Monday, July 06, 2015
Misconceptions about San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
San Miguel de Allende, my adopted home for the last 14+ years. I find these comments, from time to time
to be inaccurate and sometimes downright incorrect.
need to deal with every day things like paying utilities, reporting utilities not working, street lights not working, well you get my drift, you better be able to speak Spanish. In addition, when going in small stores or to schools or just about any place, other then restaurants, you better be able to speak some Spanish.
It has only been very recently that if you called the emergency phone number for the police, that there is someone there who speaks English. And, I'm not sure that is 24/7 but the luck of the draw. You better be able to communicate your issue.
People move down here only able to order a beer or to take a taxi. They are shocked, if while looking for a place to live, the person showing them the home (except for the US franchised real estate firms) do not speak English.
Plus there is always the situation if you don't understand Spanish that you will misinterpret what is being said.
That happens a lot here when people, myself included, don't pick up the nuance in the conversation.
If I have to do something, at this point, that is critically important, such as renew my visa or handle something at the courts or police department, typically I pay an interpreter or facilitator to accompany me. It is worth the money not to have bad consequences.
It is most important, if you're going to live here, to invest the time and money in Spanish classes. You'll be so glad you did.
NUMBER OF EXPATS The articles that I have read have said that there are at least 10,000 expats in
San Miguel de Allende. Trust me, there is no way there are that many ex-pats living full time in San Miguel in that range. I asked the INM (Immigration) office manager and was told that in the entire area that they are responsible for, which covers factories in Silao, and other distant places, that there are not 10,000 expats. He said the number actually in the town of San Miguel is closer to 5000 expats. Even that number seems high to me. Don't shoot the messenger, but I would say its more like 3000 here full time. And, that is a stretch. San Miguel itself has a population of 61,000 people. The municipality, including the town is 140,000 inhabitants. It is a very large municipality with many villages included.
COST OF LIVING In some instances, such as real estate, San Miguel is more expensive then places like Lake Chapala or Patzcauro. Meals in Mexico City, I have found, in many instances, to be less expensive then San Miguel. With that said, however, unless you are going to the top ten most expensive restaurants here, you can definitely have a lunch with a drink for close to, if not less then, $10USD.
I had lunch yesterday at one of my most favorite dining places, Mansion de Montitlan, or as we affectionately refer to it as Gayle's place, and for a three course delicious individually prepared meal, with drink, home baked focaccia, and dessert, the cost was $24.50USD. That meal in Houston would be $75USD....maybe a bit less. Gayle's is a mid priced restaurant in San Miguel.
NUMBER OF TOURISTS Everyone is always surprised when we tell them that the mix of our tourists is about 80% Mexican Nationals and 20% other. Europeans, Asians, US Citizens and Canadians make up that 20%. We have way more tourists on the weekends causing the streets to become very crowded with vehicular traffic. Now that the roads that allow access to San Miguel have been greatly improved in the last eight years or so, the influx from Friday afternoon until the egress on Sunday night is startling.
The months of October and part of November are Fall like and then in December, January and part of February the cold sets in. For us, five days in a row of lows of 27 and highs of mid 50's is cold. What, you say? Well, consider that our houses are made without insulation. Many are stone houses. If not stone, brick. Consider no insulation and no insulated windows. I never did until the first winter here. Quickly, I was out buying space heaters for every room possible. Also warming blankets and flannel pajamas. People have come down in the past to stay for the Christmas holidays but have left early due to the cold weather.
In people's minds, it is Mexico, it shouldn't be cold anywhere. Ahhh, but we are at 6400 ft elevation. (Think Colorado). No, we almost never have snow, but it is cold. There is snow around us up near Durango, Mexico or down around Mexico City and Puebla. People are astounded when they see the photos as we did this past winter.
The purpose of this article is to dispel some of the misconceptions and myths of the articles. It's also to say to do your homework before deciding to move here so you are not disappointed or dismayed. The articles are interesting to read, but one must do their own research before making a life altering decision.
Even with all the misconceptions, I love living here. That doesn't mean there aren't absolutely many wonderful places to live, but for me, this works!