In 1999, I took a week-long vacation with a friend in Mazatlán, Mexico, and it was love at first sight. I was so in love with the beach town that the next day I went to a real estate agent and bought a small house for $ 28,000.
My plan was to turn it into a second home for when I wanted to flee California. But in 2002, at the age of 49, I decided to follow my favorite mantra – “Jump, and the net will appear” – and left the United States to live in Mexico full-time.
After a few years in Mazatlán, he was ready for a change. I considered several places, such as Oaxaca and the Lake Chapala area, before turning my attention to San Miguel de Allende, a colonial-era city in the central highlands of Mexico, known for its Baroque architecture.
I was very lucky to find a charming place within my price range for $ 160,000. Since real estate in Mexico is a cash market (90% of foreign buyers are cash buyers), I had to sell one of my rental properties in Mazatlán and take a small loan from my brother to get the money .
It took me three months to close the deal, and in 2006 I moved completely.
Building the perfect house
My 2 bedroom, 2 bath San Miguel home has a front yard on the ground floor. On the second floor there is the living room, the kitchen, the dining room and a small terrace.
It is a beautiful house with more than enough space for one person. But as a retiree who does painting, engraving and sculpture alongside, I wanted to have a place dedicated to working my art.
So in 2007 I started construction to add a third floor studio and a rooftop, expanding the total space from 900 square feet to 1,600 square feet.
I built two metal stairs from my front door: one on the roof garden terrace and the other that led to my study so that visitors who come to see my artwork do not have to enter through the bedroom.
I read a lot in the living room, where there is a small library and a cozy fireplace. The small dining room connects with the kitchen, which is decorated with beautiful Talavera-style ceramic tiles.
I am very happy with how the studio turned out. There is plenty of natural light, a large wall to display my art and enough space for workshops.
In all, the renovations cost about $ 32,000 and lasted less than a year to complete.
What I like about San Miguel
A UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2008, San Miguel is a charming city full of old world charm.
There is nothing like walking the cobbled streets and passing the colorful colonial bougainvillea-covered facades. There are several small cafes, yoga studios, restaurants and events for writers and artists.
One of my favorite things to do is visit art galleries. From time to time, I go to small venues to listen to live music for the price of a meal or a $ 15 cover change.
The only major downside is that the weather is much cooler here than in Mazatlán, which led me to buy sweaters, jackets and warmers that I never needed before.
Although I travel mostly everywhere, I have a car that is mainly used to transport my artwork or day trips to nearby cities.
My income and expenses in Mexico
My income, which ranges from $ 1,100 to $ 2,500 a month, is a combination of Social Security, book and art sales, workshops, and rental properties in Mazatlán.
Here’s a quick look at my average monthly expenses:
- Real estate tax: $ 41
- Private health insurance: $ 250
- Car / Gas Insurance: $ 50
- Utilities (water, electricity, telephone, internet): $ 70
- Groceries: $ 110
- Entertainment / eating out / shopping: $ 99
Total: $ 620 a month
I’m not sure if this will be my home forever. Mazatlán still holds a special place in my heart, and it may return at some point. But I definitely plan to stay in San Miguel for the next five or ten years.
I would never have been able to build that perfect life in the US. The low cost of living in Mexico allows me to live my ideal retirement lifestyle and do what I love most: creating, teaching, and being surrounded by art.
Glen Rogers is an artist living in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. He has traveled to many sacred places seeking connection, understanding, and inspiration; Newgrange in Ireland, Knossos in Crete, caves in the south of France and Las Labradas, Mexico. Find her Facebook.
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