You’re walking down narrow cobblestoned lanes barely wide enough for a car, strolling past centuries-old homes. Bougainvillea vines, with brilliant pink flowers, cascade down over bright white walls. You turn a corner and step out of the shaded pedestrian lane into the bright light of a plaza. Luckily your favorite table is open, under a wide umbrella to block out the sun.
Enjoying a cafe con leche ($1) and a doing a little people watching, you spot one of your English students and he invites you to a gig at the Teatro de la Ciudad tonight. You’ve the morning off tomorrow so you say to yourself “why the heck not?”
Among the many historic towns and cities in Mexico’s Colonial Highlands region, Santiago de Queretaro, about three hours’ drive from Mexico City, stands out.
Although you’ll find all the modern conveniences like high-speed internet here, the pace of life is slower. Queretaro is also a hotbed of arts and culture, with its wine and gourmet food shops, small cinemas playing independent films, live music performances, and art galleries. And thanks to the region’s climate, temperatures stay in the 70s F and 80s F during the day, cooling off in the evening. January and February are colder but only at night.
For 50-year-old Julie Darling—who was tired of the bitter winters of Edmonton, Alberta and her stressful job as a nurse—teaching English in Queretaro was an opportunity to live a more relaxed lifestyle, in a fine-weather city of culture.
Julie, who works at an English language school, has a “split” schedule. She teaches business English, Monday through Friday, from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. and then 4 p.m. to 8 p.m., with four hours every other Saturday. She averages about 32 hours a week.
Julie teaches in the classroom but also in students’ offices, which takes her to the multinational companies that have offices and manufacturing plants on the outskirts of town, where you’ll also find modern suburbs and shopping malls.
“The school provides a driver and pays for travel time. I really enjoy it. It’s the easiest, happiest job I’ve ever had. The students are motivated and don’t complain,” says Julie, who plans to apply for permanent residence soon and stay in Mexico long term.
The city is also well-situated to explore the rest of the country. “I’m fortunate to earn enough money to not only support myself but to also travel around Mexico,” Julie says. A bus to a bustling Pacific coast beach town like Zihuatanejo costs $40 and takes about nine hours—an ideal weekend getaway. And there are buses throughout the day to Mexico City, the country’s capital and home to its own huge colonial district, world-class art and history museums, and other attractions.
For the English teaching expats, life in Queretaro is never dull. The events calendar is jam-packed in Queretaro. Every July there is a week of parades and concerts to celebrate the town’s founding. There’s a jazz festival in July…an international film festival in September. And every Sunday throughout the year you’ll find free concerts in parks and plazas around downtown.
“Life couldn’t be better,” says Julie. “I’m working in a job I love with no stress.”
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