Housing in Mexico can vary quite a bit. You can find a place with the locals for about $200 USD per month or a beach front condo for about $350,000 or more.
We first choose a place a few blocks from the beach (about a 10 min walk) that had a pool in the back yard. We had a 2 bedroom, 2 bath apartment in a little villa (4 apartments) which we paid $500 USD.
We now live in Los Amores. We now have 3 bedrooms and 2 1/2 bathrooms, 24 hour security and an infinity pool with a view of the ocean. We are now about a 4-5 minute walk to the beach! Our rent obviously is more. So, depending on what your needs are, you can find something within your budget. I would say, budget about $800-1000 USD for something that you will enjoy.
Some of the best properties are held by Grupo Real Del Mar (Real Del Mar, Punta Esmeralda, Alamar, La Joya). These are mostly beach front condos and town houses that range from $190,000 USD to over 2.2 million USD. The best person to help you (English/Spanish) is Matt Ouellette. His web site is Ocean Beach Properties Puerto Vallarta . You can e-mail him here or call +011 52 (329) 295-5370 at the office or +011 52-1-(322) 135-8936 on his phone, and tell him Moving to Mexico sent you. Matt also has luxury rentals.
For Luxury homes in Punta de Mita, Nuevo Vallarta I recommend Pacific Boutique Properties. They have the cream of the crop when it comes to boutique properties. It is worth visiting their site, if only to dream! You can e-mail them here or call Catherine Martin de Perniaux at +011 52-1-(322) 227-6109.
TIP: Now is a good time to buy. Make an offer...if it's reasonable...you might save thousands!
If you need a mortgage consultant, I recommend Paul Bellefontaine from Mexlend. You can e-mail him here. The prices are going up and up, Paul can help you finance your dream Mexican home (up to $1,500,000.00 USD).
Paul finds that some are refinancing their homes in Mexico and using the money back in their home countries. Someone who bought a house for $200,000 some years ago, might have a $500,000 home now, and you could borrow from 65 to 80% of the current value of the property (up to $500,000.00 USD).
There are some important rules that you should know about before buying real estate here. In the restricted zone (100 km of the border, or 50 km of the coastline), you can't own it! Well..technically of course. You have to pay a yearly fee to a bank to hold your property in trust. This is called a Fideicomisos.
TIP: Some try to bypass the bank trust by getting a local to buy it for them. Problem is, all your rights are gone, and you might wind up with nothing!
You have to do your research. Some try to sell an appartment as a condo, but in actuality, there are rules for that. The sale might not be a legal one. Do your research, and get help from a local. You need to find out about the title of the property.
TIP: Real estate agents are not legally lisenced down here, anyone can do it. Make sure you get recommendations!
The Notary down here is king. Everything has to pass through them, you don't even need a lawyer! The "Notario Pùblico" is officially appointed by the State Governor. Some are better than others, so again...get recommendations.
One issue is the official appraisal "Avaluo." Some buy a place with a low appraisal value to save on property taxes, but when selling, you might have a huge capital gains fee.
I will try to post more of the rules and tips as I find them out.