San Miguel de Allende : Mexico


What It Is Like to Retire in San Miguel de Allende

San Miguel de Allende is one of the most beautiful towns in Mexico, located in the Guanajuato. This historic town was founded in 1542. It is now a major tourist destination for a large American and Canadian expatriate community of retirees. Of the total population of about 130,000, 7,000 or so are North American expatriates. After WW II many American GIs attended art school in San Miguel de Allende on the GI Bill. That is part of the reason why San Miguel is known to North Americans as such an important art center. During the 60's San Miguel was a big scene for American counterculture - Ken Kesey's travels here were chronicled in "The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test".

San Miguel de Allende almost became a ghost town in 1900.  Fortunately it was declared a national historic monument in 1926. The city has been designated as a World Historic spot because the code in San Miguel de Allende requires maintaining the colonial look in the city proper.  Therefore it is beautifully charming. The sidewalks are 500 years old. The interesting architecture and history also make it very special.

San Miguel de Allende also offers visitors and residents a vibrant and lively community of artists, musicians and writers and a delightful mix of Mexican folk traditions, fiestas and religious celebrations.

Where to Retire in San Miguel de Allende and Home Prices

With such a large expatriate population there is an extensive array of homes for sale. There are mansions and villas for sale in the millions of dollars, and plenty of luxury apartments and homes in the $200's and $300's. There are some developments for retirees.

What Is Special about San Miguel de Allende

Living in an American town that is 500 years old!  The history, architecture, and cobblestone streets are beautiful. Thanks to its art schools such as privately-owned Instituto Allende and the Bellas Artes there are is an abundance of great art here. San Miguel de Allende is a World Heritage Site. Its Expresión en Corto International Film Festival is a major attraction.

What Is Not Special about San Miguel de Allende

The elevation requires getting use to; although walking is a good way to get around the town, it is hilly; there is just one hospital in town

Who Will Like Retirement in San Miguel de Allende

Adventurous people who love art and living in an historic environment will like San Miguel de Allende. About 10% of the population is made up of expatriates. Some Americans believe that all of the expat retirees ruin the feel of San Miguel, others feel that they make the place more comfortable.

Local Economy Is Driven by

Agriculture and industry are important to the economy, but the main driver is tourism.

Climate and Physical Environment

San Miguel de Allende is found in the eastern part of Guanajuato in Mexico's mountainous bajío region. The bajío is a relatively flat region about 2,000 m (7,000 ft) above sea level which in turn is surrounded by mountains. San Miguel is on the Mexican altiplano. The year round temperature is moderate thanks to the altitude. Do yourself a favor and visit Denver Colorado (or some other USA city that is above a mile high) for a week or so. This will acquaint you with the living conditions at a mile or more above sea level. You may find it too difficult to breathe at this elevation. Better to find out on a short vacation than an expensive, ill-advised move to a Mexican city in the mountains.

Restaurants & Cultural Scene

The art scene is very big in San Miguel, and many writers live here as well. There is an annual Writers Conference. The University of Texas-Pan America offers courses that are transferable to the U.S.  There is a Mercado des Artisansias where artists sell their work. The Casa de Allende (Allende House) Museum is quite popular. There are numerous festivals throughout the year.


According to a report on Trip Advisor, San Miguel de Allende does not have a big crime problem, and certainly nothing like the horror stories further north. Caution is advised about traveling with valuables.

Medical Facilities

Mexico's medical facilities are well know and medical tourism (gringos coming here for inexpensive care) is popular and reasonable.


The quaint cobblestone streets are narrow and many expats do not drive their own cars as taxis and buses are available and inexpensive. The nearest airport is about 50 miles away in Queretaro.

Valuable Links

Wikipedia entry for San Miguel de Allende
Guide to retirement in Mexico

What people are saying about San Miguel de Allende

Brings me back
I was in San Miguel de Allende in the 70's and boy was it great. If you like art and a very beautiful town - San Miguel is the right place. Doesnt have the feel of danger that a lot of Mexico has right now
Posted by junebug on March 23, 2009

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