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Judy Newell of Perfect Journeys – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Wine making celebration, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingOne of the best things about living and retiring in San Miguel de Allende is the friendships you build. You make marvelously close friendships because very few people have their families in the city. Therefore, their friends are the people that they rely upon and become their families. 
 
The climate of San Miguel de Allende is beautiful year-round. 
 
There are many amenities in San Miguel de Allende that are less expensive than in the United States.  If you are a golfer like my husband, you can play golf year-round. To join a country club in San Miguel de Allende costs a lot less than joining a golf club in the United States. 
 
There are many teachers in San Miguel de Allende who teach fitness programs, aerobics, water aerobics, and yoga; as well as every type of art classes from welding lessons that a lady friend of mine took, which I found hysterical, to jewelry making and painting. There are so many different activities here. 
 
One of the worst things about living in San Miguel de Allende is the difficulty of trying to find an English language movie I like when I want to go out to watch a movie in the theater instead of watching shows on Netflix. The English language movies here are more of the "Transformers-type" of films, which is a little frustrating for me. 
 
Shopping for women in San Miguel de Allende is the most difficult. You can't just go to the mall to pick up a dress, shoes, or a particular type of makeup as easily as you could in the United States. You have to learn to adjust to the things that are here.
 
(Wine making celebration, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, pictured.)
Mary Agnes McKay – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Rental with a pool and view, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingThe best thing about living in San Miguel de Allende is living among the Mexican people and being able to experience their gentle spirit, and their calm attitude about life and life’s predicaments. I’ve discovered that everything has a solution, and the solution doesn’t necessarily mean spending a great deal of money to have to purchase a piece of equipment for your house. For example, in a plumbing situation or just regarding the appearance of something, a Mexican man would use what I call “Mexican ingenuity” and make something that works just as fine, looks lovely, and fits in.
 
As an American, I would think, “I don’t have any cabinets in this kitchen. I don’t have anywhere to put my dishes and my glasses so I’m going to have to go and buy furniture, but there’s nowhere to even put it.” Instead, here in San Miguel de Allende, an iron worker who knows my needs calmly comes in and immediately says, “Well we could make shelves with this and this… and then I could add these decorative touches to it so it would be attractive,” all for a minimal amount of money. 
 
I like living in the calm environment of San Miguel de Allende with gentle spirited people. Of course, the climate is a plus in San Miguel de Allende, because we don’t have the heat and humidity that the coastal areas have. 
 
San Miguel de Allende is unique and I suppose that’s why it’s a UNESCO World Heritage site. Also, it has the Spanish colonial aura as evidenced by the cobblestone streets and the painted houses. I feel like I’ve been dropped into a beautiful environment where I can appreciate the natural art and the natural beauty. I could go on forever about what I like about San Miguel de Allende. The difficulty is thinking of what I don’t like.
 
Here’s an example of a situation that I didn’t like in San Miguel de Allende. Early on, I was frustrated because I kept saying, “She (a helper or a housekeeper) said she would be here to do this tomorrow; he (some other service provider) said he would deliver that tomorrow,” but they don’t.  He just doesn’t show up, or she never came.
 
And someone then said to me, “Well ‘mañana’ doesn’t mean ‘tomorrow.’ It just means ‘not today.’” My life changed drastically with that new concept because then I didn’t feel people were lying to me, or not showing up and being lazy, or not keeping their word. Then I absolutely knew, eventually, it would be taken care of, maybe on the day after tomorrow, or maybe in a week and a half. That was frustrating at first, but then that ties in to what I like is about the calm pace of things here.  
 
(Canopy bed that was designed for Mary Agnes McKay complete with carved footbed, Los Labradores, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, pictured.)
 
Suzie Osman – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Barry and Susie Osman anniversary renewal, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingFor me, the worst thing about retiring in San Miguel de Allende is that it’s colder than I expected. But then again, I realized I haven’t been to any place cold for over 40 years. I’m from New York, but as soon as we got married in 1976, we moved to the Virgin Islands and stayed there for 13 years.  Then we lived in Florida for 13 years, and in Hawaii for the rest of the time before we moved to Acapulco. I’m having a harder time adjusting to the chill, but I think I will, and I know it’s worth it-- I like it here in San Miguel de Allende. 
 
Some of the best things about living and retiring in San Miguel de Allende include the people-- the friendliness of the whole community. I met my first friends in San Miguel at the farmer’s market just sitting down having a lamb burger. Some of the organic markets make lamb burgers, and everybody goes to that.
 
We renewed our vows on our 40th anniversary here at Los Labradores, a planned community about 15 minutes from San Miguel de Allende, where we live. And we’ve only been here since August 15th and in the first three months max, we went from not knowing a single person to having 70 guests at our anniversary.  The only person we knew before was my godson, who flew in. So that’s one of the nicest things about the community here in San Miguel de Allende. 
 
Another good thing about living in San Miguel de Allende is that it’s an animal-friendly place. I’ve heard about CuddleBug and the animal rescues in San Miguel de Allende. At the organic market, everybody’s walking down the street with 1 or 2 dogs, so it really is a very dog-friendly community, which to me is important. 
 
There are a million things to do in San Miguel de Allende that I haven’t taken advantage of yet- museums, theatres, etc. We’re going to go see our friend Judy starring in Driving Miss Daisy. 
 
For volunteers, there are a million volunteer things to be part of, just like I used to in Florida.  
 
(Barry and Suzie Osman renew their wedding vows at Rancho Los Labradores, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, pictured.)
Ian T. Clement of Clement and Associates – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Street in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingThe best things about San Miguel de Allende and retiring here is that there’s a definite warmth in coming to this town. Most people who come to San Miguel de Allende are looking to make friends and be recreationally involved in things that are going on in the city. In San Miguel de Allende, you can usually find a group of people who are like-minded. Most of the people who move to San Miguel de Allende are liberals, so if you’re very strongly politically conservative, there is that ilk here, but it’s not such a strongly predominant demographic. 
 
To say that San Miguel de Allende is a walking town is a double-edged sword, because people who move here absolutely love the fact that you can walk anywhere, but as you begin to perhaps lose mobility as  you age, the cobblestones can be a deterrent to going out, and to driving. San Miguel de Allende is really built that way. When I was younger, you could pull your car up to anywhere and park it. Now, everybody’s got a car, leaving no more room for parking. Now that driving is more on a limited basis, it forces people to walk, or take a cab. 
 
People who move to San Miguel de Allende and tell me about their experiences tend to fall in love with the town. There is an immediate reaction that people who move from the First World to the Third World have. They’re either very much turned off by the fact that things are slower and people have a different energy, or they fall in love with that aspect of Latin America. 
 
Most of my clients have already lived a life of 10-hour days for years. My clients just love that in San Miguel de Allende you can let your hair down. Mexico drives some people nuts, and it’s a perfectly valid stance because sometimes things just seem surreally dysfunctional. I love it. I think that it’s fun. I think that if I worked and lived in a place that was a perfectly well-oiled machine and everything looked the same, it would drive me nuts. When I fly over to the United States, it’s frightening to me how everything looks- so homogenized. 
 
I like the fact that Mexico is very accepting. As foreigners, if we try to move somewhere else in the world, locals would probably think, “What are you doing here? Why would you want to be here? Why are you coming to our place?” Mexicans almost never have that sort of a feeling, or they never voice it. They have an accepting and embracing culture that people really love. 
 
The positive aspect of San Miguel de Allende tends to be mostly based on the same virtues that the city has, but the negative aspects tend to be all over the place. Sometimes somebody will have an experience where they’re very turned off because they didn’t understand something that took place, or they feel that they have been duped. 
 
Some of the expats’ kids may be in the States, in Canada or in Europe, and they won’t be able to see eye to eye with the decision that their parents have made about moving to San Miguel de Allende. Psychically, the fact that there’s disapproval coming from their children can also be an annoying thing. Given that I have finite years to live the rest of my life, do I really want to have this friction between my kids and me, or should I just yield and move back to the States where I really don’t want to be but my kids will be happier?
 
(Street in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, pictured.)
Rio de Paz Cuellar – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Poster for Rancho Los Labradores, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingThe best things about living in San Miguel de Allende depend on your interests. I happen to be an artist so San Miguel is wonderful for me because I love art and there’s plenty of it here. I spend my days painting, going out and looking at art and things. That works for me. If you have no interest in art, maybe you’ll find something else. For example, I love the dining. 
 
I think the lifestyle is exceptionally good here. We live here in Rancho Los Labradores, which has a retirement/assisted living facility. There are other retirement / assisted living facilities in Mexico as well that cater to foreigners, and you get a lot more for a lot less. The people who take care of you really care for you- they’re not just minimum wage people who are not always kind. If they’re not kind, they’re out of here from what I understand, so that’s really nice.
 
This is an amazing thing about Mexico. In the United States, the medical situation is a total mess, and it’s a huge rip off as far as anybody that’s paying attention could see. It’s just not my opinion; it’s a fact. In Mexico, if you as a foreigner break your leg and go to the local hospital, they’ll take care of you. They don’t care that you’re a foreigner, they’ll take care of you. They’ll just talk to the doctor and spend the day there. They’ll give you all the medication, and they’ll do it for less than 10% of what you would pay in the United States. I know from talking to people that this is a fact. If you have an operation that costs $45,000 in the United States, here it’s $4,000 with doctors that were trained in the United States. You’re getting the same quality doctor, and facilities that are just as modern and equipped as in the United States. It’s insane! When I found this out I always knew it was a rip off and I thought, “Wow! I didn’t know it was that bad.” That’s huge if you need medical attention. A lot of people who have insurance go back to the United States when they need care, which is understandable if you have insurance. If you don’t have insurance, Mexico is the place to go. I would say it would save you a fortune. They even have these MRI scans that cost a fortune in the United States. They have a place where you can walk in through the door and they’ll do it for very little. I forget the price exactly but it’s relatively real cheap. I personally have gotten lab work done. They have several labs in town where you walk into the door, tell them what you want, and they do the lab work for $30.. In the United States, that same thing costs you about $500, so that’s insane. That’s just crazy, how the difference is there. I’d say that is a real big plus. 
 
Dining is an exquisite adventure. It’s fun and cheap, and the food is wonderful. Going out, there’s always something to do. If you’re the kind of person who wants to go out every night and do things, this is the place to be. If you like to stay home and be quiet, there are lots of places to do that as well.
 
The social structure is obviously a big important thing, and I’m not sure what the current population is- there were up to 10,000 expats here, which is a lot of people. It’s a huge community. With 10,000 people, you’re not going to know everybody. You’re going to know your own little circle. There are hundreds of these little circles. A lot of those circles interlink, and many more don’t. It depends on your circle, on your interests, and the people you meet and get involved with. Some circles are not so wonderful, maybe in my opinion. There are some people who are alcoholic and like to hang out in bars. That’s their business. If they don’t bother me, they can do that if they wish. It’s not my choice. 
 
I actually have an interest in something that’s kind of obscure. It’s a certain kind of dance called five rhythms. It’s a very unusual kind of free form dance that you find in New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. They have it here in San Miguel de Allende. You can go to lots of places in the United States and never find it, yet they have it here. It’s very curious. Things like that are surprising. For example, I’m a Buddhist and they have several Buddhist communities here- another thing that you wouldn’t expect. 
 
You can go anywhere in the world, and you’re going to find that small communities tend to gossip, and San Miguel de Allende is no different. You’ll find that here, which is something I don’t particularly like. I don’t participate in it but I know it’s out there and it bothers me that our human nature tends to do that kind of thing. But that’s human nature. Also, in Mexico, the police can be corrupt a lot of times, in some places. You don’t find that in San Miguel. I don’t know why. I guess they’ve worked it out. It’s a hands-off policy, in which they don’t bother the tourists. You don’t have to be harassed by the police. I’ve been harassed in other places but not here. 
 
Like I say, human nature is human nature. You’re going to find the best and the worst here as you would anywhere else, so you can expect to find what you find anywhere else. Again, if you go out looking for something, you’re going to find it. I think that’s pretty true. You can find just about anything, which is amazing to me, for such a relatively small town. (I think the total population is 60,000 - 70,000.)
 
 Oh yes, driving here not one of my favorite things. The road from here to town is treacherous. Dangerous. There are two lanes with the shoulder. The shoulder is paved, which is nice. They pass each other on the highway, get into your lane, and if you’re not paying attention, God help you. You had better pay attention. The unofficial thing to do is to pull into the shoulder to allow people to pass you, which can be problematic because there may be a motorcycle in the shoulder, or a person, or a bicycle, or something, so you have to be on your toes. This happens to me every once in a while- I’ll be driving along and watching carefully, and all of a sudden somebody would pass me going 80 miles an hour, which makes it look like I’m sitting still. That scares the heck out of me. Crazy people like that on the highway cause accidents, and they happen often. I’ve heard of several people being killed, and I’ve seen several pileups or cars crunched. That scares me.  
 
(Poster for Rancho Los Labradores, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, pictured.)
Ivy Del Pozzo of Coldwell Banker SMART – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Ivy Del Pozzo sharing Christmas with the people who live at the dump, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingThe best things about living and retiring in San Miguel de Allende for me, is of course the fact that you are living for less. If we get past the monetary aspect of it, the best thing for me is the sense of community here. What I love most about the culture anywhere in Mexico is the spirit of the people.
 
Also, the Mexican people here in San Miguel de Allende are very different compared to the locals in other places in the country that I have been. The Mexicans here have direct eye contact with you. The people on the streets will greet you good afternoon, good morning, or good evening as they pass by. No horns are honking here, as people have the patience of saints. We do not have one single stop sign or one single stoplight. There are no fire hydrants either as nothing is burning here with our type of construction. Everybody is super patient. We have a nice community in that aspect.
 
The sense of community here in San Miguel de Allende is really amazing. I’ve seen people in the expat community rally when Mexicans or expats have been sick and they needed help. People have run fundraisers for cash for chemotherapy. There are 129 non-profits in this town. We have the sense of community that we have to help not only the Mexican community, but each other, too. You don’t feel alone here and you make friends so quickly that it is astounding. There are a lot of things to do in San Miguel. It is a super energetic, cultural, and personally connected community. 
 
The worse thing about living here for me is that I have size 11 shoes and they don’t sell them in Mexico. But I also save thousands of dollars if I can’t shop for shoes! I really find it difficult to find any bad thing about living here in San Miguel.
 
Some people find it difficult living here because they are not patient but that is the culture everywhere. I guess the hardest thing for me, being in real estate, is dealing with legal aspects in another language but that is not terribly bad either, because they always have assistance, support, and translators that we need.
 
It would be cool to have a Trader Joe’s or something like that here in San Miguel because we do not have anything like that but then the tradeoff is that you get to walk everywhere and buy fresh vegetables every day. So how bad is that?
 
I really do not have a hard time living here and I think part of it is because I lived 25 years ago in such a remote situation that living in San Miguel is like living in another world. This is easy. There is everything that you really need here.  
 
(Ivy Del Pozzo sharing Christmas with the people who live at the dump, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, pictured.)
Maria Mazarro of Kika's Botique – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
San Miguel de Allende, Mexico – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingOne of the best things about living in San Miguel de Allende is the weather. It is fantastic. Another thing is that you could walk everywhere in town in San Miguel. The rent is very cheap here, too. I like the tranquility of San Miguel de Allende and I like that it is close to an airport and to a big city, which is Mexico City, where you can take any international flights. 
 
One thing that I don’t like about San Miguel de Allende is that it is a small city and I am used to living in a big city like Madrid or Boston so sometimes, I need to get out. When I feel the need to get out, I go to Nayarit (near Puerto Vallarta) on to the Pacific, to Riviera Maya, to Mexico City (two hours away by car), and even Baja since I have friends who own houses there.
 
(San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, pictured.)
Lane Simmons of RE/MAX Colonial San Miguel de Allende – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Balloon hearts near church in San Miguel de Allende – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingWhat I find most appealing about living in San Miguel de Allende is the heart of most of the people of Mexico, and the climate here in this spot of Mexico’s central highlands. 
 
In San Miguel de Allende, what would be a 5-minute walk if uninterrupted can take me at least 15 minutes because of the people who stop you to chat on the street, and strangers often greet you with a sincerely pleasant, “Buenos días,” or “Buenas tardes,” depending on the time of the day. Strangers walking near your table on their way in or out of a restaurant will commonly say to you, “Buen provecho”, as they pass by where you’re seated, wishing you an enjoyable meal.   
 
The climate that greatly attracted me to live here has now spoiled me! To me, the worst month is May, the warmest month of the year, when the temperature sometimes gets up above 90° F, but fortunately, although we get generally get some rain ever month, the humidity is usually only around 30% to 40%. So it is not like on a 90-degree day in Austin, Texas, when you walk out your door and feel like you’ve walked into a wall of heat. 
 
In San Miguel, because of the low humidity here at around 1,870 meters (about 6,200 feet) above sea level, the relatively mild temperature extremes are not nearly as unpleasant as I’ve experienced just about everywhere else. 
 
During the few months of winter, the temperature occasionally drops below 40° F, so most homes have fireplaces, but it doesn’t take much to keep it warm indoors because of the insolation provided by the materials used in construction here. For this reason, most homes in and around San Miguel use fans for some air circulation in warmer months, but do not need air conditioning.
  
Most of the year in San Miguel de Allende it is warm enough for t-shirts during the day, and cool enough at night for a light jacket, and maybe a fire in your fireplace.
 
To me, one of the most frustrating things to become accustomed to here is the frequent lack of promptness in general, and the tendency toward lack of directness in communication - what I’ve heard referred to as the Mañana Culture. “Mañana” translates into “tomorrow” or “morning”, however in application it can also mean something like, “I am not going to be rude and say ‘no’ so I will say ‘mañana’ and maybe I will do it. We’ll see tomorrow.” This has been tough for me to acclimate to. I’ve heard it said that Texans don’t like people “Pissin’ on their boots and lookin' up at the sky like maybe it’s just rainin”. 
 
Here, it’s generally inappropriate to be absolutely direct in a negative context. For example, if you become aware that a worker is stealing, you might meet with them and say, “I am sorry but we’ve run out of money for our project and we just can’t afford to pay you anymore, but we appreciate the work you’ve done and of course if we get more money we will call you.” Handling it in this manner, ideally, they go away, and by letting them “save face” you haven’t defamed them and made an enemy. It is really weird to me because I prefer to be “straight up” but I am starting to understand the advantage to this living in a small city where you’re likely to see everyone again, and even if not often, maybe sooner than later.  
 
The systemic lack of adherence to time commitments and lack of apparent organization are two things that will make you say, “What the heck!” The difficulty of getting things done here, particularly bureaucratically, is another challenge. I say the most commonly heard expression in the bureaucracies here is, “Oh, didn’t we tell you?” You think they told you everything you need to do, but when you come back with what you thought was everything requested, it seems almost deliberately often that there’s at least one more thing.
 
If you were diagnosed as a Type A personality, I think Mexico would be the place to come for the most intense immersion therapy that you could possibly get! 
 
(Pictured: Balloon hearts near main church in San Miguel de Allende.)

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