Retiree moving to Guanajuato Guanajuato Mexico -- Help

I am Richard E.  I am currently retired and living in Tennessee.  My house is up for sale and as soon as it and my car sells, I will head to Guanajuato City.

I speak pretty good Spanish but I would be open to studying more Spanish in a school there after I've settled in awhile. 

I am interested in the process of applying for Permanent Resident.  I'm told I'd need to apply first here in the US and that process seems a little intimidating.

I have lots of questions about:  banking, use of my iphone 6, rentals, walking since I won't have a car, places to volunteer where I would use my Spanish, etc.

:top: I am moving to Guanajuato City and I am a new member.

Welcome Richdale.

I would recommend you take it one step at a time. Get here , stay a while and see how you feel. Mexico can be over whelming enough without worrying about everything at once.
Yes, residente permanente can be a very time consuming tedious adventure, yes ,you do have to start the process in the states, What I would recommend is that before you come you might want to visit the Mx. consulate there and ask about the steps you will need to do. It is something that takes time and it would be good to talk to them about your individual case.

Once you are here you can adjust and see what else you need.

We will be glad to help advise where we can when you find out what are the specific questions. In the mean time see if you can find some expats in the area you want to be in.This might give a feel for the area you are interested in. … me-For.htm

Have you visited Guanajuato?

I'm guessing you've searched the Internet for visa requirements and came up with a list.

I've been in Mexico too long to need to have the current requirements at my fingertips.  Even then what's published on the Internet may not be the same as what a given consulate will require.

Since you speak pretty good Spanish, I'd say your best bet is to call the Mexican Consulate most convenient to you.  Speak English and switch to Spanish only if you don't think you understand or the person you're talking to doesn't understand.

As I understand it, you can get a Residente Permanente visa immediately if you have enough verifiable monthly income or are making a large enough investment in Mexico.

You'll find that every Mexican government office may have procedures and requirements different from what you find on the Internet and from other government offices which is the reason I suggest you call the consulate.

I don't know that much about Guanajuato except that the city is quite hilly and might be a challenge walking for someone my age and physical condition.  Taxis should be cheap compared to the US.

If your iPhone is not already unlocked, check with your carrier and see if they'll unlock it for you.  If not, there are many places in most cities that will do it for a small fee.  I've had 2 Samsung phones unlocked down here with no problem.  Every carrier down here I know of has low priced unlimited calling and SMS to anywhere in Mexico, US and Canada.  Plans with unlimited calling, text and data start at around 1000 pesos a month.

I still have only my US bank account and use ATM's that don't charge a foreign ATM fee.  US credit cards are accepted down here except for a lot of Mexican businesses on their websites.  Most banks have an arrangement with a US bank so that customers can use the two bank's ATM's without charge.  No matter where you bank, there will be some kind of commission for changing money from dollars to pesos.  I feel that I get as good a rate of exchange this way as anywhere.

Rentals - you can go through a real estate agent or sometimes it's best to hire a taxi driver by the hour and drive the neighborhoods looking for signs.  The taxi driver plan worked well for me in Coatepec.

Perhaps someone living  in Guanajuato will check in here with more detailed info.

Good luck.

Google GTOLIST for a  Forum of Guanajuato

Thank you.  I followed through with your suggestion of opening up a forum in Guanajuato City.

richdale111 :

Thank you.  I followed through with your suggestion of opening up a forum in Guanajuato City.

You opened one ????

I have been living in Guanajuato City for about two years.  The Guanajuato forum mentioned above is very helpful.
The city is a wonderful place to live, but yes, quite hilly. I like it though. No need to purchase a membership to a gym. Just walk up and down the hills. Guanajuato City is a very cultural town and has a very young vibe, as it's a college town.

Thank you for the advice.  As it turns out, I am moving to Merida, Mexico, first because there is a service in Merida that will walk me through the steps to get my Permanent Resident Card.  Of course, I first have to go to the Mexican Consulate in Atlanta to get the process started to get my Permanent Resident Card.  Eventually, I hope to check out some other cities like:  Guanajuato, San Miguel de Allende, and Ajijic.

If you have the income or funds to make the required investment to get Residente Permanente from the start, The Atlanta Consulate and the Merida INM office should be able to guide you through the process without outside help.  It can't hurt if you want to be sure there won't be an language misunderstandings.

Guanajuato is a good choice, but yes very hilly, I find if you take it slow at first you will adjust and it keeps you in great shape walking around, Its a beautiful city with amazing climate and great views.  The town is small and easy to get around, you wont need a car, taxi is cheap and plentiful.  It has a big city close by (Queretaro) for big box shopping etc. It has some good restaurants and energetic nite life and young vibe.

Merida is very humid, and very dirty, lots of traffic and they will run you down lol.  Its not a pretty city but its charm creeps up on you and it comes to have more options big city wise than Guanajuato and a very big expat community and lots of culture and nite life.  IN the day stifling hot and not so pretty...but you get used to becoming a nite owl....thats my two cents.

Richard, I spent last summer in Guanajuato and attended a delightful Spanish-language school there, which I highly recommend: Escuela Mexicana. It's a delight. Tell the director, Juan Carlos, I sent you! -- Bonnie Lee Black

Hi Richard,

Congratulations on your move to GTO!  It's a beautiful city.  We love it.  If you 'd like to talk, I might be able to answer some questions in person - I'm not so into email.  ***

Best wishes,


Moderated by kenjee 2 years ago
Reason : Share phone numbers only in private please.

Oopss.   PS.  I just thought I'd say I'm not Bonnie, but rather a friend of hers she sent this to. 


It seems the original poster has opted for Merida over Guanajuato, if I got that right, but I will comment anyway.

I am just back from Guanajuato (and Zacatecas and SMA) after a two-week getting-a-feel-for-possible-retirement-locales stay. I really liked it, but as everyone else has said, it is quite hilly. A lot of places in Mexico are hilly though, it seems to me (I thought Zacatecas was hillier than Guanajuato), so it seems something that can be dealt with as long as one is ambulatory and in good cp health. One thing that did worry me (thinking off into the future when one gets quite old) is that a lot of the in-city residential streets are pedestrian-only callejons, many of which have a lot of stairs - sometimes rather steep and irregular ones. I thought that was all rather quaint,and I rather enjoyed that point, but when I imagined myself carrying a 20lb sack of kitty litter, it was a tad less romantic a notion. Also, I think of the room I stayed in. It was a sublet of sorts, rented by an American girl who hurt her leg (or ankle) in a fall, and thus could not negotiate the stairs for a few weeks, so she was doing a homestay down n the city, while I rented her room. Anyway, that seems something to consider- It is not just the hilliness of things but the nature of those hills. It is a very nice town though.

By the way, to those who say they live there, what do long term apartment go for in the city? I know there are all sort of variables to consider, but if you've seen the Youtube video out there now (2014), it seems $400 gets you a pretty nice place in town, a pretty big house on the rim. Does that still seem right or have prices changed of late?

$400 should get you a 2-3BR 2-3Bath with all the amenities, possibly/likely all utilites.
I took 6000 pesos out of the ATM today.  That was a little less than $370.

Thanks Gudgrief. I was curious as to how accurate those prices in the YouTube vids might be (the places looked quite nice to me!), so I wondered if they were real or hype. But they definitely jive with your numbers. The research continues.

Btw, I did go to Mykonos in Zacatecas. A bit pricier than most of my eateries, but I was give the full VIP treatment and the food was great. They have an annex on the other side of the fountain now. Quite a nice place.

We went to Mykonos once, about 3 years ago now.  It was quite good and different from other places.

You know, Gudgrief (and any other renters out there), I realized that one of the stumbling blocks lingering in the back of my mind about renting in Mexico stems from my many years living in Japan. In Japan, it is quite difficult for a foreigner, except for smaller studio type apartments. But for anything in which families live, then I think it is fair to say that about 80% will just flat out refuse to rent to a foreigner (that percentage might drop to about 60% if the foreigner has a Japanese female spouse, 40% if a Japanese male spouse). It was actually easier, if you had permanent residency, to get a bank loan and buy a stand alone house than to rent an apartment (and then if you were lucky enough to be allowed to rent, you had to come up with about 4 months rent deposit, 1 months rent gift money for the owner,and 1 months' rent gift money for real estate agent). It was quite a racket!

So, I guess that experience had tainted my optimism about rentals in general, at least subconsciously. When I think about it though, I have not noticed any ever mentioning anything like that in regard to mexico. Is that in fact not an issue for foreigners renting or trying to rent in Mexico? Or do some folks prefer not to rent to foreigners?

I've never heard of anyone refusing to rent to Americans.

Thanks. Great. I can clear my head of that experience now then.

HI. I also want to move to beautiful Guanajuato. I live in lasvegas now. I will be in Guanajuato january, let's have lunch together sometime.

I'm headed to GTO and SMA in early January to explore both as possible places to live. I'm staying at Airbnb's near the city centers. I love walking. That said, what should I see and do in GTO to give me a good feel for the city? I'm a single woman in my 50s so safety is a consideration.  I'll be in GTO about 10 days before heading to SMA. Thanks in advance -- Barb

I was in both places this past March, and both spots are very nice. As for safety, both are lively, active, and safe. Of course, like anywhere in the world, if an alley or street looks dicey, don't go there, but you will not be worrying about it once you are there. The center of both towns are filled with locals, students, tourists, and just life.  You'll feel very happy just strolling around and sitting in one of the many plazuelas and watching life go by, even if you never walk into a single solitary shop or restaurant.  SMA is a quite different vibe than GTO, having a bit more of a gallery scene, making it seem at times a bit like a more Mexican Santa Barbara, CA, than Mexico, but it is nice. Not quite the "Disneyland" that some describe it as. GTO is to me more intriguing, more Mexican,  and more lively and colorful. Which you'd prefer to live in, of course, is often a different story. 

Be aware that you'll be hitting the ground running at 6600 feet elevation, which, depending on where you're coming from, might slow you down and get you a tad winded the first couple of days, especially in Guanajuato with all its alleys that seem to shoot straight up. lol. But you'll get used to it fast enough, and if you do find yourself winded - good time to stop for a second and take a photo!  Just make sure to drink plenty of fluids when at higher elevations like that. You might do that by instinct anyway. I was thirsty all the time until I remembered the elevation!

At any rate, you will enjoy it. Both places will feel much safer than any pre-trip worries you might have had, and you'll have a great time.

When in Guanajuato, I really recommend taking the local bus up to El Pípila (the statue and overlook above the city where you can see it all beautifully laid out before you) rather than a taxi because it is sort of fun and bumpy, and you can see a bit of the common part of the city and ride with some local tourists. Plus it is only 6 pesos. You can catch the bus right in front of the HBSC bank across from Plaza de la Paz, the small plaza with statue across from the big yellow basilica (you can see both the basilica and people waiting for the bus at the stop in this pic: … 61!6m1!1e1) . Just be sure to wait for a bus that has a sign in the window that says: El Pípila. You will definitely know where to get off. You can walk back down, or if the funicular is running again, take that down....or go back down by bus.

Have fun!

Nikolas, thanks so much for your detailed, helpful reply! I'll definitely take all of your advice! :). I'm excited. Both places sound interesting and fun.

New topic