Our Trip to San Miguel de Allende

After our last post where we announced that the blog hit one million views, we decided to take a short break from blogging and travel a bit.

We broke out the jeans, jackets and closed-toed shoes and headed to the city of San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. Since the name of the city is a little long, I’ll be referring to it as simply SMA for the rest of the post.

The change in wardrobe was warranted because SMA is located 6,200 feet above sea level and the temperatures are much cooler than what these two beach bums are used to. During our stay, the temperature ranged from a high of 72°F during the day to a low of 58°F at night.

Where Is It?

SMA is a city of approximately 170,000 people located in the Mexican state of Guanajuato. Since many of our readers are geographically challenged when it comes to Mexico, I’ve taken the liberty of including an interactive map.

A Popular Expat Destination

SMA’s low cost of living, low crime rate and comfortable year-round temperatures make it one of the most popular destinations to settle among retirees from the United States and Canada. We had heard so many great things about this area from our fellow expats, that we had to check it out for ourselves.

Our original plan was to visit the area in the Spring of 2018, but we moved up our timetable after hearing about a new project from a real estate developer whose past projects impressed us a lot.

Although we’ll always be beach people, it wouldn’t be bad to have a little place in SMA whenever we want to take a break from the heat or a hurricane is headed our way.

Traveling There

I absolutely loathe long car rides, so when I heard that it would take 24 hours to drive there from Akumal, that only left us one option: going by plane.

We flew from Cancun to Querétaro Airport (2 hours and 25 minutes) and then took a transport van to SMA (1 hour and 22 minutes).  I slept most of the way, so it felt like a 20 minute trip to me — not bad.

Our First Impressions

As we approached our hotel which was located a short walk from the cathedral, we were both impressed by the colonial architecture. The streets were narrow and it reminded us of our trip to Italy a couple of years earlier.

We quickly learned that much of the beauty and old world charm of this city is not visible from the street. We would go to restaurants or shops whose facade may have looked plain but once we passed through the entrance, we found ourselves in beautiful interior courtyards and gardens.

We had a wonderful time visiting as many restaurants and shops as we could, just to see what the interior spaces looked like.  When we entered each location, it was like opening a present on Christmas morning.

Since it would have been rude to just look around a restaurant without ordering anything, we ended up putting on a couple of pounds in the interest of being polite. By the way, there are some excellent restaurants in SMA so it really wasn’t much of a sacrifice on our part.

We snapped a lot of pictures during our trip and we included some of our favorites in the photo gallery at the bottom of the post.

Let’s Wrap This Up

Since this was our first trip to SMA, we don’t have any useful insider tips to share with our readers — sorry about that.

If it’s any consolation, we plan on returning in the near future to further explore the city and open more presents — maybe we’ll be able to share some tips then.


Click on the thumbnail to see the full size image

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About the Author

Qroo Paul
Paul Kurtzweil (Q-Roo Paul) was a deputy sheriff in Florida for 25 years before retiring at the rank of lieutenant in 2015. He and his wife moved to Mexico looking to maximize their retirement income. They later started a blog called Two Expats Mexico (qroo.us) to share their experiences as well as information about the logistical and legal aspects of retiring south of the border.

31 Comments on "Our Trip to San Miguel de Allende"

  1. Excellent Article, Paul. Indeed, this is a very beautiful City.
    next time stop by my clinic to see the great work we are doing helping the poor in San Miguel.
    I enjoy

  2. Thanks for this. A place we plan to visit. Who did you fly with, and how did you select your hotel? Would it be worth waiting till you get there to book?

    Lovely photos….makes me want to go sooner than later!

    • We flew Viva Aerobus there and Volaris on the way back. They offered the least expensive direct flights on the dates that we wanted.

      We stayed at Hotel Casa Don Quixote which was a cool little boutique hotel.

  3. Roberta Strand | October 3, 2017 at 11:42 am |

    That’s what we did. A condo in Puerto Vallarta, then when it gets to hot there a casa in Ajijic (Lake Chapala) which is a 5000 ft, 40 min and $80 plane ride. Perfecto! Although I think Chapala is winning at this point.

  4. Helen McNamara | October 3, 2017 at 11:46 am |

    There are so many beautiful colonial cities in Mexico, where you just never know what’s hidden behind that door! Patzcuaro, Oaxaca, Taxco, Guanajuato are a few of my favourites.

  5. Lindy Gelber | October 3, 2017 at 12:08 pm |

    Paul, gorgeous photos. I definitely want to go. How was the altitude. Denver is mile high. Any trouble breathing.
    This is the place to be for Dia de los muertos also. How was the builder’s project?

    • The altitude bothered us a little the first day but it subsided after about 24 hours or so.

      The builder’s project is still preconstruction but the land and the concept are outstanding. It has us seriously considering getting a condo there.

  6. You forgot to mention two things about San Miguel. English is used more than Spanish due to the large expat population and the cost of living there is twice what it cost to live in the Yucatan, We have been there several times.
    The Villa Santa Monica is a great place to stay and very convenient to everything. ..David

    • We always spoke Spanish to people but we did hear a lot of English spoken around us.

      You make a good point about the cost of living. Compared to where we are in the Riviera Maya it is better there but I guess not for you folks in the Yucatan.

  7. Kaye Richardson | October 3, 2017 at 12:22 pm |

    We’ve only been there once, but we stayed for 5 1/2 weeks when we went. We love all of Mexico, and SMA may be our favorite place not only there, but in the entire world.

    • I can see why you like it so much. If we end up getting a place there, we will be there a lot.

  8. Hey Q-Paul. I love SMA. Been there several times. Am headed there again this weekend for a month. Then moving there in full time in April 2018. I know you’re not one to do commercial shout outs — but is there any way to get info on the real estate builder you like? No worries if that’s crossing the line. Saludos…Barb

    • The project is still in the preconstruction phase and I’m not sure if they even “officially” announced it yet. We were lucky to get an early look at it — and we love it.

      Send me an email at feedback@qroo.us and I can give you more info. I just don’t want to put it out on the Internet.

  9. Love your blog! Coincidentally, I was checking out SMA real estate for sale online yesterday so I read this blog with particular interest. Hope you get back there soon, would love to hear more. Any chance you will be traveling to Lake Chapala in the near future?

  10. mounddweller | October 3, 2017 at 1:09 pm |

    So what were your thoughts about the development you went to see? Was it everything you hoped for? What type of development was it? Was it in the centro or further out? What was the price range? I’ve heard SMA can be pricey (relative to the rest of Mexico).

    • The development is preconstruction and we had a sneak peak at the land, plans etc — we were extremely impressed. It is quite unique and we are seriously considering getting a condo there.

      If you send me an email at feedback@qroo.us, I can tell you more. I don’t want to put it out on the Internet without asking the developer.

  11. So glad you liked SMA. We moved here permanently one month ago from US and love everything about SMA. Built a home with not a problem here. Your photos are stunning. Hope to see you back soon.

    • Congratulations on your move to SMA. We’ll definitely be back over that way in the near future.

  12. Yes indeed, I hear SMA is a lovely place. I know quite a few folks who have been there to visit, but they all either over-winter or live in Ajijic on Lake Chapala. Much quieter village and much cheaper. Large ex-pat community. One main paved road and the rest are cobblestones. Folks ride their horses to work. High elevation (5k+) and great views of the lake. Seems temperatures are about the same as SMA.

  13. Love the photos. San Miguel is a very pretty town 🙂

  14. Wow, thank you for sharing your beautiful photos, can’t wait to get back to Mexico, looking forward to the day my husband and I can spend months at a time in Mexico instead of just a couple weeks.

  15. Hi Paul and Linda, we moved to SMA in August and are hoping to make it our forever home! I notice from your pics that you were at the Jardin for the Fiesta de San Miguel, would have loved to have bumped into you there! We have been reading your blog for over a year and the information you provided about visas, cars, and everything else about being an Expat helped us enormously. Thank you so much and if you return to SMA, please drop us a line so we can buy you a Margarita or a Cerveza at one of our favorite spots!

    • Hi Arlene. I’m sure we passed each other at some point during the festival. We spent quite a bit of time in that area during our stay.

      Enjoy SMA and we might just run into each other when we’re there next time. By the way, I’ll be sure and remind you of that beer offer…lol.

  16. teresa freeburn | October 3, 2017 at 8:57 pm |

    awesome shots! i especially like the top 2 and the 1 with the ferns next to a fountain. i once stayed stayed in a B&B in guadalajara and when i went out of my room in the morning i almost started speaking italian with the staff. (lived in sicily for 2 years when my husband was in the navy) so i know what you mean about the architecture.

    love your blog as i too love mexico.



  17. I spent two far too expensive winters in SMA. It’s an overpriced Gringolandia and the crime rates are rising. The first of living is high and the rents are in USD which is discriminatory to Canadians ahí need to do two currency exchanges and your rent fluctuates monthly. There is a lot of ostentatious wealth in SMA and far too many gringos who have impacted the city negatively. Yes, the gringo effect is real and not pretty. A whole lot of expats don’t even make any effort to learn the language and underpay their maids and gardeners. Overall, NOT the real Mexico. Best time to go for a visit not to stay there for any length of time is the Easter season. Other than that all the recent articles about SMA in Forbes magazine and other periodicals have changed SMA and NOT for the better.

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