Relocating to San Miguel de Allende questions

I am planning to take a couple of trips to SMA in the next few months and see if it's a place I'd like to relocate to for retirement.

I currently live in Texas, but only because my job is here.  I've never felt like I belong in Texas.

But I have so many questions about moving there.   Some are how to collect social security, how to move furniture from Texas to SMA, Realtor who could possibly work with both selling my home here and purchasing a property there.  Whether it's better to rent or buy.  Health care quality and cost, since I won't be able to use Medicare there.  Do they sell premium gas there and are there good import auto service companies (for Mini Cooper)  Veterinary care and quality.

I've been doing as much research as I can online, but I wonder if someone can recommend a current guide or book that can answer these questions.

Thanks in advance!


Hi, if I may suggest you could check this internet site You could find some books.
Also the following site for more information on various subject like import vehicule and household goods.  I personnaly sent a few questions to Sonia got good and quick replies with no cost and we are moving on the west coast, she covers the state of Guanajuato which includes SMA.

Buena suerte en su proyecto, GyC.

Direct deposit your SS check into your US bank and use a debit card or a money transfer agency to get funds.

Rent for a year while looking for a house to buy.

Hospitals and doctors are cheaper and of equal quality here. My heart doctor charges 50 usd per visit. Cataract surgery is 1,000 usd per eye. With a Resident visa you can sign up with IMSS or Seguro Popular.

They sell premium gas and Mini Coopers. People with a Residencia Permamente can not own a foreign car without having it imported which is expensive. Residencia Temporal can have a foreign car. Vet care is everywhere.

Thank you!

Thank you for all the info!.   So does that mean if I drive my car there, I will have to be a "temporary" resident?  And if that's the case, how would that affect life there differently than if I were "permanent"

You have to renew your Temp every year up to four years and then you go Perm. If you wish to remain Temp, you have to start the process in the US all over again. Since laws can change, it is best to contact your local Mexican consulate for details and differences.

It doesn't affect life that much except as a Perm you never have to see a Migration agent again. Well, unless you move, get a job, get married, etc. As a Perm, you can work without permission. As a Temp, you need permission to work. Long term, it is cheaper to go perm.

For your vehicule, it's best to evaluate the import cost. We, personnaly, after talking with Sonia Diaz  (above link) decided not to import our Hyundai Sonata 2013. Temp visa 4 years 10000$ pesos perm visa 4400$ pesos. Import fees are based on USD value plus the Aduana paperwork and cost. It, also,have to comply with the NAFTA.

Buena suerte en su proyecto, GyC.

Thank you very much.  After a little more research, I realize I have to visit a Mexican Consulate before making a lot of decisions.

Thank you for steering me in the right direction.


Hello Connie,

I'm a new expat, having moved from Portland, Oregon to San Miguel de Allende in April of this year.  I live in Los Labradors, which is about 8 miles out of town and I love it

But first let me tell you about a great book I found on Amazon.  The Best How to Book on Moving to Mexico.  It's become my so called bible. It will probably answer most, if not all, of your questions.  I'll answer a few I don't recall finding answers in the book.

You will need to go to a Mexican consulate to get your Mexican Visa.  Chapter is in book.

Social Security:  I have mine automatically deposited into a US bank (Chase, to be exact).   I don't think it can be sent to a Mexican bank.   It's good to maintain a US bank and the bank here (CI Banco) in San Miguel will accept checks written on a Chase bank.  And they have an English speaking person who can help you.  I think everyone here in Los Labradors banks there.

Medical and pet care:  Good pet care is available as are good doctors.  Medical is not quite a 3rd world country and health care is good.  Friends who have needed it say it's very good and the cost is much less than in the States.  Health insurance is available and much cheaper than in the US.  And people go back to the US if they want to use Medicare.  There is a chapter in the book on medical care.

Bringing your Mini Cooper:  Probably nowhere where you could get service or parts. and some foreign cars are not easy to register here.  I sold my Lexus before moving to SMA because as a permanent  resident I could not register it here.  Car insurance is required and cheap.  Taxis are very cheap and it's probably cheaper to taxi than maintain a car.  But I'm buying a small Nissan because I want to do some exploring on my own and the dealership has a good warranty and is close by. 

Rent or buy.  I would suggest renting until you've learned about the different parts of town, some of which are noisier than others.  And noise is a factor if you want to live in town.  It's noisy, crowded and dirty in some areas which is why I live in Los Labradors.  If you're thinking of moving to SMA I'll be happy to tell you more about Labradors and why I moved here instead of into town. 
My original plan was to come here for a few days and then go into town to look for a place to live.  I was so enchanted by the place that I came and never left. 

Whether to move your stuff or sell it:  It is very expensive to bring your things.  I had already downsized from a large house and moved from a 2 BR house so I didnt have a lot of furniture.  But I did have about 50 cartons of "stuff" that I didn't' want to leave behind.  My move cost about $10K.  I probably could have bought new furniture and rugs for less than $10K but I liked what I had and hate shopping.  I'm glad I brought it.  It feels like home and it's familiar and cozy. 

The  most difficult thing about living here is the inconvenience of not finding things you've found at the local Rite Aid or food market.  No such thing as one-stop shopping.  And organic foods are most difficult to find.  No Whole Foods here (but I understand there is an excellent market in Queretero (about 1 hour away).  You won't find the same products you've used in the states and even the Costco (45 minutes away) doesn't carry the same things.  Finding what I need is often very frustrating but my friends here in Labradores who have been here for a while are very helpful.  They say it takes about a year before it all comes together. 

I'm going to stop for now and I suggest you get the book.

Please let me know what you plan to do.

Sheila Cook ( a happy new expat)

Hi Shiela,

After learning a little more about relocating to SMA,I've decided it's not going to be right for me.  I am a huge advocate of animal welfare rights and have learned that in some neighborhoods, people chain their dogs to the top of their roofs, and throw them a steak once or twice a week.

Yes, I could go there and try to improve that situation, but I think I can accomplish more by staying here and contributing $ to animal welfare around the world.

I was disappointed to learn this, but that was the deal breaker for me.

Hope all is well for you,


Shelia is the area you live in a gated community.  What areas do most of the expats live.

We will be moving to Ojo de Agua. I was told that this is a mixed area wih both Mexican and Ex-Pat. The view is amazing in this area and a 10 minute walk to Juarez Park. Any other people living in this area?


Yes, It is a gated community.  And the people here are amazingly wonderful.  I feel like I have found a long lost family. 

As for your second question....I don't know where most live.

Hello  Waterbug,

I think I already responded to your question.

Yes, Rancho Los Labradors is an amazing gated community.  The people who live here are better than just friendly.  They are amazing.  It's like a large, loving family.

Hope that's helpful.


Connie, we live just outside of Austin, Tx., were also looking into living full or part time in San Miguel De Allende, been traveling into that area quite a bit over the last few months in particular deciding whether to jump into it. But were not retirement age, so looking for some way to make a living from there or going back and forth to Texas.  There's a lot of good advice here I"m already reading. When you looking to move down?

My husband and I are not ready to retire as well. I plan to spend 3 weeks a month in SMA and one week in Texas. I have a Interior Design firm here and I am not ready to call it quits so commuting is my only option. As for my spouse, he plans to write and record music. He is hoping to meet local blues/jazz fusion musicians to play with once we are in SMA,

Hi Sheila,
What type of insurance did you use to cover your household goods when moving to San Miguel?  I am finding it to be rather expensive with the moving company.

Thank you,

Thank you so much for your post. I am very interested in Los Labradores. I have been renting in Las Brisas for about a year now. I thought all the places were furnished and I want my own furniture. It sounds like you have your own that the case. Did you buy or are you renting.
I will be there in September if you have any interest in meeting. I love meeting new people and that is why I love San Miguel so much.
Mary Ellen

Hello Mary Ellen,

It was nice hearing from you.  Please feel free to contact me when you get to San Miguel.  My email is *** We can talk more then. 

Best regards from Rancho Los Labradores.


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Hi Nancy,

I used the mover's insurance.  And yes, it is very expensive to move to SMA.

Please feel free to contact me when you arrive in town.   My email its ***.

Best regards,

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Hi again, Mary Ellen,

I think I may have given you an incorrect email address. 

Correction:  ***


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will do!!

Hello Joaquin,
Thank you for your responses.
I was reading your response about a resident visa having a IMSS or Seguro Popular.
Can a temp. Visa holder have either? Which one covers most costs?
Many thanks.

Hi I just read your post regarding a book on moving to Mexico that you found on Amazon.  Can you share  the name of it and the author, Please.  We, my husband and I, are planning a visit to see SMA, we have heard many wonderful things about this area.  I am hoping they are all true!  Thank you for taking the time to respond to me.


Hi Shiela;
Please let me know the name of the book you recommend.

Hi Sheila

I am from portland OR! I am exploring options to live abroad for a year with my 11 year old daughter. Do you have kids? I am interested in talking with folks who moved to SMA with children especially bc I need to find a school in addition to a place to rent. If you or perhaps someone you know might be interested in talking with me will you please let me know? Or perhaps suggest a resource? I will check out the book you recommended.

Thanks! So glad the move has worked out well for you!!


Hi Andrea,

I am also from Portland. I have lived in SMA for 8 years now.

I strongly recommend that you come down for 2 weeks or more to visit the bilingual schools and meet with locals who have children.

Although books are a good resource, there is nothing better than direct experience. This is critical when relocating to a country with a different language and culture.

The majority of my clients have children in La Academia and the Waldorf school.

There are more affordable rental opportunities available if you speak Spanish and are able to locate rents in Pesos offered by local San Miguelenses.

If not, I suggest you find a Mexican rental agent like Rosalba of Rosalba Realty. I only say this because there is more of an opportunity for rentals in Pesos.

Best of luck!
Melanie Lansing

Hi Melanie.  Nice to “meet” someone from Portland in this forum. Thank you for this information. I am hoping to come down for a couple weeks this summer. My concern though is that visiting schools then may not be possible. Coming down during the school year is difficult as I am a teacher. I will look into the schools you suggested. I do speak Soanish at an upper intermediate level so hopefully that will be helpful. 

It looks like you work with insurance providers, is that right?

Thanks again

hello sheila.  what is the title of the book you recommended?

Could I contact you to discuss relocation?

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