Since moving to Querétaro, Mexico, in October 2017, hardly a week has passed without someone contacting me to ask about expat life in Mexico. Specifically, expat life in Querétaro! You want to know what living in Querétaro, Mexico, is like, and I’m here to share my experience with you.
Image Credit: Pixabay & Unsplash (Text Overlay: Backpacking Brunette)
To be honest, I didn’t anticipate all this interest in moving to Querétaro when I started writing about it back in 2017.
Before moving to Mexico, I failed to find much information about Querétaro. In the past, it’s taken a backseat to popular cities in Mexico for expats like San Miguel de Allende and Merida.
But, the secret is quickly getting out about living in Querétaro. Instead of settling in San Miguel de Allende, expats are retiring in Querétaro, Mexico.
But, it’s far from just retirees here.
Younger expats, like myself, appreciate the city’s university-atmosphere and wealth of cultural activities. Affordable cost of living, renowned public safety and a central location within the country make Querétaro a fantastic place to live for people from all walks of life.
Since I didn’t know much about living in Querétaro (or living in Mexico PERIOD) when I first moved here back in 2017, I just used the standard issue 180-day tourist visa. But, I fell so in love with living here that in July 2020 I applied to become a temporary resident of Mexico.
In today’s post, I’m answering some of the most frequently asked questions I get from readers about living in Querétaro, Mexico. If you’re considering moving to Mexico and want to know about ex-pat life in Querétaro, then this post is for you!
How large is Querétaro?
Querétaro (kay-RET-uh-row) is located in central Mexico, approximately three and a half hours northwest of Mexico City. The city is officially called Santiago de Querétaro, and it’s the capital of the state of Querétaro.
Even though it’s one of the smallest states in Mexico, Querétaro boasts varied ecosystems including tropical rainforests, deserts, valleys and mountains. More than 1 million people live in Querétaro City’s metro area. Over 800,000 people live within the city limits, and that number is quickly rising. Querétaro is one of the fastest-growing cities in Latin America.
That may seem like a lot of people (because it is a lot of people), but the city’s historic center still has a small-town vibe. Sometimes, I joke that I feel like I’m living in a pueblo!
What is Querétaro known for?
It seems like every foreigner has a different idea of what Mexico is like (and, some of them are not so nice). Querétaro is situated in the country’s Bajío region, and throughout the country, this part of Mexico is known for its high quality of life, safety and vibrant economy.
In 1996, Querétaro’s historic city center became a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s well-preserved baroque architecture and many plazas make it a prime example of colonial Mexico. You could wander Querétaro’s streets for hours—only stopping when the delicious smells wafting from the gordita stands become too much to bear.
Planning a visit to Querétaro? Check out this awesome rundown of all the best things to do in Querétaro.https://www.youtube.com/embed/qCF6V_KKeCw?start=1&feature=oembedCurious about the cost of living in Querétaro? Check out this YouTube video!
Is Querétaro, Mexico, safe?
Querétaro is one of the safest cities—if not THE safest—in Mexico. I’ve never once felt in danger or, even, uncomfortable while living in Querétaro. As a woman, I feel safe walking in my neighborhood (the historic center) at night by myself.
Of course, as in any city, there are neighborhoods you might want to stay away from after dark. But, in well-trafficked areas, you can feel safe. It’s always important to know your surroundings and stay alert. If you feel unsafe somewhere, there’s probably a reason for that.
Because I don’t have a car, I often utilize Uber. I also feel comfortable hailing a cab off the street.
What is it like living in Querétaro?
Before moving to Querétaro, I knew very little about the city. Like, very little. My decision to move to Querétaro wasn’t all that more scientific than pulling a name out of a hat. Slightly better, but not by much.
Living in Querétaro feels like I hit the jackpot.
Part of what attracted me to Querétaro was the fact I couldn’t find much information about it. I didn’t want to move to a place saturated with expats, and for now, that’s still true about Querétaro.https://www.youtube.com/embed/4k8yP2Kka1s?feature=oembedIn this video, I take you all around Querétaro & show you where I do my shopping.
Living in Querétaro has allowed me to experience the real Mexico. I shop for my groceries in a working market, drink in the same bars as locals and get to use my Spanish every day.
>> Check out THIS POST for things you probably don’t know about life in Querétaro! <<
Of course, living in a place not set up for foreigners has its challenges. For example, when I was apartment hunting, some landlords were hesitant to rent to me simply because they’d never rented to a foreigner before. But, in my opinion, it’s the challenges that make it an adventure.
How difficult is finding an apartment in Querétaro?
If you have time, money, patience and a decent level of Spanish, finding an apartment in Querétaro should be a breeze!
But, if you’re a mortal like the rest of us, finding an apartment in Querétaro can be challenging.https://www.youtube.com/embed/rfrLloPD33o?feature=oembedHow hard is it to find an apartment in Mexico?? After this video, you’ll have a better idea of what exactly it is you’re getting yourself into.
Even if you have all the aforementioned resources, you still need a bit of luck. It took two weeks for me to find an apartment in Querétaro, and in the end, I had to make some compromises—most notably, taking an unfurnished place.
My advice for finding an apartment in Querétaro? Use whatever Spanish you have to ask anyone and everyone if they know of an apartment for rent. Most everything is done by word of mouth, so you won’t find much information online or in newspapers. I only found my place after striking up a conversation with a bartender who knew somebody who knew somebody.
And, don’t be afraid to take an unfurnished apartment! I know expats love their move-in ready places, but there aren’t a lot of furnished apartments in Querétaro. Walmart, Amazon, local carpenters and secondhand shops make it easy and affordable to furnish an apartment in Querétaro.
What are some perks of living in Querétaro?
- Living in the beautiful historic center where my two-bedroom apartment is located on a pedestrian-only street.
- Not needing a car because Ubers and taxis are so cheap.
- Buying fresh produce and non-hormone-filled meat from Mercado La Cruz.
- Having the small-town feel of the city center as well as access to big chains and shopping centers in other parts of the city.
- Getting to use my Spanish in a variety of situations.
- An affordable cost of living which allowed me to transition from an online ESL teacher to a full-time freelance writer.
- The central location in the country makes exploring Mexico easy and affordable.
What advice would you give someone who is moving to Querétaro, Mexico?
Before moving to Querétaro, I recommend taking some Spanish classes and getting as proficient as possible.
Don’t wait until you get here to learn Spanish. From apartment hunting to making friends, speaking at least some Spanish will make your life a whole lot easier.
On the subject of making friends, my second piece of advice is to get plugged in as soon as you get here.
In general, Mexicans are really friendly, so don’t be afraid to strike up a conversation with someone.
As for the expat community in Querétaro, it’s not huge, but it does exist. Use Meetup and Facebook to connect with other expats in Querétaro.
Question about living in Querétaro?
Got more questions about expat life in Querétaro, Mexico?
Feel free to leave them in the comments below, and I’ll be sure to answer them.
If you’re thinking about moving abroad but don’t know where to start, check out this post which breaks down your moving abroad checklist into tasks that won’t make you want to pull your hair out.