Recently, when a friend and I were traveling by train in Spain, she used her senior discount card to get a hefty discount off the ticket price. She’s not Spanish; she’s a U.S. tourist.
A few years ago, a French café and bakery opened in Guanajuato, Mexico, where I live. Launched by French expats and named La Vie en Rose, “it was a success by the end of its first week,” expat friends told me.
Imagine living in a chic, historic European city with a vibrant restaurant scene, a seaside ambience, mild weather, friendly locals, and great (and inexpensive) food and wine. That description fits Porto, Portugal's second-largest city, to a "T." And, after spending time in the city earlier this year, I could definitely imagine living there.
It’s evening on the Cais da Ribeira, the waterfront quay. The lights from the many cafés cast a golden glow into the night. Lights gleam golden, too, across the broad expanse of the bridge spanning the Douro River, whose waters, black in the darkness, flow just past the Cais to the sea.
I'm starting to daydream again about living in Valencia. It's one of my favorite cities in Spain…and whenever I daydream about living in Spain, Valencia is the first place I dream of. And no wonder: There's a lot to like about Valencia. First, there's the location and climate. It sits right on Spain's eastern Mediterranean shore. That means urban beaches and a temperate climate that is spring-like much of the year. Next, it's a major city—Spain's third-largest—with all the big-city amenities I like, including an international airport, plenty of culture (it's especially famous for music), and great restaurants, bars, and cafes. Yet Valencia is reasonably small—about 800,000 in the central city, and around 1.6 million in the urban area—so it's manageable.
Expats and tourists from around the world are drawn to picturesque San Miguel de Allende for many reasons. Arguably Mexico's prettiest colonial town, San Miguel's narrow cobbled streets wind past colorful colonial houses and around corners to placid plazas where fountains play. The tall, ancient wooden doors of its colonial buildings open onto hallways that end in sunny patios, or onto rooms with high, beamed ceilings and worn tile floors. The historic center, el centro, has been beautifully renovated, with many of the colonial buildings converted into boutique hotels, restaurants, or shops.
This is Europe. That means walkable cities (leave the car behind), with culture and history all around you. Want to stay in a restored castle or live in a centuries-old (but renovated) apartment? You can. Like museums? Science, art and history museums are all over, and many have hours when there's no entry charge.
When many people think of Mexico, they think of the beach. But one of Mexico’s most popular areas for expat living is the Colonial Highlands, a region a few hours north of Mexico City…and there’s nary a beach in sight. So what makes the Colonial Highlands so special? Here are five reasons why expats love the Highlands…and why you might, too.
I’m a middle-aged woman who pays taxes, owns property, and has a career of sorts. I’m a Serious Person, and so are my friends. Mostly. So when I find myself standing by the side of a road in rural Spain, holding a sign written in lipstick (Burt’s Bees Raisin, to be exact—my favorite shade—and sacrificed for the occasion), I can’t help asking myself: How did I get here? The road is empty and so is the Spanish landscape, which stretches for miles around me, except for the six-house village across the road.
In this seaside city, you can stroll the beach in short sleeves as early as March and as late as October. In winter you need only a jacket. And the sun shines most days. Just steps from its long, urban sandy beach is a historic center of flag-stoned pedestrian streets and cream-colored buildings housing cafes, restaurants, and small hotels.