Who your neighbors would be in San Miguel de Allende would depend on where you live. There are some areas such as Centro (the central part of town) that are largely American and Canadian. Here in Centro your neighbors would be 50% Mexican and 50% expats so the experience is different here. There are people here in Centro that you might be able to relate to and talk to. The Mexicans who live in Centro are lovely and wonderful. We know all of our neighbors and we say, “Buenos dias”, and it is fairly interactive.
If you live in a more Mexican neighborhood outside of Centro, you are going to have a different experience and you’re going to interact in a different way. You might feel like you want to contribute more or show your generosity more in an area like that so that you feel more welcome. I was talking to somebody about this recently and I said, “You know, if there’s a robbery in some of the bad parts of San Miguel, all they are going to do is try to take your cellphone or your TV.” And he says, “Well, if I move to that part of town, I’ll buy the whole neighborhood sets of TVs that they don’t have to worry about that.” There is some truth to that statement. You’re going to reach out and be generous and nice and make sure that you’re welcome. There is a one to one correlation between how many gringos there are and how wealthy the area is. Centro is the wealthiest part of town and therefore it has the most gringos. As you radiate out of Centro, it gets less wealthy and there are less gringos. The wealthier Mexicans also tend to live in Centro.
If you get on top of some of the roofs here in Centro and look over, you would see a house that has been repaired but it’s been around for 100 years. Right here, you will not see corrugated roofs but if you go a couple of blocks away, you would see corrugated roofs even after all these years and after all these developments. So it is still possible that you would live next to your housekeeper or next to a poor family. You don’t have to be a wealthy Mexican or a gringo to live in Centro. You could live next to a family that has been here for a long time; we do. We get along well with our neighbors here even though there is still some sort of resentment due to the income disparity. We’ve been invited recently to community meetings that were set up by the Mexican residents to tackle topics about crime, traffic, noise, etc. We sat in the same meetings and do not understand Spanish as well but we get it well enough and they help us understand so we cohabitate well.
Mexicans live a louder life. If there are celebrations then there will be loud music associated with the celebrations. There could be fireworks associated with the celebrations, too. Mexicans use fireworks for any reason that you can imagine. There are many churches in San Miguel de Allende so you would hear them use their bells and they use them assertively. If you do not like a generally loud noise level then you wouldn’t want to live in Centro. I recommend that you live in Balcones, Atascadero, parts of San Antonio, Los Frailles, or in the outskirts of Centro.
(Mature garden in Los Frailes, near the reservoir, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, pictured.)