Is This the Best Place in the World to Retire?
Mexico's San Miguel offers sun, fun and affordability. It's worth considering for a second home, too.
Mexico is regarded as one of the best countries in the world for retirement. And San Miguel de Allende may be the best place to retire in Mexico.
When Americans and Canadians think of Mexico, they may think immediately of beaches. And beach resorts are fine for visiting. But for retirement — or for a second home for snowbirds — something different is likely to be more satisfying.
If you imagine “Mexico without the beaches,” you'll start to form an accurate mental picture of San Miguel, where my wife and I spend about half our time in retirement.
We love San Miguel's “eternal spring” climate, the bright colors, clear skies, flowers, birds, festivals and the marketplace. We keep coming back for more: Art (San Miguel has more than 100 galleries), architecture, culture, cobblestone streets, food, music, parades and parks.
And people. We have not found anywhere else in the world where people are so friendly and easy to get to know.
Affordable and safe, San Miguel somehow manages to run at a pace that's both invigorating and peaceful.
A sophisticated city of about 80,000 people nestled 6,200 feet above sea level in the hills of Central Mexico, San Miguel is about 170 miles northwest of Mexico City. Roughly 10 percent of the population is made up of expats, mostly from the U.S. and Canada.
While San Miguel doesn't have its own airport, it's easily accessible from international airports in Leon (a 90-minute van ride away) and Mexico City (about four hours by van, car or bus). If you're driving, it's roughly 10 hours from the U.S. border. The nearest ocean, incidentally, is several hundred miles away.
Looking for skyscrapers, stoplights and smoothly paved streets? Forget it.
Casinos, malls, chain stores and familiar restaurants? You're in the wrong place. (By law, franchises are prohibited from the city. The only exception is a Starbucks, which abuts the main town square and has a lovely private courtyard.)
However, you will find lots of sunshine, mild temperatures and not much rain.