“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.
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!