Could We Live Here?

Brett’s and my frame of mind right now.

“Could we live here?” is a game Brett and I have played in every place we’ve visited. Only twice has the answer has been in a heartbeat (most of the UK and Japan), but usually we give a location a lot more thought no matter how much we like it (places like Strasbourg or Bordeaux in France as well as Florence, Lisbon, and Buenos Aires), weighing the obvious negatives along with the positives (the negatives have so far always won). There have also been a few places we’ve known right away that we either couldn’t or didn’t want to live (India, Rome, London, and Sydney, although all were fun to visit).

We’ve been playing the game again during our stay in San Miguel de Allende, and now over halfway through our time here we’ve started debating whether this might be a place we could eventually settle down. The strongest reason for moving here is the low cost of living. We could, as I told Brett the other day, “live in the style we’ve always dreamed of being accustomed to” including having a beautifully furnished home with multiple bedrooms, a gourmet kitchen, a housekeeper (and gardener), and so forth all at a price that would be unaffordable in the U.S. This would also be a place I could continue to live well if Brett predeceases me, and his navy pension disappears.

There are negatives of course: the dry climate and heat, the language, and the distance from our kids being the primary ones. A couple of weeks ago you couldn’t have paid me to move here because of the hot, dry, dusty weather, but my feelings have been changing as things have cooled off. Just after we arrived I would have loved to live in the complex where we are now, but after seeing more of the city this place has moved down the list a bit. We love our apartment and the neighbors but know we could have much more, in a better location.

We could live in a purple house in SMA!

There are loads of positives to living full-time in San Miguel de Allende. Besides the low cost of living, there’s also world class affordable dining as well as good health and dental care. So far there’s nothing we use or want that we can’t find here. There are two international airports each about an hour’s drive away that can get us back to the U.S. and then on to our kids or international destinations. The city is home to a lively expat community and the ability to connect with others who share our interests (to be honest though, the number of expats who descend on the city every winter seems kind of overwhelming). There is art, culture, history, and classes galore from language to cooking.

It sounds like the perfect place for us except we feel absolutely no joy or potential excitement whatsoever about living here full time. None. It’s just not “us” and that’s the sticking point.

Brett and I have been nomads since we met in 1977. During our years when Brett was in the navy we learned how to make any location a home, how to overcome obstacles encountered, and make friends and create a good life. We’re heading to Nashville in just over a month but our time there, as with a military posting, will be temporary, and we’re already beginning to feel some pressure to figure out where we’ll go or what we’ll do after that. Traveling full time is still on the table, but Brett will be in his mid-70s, and I won’t be far behind, and settling down doesn’t sound as bad as it once did. We have much to decide and choices to make, and we want (and need) to get it right . . . stay tuned!

21 thoughts on “Could We Live Here?

  1. I can’t remember if you’ve been to Portugal? It seems to be *the* place these days. I’m thinking about visiting next year in hopes of moving out of the U.S. in the next few years.

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  2. Even with all the upside, you have to go with your gut. And when you have no joy or excitement, that’s a message for sure. Nice place to visit…don’t want to live there. 😊

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    1. Oops…hit post too soon. FWIW, we have that discussion on virtually every vacation we take. We call it Ferrari enthusiasm — as in, lots of people get excited to see a Ferrari drive by, but when they really think about it, most people don’t buy one. 😂

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      1. I LOVE that expression! That’s us to a T – lots of initial enthusiasm but after some thought, nope. Not for us. Our goal though for our post -Nashville life it to curb the emotion as much as possible and rely more on a rational decision – making approach.

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    2. We spoke with someone today who encouraged us to think differently about a few things and provided some alternative points of view. Lots of food for thought for us again. But for now, it’s on to Nashville.

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      1. I got that expression from a former boss. Many of his witticisms have stayed with me years later. 😊

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      2. Brett and I are currently discussing what we want and need to have and do post-Nashville, and then matching those with locations, and working through the pros and cons. I’m going to work those into a post which will probably appear in another couple of weeks! Stay tuned!

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  3. As tempting as it may be to live in a more affordable place, there is a huge difference between visiting and living in it as a resident. You guys have been in a lot of places and by now you know pretty well what you like and dislike. I must admit though that I am intrigued and curious to follow you along. and see what you’ll choose for the future. Enjoy the rest of your visit to SMA!

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      1. Oh, they’re turning, Linda! I’m going to take some time off here again shortly and reconfigure things and hopefully share some more of our thought process as we start to figure out what we’ll do post-Nashville.

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    1. San Miguel de Allende seems similar to Hawaii in that people come on vacation, fall quickly in love, but a house and move here and then a year later decide it’s not for them. I’m glad I’m that respect that we came for a longer stay. There’s much we like here, but things we don’t like as well and we’re going to have to figure out whether those are deal-killers or not.

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      1. If you’re not 100% thrilled with SMA and don’t see you and Brett being happy there, then it seems like it might be a place that’s fun to visit, but not a place to live. It does sound like a ‘snowbird’ type of place, so maybe if you and Brett would want to be snowbirds there, it could work out. Although, maybe you don’t even want to do that? It sounds like it’s too hot and dry there and that type of climate wouldn’t appeal to me at all, personally. I also need to live within driving distance to an ocean. What is the weather like there during the winter?

        You have two years to figure it out though and a lot can happen during that time that could completely change the whole scenario anyway, so maybe take a break from it for now and think about it more after you get to Nashville?

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      2. That’s our plan – use our two years in Nashville to come up with a plan and mail it down. We have what we think are three good ones, all with pluses and minuses, good and bad. We know at this point we need to be less emotional about a decision at this point, and do what’s going to be best for the long haul.

        We have been here during what many say is the worst weather of the year which May account for much of our discontent. Winters are cool/cold but sunny. Still dry though – it’s the high desert.

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  4. It sounds so nice in many ways. the price, fabulous food, beautiful place, nice folks, great prices on medical and dental, etc. the cons are that it is so far from everyone in your family, and dry. I do wonder if it is more pleasant regarding the weather in the winter? Such a hard decision.

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    1. You’ve sort of hit the nail on the head: many benefits to living here, but the problems are big ones too. Everyone says the winter is very pleasant here, mostly cool with some cold days as well, but sunny. It’s cool and overcast today and I told Brett if the weather was more like this I could handle living here. I think our kids would be fine with us living down here because of the benefits, and because it would be too difficult or expensive (well, except from Japan) for them to get down here to visit or vice versa. The restaurant owner we spoke with yesterday gave us some insights that helped us see living here in a different way. We’re still not sold on it, but we’ve got a couple of years to think about it or whatever else we might want to do.

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  5. Have you considered other locations in Mexico? There are other Mexican cities with significant expat/snowbird communities where the influx and American influences are less than where you are but the benefits remain.

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    1. We have been hearing good things about Queretaro, another beautiful historical/colonial city located about 45 minutes away from SMA. There’s an international airport there, and the cost of living is less than SMA. That being said, we would never move to someplace we had not visited and gotten to know, even a little bit, and it would be another two years before we could come back to start exploring and I don’t know whether we’ll be up for that or not.

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  6. We have plan A (which we are doing) and plan b.
    Like you, we have been moving since we got out of the military. You took a longer stay in Portland.We seem to move every seven years. It is who we are.
    Our “A” is building our “elder home” in Idaho (hubby’s childhood home) and live here at least seven years. We now know we will spend two months in Maryland during the winter. We will still travel the West outside of that two months.
    . At the end of the seven years, we will reevaluate That will make hubby almost 80. (Wow!) How is the health? How is the country? We May move to where the children are. They will be on opposite coasts and we like both places. We could afford renting in either place- because we, like you, don’t need much. I feel no rush to make a decision and no need to be In a permanent place. Things change so quickly at this age. I’m ready to enjoy the ride.
    We don’t know…what we don’t know 🙂
    I do know mom (92) lived in three houses from birth – 89. She has now been moved two times and knows no one but is…and it is fine. That helps me let go of “I need my friends around when I am old as dirt”.

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    1. We had a Plan A, but our move to Nashville changed all of that. We’re looking forward to our move and being with our DIL and granddaughter (and seeing our son and grandson more as well), but it’s causing us to reevaluate everything else and what we want to do afterwards. We have a month left in Mexico and our goal right now is to come up with some good after-Nashville options that we can choose from and work toward while we’re there.

      We’ve always been sad to leave friends in any location but have always made new ones wherever we go, while staying connected to the old.

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