PERSPECTIVES: The Culture And Lifestyle Of San Miguel De Allende, Mexico Endures

A distant view of a city with cathedrals. Mountains are in the background.
San Miguel de Allende, Mexico continues to attract international attention due to its neo-Gothic architecture, colorful galleries and vibrant food scene. (CDR San Miguel)

This report is part of PERSPECTIVES, a comprehensive look into the world of prime residential real estate. Access the full report here to discover the latest trends and dynamics shaping the market.

San Miguel de Allende is a charmer, with exceptional Colonial and neo-Gothic architecture, cobblestone streets, colorful galleries, vibrant food scene and an affordable lifestyle.

The central Mexican town, which has fewer than 200,000 residents, regularly tops Condé Nast Traveler’s “Best Small City in the World” list. It’s an alluring place to visit or live, particularly among Americans.

The most sought-after neighborhood, Centro, is a downtown area that has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its cultural and historic importance. The pink Parroquia de San Miguel Arcángel church on the town square, El Jardin, is one of the most photographed landmarks in the city.

Residence 9, Rosewood San Miguel de Allende, presented by CDR San Miguel

Buyer demand for upscale casitas and villas in San Miguel de Allende was as strong as ever in 2023, but finding enough prime properties to meet demand was a challenge.

Listings dipped after retirees and young investors swarmed the area during the Covid-fueled buying frenzy, shattering sales records. “2022 was by far the best as far as sales,” says Jim Dolan, longtime resident and owner of CDR San Miguel. “Sales in 2023 were somewhat off, but we were coming off a white-hot situation.”

San Miguel de Allende’s lack of premium houses for sale is due, in part, to the finite number of properties in Centro, Dolan says. There are few new developments because strict building rules protect the historic core.

The average sale price in Centro in 2023 was slightly above $1 million, with the high end of the market ranging from $5 million to $7 million.

Last year, 461 properties were sold in San Miguel. Forty-nine were in the $1-million-plus range, and 23 were $2 million and above.

U.S. mortgage rates and inflation don’t directly affect purchasers in San Miguel because it’s a cash-buyer’s market. In the last decade, 67% of San Miguel’s market was made up of foreign buyers, with Americans leading the group, followed by Canadians, Europeans and individuals from other nationalities, Dolan shares. In this segment, these purchases usually represent second or third homes.

For Americans, access to the U.S. is a selling point (airports are about an hour and a half away in Guanajuato and Querétaro). San Miguel is closer to home than, say, Portugal or Spain. Also, upscale homes in Centro—often lavish with gardens, swimming pools and guest houses—cost far less than in high-end markets in many other places.

A house with a green yard with more houses on different sides of it.

Casa Hacienda Santa Margarita, presented by CDR San Miguel

Dolan sees a burgeoning market in vineyard properties about 20 minutes outside of town. Lots cover 2.5 acres and offer a private lifestyle where wineries, polo fields and lavender fields abound. “It spreads the market opportunity around,” he says, noting vineyard properties are in the $2-million range.

Still, most foreign buyers want to live downtown, Dolan says, where they can experience the city’s easy vibe and walk to and from shops and restaurants.

He thinks sales in 2024 will pick up but not at a breakneck pace.

“For 2024, we’ve got about five or 10 homes to bring on the market in the luxury segment going from $3 million to $12.5 million for a Colonial-era property off the downtown square that hasn’t sold since 1900,” Dolan says.


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