Alexis Velasco

Mexican food lover, performing arts enthusiast and sunset hunter with green tea in hand.


Ryan Donner: I instantly fell in love with Puerto Vallarta

By  Alexis Velasco
Oct. 4, 2018

The enthusiasm with which he recounts his arrival in Puerto Vallarta and his favorite activities in the city is a sure sign that charismatic American real estate agent Ryan Donner made the right decision in moving to Mexico in 2012. Generally, when we hear about expatriates in the area, we find that many are retired and looking for a paradisiacal place to enjoy everything they have built over the years. Conversely, Donner is young and is building his future in this country.

Ryan chatted with the Vallarta Lifestyles editorial team what brought him to Vallarta · Nayarit and the life he leads here.

Where are you from, and what was your life like before moving to Mexico?

“I was born in California and grew up in a town called Chico, about an hour and a half from Sacramento. Before moving to Mexico, I lived close to Lake Tahoe and had an advertising company.”

When did you first come to Puerto Vallarta, and what was your first impression of the city?

“I came aboard a cruise ship in 2008. I instantly fell in love with Vallarta, and in the following years. I returned many times on vacation. Later, I started thinking about buying a property. I considered other places, such as Hawaii, Panama and Costa Rica, but what I liked about this city is that it offers all the modern amenities to which we are accustomed in the United States.”

When did you move here?

“In 2012.”

Do you remember the exact moment you made the decision?

“Yes, it was just after a very hard winter where I lived. We had a crazy amount of snow, and I hate snow. So, I decided to spend six months here, just to make sure I liked the lifestyle. At the end, I decided to buy my condo and move.”

Do you feel that your immigration process was complicated?

“No, I really think it was simple. To obtain my temporary residence visa, the process began in my country of origin, at the Mexican consulate. I had to verify a certain income during the previous six months to show that I would be economically solvent. However, if you are retired, the process is even easier and you are a candidate for permanent residency, which does not expire.”

What aspects of the local culture do you like?

“That is a good question. For me, coming to this country meant adopting the local culture and knowing the real Mexico. Mainly, I enjoy the kindness of its people. I think that because Puerto Vallarta is a vacation destination, so many of the people here are in an upbeat mood, this ends up reflecting on the residents and that is why they are so friendly. Another thing that I love is the food. I know practically all the taco stands in the Romantic Zone, and I love trying new things. I also like regional Mexican music, however strange that may seem.”

Do you speak a bit of Spanish?

“Yes. While I was in high school, I took some classes that, to tell the truth, were not very fruitful. However, my Spanish began to improve a lot when I arrived here and was immersed in the culture. Besides, it’s something that helps me a lot in my profession.”

How did you start in the real estate industry?

“It’s a curious story. Since I was a child, my parents bought properties to later remodel and sell, so I was very familiar with that process. I also had some properties in the rental sector, but I didn’t become an agent until I arrived in Mexico. It was a coincidence: a friend who was a real estate agent in Chicago asked me what was needed to practice in Mexico. When investigating the requirements at a local agency, they asked me if I would be interested in working there. When I informed my friend of the requirements, I added, ‘By the way, I’m going to become a real estate agent.’ Recently, I joined one of the most successful companies in the city, I participate in the main real estate association, and I am very happy.”

What are some of your favorite places in the bay?

“As for beaches, I like Los Muertos, because of its ideal location and because there are very comfortable beach clubs. In the Romantic Zone, my favorite restaurant is probably Chenando’s, specializing in meats and very well positioned on TripAdvisor. I also like Yeo Sushi & Bar and La Vaca Argentina, both in Fluvial Vallarta.”

What is your daily routine?

“Actually, my daily life is simple. I work a lot: I am in the office from 9:00am to 6:00pm. Then, I go to the gym, where I work out for about an hour, and then I go to dinner or cook at home, and then I go to bed. But on weekends, I like to go out. I go to the movies a lot, especially now that we have a VIP theater in the La Isla shopping center. I enjoy it immensely. The prices are very good compared to those in the USA, and you can order food and drinks from your seat. It is very comfortable.”

When you have visitors in the city, where do you take them?

“If they want to go to a restaurant on the beach, I take them to Barracuda because it has a very relaxed atmosphere and the food is delicious. On the other hand, especially for those who have not tried mezcal, I like to take them to Bar Morelos, since it is one of my favorites. It is very well decorated, and you can try many mezcal flavor combinations.”

What makes Vallarta · Nayarit so special?

“I really think it’s the people, because in no other city are they as friendly as here. When you go out, even if they don’t know you, there is always someone saying, ‘Good morning,’ or greeting you. In addition, the natural beauty of the bay is impressive.”

What would you recommend to those who are thinking of buying a property or moving here?

“For people of working age who have a job that allows them to work online from anywhere, I would advise them to try it, at least for a while. You will find that the cost of living is lower than in the United States, and the quality of life is very good. In general, for those who want to buy a property, I recommend doing good market research, being clear about the area they like and working with a knowledgeable real estate agent. Currently, many people are seeking condominiums to venture into the rental sector. I advise them to look for affordable units within developments with high-end amenities, as they will have an excellent return on investment.”

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Alexis Velasco

Mexican food lover, performing arts enthusiast and sunset hunter with green tea in hand.