November 2019 - The Philanthropy Issue

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How I Ended Up In Mexico... And The 10 Reasons I Stayed

Why did we move to Mexico? It all happened by accident really. There was never a discussion or a plan to one day live in Mexico, we just showed up one day and didn’t leave.

The Best City in the World - San Miguel de Allende

My husband and I were living in Downtown Los Angeles in an up and coming neighborhood that we truly loved. We had a wonderful life, great jobs, and were active in our community, but the constant hustle was really getting to us. When we weren’t working our full time jobs, we were working our side hustles to pay for our ONE yearly vacation. It was a little soul crushing to know that the trip I planned for 6 months was going to take up all of my two weeks of vacation for the year, and it would be another year before I could have my next adventure. Oh, and the traffic in LA is brutal, something I will never, ever miss.

About a year before we left I was also starting to have health issues-- stubborn weight gain, extreme fatigue, chronic pain, and brain fog. Without running any tests or looking at blood work my doctor said there was nothing wrong with me, but I was struggling to get my work done and couldn’t make it through the day without a nap. It was becoming evident to us both that our lifestyle in LA was not sustainable and we needed a big life change.

It happened one night while watching House Hunters International. My husband turned to me and said, “We could do that. We could sell our loft and start a new life in another country.” Without hesitation I said “OK, let’s do this!” I was excited to design my own life and do the things that light me up, something I just didn’t have the time and space for in LA. We gave ourselves six months to figure it out. Our big plan was to just start telling everyone that we were moving to France in the hopes that by declaring our goal all necessary actions would be set into motion. It actually kind of worked. Within 24 hours of deciding to sell our home it was sold. We didn’t even list it on MLS! The company I worked for offered me a part time position I could do remotely. We found the perfect place that gave us an amazing long term rental deal. Everything fell into place just as we had hoped it would.

We rented a farmhouse on a vineyard in Provence for 90 days, the exact number of days we were allowed in without a visa. We spent our days browsing the markets, drinking rose, and napping in the garden. It was pure heaven, but eventually we craved more. We tried meet up groups and even asking strangers for coffee in the hopes of finding our community, but it just wasn’t there. By the end of our three months we were ready to move on. A friend back in LA suggested we go to San Miguel de Allende, as she had been saying for years, but this time we listened. We bought a one way ticket and rented a house in Colonia Guadalupe for a month.

We arrived in San Miguel in August 2016, and were charmed right away. The Mexican culture is so warm and open. It felt like exactly what we were looking for after the loneliness we experienced in France. We knew we had found someplace special, and within two weeks we found a long term rental and settled in. I was so surprised to find somewhere that ticked off so many boxes for us.

We may have blindly showed up, but here are the 10 reasons we stayed:

1. ACCESSIBILITY- It is only a 3.5 hour flight from Los Angeles or Tijuana to Leon Airport, so we are able to make it back to visit family as often as we want. I always keep my eye out for airline deals and have gotten flights for as low as $100 US roundtrip.

2. AFFORDABILITY Our money goes a whole lot farther here than in Los Angeles, which has given me the opportunity to take classes and get creative with business ideas as well as focus on my health. I have been able to have regular massages, acupuncture, and see a top notch naturopath, all of which I wasn’t able to afford to do back in Los Angeles..

3. EXCELLENT MEDICAL CARE I was eventually diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, Fibromyalgia, Hypothyroidism, and Adrenal Fatigue. All those years struggling with debilitating symptoms, and I am so grateful to have a doctor here that really listened to me and took the necessary steps to find out what was happening in my body. It didn’t happen overnight, but thanks to this lifestyle change I am now managing all of my symptoms naturally and thriving. Additionally, I have been to the hospital here on two separate occasions, once for a sprained ankle (beware of those lovely cobblestone streets), and the second time for a CT scan. In both instances, I was in and out quickly and the bill was less than $200 US without any insurance. If I have an illness or injury I don’t have to be afraid of being stuck under the weight of crippling medical debt.

4. WALKABILITY Not needing a car was a huge plus for us. We love being able to walk around and have an ATV for when we need to get across town in a hurry. No car also means no car payment or car insurance so we have more money to spend at all of the amazing restaurants here.

5. DOG FRIENDLY We brought our dog Bodhi with us from LA and then adopted Lola, our San Miguel street dog. There are several dog friendly restaurants and lots of areas for your furry friends to walk, play, and socialize.

6. WEATHER I was born and raised in Southern California, and I love that San Miguel feels so similar to what I am used to. Even in the winter months we might have chilly mornings, but by the afternoon I am in a sundress. On those especially warm days there are a number of swimming pools you can visit for a fee to cool off and work on your tan.

7. COMMUNITY Because San Miguel a smaller town, there really is a sense of community here. I love running into people that I know when I am just out running errands, something that never happened in my former life. When we first got here I met so many people who were happy to tell us what restaurants we needed to try, or the best places to buy produce and meat, their favorite yoga class, and places they take their dogs. I feel a sense that we are all supporting each other and enriching each others lives by doing so.

8. CULTURE I love walking through town and hearing the sounds of the mariachis and seeing the kids playing in the Jardin while the parents and grandparents watch from the benches facing the Parroquia. It is clear that Mexicans deeply value family and friends, and I count myself blessed to have friends that feel like family here in Mexico. I also love the bright colors, festivals, parades, and it is my opinion that Mexico has the best food in the world. Tacos, amiright?! There is always something to celebrate and a reason to gather your friends for a fiesta.

9. ACTIVITIES & CLASSES Connecting with my community and creativity through art feeds my spirit more than just about anything. I have taken painting classes, jewelry design, flamenco dance lessons, trapeze classes, yoga, and a welding workshop 3 times. Those are just the ones I have done so far. Still on my list are basket weaving, natural fabric dying, Zumba, pole fitness, and the list goes on and on. I could easily fill every single day with something fun and new to do.

10. SLOWER PACE OF LIFE This is challenging to get used to at first, especially coming from somewhere like Los Angeles where everyone is always in a hurry. Here, cars will just stop in the middle of the road, checking out at the grocery store takes an eternity, and sometimes after a heavy rain the internet won’t work. These are things I could complain about, and honestly some days I do, but I am learning to settle in, take a breath, and enjoy the moment. I have the time to wait and can use it to chat with the person next to me in line, or look around and enjoy the different array of blooms that come with each season. I can take slow walks across town and run into a friend and end up grabbing coffee and having a chat.