As we all know, Christopher Columbus, while searching for China, first
discovered the Americas when he arrived in San Salvador in 1492. On his
second voyage, he landed in the Caribbean Islands, and on his last
voyage in 1498, he arrived in the area of Venezuela. In 1497, the
Italian sailor Giovanni Caboto (John Cabot), exploring on behalf of
England, landed in Labrador and Newfoundland. Unfortunately, neither of
these sailors was very well educated nor inclined to thoroughly
document their voyages.
In 1499, an educated Italian named Amerigo Vespucci joined a Spanish
fleet and sailed to Venezuela. A few years later, the king of Portugal
enlisted Vespucci to pilot another voyage to Brazil and by 1508, the
voyages that Vespucci participated in were well documented. Although
Amerigo Vespucci was a relatively insignificant person and had never
led an expedition or discovered anything, his name appeared on much of
the documentation and many of the New World land surveys.
Using all of the freshly generated documentation, a German cartographer
named Martin Waldseemuller prepared the first map of the New World in
1507. With documentation prepared by Amerigo Vespucci as his guide, he
merely used the word Americus, the Latinized version of Amerigo, to
indicate the New World. Consequently, the entire Western Hemisphere
eventually took on the name Americus which later became known as the
Americas. It probably should have been called Columbus or Cabot but it
could have been even worse; just imagine, The United States of
Before we get too far into this article let's first define "America".
The Americas are the lands of the Western hemisphere or New World,
comprising of the North American and South American continents with
their associated islands and regions. Today, in the minds of most
United States citizens and for that matter, in the minds of people
throughout the world, the term "America" refers to the United States of
America; however, that term is open to debate. For the sake of this
article, we'll be referring to the United States of America when we use
the term "America".
The next term that we must accurately define is "North American"; all
too often we think of North Americans as those from the United States
and Canada. Again, that's a misnomer because North America actually
encompasses the entire North American continent which includes the US,
Canada, Greenland, Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean Islands.
Therefore, "North Americans" are those residing anywhere in the North
American continent. However, for the sake of this article, we'll be
referring only to those from the US and Canada as "North Americans".
Typically, when we think of escaping from America, we're referring to
Americans emigrating from the United States to some other locale. With
the current depressing state of the economy, politics, crime rate,
standard of living, etc., there are numerous reasons why US citizens
are more interested than ever in retiring abroad (beyond the boundaries
of one's own country). Today's broad availability of inexpensive
international telephone, Internet, satellite TV, transportation,
medical care, etc. have essentially eliminated the primary reasons for
retiring and remaining in the US.
Now, more than ever, with the numerous reasons why one might desire to
escape from America, the question is; where in the world would be the
most logical retirement destination? Most would agree that it would be
somewhere that has a lower cost of living without compromising on the
standard of living, someplace that has relatively close proximity to
the U.S., a safe and clean place where English is understood, etc.
Other important criteria for retirement include the size of the
community of like minded North Americans (US and Canadian citizens),
the availability of activities for retirees, of world class medical
care, fine dining, telecommunications, etc.
Most travel and retirement magazines list a number of wonderful
retirement havens in the Americas including Costa Rica, Panama, and
Ecuador. Although all espouse fine climates, beautiful scenery, low
costs of living, etc, Mexico generally tops the list. Many of these
locations are either too far away or lack all of the amenities that
North Americans are accustomed to and require whereas certain Mexican
retirement havens have all of the required prerequisites for North
Americans retiring abroad.
After residing in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico for almost 13 years, we can
state emphatically that PV has it all! During the past decade of growth
in Puerto Vallarta, the city has more than doubled in size with its
infrastructure being completely upgraded to current international
standards. Every amenity that one would expect in a city of 350,000
inhabitants can be found in Puerto Vallarta.
Regarding Vallarta's proximity to America, please refer to the North American map.
You might be amazed to see that PV is approximately the same distance
from Chicago, Minneapolis, and Portland as New York is from Houston,
Dallas, and Denver. Relatively speaking, cities such as Houston,
Dallas, Phoenix, and Los Angeles are virtually next door to PV. Another
factoid; Puerto Vallarta is nearer El Paso, Texas than is Texarkana,
For comparison's sake, let's consider Maui, Hawaii which lies on the
same latitude as Puerto Vallarta and obviously has an ideal winter
climate. However, Vallarta's winter weather is better; during the seven
month period of November through May, the average daily temperature in
Vallarta is 73°F with virtually no rain whereas Maui's average
temperature is about the same but with more than two inches of rain per
month. Needless to say, as great as Maui is, traveling to and from
there is quite expensive and time consuming; retiring there could be
This map puts the whole concept of moving abroad into a totally new
prospective. With the many advantages that Vallarta has to offer,
including its proximity to the US, it's quite obvious why approximately
50,000 Americans (those from the US) have escaped from America and now
call Vallarta home. The fact is that their new home is still in America
(the North American continent) and generally a short 2-3 hour flight
away from their family and friends.
In summarizing, now you know how you can escape from America without
leaving America. Puerto Vallarta still has all the charm of a Mexican
fishing village yet now has all the amenities necessary to make it one
of the finest retirement destinations in the world. Just pack up your
bags and head south to PV this winter and find out for yourself, but do
so with caution; you'll not want to return home!
About the Author
Jim Scherrer has owned property in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico for 26 years and resided there for the past twelve years. The mission of his series of more than 70 articles pertaining to retirement in Puerto Vallarta is to reveal the recent changes that have occurred in Vallarta while dispelling the misconceptions about living conditions in Mexico. For the full series of articles regarding travel to and retirement in Vallarta as well as pertinent Puerto Vallarta links, please visit us at PVREBA.