Bucket List Worthy
By Val Dawson
I recently moved to San Miguel de Allende, and I have fallen hard. Brightly painted buildings line its cobblestone streets in shades of rose, azul, and naranja. I glance into doorways to see tortillas being made by hand. I smell roasting chiles, hear the bells ring in the pink church, and watch as golden light slants across the huge wooden doors. It’s easy to see why people choose to move here. In fact, 10 percent of San Miguel’s residents are expats. I’ve met more expats from Canada than anywhere else. So, I set out to find out what exactly it is that to many Canucks have chosen to move to San Miguel de Allende.
Here are the top five reasons that Canadians move to San Miguel de Allende:
The number one reason that Canadians cite for moving is the weather. They are tired of the cold winters in Canada, and not only is San Miguel de Allende warm and sunny, it also has some of the most perfect weather than you will find anywhere. It’s rarely uncomfortably hot or cold. You don’t need air conditioning. People use space heaters or fireplaces during the chillier times, but that’s usually just in the early mornings and evenings. Even on the days that there are thunderstorms, the sun usually comes out at some point.
In San Miguel de Allende, there is always something to do. All you have to do is pick up the latest copy of Atencion, which comes out on Fridays, and check the calendar. You can choose from meditation, yoga, bridge, zumba, live music, walking tours, salsa lessons, happy hours…the list goes on and on. There is something for everyone. Many Canadians also explore their artistic side through painting, sculpting, writing, and photography. In fact, San Miguel de Allende has become a haven for artists, and those who don’t participate by creating the art love viewing it. All of this leads to a contagious creative energy that permeates the city. The feeling of joy indicative of people following there passions is hard to miss. Susan Page, the organizer of the San Miguel Writers Conference, once said, “Some people move to Florida to die. Some move to San Miguel to live.”
San Miguel de Allende has excellent, affordable restaurants, many of which offer three-course meals for 100 pesos (about $8 USD). And then, there’s the variety. Of course, there are amazing Mexican restaurants, but you can also find sushi, curry, Lebanese food, and vegan organic cafes — pretty much anything you want. There are also great bakeries, cheese shops, and pasty shops, although no one making Nainamo bars yet, unfortunately. If you prefer to cook at home, the produce is freshand imported food products are available at the main grocery stores, Mega and Bonanza.
Canadians love the luxury of being able to walk in the pleasant climate in San Miguel. The Centro area is only 24 blocks, so it is easy to navigate on foot. The streets are cobblestone, so walking on them can be a little challenging, but, for me, that’s part of the adventure! For those, who don’t feel like walking, the bus system is very easy to figure out. Taxis are also inexpensive at 30 pesos during the day and 50 pesos at night.
Canadians can afford to live a much more comfortable lifestyle in San Miguel de Allende than in Canada — and for much less money. Most apartment and house rentals include all utilities, wi-fi, cable TV, and maid service. The restaurants are more affordable. The groceries are substantially cheaper. Mexico also has excellent healthcare, and Canadians who have the resident visas are eligible for the national healthcare program.
I forecast that as time goes by, many more Canadians will be coming to San Miguel de Allende. It’s charm, high quality of living, and magical streets are enough to beckon anyone to come stay forever.
All photos except lead photo courtesy of Val Dawson