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Expats Are Falling in Love with Guanajuato

Basilica of Our Lady of Guanajuato
Credit: Yakor | Fotolia
Robert Nelson Co-Founder of Expats In Mexico
Robert Nelson

It’s just one of those places in Mexico that inspires love. As you look down on the city from its panoramic highway, you’ll understand why more expats are falling in love with Guanajuato.

This month we take our Hometown Series to this beautiful colonial silver-mining city in our article, “The Urban Planner Who Fell in Love with Guanajuato.”

An urban planner by education, 73-year-old Willis Martin knows a few things about what makes great cities tick. And Guanajuato ticked all of the right boxes for him.

A Michigan boy, Willis graduated from high school in Grand Rapids and graduated from Michigan State University in Lansing in 1966 with a bachelor’s degree in urban planning.

But Mexico exerted a strong pull on him. While working for a major real estate development firm in Phoenix, he vacationed in the country for 30 years before deciding to retire to Guanajuato in 2008.

“I always liked Mexico,” he said, “and visited it often because we had friends in Sonora. About 18 years ago we went to San Miguel de Allende and on the way back to the airport we stopped for breakfast in Guanajuato. As an urban planner I was fascinated by the city and came back to visit about two dozen times over the next 18 years.”

“I’ve traveled all over Mexico and have probably visited 20 different cities,” Willis said, “but I like Guanajuato best because it’s an urban planner’s dream. It’s a town where walking is easy – unless you’re walking up one of the steep hills that surround the city – because vehicles are restricted. It has a very Italian hill town feel about it. I especially love the callejones or narrow streets and alleyways of Guanajuato. Probably 70 percent of the homes in the central part of the city are accessible mainly from callejones. Some of them are so narrow you can extend your arms and touch both walls.”

I think you’ll enjoy learning all about living in Guanajuato from Willis. He’s fluent in Spanish, has a Mexican wife and is well integrated into the local community. The perfect guide to Guanajuato.

You can also view an edited video version of the article by clicking on the image in the Videos section of our homepage.