What to Expect: Expat Living in San Miguel de Allende

Are you searching for more than just another beach getaway? How about a city pulsating with art, food, and cultural festivities?

If the answer’s yes, then welcome to the heart of Mexico—San Miguel de Allende. Tucked away in Mexico’s Colonial Highlands, about a four-hour drive northwest of Mexico City, San Miguel de Allende isn’t your typical tourist trap. While the coastal cities bask in their beachy fame, here you’ll find something more substantial: a UNESCO World Heritage site brimming with Spanish colonial, baroque, and neo-Gothic architecture. The place is nothing short of an art scene wrapped in historic elegance.

But it’s not just about the scenery and history of San Miguel de Allende. The expat community here is vibrant, contributing nearly 10% of the city’s total population. And yes, that number swells during the North American winter as “snowbirds” from the U.S., Canada, and Europe make their way to enjoy the temperate climate and the affordable cost of living in San Miguel de Allende.

So, if you’ve ever toyed with the idea of moving to San Miguel de Allende or even retiring in San Miguel de Allende, read on. You’re about to discover why this gem is drawing expats and retirees from all over the globe.

What we’ll cover:

  • What Attracts Expats to San Miguel de Allende?
  • San Miguel de Allende Cost of Living
  • Grocery Shopping Tips in San Miguel de Allende
  • San Miguel de Allende Safety
  • San Miguel de Allende Real Estate
  • Where Do Expats Live in San Miguel de Allende?

What Attracts Expats to San Miguel de Allende?

Where to begin? There’s a laundry list of reasons expats find themselves drawn to San Miguel de Allende, but let’s touch on a few that keep coming up:

  • Warm Community: It’s not just about meeting people; it’s about connecting. The melding of locals with expats creates a warm, vibrant, and truly welcoming community where everyone feels like a neighbor.
  • Cost of Living: Let’s face it, everyone wants more bang for their buck. San Miguel de Allende offers a comfortable lifestyle without the hefty price tag of many other international destinations.
  • Festivals and Events: If you want to dive into the local culture headfirst, the festivals here are a must-experience. They’re not just events; they’re a celebration of life and the city’s rich traditions. For more can’t-miss events, check out our Best Times to Visit San Miguel de Allende
  • Vibrant Arts Scene: You don’t need to be an art critic to appreciate the creativity bursting from this city. It’s a hub for artists, boasting countless galleries, workshops, and artisan markets. Whether you’re an observer or a creator, the artistic energy is palpable.
  • Bucket List Destination: Beyond all practical reasons, sometimes it’s just about the adventure. Many expats come here simply because San Miguel de Allende is a place they’ve always dreamed of living in or retiring to, and honestly, can you blame them?

San Miguel de Allende Cost of Living

The question on everyone’s lips when thinking of relocating to a new country is, “How far will my dollar, euro, pound, etc. stretch?” And it’s a valid point. After all, if you’re contemplating a relocation, you’d want assurance that you can maintain, if not elevate, your standard of living without the added financial strain.

Just before we break down the San Miguel de Allende cost of living, it’s important to mention that San Miguel de Allende is definitely not one of the cheapest Mexican cities to live in. But don’t let this turn you off. In San Miguel, you hold the reins of your expenses. You can choose to indulge in a luxurious lifestyle or embrace local living on a shoestring budget, and either way, you’re in for a wonderful experience. This city offers the best of both worlds; from upscale indulgences to affordable gems, it all boils down to the choices you make.

Keep reading for some essential, tried-and-tested money-saving tips on things such as grocery shopping, eating out, and the best neighborhoods in San Miguel de Allende. 

Ok, so let’s see what the San Miguel de Allende cost of living looks like in detail:

*All costs are in US dollars

Utility Costs

Be aware that these are average utility costs taken from a range of San Miguel de Allende neighborhoods. However, they may vary depending on the size of your home, the number of occupants, the time of year, how sustainable your house is, etc.

  • Electricity: Approx $20-30 monthly. (Electricity bills arrive every 2 months)
  • Gas: Approx. $20 monthly.
  • Water: Approx. $10-30 monthly.
  • Internet: Depending on the provider, monthly plans start from $25 monthly.

Housing & Rentals

Renting costs in San Miguel de Allende vary depending on location, size, and furnishings. Here is a guide to give you an idea:

Casa del Cortejo in the heart of Centro Historico
  • Colonia Centro: This prime location comes at a premium. A 3-bedroom home is rented for around $5,000 monthly. 

 

  • Colonia San Antonio, Guadiana, and Guadalupe: Near the city center, a short flat walk as little as 5-10 minutes, you can secure a 1-bedroom apartment for around $1000 monthly.
The beautiful La Escondida resisdence
  • Further afield: Developments such as Zirandero, El Secreto, La Escondida, and Antigua Residencial (Los Frailes) can offer more for your budget. For a 3-bedroom house you’d be looking at around $1700 monthly. But these often come with exclusive amenities such as a communal pool, clubhouse, and 24-hour gated security. When renting, it’s common for the house owners to add the development maintenance fee into the rental cost.
  • Peak Season: January to April sees heightened rental prices, but with negotiation, long-term leases remain achievable.

Eating Out

Dining in San Miguel de Allende is an experience that doesn’t necessarily burn a hole in your wallet. Upscale and trendy restaurants (and there are plenty of them) typically charge between $70-$150 per couple for a lavish three-course meal, including a couple of drinks. But don’t miss out on the great street food stands and little *fonditas‘, which may not look as glamorous but prepares some of the most authentic Mexican food in San Miguel de Allende at a fraction of the price.

Check out our top local ‘hidden gem’ eateries in Colonia San Antonio, voted by trusted San Miguel de Allende residents.

*A “fondita” is a small, often family-run eatery in Mexico that typically offers home-style dishes, often set daily menus, at affordable prices. One of our favorites is Cenaduria la Alborada, Calle Sollano #11, 415 154 9982

Everyday Expenses

  • Groceries: This varies greatly depending on whether you’re shopping at the major supermarkets in town or visiting local grocery stores and markets for your produce. For context, a liter of milk at the supermarket is priced at $1.60.  See more below for money saving tips on groceries! 
  • Household Essentials: Typically, monthly costs average around $170.
  • Transport: Buses are incredibly affordable at 50c a ride. Standard taxi fares within town hover around $4.50, though rates may increase for nighttime rides or distant districts. Always inquire about the fare before hopping in. Given San Miguel’s walkable nature, renting a car isn’t advised. Instead, negotiate hourly or daily taxi rates. Ubers are also available.
  • Recreation: For golf enthusiasts, local courses (Malanquin, Ventanas, and Zirandero) green fees range between $55 and $150.

Grocery Shopping Tips in San Miguel de Allende

Supermarkets

There are four major supermarkets in San Miguel de Allende: La Comer, City Market, Soriana, and Bodega Aurrera. Except for Bodega Aurrera, all mirror what you’d find in the States and Europe, with familiar brands. These brands, as they’re imported, do cost a premium, but it’s a great option to have, especially if you’re feeling a little homesick!

All of these supermarkets offer online shopping with pick-up or delivery services. Costco, Walmart, and HEB are in nearby Queretaro and Celaya, a quick and pleasant 40-minute drive away. There are even services that go to Costco weekly for you. Just put your order in and pay a little extra for the service.

Local Markets and Tienditas (small local stores)

I’m extremely grateful that we have so many great shopping options here in San Miguel but they can be pricey, especially if you’re on a budget. Personally, I like to buy my fruit and vegetables from local grocery shops “Fruterias” and the street markets. The Tuesday Market is a great option for this and everything else you’re looking for. From food stands, to clothes, to fresh fruit and vegetable stalls, Grocery shopping like this is a sure way to save money, buy the freshest, most seasonal produce, and get a flavor for how to live in San Miguel de Allende like a local.

Check out our blog on The Tuesday Market (Tianguis) for more details and enticing photos. 


Another tip is to use local food delivery services. One of my favorites is ‘Sobre Ruedas’, selling delicious and affordable local products, mainly manufactured by women. I always order fresh farm eggs and the best Oaxaca cheese – there’s no comparison and it’s great to support the local businesses.

San Miguel de Allende Safety

Security is a prime concern when moving to a new place. Thankfully, San Miguel de Allende’s safety reputation is mostly positive. Like anywhere, there are areas to be cautious, but the local community is tight-knit, looking out for each other and the many expats in San Miguel de Allende.

San Miguel de Allende Real Estate

There’s no denying that the city’s charm has spiked interest in its real estate. In the last few years, we’ve seen an increase in younger families, nationals, expats, and digital nomads flocking to San Miguel de Allende to work remotely and enjoy a unique blend of tradition and modernity. From beautifully restored colonial homes to modern condos, there’s something for everyone. It’s advisable to visit and get a feel before diving into property ownership.

 If your curiosity is piqued, why not click on some of our exclusive curated listings on offer?

Where do Expats Live in San Miguel de Allende?

Most expats gravitate towards the city center (Centro and Centro Historico) and its adjacent neighborhoods (San Antonio, Guadiana, Guadalupe, Balcones, Ojo de Agua, and Atascadero), enamored by its historic charm and close walking distance to the main square. Others prefer the outskirts, just a short 5-10 minute drive from Centro, where they can savor tranquility while remaining a short drive from the hustle and bustle.

Click here for the most detailed descriptions of all the Popular Neighborhoods in San Miguel de Allende, to get a better idea of where you’d like to live. 

The quaint streets of Ojo de Agua

Last Thoughts

Moving to San Miguel de Allende is more than just a change of address; it’s a leap into a vibrant, warm, and welcoming mixed community of locals and expats. While there are certainly pros and cons of living in San Miguel de Allende, the overarching sentiment is clear: it’s a city that captures hearts. Whether you’re contemplating a visit, a long stay, or buying property, this beautiful city promises not to disappoint. 

If you have any more questions about moving to San Miguel de Allende or want to see some of our incredible listings, please send us a comment below or contact us directly – we’d love to help!

And if you’re interested in learning more about the San Miguel de Allende real estate market, as well as useful tips and advice about San Miguel, please subscribe to our newsletter list now.