love it there, it's beautiful, and part of my heart is still there, but I didn't think about when I moved there that not being a beach person and not being a water sports person, that there wasn't much else to do. So for me it wasn't... and I think for a lot of people find when they move to beach destinations, there's not as much to do there as they thought there would be.

Maya:

Interesting. Yeah. Thank you for commenting on that. Let's now talk about real estate in Puerto Vallarta. What are the average prices, property types, and also any investment opportunities our viewers should be aware of?

Lisa:

Well, as I mentioned, the average price is about 450,000 US. And the property types are predominantly condominiums, many, many condominiums because the market is more driven by rentals, by Airbnb rentals, and so therefore, there's more condominiums built than homes. There are obviously homes as well, many, but it's mainly a condominium market from one end of the bay to the next. And it's reached the point where it's pretty much mostly totally built out. There are a few areas that are still building, but it's reaching the maximum build out.

Maya:

And now that you mentioned condominiums, what's the role of safety? Because people usually buy condominiums to be safer, a gated community with security and all. Could you compare a little bit how safe Puerto Vallarta is in comparison to San Miguel?

Lisa:

They're both very safe destinations. The main crime there is petty theft, any tourist destination, the busier it gets, there's more petty theft, and especially when there's a lot of construction, that can happen. But overall, it's a very safe destination.

Maya:

Yeah, as well as San Miguel, I imagine. As you said, I guess the expat community makes it so that it creates this atmosphere of safety. So I just wanted to ask you about that because you mentioned the condominiums and maybe I was wondering if people were a little bit more concerned about that. So thank you for clarifying. And for those with real estate aspirations, what sets Puerto Vallarta apart in terms of property options?

Lisa:

Well, the views. And the ocean views are the main thing that most people want when they invest in that market. Not everyone can afford an ocean view, though. Obviously you're paying more for the view, but it is a beautiful view and that draws most people there.

Maya:

Yeah, makes sense. Well, let's just talk about climate again. I think that's one of the key factors when choosing where you want to live, right? So how does the weather in Puerto Vallarta differ from San Miguel de Allende, and what impact does it have on daily life?

Lisa:

Being a tropical destination, there's high humidity from basically June through October. That's rainy season. So it doesn't rain all day long. Typically, it'll just rain early morning or late in the night. But the humidity is quite high, the temperatures are high because it's summer, and it just becomes unbearable at times. Obviously, you need to run your air conditioning much more during that time as well, running your electrical bills up. But from March through December... I'm sorry, March through... Excuse me. From November through March, those are the best times of the year there. The humidity is lower and the temperatures are lower as well. So it's quite beautiful, but there still is quite a bit of humidity being a tropical beach destination.

Maya:

Of course. And what about-

Lisa:

The average temperatures in Vallarta throughout the year, the average is going to be in the mid-eighties throughout the year.

Maya:

Yeah, it doesn't vary that much. We're in the middle of December, so it's winter now. I can imagine you enjoy more the climate here, but tell us a little bit about a little contrast with San Miguel de Allende?

Lisa:

The climate here was one of the main factors drawing me here. It is just much more temperate throughout the year. The average temperature being in the mid-seventies to low eighties throughout the year. There's the lower temperatures in morning and evening, which is nice because you get a break and you have more variance in temperature. Whereas at the beach, it's pretty consistent, even into the night and early morning, it's just hot. But here it gets cooler in the morning and the evening, and it's beautiful and sunny most days throughout the year. Same here, we do have a rainy season, but it's the same thing where the rain is mostly in the night or in the morning, or if it rains in the afternoon, it'll rain a little bit for an hour or so, and then it's beautiful again. So mostly it's just absolutely beautiful all the time here.

Maya:

Yeah, totally. I totally agree with you. Well, now comes the comparison. Let's highlight key points that differentiate living in San Miguel de Allende from Puerto Vallarta. Maybe you could list some of what we've already mentioned?

Lisa:

Yes. Well, one of the key things being temperature, of course, that's definitely something to consider. The cost of living being impacted most by electrical use in Puerto Vallarta. And the difference in lifestyle, because in San Miguel de Allende, it is more of a community. There's much more culture, there's many more things going on here year round, a lot of variety, a lot of artists here, a lot of art, music, food, just so many different options of things to do. Whereas it's more limited to sand and surf in Puerto Vallarta.

Maya:

Yeah, yeah, I think those were the main, well, the key points that make them different.

Lisa:

And architecture.

Maya:

Architecture too. Yeah, I was going to mention that. So why don't you share, Lisa with us, your personal experiences and opinions about living in both places. Are there any stand-out memories or challenges you faced?

Lisa:

I moved from a mountain climate to Puerto Vallarta, so I moved from a climate similar to San Miguel's climate. I was living in Denver before moving to Vallarta, and so getting used to the humidity was quite difficult. I was there for six years, and I can't say I ever totally got used to it. But people do need to consider before they... The first thing people think about when they move to Mexico is moving to a beach destination. It's just kind of everybody's, what they think is their dream. But in reality, it might be different. If you're a beach person, if you love to spend your time on the beach, if you love to do water sports, that's the place for you to be. But many people are not that type, but they have that fantasy of living at the beach. And then once they're there, they find that there's not enough for them to do or to keep their interest, and then they want to look elsewhere. So it's important to really understand what it is you need out of your daily life before you make a decision which type of destination to move to or invest in.

Maya:

Yes, of course, I think it depends on each person and their preferences, but totally, that's something to take into account when deciding.

Lisa:

Absolutely.

Maya:

Yeah, yeah, yeah, totally. And well, for our viewers, which city do you think might be better suited for different types of people, maybe considering their preferences and lifestyles? This connects a little to what you just said, but let's dig a little bit deeper there.

Lisa:

Well, people who like to be very involved in community and who want culture to be part of their lives, who want more variety, I think San Miguel is the perfect choice. It is a very small town, but there's so much to do here, it's endless. It is just unbelievable how much there is to do here. And there are interesting people in both places, but the people who choose to settle in San Miguel tend to have a much more varied background because that's what they want in their lives. So they choose a place that gives them that variety. And in Puerto Vallarta, people are more focused on sand and surf to it, sand and surf, and a very laid-back lifestyle.

So there's something for both people, I mean for both types of people, whatever you want, but the important thing is to understand what it is that you really want in your life on a day-to-day basis before making that decision. If you're looking to move to live and build a life and have a community and have lots of options to do with your life and lots of variety, San Miguel, to me, it's unparalleled.

Maya:

Definitely. Wow. Well, thank you, Lisa. It's been a fantastic conversation. And before we say goodbye, is there anything else you'd like to add?

Lisa:

No, I think it's just important for people to come check out the destination and get a feel for it before making a decision.

Maya:

Yeah, of course, that's always very important, to experience it firsthand. Go to the city where you're planning on moving just to see if it's what you want before making a big investment, especially, right?

Lisa:

Absolutely. Yeah.

Maya:

And viewers, we want to hear from you and maybe share your experiences or thoughts about living in San Miguel de Allende or Puerto Vallarta in the comment section below. And remember, if you're looking for expert real estate guidance, consider Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices. We can answer any of your questions. Our team is always available. You'll find the contact information at the end of this video. Thank you so, so much, Lisa, for being here with us.

Lisa:

Thank you, Maya, for having me.

Maya:

Thank you for watching, viewers. And remember, hit that subscribe button, share with your friends if you think that you might be interested. And well, we'll see each other until next time. Goodbye and thank you again, Lisa. Have a great day.

Lisa:

Thank you Maya. You as well.

 

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