San Miguel de Allende - Private Home

Built: 2000

Style: Contemporary Colonial

This three-story home is located at the end of a garage and a long corridor; adjoining walls connect to properties on either side in typical Mexican fashion. Stone stairways lead to each floor. The living room has a cathedral ceiling. There is a large stone patio at the front of the home, with covered portion where outdoor dining table and conversation area are located. The second floor has a narrow balcony and the third story, a larger, partially covered rooftop patio.

Interview with Property Owner

Q: Was there anything about the process of buying your first house in Mexico that was entirely foreign to you, or difficult for you?
A: All of it. It was totally different than buying a house in the United States. It was difficult to find a good notario: which is almost like a lawyer who conducts a type of title search and other legal functions. All the paperwork is in Spanish and I hired a translator to explain everything. Also, here in Mexico they don't have a system of multiple listings; each realtor has his own set of listings but they don't necessarily know about all of the properties for sale.

Q: What features of this house do you enjoy most?
A: The light and openness, because those are rare in Mexican houses.

Q: What features of this house do you dislike, if any?
A: I hate that it is made of concrete, which they almost all are here in Mexico. That and the fact that the house is not insulated, and the shared walls make it easy to hear noise from the neighbors' houses.

Q: Where do you spend most of your time?
A: The bedroom. I lie in bed and read or watch TV, or work on my laptop. It's the most comfortable place to conduct my daily activities. Also because of the house's open floor plan, I can heat this room in winter and not have to heat the whole house.

Q: Are there any aspects of the house that you would change?
A: I would add a bathroom on the third floor, because it has a sink and microwave and could be a separate living space if it had a bathroom. Also, I would add insulation if I could.

Q: SMA has a great climate but rather extreme seasonal temperature fluctuations. How does that affect you?
A: Although the cold season lasts only about six weeks, it is freezing cold inside this house in winter. There's no insulation. The living room has cathedral ceilings and the walls are cement over brick. It's almost impossible to heat.

Q: What aspects of decorating the house are you most proud of?
A: Finding comfortable, quality furniture. I bought a lot of it at Home Design, in Queretaro.

Q: How important do you feel location is in buying a home here in San Miguel de Allende?
A: Because the neighborhoods are very eclectic, it's not so important. You can find a million-dollar mansion next to a dump. Some neighborhoods have a reputation for being not so safe, but I check the newspaper crime statistics each week and frankly, no neighborhood is noticeably less safe than another. Because there are no zoning laws, you might have a nice home and a not-so-nice home, a loud disco, and a bunch of small shops all on the same block. It's very varied, except in the fraccionamientos, the planned neighborhoods.

Q: What do you enjoy most about living in Mexico?
A: I find the people very courteous, well-mannered, aware of not offending someone. I like the pace of life, the many fruits and vegetables. I like exercising my brain in trying to learn a new language. I can conduct my legal and business affairs here via Internet and by phone. You can get satellite TV from Canada and Europe. Mexico is more technologically advanced than many people realize. A lot of people say, "Gosh, you have TV?"

Q: What do you enjoy most about living in San Miguel de Allende?
A: I enjoy the weather, the dryness. The light here is fabulous---I've been told that's why it's an artists' colony. It's at a high elevation and the air is clean and clear. There are festivals up the ying yang: religious festivals plus the short-film, jazz, and chamber orchestra festivals, plus the Cervantino in nearby Guanajuato. I like living four hours from Mexico City, one of the largest cities in the world. San Miguel is gorgeous and historical. I love the fact that foreigners from all over the world and Mexicans co-exist here peacefully.

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