San Miguel de Allende has been attracting foreigners, especially Americans and Canadians, since the 50’s.In those days the foreigners were often artistic types or “bohemians” who were smitten with the natural beauty of the town and the friendliness of the natives. Also prevalent were men taking advantage of the GI bill. A school had been started in San Miguel by an American and the GIs could get college degrees and at the same time chill out after their experiences in World War II. The counterculture continued to be attracted to SanMiguel. Jack Kerouac, Ken Kesey, Neal Cassaday, and Alan Ginsburg all spent time in San Miguel. Following the beatniks, in the 70’s the hippies arrived.
Today the town is home to about 9,000 foreigners. (The total population of the town is 100,000.) I am one of them.
People often ask, “Why do you live in Mexico?” or “Why do you live in San Miguel?” My experience is pretty common. My husband and I came for a week vacation and afterwards I couldn’t get San Miguel out of my mind. The short story is that we went home and ended our careers and moved to Mexico. It was totally unexpected. I was only 53 at the time. I had loved my profession and had been a psychotherapist for 27 years. I really thought I’d continue practicing until I was 80.
But something really pulled me to live here. I’d say that the majority of foreigners that live here now will tell you the exact same story. I interviewed over 40 expats and, by far, the majority told the same story using the exact same words.
Who are these people who have totally given up life in the U.S. or Canada? What drew them to San Miguel? Why did they choose San Miguel over other communities? What keeps them here? What do they do here?These were the questions that haunted me as I interviewed the expats.
In sum I’d say that there is no such “average” San Miguel expat. There are lots of different types of people from all walks of life. However, there are some similar threads among the expats in San Miguel de Allende:
*Sense of adventure*Readiness to start a new chapter in their lives*Eagerness to be part of a community (both Mexican and expat community)
*Desire to escape the cultural forces prevalent in the first world*Desire to have their hard-earned money last longer*Readiness to say goodbye to cold and to overcast skies