Why Did We Choose Querétaro, Mexico?
Mexico is a kaleidoscope of different landscapes. From the beach towns of the Yucatan, wine regions of Baja, the jungles of Oaxaca and mountain ranges twisting their way through dessert and pine forests, it’s hard to choose the perfect place to live. Mexico has something for everyone, from wildlife lovers to allergy sufferers. Big city splendor and conveniences can be found in Mexico City, Guadalajara and Monterrey. Central Mexico is full of charming colonial towns with their colorful buildings and festivals in Guanajuato, San Miguel de Allende and Pátzcuaro. Adventure seekers may like the thrill of water sports on the coasts, waterfalls in Sierra Gorda or hiking and rappelling in Copper Canyon. Beach lovers head to the Yucatan on the east side or to the 7,338 kilometers on the Pacific side.
Visiting Mexico is easy though you probably won’t be able to tick everything off your list in one visit. Trying to decide where to live in Mexico is more difficult.
With all the amazing towns and landscapes in Mexico, why did we choose to live in Querétaro? Most people have never heard of Querétaro.
Honestly, up until 2 years ago, we hadn’t heard of it either.
Our quest to live overseas took us to 3 other continents trying to find the perfect place for us. We wanted history, culture, great food and friendly people. We found these attributes in many locations, but we kept coming back to Mexico. Mexico had all these plus one of the easiest visa qualifications we had researched.
Since this would be my fourth time living overseas and Tom’s first, I let him decide on where we should go.
WHAT WE WANTED AND DIDN”T WANT AS EXPATS
Let’s look at what we wanted and what we didn’t want:
- We did not want 10 months of heat like Florida. We wanted a more temperate area.
- According to Mexican law, foreigners cannot own a house within 50 kilometers of the coastline or 100 kilometers of the border. You can buy a house near the beach, but the bank technically owns it. Foreigners CAN own their own houses as long as they are in the interior of the country within these border parameters.
- We didn’t want to be with all Americans. The purpose of moving to another country is to embrace that country’s culture and people.
- We did want to be close to an airport and modern conveniences.
- We did want to experience the culture around us.
- We wanted more of an international community with good international food options.
- We wanted a safe area.
Tom did a lot of research to find the “perfect” place. Using Numbeo.com, he compared housing costs, crime, and various other factors between many Mexican cities against Orlando. Querétaro’s cost of living and low crime came out as a top contender.
Besides the internet research, we also spent a good part of 2017 exploring different areas within the Colonial Highlands of Mexico.
We instantly fell in love with Guanajuato as soon as we drove in. Situated in a valley between mountain peaks, it’s a city with plenty of walking streets. The old silver mine tunnels are used to move traffic around below the city and just outside the mountain range. This is an old university town, but real estate was very scarce. Most of the houses were passed down from family member to family member. A realtor showed us around a bit, but most of the houses available needed serious renovations. We would be playing the waiting game to find anything available, ready to live in and for a price we could afford.
The nearest airport to Guanajuato was Leon, still a good 40 minutes away. Book Now and Save at Hotels.com
San Miguel de Allende
A favorite community among artists and expats, San Miguel de Allende has been advertising to Americans since the 1950s. It was beautiful, had a fantastic restaurant scene and wonderful artisan markets and galleries. Unfortunately, the American population, mostly from California where real estate prices are astronomical, have raised the housing prices to an amount that was not affordable to us.
San Miguel does not have its own airport so we would have to drive 90 minutes to Leon or just over an hour to Queretaro if we wanted to travel.
Santiago de Querétaro
Querétaro we found out, is having exponential growth in international business. Many Asian and European companies have built or are building their Latin American headquarters in Querétaro. Samsung, Nestle and Bombardier are just a few of the big international companies here. The per capita income in Querétaro is just behind Monterrey and Mexico City. Queretaro has a large middle class compared to other cities. The city is growing fast, businesses are moving in or expanding, and it has all the modern conveniences you could want including an airport (QRO). There is also a beautiful historic area where the city just comes alive, and many pueblo magicos nearby for day trips or overnight stays.
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Centro or Suburb?
We decided we didn’t want to live directly in the city and deal with traffic (similar to Orlando’s). So we chose to live north of the city in a residential area called Juriquilla. We have plenty of restaurant choices, small mom & pop stores and even a large mall. We are 5 minutes from a real Mexican town, Santa Rosa Jaurengui, and less than 30 minutes from historic Querétaro. Plus, we are 45 minutes away from San Miguel de Allende with its beautiful architecture, and just over an hour away from Tequisquipan with it’s cute little wine bars. Even with all the new growth, housing prices are still very reasonable.
In Querétaro we have great weather where it’s cool in the mornings and evenings. We are close to conveniences and historical areas. We can afford to live here on less money. And we have choices when it comes to restaurants and food because of the international influences.
What factors should you consider when moving overseas? Check out our post on So You Want to be an Expat? How to Choose the Perfect Country for You.
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Wonderful post! Wish we had done more research. So glad to have you and Tom as resources!
We can be there for each other!
We are thinking about moving in a year to Queretaro, what are some good neighborhoods? Thanks
Hi Rody! There’s plenty of great neighborhoods being built right now in Queretaro. I live in Juriquilla which is north of the Queretaro and away from the city traffic. It’s a residential area with shopping plazas and close to local markets. It’s also easy to hop on and off the highway to visit many of the smaller artsy towns like San Miguel de Allende. I also have friends who live in ElRugio. This is a a more self contained community with restaurants and service shops in a residential area. Both places are about equal distance to the downtown area (about 25 minutes). We haven’t explored the south part of Queretaro because we really enjoy the mountains where we live. Tequisquipan is a cute little town about an hour away in the middle of vineyards and farmland. This is a great place if you don’t want city life.
Hey there! I’m mexican and live in Querétaro as well, and I really enjoyed some of your post (haven’t read them all yet). Saw one of your tweets the other day and following all the way found all your adventures here. For me, always has been interesting to see how people from other countries see and discover our culture and us as mexicans and now, with all your post, is even more interesting for me to find out how you guys decided to adapt and embrace a whole new live in Mexico (knowing that here you won’t have all the commodities that you could have there). In any case: greetings and welcome to Querétaro!
Thank you, Charlie! We are happy to be here, and still have much to learn. 🙂
Love your post, I am a Mexican gal living in the bay area in California.
My family the U.S. want to buy a property in Queretaro(I have family there) eventually I will be moving there and maybe start a business.
I was looking at properties in El Centro and thought it would be perfect to rent it while my family were still abroad.
I was also looking at the apartments and houses they have in development in the gated communities.
I am still not sure where I will fit in, im still young, single,bilingual and ready to mingle! I do love SF and do not like to commute. I need a neighborhood that will fit my style. Any recommendations?
PS. I also follow y’all on Instagram.
Awesome post! We’re seriously thinking of moving there. The weather in North Carolina is very similar than Florida’s and we’re tired of it.
Are there good options to work there as Americans? Do you know of American communities (or online groups)? Where we can discuss more about it?
Thank you so much!
Hi Brenda! Thank you for the compliment! The Americans I know usually work as English teachers. We work on online businesses. There are higher percentages of Americans in San Miguel de Allende, Lake Chapala, Playa del Carmen, Cabo San Lucas and Puerta Vallarta. Queretaro is more international, and we haven’t run into very many Americans. Expats.com has chat groups from the different communities. I will message you.
Thank you so much!
Can you think of any soup-to-nuts resources? Health insurance, car insurance, utility costs, water quality, banking and money, etc…my wife is diabetic and health care would be a big concern.
Healthcare is our next project we will be tackling. I will post something soon on our cost of living. What exactly is soup-to-nuts resources? I’ve never heard of that.
A great article. Tom seems a very thorough researcher. My wife and I are investigating retiring to Mexico, and have focused on Chapala and Guadalajara. But, now Querétaro looks like a great candidate. We’re going to put it on our initial visit list in April. A major concern is healthcare, and we look forward to seeing your post about that. Thanks for this article. We enjoyed reading a lot.
I had the the delightful pleasure of visiting this beautiful city last weekend on a tour from Ajijic. I’ve traveled extensively and seldom “fall in love” with a place but I really did when I roamed around Queretaro. I’m retired and considering moving there once I find out about health care, hospitals and assisted living. I’m in great health at the moment but have to think about down the line. Any possibility of finding more information on those issues?
Hi Dori! I’m so glad you found Queretaro as charming as we did. We do plan on researching what type of healthcare we can get and need very soon. Luckily, we are both very healthy as well so we have not put it as a priority. But we definitely need to! I’ve had several requests, and we need to get on it. Thank you again for the reminder!
Thanks for this., I’m planning a move myself.
First 6 months SMA or Ajicic to park myself then explore Guanajuato, Queretaro or Morelia..
Leaning towards the area north of Queretaro so i will be in between QTO and SMA
Qq.. did you get a permanent visa or temporary? I was told best to start with Temporsry so I can bring my car down while I decide to switch to perm.
We started with a temporary visa because we did not meet the $$$ requirement. We are also located north of Queretaro so we have a view of the mountains but not the high prices of SMA. WHen are you coming down Mexico?
Hi Tiffany! I loved this post! I have been exploring Juriquilla and Queretaro (Q) for a couple of years, but remotely. I first heard about Q when I was staying on the West Coast of Mex a couple of years back. I met a doctor – works with holistic medicine and ozone – who I began to study with who lives in Juriquilla and he loves it there… said it was “the bomb!” In the best sense of the word. I’m coming to visit Juri and Q this Jan, and also to get treatment for chronic pain, which might be useful for some of your readers to learn about.
My question is this: is there much easily accessible nature in Juri? Doesn’t have to be pristine, but trees, not too much city noise, and clean, if possible. Have you had much experience with this? It would be nice if it were very close to Juri, but I can’t quite much if any info on the web on the non-touristy nature spots in the mountains or high desert. Any suggestions?
Keep up the great work, one of the best Q/J posts I’ve read. Maybe we can meet up for coffee in Jan when I am there if time is available…
Hi Stuart! Thank you for the writing compliment. You’ll have to tell me more about the holistic medicine part. We’ve noticed that we are healthier here just from getting outdoors more for exercise and less stress fromm work. Queretaro and Juriquilla are in a Central mountain plateau area so we have more of a dessert/scrub brush landscape. I’ll send you some pictures so you have a better idea.
Loved the quality and in-depth information about Q. We are thinking about retiring to MX in a few years once my wife retires. Are you still living in J? Do you need a car to get around since you’re in a small community outside of town? How are the doctors and hospitals in J? Did you or Tom speak Spanish before you moved there? How is your Spanish now? Muchas preguntas. Lol
Mexico is a wonderful place to retire, but don’t let the secret out! We do need a car to get around Juriquilla only because we live just north of it. We are about 10 minutes away from grocery stores, restaurants, and other specialty shops. An Uber doesn’t cost much if you don’t want to drive. To get to Centro, it’s between $8-10 dollars depending on what time of the day you go. Juriquilla has all the new hospitals, but we haven’t visited them yet. Our new lifestyle here has been a healthy change and less stress.
Our Spanish is improving, but not as fast as we like. Repetition is key, but we are dealing with something new every day: car, internet, bills, house building, community stuff, shopping, etc. But we keep trying!
Thank you for your questions. Let us know if you have more!
Hello! Wonderful post! We are a family of 4 considering a move to Queretaro for my husband’s business and I was wondering if you have any recommendations for areas near good international schools. Any advice would be appreciated!
Hi Hilary! Because I don’t have children, I don’t really know which are the best schools. I know a teacher who teaches at one of the international schools in Juriquilla (near the blue Juriquilla Towers and Superama) and she is a world traveler as well. I’d recommened joining the Facebook group International Newcomers and Expats of Queretaro. There are people there from all over the world (one of my friends on there is German) and they can give you better advice pertaining to children.
Great choice you have made. I was raised in Querétaro and obviously it is well known to me and yes many immigrants from north don’t even know it exists. I lived my childhood in Querétaro, when it was a town of barely 30 K or 40 K people and understandably I don’t want to live there now! The perfect town for me now is San Miguel de Allende, where I live now. It brings good memories of the Querétaro I knew. I lived many years in Tequisquiapan which is also beautifull. Querpetaro state has great places like Cadereyta, Pinal, Bizarron de Montes, Bernal, Colon, Toliman, Jalpan, and others. In Mexico there is no shortage of towns and quiet places to visit or live. Wish you good times in beloved Queretaro.
I’m planning to move to Juriquilla as soon as this covid thing is over. The only thing I can’t figure out is if there is a great emergency hospital in Juriquilla. I’m old, and need easy access in case of heart attack, stroke, or other unexpected happening. If there’s not one in Juriquilla, how long is it to the closest one in Querétaro? Thanks a million.
Yes Juriquilla has many hospitals. I’ll send you an email.
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