Why San Miguel de Allende is NOT the best city in the world
San Miguel de Allende has a reputation as an American enclave in Mexico. Ex-pats living in other parts of Mexico (including other Americans) often malign the Americans who live here: “They have no interest in the culture, they don’t speak the language”, “they inflate prices because of the money they throw around”, “unlike ex-pats in other parts of the country, ex-pats in San Miguel don’t integrate”.
There’s a lot of truth to the above. There are indeed a lot of Americans. If you walk into a restaurant in the center of San Miguel it is filled with Americans being served by Mexicans. You’d think that you were somewhere in Southern California. I got the sense of two distinct societies not mixing but living very separately, and at different economic levels, in the same space.
I can see why retiring expats would like San Miguel de Allende. The weather is perfect for an older person; very dry, always sunny, never really hot. And the infrastructure is there. They have an incredible library in San Miguel where an expat can find all the English literature he/she could ever want. Even German and French. SMA’s center has great restaurants, some cool bars, and little cafes where you can pick up your morning pastries. It has a gorgeous park where vendors sell art, kids play basketball on modern courts and where dogs don’t seem to poop. San Miguel feels rich and clean.
I can see how all that would make San Miguel very appealing as a retirement destination.
The thing though is that San Miguel just doesn’t feel like most places in Mexico. It, to me, lacks the life of other Mexican towns – no locals hanging around in plazas, no kids running around. The bars in Centro had plenty of expats but seemed eerily empty of locals. In fact many of the boutique stores and restaurants seem to cater to the expat/foreign tourist crowd. Don’t get me wrong – it’s a beautiful town. But it just didn’t feel “as Mexican” as some of the other towns and cities I’ve visited in Mexico. And that’s what was missing for me. San Miguel de Allende is what I call “Mexico-lite”. Maybe that’s why I preferred Guanajuato.
San Miguel was voted the best city in the world by Conde Nast Traveler in 2013. Travel and Leisure voted it the best city in the world in 2017 and 2018. That’s ridiculous. San Miguel is a town, not a city, and I can’t understand how can anyone compare it to any of the cities on that list (while excluding such cities as New York and London?). But that’s not San Miguel’s fault…
Have a different opinion on San Miguel? Let me know!
Update: My post on revisiting San Miguel (you may want to read it before jumping all over me)
Related: 10 things to See and Do in San Miguel de Allende. And the Best of the Best
Related: On Travel to Mexico – why I’m sick of the ignorance
Related: A roadtrip through Mexico’s most beautiful towns and cities
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Do you have any recommendations on other towns to visit in Guanajuato/nearby :)?
If you haven’t visited yet, the 1 place you really have to see is the city of Guanajuato: https://bbqboy.net/guanajuato-mexico-one-of-the-most-beautiful-cities-in-the-world/
Thanks so much!
i have been to SMA many times, gorgeous architecture, scenery and very nice locals who do not seem to find the expats offensive. Noisy like everywhere in Mexico: Dogs, traffic, church bells, loud music and roosters! Other than shopping, not much else, the street food or the market good for meals, the storied restaurants I find by and large to be brutally overpriced and mostly crap (ever tried Tio Lucas? It stinks, can’t cook to save their lives!). The so called community events are mostly boring as hell and I have NEVER seen ANYWHERE in SMA overcrowded with expats. There is only one real expat bar in town and even it is mostly filled with arrogant, rich Chilangos. The bars and clubs are mostly dead all the time except on weekends in high season. Not what it used to be? Well, where on earth (much less Mexico) is it different?
This article is just inaccurate. I have a house in SMA Centro, and I am there every other month. The idea that San Miguel is all “Americans being served by Mexicans” is just false. The majority of tourists in San Miguel are Mexicans from other parts of Mexico. The main plaza on any given night is probably 90% Mexican (often families with children), with a smattering of North Americans or Europeans walking around. It is definitely higher priced than other Mexican towns, but this is equally due to the wealthy Mexicans that come from Mexico City, Queretaro and Leon. Rather than a California vibe, I would say the new pricy restaurants have the feel of something you would find in Miami, which is still Latino, rather than American. I agree that there are a few places that are especially popular amongst Ex-pats or that ex-pats congregate on certain nights, but this is a small number of places among a huge number of restaurants, most of which are filled with Mexicans. It seems a popular position to say that San Miguel is too “Americanized,” but this is not what I have witnessed at all.
I guess our eyes see what they want to see. Yes, there are a lot of Mexican tourists, especially on weekends. But a “smattering of North Americans or Europeans” downplays (in my opinion) the numbers.
People like to play around with numbers. I see people saying that 8% of residents of SMA are American expats. That doesn’t sound like a lot…but SMA stretches out and there are lots of neighborhoods outside the center which are 99% Mexican. My mother lives in SMA centro and every house on her side of the street is inhabited by an American. Go to a cafe or for breakfast in the center and my experience is that about 75% of the people sitting in there are gringos. So my eye test doesn’t jive with your comment…
Yes, beauty is sometimes in the eye of the beholder, as they say. I get a little protective of San Miguel when I sense it under fire 🙂 Best for everyone to visit it and decide for themselves.
Don’t get me wrong, I like SMA. I’m just saying it’s not typical Mexico. But I’ll be back in a couple of months and already look forward, always enjoy my visits.
I’m a former resident of SMA and I totally agree with you. Beautiful visually, nice consistent weather although I grew weary of the dry season with the dust. Greatest city in the world? Ridiculous….
I completely agree with you. I visit every year and am bilingual. Looking at the numbers of ex-pats compared to the local Mexican population, Mexicans far outweigh the number of ex pats and Americans. I have seen and experienced the coming together of both of these cultures over the past 25 years. Maybe the author could visit a language school, practice their Spanish at the library with a local or see what a homestay would be like with a local family.
Of course Mexicans outweigh the expats and Americans. I didn’t say they don’t. I said there’s a LOT of expats and it’s changed the flavor of the town. Why would I visit a language school when I speak near-perfect Spanish? Why would I have live in a homestay when my mom has lived in SMA for the last 10 years? (and yes, she’ll tell you the exact same thing I tell you which is why she’s looking for a new base in Mexico).
I just spent 2 weeks in SMA. Right now in Atlixco where I think I saw about 3 white people all day and where prices at restaurants/cafes are literally half of what they are in SMA. I’d suggest to people who think SMA is typical of the “real Mexico” to actually visit the “real Mexico”.
We have lived in San Miguel de Allende for 17 yrs….in my experience after traveling all over Mexico (which you could do up to 6 or 7 yrs ago) it is one of the best places in the country ….and what made it that way were the gringos who protected it…..they were the ones that protested when a beautiful historic building was going to be torn down by some Mexican developer, when a Mac Donald’s tried to occupy a lovely old building in the Jardin, when a Mexican businessman from Mexico City wanted to open discos all over town, and the gringos won….never did I ever see a local mexican in the protests…SMA would of become yet another trashy, dangerous hell hole without the foreigners that loved and appreciated it….not only did they save the historic centro but they create and finance a great library and backed numerous charities that feed and built houses for the poor in the countryside and set up schools for
orphans and local kids who wanted to learn english to get better paying jobs ….plus their outcries
were responsible for the Mexican government sending the national guard to keep the cartels at bay here which made it a very safe place to live in a country whose crime rate is soaring under the direction of a president who
feels that criminals should be treated with kid gloves….interestingly the couple that started this website to put down this town changed their minds after becoming more experienced travelers
I appreciate you taking the time to write about how gringos saved SMA from becoming “another trashy, dangerous hellhole”.
But how does any of that make my post inaccurate? Because it is “an American Enclave” in Mexico. It IS overpriced, and it DOES have a Southern California vibe.
And if you read my 2nd post properly, you’d see that I didn’t change my mind. SMA is still “Mexico-lite” and “overly-gringorized”. And no, it had nothing to do with becoming more experienced travellers (again read the post). It was because I appreciated what it is for what it is – but that doesn’t change what it is.
And unlike you, I still travel all over Mexico (you know, the real Mexico) and haven’t encountered all the hellholes you’re talking about. Or were you talking about the US?
I spent a month in San Miguel in the late 80’s for a language classes. I really wanted to stay longer. I had the best time. But planning for college in the States. Great friends and memories.
I think San Miguel is a great city to visit for 3 days maximum. The people are nice, it does get very crowded. The weather is beautiful and there is beautiful outdoor cafes, good restaurants and fiestas. The noise level within the city is like any other city. Engine reving dogs barking etc. I felt very safe plenty of security in the tourist area. Plenty of Mexicans from Monterrey, Queretero and other neighboring cities make up the majority of visitors. Plenty of children playing.
This is not an easy place to get to. The logistics of it are not ideal. Leon is a terrible airport to deal with then a 2 hour drive to SMA. the inner city traffic pretty much bumper to bumper on the weekends. The economic discrepancy. American owned business charging American prices but paying Mexican wages. This is a problem. Locals are concerned about water rights as well. As more luxury housing is being built taking water from working class neighborhoods. It has seen major growth in the last few years. I was impressed with how clean it was. The surrounding areas around the city for example the road to the pyramids are very clean. Which is impressive. They have a large dam that looks pristine: there are beautiful hillside homes but very isolated .
Like art? I would look at galleries in centro and stay away from fabrica Aurora. If your interested in purchasing an affordable piece. Unless you are a major art buyer and are willing to pay 1200 for a set of dishes Aurora is not for you. Truth be told it’s Bouchie and boring. Also I didn’t enjoy how one artist following me around as I looked at his installation. As I picked up my Phone to look at it he yelled no pictures! I’m thinking dude if people can imitate your art then it’s not worth much. He seemed stressed and intense. I don’t think they want tourists they want serious art buyers. Anyways. It’s a super cute town and I can see how older people would want to live here. I would be bored out of my mind after a while.lots of Canadians and Americans it’s true they don’t blend in or even say good morning to you. But that’s the American and Canadian way they can be very cold and ego centric people. This is in fact how the world views monolingual Anglo.
Thanks for you comment Veronica! I’m actually back in San Miguel right now as we speak 🙂 This place definitely getting more and more upmarket every time I come back…
Veronica said it all. And I have the same feeling that each time I come back it is becoming worse. It’s looking more and more like Venice Italy, hordes of tourists that have zero intention to blend in. It won’t be late until every store will be a olive garden, Madam Tussaud, shops selling I heart SMA, and the like. It’s really sad to see locals working the kitchen while monolingual gringos order their venti pumpkin spice latte. The local culture is gone.
Good Afternoon 😃
I was just visiting family in a near by town, and I had an opportunity to visit SMA for an extended period of time. Yes, there are many beautiful places to see in SMA and great places to eat. The expats that I observed, especially the Americans were on the spectrum of total respect and immersed in the community (supporting arts, music, education and opportunities for women and single mothers); the other side of the spectrum were expats exerting their privilege, having an air of arrogance, and to being extremely disrespectful to the locals. I was mortified that i had seen several times American expats that would not step aside for elderly people and/or pregnant women on the small sidewalks. I had to bite my tongue several times while dining out with my family. In my 7 times dining out, there were 4 disrespectful Karens (Karinas Locas), who spoke to staff and servers in a harsh manner.
My cousin has a home in SMA, if I decide to stay longer, I hope to see other sites and sceneries outside of SMA. It’s a beautiful city, I hope to find a better balance next time.
Thank you for your comment. “Karens” – I had to look that up, new term for me. But yes, there are quite a few in SMA. I think expats in SMA are on both sides of the spectrum: those who immerse themselves in the community and those who act like they were the founders of the town. I go back every year for a few weeks (my mother lives there) and have the same experiences/impressions you’ve stated.
Leon is a wonderful, super modern airport with some great eateries that is very easy to deal with. What are you talking about?
I left the United States in 2020 and came to San Miguel de Allende. The noise pollution is AWFUL. Especially when Narco money launderers decide to open an outdoor Cafe in an empty lot next to your house. Eight hours a day of really loud music(Narco Corrido Music) and I work from home. The Government is SO corrupt that if you pay a bribe you can do whatever the HELL you want. Ahhh, the joys of Mexican Banda music blaring from the party house down the street(I know plenty of Mexicans that hate Banda music)
I have no problem with Sex workers but if it involves drunk dudes screaming for a Puta at 2 am while banging on metal doors then we have a problem. I live in Centro in a very nice area (Guadiana). The triple joy of not ever leaving the living room or bedroom windows open due to the dude with the old SUV revving his engine for at least 20 minutes, 4 times a day, and filling the street with copious amounts of Carbon Monoxide. Seriously, I had my ground floor window open and the entire first floor was transformed into a suicide gas chamber.
Oh, I have lived in other countries and my idea of great food is great street food. Northern Italy, Nepal, you can throw a pebble and eat something great in a very humble place. NOT in San Miguel. The most disgusting food experiences I have ever had in my life are here. Really bland, overcooked, really baaaaaad. If you want decent food you have to pay $$$$$. I am not saying that the food in Mexico sucks, the food in SMA sucks.
On a more positive note, I have only good things to say about my interactions with Mexican people in general but the street I live on sucks, and my neighbors (Mexican) are not happy either.
The Crime is getting worse and Guanajuato as a State is not considered safe. Look it up for yourself if you don’t believe me!
Why not just move back to your country or to a new one? The Mexican people are tired of Americans moving to Mexico, acting entitled and complaining about everything. Don’t like it? Leave.
I mean, fair enough, but this is something that someone considering moving there would want to know.
Hi Sandra. I agree with you. San Miguel is amazing and if people don’t like it, they can go elsewhere. I personally love it and am grateful to be able to visit.
Don’t get me wrong, SMA is a beautiful place. And I always enjoy visiting. But that’s not my point…
Why would anyone move to a place where people have lived and behaved the same for years and cry about it? It seems from reading all the posts from people that have moved there looking for charm, good food, and a relaxed feel, seem to be the same people that are ruining these type locations and speaking bad of them because they don’t fit their mold. The same has happened to Tulum, Playa del Carmen, Cancun, Cabo San Lucas, San Felipe, and the list goes on. Americans have a way of ruining places. Move to Maples and throw stones there. Perhaps you’ll find some good food where your stone lands. Mexico doesn’t want you or need you. San Miguel De Allende has always been and is a beautiful, culture filled and proud place that the Mexican people have kept beautiful for years! Social media and rude entitled people is what’s wrong here. So sad to read these types of posts. Are you a victim of crime? What crime have YOU actually witnessed? Or are you just a story teller?
I have lived and or worked in Mexico for 30 years and love Mexico. I lived in San Miguel and it is the most over hyped place in the world. I am positive that the supposed author of best little city was paid off, since San Miguel is the most corrupt place I have ever lived. Do not blame the ex-pats, Guanajuato has always had a bad reputation amongst Mexican nationals. Go for a week-end visit but that is the extent of it. The architecture is almost all new since the 1930´s since San Miguel was always just a bunch of small adobe huts jammed together. The remodel flurry started heavily in the 60´s. Really is a hampster wheel after the second day, you have seen what little there is to see and almost immediately get the sensation that you were duped into visiting. Charming little villiage with nothing to do or see, call a spade a spade. Also prepare for the worst air and water quality in Mexico.
I could not agree with you more!
Poor air quality from industry and dust at high altitude with lots of UV. Easy to get sick and difficult to stay well. Must leave country to get advanced healthcare. Local lake Presa San Ignacio polluted beyond use. Encroaching gang activity. Not cheap anymore like it was decades ago. Better to briefly visit than to live there.
I have had a few friends tell me that I should visit San Miguel De Allende. I enjoyed reading the article about it & the comments. I was wondering what percentage of the people who live there speak English? It looks like a very beautiful place! In one of the comments, the person said that crime is getting worse there & it is not safe to walk around at night……? I am hoping to be able to take a trip there sometime next year. Thank you for writing about this Frank(bbqboy).
You might want to see my more updated post on SMA: https://bbqboy.net/10-things-to-see-and-do-in-san-miguel-de-allende-and-the-best-of-the-best/
Yes, crime has gotten worse (my mom lives there and tells me some of the stories) but most of it is drug related and won’t affect you. Still, stick to the main streets at night and don’t wander off. Which is the general rule you should use anywhere…
In the center you won’t have issues with English as it’s a tourist/expat town. Wander into some of the neighborhoods outside the center and you’ll get less…but I’ve always found Mexicans accommodating and there’s usually always a way to understand each other.
Not just SMA but Central Mexico is great, lots of very pretty places. I go back every year and have never ever had safety issues, if anything always had great interactions with the friendly, helpful locals.
All very interesting comments that make up a potpourri of positives and negatives in a context of much change and urban growth in SMDA. It is surely quite different from my weeklong visit ten yrs ago. Full disclosure: I will be spending 3-4 weeks there in the summer (2019) with an eye to retire there as an artist of 15 years and writer of books (adios corporate life). As a 68 year old healthy, fit, single retired male I confess that having an American woman in my life again would be nice; whether or not a relationship could develop in SMDA is a total mystery to me, but I am hopeful. I suppose it’s a mystery anywhere I’d choose. Is it a couple’s world? If the “vibe” doesn’t happen when I visit, is there another town in Mexico that would have much to offer as SMDA (maybe not the same, but some common ground)? All insights are welcome; this is a big life decision, of course.
Tomaso, I think you would do quite well as a single man in SMA 🙂 Lots of single ladies.
I don’t know if any town really compares to San Miguel but Guanajuato is an alternative for many. But it just doesn’t have all the resources of SMA.
PS. This post was written a few years back. Just went back last November and wrote this.
Thank you for your opinion and very helpful updated post. I guess I just needed to hear of the possibility of a partnership (as opposed to something like “slim pickings.” Also, thx for your entries, all of them, are a joy to read. I will explore Guanajuato too. I want to live in Mexico. I expect a few 2-3 week trips will be helpful and, hopefully, provide me with enough information to make a commitment to SMA or not. Thanks again, for the gift of optimism. I will be in touch in the near future, seeking more insights no doubt.
Pleasure to help. Been to Mexico many times now thanks to my mom living there. Always enjoy it, nice people, pretty towns, great food…one of my favorite countries.
Love your art. Have you found that American woman to have in your life again? I’m 60, healthy, fit, single, and considering San Miguel De Allende (Or Durango of all places) as my full-time residence. Barbara
Wow, an awful lot of ageist (“old and ugly”???–shame on you) comments here. Remember, you too will get old if you are lucky, and in doing so you will probably also require a mild climate, and you may find that your retirement income requires you to move out of your home country. Not all retirees are wealthy here, not by a long shot. There is a lot of truth to what the writer of the article says. A lot of foreigners do change the culture, I agree with the comment about going from bar to bar. We do tend to be a bit isolated and San Miguel is amazingly lacking in educational museums. But there are educational films and entertainment movies at the wonderful biblioteca, more musical events than anyone could possibly take in, a wonderful Rotary Club, and on-going classes on a variety of topics. Not to me many cooperative (between foreigners and Mexicans) charities doing important work, much of which The Mexican government should be doing. There has been much made about San Miguel being such a walkable City, but I don’t think I know anybody who hasn’t fallen down at least once with some people sustaining some pretty serious injuries. That is frightening to older people and so yes, we do rely on taxis and delivery services that we really can’t afford even though they are reasonably priced. This keeps us further isolated. Crime has grown and it’s no longer safe to be out after dark unless you are in the Jardin itself. This prevents leisurely evening strolls. The infrastructure needs work. Wealthy Mexicans from all over the country come for the weekend, in addition to foreign tourists, and that plus the 25+ weddings parading through town makes it hard for pedestrians and drivers, including public transportation. Prices are rapidly increasing. Correct, it’s a a town, not a city. A beautiful town it is, but the lopsided writing of travel writers is making me think that these folks are no longer journalists. San Miguel has its pros and cons; just like a lot of places it certainly won’t suit everybody. It’s annoying to read about it as if it were some kind of Fairytale Land.
Thanks Beth, you’ve described San Miguel perfectly, for good and bad. My mum has lived there for the last 4 years so I know that town quite well and I do enjoy going back…but that doesn’t take away from the negatives that I cite. You might have missed my follow up post on it HERE.
“Old and Ugly” ??. Where did I write that?? Bothers me to no end when people misquote or infer. I said that there are “oldies” and “older people”. And this is a personal travel blog, I’m not a journalist.
Oh, no, you didn’t write that, I am sorry for not being clearer. That was in the comments.
I can see your points, valid, especially with the difference of economic levels living side by side (not just americans though). My 2 cents are this – I am a gringo living in the North, in Monterrey. The #1 place all of our mexican friends recommend that we visit is San Miguel, with minimally mentioning the expat community there (we have visited twice so far). Pretty much every friend has said this. And from other conversations, this seems to be the #1 wish list location for a Mexican wedding – grant it probably the affluent and well-off families of Mexico. Nonetheless, yes there are americans in San Miguel, however this is also a treasure for the local and national community, so its not very fair to say that the americans are americanizing everything there.
I’m actually just back from another visit to San Miguel, my 5th so far. My mom lives there so between my visits and her accounts of life there, I’m pretty familiar with the town.
Yes, there are Mexican weddings for sure and you’re right, it’s the more affluent Mexican families. But you can’t bring up San Miguel without a mention of the large expat community who’ve largely been behind the development of the town. While not “Americanizing everything”, it is definitely an “American enclave” where you can easily pay 50% more for a meal than anywhere else in Mexico.
San Miguel is just awful, crowded with ugly old gringos and pending water shortages. If I were you, I’d go somewhere else – and leave it for me!
I guess you didn’t read my follow up…so sorry, you might see me around town once in a while 😉
Can you say ageism? Your article is rife with misinformation….I have lived in in San Miguel for six years and Ex-pats are not in the majority. In fact, I live in a neighborhood with three foreign households…everyone else is Mexican. Next time you visit San Miguel… try talking to a national. They will explain the contributions of the foreign residents to the local economy.
Please tell me where I said that expats are in the “majority”. My mom stayed in Santa Cecilia where almost everyone is Mexican, so I know very well the composition of some of the neighborhoods. Contributions of foreign residents? Of course, that’s why San Miguel is the way it is. So where exactly is the “Misinformation”?
You might prefer my follow up post on San Miguel.
Why all the foreigners who come to Mexico only want to see Mexicans? If they see Americans, Germans, French, Japaneses or whoever they are , they say Mexico its not Mexico. Have you traveled to another countries? all of them have people of different countries. I don’t understand why you want cities with only Mexicans int them, we are in the XXI century.
So I should visit Thailand to hang out with tourists?
Why travel at all if you don’t want to interact with locals?
So I guess Americans in the South-West should just accept the Mexicans that have crossed the border and are living in their towns and imposing their culture? I don’t see them celebrating, just as I don’t see many Europeans celebrating the influx of Muslims into their suburbs.
I believe in integration, not in foreigners setting up enclaves in other countries where local customs/economy are drastically altered because of their actions. That’s my issue with San Miguel.
There has always been a significant Hispanic–largely Mexican–cultural influence in the US Southwest. It has not been “imposed” on us residents. It is an integral part of the cultural richness of an area that was, if you’ll remember, once part of Mexico.
Thanks Kevin, but that wasn’t what I was referring to. As you say, that history has long been part of the region. I’m talking about “ghetto-izing” of areas by those not native to a place.
How long did you actually spend here? Yes, if one goes during the high season, it is full of foreigners. But San Miguel has many facets and isn’t really summed up and figured out with a week’s vacation. Yes, I would agree that at times, it is overrun with tourists and they’re not just Americans, but also a lot of very wealthy Mexicans who invade the place on the weekends. You wouldn’t have noticed that if you only go to the expat places, though.
If only Mexico would live up your stereo type. Perhaps we need to hand out more somberos and burros? Would that be more to your liking of what Mexico is supposed to be?
Gringos have been coming to Mexico for a very long time. It’s nothing new. For your info. the expat pop. in SMA is about 10%. So I wonder how you didn’t see any locals? I guess you must have been hanging out in all of those gringo bars and restaurants yourself.
Thanks for the comment. Actually my post was based on both my observances and by speaking with expats who’ve lived there 6+ months (and who’ve moved elsewhere precisely because of my points). And the 10% doesn’t surprise me – there are a lot of areas outside of town within San Miguel proper which don’t have many foreigners (I stayed in Santa Cecilia where almost everyone is Mexican). My point is that the character of downtown, where expats live, definitely has been shaped by the expat population. That’s not altogether negative either, depending on what you’re looking for (I’ve mentioned some of the positive points of SMA as well).
But I appreciate your feedback and opinion, you’re obviously an expat and you probably know the town well enough to strike a good balance between the two cultures.
This is a biased report. We chose San Miguel de Allende six years ago and have never been sorry. The combination of climate, culture, and people is unbeatable.
For a more balanced and in-depth assessment, my book…(link deleted)
I’m always open to differing opinions and other people sharing their experiences. But to say it’s biased, offer no reasoning behind that, then shamelessly plug you book? Nope, sorry.
Hey you guys… What other towns in Mexico would you recommend visiting that still have the “life” and activity of the locals?
Hi Jeff. How about Patzcuaro or Guanajuato?
San Miguel reminds me of some of the other cities that have been taken over by Western retirees;
Juan del Sur, Nicaragua
Bocas del Toro, Panama
The problem is not just that the atmosphere gets ruined in these places, or that social divisions arise, or that prices inflate, the worst thing is all the aggressive land-grabbing that goes with these expatriate invasions, and the sheer misery it brings (the law being so ‘flexible’ and the land registry such a mess). If tourists only knew the truth about so many ‘paradise’ enclaves in Mexico and Central America, it’s often very ugly.
Not to mention that as the Gringo force builds in the area, the effort to reconstruct the local settlement into the exact image they just left behind gains momentum until you as the latest arrival discover that in moving there, you never left home after all. Additionally, there is typically no significant number who wishes to learn Spanish or integrate into the local culture, so a sort of “Lord of the Flies” scenario develops where the locked-in Gringo community can become quite harsh to the lesser of the fittest of the new inhabitants, leaving many to suffer deep emotional trauma. Often also, the refusal or inability to adapt to the local people and new society leaves the small group of Gringos “all dressed up with no place to go”. So a daily routine develops which most of time includes hopping from bar to bar or from one java shop to the next until left with no apparent alternative, one by one the new inhabitants keel over from excessive amounts of alcohol or caffeine, if not the sheer boredom.
Ha, good analysis. My mom has lived there a few years now and generally loves the town but as a non-American she sometimes feels like she doesn’t fit it to the expat community, unlike a place like Chiang Mai where it was a much more international crowd.
It’s a pretty city and after a few more visits I’ve come to like it more. But it is still “Mexico-lite” to me.
Thanks for your comment Donald, I know a few people in SMA who feel the way you’ve described.
I really don’t have any desire to visit Mexico, but i definitely wouldn’t want to go where all the Americans are!
So the old farts sucked the life out of the place, FAN-tastic. The description kind of sounds like what Costa Rica, regarding Expats & inflated prices.
Oh no, all these comments are going to get me in trouble. It’s still a very nice town – and I prefer it 10 times more than Costa Rica!!
I’m so glad that early onset dementia runs in my family. When I get old, I won’t remember or give a f*ck about anything but coffee, cigarettes. I’ll be rockin out on my recliner while I harass the staff and scratch myself inappropriately.
Looks so pretty and serene…
That’s because the oldies were taking their siestas. It livens up on Sundays between 10:30 and 10:45 at the food market behind the church. After that you have to wait until the following Sunday…ok, just kidding.
Mary Calculated Traveller
Looks like a lovely place to retire but I wish there weren’t so many old people around! tee hee.
You’re so mean Mary 😉
I don’t know if I’ll ever visit Mexico, but this looks like a terrific place to visit. I am so happy to see your travels shared online.