The 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.)