Named the best city in the world to live and retire, San Miguel de Allende continues to draws more foreigners to its authentic cobblestone streets every year. Here’s why:
Close to Home
For the one million Canadians and U.S. citizens that live in Mexico part of the draw is the close proximity to home. Flights are cheaper, travel times shorter and if you have a few trunk-fulls of belongings to bring with you (plus the dog and the cat) you can simply speed across the border. Common time zones make the reality of “semi-retirement” – continuing to work part time or running your business from afar— much more plausible in San Miguel de Allende too.
But the time zone isn’t the only thing that feels like home for North American retirees. Driving distance from San Miguel you can shop for an oversized jar of peanut butter at Costco, and if you can’t bear to live without your mochaccino, there’s a Starbucks right off the town’s main plaza, although, you won’t find fast food chains in town, thank goodness. Many of the stores and brands found up North can be found in nearby cities too and less than 45-min away in bustling Querétaro.
Most San Miguel locals also speak at least a basic level of English. San Miguel’s local newspaper, Atención, is bilingual, and many social, cultural and theatrical events are also either bilingual or English-language. La Biblioteca is the second-largest English-language library in the country!
That said, San Miguel hasn’t lost its local flavor. The city’s markets still abound with fresh, local produce – how about cantaloupes for a .25 cents, or a bag of vine ripened tomatoes for a $1. Church bells call locals to afternoon mass, and holidays are celebrated with exuberant energy and a flair for the ridiculous. There is a nostalgic light to the evenings and the city’s delightful downtown is a living museum of incredible colonial architecture, all blending to create this amazing place to live.
Then there is the food. The restaurant scene here is not growing, its exploding as talented chefs want to live and work here too! San Miguel de Allende has always had some great restaurants, but in the past 3-years the culinary scene has blossomed and another reason to live in this charming small city. And the food whether a small family owned restaurant or a 5-star gourmet restaurant in San Miguel, is at least a third less than the quality in the states. I mean, how great is it to have amazing authentic Mexican food for two, a really good bottle of wine, the tip and have change left out of a fifty!
And don’t even consider being lonely. There are lots of opportunities to interact with locals and other ex-pats, not only retirees but folks of all ages who have relocated to this beautiful colonial city. This international city has over 150 non-profit organizations looking for volunteers, lots of hiking and birding in the surrounding area, a cultural calendar that will keep your head spinning, and dozens of delicious restaurants and even a growing wine scene and great wineries.
The Brass Tacks
San Miguel’s positive press over the past four years has caused housing prices to return and exceed pre-2008 recession prices. In fact, demand for San Miguel real estate is on the rise and inventory is lower than it has been in years. You can still however, purchase land in popular colonias of the city from as low as $120 per sq meter or pay $1,500 + per sq meter in the city’s historic center. In the not-to-distant countryside, land can be purchased for as little as $6 per sq meter up to $25 per square meter. Housing prices for a moderate-sized two-bedroom house go for as little as $150,000 USD but if you want to amp up the luxury you can find mansions for as much as $9 million.
Living in San Miguel, while more expensive than other areas in Mexico, is still likely to be half the cost of living as in your home country. Utilities are highly subsidized and inexpensive, food and drink is cheaper, and travel both by bus and air is cheap and efficient. You won’t have to give up online banking, high-speed internet, or satellite TV. And you can enjoy efficient and inexpensive local bus service, several good hospitals within 10-15 minutes of town, well-maintained highways, and an office of the U.S. embassy right in town.
As a retiree, if you can prove a monthly income of around $2,000 you can easily obtain your permanent residency visa which will allow you to sign up for the Mexican IMSS health insurance system for a low monthly fee. Mexico has incredible healthcare and good doctors, many of whom both trained in the U.S. and whom train U.S. doctors.
Retirees over 60 can join Mexico’s Personas Adultas Mayores program which offers discounts on a variety of services including healthcare, cultural activities, travel and hotels. The U.S. dollar, Euro and Canadian dollar have been consistently strong against the peso for the last several years, meaning your retirement income will stretch further in every way.
If you need any more reasons, just come and take a look for yourself, we’d be happy to show you around town!
Article by: Lydia Carey