After meeting certain requirements, a visiting wild piñata will become a resident of the garden, staying and living there. Its colors will change from shades of black and white to its more colorful resident colors. A Sour piñata can also be turned resident the same way a regular piñata turns resident, but when turning resident it first enters a cocoon to transform from a sour to a regular wild piñata, then turn from the black and white colors into the resident colors. The requirements for becoming resident varies for each species of piñata. The requirements for turning a sour piñata are also different from a regular wild piñata of that species.

The Encyclopedia of the Journal has details on the exact requirements to get a resident piñata. To access the requirements, simply move the cursor to a piñata then press the "y" button, and this shows the steps already complete, and in Viva Piñata: Trouble in Paradise, the progress of the incomplete steps. A second way is to go into the Journal manually by the menu then select the piñata section then select the actual piñata species in the pages, but this will not show which steps are completed. Some requirements don't even appear on either list until the previous requirement on the list is complete, and this can cause the list to report less steps than actually are required to take.

Piñatas must be resident to control using the cursor. Only resident piñatas can be healed by Doc Patchingo, and a piñata must be a resident to have accessories applied, and also to be named. In Viva Pinata: Trouble in Paradise, non resident piñatas quickly break upon becoming sick.

In Viva Pinata: Trouble in Paradise, piñatas can lose the resident status by eating the head of a Prickly Pear flower.

Gretchen Fetchem requires that a piñata be a resident before she'll track down another specimen of that species for you to raise.

Gameplay elements
Player Tower of Sour · Chocolate Coin · Alert · Award · Achievement · Gardener level · Journal · Camera · Concept art · Player Permissions · Training episode · Label · Label Designer · Crate
Garden Weather · Day and night cycle · Fertilizer · Transformation · Candy · Shop · Pinometer · Helper · Piñata Vision · Bouncer Board · Garden Store · Trap · Playground · Just for Fun
Tools Watering can · Shovel · Surface Packet · Trick Stick · Seed Bag · Fertilizer Bag · Bait Bag
Piñatas Species · Variant · Wild · Resident · Egg · Cocoon · Sour · Evolution · Romance · Conflict · Fight · Sickness · Wild-card · Happiness Rating · Food chain · Accessory · Costume · Trick · Item level
Minigames Great Piñata Paperchase · P-Factor