Why San Miguel de Allende?

Since sharing that we’re going back to Mexico to see if perhaps another part of the country (as opposed to the Yucatan) would work as a base for us, particularly San Miguel de Allende (SMA), I’ve had several people ask what about SMA has drawn us there. So, I figured I’d share the reasons why it’s the first stop for us.

san miguel de allende


Mexican food is amazing pretty much everywhere in Mexico. Each region has its special dishes and its own version of popular cuisine. In addition to having lots of access to fresh produce, SMA has developed quite the foodie scene. My tastebuds are far too eclectic to be happy with just one cuisine. I need some variety. Additionally, since there are a lot of expats in the city, that also means a better chance of finding some of the non-Mexican items I may be searching for. Apparently, there’s also a Costco about 45 minutes away.

I thought you didn’t like expat-heavy places

When I’m traveling and visiting a place, I like to avoid tourists and expats as much as possible. Why? Because I want to see the area from as close to a local’s perspective as I can get. I want to get closer to the culture, the typical foods, etc. However, when one is looking at living some place for months to years, it’s a different mindset. I still want local experiences, still want to see the local culture, etc., but when you’re living somewhere longer you also want some familiar comforts.

San Miguel de Allende has at least a couple of things going for it in this regard. First, there are more expat families there which means better opportunities for Tigger to make English-speaking friends while he’s learning the local language. Secondly, SMA is known for having retained its culture despite the presence of so many foreigners, which is important to me.

I love having local friends, but sometimes it is nice to be able to be around people from your own cultural background. It’s easier to communicate since you don’t have to be mindful of language nuances, cultural references, etc. You can just be more relaxed and not have to think as much. They also get why you’re extremely excited to find silly things like root beer and good bagels.

san miguel de allende

Location and Weather

Two things we didn’t enjoy as much about living in the Yucatan were the humid heat and the fact that you’re pretty far from everywhere else interesting in Mexico.

I don’t do 18-hour bus rides anymore.

SMA is high desert and has a lovely year-round temperature pattern. Summer days don’t get too hot and cool down quite a bit at night, and in the winter the days are warm with chilly nights.

I have a very hard time sleeping when it’s hot, so cool nights are a big one for me, and while I have lived in very cold climes, I much prefer a more moderate winter.

As it’s located literally in the center of Mexico and is about 3-1/2 hours from Mexico City, not only do you have some great places to visit on a short trip, but you have access to great flight deals to other parts of the country, as well as international flights. They also have an international airport about an hour away which has some direct flights to the US and Canada.

why san miguel de allende


Many cities in Mexico still have a very colonial feel to them, like Valladolid; however, I think San Miguel de Allende is one of the better preserved locations. In fact, part of the city is a UNESCO site. SMA has many cobblestoned streets, brightly colored buildings, and wonderful architecture.

Aesthetics do affect how homey a place feels, and I love feeling like I’ve been transported to another time when I walk around.

In Mexico, the main plaza is a center of life in a town, and that is definitely true for SMA. The fact that the weather is generally more cooperative most of the year only makes the idea of sitting in the square enjoying and more exciting.

Also, as I mentioned previously, a very good friend of mine, who is quite social, lives in SMA already and has done so for at least a year. Her vibrant love for the place has helped draw me in to wanting to spend some time there. I really look forward to spending more time and cooking with her, too.

Since making our announcement, I have also heard from some other friends who are either considering a move there or who already have a firm plan for doing so. That makes the city even more attractive.

My heart still hasn’t come around on the idea of leaving Europe, and I guess that’s a good thing in a way. It helps me manage expectations so that we don’t arrive and get disappointed if SMA doesn’t end up being our own little piece of Shangrila-La. Hopefully, though, San Miguel de Allende will win over our heart. I still have a significant case of wanderlust, but I’m more than ready to stay in one spot for awhile.

After 4+ years with a lot of movement, we’re a bit pooped.

Have you been to San Miguel de Allende? What are your thoughts?

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  1. So glad you are looking to join us here in our central Mexican paradise, Talon! I am here for many of the same reasons you pointed out in the post, but the real, true reason is that I simply fell in love with San Miguel quite literally at first sight, looking out a bus window as it drove into town 25 years ago. I lived here 10 years then, moved back to the States for 13, then moved back home to San Miguel three years ago. I travel, I roam and wander, but I am always glad to come home to my personal Mexican paradise. Yes, the food, the weather, the color, the history, the convenient location all count for a lot. But it is the spirit of San Miguel that has really stolen my heart and won’t let go. Easy to feel, hard to describe, even for a writer. I hope you will feel it too and I really look forward to sharing a drink with you soon after you arrive. Nos vemos muy pronto!

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    • I believe I get what you’re saying. I’ve had a similar experience in a few places. Valen speaks similarly of SMA. Makes me look forward to arriving even more! Looking forward to meeting soon!

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  2. You and Valen are making this place sound pretty amazing. Maybe I’ll have to come visit while you’re there….

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  3. Great choice. Beautiful city, great food and friendly folks (and cheap dental care). If we decide to leave the US- that’s at the top of our list. Great that you’ve made a decision.

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  4. Lived in Guanajuato before moving to Puerto Vallarta. San Miguel is beautiful for sure….but I would take the capital over SMA any day. San Miguel is a sleepy little town, conservative and too many Texans for my taste. The food is for sure better in SMA, but that would be about it (in my opinion). Good luck with your decision.

    PS. I rented a 4 bedroom house in GTO 5 minutes from the Jardin for $375 USD per month!

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    • I looked at GTO, but we wanted something a bit smaller and with more expat families. I plan on checking it out while we’re in SMA, though, as it looked like a city we might enjoy.

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  5. Best of luck Talon! Looking forward to hearing what you think of SMA. I haven’t been there yet but I’d like to visit at some point in the near future. Enjoy!

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    • Come on up! 😉 We shall see. It would be nice living closer to the ocean, but we just aren’t fans of the humid heat.

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  6. I am so excited that you are coming, Talon. I am so glad to have found this incredible spot, and I am looking forward to cooking our food finds together!!

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    • Me, too! Even if SMA isn’t “home” for us, we’ll have a blast while we’re there. 😀

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  7. We miss being able to take short roadtrips and visit towns in Mexico. The Yucatan is not for everybody!!
    At first we didn’t want to be surrounded by expats but we realized we can have both, like minded people and local life as well.

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    • Yeah each side has its pros and cons, but when you have kids it’s a lot nicer when you can find others who share your language and culture. Especially when your child doesn’t speak the local language. There are things I really like about the Yucatan. If it was just easier to move around Mexico!

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  8. We haven’t made it to SMA yet, but pretty much all of the reasons you have listed here (minus the cool climes) are why we decided to base ourselves in Playa del Carmen for a while. There is still plenty of local life and food for us to explore, but it is really important to us that we can live comfortably and enjoy some of the conveniences that come from being in a place with other expats: there are vets who speak excellent English, an ample selection of grocery stores (though I do miss shopping at local markets) that have a lot of international ingredients not just Mexican staples, a Costco not too far away in Cancún, and the opportunity to actually make some friends. Not to mention that there are a lot of fun activities and attractions to explore. The fact that we already knew some people here definitely contributed to our interest in the place, and now that we’re here, we keep hearing about more people (both travelers and potential long-term residents) coming in the future and that really excites us. I hope SMA offers what you are looking for and I’ll be interested to see what you think of it once you arrive!

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    • We tried to like PdC, but it just didn’t do it for us. I can see why some people like it there, though. We had a great time when some bloggers came through and were there for a while. How long do you think you’ll be there?

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