Medellín vs Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, which is really the better place to live? In our Medellín vs Puerto Vallarta comparison, we comprehensively compare the two cities in 20 categories to see which is the better place to live in for expats.

We previously published an article about 11 reasons why Medellín is considered a top foreign retirement location. The foreign retirement publications have for several years been touting Colombia as a top foreign retirement location.

And the International Living retirement publication ranked the country of Colombia as its sixth best foreign retirement location in 2018 and Mexico is its third best foreign retirement location.

Several Medellin Guru readers asked for a comparison of Medellín with Mexico, as we have published several comparisons in the past. But it’s difficult to compare Medellín to the entire country of Mexico. So, I chose Puerto Vallarta, which is a city in Mexico that is popular with foreign retirees.

Puerto Vallarta is a Mexican beach resort city located on the Pacific coast of Mexico. And it has a metro population of less than 400,000.

Medellín is the second largest city in Colombia with a metro population of about 4 million located in a valley in the Colombian Andes Mountains in Colombia. And mountains surround Medellín with a river running though the city.

Many expats I have met living in Medellín prefer Medellín. And expats living in the Puerto Vallarta tend to prefer Puerto Vallarta. However, many of these expats living in one of these two places have never traveled to the other. It’s not really fair to compare two places if you have not been to both of them.

I have lived in Medellín for over eight years. But I have traveled several times on vacation to Mexico and I have been to Puerto Vallarta twice. In my opinion, both places have their pluses and minuses. No place is perfect.

Note, the following 20 categories in this Medellín vs Puerto Vallarta comparison are in no particular order. And where possible in our Medellín vs Puerto Vallarta comparison, we provide some statistics to back up how we chose the winner of each category in our comparison.

Aerial view of marina, cruise ship terminal and Puerto Vallarta, photo by Intersofia

Aerial view of marina, cruise ship terminal and Puerto Vallarta, photo by Intersofia

1. Climate – Medellín vs Puerto Vallarta

Medellín wins here. The temperature during the year in Medellín averages 72.5 °F (22.5 °C). The Medellín weather and climate is a benefit of living in the city.

Also, Medellín is also known as “La Ciudad de la Eterna Primavera”, or the city of eternal spring. The average temperature in Medellín typically only varies by about 1 °F during the year.

In Medellín, the high daily average temperature ranges from 81.0 to 82.8 ° F (27.0 to 28.2 °C). And the low daily average ranges from 61.7 to 63.3 ° F (16.5 to 17.4 °C).

In comparison in Puerto Vallarta, the temperature during the entire year averages a warmer 78.2 ° F (25.7 °C).

During the year, the average high temperature in Puerto Vallarta ranges from 83.8 to 92.7 ° F (28.8 to 33.7 °C). And the average low temperature typically ranges from 61.3 to 73.4 ° F (11.0 to 23.0 °C).

During the year on some days in Puerto Vallarta it can get above 100.0 ° F (38.8 °C). With the warm temperatures in Puerto Vallarta, air-conditioning is definitely needed.

In terms of rainfall, in Medellín there is one month out of the year with heavy rain (October), which is normally over 220 mm (nearly 9 inches) of rain. The average rainfall in Medellín for the entire year is about 69 inches (1,752 mm) per year.

In comparison, it rains somewhat less in Puerto Vallarta. But there is a rainy season with three very rainy months in Puerto Vallarta. In July, August and September there is heavy rain with typically over 310 mm (over 12 inches) of rain. The average rainfall in Puerto Vallarta for the entire year is about 54.8 inches (1,392.2 mm) per year.

In terms of humidity, Medellín has somewhat higher humidity on average. The humidity in Medellín averages 67 percent during the year. And in Puerto Vallarta the humidity average 60 percent during the year.

Medellín arguably wins this category due to the warmer climate in Puerto Vallarta which requires air-conditioning, which isn’t needed in Medellín.

Medellín, photo by Jenny Bojinova

Medellín, photo by Jenny Bojinova

2. Cost of Living – Medellín vs Puerto Vallarta

Medellín arguably wins here. Apartment properties I have seen in Puerto Vallarta tend to rent for or sell for at least 20-30 percent higher prices than similar properties in Medellín. And sometimes even higher.

In addition, I have seen some properties for sale in the Puerto Vallarta with over 50 percent higher prices compared to similar properties in Medellín.

Also, the cost of living site Numbeo reports that the cost of living is more expensive in Puerto Vallarta in almost every category compared to the prices in Medellín.

Some expats living in Mexico try to avoid the higher cost of living near the coast in Mexico by living in a small town in Mexico away from the coast.

An expat from the U.S. I met last year in Puerto Vallarta told me he is paying about $600 per month for his two-bedroom apartment. But his apartment was much smaller than the three-bedroom apartment I rent in Sabaneta near Medellín for less.

Hospital Pablo Tobón Uribe, the best hospital in Medellín, photo by SajoR

Hospital Pablo Tobón Uribe, the best hospital in Medellín, photo by SajoR

3. Healthcare – Medellín vs Puerto Vallarta

Medellín wins here.  Good healthcare is a very important category for retirees.

Medellín has nine of the top 58 ranked hospitals in Latin America. And Colombia has 23 of the best hospitals in Latin America.

In comparison, Puerto Vallarta doesn’t have any to the top ranked hospitals in Latin America. And Mexico only has four of the top ranked hospitals in Latin America that are located in Mexico City, Queretaro, Cancun and San Pedro Garza Garcia.

Here is a list of all the top ranked hospitals in Medellín, with the rankings in the top 58 hospitals in Latin America:

  1. Hospital Pablo Tobón Uribe (#9)
  2. Hospital Universitario de San Vicente Fundación (#16)
  3. Clínica las Américas (#23)
  4. Hospital General de Medellín (#28)
  5. Clínica Universitaria Bolivariana (#34)
  6. Clínica El Rosario (#43)
  7. Clínica Cardio Vid (#44)
  8. Clínica Medellín (#53)
  9. Clínica Las Vegas (#58)

WHO ranks Colombia’s healthcare system as #22 out of 191 countries it ranked, which is ranked higher than many wealthier countries like the United States (#37), Germany (#25), Canada (#30) and Australia (#32).

Mexico’s healthcare system is ranked lower than Colombia’s healthcare system by WHO, as they rank Mexico at #61 out of 191 countries.

The bottom line is that Medellín is a large city with more hospitals including nine of the top hospitals in Latin America compared to Puerto Vallarta with none of the top hospitals in Latin America. And WHO ranks Colombia’s healthcare system higher than the healthcare system in Mexico. So, Medellín wins this category.

Traffic, one of the downsides of living in Medellín

Traffic, one of the downsides of living in Medellín

4. Traffic – Medellín vs Puerto Vallarta

Puerto Vallarta easily wins here. In a survey by Waze in 2016, Medellín was ranked #176 in the world in terms of drivers’ satisfaction out of 186 metros surveyed.

Medellín has a metro population of about 4 million that is about 10 times the metro population of Puerto Vallarta. So, Puerto Vallarta doesn’t have much traffic in comparison.

Traffic can get bad in Medellín during rush hours. It can sometimes take an hour or more during rush hour to get to some places in Medellín. The worst traffic in the Medellín metro in my experience tends to be in El Poblado, El Centro and Envigado.

However, there is worse traffic in Latin America than in found in Medellín. In my experience, the traffic is much worse in the bigger cities of Bogotá, São Paulo and Mexico City.

The Medellín Metro in El Centro

The Medellín Metro in El Centro

5. Public Transportation – Medellín vs Puerto Vallarta

Medellín wins here.  Medellín has a comprehensive metro system and an extensive network of buses.

The Medellín Metro is a comprehensive and inexpensive system. Furthermore, it integrates two rail lines, four Metrocable cable-car lines, two Metroplús elongated bus lines, a Tranvía tramcar line and even feeder Metro buses. Medellín’s metro system has over 60 stations throughout the city.

In comparison, the much smaller city of Puerto Vallarta doesn’t have a metro system. Using Puerto Vallarta’s public bus system is the least expensive way to get around the city. The buses in Puerto Vallarta tend to begin and finish at the same spot: Lázaro Cárdenas Park.

Medellín also has an extensive network of public buses. And the buses in both Puerto Vallarta and Medellín are very inexpensive.

Taxis in Puerto Vallarta tend to be somewhat more expensive than in Medellín. And in Puerto Vallarta the taxis don’t have meters. So, make sure to find out the fare before getting in a taxi in Puerto Vallarta. Taxis in Medellín are metered and we have a detailed Medellín taxi guide.

It is definitely possible to live in Medellín without a car with the good and inexpensive public transportation in the city. Reportedly about 80 percent of the expats living in Medellín don’t have a car.

Since Medellín has a comprehensive and inexpensive metro system as well as inexpensive buses and taxis, Medellín wins this category.

6. Safety – Medellín vs Puerto Vallarta

Puerto Vallarta wins here. Puerto Vallarta generally has lower crime rates than are found in the city of Medellín. Puerto Vallarta is considered a relatively safe area to live in Mexico.

However, there is a “drug war” that has been taking place in Mexico for several years now. But this primarily impacts a narrow area right along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Mexico’s homicide rate was 20.5 per 100,000 inhabitants in 2017, compared to 19.4 in 2011. There doesn’t seem to be a published homicide rate for Puerto Vallarta but it’s likely much lower than in Mexico overall.

In comparison, the homicide rate in Medellín of 23 per 100,000 inhabitants in 2017 was up from a homicide rate of 20 in 2015 in Medellín.

But over the past few years Medellín has experienced a homicide rate that is lower than is found in St. Louis, Baltimore, Detroit or New Orleans in the U.S.

Furthermore, Medellín dropped off of the list of the 50 most dangerous cities in the world a few years ago based on homicide rates.

We previously looked at security in Medellín and expat safety tips. And in a survey of 12,548 Colombians, Medellín ranked higher than all other cities in Colombia in terms of citizens feeling safe in their barrio (neighborhood) – slide 41.

7. Pollution – Medellín vs Puerto Vallarta

Puerto Vallarta wins here Medellín has pollution problems. According to the World Health Organization’s (WHO’s) 2018 Ambient Air Quality Database, Medellín is ranked #9 out of the most polluted cities and towns in Latin America based on PM2.5 pollutants.

Medellín’s biggest issue is that it’s located in a canyon. Mountains surround the city of Medellín. So, pollution tends to stay in the Medellín metropolitan area. This is similar to the problem in Denver in the U.S. But fairly regular rain in the city can help clean the atmosphere.

Puerto Vallarta is located on the coast in Mexico and is a much smaller city so pollution problems are not as bad as in Medellín.

In general, Puerto Vallarta has less air pollution than is found in Medellín. So, the Puerto Vallarta wins this category.

However, according to WHO, in Latin America several cities and towns have worse pollution than in Medellín. Lima, Peru; Monterrey, Mexico; five towns in Chile; and Guatemala all have worse air pollutant problems.

Inside the Puerto Vallarta airport, photo by Jeat1993

Inside the Puerto Vallarta airport, photo by Jeat1993

8. Travel Access to North America, Europe and Latin America – Medellín vs Puerto Vallarta

Puerto Vallarta wins hereThe Licenciado Gustavo Díaz Ordaz International International Airport in Puerto Vallarta has non-stop flights year-round to over 20 international locations in the U.S. and Canada.

In addition, the Puerto Vallarta airport gets busy during the winter months with the addition of many more seasonal flights to many other locations Canada and the U.S.

Also, the Puerto Vallarta has a few non-stop flights to Europe and other locations in Latin America plus several locations in Mexico.

Inside José María Córdova international airport

Inside José María Córdova international airport

Medellín’s José María Córdova international airport (MDE) is the second largest airport in Colombia. This airport has non-stop flights to 12 international locations in the U.S., Europe and Latin America.

From the MDE airport there are non-stop flights available to Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, Miami and New York (JFK) in the U.S. In addition, from MDE you can fly non-stop to Madrid in Europe. Also, you can fly non-stop to Cancún, Lima, Maracaibo, Mexico City, Panama City, San Salvador and Valencia.

In addition, there are more domestic Colombia flights available from Medellín as the city has two airports: the international José María Córdova airport and the domestic Olaya Herrera airport (EOH). From Medellín’s two airports you can fly non-stop to over 30 cities in Colombia.

The bottom line you can fly to over 20 international locations in the U.S. and Canada from the airport in Puerto Vallarta. So, Puerto Vallarta wins this category.

Playa Los Muertos in Puerto Vallarta, photo by Melikamp

Playa Los Muertos in Puerto Vallarta, photo by Melikamp

9. Things to Do – Medellín vs Puerto Vallarta

Medellin arguably wins here. Medellín and the nearby region have many things to do than in Puerto Vallarta

TripAdvisor has over 210 things to do listed for Medellín. And it has less than 180 things to do listed for Puerto Vallarta. While this is unscientific it demonstrates there are more things to do in the city of Medellín compared to the city of Puerto Vallarta.

If we include Medellín plus the other municipalities in the Aburrá Valley and nearby pueblos, TripAdvisor has over 400 things listed to do. But TripAdvisor is missing many of the things to do in each pueblo near Medellín.

For example, for some pueblos, TripAdvisor has only one thing listed to do, which is inaccurate, as every pueblo has many things to do. This is due to many pueblos near Medellín not being in the tourist guides like Lonely Planet, which only lists three pueblos near Medellín. So, many pueblos aren’t accurately covered on TripAdvisor.

The bottom line is that there are over 400 things to do in the Medellín metro area and nearby pueblos.  So, Medellín arguably wins this category.

Sculptures along the Malecón in Puerto Vallarta, photo by Another Believer

Sculptures along the Malecón in Puerto Vallarta, photo by Another Believer

10. Restaurants and Nightlife – Medellín vs Puerto Vallarta

Medellín wins here. Both Medellín and Puerto Vallarta have many good restaurant options. But you will have a much bigger choice of restaurants in Medellín due to it being a much bigger city.

If you look on TripAdvisor, it lists nearly 1,400 restaurants in Medellín and less than 1,000 in Puerto Vallarta. Both Medellín and Puerto Vallarta have many good restaurant options. But you will have a bigger choice of restaurants in Medellín.

In terms of nightlife, Medellín has many more nightlife options than in Puerto Vallarta due to having a metro population of about 4 million. And the nightlife in Medellín is active year-round.

In Medellín you can find bars, nightclubs, music and pubs of many styles found in areas like Parque Lleras, La 70 and La 33.

Since Medellín is a much bigger city, it has more restaurant and nightlife options. So, Medellín wins this category.

11. Taxes – Medellín vs Puerto Vallarta

The two places arguably tie here. We highly recommend talked to a tax professional to understand the tax implications before moving to another county.

Tax residents in both Colombia and Mexico are taxed on worldwide income. In Colombia, you become a tax resident after spending 183 days in a year in the country.

And in Mexico you become a tax resident after establishing an abode regardless of time in the country. Basically, if SAT (the IRS of Mexico) believes Mexico is your “center of vital interests” they will classify you as a resident for tax purposes.

In addition, Colombia no longer taxes foreign pensions.

Mexico tax residents are liable to a progressive tax on their worldwide income ranging between 1.92 – 35 percent. And Colombia tax residents are liable to a progressive tax on their worldwide income ranging between 0 – 33 percent.

We looked at filing income taxes in Colombia in 2017. Colombia has many income deductions including deductions for expenses related to receiving your income, mortgage interest, health insurance, retirement savings and economic support of dependents.

In addition, in Colombia, you can exclude 25 percent of your salary (up to a limit) from income taxes. Also, some income taxes paid in another country are subtracted from income taxes due in Colombia.

Property taxes in Mexico reportedly average about 1.0 percent of the assessed value of a property.  And property taxes in Colombia typically range from 0.3 to 3.3 percent.

The standard VAT (IVA tax) tax is higher in Colombia at 19 percent for many items. In comparison, the IVA tax for most items in Mexico is currently lower at 16 percent.

12. Job Opportunities – Medellín vs Puerto Vallarta

Medellín wins here. Medellín is a much larger city with a metro population that has over 10 times the population of Puerto Vallarta in Mexico. So, clearly there are many more job opportunities in Medellín.

Medellín has several very large employers and several multinational companies have offices in Medellín that are headquartered in the U.S.

But there aren’t that many work opportunities in either place for foreigners. This is particularly the case in Medellín if you don’t speak Spanish fluently. Fluency in Spanish is typically required for the best jobs in Colombia and Mexico.

Puerto Vallarta is a tourist location and many of the jobs are tourist jobs that have a lot of competition from locals.

In both Medellín and Puerto Vallarta you can find English teaching job opportunities if you are a native English speaker. However, the pay for English teaching isn’t the greatest in either place.

Also, to work in either Colombia or Mexico will require a visa.

13. Expat Community and Expat Friendly – Medellín vs Puerto Vallarta

The two cities arguably tie here. At some times of the year, Puerto Vallarta has a much bigger expat community than Medellín.

The expat community in Puerto Vallarta varies depending on the time of the year. During the winter in North America, thousands of snow birds come from about November to early May. And in the off-season, the expat population may be about a quarter of the expat population in the high season.

The expat community in Medellín is likely smaller but unfortunately there aren’t reliable statistics for Medellín. However, I would estimate there may be less than 5,000 expats from North America and Europe living in Medellín.

The expat community in Medellín may be smaller but it’s much better organized. For example, Medellín has large expat groups on Facebook like Medellin Expats with over 15,000 members and hundreds of posts and comments each day.  Also, Medellín has the Digital Nomads Medellin Facebook group with over 5,200 members.

Puerto Vallarta has a Puerto Vallarta: Everything You Need or Want to Know Facebook group with about 45,000 members. But it’s not very active averaging only about 10 posts per day. And many of the members are locals. Also, I didn’t find a Puerto Vallarta Digital Nomad group on Facebook.

In addition, in Medellín there are many regularly organized meetups for expats each week. Two expats I met in the past year in Medellín that used to live in Puerto Vallarta both told me there aren’t nearly as many regularly organized meetups in the Puerto Vallarta for expats as there are in Medellín.

Finally, both Mexico and Colombia are rated as expat friendly countries by InterNations. In 2018 when looking at the best and worst places for expats, InterNations ranked Mexico as #4 out of 68 countries. And Colombia is ranked #9.

Puerto Vallarta may have a bigger expat community particularly with snowbirds for part of the year. But the expat community in Medellín looks to be better organized. So, these two places arguably tie in this category.

14. Education Options – Medellín vs Puerto Vallarta

Medellín arguably wins here. Medellín has about 40 universities. So, there are many university choices available. Puerto Vallarta in comparison only has a handful of universities.

In addition, Medellín has many Spanish language programs available for foreigners.  Also, Medellín has Universidad EAFIT, which reportedly has the largest Spanish language program in Colombia for foreigners. Puerto Vallarta also has many Spanish Language programs available for foreigners.

Furthermore, both Medellín and Puerto Vallarta have several bilingual schools available for children.

So, both Medellín and Puerto Vallarta have Spanish language programs for foreigners. And both places have bilingual schools available for children.

However, Medellín arguably edges out the Puerto Vallarta in this education category due to Medellín having many more university choices.

15. Internet Availability and Infrastructure Reliability – Medellín vs Puerto Vallarta

Medellín arguably wins here.  In Medellín, it is possible to get higher Internet speeds than in Puerto Vallarta.

In Medellín, it is possible to get up to 300 Mbps Internet speed from Claro. In addition, up to 150 Mbps speed is available from Tigo-UNE and up to 40 Mbps from Movistar.

Most buildings in Medellín will have service from at least one of these three providers. And all three providers in Medellín provide triple-play Internet/TV/phone services. Also, we have a guide to Internet and cable TV providers in Medellín.

In Puerto Vallarta, it is possible to get up to 200 Mbps Internet speed from Telmex and up to 50 Mbps speed is available from Issi. Both providers offer triple-play Internet/TV/phone services.

Furthermore, the highest speed Internet in both cities will normally be available only in the newest apartment buildings. In older buildings, you may be limited to lower speeds.

In terms of other infrastructure like electricity and water, the two places are similar. In both places and electricity and water services are generally reliable.

In Medellín the tap water is safe to drink. And Puerto Vallarta reportedly spent $6 million on a new water treatment and purification system.

However, in some older tourist areas and some neighborhoods in Puerto Vallarta the water pipes are still old. So, when the purified water flows through those sections of old piping, various contaminants from the old pipes enter the water. So, depending on where you are in Puerto Vallarta the tap water may be considered to drink – but not everywhere.

Since Medellín has higher Internet speeds available, Medellín edges out Puerto Vallarta in this category.

16. Economic Freedom, Ease of Starting a Business and Corruption – Medellín vs Puerto Vallarta

Medellín arguably wins here. Since both places are in different countries it is good to compare the countries in terms economic freedom and ease of starting a business as well as corruption when considering them as places to live.

The Heritage Foundation ranks countries in terms of economic freedom. It ranks Colombia as a “moderately free country”. It ranks Colombia #42 out of the 180 countries it ranks in terms of economic freedom in the world.

Heritage Foundation ranks Mexico lower than Colombia with a “moderately free country. It currently ranks Mexico #63 out of 180 countries in terms of economic freedom.

In terms of ease of doing business, Colombia is ranked #65. And Mexico is ranked #54 in terms of ease of doing business. So, it’s generally a bit easier to do business in Mexico.

Corruption is found in both countries. Mexico is ranked #135 out of 180 countries in terms of corruption perception by Transparency International. And Colombia is ranked #96. So, corruption is perceived to be worse in Mexico.

Since Colombia ranks better than Mexico in terms of both economic freedom and corruption perception, Medellín arguably wins this category.

Inside Plaza Galerías mall in Puerto Vallarta, photo by Lic Leticia B.

Inside Plaza Galerías mall in Puerto Vallarta, photo by Lic Leticia B.

17. Shopping – Medellín vs Puerto Vallarta

Medellín easily wins here.  Puerto Vallarta is a much smaller city than Medellín. So, it has fewer shopping options.

The malls in Medellín in my experience are much larger than the relatively small malls found in Puerto Vallarta.  And we have looked at 22 malls in Medellín including the 13 best malls in Medellín.

The largest mall in Puerto Vallarta, is reportedly Plaza Galerías with reportedly less than 100 shops. The smaller malls in Medellín are larger than the largest mall in Puerto Vallarta.

The Viva Envigado Mall in Envigado

The Viva Envigado Mall in Envigado

There are five malls in Medellín with at least 400 shops each, which means each is over four times as large as the largest mall in Puerto Vallarta in terms of number of shops.

For example, Santafé mall is one of the largest malls in Medellín with over 400 shops. And in October 2018, Viva Envigado, the largest mall in Colombia opened in Envigado, directly south of Medellín, which also has about 400 shops.

The bottom line is that Medellín has many more malls and many more shopping options. This is due to Medellín having a metro population that is about 10 times larger than in Puerto Vallarta.

18. English Proficiency Levels – Medellín vs Puerto Vallarta

Puerto Vallarta wins here. Puerto Vallarta tends to have more locals that speak English than locals that speak English in Medellín.

Puerto Vallarta is a tourist location that caters to Americans from the U.S. So, English is more frequently used than other locations in Mexico.

In Medellín you will some English speakers in hotels and nicer restaurants. And some of the taxi drivers and shopkeepers in Medellín speak some English. Also, executives at larger companies are typically are bilingual.

But in everyday life in Medellín you will be more challenged to find English speakers than in Puerto Vallarta.

Education First ranks Mexico as #57 in its English Proficiency Index with a score of 49.76, which means a low level of English proficiency. And Colombia is ranked #60 with a score of 48.90, which is also a low level of proficiency (a higher number signifies that more people speak English).

But not everyone in Puerto Vallarta speaks English. If you want to be able to speak to all the locals in Puerto Vallarta you will need some Spanish. But Spanish is needed more in Medellín.

19. Ease of Getting a Visa – Medellín vs Puerto Vallarta

Medellín arguably wins this category. Colombia and Mexico both have a number of visa options. And the visa processes for both countries are fairly straightforward.

However, Mexico’s visas generally have higher income and investment requirements.

For example, a retirement visa in Mexico is a Residente Temporal (RT), which is a temporary resident similar to a Migrant visa in Colombia. Previously the pension requirement for a RT visa was nearly $1,600 per month but this is increasing in 2019 due to a new minimum wage in Mexico.

In comparison the Colombia retirement visa in 2019 only requires a monthly pension income of 2,484,348 Colombian pesos (COP) per month ($792 USD at the exchange rate of 3,136 COP to USD).

The Mexico investment visas also have higher investment requirements than the Colombia investment visas.

Colombia streamlined its visa process a couple years ago and you can apply online, fewer documents are required and approvals are now relatively fast, typically in about a week.

Medellín arguably wins this category due to Colombia having lower income requirements and lower investment requirement needed for visas than in Mexico.

20. Owning Property – Medellín vs Puerto Vallarta

Medellín arguably wins here – Mexico has a restriction where foreigners can’t own land 50 kilometers (about 31 miles) from shorelines. So, this restricts the ability for foreigners to own land in Puerto Vallarta.

However, inside the restricted zones in Mexico, foreigners can control land through fideicomisos, which are bank trust agreements.

This type of bank trust in Mexico grants the title for a piece of property to the bank (the trustee), which in turn must follow any instructions given by the trust’s beneficiary (the foreign owner). And trusts are issued for renewable 50-year periods.

This is different in Colombia. With regards to property purchases, foreigners have the same rights as Colombian citizens and can buy properties including land.

Also, buying real estate in Colombia can provide a Colombian investment visa depending on the value of the property. Mexico also has an investment visa available for property investment but the required amount is higher in Mexcico at about $174,000 USD.

Colombia does not have restrictions on foreigners buying land like in Mexico. Also, Colombia has an investment visa for investing in real estate requiring less investment than in Mexico. So, Medellín arguably wins this category.

The Medellin Guru City and Place Comparisons

We have compared on the Medellin Guru website:

Conchas Chinas beach in Puerto Vallarta, photo by Melikamp

Conchas Chinas beach in Puerto Vallarta, photo by Melikamp

The Bottom Line: Medellín vs Puerto Vallarta 

In our Medellín vs Puerto Vallarta comparison:

  • Medellín wins in 13 of our 20 categories.
  • Puerto Vallarta wins in 5 of our 20 categories.
  • The two cities tie in 2 categories.

So, in this unscientific and somewhat subjective Medellín vs Puerto Vallarta comparison of 20 categories, Medellín easily beats Puerto Vallarta if you equally weigh the categories. But it really comes down to which categories are more important for you.

For example, if having a lower cost of living, better climate and better healthcare are your most important categories, then Medellín would win for you.

And if having beaches, less pollution, less traffic and more English spoken are your most important categories, then Puerto Vallarta win for you.

Both of these places in our Medellín vs Puerto Vallarta comparison have their pluses and minuses. I prefer living in Medellín due to it having an eternal spring climate year-round, low cost of living, good healthcare and a very good metro system.

The bottom line in our Medellín vs Puerto Vallarta comparison is that the best place to live is the best place to live for you. Everyone has different priorities. The only way to know which place is the best for you is to spend time there.

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Editors note: updated on February 20, 2019 with data from the WHO’s 2018 Ambient Air Quality Database.