When South Carolina native Nancy Meckstroth retired from her construction industry business she decided to start a new life in a whole new location. The Mexican Colonial Highlands town of San Miguel de Allende was the clear choice due to active expat community, ideal climate, and vibrant Mexican culture.
“It’s amazing here. I have a sister who moved to Mexico five years ago and I joined her,” says Nancy. “Now I’m non-stop busy with people. It wasn’t like that in the States for me. People aren’t standoffish here. I’m not sure why that is. It’s a connected group. I’m in a book club. I’ll go out to dinner with people…or have lunch. Sometimes I like walking into town and just putzing around.”
Nancy lives in Colonia Independencia, which is just outside of the well-preserved historic centro with its grand colonial architecture and well-kept plazas and parks…and a legacy going back to the 15th century.
“I really wanted to live in Guadalupe where my sister lives,” says Nancy, referring to another neighborhood in town popular with expats.
“But I also wanted a house with some sort of yard or courtyard because I have two small dogs. When I was looking there wasn’t anything in Guadalupe. I saw this house where I am now. It had a courtyard. And I can walk into town.”
At first Nancy thought all the place needed was a paint job and a few minor repairs. But she soon realized she wanted to make some bigger improvements. By buying in the Independencia neighborhood, where homes are less expensive than closer to the center, she now has money for the renovations.
“I love the Mexican look. I want to have a Mexican-style home but it’s a contemporary house, basically,” says Nancy. It also hadn’t been properly maintained over the years.”
Nancy’s plan was to extend the living room and also use the garage (she doesn’t have a car) to make the interior courtyard bigger. That’s just the start.
“I wanted to change out the tile in two of the three bathrooms. And that’s not an easy job. It involves hammering out the tile by hand. I’ve had a rooftop terrace added. The kitchen had concrete counters and sink. We had to beat out the sink and put in a stainless steel sink,” says Nancy.
“In the master bathroom you had to walk up a couple of steps and walk down couple steps to get into the tub. And there were floor-length windows exposed to the neighborhood. I wanted to change that.
To pick out tile and other materials, Nancy goes with the head contractor to local hardware stores, as well as artisan shops. Dolores Hidalgo is about 45 minutes drive away and is famous for its brilliantly and intricately patterned tile.
“I’ll pick out the light fixtures, too. It’s not expensive because it’s the Mexican style I like. I’ll also be out and see something I like and just buy it. For faucets, the plumber/electrician and I went and chose them,” says Nancy.
“I just bought a coffee table the last time we went to Dolores Hidalgo. We stopped at this one place in on the side of the road. The guy makes his own furniture. I bought a mesquite coffee table for $150. I’m going back to his place tomorrow.
“I’m getting good value on the work. If I were in the States it would be incredibly expensive.”
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