An Introduction to Tierra Alta
Ten years ago, I used to go hiking with my machete on Tierra Alta, long before it had a name. I would cut through the “monte” – the dense, high undergrowth – and emerge suddenly in a clearing, often rewarded with a surprising view of the valley of El Tuito, with its ordered rows of orange groves visible below in the distance.
My hikes were just a recreational escape from the hotel business. But they served well. The absence of any human imprint on this mountain land was a welcome contrast to the high density and high stress of the hotel world in Puerto Vallarta. The ancient oak forest that covered the property gave a kind of benign, calming presence to the terrain.
So I began to think about owning some of this oak forested land just one mile from El Tuito.
Acquiring land near a small town in Mexico is not a simple process. But after several years of work with lawyers and government officials, we now hold title to a seven hectare tract of land that we call Tierra Alta (High Ground). It was the first property ever to be placed in a condominium regime within the very large municipality of Cabo Corrientes which is the southern neighbor to Puerto Vallarta. (Municipalities in Mexico are similar to counties in the U.S.) .
We built a model cabin on one of our lots and began staying there whenever we could get away. As expected, it was a soothing and therapeutic experience. It was noticeably cooler than Puerto Vallarta. There was no traffic.
In fact, tranquility is the prevailing spirit at Tierra Alta. There are no distractions. No “entertainments” other than your cabin mates and whatever old fashioned “pasatiempo” may appeal to you. Yes, we have satellite TV and soon high speed internet. But more typical local amusements might include a campfire at night, evening card games, early morning birdwatching (guacamayas fly by each day with their familiar squawk), hikes along country roads or by the Tuito River which flows from the Tuito Valley down to the beach town of Yelapa on the Bay. Simple restaurants with tasty local dishes line the sidewalk at night on the newly renovated town Plaza.
El Tuito is also the “jumping off” point for day trips to the seldom visited Pacific beaches about 45 minutes to the west. The town of Tehuamixtle on the coast offers spectacular oysters and lobsters, and you can also swim in the bay at “Tehua”. All of these wild Pacific beaches are generally empty. Cabo Corrientes has not yet been “discovered” and it has some of the lowest population densities in Mexico.
So as I got to know Tierra Alta better, I realized that it is in a strategic mid-point location just one hour from either Puerto Vallarta or from the pristine beaches along the coast. My wife, Xochitl, and I decided
to find a way to make this land available to people who could share our enthusiasm for it. We divided five of our seven hectares into lots of a minimum of 1,600 square meters (they average about a half-acre each).
We created 20 lots, twelve of which have been sold. Three now have finished cabins and at least three more cabins will be built with a start date in the first quarter of the coming year (2018).
So we are on our way. Soon we will have a community in the woods. There is a completed common area that includes a heated pool and outdoor cooking facilities and a camp fire location. Water and electrical services are in. Sky TV and high speed internet are now available. The property has its own excellent well.
We are ready. Ready for more part time or full time residents. Ready for retirees or for young families looking for a place to escape Puerto Vallarta for weekends and vacations.
Tierra Alta offers turnkey rental and property management services to help offset costs when the owner is not using his cabin.
Just give us a call or send us a note so we can have the pleasure of introducing you to Tierra Alta.
Tierra Alta is a small, very beautiful property with individual lot sites for cabins and “country homes” (larger than cabins). There are only 20 sites, 13 of which have been sold. Tierra Alta is located just one hour from Puerto Vallarta in the oak covered foothills of the Sierra Madres. It is likely that up to eight additional sites will be added over the next year or two. Then, that will be “it”. At 28 units, that will be the growth goal.
2.RULES AND DIVERSITY
Are the Rules tough at Tierra Alta?
On the contrary. Although Tierra Alta has rules and enforces them, the rules mainly exist so that we can forget about them most of the time. You won’t find elaborate plans to control human behavior at Tierra Alta.
Instead, diversity is highly valued at our property simply because it promises a maximum of freedom in a lifestyle based on mutual respect.
The following Notes on Diversity are based mainly on discussions with the owners who own one or more of the 13 lots that have been purchased from the total of 20 lots in Phase 1. Three cabins are now completed and three more will be under construction this year, including the large “Country Home” on Lot 5.
3.DIVERSITY IN CABIN SIZE & DESIGN
MAXIMUM CABIN SIZE PER LOT: 400 M2
Most of the cabins in both Phases will range from about 1,000 to 2,000 sq ft. One exception is the “Lot 5” cabin, now under construction. We call it a “Country Home” because, at 200 M2, it may just be too big to be called a cabin. Yet its use of diverse natural materials sets a standard of design excellence which is entirely compatible with the Tierra Alta eco-concept.
DIVERSITY IN EXTERIOR COLORS. The design must be reviewed and approved by management. Interior design – up to the owner.
DIVERSITY IN MATERIALS: Cabin materials can include wood, stone, adobe, fired brick with adobe plaster, among others. Key requirement in materials: compatibility with existing structures and materials at Tierra Alta
DIVERSITY IN CLIENT COUNTRIES OF ORIGIN: There are Tierra Alta lot owners from Mexico City, Sinaloa and Vallarta and from the US, Canada, and Germany.
DIVERSE PATTERNS OF USE: The pattern of cabin use is as diverse as owner origins. Some owners are here full time for retirement. Others use their cabins for weekend and vacation retreats—to escape the traffic, density, humidity and heat of Vallarta.
5.SOLITUDE IN STAGES—Macaws Overhead
Those who are attracted to Tierra Alta in its present Early Stage will take pleasure in the daily sightings of the brilliantly colored military macaws on their way to the Sierra Madre Mountains that flank the eastern side of the El Tuito valley. These birds are a rare species and bring to us their own reminder of solitude.
They are still heard nearly every day at Tierra Alta. They are high flyers and not always easily visible against the sky even with their ample size and brilliant plumage. But they are very easily heard with their raucous squawks resonating up the valley, sounding their own votes of protest. (Anyone ready for a birding club?)
6.POPULATION DENSITY: Very Low
The human population at Tierra Ata will also remain sparse for the next couple of years as new cabins are built and inhabited. So far, using the 13 sold lots as a guide, roughly 50% of new cabins will be full time or seasonal homes. The rest will be used for vacations, rental income or for weekend getaways.
But with strong tourism growth moving into the southern mountain area of the Sierra Madres each year, there is a certain inevitability to the growth emerging in the mountain interiors of Cabo Corrientes. But there is a lot of open ground in the Sierra Madre foothills. Human Density in the Cabo Corrientes area is less than 10% of Vallarta’s density.
7.TIMING AND CONSTRUCTION
My guess: there will now be about a one year lapse between the purchase of a cabin lot and the completion of a cabin (or related structure like the larger “country homes”. The cabin itself may require only 8 months to build, but additional time will be required to refine and adjust the cabin design while still avoiding high change costs.
In the earliest days of the Tierra Alta project, new lot owners understandably wanted to “wait and see” before building. That seems to have changed. Apparently we have crossed some invisible line of credibility simply by showing up and surviving for more than five years. (And we also have built some very nice cabins.)
But time is a very unpredictable variable in Mexico. Fortunately, Bruce Beckler has built a beautiful rental cabin (foto of casa grace exterior) which can be rented for about $100/night. Now you can “test drive” a cabin by renting a unit built by the same contractor. Xochitl handles rental reservations: (52) 322-103-09-01.
8.DECIDING WHERE TO LIVE
Here is a rough draft for what could become a matrix to help with decisions about whether it makes sense for you to live in or near el Tuito in a place like Tierra Alta.
1:Drive time from Vallarta: One hour.
The distance from the south side of Vallarta to Tierra Alta. It’s actually about 55 minutes. And it’s a beautiful mountain drive. If an hour is just too far, that’s obviously a disqualifier. Good mountain highway shot with good road
2;Weather: Without exaggeration, I think the weather in El Tuito and Tierra Alta offers some of the best in the world. Maybe Cuernavaca has comparable climate quality. (seniors on home terrace)
Summer weather near El Tuito follows Vallarta’s pattern of clear, comfortable mornings followed by a frequent hard rain in the late afternoons.
The temperature and particularly the humidity are noticeably below Vallarta levels.
3;“Big box” or department store shopping. It takes some time to go to the big boxes Walmart, etc.) But they are like comfort food for gringos. They make us feel better and they support our hope that we have bought provisions in a foreign country at the right price (generally the case).
4;Cost of Living in El Tuito is generally lower than in Vallarta (no hard numbers are available yet, but there is a distinct cost difference). However, utilities are about the same in Vallarta as in Tuito: electric, water, natural gas.
Cell phones, internet and cable TV all function well in or near El Tuito.
5;Restaurants: Vallarta is justly famous for its fine dining. Restaurants in El Tuito offer good, tasty, simple food. You can choose your own level of spiciness.
And eating out is inexpensive in El Tuito
9. A SAMPLING OF THE TUITO FOODS
Average cost is 10 to 15% lower than in Vallarta markets (our best estimate)
Fresh seafood: Red snapper, shrimp, Dorado. Occasional fresh oysters and lobsters from Tehuamixtle If ordered in advance.
Good steak from El Tuito area ranches
Fresh local produce if you learn where to find it
- Excellent local fruit. A lot of local citrus
Excellent local cheese: El Tuito is well known for its wonderful homemade cheeses. Some examples: Panela, jojoque, requison, fresco
10.DOMESTIC HELP: maid, gardener, childcare, in-home care for elderly: About $12us/day (8 hrs)