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Why I Live in San Miguel de Allende

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Sunset in San Miguel De Allende
Credits: Logan | Adobe Stock images

When I began selling real estate in San Miguel I was surprised at the range of questions people asked me. Many wrote or called to ask about pizzas, pacemakers, cars, chiropractors, sushi and always Costco. I have come to find this a delightful part of my job since it lets me see Mexico and San Miguel through the eyes of potential newcomers, and tell them why I live in San Miguel de Allende.

These questions also remind me of what I have learned about life in Mexico (sometimes painfully) over the past almost 20 years. When seeking information, smart folks ask open-ended questions, and the one that catches me by surprise almost every time is: “Why do you live in Mexico?”

The answer to that question is, as you might guess, complex and in many ways ever shifting. The classic answer is the four Cs:  Climate. Cost, Culture and Community.

The climate in San Miguel is the best I have experienced, which includes a number of years in Santa Monica, California.  It is a moderate four-season climate.  I love living without heat or air conditioning.  I do have fans, bed warmers and a fireplace.  My bathroom heaters have been turned on once in the last 12 months, and that for a party.  I love having windows open all-year-round and I spend more time by my pool than in my living room.

The cost of living here, while higher than many other parts of Mexico and the world, is a great bargain compared to major cities in the U.S. and Canada. You can rent a whole range of houses and apartments for US$500 to 1,000 a month, often with long leases if you wish. If you are buying, turn-key houses and condos starting in the mid-US$100s are available and are sometimes a good bit lower if they need work or are a bit far away from the center of the city.

Almost everything is a bargain compared to the rest of North America.  Appliances, home entertainment and cars being the exceptions.  They are either about the same or higher.  Selection also is less.  If cost and convenience are your number one issues nothing beats the big box stores and Amazon. For me, though, less purchasing and more time for myself were big goals.

I have been charmed and attracted to Mexican culture since my first visit at age 10.  It is an amazingly rich and diverse country in every way. Still today I am delighted every time I stumble across a herd of cows in the street or bicyclists on pilgrimage.  I always enjoy visiting the communities that make artisanal items like stone carvings or Christmas ornaments. And after 20 years, I still hear about new ones regularly.

It is very true that expats form strong communities.  We need each other for information and for some sense of the familiar.  Even people who have lived here for 30 years are excited to meet someone from their home towns. Instinctually we help each other out – this one doesn’t drive, that one speaks little Spanish, those two want to go to the beach but would never go alone and so on.  All sorts of groups help expats and locals in numerous ways.  You have an opportunity to be part of a community if you wish.

So why do I live here?  Almost 20 years ago I was in a taxi on a narrow one-way street when a small delivery truck came to a stop blocking all traffic.  I liked that no one blew their horn, but when my driver got out to help unload the truck I knew I had found my place.  That same summer a truck with wide tires parked on a narrow street, which blocked the bus I was on. So, I joined with about 15 men to pick up the truck and move it on to the sidewalk.

I love living in the country with four dogs, friends with plenty of time to visit, improving the life of the neighbors by giving them water, looking forward to giving a home to a family through Casita Linda and having endless space for my succulents. All of these things and much more about San Miguel mean so much to me.  Life in SMA isn’t for everyone, but for me, it’s paradise.

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Ben Pitre
Ben Pitre has worked in real estate for decades as a builder, renovator, sub-divider and syndicator in the U.S. and San Miguel de Allende. He has also been a long-term residential and industrial landlord. He is almost certainly the only real estate agent in San Miguel who has both demonstrated Japanese flower arrangements for the San Miguel Garden Club and fought in public boxing exhibitions (4-0). Ben is an agent with 1st International Realty and can be reached at benpitre@gmail.com.

5 COMMENTS

  1. Thank you Ben for an expats view on San Miguel. I am retiring after 39 years taking care of patients as a RN. I fell in love with SMA thru videos and bloggers. I have never been in your beautiful colonial city, but plan to move there with my husband at the end of this year. I am a native New Yorker, and have always lived approximately 1 hour from the city. Like you, I first visited Mexico as a child with my parents. We made 5 cross country trips during my childhood and always visited Mexico via Texas and California. As an adult, I utilized my timeshare visiting Cancun many times, Playa del Carmen, and Cabo. I have always felt drawn to Mexico’s culture and people. I am retiring in May and plan to utilize an immigration attorney to navigate thru the legalities of moving to SMA for at least 2 years. I plan to do long term rental in a lovely 2-3 bedroom villa. My first grandchild is due in April. I plan to host family and close friends while there. I hope to utilize your expertise in finding long term rental and advice as a newbie. I plan to visit in the fall. I look forward to meeting you!
    Sincerely,
    Daminga Grant
    dmgrant225@aol.com

  2. I really felt your heart in your feelings about living in SM, and felt the same way when we first visited SM 10 years ago. Our pets have recently left us and also retiring from my proffession. Now we are thinking of starting a part time residence in SM for 5 months to start and see what happens. I love SM and know it might be a place to make our final resting place. Hard to leave ‘CA and US but the politics and cost of living are getting out of hand. We will still keep our home in CA but who knows what the future holds. Thank you for your honest comments as an EXPAT.
    Ed Ramos

  3. Hi Ben
    Just wrote you a long message and somehow managed to erased it.I am in PVR right now and headed your way.Sounds like we have a lot in common.Rather than write again as I am not very good at typing,I am wondering if you would be so kind as to call me.I am the poorest millionaire in Aspen and am looking to retire at 64 somewhere like Aspen for things to do,interesting people ,great food,weather,reasonable rents and or purchase and of course peace and quiet.All my favorite beach towns seem too crowded and beaches gone thanks to global warming etc.Please call me as I am looking only and always to work with the nicest brightest knowledgeable people I can find.Might that be you please ? Thank you,Denis P S I seem to be reading a lot of conflicting blogs and information about SMA and remain so confused.Can you help me please ? Thank you.

  4. Hi Ben. I am planning an extended stay [4-5 months] in SMA in 2022. I plan on renting a place. My challenge right now is getting my dog and myself there and back [from oregon.] My dog is very calm and friendly but 80lbs, so way too big for in-cabin flights, andI am not comfortable putting him in cargo. Could anyone recommend alternative transportation ooptions? I could drive to border if necessary and from there I could hok up with road transportation. Any suggestions for who might offer transport? thank you! dana

    • You can drive a rental car from your location to Laredo Tx. From there , look into Tornado bus lines for trips to San Miguel and ask if they allow pets. I ride Tornado Bus lines from Dallas to El Paso and they’re very fast but I don’t know if they allow pets.

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