January 19, 2017
Let me explain why I decided to explore San Miguel de Allende (SMA) as a place to live in the future. I had heard about this location from a Mexican woman living in Boquete, Panama several years ago. She told me there is a huge ex-pat population there. From what I’ve found online, as well as what the “Mexico expert” at the Retire Overseas Bootcamp told me, it sounds like there may be more than 10,000 ex-pats living in the SMA area.
Large Ex-pat population
I’m not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing. I certainly want to experience Latin American culture, but it’s also easier to figure out where to find things that ex-pats are used to having if there are many ex-pats to talk to. The presence of many ex-pats means that more items are being imported to service their tastes. In addition, the characteristics of the area are appealing to ex-pats.
The elevation of SMA is about 6,000 feet. Therefore, the days don’t get too hot and the nights are cool, but not cold like Chicago in the winter. I love the mountains, much more than the beach. If I want to see water, there is a lake in the SMA area and I love mountain lakes.
I think it will be easy to make friends in SMA with such a large ex-pat population. I have learned that, culturally, it’s just easier to have relationships with people who were raised in a similar environment and culture. I hope to makes friends with some locals, also, but I know it’s not easy because conversation cannot flow as easily. Every word, every sentence requires concentration and therefore, a lot goes unsaid.
More Pro’s and Con’s
The one down-side of SMA is that it’s not that easy to get to. There are two airports to fly into that are within an hour and a half by bus. And then there’s the Mexico City airport, which is about 3 ½ hours from SMA by bus. The distance from airports is not ideal for doing a lot of traveling, but I believe I can adjust to it.
Interestingly, I could drive my car into Mexico and use it here, as long as I don’t get permanent residency. With temporary residency or a tourist visa, I can use my car with U.S. plates! And, a tourist visa is good for up to 180 days! From my experience, that’s a very generous amount of time for a tourist visa. In my experience, most tourist visas are only good for 90 days.
Although there are places I could live in Mexico that have a very low cost of living, SMA is not one of them.
Finding an Apartment to Rent During the High Season
At the Retire Overseas Bootcamp, I learned that the busiest season in SMA is January through March. Many snowbirds come down during that time and join the huge ex-pat population that lives there year-round. They also have an influx of ex-pats from the southern U.S. during the summer. These ex-pats come down from places like Texas and Arizona to get away from the summer heat.
Because the high season starts in January, I decided I had better find a place to stay sooner rather than later. I was very lucky and found a one-bedroom furnished apartment to rent for $750/month. According to my neighbor, the deal we have is unheard of in SMA. He’s been living in another unit in the same house for a year.
The price-point I found is easy to find starting in April, but not during the high season. I was expecting to have to pay as much as $1500/month for January and February so I feel very lucky to have found this place.
My first impression of SMA is that it is awesome. There’s nothing like coming from Chicago in January to make you appreciate a sunny 75-degree day.
I have a lot more to share about my first impressions of San Miguel de Allende so stay tuned.
I welcome your comments and questions in the comment section under each article.
Yours in prosperity,
Sophia Hilton (A Savvy Woman)