Today in Querétaro the weather is picture-perfect—sunny skies, a high of 75 F and a low of 57 F. That’s been typical of the weather since I’ve been here. It’s a perfect climate for taking long walks; it’s not been cold enough for winter clothes and it’s unlikely that it will get that chilly.
Rain, when it has occurred, is usually in the evening or at night, but it hasn’t been an everyday occurrence. Historically, the rainy season here runs from June through September; the rest of the year, this semi-arid area receives little precipitation.
Querétaro is quite compact, so I don’t feel the need for a car. In less than 15 minutes, I can walk to the heart of the historic district, shop at a major supermarket or mall, and take my pick from more restaurants than I may ever be able to sample. Most of the main streets here are level with wide sidewalks and I already feel the positive effects of being in a temperate, walkable city. Every day, I feel more physically fit.
My husband David and I are renting a one-bedroom house in the Los Arcos area, with a full view of the 18th-century aqueduct that stretches from the hills in the east to the center of town. We pay $800 a month for our one-bedroom duplex, which is fully furnished and includes all utilities and the occasional homemade dinner that our landlord brings to us (he’s awesome!).
We’re paying a bit more than the norm, since we didn’t know if we wanted to stay long-term, so our place is month-to-month without a deposit. If we decide to stay on, we’ll get a furnished place with a lease and our rent should drop down to the $400- to $600-a-month range.
Querétaro is one of the cleanest towns I’ve ever seen. It doesn’t fit my preconceived notions of Mexican cities. Every block has at least one litterbin, and people use them. Parks—and there are many—are meticulous, with pretty fountains, comfortable benches, and flowering trees. Everywhere you go, it’s clean and orderly.
This area offers a quality of life that has totally taken me by surprise. There are attractive residential streets, trendy restaurants, upscale boutiques… It’s clearly a prosperous city and it’s also one of the safest cities in Mexico; only Mérida on the Yucatán Peninsula has a lower crime rate.
Though upscale cafés with elegantly prepared cuisine are an easily accessible treat, I keep my budget in check by patronizing some of the humbler restaurants around town, too.
Comida corrida—literally “food on the run”—restaurants are everywhere and they offer incredible value. For $3.50, I have my choice of entrees—anything from carne asada (thinly sliced, seasoned beefsteak) or milanesa de pollo (chicken schnitzel) to standard Mexican enchiladas or chili rellenos.
The set price includes a pitcher of juice, often a pastry, rice, beans, a salad, bread or tortillas, and a small dessert. I make a point of going to the places packed with locals; they know the best restaurants in town. It’s always a delicious feast and more than I can eat at one sitting.
On most days, I walk alongside the aqueduct, then cross the street to enter the historic district. When I reach the church and convent at the top of our small hill, I’ll usually cross the cobblestone street to take in the sweeping vistas of blue skies and distant mountains. Virtually all the streets in the historic district are cobblestone, and most of them are one-way—another reason why I’m not in a hurry to drive a car here.
Most houses in this district are at least a century old. They are brightly painted, with heavy wooden or steel doors, ornate doorknockers, and beautiful courtyards that are often concealed from view, though you occasionally get lucky and catch a glimpse of their sumptuous interiors. Querétaro is full of mysteries like this; there’s so much beauty hidden behind its walls.
The historic center is so special that UNESCO has designated more than a dozen monuments in Querétaro to be of exceptional historical value. Majestic, ornately constructed churches and immaculate plazas dot the central city.
I’m still exploring the maze of cobbled streets and plazas in the historic district, and soon I’ll start in on the museums. Querétaro has more museums than any other town in Mexico with the exception of Mexico City. I’ve seen a couple of them so far, and they are excellent. With my INAPAM senior discount card (available to anyone age 60 or older who has a temporary or permanent residency visa), admission is free to most museums, which provides an even greater incentive to see what they all have to offer.
I’ll sometimes end my daily walk at one of the large, modern supermarkets in town. Again, the quality of shopping impresses me; these stores are huge, and carry everything from clothing and housewares to imported meats, cheeses, and wines. They’ll often have bistros inside, too, so I can catch my breath after walking and relax over a cool drink or a light meal if I want.
If I have a lot to carry, I’ll call a Didi Taxi to take me home. It’s a competitor to Uber, and I’ve found their prices are consistently less and their service reliable. A ride of two or three miles is always under $5, including a tip.
As the night draws in, I’ll sit out on my balcony and watch the moon rise over the hills at the end of the lighted aqueduct. It’s the perfect end to another magical day in Querétaro.
Watch a video tour of the property below: