The Search is Over For the Best Colonial Town
by Ann Kuffner, 2018 Spanish School Alumni, Originally Published by International Living
Each morning I’m gently coaxed from a satisfying sleep by the resonant toll of church bells, accompanied by a chorus of twittering birds. This is one of many aspects of living in San Miguel de Allende that delights me each and every day. Over the years my husband and I visited a series of Spanish Colonial towns scattered throughout Central America and Mexico. After visiting San Miguel de Allende in Mexico’s Colonial Highlands in late 2016 there was no need to look further. We discovered a vibrant and cultured town full of beauty, energy, and creativity.
The historic buildings are draped in deep, earthy tones… Apache orange… blood red… moss green…umber brown…and bright yellow… They’re complemented by bursts of pink, coral, aqua, and lavender from the bougainvillea and jacaranda that line the streets. No wonder it’s been a favorite destination for artists for decades.
Multihued ribbons and flags snap in the refreshing breeze. (Average highs here range from 73 F to 88 F.) It’s said that the use of bold colors in Mexico began as a means to live close to God and—like so many of Mexico’s regions—San Miguel is steeped in traditional festivities. The use of vibrant colors in Mexican society also reflects the general attitude to let go and savor life. Many of San Miguel’s colors reflect the natural environment. The town’s blessed with intense, bright light and cobalt blue skies, reminiscent of Sante Fe, New Mexico… In the markets and on the street, vendors sell red, orange, and yellow peppers… red and green chilies… purple plums, and blackberries. Street-corner flower stalls overflow with splashy roses and gigantic lilies.
In September of 2017 we got serious about our move here. We rented a place with the idea of checking out property to buy. We were already comfortable in Mexico and compared to the U.S. the cost of living in San Miguel is a steal. Another key reason we chose Mexico is its outstanding, low-cost healthcare. Our experiences with Mexico’s medical system were positive; the medical services reasonable.
Our initial plan was to rent for a year. But we quickly learned that prices were rising. Then we stumbled upon a property that was under construction. We were confident it would increase in value, once completed and furnished. It was an empty canvas we could make our own. The price was within our budget. So, we took the plunge. As a UNESCO World Heritage town prices for resale homes in the center usually run over $500,000. In contrast, our house was priced under $300,000. It has 3,500 square feet, three bedrooms, four bathrooms, three terraces, and stunning views of a nearby lake and the surrounding hills. We bought from a Mexican builder, so our home was priced in pesos. The result is that it was considerably lower than other resales in the area. Our new house is nearly ready but for now we’re renting a charming Mexican-style townhouse in the popular colonia of San Antonio. We can walk everywhere or grab a cab for $2 to $3. We’re exploring the town from the inside out. It’s a perfect spot to live while we plan the decoration of our new place.
These days I’m immersed in colors, considering a color theme for our new home. Being Mexico, I’m leaning towards big, bold, beautiful colors to enhance the many blank walls. Admittedly, it’s intimidating… I’ve been constantly scanning Mexican design books…flipping through real estate brochures…It’s such fun to be starting here at this point in our lives…a new country…a brand-new home…a clean palette…and a vibrantly colored future… Now it’s time for me to return to paint chips and color therapy…