2 years ago when my husband and I moved to Mexico from California, I planned to decompress only for a year before starting a business.
Well, 2 years later, I am still just playing around and no major business ownership other than a bit of consulting here and selling my paintings there. Why? Because I am managing to live on very small income, and even managed to save some. If you have some supplementary income on top of your social security, great. If all you have is $1500/month social security, you may still be able to live here and enjoy life.
Our first year was rough in terms of trying to maintain a budget living. Having moved here with 4 dogs and a cat, we couldn’t find a rental in town; we had to live 2 miles outside of city limit in beautiful La Cieneguita in a big rental property. Not only was the rent very high over there, our gasoline expenses was horrendous from having to drive everywhere.
Spending $4000/month was not what we planned at all, as I’d heard that you can afford to live here much more cheaply. But if you don’t have a boat full of pets like we do, you definitely can afford to live in town and not spend a fortune on rent, gas, satellite Internet, and parking garage.
I’d like to start talking about our 9th month in San Miguel as the beginning of true budget living, when we bought a house in Los Frailes, one of the neighborhoods (colonias) south of town. That’s when we finally started to spend less…much less than we did living in countryside.
I’d like to explain that my column is for full time residents in San Miguel de Allende living on pension between $1000-3000, the higher figure being couple’s income combined.
Living in town, you have different cable internet options. You can have a 350 pesos ($19) for the Internet. We don’t have a landline phone, and our cell phone plan costs 150 pesos for every 26 days (cheapest). As long as we use our house Wi-Fi, there’s no need to go for a more expensive plan.
Propane water heater: whether you rent or own a home, you do have to worry about the propane tank level. Some rentals may come with it included in the rent, but many do not. We got a solar water heater we paid a bit under 1000 USD including installation. Now the only time we use propane is for cooking, and 1 full tank of gas (3300 pesos) lasts close to 18 months.
But the most important thing is to allow yourself a bit more budget for the first 6-10 months living here.
Don’t stress too much while buying many household items all over again. Go slow, and live your touristy moments.
To be continued! Check back for more soon.
Narae Kim Ellis (김나래) is a dog agility trainer from CA, now living in SMA for full time since Nov 2017.