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Is This City Better than San Miguel de Allende?

Guest writer: Liz – Agent in Queretaro

We’ve all heard about San Miguel de Allende by now. It’s been called the “Best City in the World” by Travel+Leisure Magazine. And it has several awards for being a charming Pueblo Magico in the central highlands of Mexico.

But all of that attention comes with a price. The cost of real estate has skyrocketed in San Miguel de Allende. The small and charming city was never built for the number of people that now call it home. And the combination of the high cost of living and a surplus in population might make it a little less attractive than it once was for retirees in Mexico.

But what if I told you there’s a city only 45 minutes away that has the old-world charm combined with a world-class modern city that is 1/2 the cost of San Miguel de Allende?

I’m talking about Queretaro!

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And here are the top 6 reasons you should consider living here:

1. BEAUTIFUL AND CONVENIENT

The historic city center (Centro) in Queretaro

Queretaro is one of the most historical cities in the country. Founded more than 490 yrs ago, it’s the 5th biggest city with 2.369 million people. If you love the old-world charm in Mexico, visit the historical center with its narrowed streets, colonial architecture, and a wide variety of restaurants, bars, stores, and services.

But for some people, living on the romantic side of the historic center may not be enough. You might be attracted to modern conveniences and modern amenities. A few minutes away from Centro, you will find many large modern shopping centers, an HEB (yes, like the ones in Texas), and many other modern supermarkets. You’ll also have plenty of restaurants to choose from, high-speed internet, great hospitals, delivery services, and more!

And note that Queretaro International Airport is a great international airport with various nonstop flights to the U.S. For example, you could be in Houston TX in 4 hours!

2. 1/3 COST OF LIVING THAN SAN MIGUEL

Queretaro is very close to the small touristic town of San Miguel de Allende. But what you will find is more appealing about Queretaro is the cost of living when you compare the two.

For example:

San Miguel de Allende: 2 Bedroom 2 Bath Apartment in Centro rents for USD $900-$1200/Month.

2 bed 2 bath in San Miguel de Allende for $1250 USD/Month

Queretaro: 2 Bedroom 2 Bathroom Apartment in Centro rents for USD $600-$800

2 Bed 2 Bath Rental in Queretaro for only $800 USD/Month

I know the comparison of these apartments isn’t exactly apples to apples. But I think I make my point that you could save a lot of money by moving to a city like Queretaro if you’ve been priced out of San Miguel de Allende. The cost of utilities will likely be the same in both cities since both have very similar climates and air conditioning is not common in either city.

Of course, your cost of living in either city will fully depend on your lifestyle and rental choices.

3. HEALTH SERVICES AND COSTS

We followed 2 different expat friends living in Queretaro while undergoing medical procedures. One of the doctors surprised us by saying that in his experience (bariatrician), it’s normal for him to have a lot of American patients. They come for a week, get their surgery, recover and fly back to their country. 

You may know this as medical tourism.

Now, even though Queretaro isn’t famous for medical tourism, there are many medical specialists for patients of all ages. The most reputable hospitals are San Jose, Star Medica, Los Angeles, and Mosscati. There is even a trauma-focused hospital called CMJ

There are also smaller local hospitals, and in general, their services will be less expensive.

But another option you may not know about are “Docs In A Box” as we call them in Mexico. Many pharmacies in Mexico have a small office next to it where a general doctor can see you for as little as $50 pesos and prescribe you the meds you can get filled at the farmacia next door. For smaller things, this could be a good option. The intention of these drugstores is for you to get your prescription right then and there so you can get your medications in the same pharmacy. Yes, in Mexico, drugstores are more like convenience stores.

Besides all of the mentioned health services available, there is also a low-cost public hospital system. Both Nationals and Legal Residents can buy a low-cost premium to join. And even though you will likely have restrictions, it is still a great option if you’re on a budget.

Last year in the middle of the pandemic, I met this lady in her 80’s that fell down and got seriously injured while walking on some cobblestones in San Miguel de Allende. Needless to say, she had surgery at one of the government hospitals in Queretaro and her recovery went really well! By the way, if mobility is an issue for you, Queretaro has flatter stone streets instead of the harder to walk on cobblestones you’d see San Miguel de Allende.

4. WEATHER IS PERFECT YEAR ROUND

Downtown Queretaro- Very colonial and charming!

Queretaro is located in the central-south part of the country and is considered to be a temperate climate. Many expats love the weather because it tends to be the same all year long. 

There are no natural disasters in Queretaro like Snow, Tornadoes, Earthquakes, or Hurricanes. You can expect every day to be pretty much the same when it comes to weather. The driest month is December and July tends to be the rainiest. Though 2021 was a crazy year!

Many parts of the city did get flooding. But this was a freak year in the history of Queretaro. In my 15 years of living in Queretaro, I hadn’t seen rain like this!

Below is a chart to show you the average highs and lows in Queretaro:

5. VIBRANT EXPAT COMMUNITY IN CONTINUOUS GROWTH. 

It is very hard to keep track of the number of foreigners that arrive every day in the city. I know when someone is new to our community because I frequently read their questions/comments in the countless Facebook groups. 

I guess one of the reasons people like it here is that we Mexicans are very welcoming and friendly. And the color of your skin is never an issue here. The expat community is very active. They run businesses, there are a variety of weekly or monthly activities, and many also invite locals to be part of the groups. It’s not only other expats.

Although there are many English-speaking foreigners living here, you will see most of them in Centro. And compared to most locals, they still get lost in the crowd. 

Here are some Facebook groups I recommend you be a part of:

I frequently read this question regarding living in a “secure neighborhood or expat location.” And I think it’s important to understand that there are no neighborhoods in Mexico based on your social or foreign status. In a single neighborhood, you could have millionaires and low-income people all within a block of one another. In Mexico, people can live wherever they want/like as long as they can afford to pay rent.

6. SAFETY

Which brings me to the most common question I get asked: “Is Queretaro state considered safe?”

Mostly yes. The State Government has done a good job of keeping the state and the city very safe. There are so many national and international businesses running here. And companies from many parts of the world have facilities in Queretaro mainly related to automotive and aerospatial. So, the city wants to make it attractive for these foreign investments to continue thriving in Queretaro. No one would want to live here and spend a lot of money relocating employees here if they didn’t feel safe.

To give you an idea of the number of investments coming to Queretaro: Foreign direct investment in 2021 was $342 Million US Dollars. And international sales were $9.382 Million US Dollars.

The Centro (or historic city center) is very touristy. You’ll notice a lot of police officers walking around and making their presence visible while you hang out here.

But that doesn’t mean you should make yourself an easy target and not take any precautions. You should still avoid going out very late at night. And if you go to a bank, only go to the ones where you are very visible. And if you are alone, try to be in a spot where you can be seen or heard. The tip here is to pay attention to your surroundings, your belongings, and the places you are visiting. 

But overall, people living in Queretaro enjoy a life of peace with the comforts of a big city.

Ready to Start Looking for Rentals in Queretaro?

Hi, my name is Liz and I’m a Real Estate Expert (Certified) living in Queretaro. I am fully bilingual and have been living in Queretaro for over 15 years! I have lived abroad in countries such as the US, Canada, and Japan. I’m a caring and smiling agent that can guarantee consistent communication and prompt follow-up.

If you’re ready to start exploring a move to Queretaro, I would love to help you out! You will find my contact information in the COMPLETE Mexico Relocation Guide. You’ll learn all about renting and buying a house in Mexico through this amazing and easy-to-follow online guide. And once you’re ready to put your boots on the ground in Queretaro, I am your gal! Unlike a traditional realtor, I will look for your perfect home in Queretaro based on your budget, your lifestyle, and your needs. Let’s talk soon about your wants so we can start working hard to find you the perfect house in Queretaro- whether you’re renting or buying.

Mariana Lange

Mariana Lima-Lange was born in Mexico and immigrated to the U.S. when she was a child. She spent every summer visiting family throughout Mexico and is very knowledgeable about Mexican culture, lifestyle, and traditions. She is fluent in both Spanish and English.

Reader Interactions

Comments

  1. Julian palinski says

    Need info on short term stay with a dog
    One or two months dt

    • Mariana Lange says

      Hi Julian
      The info you see on rentals are examples of what you can find in Mexico.
      If you need help finding a rental, we have an extensive directory of contacts all over Mexico including San Miguel de Allende and Queretaro.
      To get access to our directory, you have to purchase our Complete Mexico Relocation Guide https://mexicorelocationguide.com/guide/

  2. Erika says

    Please subscribe me to your Mexico relocation guide.

  3. Heber Castellanos says

    Queretaro resident here!
    Visit us!! You’ll love this city.

    If you plan your relocation within 5 years, I’d suggest you to invest in one of the future most innovative private residence clusters, 10 minutes away from an ecological reserve, with high end amenities and facilities such as Zen Park, Sports Club, Horse Riding Club, a Small Lake for Kayak and malls around it, Outdoor Fitness Park, Pet Park, and many others, build your own home with your style.

    They’ve got excellent presale prices, financing schemes and much more benefits.

    • Sudee Jacquot says

      Please more info such as prices to buy a small home or retirement community

    • Jeannett says

      Where?

  4. Gaby says

    How can I contact Liz M. For real estate in Queretaro?

  5. Linda S.Domiano says

    VERY GOOD EXPLANATION OF SERVICES AND COST

  6. Steve says

    I came from LA and live in San Miguel. Queretero is a big city with a nice centro. It is basically a modern city that is growing fast. I find it way too congested and except for Centro lacking a real Mexican vibe. One needs to speak Spanish fluently which I don’t. It might be slightly less expensive but San Miguel is magical and offers much more for expats.

    • Mariana Lange says

      Queretaro isn’t for everyone- but the people that do end up living there LOVE it
      Thanks for your feedback 🙂

    • Patty Cannon says

      Hey Steve, I couldn’t agree more.
      I too live in San Miguel. My parents moved here in 1982 for 20+ years.

      Yes, San Miguel has grown however the Mexican “vibe” is still the same as I remember in the 80’s.

      I’m following in my parent’s footsteps and couldn’t be happier.

      Thank you for sharing…

  7. Carol Hammond says

    Queretaro is a big city and being a big city, one encounters big city problems like very heavy traffic, annoyed , impatient drivers, and complicated rental agreements.

  8. Juancho says

    Last week I visited San Miguel de Allende. Without a doubt it is beautiful but the hoard of gringos (like me) was a turn off. Mexico loses some of it’s charm when English is spoken. Mexican culture, language and food is best enjoyed when we make an effort to communicate with the locals. It’s worth the effort!!

    • Mariana Lange says

      Couldn’t agree with you more, but also in my experience it all depends where in San Miguel you go. If you hit the local spots you’ll only hear Spanish
      Don’t go to all the fancy hotels or the gringo restaurants and you’ll only hear Spanish.

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