My Life in Guanajuato (& What It Costs Me)

Guanajuato Mexico

One of the views from my house

Editor’s note: This post is from March of 2014, when the peso was around 13 to the dollar. Things are even cheaper now…

I moved back to Guanajuato, Mexico for the second time this past August and as a couple readers have pointed out, I haven’t written much about it on this blog. That and a few consulting sessions lately with people thinking about moving to Mexico has pushed me to do some catch-up on that today.

If you’ve got some time, check out the video below to get a sense of why I liked this small city the first time I came here and why it keeps pulling me back. The aesthetics are great and it’s been here since before any English set foot in America. What you can’t really see in that video are two aspects I also love. First, most of the traffic moves through tunnels under the city, so it’s a very pedestrian-friendly place to live. Second, the weather is gorgeous almost all year. We’re at an altitude close to 6,500 feet here, so it can get a little chilly at night a couple months of the year, but the climate is agreeable enough most of the time that houses aren’t built with heat or air conditioning. It’s usually blue skies, sun, and highs around 80.

I can turn down a bit of the stress in my business here because I’m spending less than half what I did in the USA on basic living expenses. The first time we were here we rented two side-by-side apartments for a total of $800 a month, all utilities and internet included. Now we own a house outright, so we’re pouring money into improvements and furniture instead. Here are some hard numbers though for regular monthly expenses:- Daughter’s private school is a shade less than $300 per month
– We spend about $100 a month on transportation getting her there & back (it’s not walking distance)
– We average about $50 a month on other local taxis and buses.
– Here’s a picture of one month’s water and electric bills, in pesos. The 114 peso water bill is equivalent to $8.77 and the 324 electric bill is equivalent to $25. Gas comes out to about $6.50 per month.

Mexican utility bills
– Drinking water in 5-gallon jugs averages about $15 a month, delivered to our door.
– Internet is $25 per month for 5mbps. I’d pay more for a faster speed, but can’t get it.
– Mobile phone charges (1 with data, 2 regular) $54 for 3 of us
– Our maid comes once a week and cleans the house top to bottom. That’s $62 per month.
– Food varies wildly, but a liberal estimate is $300 a month on groceries, $200 eating out
– Entertainment and fun $200 per month
– Medical/dental come in spurts, but let’s say $200 per month

Property taxes are paid annually, but would be $16 if paid monthly. Our house repairs, renovations, furniture, and other purchases vary depending on how flush we are that month. But if we estimate $600 per month, that puts the total monthly expenses at around $2,160 not counting travel.

I want to emphasize that this is for a family of three that’s not being all that frugal. We eat out far more than we did in the USA, I don’t hesitate to order a beer or two when we’re out, and we take advantage of things like $6 symphony tickets and $4 ballet performances. You could certainly live here for far less if you wanted and many people do. Considering that we were spending $2,000 a month in Tampa just on rent though and another $1,000 on health care, our Mexican living budget feels like a screaming bargain. We can spend another $1,000 on travel, visas, and shopping and still just be up to what we used to spend on those two items alone.

Guanajuato callejon

Within four months of moving back here I’d lost 10 pounds. I didn’t diet, drink less, or go to any gym. Getting around in this city requires lots of walking at high altitude though and like most people, we need to climb a lot of stairs to get to our front door. Above is the entrance to our callejon—the alley that goes up to our neighborhood. When delivery men brought a refrigerator and stove, they had to carry it up these stairs you see at the right. Walking Guanajuato

My day to day work life hasn’t changed much, which is a bit of a problem in terms of getting better at Spanish. At some point soon I need to break off some time and go back to classes for a while in order to advance. I’m just not using it enough each day because I’m holed up in my home office, working in English. (My daughter is taking middle school classes all in Spanish though, so she’s golden.) I try to take a walk each day or go out for lunch to enjoy where I’m living and I have a glorious view from my office window.

I’ll write more on Guanajuato and living in Mexico later, with more of the hundreds of pictures I have sitting on my hard drive. Meanwhile, if you’re passing through, get in touch! If you want to see the city through my eyes and my stomach, sign up for my Guanajuato street food tour.

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Comments
  1. John Scherber

    Guanajuato is a town of great character, and one we checked out when we moved to Mexico. After 15 months of criss-crossing this country, my new book looks at Americans and Canadians who’ve chosen to avoid the big expat colonies in San Miguel de Allende and Lake Chapala. What they’ve found is both diverse and surprising. The book is called Into the Heart of Mexico: Expatriates Find Themselves Off the Beaten Path. There’s a sample on my website:
    http://www.sanmiguelallendebooks.com/intotheheartofmexico.html

    • Claudia

      I live in Austin Texas and am married to a wonderful husband and have a 7 year old boy, My husband wants to move us to Dolores Gto, and have to say, I’m a little scared hearing about the killings, and also the schools for my son, is there English classes, he don’t know nothing in Spanish, don’t know maybe I’m over reacting, but I basically want to know, if it’s a better living and a happy place to stay.

      • Tim Leffel

        Crime there will be less than Austin, but it’s a small town with only public schools in Spanish I would imagine.

        • Matthew Raden

          Hi, Tim. I heard there is a conservative synagogue in Guanajuato. Is this true?

          • Tim Leffel

            First I’ve heard of that. It must be very well hidden if so and I’ve never seen any orthodox Jews there like I see all the time in Mexico City (and their airport).

          • Jennifer Mitts

            There should be a good Jewish population there of Polish Jews from WWII and their descendants. Conservative, yes. Orthodox, no, obviously. LOL

      • LUIS MADRIGAL

        HEY CLAUDIA, I THINK ITS A WONDERFUL IDEA, JUST CAME BACK FROM THERE AND ITS VERY BEAUTIFUL AREA, YES THERE IS GOOD APPLES WITH THE BAD APPLES BUT WHAT CITY IS NOT LIKE THAT IN THE US, I HAVE BEEN TO THE BIGER CITYS HERE IN US AND YOU MAKE ONE WRONG TURN AND YOUR IN THE GHETTO RIGHT, SAME THING OVER THERE, I AM A HISPANIC, I WAS BORN HERE IN US BUT PARENTS ARE FROM MEXICO, ME AND MY WIFE GO EVERY YEAR TO GTO AND WE LOVE IT, THATS MY FAVORITE CITY IN THE WHOLE WORLD, THERE IS SO MUCH CULTURE THERE, OUR OTHER FRIEND IN CRIME WENT TO SCHOOL THERE, AND SHE LOVED IT, MY WIFE IS FROM THAT AREA, BUT STRUGGLED TO GET OUT, IT SEEMS LIKE WHEN YOUR FROM THAT AREA AND NOT FORTUNATE TO GO TO EDUCATE YOUR SELF LIFE IS HARD, HER DAD DID NOT WANT HER TO ATTEND SCHOOL, HE WOULD SAY LESS SCHOOL MORE WORK, BUT THATS THE OLD CULTURE, STILL THERE OF COURSE, NOT FAIR I THINK, BUT NOW THAT SHE HAS A EDUCATION SHE HAS A DIFFERENT OUT LOOK AT LIFE, THATS AWSOME, I THINK YOU GUYS SHOULD TRY TO LEARN THE LANGUAGE MORE BEFORE YOU GO THERE, MAKES IT EASYER, BUT I THINK ITS A GREAT PLANE OR IDEA, I TELL MY WIFE THE SAME THING, BUT IT SCARES HER AND SHE IS FROM THAT AREA, WELL GOOD LUCK ON YOUR JOURNEY AND I HOPE YOU ENJOY MEXICO.

  2. Lou Quillio

    John Scherber:

    Bought “Heart Of” for Kindle just now. Tip: Following the link you’ve given here, there’s only mention of Kobo and Nook; had to dig for the Kindle link (http://goo.gl/p8dXH1). Won’t elaborate.

    Tim Leffel:

    Your work re Mexico is pitched at my interests. Thank you. Specially valuable.

    I’ll visit Ajijic with my twenty-something daughters in April 2014. Frankly, I think I’ll agree with John Scherber’s premise that there’s an important difference between towns where expats affect the economy and others where they really don’t. Still, it’s nice for novices like me that there are Ajijics and San Miguels, as a first step.

    Thanks, gents.

    LQ

    • Tim Leffel

      Lou, there’s nothing inherently wrong with those towns and for people who crave a strong support structure and weekly agenda in their native language, it’s right for them. San Miguel is certainly cleaner and better cared-for because of all that foreigner money that has poured in. But prices for housing are far higher as a result and it’s harder to get much of a cultural immersion. Or learn another language.

      • David Alan Binder

        I’ve also been evaluating retiring to Mexico although I believe I’ll prefer the Pacific side anything is possible. I mostly look for pros and cons and wish others would elaborate more on BOTH, since one persons pro can be another persons con.

        • Tim Leffel

          Pros and cons for 18 of the top cheap living destinations in here David: http://www.cheaplivingabroad.com

          • Tonyia

            My husband and I want to retire to Galeana within the next year. We are from the U.S. And we don’t know what the requirements are or where to begin, any help you could offer would be appreciated. Thank you TW

      • Lisa

        Tim my husband and I have been searching for a place to relocate in Mexico. We lived in Florida for over 20 years. Would you be interested in reaching out to us to answer some questions? Via of e mail? Or phone?

        Thanks Lisa

    • Atenea

      Hi Tim, such a wonderfull tale of how to live in Guanajuato, It´s being so usefull, nowadays the dolar is about $20 pesos but the proportion of expenses you write it´s almost the same.

      I´ve got a question how did you manage to solve the medical/dental issues? I guess it was the hardest part of living there, how can you refer your issues with non-technical language with the doctors there?

      I moved here last year and I still searching any bilingual doctor

      Do you know any Anglophone/American group in facebook living here in Guanajuato so I can ask them how to contact medical bilingual services?

      • Tim Leffel

        Our dentist speaks English and a few doctors, but not a general practitioner. But we learned a lot of Spanish and took a dictionary along when necessary. All part of being in a new culture. There is a local GTO-List group message board. Nothing on Facebook that I know of.

  3. Spot on :) That’s one of the reasons I love living here (in Mexico); it’s just so damned cheap :)

  4. Pete

    I visited Guanajuato 3 weeks ago and I like it more than SMA, but language would be the problem for me. At least initially.

  5. Tom

    Tim, can you tell us more about your daughter’s school? Are you happy with it?

    • Tim Leffel

      Tom this is her second school (first was elementary) and overall we’re happy. There are always downsides, but you work through them and compensate. If nothing else, she’s getting very fluent in Spanish, which will pay off bigtime. But really if you want an international school or something very high level, you need to be in a big city: D.F, Guadalajara, Monterrey. Most expats who are moving for lifestyle reasons rather than a job posting don’t want to move to a big city.

      • Solis

        Education in the state of Guanajuato is great! my husband came to the US from Guanajuato and was advanced compared to his classmates. It could be the culture-education is the only way to get out of poverty and such. That was his drive and loved school. Now, as a college student he has only had one B! amazing isn’t it. Your daughter will be very well rounded and she will thank you later. God job

  6. Taylor

    I can only imagine how trying to get used to walking up those stairs in that high of altitude! It would get you into shape quickly, though!

  7. Janet Levin

    Tim – I received an email today from folks who just visited Guanajuato (they’re retired gringos based in a large western Mexican city) — and I’m baffled at this paragraph:

    “Too many tourists, the whole town smells bad with open sewage everywhere. The main street is full of shops selling junk, restaurants are expensive with very little variety. The houses are in need of painting, grafittis everywhere.”

    Your thoughts?

  8. Tim L.

    Well, I can’t imagine where they normally eat in Mexico if they think it’s expensive to eat in restaurants here. Our high-end places are cheaper than the routine ones in cities that get lots of tourists. I never feel like I’m getting a poor value and I travel all over the country on a regular basis.

    There are a few neighborhoods where you can smell the vents from the sewage pipes, as most any place in the developing world (been to anywhere in Asia?), but not in the historic center. They’re right on the graffiti though. There’s way too much of that, partly from bad parenting, partly from this administration not caring as much as the last one did about aesthetics. UNESCO gave them a stern warning a few months ago though, so I have a feeling that will improve once there’s a threatening of less money coming their way.

    It’s not San Miguel or Ajijic though, with all unpleasantries removed by the retired gringos and their money. It’s got the grit too.

    • Louisa

      Tim, a pleasant surprise to find you’re living in Guanajuato. (I’m trying to figure out from your callejon photo where you live– near Barranca?) I live here part-time.
      Re graffiti– it has gotten increasingly worse over time. For the last several years I’ve cleaned up the graffiti in my area, and I’m known for it. But a few weeks ago I went to the Presidencial building on a Monday at 10:00 to complain about the increasing graffiti all over town. (All Dept Heads are available to speak to members of the public on Mondays). I spoke with the Director of Maintenance from Obras Publicas. He said they were working on it. To my amazement, the very next day workers were painting over the graffiti on the street in my neighborhood. I told him I looked forward to seeing even more clean-up when I return in June.

  9. Dave Sailer

    I really, sincerely appreciate the quality of your writing. From your various blogs I’ve learned a lot, about places, techniques, and gear. Now that you’ll be dishing out more impressions of Guanajuato I’ll have to check back more often.

    I’m currently taking my second shot at Ecuador (Cuenca), and have come to the same conclusion as I did last year — that it’s OK, maybe great in some ways, but not quite right for me. Maybe nowhere is. Maybe I just need a place to spend a couple of months each winter.

    Guanajuato does look good. Not as far from where I’ll move next (eastern Washington), at a decent elevation, which suits me, and with a good climate. And not so big. A guy vacationing here from SM de Allende (he thinks it’s too chilly there in winter), supplied corroborating info, which helped too.

    As far as the comment supplied by Janet Levin, I can say that Cuenca, supposedly the best place in the world to retire, has all of that. Plus dense black filthy clouds of diesel smoke from herds of thundering buses. It’s a place. Everywhere is only a place. You have to go with what works for you. (I’ve gotten hundreds of great graffiti photos — it’s everywhere.)

    Language footnote: I found this today, massive number of useful resources referenced…”12 Rules for Learning Foreign Languages in Record Time” at
    http://www.fourhourworkweek.com/blog/2014/03/12/how-to-learn-a-foreign-language/

    Thank you. Keep it up.

  10. Glenn Dixon

    Don’t forget – that electric bill in your photo is for two months :)

  11. CT

    I first visited GTO in 1999 and have been back many times. i was just there in August and again in December, where i bused from Cd. Juarez all the way to Panamá, with many stops, of course. I have been to Central and South America a few times and still Guanajuato is my favorite city, although Oaxaca is coming on strong. Upon arrival, I always stay at Casa de Dante up near the hospital, pricey (about $20) for a hostel bed but with a fantastic breakfast (i am vegan) and the most hospitable owner, she is a real gem. But there are many stairs to get up there, so for some it would be a pain. Btw, since you adore Guanajuato as much as I do, I think you would like León, Nicaragua and Popayán, Colombia, if you haven’t been. For some, León is too hot and Popa too cold. The slow pace in both is great for this Los Angeles native, and the people!!! Lastly, for those curious, my 18 city, 7 country, 6 week trip in December (flew into El Paso then took buses from there to Panama City) was about $2,500. Guatemala and Nicaragua are very kind to the wallet. Thanks again.

  12. Janet Levin

    Hi Tim — More than halfway through 6 weeks here and I’m so glad I ignored my friend’s friends’ comments (about which I wrote for your thoughts back in March.) Many hours of daily conversation exchanges at CAADI, a great language resource center at the university — volunteers fluent in many languages offer 3 hours a week of conversation facilitation and, in exchange, have access to conversation groups in the language of their choice. Local students, international students, and gray hairs; wonderful people, interesting conversations, good practice. All that plus great street food, bakeries, ice cream, fresh juices… no humidity… and rain that graciously waits till evening so I can enjoy hearing it pelt the roof… GTO is a delight.

  13. carl

    For some reason it’s not for me. I feel something’s missing, a beach perhaps?

    • Tim Leffel

      True, it’s about 8 hours to Zihuatenejo or an overnight bus to Puerto Vallarta region. But I live in Tampa Bay when I’m in the states and I get plenty of beach time in when I’m there. Here I don’t need air conditioning for 8 months. Zero actually.

  14. Omar

    Hi Tim. Thank you for sharing this info about Guanajuato. I’m very interested in buying a home in Guanajuato. I’m in my early 30’s and live in California but my dream is to move to Guanajuato & work remotely.

    Can you share any resources/tips for purchasing a home in mexico? Although I’m a mexican citizen (I have double citizenship), I’m not familiar with the buying process in Mexico and I’m also not familiar with potential pitfalls/issues or things to be aware of as I go through the buying process.

    • Tim Leffel

      Omar, there are loads of good books and articles out there on buying in Mexico if you poke around. If you visit in the next year to try it out, I can connect you with some agents. It’s hard to do much remotely.

    • Fidel Rodriguez

      Hey Omar,
      I’m in the same boat. I have dual citizenship and looking for more information about living in Mexico. I’ve lived in the US my entire life and have the same reservations. Thankfully there’s people out there like Tim who provide this value for us. Kinda ironic but awesome. Saludos

  15. Greg Wallin

    I moved to Guanajuato at the end of August with my daughter. We are loving it here and have just about finished our Spanish classes. My daughter is starting a school for the same, $300/ mo, but she doesn’t know anyone yet. Perhaps our girls can get together to share experiences?

    • Tim Leffel

      They might be at the same school! Hit me up at tim ( at) timleffel.com.

  16. Miguel Berumen

    Hello Tim, thank you for your amazing insight. I am seriously considering moving to Guanajuato, i was born in Leon, moved to LA when i was 4 and I have been living in Mar del Plata-Argentina for the past 7 years. My main concern is security/safety what are your thoughts regarding this matter in Guanajuato? Also how complicated is it to purchase a home and how much more do we have to consider above the asking price including taxes, paperwork, real state agent fees etc.

    Thank you once again

    • Tim Leffel

      It’s probably safer here than where you are now and the economy is on the upswing instead of declining. So there are a lot more jobs for people who want them. There’s some petty crime, sure, but no more than there was where I’ve lived in the states. Purchasing a home is a little different, but less complicated actually since you buy it outright with no mortgage. I honestly can’t remember how much the closing costs were, but a small percentage. You can probably find it online for what’s typical in Mexico, away from the coasts.

      • Miguel Berumen

        Thank you very much for your time Tim, I greatly appreciate it, one more question what can you tell me about the Cierro del cuarto neighborhood? is it a good place to live? any information is greatly appreciated, thank you.

      • Tom Mayer

        Tim, I was in León May 2015. Now I am returning again this May to spend 30-days again to check out the area in more detail. I did not feel unsafe staying in el centro León in a hostel for two weeks. I didn’t really adventure out in the area after sunset however. Now I have a son of a former colleague who has moved to Silao with his wife who was born there and his step-daughter. They are into a major episode of telenovela drama with her family. So all three of them are feeling completely unsafe living there for many reasons including what I have interrupted as crime related issues.

        I want to visit with for a few hours in May. I am in my seventies with a spirit of adventure, but I don’t want to be the middle of a crime-related area where being careful does not cover my back. I never felt either afraid and/or intimated in León.

        Two questions, can I come to GTO and meetup with your for either lunch and a chat? And a teaser before I meetup with you can the life in León and GTO be miles different then in Silao? Please include how I can set an appointment with you for May and your fee for us interviews?

  17. Lifestyle Service Agency

    Great info! Thank you for sharing.

  18. Minji

    Hi Tim. It is a really helpful post for me as I am preparing for internship in Guanajuato, Mexico. I have some questions and it would be grateful if you give me comments. It is quite a broad question, but how is the safety living in Mexico? I have heard Guanajuato is different from Mexico City. Would it be safe for an asian girl(not racist, but just in case) to live in Guanajuato alone? Also probably I might live there from next January to March, how is the weather there around that time? Thanks in advance.

    • Tim Leffel

      Minji, Guanajuato state in general is one where the US State Department says, “nothing to report.” That doesn’t mean there’s no crime, but it’s the normal petty crime you’d hear about in any city: somebody gets mugged while coming home at 2 in the morning drunk, or someone’s house gets broken into while they’re away. Things like pickpocketing and purse snatching don’t really exist. There are a fair number of Asians living here because of programs through the university—enough that there is one Korean restaurant and several Japanese ones that serve (mostly) them.

  19. That makes me want to move to Guanajuato! At least during the Canadian winter. :)

  20. Rene Fuentes

    Hi Everyone,

    I am originally from the states and living in Leon at the moment, its great to see everyone enjoy Guanajuato. I am currently looking for native English speakers to teach English classes, this would be a part-time position in the surrounding areas of Silao and Irapuato. We offer competitive pay and a lite schedule.

    I understand this is not a work blog but i thought i give it a change.

    thank you for your time and hope you continue enjoying Guanajuato!!!

    • Mark Griffith

      Hi. I want to work and live outside the United States. Currently, I am working as a Business Consultant in San Francisco, California. I am open to either a full time office job doing accounting or finance or any business job similar to the business consulting I have been doing for years, but I am also open to other jobs such as teaching English. Please email me if you have information about a good job opportunity outside the USA, preferably in a warm and tropical climate. I look forward to hearing from you. Thanks!
      Mark Griffith
      MarkAGriffith@gmail.com

    • George

      Hi,
      I am interested. Could you please contact me so that I may obtain further information.
      Thanks,
      George

    • Jennifer Mitts

      Are you still looking for teachers? My fiancé and I are both high school English teachers. Please email me jennifermitts@gmail.com. Thank you!

  21. John Young

    I am currently in Guanajuato looking for a place to buy but so far without success although I have had a realtor looking for me as well. I have been checking on the Internet and walking the streets but as to the former, there only seem to be large houses for sale, and as to the latter, I have so far seen nothing for sale.

    I am looking in the central zone but not in the historial area which I woud prefer to avoid, and am looking for a smaller house with a couple of bedrooms. I would like something up a bit and with a view.

    Any suggestions as to how I might find something apart from what I am doing?

    Thanks

    • Tim Leffel

      Buy The Chopper at a newsstand. That’s where the local ads are.

      • John Young

        Tim:

        Thanks. I am following Chopper and it does seem to have a lot of ads. It also has an Internet version which seems to have the same ads, which is helpful, since I will have to return to Mexico City shortly.

        John

  22. Anna

    hi Tim- where is a good website to look for longer term rentals in Guanajuato? like two to three months…inexpensive of course! just for a couple, so a one bedroom apartment or studio wold be fine.

    • Tim Leffel

      Anna, You can try the usual spots for vacation rentals as sometimes they’ll welcome a longer-term rental at a lower price. Craigslist is here and the Chopper in Spanish will sometimes list shorter-term things. You’ll pay more by setting it up in advance than if you just look around after getting here though. Most Mexican landlords are not real tech-savvy and don’t advertise online. So what you see posted will mostly be from expats who own homes here. This will give you an idea what locals are paying: http://semanariochopper.com/

    • Geoffrey

      Can you post a link to the on-line Chopper? I am also looking for an affordable casita in Guanajuato.

  23. Bob Weisenberg

    Great video, Tim. Just reinforces my intention to put Guanajatos on our plan to “live around the world 2- 3 months at a time”. But first up are Ecuador, Peru, Spain, and Patagonia! Thanks for writing this article, and for all you other great stuff.

  24. David Price

    My business partner asks about professional high-speed internet availability for our software business, were he to move to Guanajuato. He also works by Skype with programmers in Armenia and the Ukraine.
    Impossible?

    • Jennifer Mitts

      Did you ever find out?

      • Tim Leffel

        David ended up moving there and not soon after Telmex started laying fiber to the home, so it’s now possible to pay more and get a lot more speed, like 50 mbps if you’re willing. My former 5 mbps got upgraded automatically to about 8 (they say 10, but it never hits that). I’ll pay to upgrade it next time I’m there. Bottom line, Mexico is joining the modern age, including outside the big cities.

  25. Teresa

    I was interested in how safe it is in Guanajuato since my daughter is seriously considering moving there to teach English through an agency. I wish I were as excited as she is about this move. Any thoughts that you can share that would make me feel as ease?

    • Tim Leffel

      If you look at the U.S. State Department warnings for Mexico, it says “nothing to report” for the state of Guanajuato. Would Mexico’s government tell their people the same about where you live? I don’t know where that is, but if it’s in your average U.S. city, she’s better off in Guanajuato City statistically.

  26. Anna

    Great information and writing on Guanajuato. I am English and live with my Mexican husband in DF. I am desperate to get out out Mexico City and we are currently looking at Guanajuato as an option as my husband can get a transfer there from his job as a lecturer here in DF. We have a young child so will be looking into school too. Which school does your daughter go to Tim? Feeling inspired after reading this post!

    • Tim Leffel

      My daughter goes to Instituto de Guanajuato, other people I know have their kids in Valenciana. The best high school is a public magnet one though—not really great options as they get older.

    • Kate

      Hi Anna! I know your post is quite old now so apologies if this is outdated but I’m just curious… did you make the move to Gto in the end? I am also English, married to a Mexican (from Cuernavaca) and we have a 2-year old and a baby on the way in June. We just arrived to Gto last week (from Merida) and have heard great things about the Waldorf school here (Yeccan) for little ones but are yet to set up a visit. If you are around and would be keen to meet up just give me a shout! Kate.
      ps. huge thanks to Tim of course for this v. helpful & informative post!

  27. Joy reeves

    Hi, we spent a month in Guanajuato Jan/Feb., and loved it. we are considering two months next winter, but were wondering if there were any groups to get involved with, other than language classes. Are there any volunteer organizations? We like to keep busy.

    • Fidel Rodriguez

      I don’t know if they’re still active but I ran into this nonprofit called H.O.S.T. (Helping Others Sleep Tonight) that make mattresses for the underprivileged, a couple of days ago. It’s in San Miguel and meet at Saint Paul’s Anglican Church. Contact I could find is Kameron Tyler – kamkat1013@yahoo.com

  28. Jose perez

    Can you recommend a place to stay for 30-60 days? Thank you.

  29. Serzh

    I found this blog randomly in my travel feeds, and I am really moved. I spent 10 years of my childhood in Guanajuato, Gto. and I loved it. I´ve been back sometimes and I have been thinking that someday I´ll have to come back. I actually live in Mexico City and I also love it and value all the opportunities and entertainment I find here, but I miss the Guanajuato vibe, its spirit and its mountains.

    Thank you for sharing this. I´ll be reading your blog frequently. I´m glad there are more people from the outside who fall in love with the charm of my hometown.

  30. Joey

    I find this article really enjoyful to read. Your currently living my dream, of living in Guanajuato. I currently reside in the mid eastern US. I’m just in early 20s right now though, so plenty of time to make it happen though the earliest the better. Thinking about just saving a lot of money and starting a small business there, see how it goes. Went first time last year and going again this year for around 3 weeks around new years. It’s now my favorite place on Earth, and I’ve been many places. Wish my stay would be like yours though. Going to pay about 3k just on the hotel alone. Lol. Hopefully find some friends this time who can help set me up with something better for the next time I go again. Read about your tour and it sounds pretty good. I’ll have to try it out and say hello! :)

  31. esmeralda

    Hi! everyone! I very motivated to move back to my Mexico….after living almost 20 years in the USA ( frozen)….up north!…..by the way is somebody any information on hotels in SM de Allende ….specially on the street Pila Seca??
    thank you!

  32. Joey

    I have no idea about San Miguel as I’ve never been there. I would like to go sometime but this coming vacations going to be all Guanajuato. I’m ready to party and have a good time, while touristing during the day. And San Miguel looks like it would rewen the vibe Im looking for. Does anyone know how cold it gets in Guanajuato city during the December and January months? Wondering if I’d be ok with wearing sweaters during the day and some nights?

    • Tim Leffel

      During the day you probably won’t even need a jacket. At night it can get cold enough that you might want a jacket and hat. I’ve never once pulled out my gloves. High 40sF is about the worst it ever gets in the middle of the night.

  33. Derek Larson

    Tim,
    I’m close to pulling the trigger on a move to Mexico and your articles have really helped answer many of my questions and concerns. My wife and I visited SMA and Guanajuato at the end of December and prefer Guanjuato. I found it ironic that the start of your video on Guanajuato (link from your reply to Jose’s post above) has the exact same view of the city as I took in a photograph when I went for a morning run around town. I must’ve been standing in your footprints.
    Derek

  34. Ge0ffrey

    Guanajuato has a natural defense against being overrun by gringo retirees — the steep hills. Make no mistake about it, if you have bad knees or walk clumsily, you won’t do well in Guanajuato. While you will find most of the commercial center, tourist attractions and lovely town squares at the bottom of the valley, almost all houses and apartments are located hillside, serviced by narrow alleyways, usually steeply sloped, with or without steps, which may or may not be evenly placed. Be advised to look where you step. And if you walk down the hill to buy a few victuals, don’t forget anything. And for heaven’s sake, don’t forget to bring extra oxygen canisters.

  35. karl

    Hi,
    Were an Irish / Spanish family (2 adults and 2 young children) looking to make the most of a career break. We dont drink or smoke and the kids are too young for school.

    Being happy with a 2 bed place and being frugal what would you consider a minimum requirement cash wise per month? We would have a monthly income of $1500 plus whatever we have in savings but I dont want to arrive and find myself having to double my income and draining my entire savings.

    are we being unrealistic and what would the authorities make of a kinda retired early couple being long term tourists as we have no interest in working?

    Thanks

    • Tim Leffel

      Yes, you could get by on that if you’re frugal. You’d need to stay on a tourist visa though if you’re talking about Mexico as that’s well under their income requirements for residency.

  36. Ann Marie Villasana

    Hi Tim, my husband and I are thinking about retiring to Mexico in about 5 years. He was born and raised in Morelia, Michoacan. Moving back there is not an option due to the drug violence. We are looking at both Guanajuato and Queretero and my husband has family living in both areas and we are familiar with both cities. Could you tell me your experience with trades people and doing work on your house? We love the older colonial houses and my husband has some experience including blacksmithing, but are workers readily available for electric work, carpentry, etc?
    Thanks for the great info

    • Tim Leffel

      There are plenty of good workers in both places, especially if you ask around. Queretaro is 3 or 4 times larger than GTO and much more industrial. Just a small historic section in the core. But everything you need in terms of shopping and medical care.

      • Jesus Orozco

        Tim, my wife and I are considering buying a second home in Guanajuato. I am drawn to the heart of the Centro Historico so that we can walk to restaurants, bars and theaters. I’d like to purchase a medium to larger home with the central courtyard if possible. We are not afraid of a renovation project but are interested in not over paying for property. Do you know of any such place for sale or can you recommend a realtor or friend that may be able to help us out? We will be in Guanajuato in July 2016 but can fly out prior to if something of interest was located.

  37. Kerry Allen

    I am driving to Guanajuato in mid December and staying for 3 months. I have found a house to rent in the Pipila area, up from Sopena. There is no parking near the house so I need to find a safe place to park my car for 3 months. Do you have any recommendations?

    Thanks

  38. Heather McManis

    I lived in Dolores Hidalgo, Guanajuato years and years ago. I loved it and I did not want to come back to the U.S. I am pondering moving back. I am fluent in both English and Spanish. I would like to make some connections while there. I know back in 2000 the crime rate was so low. Is it still like that? I know there are a lot of problems in Mexico and that is the reason I have put off going back. Any information and or contact information would be fantastic. I am getting so tired of the hustle and bustle and would love to take my retirement that I have through the state and then find a little job there.

    • Tim Leffel

      As I’ve replied to others on here, Guanajuato is not crime-free, but it’s certainly much safer than cities the same size in the USA. No weekly random gun violence for one thing.

  39. April Moore

    Very useful information. I am going to visit this magical place next month. I was researching for additional information. Thank you for sharing such an useful post! I am surprised how cheap is everything! Greetings!

  40. Katelyn

    Hi Tim,
    I was refered to your blog by a pair of traveler in GTO from Alabama (unfortunately their names slip my mind- sorry y’all!). I recently moved to the city to practice Spanish and take better advantage of the freedoms grated to me by my remote job. I have spent the first few days in the city loosely searching for WIFI outside of my homestay. Did you ever find service >5mbps ? Any suggestions for a fellow ‘teleworker’?
    Best to you!

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