The 7 “C’s” of San Miguel: community, cuisine, care, culture, color, cost, and climate
The magic of San Miguel can be hard to capture in words: from the quality of the light to the sense of belonging so many feel when they first arrive. Some even say there are unseen energetic forces that explain the town’s powerful magnetic attraction.
But there are many more tangible reasons to call San Miguel home. When Nancy, Ann and Amber describe their San Miguel life to newcomers, they find that they most often turn to the “7 C’s” to explain the benefits of living here: community, cuisine, care, culture, color, cost, and climate.
“San Miguel is one of the warmest and most welcoming places I’ve ever lived,” says Nancy when asked about what community means to her. “I love how easy it is for people to find their place here.” New and long-term residents have worked together to found charities, support their neighborhoods, and form groups around shared interests and hobbies.
Ann concurs that San Miguel “puts the unity in community,” adding, “in my 26-plus years of living here, I have watched how clients and friends integrate here, forging new friendships and finding new passions. San Miguel is just so open, inclusive, and inviting.”
San Miguel has made its presence known on the Mexican and international food scene in the last 15 years, while still maintaining the traditional street food standbys, from tacos to tamales to esquites.
“Whenever someone asks me where to eat here, I say do you want a rooftop, country, vineyard or something cozy indoors? There is something for everyone and they all have wonderful cuisine to offer,” says Ann. “It’s not just eating a meal, it’s having an experience - the view, the bells, the color, the presentation.”
“While I love Mexican food, I’m so grateful for all the international options here, from Japanese to Italian to Indian and Mediterranean,” says Amber. “And it is top quality. Someone recently said that her meal at Ryoko (sushi) was comparable to what she would get dining in Los Angeles.”
When it comes to care - personalized medical care, elder care, childcare - San Miguel shines. Ann was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2013 and chose to stay in Mexico for her treatment: “The moment I walked into my doctor’s office in Mexico City, I knew he was who was going to walk me through this. I wasn’t a number to him, and he’s one of the top doctors in the world. I still communicate with him and his family to this day.”
Ann’s husband Jim moved his 90 year-old mother to San Miguel and she is “just thriving - it’s a fraction of the cost and a thousand times better care than in the U.S.”
Listing San Miguel's attributes doesn’t take long to bring up its vibrant culture. The town is steeped in history and holds a unique place in the story of Mexico’s fight for independence in 1810. “Moving here from the historically young U.S. made me feel humbled in a city with more than 500 years of history,” says Nancy. “The culture here runs very deep, in San Miguel, we find homes over 300 years old, and some of the yearly festivities and traditions have been going on for centuries.”
But while San Miguel continues to cherish its heritage and traditions, it is also host to a dynamic and cosmopolitan contemporary culture - offering music, film, art and literature festivals and a panoply of galleries and artisan markets.
“In San Miguel, you don’t have to go looking for culture,” Amber points out. “You’re surrounded and immersed in a rich culture here, whether it’s just walking by the historic buildings or seeing a parade or religious procession. You don’t have to go to a museum to see art, it’s on the streets, in the galleries and markets.”
Anyone who has seen photos of San Miguel’s warm pastel buildings with bright pink bougainvillea cascading down the walls will appreciate the town’s rich palette of colors. Nancy’s favorite color experience is when the purple jacaranda flowers bloom in spring: “it just seems as if the color fairy has buzzed around our town and sprinkled that beautiful purple all over it.”
The city’s festivals and celebrations are bright and colorful too, from the face paint and plumes of Indigenous dancers’ costumes to the magenta and marigold of the flowers adorning Day of the Dead altars.
“San Miguel is also full of colorful people,” observes Amber. “We have people living here from so many different backgrounds, many of them are artists…it’s a fascinating mix.”
It may seem mundane in comparison, but it’s hard to deny how much the economics of life in San Miguel appeal to many foreign arrivals.
“It may seem like a small thing, but the fact that I can have someone come to my house to give me a manicure and pedicure for about $50 dollars is a treat. It’s extraordinarily convenient, and because it’s not expensive, I can do it frequently,” notes Nancy.
While San Miguel is one of the more expensive places to live in Mexico, the cost of living here compared to desirable urban areas in the U.S. or Europe is still far lower.
Amber emphasizes how the affordability of childcare provides families more freedom here in San Miguel. “I have friends up north who struggle to afford childcare; many of them have to balance either going back to work or paying for daycare or a nanny,” she explains. “You also get such high-quality childcare here…Mexicans are family-first and are incredibly warm, loving, and kind.”
San Miguel’s climate of sunny days and crisp nights allows for year-round outdoor and active living.
“You can still go through all the seasons in one day,” quips Ann. “Even in May, our hottest time, most homes do not need air conditioning. And for heat in the winter, fireplaces are enough to keep you comfortable.
“Because our climate is so mild, we keep doors and windows open year round. There is always a small breeze moving through my house that I just love, it makes it feel so vibrant,” says Nancy.
No matter what brought you to San Miguel, at least one - if not all - of these 7 “Cs” is going to make you want to stay.