Culture, Low Costs, and Great Food in Mexico’s Colonial Highlands

“I grew up in such a small town, a farming community in Colorado in the Four Corners region,” says Monique. “Going abroad for the first time really opened my mind, and I realized the possibilities. It changed my life.”

Today, Monique and her family—her husband Derek and their two infant sons—live in the colonial highland town of Guanajuato, Mexico. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage site with a center full of brightly colored colonial homes, ornate churches, and well-kept parks and plazas.

“The day we arrived we went to explore and came to a park where there was music, dancers…such beautiful dresses. My boys were captivated,” says Monique. “There are street musicians every time we go out to eat. We went to the Diego Rivera museum and home. This weekend we’re going to the symphony for the first time.”

Monique and Derek love the laidback pace of life here in Mexico.

“We sleep later; we get a slower start,” says Monique. “We only work three to four hours a day. But it feels like we’ve accomplished more. I find it so relaxing not having to rush around all the time in the car. It’s been a nice change of pace and creates more family time.

“We don’t realize how much stress affects our mind and body until we leave it. Here we’ve rearranged our priorities. Now we might spend two hours on a meal.”

The Alvarez family eat out often. “It’s a good thing we walk miles a day,” laughs Monique. And with the exchange rate hovering between 19 and 20 pesos to the dollar, eating out is inexpensive.

For breakfast they head to Casa Valdez, which offers delicious omelets, as well as Mexican dishes like chilaquiles. In Tucson, where they lived before the move, the family of four would spend $35 to $40 on breakfast; in Guanajuato it’s just $10 to $12 for the whole family. One of their favorite places is Los Campos, which offers up a gourmet spin on traditional local favorites like guacamole with grasshoppers.

“Three entrees, three appetizers, and three drinks for $38. A meal like that in the U.S. would have been $200 easy,” says Monique.

Most of their other expenses have been reduced as well.

“We have no AC or heat because the weather is so temperate. Our first electric bill was $14. The rent for our apartment is $250. That’s what we would have paid for electricity back home,” says Monique.

Monique and her husband have an online business that offers internet marketing services to local businesses back in the States. Because of the low cost of living in Mexico, they’ve been able to stop taking on new clients. This frees them up to spend more time pursuing their passions. Monique has developed an online coaching business, that helps women entrepreneurs take their businesses to the next level and include more travel in their lives. Derek has been able to focus on creating fine art with baseball themes.

“People were worried that we were moving to the Third World,” says Monique. But we have a wonderful apartment, there are very nice restaurants here…we have a great quality of life at a very low cost.”

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