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Discovering the Charm of Retirement in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

Embark on a journey through the enchanting cobblestone streets of San Miguel de Allende, a gem tucked away in the heartland of Mexico. From exploring the city's rich history and art scene to enjoying the year-round temperate climate and gourmet cuisine, we unveil why San Miguel de Allende is an idyllic retirement paradise. Join us as we uncover the charm of living your golden years in this beautiful colonial city.

Discovering the Charm of Retirement in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

Join us as we explore the charm and allure of retiring in San Miguel de Allende, a city known for its rich history, vibrant community, and thriving arts scene. This city, beloved by many, is considered a top retirement destination.

San Miguel de Allende effortlessly combines history, culture, and modern conveniences, all under the warm Mexican sun. Its charming cobblestone streets, colonial-era buildings, and friendly locals make it an ideal location for a peaceful yet engaging retirement.

We'll introduce you to Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Colonial Homes San Miguel, your reliable partner in navigating the local real estate market. Whether you're seeking a comfortable apartment or a lavish villa, they can help you find the perfect retirement home in this enchanting city. 🏡

From its lively festivals to its bustling art scene, there's always something happening in San Miguel de Allende that caters to retirees. Experience the city's rich cultural tapestry, where art, music, and local traditions are integral parts of everyday life.

Lastly, we'll take you on a culinary journey through the city's food scene, where street food vendors and high-end restaurants alike serve up delectable dishes. 🍴

Ready to start your retirement adventure in San Miguel de Allende? Contact Greg today!

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Discovering the Charm of Retirement in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

[TRANSCRIPTION]

Greg:

San Miguel de Allende is a huge retiree destination. It's funny, I tell all my buyers that come to town, our San Miguel de Allende is like summer camp for adults. We always have something going on. People are taking Spanish classes, watercolor classes, encostic classes, clay throwing classes, writers' workshops. There's never a dull moment in San Miguel de Allende.

Maya:

Hi viewers. Welcome back to another video. I am Maya, your interview host for Berkshire Hathaway Home Services here in San Miguel de Allende in Central Mexico. Today we're interviewing Greg Gunther, he's the broker and co-owner, along with his business partner Alma of the sole Berkshire Hathaway Home Services office here in San Miguel. Welcome, Greg.

Greg:

Hey, Maya. How are you doing? Gosh, that fern of yours in the background looks awfully green. I wish I had a green thumb like that.

Maya:

Yeah, I know. I'm doing great. Thrilled to be covering today's topic, which is discovering the charm of retirement in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. So I'm sure we'll have a great discussion today. Why don't we start off, Greg, with a brief introduction about San Miguel de Allende, its history and cultural significance, and maybe you can highlight why it's recognized as a top retirement destination.

Greg:

Sure. We've got an interesting history here in San Miguel, in Central Mexico. A very famous Chicagoan, moved here in 1937 and brought a very American influence. He taught the local kids how to play baseball, for instance. It's kind of funny, his name is Sterling Dickinson. He has a street named after him now, he's kind of famous in town. But he started an art school along with a couple of other people, had a couple of art schools here in town, and they attracted a lot of American GIs that came down after World War II and came down for art classes. Because they'd get a GI stipend of $500 a month and they could live like kings down here. The rent was 15 bucks a month and they were taking art classes and doing sketching all day long and living high on the hog on their GI bill. That started the artistic bent of San Miguel de Allende.

We were on the cover of Life magazine in 1948, for instance, as a big art destination, and that's continued to this day. So we continue to attract a lot of artists that come down and I mean artists of all sorts, watercolor, encaustic, clay, sculpture, any kind of creative, to be hones with you, I feel like. I'm a novelist myself. I love to write, and we have the world's largest bilingual writers conference here in San Miguel de Allende. So there's a lot of cultural significance here, and it stemmed from that beginning of the art classes and the art schools that we had back in the 40s. That's part of why it's become such a top retirement destination, especially for creatives that love the creative and cultural environment and a very affordable environment at that also.

Maya:

Yes, San Miguel history is fascinating. Why don't you share with our listeners, Greg, how the unique fusion of cultures influenced the development of San Miguel de Allende?

Greg:

Yeah, it's funny, I tell my buyers that come down to visit, when you go to the beach in Mexico, for instance, the waiter walks up to you and Cabo or Puerto Vallarta goes, "Hi, I'm Jose, I'll be your waiter tonight. What can I get you?" You feel like you're in Miami Beach. When the waiter walks up to you in San Miguel de Allende, he says that in Spanish to you first. And if he realizes that you're having a hard time with your Spanish, then he'll switch to English, but he comes up to you first in Spanish. So we love that fusion of cultures that way that you still feel like you're in authentic Mexico. If your Spanish is not perfect, just like mine, mine's still not that great after 14 years, you can talk to the waiter English and he'll switch quickly, but you still feel like you've got a good fusion of those two cultures.

The American expats that live here support the Mexican community very well. Almost all of the nonprofit organizations here, for instance, are funded and managed by Americans that really enjoy giving back to the community. So there's a lot of support by the American and Canadian expat community of the Mexican community here, especially with the nonprofits. It's really, again, like I say, a very good fusion of the two cultures. They enjoy some of our celebrations. For instance, Thanksgiving is coming up and a lot of the Mexican restaurants here have a Thanksgiving menu. We just had the Revolution Day in Mexico and many of the Americans were very honored with that as well. So there's a good cross-cultural fusion here in San Miguel. We love it.

Maya:

Yeah, it's a very unique blend between locals and expats, that's what makes San Miguel also a very fascinating little city. Why don't you tell us, Greg, how Berkshire Hathaway Home Services was conceived in San Miguel de Allende and well, its role in the local real estate market, that'd be important as well.

Greg:

That's a fascinating story since I started it, huh? Yeah, it's interesting. I called Berkshire Hathaway, cold called them in 2019 and said, "Isn't it about time that you guys were down in Mexico? We think San Miguel de Allende is a vital market for a growing international company like Berkshire Hathaway Home Services." And the CEO of the company called me back in 20 minutes. The guy that reports directly to Warren Buffett calls me back and says, "Yes, Greg, we're ready to open in Mexico. Let's go." So it's fascinating. I opened the office with my co broker, Alma, in 2020. We had the good fortune to open in the middle of a pandemic, in a year when no one wanted to come down, get on a plane and come down to a foreign market to look at homes. So it was a challenging year that very first year that we opened. But we've been open since 2020 and now Berkshire Hathaway has four offices throughout Mexico. Part of why I call Berkshire Hathaway Home Services, and part of what makes us really unique in the local real estate market, is that we are an American franchise.

Now, what that means is every other real estate flag down here, every other brand that you're familiar with is just a disconnected master franchise. That means they have no connection at all with their sister companies in the United States or really anywhere else in the world for that matter, because they're just a master franchise for that particular company. I'm a country that they're located in. The difference with us, and the big advantage that we offer both of our buyers and sellers especially, is that we're an American franchise. And what that means is that I'm able to connect with and communicate with and market directly to all of my Berkshire Hathaway Home Services brethren up in the United States and really throughout the world. So we are able to offer our sellers a lot more across communication, across marketing of properties, but we also are very in touch with the American market.

So when we're working with buyers that are familiar with the American market, but not quite sure how it works in Mexico, we are a good bridge between those two cultures in explaining how San Miguel, the marketplace here works very much like the US with very few exceptions. We can bridge those differences between them and kind of work. So that's the biggest advantage that we have is being an American franchise, Berkshire Hathaway Home Services being an American franchise that our buyers and sellers are a lot more comfortable with. When Warren Buffett heads the company, it's a great name, it's a great brand.

Maya:

Yes, of course. And well, what about the different types of homes available for retirees specifically?

Greg:

Yeah, we've got the full range of spectrum here. The median home price in the United States right now is $430,000. You can actually start at lower than that here in Mexico. So if you are a little bit more on a budget, and the reason I say this by the way, is because many homes are purchased here all cash. Financing in Mexico is much more expensive, it's about three to three and a half points more than it is in the United States. So right now, in late 2023, mortgages can run about 10.5 to 11%, so many people end up buying all cash down here. So if your all cash budget is a little low, you can start out in a condo market, for instance, in the 250 to 350 range. And those are going to be gorgeous condos, very American style condos. I guess one of the differences being that they're gated, so you have a security guard that takes your ID every time you come and go or a visit comes and goes.

So it's very secure, but it'll have all the same amenities that the United States would offer from a Olympic sized swimming pool, to a tennis court, to a paddle ball court, to a sauna, spa, gym, all of those kind of amenities. That can be at that budget range. Our mid-market range might run from the 500 to 750 market, something like that. Occasionally, you can find homes actually in Centro at that price range. There'll be some gorgeous Spanish colonial homes with lots of all the details that you love to see online that are very available down here that you rarely find in the United States, lots of handcrafted fixtures and furnishings, and stone, and wrought iron, and those kind of details that we love to see in that price range. And then above 750, you're talking a good luxury level home, phenomenal finishes here. You can get a luxury level home in the low 300 to upper $300 a square foot range.

So compare that to any of your coastal prices for a home that is a cookie cutter, Home Depot furnished kind of home for $4 million that you'd find in Southern California, for a third that you can get a fully custom crafted home like. I've got a couple of homes on the market right now that are my personal listings at about 1,300,000. Swimming pool, glass wall gym, dual restrooms for the pool, jacuzzi, all Spanish colonial details with Cantera trim. Beautiful, stunning home on a really large lot with lots of lawn and it's 1,350,000, for instance, just to give you a price range. That's kind of our full range. I happen to have the most expensive listing in the entire city. And to give you an example, it's only $7 million, and that's by far, the most expensive listing anywhere. That would buy you maybe a two bedroom condo or a three bedroom condo in most of LA. So very affordable. Full range of the spectrum for retirees 300 to 3 million. That's the full range, so we can work with you, and specifically work with your particular budget.

Maya:

Thank you, Greg. And while we all know that it's not just about the houses, but it's also about the community, right? So why don't you tell us about the vibrant community of retirees living here in the city?

Greg:

Yes. I joke with my clients that come down that San Miguel de Allende is very much like a summer camp for adults, there is always something to do. I joke, I'm one of the few gringos that live down here that actually still work for a living. Everybody else is retired and they're going to Spanish classes. They're going to art classes, watercolor, encaustics, clay throwing classes, sculpture classes. We have food and wine paired dinner clubs that have an event every week, where you go and you can have a wine paired dinner and it's like 20 or 30 of you going. We have a phenomenal amount of activities here. I mean, the writer's conference, the jazz and blues festivals, the International Film Festival. There's a phenomenal amount to do, your day is always filled. I always love that old saying about the retiree in San Miguel. "When I woke up this morning I had nothing to do, and by the time I went to bed, I was only half finished." That's San Miguel for you.

Maya:

Yeah, that sounds fantastic. And maybe you could also highlight the healthcare services and high quality of life for retirees.

Greg:

We've got great healthcare down here, team. We've got three private hospitals right here in San Miguel. They can do open heart surgery in San Miguel, brain surgery here in town. A lot of great healthcare options right here in San Miguel, but for any of those special medical needs that might be a little bit rare, the city of Carretero, it's the fastest growing city in Latin America, and it's only 45 minutes away, and they have every healthcare specialty available in the entire country, in Carretero. Same kind of healthcare you can get anywhere in the United States, it'd be like an MD Anderson of Mexico. It's there in Carretero and only 45 minutes away. So the healthcare here is really astounding. I've had surgery here. I've had several different procedures here. There are great surgeons here, most of whom are trained in the United States, and then they come back down here to practice. So incredible healthcare for those of you that are retirement age and a little bit more concerned about the healthcare. You're fully covered down here.

Maya:

Yeah, this is very valuable information. Why don't we talk a little bit now about the thriving arts scene. Could you showcase for our listeners the city's thriving arts scene including local galleries, workshops, and events catered towards retirees?

Greg:

Sure. Again, we've got online sites that showcase all the different events going on in town, so many different things on any given day. There's a lot of SanMiguelevents.com. There's a great website called Sanmiguellive.com that will post all of the live music performances on any given day. And there'll be five or six or seven different venues in town that have everything from classical music to a jazz band to a Latin band. It's just incredible. We have a lot of monthly and weekly events that are really catered toward the American community down here. Well, really the whole community, but a lot of us gringos go to each of these. For instance, the Fabric Aurora Art Gallery Complex, this is a gallery complex of 43 art galleries, and they have an art walk the first Saturday of every month. So that's when 2 or 3,000 of us locals will come. It's like a big block party. You go and meet and greet and have a glass of wine and listen to the band and walk around to the different art galleries. It's a very interactive process, and that's every month, for instance.

It's free. Everybody goes. There's no invitation required. No RSVP required. And then every week, for instance, our organic market here doubles in size and another, maybe 1,000 of us expats will go and meet and greet. They have tables set up farm style where you're sitting with people you don't know. And so you always meet new people and have a fresh cooked breakfast or lunch, and there's entertainment going on. There's a lot of those kinds of scenes. There's a gallery opening every week, usually two or three a week, so tons of local art galleries that have events going on. And then I had mentioned those sporadic big conferences that they have throughout the year. So you'll learn about those through Facebook pages or emails, you'll get on the email distribution list, and you'll learn about the Sam Miguel Writers Conference, which is every spring, the International Film Festival, which is every summer, the Jazz and Blues Festival.

We have several different classical musical organizations as well, like Pearl Musica is one of the organizations that I strongly support. They have a six month season where they're doing classical performances from a quartet to a classical pianist. It's an amazing collection of different events that can keep you busy really all year long. We don't really have a slow month in San Miguel. May is our only month that slows just a bit, and then we pick right back up in June. So always something to do in the art scene here in San Miguel de Allende. Never dull moment.

Maya:

Definitely. It sounds like so much fun. Well, you already mentioned a lot of activities, but what about the leisure and recreational activities that are more suitable for retirees? Maybe you could tell our listeners how these activities also contribute to a fulfilling retirement lifestyle.

Greg:

Sure. It depends on what your taste is. We have two golf courses here, two 18 hole golf courses here. One of them is a Nick Faldo course, the Los Ventanas is a Nick Faldo course, and then we have another one that's about 60 years old called [Spanish 00:16:51]. Both of those are 18 holes and then we have a nine hole course just outside of [Spanish 00:16:56]. So if you like the golf, you got lots of good options from golf. Of course, there are tennis course. All of the golf courses have a great social membership, that even if you don't golf, you can buy the social membership at one of those and they have tennis. They'll have pickleball, more and more pickleball these days. We have a pickleball tournament here in San Miguel de Allende, of course. Pool, gyms, yoga, all kinds of those types of things that will be available at the different golf courses around town.

As I mentioned, we have a pickleball group here in town. We have a Croquet Club. They have their own court, their own private croquet court, so you can join the Croquet Club. Lots of Pilates classes, yoga classes, great gym trainers for old guys, like me, that need to stay in shape. We can train with a trainer that's very affordable, it's not a $50 trainer like it is in the United States. Biking, by the way, I mean, there's a ton of stuff. I could go on and on. Biking, horseback riding, we've got an activity resort on the outskirts of town that does zip lines and a TV trail rides and things like that. So I think you could fill 365 days a year here. There's a ton of great activities for retirees that keep their day very full.

Maya:

Yeah, that's great to hear, not only about art and culture, which is incredibly interesting, but also San Miguel includes sports, outdoor activities, so I think our viewers will be very, very happy to hear this as well. So thank you, Greg. This has been a great conversation. We talked about so many unique features of San Miguel de Allende that make it an ideal retirement destination. Now, I want to encourage our viewers to seek professional advice from a licensed realtor with years of experience, of course, when buying property here in Mexico. What can you say about this, Greg?

Greg:

Sure. Remember that licensing is relatively new to San Miguel, so if you're going to contact someone, make sure you contact a licensed realtor. Make sure that they have many years of good experience here in San Miguel. There's not an American style MLS here, so there's not Zillow, there's not Trulia. None of those things exist, so it's really important to work with someone that has some great experience and can tell you the history of a particular listing, the pricing drops on it, or increases when it's been on the market. It's really important to work with someone that has a lot of good history here because of that MLS that's lacking here in town. So yeah, make sure that you're working with a licensed realtor who has lots of years of experience.

We happen to have a whole office full of them at Berkshire Hathaway Home Services. Any one of my team members has got great experience, would love to work with you, give us a ring. At the end of the video here, by the way, you'll see our contact information, so you'll see our website, our phone numbers. You'll be able to contact us very quickly and easily. We look forward to hearing from you.

Maya:

Exactly. And also it's important to seek a brand that you know and trust. So while Berkshire Hathaway Home Services is the most famous real estate company in the entire world, the biggest one as well. So yeah, of course, contact Berkshire Hathaway Home Services, Colonial Homes, San Miguel for more information or to start your property search. And that would be it for today. Greg, thank you so much. And I want to encourage our viewers, if you liked the video, give it a thumbs up, please and share it with someone who might find this information useful. Also, hit the subscribe button for more real estate related content. We release videos like this on a weekly basis, so you don't want to miss out. Thank you so much, Greg.

Greg:

Fantastic. Good to see you again, Maya. Take care, team. Look forward-

Maya:

Great to see you.

Greg:

... to seeing you next week. Bye-bye.

Maya:

Bye. See you soon, Greg. Take care.

 

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