It’s about 75 F and sunny…a slight breeze rustles the potted palm next to me. I’m on my rooftop terrace. I spend a lot of time up here to take advantage of beautiful weather and the views. My home is on a hillside, which isn’t always fun when walking back from the market with heavy bags. But it’s worth it to get a panoramic view of San Miguel de Allende’s historic centro, including the famed pink stone, Gothic-style church La Parroquia.
The accolades the mainstream media have lavished on San Miguel have made it popular lately. However, it’s still affordable if you know where to go. Six thousand two hundred feet up in the mountains of central Mexico, San Miguel is a well-known expat haven—and has been for decades. Of the town’s population of around 70,000, it’s estimated that about 10% are expats, mainly from the U.S. and Canada, with some Europeans as well.
The climate is temperate year-round (60s F and 70s F during the day, cooling off at night into the 50s F and 40s F). There are modern services, including good healthcare, great shopping, high-speed internet, and reliable cell service. It’s not the cheapest destination in Mexico, but it still offers a lower cost of living than north of the border. A retired couple can live well on $2,500 a month, or even less.
Perhaps most famously, San Miguel has a vibrant and innovative arts scene that you can take part in as a spectator or an active artist. In fact, that’s how San Miguel first became known to U.S. expats. Veterans from World War II discovered that the GI Bill could be used to attend art school in the city. It was a favorite haunt of the Beat Generation, too.
One of my favorite parts of living in the historic centro is that I can walk to anything, whether it’s to the Ignacio Ramírez market for ingredients for dinner (I also love to pick up figs and apricots—a pound for $2), to meet with a friend for coffee, pick up medication at the pharmacy, see my dentist, or enjoy an evening at a venue like Johnny’s Piano Bar.
It’s truly a pleasure to step out your door and be in the action. This is a thriving city, and there’s so much to see. There are restaurants for every cuisine. My favorite food is the street-cart al pastor (marinated pork) tacos for 50 cents each, just down the way from my house.
Art galleries, restaurants, shops, artisan markets…if you live in centro, it’s all at your fingertips.
In the heart of centro, real estate can be pricey—a byproduct of its popularity—especially if you go for luxury. But you can still find deals in the up-and-coming neighborhoods, where you’re a 10- to 15-minute walk to the action.
One property, a five-minute walk to the Jardín (the central town square), is a Mexican-style two-bedroom home. It’s newly built and is listed at $249,000. In the popular San Antonio neighborhood (a 15-minute walk to the Jardín) is a home featuring two two-bedroom apartments. You could spread out, or rent out one for extra income. Another San Antonio home, three bedrooms, with views from the rooftop terrace, is available for $299,000. It comes fully furnished.