Housing and the Distribution of Wealth | Mexico | Living in Mexico

Housing and the Distribution of Wealth

Like most places in the U. S., house prices have run way up here in San Miguel de Allende. While our homes still cost substantially less than, say, in the San Francisco Bay Area, it's now possible to spend millions of dollars on a San Miguel house—virtually unheard of ten years ago.


Multimillion-dollar homes are located along the Cañadita de los Aguacates, an area sometimes referred to as the Beverly Hills of San Miguel. More typical houses farther away from the Centro Historico can be found in the $200,000-$300,000 range; expensive enough that buyers are almost always retiring Norteamericanos. New condominium complexes on the edge of town sell units for more than $100,000. Often, well-off Mexico City residents buy these for weekend homes.

A great many citizens cannot afford any of these houses. Still, some find ways to live in town. This place is a fifteen-minute walk from the Cañadita.


The brick wall belongs to a neighboring house. The rusty corrugated steel shack houses a family of five who are squatting on the lot. There's no gas, electricity or running water. An adjacent arroyo serves as a latrine.

Politicians say that passion over the close Presidential election and tension over the gubernatorial election in Chiapas are all about irregularities in vote counting. This is only partly true. The real issue is chronic and massive disparity in wealth distribution. I've seen people who don't have shoes walking the streets. I've seen women in the countryside washing clothes in a muddy creek. Men find presumably remunerative employment herding small flocks of goats; a typical flock can't be worth even $100.

Modern media reaches everyone. People become aware that others live well at their expense. No longer can the poor be held in their places through ignorance, as they have been for the last several centuries.

Their outrage is building. Can another Mexican revolution be far behind?