San Miguel de Allende

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San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato Mexico

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 the valley.

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.

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Real Estate in San Miguel

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 estate listings.

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.

Mexico Real Estate: The True Price of Adventure in Paradise of An open look at the cost-of-living in Mexico Would-be expatriates look for home destinations that appeal to their individual definition of adventure and paradise. For the first time, International Living reported Mexico as the world’s top retirement haven because of its economy, real estate, and quality of life. That was great news for Mexico yet it missed some important details on cost-of-living from the experience of those who have already jumped at the dream of paradise on a budget. Real Estate The main attraction for those migrating to Mexico has clearly been the real estate, as evidenced by the phenomenal growth of the home market here, especially since 9/11. Not only are oceanfront and ocean view properties still 50-80% less than their US counterparts (if there really is a direct comparison), property taxes are a tiny fraction of states within the United States. Coastal and inland water-view living is simply a bargain in Mexico when compared to the United States. Services Salaries in Mexico are much lower than north of the border and this shows itself in all kinds of services that expatriates need every day. Doctors, dentists, constructions workers, handymen, mechanics, housekeepers, and gardeners all charge 50-75% less than their US counterparts. The net affect is that expatriates can extend their money and even improve their quality of life. Other services such as entertainment are also much less in Mexico. Groceries It is challenging to compare the cost of food in Mexico to that in the United States. Mexican cuisine is substantially different than the normal daily fare of Americans, and it can be quite economical. However, adding a variety of dishes common to the multiethnic menu of today’s American poses challenges of supply and a substantial increase in food costs. The saving grace seems to be produce, which is fresher and offers more tropical favorites such as papaya, mangos, plantains, avocados, and guavas at good prices throughout Mexico. Energy Energy is about two to three times the price in the United States, with the exception of gasoline which is currently about 25% less than the going US price. This comes as somewhat of a surprise to foreigners who think nothing of leaving their PC and monitor burning at all hours of the day, and who ignore the “vampire affect” of the many chargers and electrical adapters scattered throughout their house. Electronics Mexico’s stiff import tariffs on electronic goods from Asian competitors mean that electronics in Mexico are notoriously expensive. Adding the Mexican value added tax (IVA) makes these products cost about double the identical product in the United States. This is a serious consideration when thinking about adorning a new, Mexican home with a 55-inch plasma display for the living room! Notable exceptions are Mexican-made and Mexican-branded appliances that are on par or slightly less than their foreign equivalents. Clothing Most foreigners don’t bother buying clothing in Mexico for the same reason that many Mexicans along the border with the United States avoid buying clothes in Mexico. The quality of common clothing is relatively poor, or the price of good quality clothing is 30-50% more than in the US. And say goodbye to well-advertised sales in your Sunday paper. There is simply no such analogy in most of Mexico. Most expatriates continue to purchase their clothing on their trips to the United States – easier for border areas like northern Baja California but more challenging the further you go into Mexico’s interior. Communication Telephony in Mexico simply costs more. There is a good reason that one of the world’s two richest men is from Mexico! The good news is that high-speed Internet is now ubiquitous together with basic local telephone packages. Many foreigners control telephone costs by eliminating all the frills on their Mexican telephone line, and by making use of voice over Internet products such as Vonage and Skype. These services make calls back home economical and even save money on calls within Mexico. For example, a one minute call using Vonage to Mexico City costs about a penny a minute with eight cents a minute being the norm. Compare this with 25 to 45 cents a minute for long distance within Mexico on a Mexican line. Economics is one of the generally positive aspects of life in Mexico. A future column will also cover the spectrum of quality-of-life factors from the perspective of current expatriates in Mexico.

Homes in Mexico are tempting of from PUERTO VALLARTA, Mexico -- Standing on our 10th-floor balcony at the Westin, my wife hands me her binoculars and says, "I think they added the verticals for another three floors while we were having lunch." She points to the framework for yet another skyscraper along the Banderas Bay shoreline. This is not the usual use of her binoculars. For much of the last week they have been focused on the pelicans and frigate birds that cruise the shoreline or have checked out the regular parade of sail and power yachts that emerge from nearby Marina Vallarta. But today she wants me to watch the high-steel workers maneuver a girder into place as they stand precariously over about 13 stories of air. Beyond this building, three recently completed 20-story buildings stand, awaiting occupants. And up the beach a few steps in another direction are still more condos with magical names --Shangri-La, Grand Venetian, Portofino and Bay Grand. In fact, new construction goes far beyond the confines of Puerto Vallarta. It is everywhere along this beautiful coast. In the places where it is not yet completed, billboards (in English) announce the imminent arrival of another opportunity to live in unsurpassed luxury and elegance where you can view the world from a plethora of infinity pools. Even distant Sayulito, the charming, funky surfing town celebrated by Barry Golson in Gringos in Paradise, is booming with new construction. Here, in this part of Mexico, real estate is big business. It's good to know, of course, that if a shortage of condos develops in Miami, there is a backup supply in Puerto Vallarta. What that means for anyone who has contemplated a second home or retirement in Mexico is very simple: A buyer's market is either here or on its way. The supply of condos and homes for sale exceeds demand. But let's put it another way. While the number of millionaire households in America has shown stunning growth in the last few years, millionaires are still in short supply relative to the number of luxury opportunities that have been created. Does this mean a crash is coming to Puerto Vallarta? I wouldn't bet on it. The market here isn't likely to suffer the steep declines we're seeing in such places as San Diego, Las Vegas and Miami. Here's why. According to Vallarta Lifestyles, whose current 265-page issue is bursting with real estate ads, the average condo resale price rose 79 percent, from $196,000 to $351,000, between 2003 and 2007. That's a hefty premium over the 32 percent increase in the OFHEO (Office of Housing Enterprise Oversight) index for the United States over the same period or even the 50 percent increase for the Pacific states. Sounds ripe for a fall, doesn't it? Not so fast. The appreciation isn't so stiff if you pay in euros. Remember, the euro has appreciated about 25 percent against the dollar over the same period. As a consequence, our real estate (and Mexican oceanfront real estate priced in dollars) looks a lot less expensive to Europeans than it does to us. Europeans, Asians and Canadians could buy a lot of the inventory. Lots of Brits and Germans are here. Another thing to remember is that Mexico isn't blessed with our creative financing. Indeed, home mortgages barely exist. Most homes are purchased for cash. So if speculators have bought houses and condos in Mexico, they're probably well-financed speculators compared to the folks who used Liar Loans to borrow their way to bankruptcy in America. Here, property owners are likely to hang tough, waiting for a better market. There will be fewer distress sales. Maybe. But there is a reason all those billboards are in English. Americans are the primary buyers in Puerto Vallarta. And the majority of them are from California. I would not be surprised if many of the condos sold in the last few years were purchased with cash from refinancing a house in California. As a result, the supply of houses for sale in PV may increase significantly in the next year or so as Californians look for a source of cash and find it in Mexico. Bottom line? It won't have the stark drama of places like Fort Myers, Fla., or Stockton, Calif. But Puerto Vallarta looks like a long-term opportunity for buyers and renters alike.

buy real estate in mexico

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.


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 years. 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 people." 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 from ABC News

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 lessen theirs. 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 humbling. 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.

Home is where their art is. from

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 plunge. 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 values. 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 overseas. 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 South America. 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 different. 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

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 pedestrian passageways. 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 cities. 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 bowl-shaped valley. 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 alleviate traffic. 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 or gas. Stolen kisses "Guanajuato is full of stories," says Mike Anderson, "most of them having to do with the old buildings that have had legends built up around them." 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 Ángeles. 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 opposing balconies. "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 16th-century residence. Pleasant surprises 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 strolling mariachis. 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 along. Mummy mania 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 expressions. 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 mummification. 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 $5.

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