Being a retired woman in San Miguel de Allende is just like being a retired woman in Northern California. My days are normal and mundane, but there are also breathtaking moments. Each day is like that, so it can be whatever I choose it to be. That’s a really interesting question because people are curious and ask me, “What do you do in San Miguel de Allende?” and “Why would you go to San Miguel de Allende?”
I do the same things I would do anywhere- I wake up, I run, I walk my dog, I have pots in my garden, I visit with a friend, I read the news, and I do all the things that anybody would do anywhere. Other days are more exotic than that, like if I choose to venture into town where I can see any variety of interesting events that occur, which might seem like nothing to anyone else, but would touch me in a way. Retirement in San Miguel de Allende is really just like being anywhere.
I first came to San Miguel de Allende just before I turned 40, on the recommendation of a friend who had worked here. I came to San Miguel de Allende in the early 70’s with Catholic charities, and my friend and I were talking about where we wanted to go, so we thought about San Miguel de Allende.
My friend and I thought, “Central Mexico will be very different from going to the coast. Let’s mix them both- let’s go to San Miguel de Allende and then to Zihuatanejo.” which at that time was a quiet fishing village, but no longer. We just did it and just came to San Miguel de Allende. We flew in to Mexico City and took a second-class bus from Mexico City to San Miguel de Allende. Then we headed for the San Francisco posada that was right across Jardin, the main spot in San Miguel.
For me, it was a feeling of home that I hadn’t felt in a really long time, so I said, “Someday, when I grow up, I want to land in San Miguel de Allende.”
I met a really special friend in San Miguel de Allende the first time I came here. He’s an artist and an architect. I met his family and fell in love with all of them. My then husband and I came back the following year, in 1988, and we stayed with my new friends and their family. We kept in touch with them for many years, but then they moved to Monterey, and we lost touch with them, except when they visited us in Northern California.
I began to think about retiring in 2007. I was divorced by that time, and I thought “I’ll go see if San Miguel de Allende still resonates for me,” since I hadn’t been there in about four years. Before I left, a close friend said to me, “Hey, my dad lives in San Miguel de Allende. Why don’t you go see him while you’re there?”
I had a little casita in La Colonia, near Centro, and since I’m always a little shy around the edges, I didn’t think I was going to go visit this friend’s dad. I waited until 3 days before I was leaving and thought I’d give my friend’s dad a call, and if he were available I’d go see him. He was.
I took a bus out to visit my friend’s dad. He lived just outside of Centro in a little Colonia called Insurgentes. I took a bus from downtown to visit him, and was completely charmed. He was just this really fascinating philosopher, and we had a lot to talk about. As I was leaving his place, I passed a lot that was for sale, and I thought it looked like a place that I might want to land. I went back into Centro, found the realtor, and bought the lot.
The following year, I retired, rented a little house nearby, and began the process of finding an architect and designing and building a home. I could have gone anywhere, I suppose, but I thought about what could I afford while retiring young. I spoke a bit of Spanish, and I had a willingness to learn, so I thought I could try it, and did.
Overall, moving to San Miguel de Allende has worked out fine for me. Then things kind of changed because my friend’s father was getting ready to move to an “old folks’ home” in Portland, as he would call it, with the help of a friend. I took him out to the area where I currently live to see if he might want to settle there, but it was not his cup of tea.
I met the friend of my friend’s father, who came to move him back to Portland, and we fell in love. That’s when things changed. I sold the home that I had built and thought about splitting my time between San Miguel de Allende and Northern California. Then I went back to Northern California and realized that it really is my heart home. I decided I would make my way back to California once I sold my home in San Miguel de Allende.
For me, San Miguel de Allende has changed over the years since I first came here. There was no Internet, and you connected with people by meeting with the bulletin board that you left a note on in the Jardin saying, “Let’s meet up at such and such.”
(San Francisco Posada, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, pictured.)