At Home With Ryan Donner

The 30-year old wunderkind spills the tee on becoming one of the top real estate brokers in the destination in less than half a decade.

(This article was commissioned by Gay Entertainment Directory, and it first appeared in their July 2019 edition.)

While Puerto Vallarta casts its spell on new and repeat visitors in mysterious ways, Ryan’s courtship is quite familiar to those that live in the destination full time: “It all started with a 2008 Carnival cruise,” he chuckles. Being completely unfamiliar with the destination—and the country, for that matter—he learned of a ‘friends of Dorothy’ group onboard that took him under their wing. Most cruise ships dock in the destination for a few hours and that’s all it took for Puerto Vallarta to claim another fan. “We took a taxi to the Malecón (the city’s scenic boardwalk) and then walked to the gay beach. Experiencing Emiliano Zapata—the gay neighborhood—for less than half a day was all it took.” 

Originally from Northern California and never having traveled beyond his home state before, Ryan began visiting several places throughout Mexico, but Puerto Vallarta remained in memories, eventually relocating by the end of 2012. Prior to this, he had enjoyed success thanks to his extensive marketing background north of the border, so continuing to oversee his companies remotely made perfect sense to him, continuing to do so for two years. “Finding other types of employment can be challenging for foreigners considering making the move while continuing to be gainfully employed. Telecommuting is often a great way to start a new life in Puerto Vallarta, particularly for millennials.”

“I noticed that many real estate agents focus only on local print advertising.”

At some point, Ryan recalls a US-based friend seeking advice on how to become a realtor in Puerto Vallarta. With next to no previous experience in real estate sales, he agreed to do some research on his behalf, contacting local acquaintances but not getting specific answers from them. “When a local agency posted a job opening, I made an appointment to find out specific information for my friend, and ended up getting a job offer!”

Three years later, he was offered a position with the prestigious Timothy Real Estate Group agency, where he was granted license to truly take advantage of his marketing skills. “Self-promotion is essential,” he points out. And he means it. Googling his name quickly revealed a business website, two Instagram accounts (one personal, one work-related), a Facebook business page and a YouTube channel, all regularly maintained. 

“I noticed that many real estate agents focus only on local print advertising,” he comments. “I chose to break from that trend, investing in other marketing channels, such as US publications and radio stations throughout Mexico, connecting with prospective buyers even before coming to Vallarta, and I am extremely grateful that Timothy Real Estate Group has allowed me the opportunity to put together my own enterprise within the company.” Consequently, he has become one of the top real estate professionals in the destination, according to FlexMLS, one of the local real estate search engines.

While Puerto Vallarta has mainly attracted a 50+ crowd for decades, the 30 year-older is pleased that efforts put forth by the city a few years ago to promote the destination to younger generations are finally paying off. “We are seeing more younger folk vacationing in Puerto Vallarta and buying real estate, and the LGBT community is following suit.” And while the city’s Emiliano Zapata neighborhood reigns as the place to party, see and be seen, an increasing number of people—Ryan included—are looking at Versalles, an up-and-coming neighborhood as a more laid back option to live.

Versalles has always been a great residential option for many Mexican nationals and a few foreigners looking for a more local experience. But with new restaurants, an increasing number of condo projects and great shopping in the vicinity, the colonia (Spanish for ‘neighborhood’) is now attracting a number of LGBT Mexican millennials looking for a less of a party atmosphere, and Americans are following suit. “It takes less than 20 minutes to get to the gay bars and nightlife from here. For me, it’s the best of two worlds.”

Will the LGBT focus in Puerto Vallarta shift from Emiliano Zapata to Versalles? “Not anytime soon,” he remarks. “But with LGBT folk looking for a more conventional lifestyle moving to Versalles, I wouldn’t be surprised to see more gay-friendly or gay-owned businesses opening this side of the city in the future.” 

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