HOUSING and STUDIO SPACE
If you are planning to move to San Miguel for at least a year or more, do it as soon as possible. Rent prices are going up fast. Rent for a decent 2 bedroom with studio space and a patio in the middle-class bohemian neighborhoods of San Antonio and Guadalupe used to go for around $4000 pesos. Now the same size houses are renting for $500-600 USD if you rent from gringos. Most expat landlords (and there are quite a few) are setting rents in dollars rather than pesos. That’s significant because of the strength of the dollar (now at 18 pesos). Obviously it’s a better deal if you can pay rent in pesos, which means renting from a Mexican owner. Soon even they will be renting in dollars, or dollar equivalents.
A recent development – expats are posting messages on Yahoo groups offering to pay up to $1000 USD and more for decent 2-bedroom apartments or small houses. Take a look at the postings on Craigslist for housing in Guanajuato and you’ll see what I mean.
The cost of a good meal in a decent restaurant is going up. A full-course broiled salmon lunch used to cost 140 pesos – it’s now 250 pesos. Tikka chicken at a curry house was 95 pesos and is now 150 pesos. Chicken parmaggiano at a family-run Olive Garden-type Italian restaurant is 120 pesos, but over 200 pesos at a finer place. Wine will cost at least 70 pesos a glass, beer 30 pesos minimum. Of course there are many small family-run restaurants where you can eat good authentic Mexican food for 50 to 100 pesos. A buffet in Centro charges 75 pesos for all you can eat. The one gringo-run restaurant exception is a popular place called Cafe Monet – a decent sandwich goes for 50 pesos and the daily special will set you back about 80 or 90 – they’ve held their prices down for years without compromising the quality of the food and the old world decor.
There are two major supermarkets in town, Soriana and La Comer (formerly called Mega). Their prices are inching up. You and your partner will spend an average of 900 pesos per week if you buy a lot of meat, 750 if you only buy chicken and fish for four meals. Plan to spend more if you want beer and wine. A six-pack of good Mexican cerveza goes for an average of 70 pesos. Table wine from Carlo Rossi is 95 pesos; anything else from California, Europe or South America is in the 150-250 peso range.
Good, durable clothing is hard to come by in San Miguel. At Liverpool, the Macy’s equivalent, you will pay 900 pesos for a pair of Dockers or Levis for men, 800 pesos for a shirt, and 800 pesos for Flexi shoes (excellent quality and made in Mexico). Women will have to pay considerably more. However, women can shop at consignment shops (there are many), but none for men for some odd reason. Every one, children and adults, can find an occasional bargain at the tianguis – a huge open market that is open once a week, and there are smaller markets in almost every neighborhood where you can shop 7 days a week.
San Miguel remains a relatively inexpensive place to live for artists, but this may not last much longer. The SOHO effect is taking hold here. Artists have made this city a truly wonderful place to live, and now the affluent are moving in and driving up prices.