S5-EP11: Expat Bonnie Lee Black on the Pros (& Very Few Cons) of Retiring to San Miguel de Allende
Host Debbie Weil talks to Bonnie Lee Black, an author and blogger who retired in her 70s to affordable and magical San Miguel de Allende in Mexico.
Debbie Weil talks to Bonnie Lee Black, an author and blogger who retired in her 70s to affordable and magical San Miguel de Allende in Mexico.
SMA, as it’s called, has become a haven for expat retirees, especially single older women. It has been named (three times in a row) the Best Small City in the World by Condé Nast Traveler. And it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Debbie and her husband Sam spent three weeks there in February ’23 and were charmed by the Spanish colonial architecture, the cobblestone streets, the tiny shops, the rooftop restaurants, the perfect weather, and of course the pink wedding cake cathedral, referred to as the Parroquia, in the main square.
While they are not seriously considering retiring there, Debbie was intrigued by Bonnie’s blog and her experiences as a permanente (permanent resident). Bonnie’s blog post titled Watch Your Step (about the dangerously uneven sidewalks) caught Debbie’s attention so she reached out to invite her onto the podcast. They subsequently became friends.
Bonnie has been a professional writer and editor for more than 40 years (she’s the author of five books), was an educator in the U.S., and now writes a popular weekly blog, the WOW Factor.
Bonnie gives Debbie an insider’s perspective on living full time in this beautiful place. First among the many pros is the low cost of living, making SMA affordable for single women living on a fixed income. And then there’s the weather (yes, hard to overstate how perfect it is), the absence of ageism, the kindness of the people, the endless number of volunteer opportunities and classes to take and more.
And she shares the one con for older retirees that Debbie noticed immediately upon arriving: those sidewalks.
Bonnie also interviewed Debbie as part of her series on WOW (wise older women).
Mentioned in this episode or useful:
San Miguel de Allende
- Best Small City in the World (2022)
- Daily Newsletter: San Miguel FAQ
- Atencion – San Miguel de Allende, bilingual newspaper
- San Miguel de Allende Mexico | CN Traveller
Recommended books about SMA
- This Is Mexico: Tales of Culture and Other Complications by Carol Merchasin (She Writes Press, 2015)
- On Mexican Time: A New Life in San Miguel by Tony Cohan (Broadway Books, January 2001)
- Retiring in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. Is it for you? (TaoMexico)
Selected WOW Factor blog posts:
- On the uneven sidewalks in SMA
- Bonnie’s interview with Debbie Weil on Purpose
- On understanding Mexican culture
- On learning Spanish: Beginners
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