Mexico’s Colonial Highlands has long been a popular area with both expats and tourists. The expat havens of San Miguel de Allende and, to a lesser extent, Guanajuato—both located in the state of Guanajuato—have been attracting a foreign population for 60 years or more. They are easily among the best-known expat destinations in Mexico.
But they’re not the only options in the Colonial Highlands.
For gracious, big-city living, Mexico style, it’s hard to beat Querétaro, capital of the neighboring state of Querétaro. This city—which has a population of about 1.1 million in the greater metropolitan area—has one of the highest qualities of life in Mexico. It’s also considered one of the safest cities in the country.
Querétaro has it all: a lovely, well-preserved historic center (which was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1996); modern shops and malls; excellent medical facilities; concert halls, museums, and other cultural outlets; universities galore; and a strong local economy. If you’re looking for a sophisticated, yet genuinely Mexican destination, look no further than Querétaro.
Querétaro’s expat community is relatively small. Most expats here are business executives. However, a small number of expat retirees do choose to settle here. They tend to live in Querétaro’s pedestrian-friendly historic center. They also tend to be folks who want to live in a Spanish-speaking environment. (You do need a moderate level of Spanish to manage day-to-day life in Querétaro.)
Querétaro also attracts those who seek a mild climate. The city enjoys spring-like weather much of the year. Temperatures in July, the hottest month, range from an average low of 57 F to an average high of 80 F. In January, the coldest month, the average temperature ranges from 45 F to 73 F. And days are mostly dry and sunny.
Like the other cities of the Colonial Highlands, Querétaro sits at a high altitude—5,970 feet above sea level. However, Querétaro has a lower elevation than either San Miguel or Guanajuato, and it is also less hilly than these cities…its flag-stoned streets are mostly flat and level. This can make Querétaro a good choice for those who want a walkable city…without steep hills.
Those looking for culture will find plenty in Querétaro. The Centro is filled with beautiful, historic churches and museums, including the Museum of Art and the City Museum. Nearly three dozen universities and institutes are located in Querétaro and its surroundings, as well as numerous research centers. Sports fans can follow Querétaro’s two soccer teams, U.S.-style football, and other team sports. There are also numerous golf courses in the area, as well as swimming pools, gyms, and other sports facilities.
The Querétaro Intercontinental Airport, just outside town, has flights to destinations throughout Mexico, as well as flights to Dallas/Ft. Worth, Houston, Chicago, and several other major U.S. cities. In addition, Mexico City—with its Benito Juárez International Airport, the country’s busiest—is only two hours away.