About six years ago my family and I moved to San Miguel de Allende, a colonial city located in the Bajio mountains of Central Mexico. It’s old (founded in 1541), historic (a UNESCO world heritage site), and known for its arts scene.
San Miguel has a population of around 140,000, a fairly large expat community (not many our age), great restaurants, a great library, high speed (allegedly) Internet, and the weather is close to perfect (heating and air conditioning systems are non-existent).
Here are some of the reasons that cumulatively led to our decision to give living here a try: a change of scenery, the adventure, the people, the food, the colors, the music, affordability, experiencing a different culture, the slower pace of life, learning a new language, and giving our kids a different perspective on the world.
My general restlessness also played a big part.
Some frequently asked questions:
Are you near a beach? Nope.
Is it dangerous? A qualified no. So far San Miguel has remained free from drug violence, but that can change quickly. Mexico is definitely a very dangerous place for those directly involved in the drug war. I wouldn’t join a cartel, the army, or a law enforcement agency. I also wouldn’t wander about in search of drugs. Like a lot of cities, as the economy has worsened, property crimes have risen. You need to take reasonable precautions to live or visit here.
Where do your kids go to school? A small, funky, very cool private school with kids from all over the world.
Are the hospitals good? We’ve had nothing but good experiences. We went through a difficult pregnancy and the birth of our daughter here.
Do you have the opportunity to watch poorly dubbed Jean-Claude Van Damme films on television most nights? Yes.
Do you miss being near your family and friends? Yes.
Mexico is far from a perfect place to live. The poverty is heartbreaking, corruption is out of control, environmental oversight is non-existent, and public services are often sketchy. Still, we’ve loved living here. When we made the move, I hadn’t planned on working and traveling so much. The surprise birth of our daughter changed everything.
We plan to move back to the U.S. at some point, and when we do, we’ll miss something about Mexico every day.