San Miguel de Allende

Overview

Formerly a sleepy Colonial town, San Miguel de Allende has morphed into a magnet for international travelers seeking out some of the best gastronomy and restaurants that this country has to offer. It’s not unheard of for well-known and famous chefs located in other metropolitan areas to have a second location in San Miguel de Allende (or provide guest appearances at local restaurants). Additionally, this town is surrounded by wine country, which provides residents with an abundance of wineries and additional tourist attractions to visit. It’s no surprise that this is a popular destination for expats.

Quick Stats about San Miguel de Allende

Population69,811
Elevation1,900 meters (6233 feet)
StateGuanajuato
Primary Language(s)Spanish
CurrencyMexican Peso

Cost of Living in San Miguel de Allende

Due to its abundance of high-end international-ranking restaurants, events, and schools, San Miguel de Allende doesn’t maintain the same cost-of-living that it used to have in prior years. However, it’s still very affordable, and as usual, there are plenty of ways to mitigate expenses.

Solo Expat

For the solo expat, I made the following assumptions:

  • Living in a one-bedroom apartment in downtown is desirable
  • Some alcohol is included in their groceries
  • Eating out at restaurants is a weekly occurrence (3 times a week)
  • Gym membership is included
  • Health insurance for one person is desired

Given the above assumptions, shown below is the calculated monthly budget for living in San Miguel de Allende. This does not include the following: incidents, transportation costs, subscriptions (e.g., Netflix, Spotify), tourism activities (e.g., snorkeling with turtles), clothes, etc.

Line ItemMonthly Cost (USD)
Apartment (1 bedroom) in downtown San Miguel de Allende587.17
Basic Utilities32.44
Internet and Cable19.86
Groceries (including some alcohol)142.22
Entertainment (restaurants, gym membership)166.88
Health Insurance (IMSS or Seguro Popular)1.34
Total949.91
Assuming a conversion rate of 22.39 MXN/USD. Last Updated: August 2020.

Expat Couple

For the expat couple, I made a lot of similar assumptions as the solo expat, shown below:

  • Living in a two-bedroom apartment in downtown is desirable
  • Some alcohol is included in their groceries
  • Eating out at restaurants is a weekly occurrence (3 times a week)
  • Gym membership is included per person
  • Health insurance for two people is desired
  • More utilities are consumed compared to the solo expat

Given the above assumptions, shown below is the calculated monthly budget for living in San Miguel de Allende. This does not include the following: incidents, transportation costs, subscriptions (e.g., Netflix, Spotify), tourism activities (e.g., snorkeling with turtles), clothes, etc.

Line ItemMonthly Cost (USD)
Apartment (2 bedroom) in downtown San Miguel de Allende1,083.69
Basic Utilities48.66
Internet and Cable19.86
Groceries (including some alcohol)284.43
Entertainment (restaurants, gym membership)311.45
Health Insurance (IMSS or Seguro Popular)2.86
Total1,750.77
Assuming a conversion rate of 22.39 MXN/USD. Last Updated: August 2020.

Expat Family

This one is a bit tricky since I myself do not have any kids, but I gave it a try. For the expat family, I made the following assumptions:

  • Two adults and two kids
  • Living in a three-bedroom apartment in downtown is desirable (can be substituted for a house)
  • Some alcohol is included in their groceries (obviously for the adults)
  • Eating out at restaurants is a weekly occurrence (3 times a week)
  • Gym membership is not included
  • Health insurance for the family is desired
  • Both kids are of age to attend international primary school
  • More utilities are consumed compared to the expat couple and solo expat

Given the above assumptions, shown below is the calculated monthly budget for living in San Miguel de Allende. This does not include the following: incidents, transportation costs, subscriptions (e.g., Netflix, Spotify), tourism activities (e.g., snorkeling with turtles), clothes, etc.

Line ItemMonthly Cost (USD)
Apartment (3 bedroom) in downtown Tulum1,580.21
Basic Utilities64.88
Internet and Cable19.86
Groceries (including some alcohol)485.27
Entertainment (restaurants, gym membership)595.98
Health Insurance (IMSS or Seguro Popular)5.36
International Primary School535.95
Total3,287.52
Assuming a conversion rate of 22.39 MXN/USD. Last Updated: August 2020.

Cost Saving Tactics

Given the above estimated monthly budgets, there are multiple ways to reduce expenses for those that might be on a tighter budget. For instance, living outside of downtown, limiting the number of times eating at restaurants, and shopping at local markets instead of the supermarket are all valid ways to reduce monthly expenses.

Visa(s)

It is fairly easy to obtain a residence visa within Mexico for non-lucrative purposes. This process starts outside of the country at a Mexican consulate (ideally in your current home country), and finishes within Mexico at the Immigration Institute. Once in Mexico, foreigners must complete a “canje” (or “exchange” in English) within 30 days after arrival. During the “canje”, foreigners that hold a Mexican visa sticker in their passports granted by a Mexican consulate must apply at the Immigration Institute for a resident card of the same characteristics as the visa sticker given at the Consulate.

Shown below are the different residence visas that foreigners can apply for and the different ways to qualify for one. It is worth mentioning that only pensioners can apply for Permanent Residence without having the Temporary Residence first. All USD figures below assume an exchange rate of 19 Mexican Pesos per USD, and some figures are variable based on the Mexican consulate.

Type of Financial
Qualifier
Amount of Financial Qualifier
InvestmentMonthly average balance equivalent to approx. $35,00 USD for the past 12 months
Bank Accounts
(e.g., Savings)
Monthly average balance equivalent to approx. $35,000 USD for the past 12 months
IncomeMonthly pay stubs of approx. $1,950 USD for the past 6 months
Pension (Free
of Liens)
Monthly bank statements showing approx. $1,950 USD for the past 6 months
InvestmentMonthly average balance equivalent to approx. $130,000 USD for the past 12 months
Bank Accounts
(e.g., Savings)
Monthly average balance equivalent to approx. $130,000 USD for the past 12 months
IncomeMonthly pay stubs of approx. $3,250 USD for the past 6 months
Pension (Free
of Liens)
Monthly bank statements showing approx. $3,250 USD for the past 6 months
Last Updated: August 2020.

For those looking for a list of Mexican Consulates abroad, Mexperience provides a comprehensive list on their website.

Year-Round Climate

In San Miguel de Allende, the wet season is overcast, the dry season is partly cloudy, and it is warm year round. Over the course of the year, the temperature typically varies from 41°F to 85°F and is rarely below 36°F or above 91°F.

The warm season lasts for 2.2 months, from April 4 to June 11, with an average daily high temperature above 82°F. The hottest day of the year is May 10, with an average high of 85°F and low of 56°F.

The cool season lasts for 2.2 months, from November 27 to February 6, with an average daily high temperature below 74°F. The coldest day of the year is January 7, with an average low of 41°F and high of 71°F.

Education

According to the World Economic Forum, Mexico ranks at 69 out of 130 countries for their educational quality at the elementary level. Their top universities, including the National Autonomous University of Mexico and the private Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education, both rank in the 601-800 range in the current Times Higher Education rankings and are consistently featured among the top universities within Latin America.

A much more in depth review of the country’s education system and rankings can be found in this World Education News + Reviews article.

Structure of the Basic Education System

Basic education is normally divided into three steps: primary school (grades 1 through 6), junior high school (grades 7 through 9), and high school (grades 10 through 12). The standards of the national public education program is overseen by the federal government body called Secretaria de Educación Pública, or SEP.

Primary School (primaria)

The curriculum intends to start the basic compulsory education system. Depending on the school, a bilingual education may be offered from the beginning, which generally consists of one half of the day in Spanish, and the other half is in a second language (most commonly English).

Junior High School (secundaria)

Generally speaking, the curriculum intends to continue the basic compulsory education system introduced in primary school. However, at this level, more specialized subjects are generally introduced, such as World History and Physics. Some also provide vocational training and/or distance learning.

High School (preparatoria or bachillerato)

For high school (preparatoria), students have the option to choose between two main types: SEP-incorporated school or a University-incorporated school (variable by state). High school curriculums generally consist of the first few semesters having a common curriculum, and the latter ones allowing some degree of specialization (e.g., physical sciences, social sciences) with the intention of preparing students for studying at a university. There are some types of high schools that prepare students for getting a job as a skilled worker after graduation, and these are generally referred as bachillerato.

Healthcare

Although Mexico’s performance of its healthcare system on an international scale is ranked 61 by the World Health Organization (WHO), it is highly regarded by those who take advantage of it via medical tourism, especially by those living in the United States. Mexico’s healthcare facilities are structured into a three-tier system:

  1. A very basic level of care is open to nationals without an income
  2. A public system paid for directly from resident’s wages and overseen by the Mexican social security system which is open to foreign nationals
  3. Private sector

Shown below are some examples of out-of-pocket fees charged for certain services and procedures within Mexico, which may vary depending on the location and provider.

Service/ProcedureCost (USD)
Routine Doctor Visit$12 – $15
X-Ray$24 – $30
Routine Dental Visit$25 – $50
Dental Cleaning$30 – $35
Specialist Visit$40 – $50
Standard Filling$45 – $50
Dental Extraction$50 – $55
Complete Blood Work$50 – $80
MRI$300 – $500
Dentures$350
Crown$400 – $450
Single Implant$700 – $900
Source: International Living. Last Updated: August 2020.

Healthcare in San Miguel de Allende

San Miguel has two general hospitals serving the local community, shown below.

Name of HospitalLocation
H+ San Miguel de AllendeSan Miguel de Allende
Hospital MACSan Miguel de Allende
Last Updated: August 2020.

Most expats recommend H+ San Miguel de Allende, which is formerly known as Clínica Tec 100. The hospital provides a wide range of medical services and has built a new specialty medicine office building adjacent to the hospital with 21 medical offices and over 20 different medical specialties and a pharmacy. On the other hand, Hospital MAC is brand new, provides a lot of services, and puts an emphasis on hiring bilingual staff. Both are worth considering as options for treatment or medical care.

When going to a hospital in San Miguel de Allende and you’re a resident of Mexico, make sure to bring your identification as you may benefit from being charged less for services.

Contact Me

If you currently live here as an expat, I’d love to hear about your first-hand experiences and whether they align with the above content. I’d also love to hear from you if you’re looking to becoming an expat and have outstanding concerns or questions that aren’t addressed by the above content.

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