Can we talk about Guanajuato?
08-12-2017, 11:56 AM,
Can we talk about Guanajuato?
My wife and I are seriously thinking about moving to Mexico for the winter months November-May. We spent five days in Ajijic this Spring and there were some things we liked and other things we did not. We have travelled in Mexico and throughout the world extensively for our work. We have never been to Guanajuato.

I am also seriously thinking about bringing my 89 year old mother to either Lake Chapala or San Miguel for assisted living (she has her visa already and I have vetted options).

I have done a lot of research on GTO and other city options but we would like to talk with some people living in GTO about things one can't glean from these boards. GTO seems to have most of what we are looking for (art, culture, fewer expats, mexican culture, a university, access from the U.S by car and plane) . If you have a U.S. phone number I can call you or we could Skype. We are thinking about an exploratory GTO visit in the next few months.

Just a bit of background on us. My wife and I are documentarians and explorers. I am a documentary photographer and she is a writer. We have most recently lived in the winters in Austin, Texas and from May-October we live on a family ranch in Montana. If you want to see more about us and our work see

Thank you and hope to talk with you soon....Daniel and Linda
08-13-2017, 08:45 AM,
RE: Can we talk about Guanajuato?
I just sent you a PM.
Afterwards I realized I almost never ck the PM inbox, so when you wish to reply best use our email
[email protected]
Sorry for the confusion, but this will be more effective to get us hooked up.
08-19-2017, 11:33 PM, (This post was last modified: 08-20-2017, 12:11 AM by DonJuane.)
RE: Can we talk about Guanajuato?
Indeed ....

I find Guanjuato a real butt-buster in terms of getting around the town. It usually takes me about 3 months after having left the city and once I return to get back “up to speed” in navigating it by foot. In fact it is quite easy to execute several 1500’ climbs a day while moving from place to place in this city. Bus service is available to a lot of places but for the most part, the place you probably want to go is “up” and the only way to escape the walk “up” is to spend over an hour on a bus, getting dropped off on the Panoramica to work your way down the hill to your destination, or hire a 50 Peso taxi to do the same. In Guanajuato, there is no way to drive the familiar “American Car” from place to place as you may be familiar with back home (or actually anywhere in a normal “car traffic” city). And add to that if you get stuck living out in the suburbs you’ll discover that not only must you still deal with navigating the downtown area, but your commute has been further complicated by now finding a way into town only to start from scratch on that normal uphill journey once you land there.

Now regarding the elderly. I have often wished to bring my own 88 year old mother here but I know I would have to hire a team and a stretcher to get her up and down the callejones in the neighborhood where I live. A wheelchair would seem like an option until you scope out the place and discover it will also require hiring minimally 4 strong men to carry it chariot-style from point A to B if she is disabled.

Some will decide to attempt to manage the city by owning a car, but you’ll pay a premium fee to find a secure parking lot and if the lot is convenient, you’ll find a neighborhood of people usually blocking you in where you have to track them down to get them to move their car to get yours out. And by the way, the car is only used to leave town because to drive your car into town and expect a place to park is a great challenge as well as a gamble, plus the effort to get it parked and back out is normally larger than that of simply walking and enduring the hills.

Now there is the Guanajuato culture. Understand that this is sadly changing as more Gringos move into the area which gives other Gringos a method of masking the culture which exists here. In days past, the Gringos mostly stayed to themselves and depended on integrating into the local culture to survive. This is actually the best route if you want to move to Mexico and be happy, that is, if you are forced to learn the language and integrate into the lives of the locals (else being forced to live a life alone, which is near impossible in the swirling culture of Mexico). So going this route is a win/win and this is what I like most about Guanajuato (among the many things that have been outlined here). If you are the ambitious type, have either learned previously or have a solid plan to learn Spanish and if in your journey here you also understand the concept and are quite willing to drop some of the notions of our own North American culture, then you can likely grow to be happy here and have a rewarding life. Some who have been most successful at this have worked hard to become part of the community, including volunteering in charities or even forming them themselves.

However if you are unable to adapt, hanging on to the traditional North American values which may or may not include, relentless one-upping, telling your own tales while not listening to others, bragging about who you were back home, your investments or properties, how much money you make/made, making up someone you have become now that you are in Mexico, working hard to show off your fancy car or other “things”, or otherwise attempting to glorify yourself in the eyes of others while using these methods then if this is the plan, you will likely quickly learn that something quite large is missing from your life here. At that moment you may become just another Gringo in the crowd, seen from Chapala to Costa Rica, watching the local boards or Gringo gossip lines for what is tonight’s “bar of the night”. You may huddle together while sipping your favorite beverage and reminiscing into the night about those traditional once lived North American values while trying desperately to find a new audience, or simply the way home after dark.

So in reality, the success of moving to Mexico and your happiness here will be completely in your own hands. I love it here and for all the reasons that I have spoken. And I always feel best when in my heart I find that as fair skinned as I am, I am thinking like a Mexican.

In closing I can’t help but refer back to perhaps not my favorite artist, but a guy I enjoy listening to heck of a lot. Part of one of my favorite, yet little known songs by Jimmy Buffett is “Banana Republics” …. And now, the lyrics to the song:

Down to the Banana Republics
Down to the tropical sun
Go the expatriated American
Hopin' to find some fun

Some of them go for the sailing
Brought by the lure of the sea
Tryin' to find what is ailing
Living in the land of the free
Some of them are running to lovers
Leaving no forward address
Some of them are running tons of ganja
Some are running from the IRS

Late at night you will find them
In the cheap hotels and bars
Hustling the senoritas
While they dance beneath the stars
Spending those renegade pesos
On a bottle of rum and a lime
Singin' give me some words I can dance to
Or a melody that rhymes

First you learn the native custom
Soon a word of Spanish or two
You know that you cannot trust them
Cause they know they can't trust you

Expatriated American feelin' so all alone
Telling themselves the same lies
That they told themselves back home

Down to the Banana Republics
Things aren't as warm as they seem
None of the natives are buying
Any second hand American dreams

Late at night you will find them
In the cheap hotels and bars
Hustling the senoritas
While they dance beneath the stars
Spending those renegade pesos
On a bottle of rum and a lime
Singing give me some words I can dance to
Or a melody that rhymes

Down to the Banana Republics
Down to the tropical sun
Go the expatriated Americans
Hopin' to find some fun
08-20-2017, 09:53 AM,
RE: Can we talk about Guanajuato?
... in navigating it by foot. In fact it is quite easy to execute several 1500’ climbs a day while moving from place to place in this city.
Have you been getting high in GTO? Any single 1500" rise would take you soaring well above la Bufa. As a point of reference the Escalera Zaragoza from Paseo de la Presa up to the Panoramica has by my last count [and I may be off a step or so] 364 steps. Assuming an ideal 7" riser [fat chance of that of course] that gives an ascent of just 212'.

Attached Files Image(s)
08-20-2017, 10:37 AM,
RE: Can we talk about Guanajuato?
Agreed. I love the up and downhills of GTO. Why workout on a machine in a gym when I can be walking around this fantastic city?!
08-20-2017, 11:47 AM,
RE: Can we talk about Guanajuato?
Probably easier (and safer) to get high in Thailand LOL ..... (or other places some of us relocate to after this glorious city)

No just add the feet as you climb. For example from the central downtown up to a great B&B on the Panoramica can be as much as 500'. Do that for 3 meals a day (assuming you can't or choose not to cook) and you have a 1500' climb. If you catch the symphony, go shopping or anything else, you keep adding to that cumulative amount. The point is, it's not easy for everyone and takes time to build up if you come from a place where you are used to driving everywhere. The city while being unique in not having a drivable infrastructure means a lot of walking and climbing will be required. The uneven, broken, slanting and widely various lengths of the steps mean the city is not well designed for the disabled and can be a challenge still for those who are not.

Whether it meets your own lifestyle is completely up to each individual. There are other things to be considered when relocating to Mexico, and additional considerations when choosing Guanajuato. Hopefully I touched on a few of them, perhaps others have other insights. The biggest problem however, is when someone sells everything and buys a house here without considering all of those points. It's better to try before buying and understand the workings of the city particularly after the new and thus some of the glitter wears off.

Another great city for those migrating south to choose in Mexico is San Miguel de Allende. It serves not only as a great example of how "modern" Mexico can become with North American style influences and conveniences, but it can also best demonstrate what happens to a quaint Mexican city after that gentrification takes place.
08-23-2017, 11:48 AM, (This post was last modified: 08-23-2017, 12:01 PM by lorenzetti.)
RE: Can we talk about Guanajuato?
Thank you Don Juane and others for responding.

My mother will not be coming to live with us in the city of GTO. She will be going to an assisted living facility close to San Miguel. In my opinion she will get better care there at half the price of the U.S. One GTO board member here has even been gracious enough to go there and check out the facility for me and gives me a good report.

GTO seems to have everything we want in a city. We humbly feel we are exactly the type of people that could handle the move to GTO. My wife and I have travelled extensively all over the world for the past thirty years. We know how to handle uncertainty and can survive without knowing the language. But we are determined to learn Spanish well and have a plan for that. We understand what learning the language will bring to us and to our lives in GTO. We have the time and the means to accomplish some of the important things recommended here in this thread and on this board.

Also we have lived most of the last thirty years near two major universities (in Austin and Bozeman) and we like the energy and opportunity that brings.

As far as the physically of GTO and the climbs. We currently spend half our year at 4000' or higher. We are both fit and active. Places we have experienced for long periods like Bogota, Quito and Lima had similar attributes and challenges.

As far as safety and security...and for perspective not personal aggrandizement, when you have travelled by SUV across borders in West Africa, through FARQ guerrilla controlled territories in Colombia, hilltribe villages in Yemen, Cambodia after the Khmer Rouge and the porous Ethiopian/Somali have been security tested. We feel, with awareness we can handle the security issues GTO might throw at us.

We are also going to rent and not buy the first year or season. Because of an elderly dog and the location of my mother's assisted living facility we will probably not live in centro but rather outside of GTO (Marfil?) where we can rent a single story house, have our car with a secure parking space that we will need to drive to SMA to see my mother several times a week... but most of the time in GTO we will walk, hike, use public transport or taxis.

Thanks again and keep those comments coming.
08-26-2017, 01:09 PM,
RE: Can we talk about Guanajuato?
My intent was not to discourage you but just to be what I like to define as a devil's advocate (and others like to define as being a smart-ass).

Some people like you (according to your background) want to come here for the experience of adapting and integrating into the culture. A frightening amount of others always seem to want to change the local customs and bring in more from the northern part of the continent to help make that happen. They figure the more the merrier. But with that goes the bargain prices and the very fabric of the reason for living here. If you spend any time driving over Mexico as I have for the past 10 years and as I am certain you have, you will have seen elements of culture vanishing at a disturbing rate. And to me personally, that is sad if not down right disturbing. In fact, back in the US I often say what I hate most about the US is that you could blind fold me and place me in another city and I would not be able to tell I had moved. By the way, which Oxxo is everyone's favorite ;-)

I subscribe to several ex-pat forums and there's an event I always seem to recall where some bickering was going on in their online forum about how to best find a maid. So they (Guatemala group) got together and established a website and a vetting process. Here-in the difference in me and they, lies. With my comment I was scolded firmly for interfering with automation and progress, while my idea was that maybe the reason people might move to Guatemala is that there is no online maid vetting service.

But back to the present tense, this week I am in San Miguel de Allende. Listening outside my window, I haven't heard a single word of Spanish spoken the entire week. Que lastima!
08-26-2017, 05:54 PM,
RE: Can we talk about Guanajuato?
Don Juane...

Your comments were not taken as discouraging. They are very valuable. It has convinced us even more that we have found the right place in Guanajuato.

We want to embrace and learn another language and culture. We have always wanted to live outside the American bubble for al least half the year. We believe it provides cultural perspective and opportunity.

I may be in GTO for a few weeks at the end of next month as I bring my mother to assisted living near San Miguel. I hope we can meet, have a drink and continue the dialogue.
12-29-2017, 12:48 AM,
RE: Can we talk about Guanajuato?
Sorry I missed that drink offer. I had just suffered another dehydration attack and got escorted by ambulance from GTO about the time you replied to me and because I failed to subscribe, I never revisited this topic or saw an invite.

Still finding it difficult to drink enough water here, coming from a humid climate. It can sure catch up with you (dehydration) especially if you have contacted a stomach bug along with it.

PM me if you are in the area over the holidays.

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