Querétaro: An Under-the-Radar Gem in Mexico’s Colonial Highlands

Santiago de Querétaro, in Mexico’s Colonial Highlands, has a lot going for it: an ideal climate, top-notch but affordable medical care, a well-kept Spanish colonial centro, friendly local people, and much more. Yet, the city, usually called just Querétaro, remains unknown for most people outside of Mexico. And it hosts only a small expat community who have stumbled upon the city during their travels, discovered its charms, and decided to stay.

Querétaro is actually one of Mexico’s boom towns, a center for manufacturing, aerospace, and other industries. High-paying jobs have brought workers from all over Mexico (and abroad). As a result, its population has grown to 1 million, and you find large gated communities and shopping malls in the suburbs.

But all this development is taking place well outside the city center, which retains a very historic vibe. In fact, as a UNESCO World Heritage site, it’s mandated that buildings in the colonial quarter maintain the original centuries-old architecture. This area is walkable, with restored colonial buildings set up as restaurants, hotels, shops, boutiques, and other businesses. They can also be private homes. In fact, this is how most expats in the city tend to live—in restored colonials downtown.

Narrow streets, lined with brightly-colored colonial buildings. Large plazas and parks with tinkling fountains in the center. Churches with intricate stonework and soaring bell towers. Everywhere you turn in Querétaro there is a feast for the eyes.

Of course, the picturesque surroundings are just one reason in-the-know expats flock here, but there are many more.

The cost of living is low—a retired couple could live well on about $1,500 a month and you can find rents under $300 for a one-bedroom apartment. Several hospitals and medical clinics offer high-quality, super low cost medical and dental care—try about a third of what it costs in the U.S. And there are many cultural activities to take part in, from local celebrations to live music, theater, and more.

All in all, Querétaro is an ideal destination for retirees and other expats who want to experience authentic Mexican culture, with plenty of comforts they know from home.


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