Climate: Winters—sunny, pleasantly warm;
summers—rainy, humid, hot.
Expat community: Estimated at 50,000,
including a good number of Canadians.
Cost of living: According to one recent survey, almost half of U.S. expats on the Pacific
Coast report living “comfortably” on less than
$1,000 a month. (In PV region, $2,000 a month
is more like it.) Dinner out: $30 for two.
Housing costs: Mid-price range for condos
and houses: $200,000, but bargains can be
found for as little as $90,000. Three-bedroom
beachfront villas: $300,000 and up. Rentals:
year-round rents start at $800 monthly.
Health care: PV has good hospitals (you’ll
find good-to-excellent hospitals in or near large
cities throughout Mexico), and the hospitals
in Guadalajara, three hours away, are highly
regarded. Basic-care clinics abound.
Culture and leisure: Fiestas, surfing, jungle tours. There’s
also an impressive arts scene in PV.
Access to the U.S.: Excellent, with nonstops from Puerto
Vallarta to the U.S. East and West coasts.
Languedoc-Roussillon region in the Southwest. Languedoc-Roussillon includes Nîmes, with its Roman ruins; the
bustling city of Montpellier; and the stylish town of Perpignan,
with its shops and plazas. Once remote, the region is now
just three hours from the bright lights of Paris via high-speed train to Montpellier. It is steeped in history, with
medieval towns and castles, ancient olive trees and vineyards. Besides offering plentiful museums, festivals, and
concerts, it is also a destination for the outdoor crowd, who
hike in its rocky, picturesque hills and beachcomb along its
lovely Mediterranean seashore.
Ed Ward, 61, an American expat from New York and the
rock-and-roll historian for National Public Radio’s Fresh Air
program, laughingly describes himself as a “starving writer.”
He rents a modest apartment in Montpellier and delights in
his immersion in a French community: “I interact on a daily
basis with farmers, artists, retired people, musicians, and
foreigners, both expats and Moroccans and Algerians. The
weather is good, and the whole place is laid-back. Provence
gets all the press, but I like this part of France more.”
Ethel and Paul Hammer-Hultberg, 79 and 84, are artists
from New York State who now
live in the charming medieval
village of Sauve, about an hour
west of Nîmes. They own a four-
story home that they bought
for $210,000 three years ago.
Ah, the dream of France. Très
cher? Oui, but you can live afford-ably if you avoid Paris, the Riviera,
and Provence. Our suggestion: the