Published in MORE Magazine, July/August 2007 as "Made in Mexico."
Laura Fraser; Photographs by Coral Von Zumwalt
The little town of San Miguel de Allende in Mexico has become a reinvention destination for scores of midlife women.
A San Miguel Real Estate Entrepreneur
San Miguel has a collegial vibe that has helped many women create high-profile careers south of the border. Sharon Des Jardins, 59, moved to Mexico from Portland, Oregon, in 1995. Her plan was to explore the country for a few years, then move back to the U.S. Today the former travel agent owns a real estate business in San Miguel and includes herself among a group of single entrepreneurs, women who love to network.
The dynamic Des Jardins found that the longer she stayed in San Miguel, the clearer it became that there were dozens of women ready, willing, and able to purchase houses. “Buyers are in awe of the architecture here," she says. “But they also like the active social scene and the restaurants and galleries."
So with just $15,000 in savings, she launched Mexico Luxury Homes in 2006. After paying $1,500 for a "deed," permission to start a business, she hired a full-time secretary and rented an office for $1,100 per month. She made her first sale, for $1.3 million, a month later and has since sold homes to producers and Pulitzer Prize winners.
One morning she took me on a tour of a 300-year-old colonial house with ornate archways, terraces, balconies, and a $1.2 million price tag; a home in the historic center of town averages $800,000.