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Queretaro, Mexico: Helping Us Clarify Our Path to Living Abroad



In 1967, The Monterey Pop Festival marked a significant turning point for rock 'n' roll by featuring performances by The Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin, The Who, and Jimi Hendrix. . .  among others. Jerry Garcia of The Grateful Dead described their experience in an interview, recalling: "We came onstage just after The Who finished smashing their equipment onstage for the first time in America. The Who were beautifully theatrical - there’s clouds of smoke and explosions and they’re clearing away the debris. And so, we came out and played our little act - and then Jimi Hendrix comes on after us and lit his guitar on fire after his performance. We were erased from existence."



Reflecting on this rock 'n' roll anecdote, I see a parallel between our travels in Queretaro, Mexico, and the experience of The Grateful Dead at The Monterey Pop Festival. And here's why: Before our 10-day stay in Queretaro, we spent eight weeks exploring the vibrant and picturesque towns of Guanajuato and San Miguel, which are truly the crown jewels of the central highlands of Mexico. These places dazzled us with their vivid colors, liveliness, and scenic charm. In contrast, Queretaro felt somewhat underwhelming, reminiscent of The Dead's overshadowed performance at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival.



We initially decided to visit Queretaro because it consistently showed up as a "must-see" place in our research on Mexico. The term "livability" frequently surfaced in blogs and videos and sparked our excitement about Queretaro as both an attractive place to visit and as a potential place to live.



After spending ten days in Queretaro, we came to understand that when bloggers and vloggers refer to a place as highly livable, they are often emphasizing the presence of comforts, amenities, and conveniences like those found in the US. Queretaro indeed provides expats with a seamless transition. It has a Costco, Sam’s club, Home Depot, and a mall with just about every US national clothing brand you could hope for, as well a couple of nice huge grocery stores that rival Whole Foods.  In that way, it offers expats a sense of familiarity that has led bloggers and vloggers to regard it as a prime example of "livability."



Despite its “livability”, Queretaro didn't quite live up to our expectations. We've grown to love strolling through picturesque streets, being captivated by our surroundings, and thoroughly enjoying the whole experience, and we just didn’t find that in Queretaro. It's possible that our expectations were a bit too high, or that it's unfair to compare any city or town to two of the most stunning places in Mexico. Nevertheless, after visiting enough places that have left us feeling awestruck and fully engaged, we were surprised and somewhat let down by the lack of that wow factor in Queretaro.



While Queretaro didn't resonate with us, our time there was valuable in helping us clarify what we do want in a future home. While "livability" is important, if a place doesn't touch our hearts, or inspire us, then living there would be a little like choosing a life partner solely based on their qualifications on paper. We’d rather have fewer amenities and a little more joy factor.



For us, genuine livability goes beyond merely duplicating the US environment. We want more than an “Americanized” version of a foreign town. We are in search of a picturesque old town filled with pedestrian-friendly streets and lively plazas, and the chance to fully immerse ourselves in a new and dynamic culture. Above all, we desire a welcoming atmosphere that truly resonates with us - we want to live in a place that inspires us.



We are no longer constrained by the need to live in a specific location based on the quality of schools or job prospects, as was the case in our younger years. Our choices are now made solely by our personal preferences and what speaks to our hearts. This newfound freedom is quite liberating, but also more challenging. Being free from these real-world constraints has made us more discerning than ever when it comes to what we want and expect from a new home.



In searching for our next home, Carla and I are driven by the belief that forging an emotional bond with a location is what truly transforms it into a place we can call home. Without such a meaningful connection, no amount of comfort or convenience can truly win us over. Establishing a genuine, heartfelt relationship with a place is our top priority, and we are confident that once we discover a place that resonates with us on that level, all the practicalities and logistics will effortlessly fall into place.

 

We see ourselves as future expats - it's only a matter of time.



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10 Comments


Guest
Apr 19

Instead of living in a town that is more livable, you could live somewhere that is an hour or two to somewhere considered more livable. That way you would have the best of both worlds. You could perhaps journey to the large grocery stores once a month or every couple of months. This is what a friend of mine does. She lives in Todo Santos and goes to La Paz once a month for a Costco/Walmart etc run.

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Simcha
Simcha
Apr 20
Replying to

Sorry to hear that, and as you noted it's happening to a lot of places. Many beautiful places that were discovered by a few pioneer expats and travelers years ago are now overrun with tourism. It becomes quite the conundrum for the local population . . . the influx of money in their town can be helpful, but it also raises property values and taxes which ends up severely limiting their housing opportunities or even forcing them to leave what they already own or rent.

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It's an interesting conundrum, feeling comfortable in a place but not have it feel Americanized. The problem is if you find that place it could change, a little like moving to Chapel Hill when it was still cool, and now being stuck here when it's turned into something completely different. 😃

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Simcha
Simcha
Apr 18
Replying to

Great point . . . I get that Lynn. I left Chapel Hill in 1994 as it began to feel more like a bedroom community for RTP than the cool college town it once was. I then moved to Asheville and it's now overrun with tourists. People change and so do places, and I guess we just have to accept it as part of the dance, or . . . we find home somewhere else. That's become my preference. I'm saddened to hear that you feel "stuck" in Chapel Hill. I hope you can get "unstuck". I know that you and Rich travel a bunch . . . perhaps you'll join us somewhere as expats.

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Guest
Apr 18

Perhaps Oaxaca?

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Simcha
Simcha
Apr 18
Replying to

Oaxaca is amazing . . . and it also gets incredibly hot there. We do love the coast and that may be a determining factor in our decision. It's wonderful to have traveled to so many places that we could possibly call home. We are indeed grateful.

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Guest
Apr 18

Come to Mayne lol! ……or any of the Southern Gulf Islands or San Juan’s!!!

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Simcha
Simcha
Apr 18
Replying to

OK . . .Mayne Island it is! That was easy. 😀

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