Good news for those looking for easier access to two popular expat destinations in Mexico. The Mexican government is considering proposals for new airports in two cities.
San Miguel de Allende and Ensenada are under consideration by the Ministry of Infrastructure, Communications, and Transportation (SICT), which has requested $860,415 for a feasibility study.
Both projects include a study outlining the development of airport infrastructure in short-, medium-, and long-term phases.
Being close to an airport is a significant consideration for people looking to relocate—this could be a game changer for both cities by opening the door to easier access.
San Miguel de Allende is in Guanajuato, and Ensenada is just over the Mexican border in Baja California. Both cities are significant tourist and expat destinations, and officials believe they merit airports. After personal nightmarish experiences in the Puerto Vallarta airport, they should be considered for a new facility—that airport is not large enough for the traffic volume. But I digress.
Back to Ensenada and San Miguel de Allende.
Experts said Ensenada’s proximity to the United States makes it a great candidate for an airport, and the project could be cheaper by expanding the nearby civil aviation base.
Construction is not pending, however, as the feasibility studies alone should be completed sometime in August 2024. And everything takes a little bit longer in Mexico. Mañana.
Though San Miguel de Allende is an attractive area for tourism, the closest major airport is an hour away. Ensenada is near the international airport in Tijuana. From Tijuana to Ensenada, it is an approximate 70-minute drive on the Highway 1 South toll road. You can grab an Uber or rent a car at the airport. You can also take a taxi from the airport.
Why San Miguel de Allende as a Possible Expat Destination
San Miguel de Allende is in Mexico’s interior, about a four-hour drive northwest of the capital, Mexico City, in the Colonial Highlands region.
Around 25 percent of the 50,000+ population in the town of San Miguel de Allende are foreigners. Sixty-three nationalities live in the area. This is a plus for those who don’t speak much Spanish and want community. If you seek spring-like weather and enjoy walkable, picturesque colonial streets where everything is nice and tidy, consider San Miguel de Allende. If you want a packed social schedule with like-minded English speakers, this is one of your best bets in Mexico.
The city is known for the five Cs—culture, community, climate, cost of living, and low crime rate. Add friendly locals and a focus on the arts, and you can see why San Miguel de Allende is a favourite destination for artists, musicians, and others interested in art and culture. A note about the cost of living in San Miguel de Allende… this is not considered a budget-friendly destination within Mexico. It’s higher priced than other cities due to the high influx of expats. The streets can also become crowded during the winter when the snowbirds come down to escape the arctic temperatures.
San Miguel de Allende is known for great restaurants; this is Mexico after all. The influence of tourism and the large expat population means you can find everything from street tacos for about 75 cents and simple meals in local restaurants for a couple of dollars. Global cuisine is abundant, including Italian, sushi, vegetarian, and gourmet options.
Weather in San Miguel de Allende
The air is cool and fresh because it’s in the high sierras. The climate is temperate year-round, staying in the 70s°F (21°C) most days and cooling down at night to the 50s°F (10°C). Only in January and February will you experience colder months, with comfortable days and dips close to freezing on the coldest nights.
Healthcare in San Miguel de Allende
There is also high-quality and low-cost medical care available. Well-regarded doctors, dentists, and medical clinics are in town, with large hospitals and specialists in the nearby city of Queretaro, about a 45-minute drive away.
Is San Miguel de Allende Safe?
Mexico has a negative reputation in the American press. Don’t let their information make you determine Mexico as an unlikely destination. But think on this: more than 1 million Americans and more than a half-million Canadians live full or part-time in Mexico, and I am one of them. The vast majority are not victims of crime. From my experience, the country is safe. Neither I nor my fellow expats in Mexico would be here if we felt unsafe or felt our families were in danger. Does that mean there is no crime? No. It is not at the level depicted in the U.S. or Canadian news. Take a serious look at your home town and decide if you feel safe in Canada or the U.S. right now. There are spots you want to avoid in Mexico, for sure, but most areas are safe.
San Miguel is a secure community. As with anywhere, there are neighbourhoods you don’t want to be wandering in at night. But in the historic centre, the main tourist area, you can go freely between the plazas, restaurants, bars, and shops at any time. Just don’t flash jewelry or a lot of cash. Be aware of your surroundings. Use only marked taxis or Uber. Let common sense be your guide. Watch out for shortchanging at some restaurants, gas stations, and small shops. This observation goes for most areas of Mexico, too.
Petty crime is the biggest concern for those who live in San Miguel de Allende. Car and home break-ins. Robberies. Vandalism. Pickpockets. Be aware of who you let in your home and always secure it with a locked door or gate. Keep your vehicle in a safe area and leave no valuables inside. Violent crime does occur, but mostly in far-out neighbourhoods and remote nearby villages usually involving the drug trade. Get involved in neighbourhood watch groups on Telegram or Facebook to keep an eye out in your area for any suspicious activity.
Why Ensenada as a Possible Expat Destination
Image source: Ensenada
Mexico’s Metropolitan Beach Town Ensenada is a thriving Mexican city 90 minutes from San Diego. This border city has a metropolitan vibe and is known as the “Cinderella of the Pacific” because of its raw beauty. Ensenada calls the Todos Santos Bay of the Pacific Ocean home.
It also has a large expat community because of its proximity to the United States. Here, locals and expats can drive to the States for the day or a quick getaway.
Living in Ensenada is sublime and a favourite for wine enthusiasts. The wine country in Valle de Guadalupe produces 90 percent of the country’s wines and is the Napa Valley of Mexico. From vineyard dining to epic surfing, you will not be bored in Ensenada.
Ensenada is a mid-rise beach town with a modern flare and more than 522,000 residents. Cruise ships frequently visit Ensenada taking passengers on various cultural activities and outdoor excursions. This could be a negative for some. Have you ever been in a city when cruise ships come into port? It completely changes the dynamic of the town. People flood the streets and different peddlers come out, pesky ones. Keep this in mind and try to experience both vibes in the city and see what you think.
Dining is an exceptional experience in Ensenada. In 2015, Ensenada became a UNESCO Creative City for Gastronomy. Street food vendors feature eclectic and authentic seafood dishes. Seafood markets and restaurants line the streets and Malecon where you can eat various award-winning fish, shrimp, and sea urchin dishes. If seafood isn’t your taste, you can enjoy a wide range of craft beers, wines, and Mexican cuisine.
Nightlife in Ensenada is fun for everyone. Live music, dance clubs, laidback cantinas, and restaurants are open until the wee hours of the morning. Whether you want to dance the night away or sip margaritas in the moonlight on the beach, you can find your piece of paradise in Ensenada.
Are you looking for a beach town city-vibe community with incredible ocean views and activities? Ensenada is for you. There is a reason so many expats choose Ensenada as home. Since the American dollar stretches further here, you can retire for a fraction of what you would spend in the United States, or Canada. With its high standard of living, affordable healthcare, and great weather, it is a favourite pick for retirement and daily living.
Weather in Ensenada
Near-perfect weather is different for most folks. My idea of perfect weather is different for heat lovers. Heat in coastal towns can be unbearable. How does Ensenada fare? The summers are short, hot, and arid. Temperatures rarely get above 92°F (33°C), with the average temperature close to 85°F (29°C). This is far different from Mexican cities located in the highlands.
The winters in Ensenada are long, cool, and mostly clear. In winter, the temperatures rarely get below 43°F (6°C) and are typically in the 50s (10°C). This weather fluctuates more than in the highlands but may be perfect for some retirees. It depends on your tolerance and preference.
Healthcare in Ensenada
Healthcare in Mexico is on par with the healthcare you find in the States. Ensenada is no exception. Ensenada has hospitals with leading research treatments for cancer, diabetes, Parkinson’s, and other life-threatening diseases. Proven alternative treatments for a variety of conditions are also available.
Is Ensenada Safe?
Small buses known as “micros” comprise 90 percent of public transport in Ensenada. The basic fee to travel on “micro” is less than .80 cents USD. However, be cautious and avoid riding the buses alone late at night.
Ensenada has a strong police presence, which has resulted in a lower incidence of drug trafficking activities—a major source of crime and criminal behaviour.
Residents and visitors should use caution when travelling through Ensenada. Remain vigilant, avoid bad neighbourhoods, and don’t travel at night. Follow the directions prescribed above for San Miguel de Allende, and you’ll be fine.
Two Different Towns in Mexico for You to Consider
Mountain or ocean view? Those who prefer the mountains may want to check out San Miguel de Allende first. Ensenada is a wonderful place to explore for those seeking an ocean view with a touch more heat. And now each town may be even more attractive with the possibility of an airport coming to each destination. If you’ve been thinking about San Miguel de Allende or Ensenada, seriously consider checking them out now before the airports arrive, which could drive up the price of real estate in each destination. The path of progress has positives and negatives. The big negative is the increase in housing prices. Get in now before you get priced out of the market.
I live in the mountains in Mexico and love the climate, the views, the people, and the lifestyle. I write about adventures in Mexico and other countries while sharing expat stories every month in Escape Artist Insiders magazine. Subscribe today and come along on the journey.
Charlotte Tweed is an adventurous soul with a goal to take you on a journey where you don’t just visit—you live it. Graduating with a Travel and Tourism Honours diploma, Charlotte began her expat journey on June 15, 2021. After travelling through multiple countries, Charlotte now calls Mexico home. Reading, writing, and researching the best expat destinations in the world are how she fills her days. As a published author, her mission is to transform your life with expat travel—one destination, one adventure, one story at a time.
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