Located in central Mexico in the State of Guanajuato, San
Miguel de Allende is one of Mexico's most picturesque and historic
towns rich in Mexican history. With cobblestone streets, flowering
gardens and colonial architecture, the city was built on a hillside
with a wonderful view of the Guanajuato mountains and has expanded into
San Miguel de Allende is a favorite retirement destination for
North Americans and Europeans and has been for many years due to its
mild sunny climate, colonial architecture and prominent art schools
including the Instituto Allende and the Bellas Artes. In 2002 San
Miguel de Allende was one of Money Magazine’s 8 Best Places to retire.
Additionally, San Miguel is a tourist destination of Mexicans
and foreigners alike. With its many restaurants serving up delicious
mexican dishes, artsy coffee shops, and nightlife, there isn't much not
to do in San Miguel. There are over 1,000 hotel rooms ranging from the
economic 1-star lodging to the exquisite 5-star hotels.
If you are looking to buy a house or instead a plot of land on
which to build your home, San Miguel's real estate market is shining.
Home prices in the popular center of town are quite expensive, but
beautiful homes outside of town can be found for much less. Many
foreigners now are opting to buy real estate outside of town and build
there own home.
San Miguel is a beautiful place to live and retire. The
population is estimate at anywhere from 50k to 100k in the town and
surrounding countryside. The number of foreigners, mostly Americans,
that call San Miguel de Allende their home is approximately 20 to 30
thousand. Because of the large population of Americans their, the town
is very "American safe" or friendly. The Mexicans are very used to
having the Americans living with them and enjoy their presence as well
as the benefit to the economy they provide. Please click here if you
would like to browse the real
Although the real estate prices have been increasing over the
last few years, you can still purchase a very nice place for a lot less
than you could in the United States. Homes in the popular center of
town range upwards of $700,000. Many Americans are chosing to buy land
outside of town, in a new area called the Cieneguita where you find
natural warms springs underground.
Tourism in San Miguel de Allende
In addition to Americans wanting to live in colonial San
Miguel, it is a destination that draws tourists from all over the world
due to its important cultural events, such as the Sanmiguelada (running
of the bulls), which was inspired by Spain’s Pamplona Festival. The
city also hosts world-famous events such as the Chamber Music Festival
and the San Miguel Jazz Festival, which features renowned artists. San
Miguel de Allende is a place where many go to learn Spanish, take art
classes, learn to cook authentic Mexican food, or enroll in one of the
many different workshops offered throughout the year.
It is approximately 170 miles northwest of Mexico City. north
of Mexico City. It is one of the most beautiful Colonial jewels of
Mexico. The town maintains the colonial architecture of its buildings
and its cobblestone streets and boasts a colorful atmosphere full of
traditions and culture. The average temperature in San Miguel ranges
between 16º and 22º C (61º and 72º F).
San Miguel combines the best of colonial Mexico with a diverse
foreign community of well traveled residents and visitors. In 1926 The
Mexican government declared San Miguel a national historic monument and
has preserved the town’s colonial character - it remains a relatively
untouched antique city of Mexico's past.
Live and Retire in Mexico
San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
An expatriate enclave in central Mexico has Latin American warmth and
the familiar comforts of home. from CNN.money.com:
What if you went on vacation and never came back? Sound nice?
Well, that's more or less what's happened to thousands of Americans who
have stumbled on the Mexican town of San Miguel de Allende in recent
Norman and Miriam Meyer, 76 and 72, of Bowling Green, Ohio, bought a
vacation home here nine years ago and made the full-time plunge in
February. Norman, a retired chemistry professor, didn't speak a word of
Spanish when they bought the house and hasn't picked up more than a few
phrases since. But with more than 5,000 Americans in this town of about
80,000, it's pretty much all he needs.
Located in central Mexico, a few hours north of Mexico City, San Miguel
is popular with expatriates because of its rich culture, slow pace,
beauty, proximity to the States and, of course, weather. "It's
essentially always early or late spring here," says Meyer. The average
temperature year round is 71F.
While it's easy to immerse yourself in Mexican culture, American
comforts are never far away. Cable TV gives you access to most American
cable stations, and it's easy to connect to the Internet. San Miguel
has one of the largest bilingual libraries in the country. There's even
a Wal-Mart and Costco 45 minutes away. The nearest international
airport is 90 minutes west in Leon. Mexico City's airport is about four
hours away by car. If you prefer to drive, hitting the Texas border
takes 10 hours or so.
But it's the local flavor that draws Americans. Cobblestone
streets and centuries-old cathedrals color the landscape. A thriving
art community boasts many galleries, classes and performances. The
popular Instituto Allende offers lectures, field trips, concerts and
all manner of art courses.
Alice and Floyd Edwards, 54 and 59, who retired to San Miguel last
year, find the expatriate retirees "more traveled, more artsy, more
open," says Alice. "From the first day we came, we met fascinating
Given the climate, outdoor activities are always an attraction. Floyd
Edwards plays the local golf courses, and Miriam Meyer loves the
year-round tennis only three blocks from her house.
Home prices have been on the rise -- the Meyers, who paid
$160,000 for their 2,500-square-foot home nine years ago, figure it's
worth $250,000 today. Their property taxes? A paltry $130 a year. And
while American food products can run 50% more here, staples and eating
out can be a bargain. "I just walked up to the market," says Norman
Meyer, "and I bought a week's worth of oranges and a dozen eggs for
less than $2."
Learning About San Miguel de Allende
More and more travelers are cooking up culinary experiences
for their vacations. Culinary travel is about more than merely tasting
— adventurers want to understand cultivation, explore marketplaces and
learn to cook the dishes that once seemed exotic and mysterious.
Mexico, a food lovers' wonderland, is ahead of the curve with culinary
schools throughout the country, offering packages that run from one-day
to weeklong certificate programs.
The history and cultural evolution of Mexico can be traced through its
culinary tradition. Yucatan-style food is marked by Mayan influence,
and today pits are still dug to slow-roast meats with orange juice and
achiote (annatto) seed. The Zapotecs of Oaxaca still brew mezcal as
they did more than 2,000 years ago — when priests used the ceremonial
drink to heighten their senses, and gave it to sacrificial victims to
And the macabre Aztec-influenced holiday, Day of the Dead, is
celebrated with maize cakes and chocolate atole.
The charming colonial city of San Miguel de Allende has a culinary
school, Sazon, which teaches local dishes, along with cooking classes
inspired by various regions in Mexico.
Even if you think you know Mexican food — whether you frequent high-end
restaurants or are a taqueria aficionada — these courses will be
Chef Paco Cárdenas led the Market Tour Course. He brought students to
the nearby public fruit and vegetable market where the locals buy their
groceries. His first stop was at Dona Lolita's stand. She vends campote
en dulce, sweet potatoes baked in brown sugar, along with gordita de
pinole — blue corn powder mixed with sugar and anise, and pipiano, a
little ball of ground ancho chili and pumpkin seeds to make a seasonal
mole. No taco shells or margarita salt in site.
The tour moved on through the piles of produce, with Cárdenas the
fearless leader; he bought bags of fresh chickpeas marinated with lime
and chili for everyone to taste. He encouraged visitors to sniff the
fragrant herb epazote, and purchased bags of cactus parts — the paddles
known as nopales, and their fruits, prickly pears, to use later.
More Canadians are choosing to retire or set up business in
their favourite vacation spot
Gary May, For Canwest News Service
Published: Saturday, March 22, 2008
Booking a winter vacation to Mexico is no longer a problem for
Canadians Dan and Nisha Ferguson. They now live there full time.
The Fergusons marvel at how many others have done the same thing. They
live in San Miguel de Allende, about 270 kilometres northwest of Mexico
City, where an estimated 12,000 of the city's 65,000 residents are
ex-pats, about 2,500 of them Canadian.
And every year the Fergusons hear of another family that has visited,
only to return to Canada as new owners of Mexican property. It's a bug
that bites many a seasoned traveller: You've come upon a vacation spot
you love so much, you hate to leave. Wouldn't it be great to live here,
you say. No more Canadian winters.
Or maybe you're drawn by the chance to escape the rat race or to find a
spot where your money goes further. But if you're a rational person
with a mortgage, job, kids and a dog, you might hesitate to take the
Perhaps you've seen those books and TV programs in which pasty-faced
people from northern climes rush off and buy their little place in the
sun, only to have plans dashed by the realities of ownership
restrictions, hurricanes, local building codes or falling property
So where do you turn?
For more than 25 years, International Living magazine and newsletter
has offered advice to those who yearn to live, travel and invest
International Living was created on the premise that there are places
more exotic, but less expensive, and where we can enjoy the same
freedoms and standards of health care as in North America. The
magazine's worldwide staff conducts an annual survey and produces a
list of the best retirement havens.
In its most recent survey, conducted in 2007, Mexico tops the list,
superseding Panama, which had been tops the previous six years. Ecuador
placed No. 2 and Italy came third.
Statistics Canada estimates 2.7 million Canadians live outside the
country, about eight per cent of our population. While many live in the
United States, Canadians are increasingly opting for more exotic
locales, such as Mexico, Spain, Italy, the Caribbean and Central and
Many want a retirement destination; others seek business opportunities
as private entrepreneurs, perhaps with an eye toward future retirement.
Dan and Nisha Ferguson fall into the latter category. Nisha's an Ottawa
native and Dan's from Toronto. They have two children. When the Toronto
property they used as a studio for their ceramic sculpting business was
sold in the late 1990s, they began looking for something radically
Two unrelated contacts suggested San Miguel de Allende. Since 85 to 90
per cent of their works are exported to the United States, the
Fergusons decided they would be just as well placed in Mexico as they
were in Toronto.
Suzan Haskins is the Latin America editorial director for International
Living and lives in Merida, Mexico. She says her chief piece of advice
for anyone contemplating a move overseas is "do your homework."
Learn from International Living's and others' websites, she says.
Decide what you're looking for: climate, surroundings, activities,
health care, cost of living, property prices or ownership restrictions
are common considerations. Then pay a visit and ask lots of questions.
Guanajuato, Mexico: Finding old Europe south of
the border. from SeattleTimes.com
GUANAJUATO, Mexico — Stacked along the hillsides and tucked
into cobbled alleyways too narrow for cars, the houses look like blocks
painted by a child who had a hard time deciding among hot pink, orange
and bright purple.
Strolling musicians serenade couples lounging at sidewalk cafes ringing
shady plazas. Dogs bark. Church bells ring. The air smells of grilled
meats and cappuccino.
Spain, Italy, France? It would be easy to mistake this university town
in the mountains of Central Mexico for a medieval city in Europe.
Substitute the easy-on-the-wallet peso for the pricey euro, and nearly
year-round springlike weather, and you've got a bargain travel
destination where the U.S. dollar still buys more.
This isn't beach-and-margaritas Mexico. The ocean's an eight-hour drive
away. There are tourists here but, unlike nearby San Miguel de Allende,
a town popular with expat Americans, Guanajuato attracts mostly
students and Mexican travelers who come to enjoy the mountain air,
browse the museums and art galleries and get lost exploring a maze of
Part of what's called the Bajío or heartland of Mexico, Guanajuato, the
capital of the state by the same name, is in the high desert mountains
(6,700 feet), 225 miles northwest of Mexico City.
Guanajuato became Mexico's most prominent silver-mining city after the
Spanish colonized the area in the 1500s. They built stately mansions
and churches, and following the War of Independence against the Spanish
in the early 1800s, the Mexican president enlisted French architects to
design elaborate parks and gardens. But it's the streets, or rather
lack of them, that make Guanajuato unique among Mexico's colonial
The historical town center lies at the base of a maze of more than 600
"callejónes" or alleys that wind around steep hillsides above a
With the exception of four small one-way streets above ground, traffic
flows underground through a series of tunnels, like subways, only for
cars — some dug originally to control flooding; others more recently to
A bank on a nearby corner is as close as the taxi driver could get me
to La Casa de Doña Ana, where I planned to stay for four nights. Mike
Anderson, who runs the B&B with his wife, Ana, met me, and we
walked uphill several hundred feet on Callejón Calixto, an alleyway
probably no more than 10 feet wide, to the 200-year-old house the
couple has restored.
Surrounding an open courtyard were rooms with heavy wooden doors and
exposed brick and wood-beamed ceilings. A small grotto beneath a
fountain in the patio led to the oldest part of the house, an
underground reservoir where residents used to collect rainwater for
their daily use.
Today, the Andersons and their neighbors have plenty of running water,
but living in a passageway presents modern challenges.
Take the delivery of bottled gas, which everyone uses to heat their
water. I woke up around 7 a.m. my first morning to the sound of a man
outside yelling, "Gas! Gas!" Trucks pull up to the curbsides with fresh
supplies. Then men run up the alleys delivering the 120-pound tanks to
whomever has run out.
"Everything here has to be carried," said Ana. That goes for groceries
"Guanajuato is full of stories," says Mike Anderson, "most of them
having to do with the old buildings that have had legends built up
One has to do with the Callejon del Beso, the "Alley of the Kiss,"
around the corner from La Casa de Doña Ana, near the Plazuela de los
This alley is so narrow, the balconies of the houses on either side
practically touch. Legend has it that a woman named Doña Ana, the
daughter of a wealthy silver baron who lived on the street, fell in
love with a poor miner. They were forbidden to see each other, so the
miner rented a room opposite. There they stole kisses (besos) from
"Ana's father, in a rage, plunged his dagger into his daughter's
breast, killing her instantly," writes local author William Conaway in
his book "Walking Mexico's Colonial Heartland."
Couples who kiss while standing on the third stair are said to be
guaranteed seven years of happiness.
I didn't bring anyone along on this trip to kiss, so leaving my room my
first morning here, I decided to walk to a monument on top of the town
called El Pípila, where a huge statue honors former miner and local war
hero Juan Jose de los Reyes Martinez.
Surprisingly, it took only about five minutes to reach a viewpoint that
appeared to be about half-an-hour's walk away. For those affected by
the high altitude, there's a funicular that takes about five minutes to
reach the top. I rode it down and ended up at the edge of the Jardín de
la Unión, the town square, ringed with outdoor restaurants and shaded
by thick laurel trees.
The museums here are exquisite, and there are several worth a visit,
including one devoted to Don Quixote, the Spanish literary hero in
Cervantes' "Man of La Mancha." There's a house museum dedicated to the
artist Diego Rivera, who was born in Guanajuato, and the Peoples
Museum, where colonial-era religious art is displayed inside a
The best part about wandering around compact Guanajuato, however, is
the surprise discoveries that reflect the city's appeal to a mix of
students, young professionals and families.
The historical center is a UNESCO World Heritage site, meaning no neon
signs or traffic lights and, so far, no Starbucks. Instead there are
Italian wine bars, French bistros and cozy hole-in-the-wall spots such
as Cafe Conquistador a few steps away from the Rivera museum, where an
icy Frappuccino with chocolate and whipped cream costs about $2.
On weekends, the French-styled Teatro Juárez morphs from an elegant
symphony hall into a town gathering spot when crowds gather on the
steps to munch on ears of roasted corn, watch mimes and listen to
Taking street theater to new highs are the callejoneadas, competing
groups of musicians dressed in traditional costumes who lead visitors
through the alleyways on nighttime singing, dancing and drinking tours.
With my B&B hosts, Mike and Ana, I joined Los Gordos de Verde —
The Fat Men in Green — an 11-man group of minstrels in black tunics
with green sashes, knickers and patent-leather shoes. They gathered a
crowd of about 60 that instantly swelled to more than 100 once they
started singing a round of "Cielito Lindo" (Aye, aye, aye, aye. Canta y
no llores ... ).
A $9 ticket includes a ceramic flask filled with wine or, in our case,
orange juice spiked with vodka. Like most everything in Guanajuato, an
evening with the callejoneadas is great family fun. Kids join in,
occasionally sharing a sip from their parents' flasks. The neighbors
didn't seem to mind. Several stepped out on their balconies to sing
Worth a side trip out of town are nearby ceramics villages and the old
Valenciana mine, still producing silver and gold. But the most unusual
excursion has to be a trip to the Museo de las Momias — the Mummy
Museum — at the public cemetery, a 10-minute taxi ride from town.
Fifty-eight corpses are on display, just a few of hundreds that have
been exhumed from the public cemetery since the mid-1800s. Many, but
not all, were found well-preserved with lifelike forms and facial
Explanations are vague, but the theory is that mineral deposits in the
water (the bodies were taken from vaults built into walls, one on top
of the other, rather than from underground) and the tendency of some
materials to absorb humidity from the atmosphere caused the
The first mummies were discovered when corpses were removed to make
room for new ones. Cemetery space is at a premium, and if an annual
upkeep charge isn't paid by a friend or relative, bodies are exhumed
after five years to make room for new ones.
It's all a little gruesome, especially the display of mummified babies,
but Mexicans come from all over to see this museum. It's by far the
most crowded in Guanajuato, and also the most expensive. Admission is