Moving to San Miguel de Allende – Five Preparation Tips
1. Get to know the city before you purchase or home rent a home.
Many newcomers in San Miguel move here on a whim after little or no experience , SO Before you make a home investment or rental decision, plan a trip to San Miguel to familiarize yourself with what the city has to offer. Come down for one to three months and spend time exploring different neighborhoods on foot. Talk to full-time English-speaking residents & Mexicans about the pros and cons of the “colonias” (neighborhoods) they live in.
In your inquiries & observations some key considerations to keep in mind include: noise levels from festivals, fire crackers, and parades; Internet service availability & functionality; proximity to “Centro” and “El Jardin”; steep climbs to neighborhoods above “Centro”; security in neighborhoods; and driving distances to gated communities outside of town.
2. Talk to Americans & Canadians who live in San Miguel full-time.
There are many ways to meet and acquaint yourselves with locals in San Miguel. Most people here are willing to share their experiences freely. These are just a few:
A. La Biblioteca – On Tuesday´s & Thursday afternoons the Conversation with Friends´ group meets to practice language skills. Mexicans & English-speaking foreigners gather to practice Spanish from 5-6PM and English from 6-7PM.
B. Social & Newcomers´ Group – Meets every Tuesday of the month from 7PM to 9PM. Locals, tourists, and newcomers attend on a regular basis. Debbie Mischung is the organizer. Her email is: firstname.lastname@example.org. The activity calendar can be found on the group website: http://sanmiguelsocialandnewcomersgroup.blogspot.mx/
C. Saturday Organic Market – The “Mercado Orgánico” is a wonderful place to connect with Mexicans and Expats alike. There are large communal tables set up in front of the food stands where people sit to eat and talk. The Market has a new location on Ancha de San Antonio. The entrance is between the old Don Pedro hardware store and InterCeramica. It is open on Saturday´s from 9AM to 3PM.
3. Purchase Health Insurance
Many newcomers fail to realize that their Medicare, Obamacare, or Canadian provincial plan will NOT cover them here in Mexico. Those that do, make the mistake of moving to San Miguel without getting health insurance.
Buying a plan before you make the final move to Mexico is key. Avoid purchasing health insurance online directly from a US or International insurance company, because if you do, you won´t have anyone to help you navigate the Mexican health system. Find a bilingual insurance agency in Mexico that represents many different health insurance companies. This way, you will have more choices. Look for a professional agent with:
A. Expertise in the health insurance products he /she is offering & long-term relationships with the insurance company executives.
B. Thorough understanding of the Mexican private health system as well as Medicare, Obamacare, and the Canadian Health System.
C. Knowledge of how Mexican hospital billing systems work.
D. Solid relationships with local hospital administrators & doctor specialists so as to provide referrals & recommendations to their clients.
E. Ability to assist clients with translating doctor´s notes & hospital receipts from Spanish to English.
4. Research Mexico´s Immigration Policy
There are several visa options available to foreigners who move permanently to Mexico to live full-time. If you cross the border in a vehicle or arrive via commercial aircraft at a Mexican airport, you will automatically be awarded a six-month tourist visa. This is fine if you plan on returning to the US or Canada every six months. However, if you plan on living in Mexico full-time, you may want to contact the Mexican Consular offices in the US or Canada before you depart for Mexico about permanent resident visa requirements & guidelines.
Most Americans & Canadians hire a bilingual immigration consultant to assist them with applying for and filing the required immigration paperwork. In San Miguel de Allende, Sonia Diaz assists with this process. Here is the link to her site:
5. Learn Spanish
It is not necessary to be fluent in Spanish to survive in San Miguel de Allende. Most service industry workers such as shop owners, bartenders, gardeners, doctors, and lawyers; speak some English. As limited English-speakers themselves, they make an extra effort to understand expats who don´t speak Spanish or have trouble conjugating their verbs. Nonetheless, those expats who do arrive with some conversational Spanish skills have a much easier time adapting and integrating into local life and customs.
Working with an online Spanish language tutor can be very helpful.
Also, there are many Spanish language schools in town. Here are a couple:
As one last word, congratulations on choosing one of the most beautiful colonial cities in the world to live in.