Why I Moved To Mexico

I moved from my home in southern California to a small city in central Mexico in the spring of 2023.

Although living in a new country has its challenges, this move has been a wonderful change and I am happy to be here.

Back in 2020 I lived for 6 months in San Miguel de Allende Mexico, arriving just as the pandemic was gearing up and the border was about to close.

Because many businesses were closed during the time I was there and there were restrictions as to entering the city and therefore far fewer tourists than normal, I didn’t get the full living-in-Mexico experience.

But I did feel how different it is here in this country.

And when I returned to the US in the autumn of 2020 I felt a keen absence of how it felt to be in Mexico and who I feel I am here. I hoped I could return one day.

Now I live in Guanajuato, a beautiful smallish city of about 200,000 in the central highlands of Mexico. 

The city is built in a bowl, with colorfully painted houses covering the steep sides of the bowl.

The hills are so steep that instead of streets we have alleys, or callejónes, which are narrow pedestrian-only streets that climb up the sides of the bowl.

Naturally, there are fabulous views from almost everywhere.

But the views aren’t why I am here.

The Quick Answer: Economics

The quick answer of why I moved to Mexico is economics. It costs much less to live here. 

My rent costs about 1/5 of what it cost in the San Diego area for about 2/3 the amount of space. 

Food is also much cheaper. I eat out about twice a week and typically spend the equivalent of $7 for lunch or $15-18 for dinner and a fancy cocktail. 

(I have a residency visa, soon to become permanent, so I will be able to live indefinitely in Mexico with my two Mexican cats, Tika and Mijo, who came to live with me in 2020 when I first lived in the country.)

A longer answer is more complicated.

The Longer Answers

I like who I am here.

For one thing, other than the time I’ve been in Mexico I lived in the US my entire life.

I’ve traveled to many countries over the years but being a tourist somewhere is different than living there. 

Many American foreign residents in Mexico complain about the slow pace of life here. I like the slow pace. 

When I returned to the US in late 2020 after having lived in Mexico for 6 months, I found myself driving aggressively, honking at other drivers, and generally feeling anxious and in a hurry. I had never noticed it before. 

I didn’t like that anxious, urgent, aggressive feeling. I didn’t like ME. But I felt unable to ward off the energy of NOW NOW NOW that pervades Southern California.

I relish the adventure.

Every day is an adventure here, and I thrive on it.

Even simple, everyday tasks like getting copies made of my house keys or buying a longer bolt for the cat tower are more complicated here, and therefore more adventurous. Or ordering unfamiliar foods in restaurants (Google doesn’t always know). Or taking a bus just about anywhere.

Mexican culture is very different from American culture. So it is an adventure to me.

I don’t even yet know all the ways it is different, but I feel them in my bones as I walk the streets of my city.

As I type, I can hear the myriad sounds of my neighborhood through my open window.

Roosters crowing, dogs barking, miscellaneous music, birds chirping, the guy who walks the streets and alleys selling tall cylinders of propane as he yells ”gaaaaaas!”, and the short honks of cars navigating the blind turn down the hill from my apartment so as to alert other drivers on my one-car-width street. 

When I returned to California in 2020 after living in Mexico for six months I noticed the lack of adventure immediately.

I could easily read road signs. I knew the language and didn’t need to search my brain  to find words just to have a simple conversation. I knew where everything was.

There was no adventure.

I feel alive here. 

One thing Mexicans do very well is to celebrate.

There are dozens, if not hundreds, of celebration occasions throughout the year.

Many of them warrant parades that snake through the main part of the city, or special foods sold at street side stands, and ALL of them replete with loud fireworks that often continue through the night.

It would be easy to complain about the sounds here—barking dogs, fireworks, parades, the loud music that seemingly leaks from every shop and restaurant—but to me they are signs of life. 

Mexico feels teeming with life, a joyful celebration of the sheer miracle of being alive.

Tl;dr

So, to recap, my reasons for moving to Mexico were:

It’s affordable.

I like who I am here.

Every day is an adventure.

I feel alive here. 

 

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