Working Less While Living -And Saving- More In Mexico

by Nate

I was really feeling my Mars return last November. Wanderlust had come over me like a rash that made it impossible to stay in place any longer. I’ve wanted to move out of the US for years but prioritized my career and other things, and never gotten around to selling my wife on this dream.

So it all hit like a midlife crisis, a sudden realization that I was done. Just done with this life.

Done with the idea of working every day in an office (back when we did such things). Done with marketing, done with selling bullshit, done with corporate life, and done with “business” in general.

I just don’t care enough to fake my enthusiasm any more, and that’s a problem.

Because I’m not done making money. It’s hard to have much of a life without money. I’m just fed up with making other people rich by compromising my ethics, sense of taste -and quality. I’m over the monotony, the politics, the fake-ness, etc.

And while that’s all good to say, I mean it. I’m willing to change aspects of my life, my location, my income, and whatever else is necessary to reconstruct my life in way that creates Joy rather than postpones it.

Still, money is a necessary evil and it’s no good to constantly be in need of it. Long-term planning, investments, retirement -all these things are important. It’s just hard to plan for the future when its bleak and unpredictable.

What does it matter if your retirement account is growing if the dollar is continually being devalued at the same time?

That realization broke something in me. That last bit of me still clinging to normality, to giving a shit what other people think of me, of fear of being a “failure” in life, and especially of dying poor. I realized America’s capitalist dream is dying, but more importantly, I also realized that I was smart enough to figure out another way to be.

So I did.

Seriously, who wouldn’t want to live here?

Why Mexico?

When I was sixteen, my father took me on a trip to Mexico that was life-changing in ways that I wouldn’t figure out for another two decades.

He’d been several times before, spoke fluent Spanish, and made good friends with locals as part of a church missionary program. So I got an authentic experience, to say the least.

That authenticity revealed a world completely different from anything I’d experienced -slower, more deliberate, less frantic, more peaceful, and more accepting of imperfection. This combination makes Mexico seem far more genuine than the States, for all it’s lack of polish, and I absolutely loved it.

The ruins at Tulum left a particularly deep and lasting impression on me, haunting my thoughts and dreams often in the intervening years between then and now. When I realized that I needed to change the narrative of my life story, those thoughts came rushing back to the front of my mind with a fervor.

After some light harassment, I convinced my wife, Sarah, to visit Playa del Carmen over Christmas 2019, and upon returning to the US afterwards, we quickly realized we’d be willing to do whatever it took to live that life all the time.

And why not? Mexico is a beautiful place, especially the Caribbean coast; usually referred to as “The Riviera Maya” by Americans, also known as Yucat√°n Peninsula.

Looking out over the blue Caribbean ocean from the Archeological Zone of Tulum is a vision that’s never far from my mind.

The locals are exceptionally friendly, the crime is quite low, and even COVID seems to have been mercifully scarce in the state of Quintana Roo; which includes such destinations as Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Tulum, Akumal, and Chetumal, among other smaller fishing towns and highway communities.

Best of all, the cost of living in Mexico is incredibly affordable compared to anywhere in the US, let alone Texas. Like, unbelievably cheap…and when I heard that annual property taxes are only a few hundred dollars, I was sold.

Plus land is cheap and available.

If you go looking for a nice house through the typical channels you’ll find prices not unlike the more expensive neighborhoods in the US .

If you don’t want a typical-white-expat living situation, then you can secure a whole lot of beautiful jungle property for a very reasonable investment.

Even as renters, the situation is almost too good to be true (but as I demonstrate below; it is, in fact, true). Through my research, I discovered that we could actually save more each month while only working 50% of the time, living within a typical expat budget in Mexico.

Think about it. How much easier would it be to save for retirement if life just didn’t cost as much in the first place? And how much easier could it be to enjoy our lives if we woke up in paradise every morning?

The Almost Unbelievable Cost Of Living In The Riviera Maya

I’ve looked it up at least twenty times, and most recently, used this estimate calculator to verify these numbers for the cost of living in Playa del Carmen and…well, they’re real.

The calculator crunches numbers on multiple categories of expenses, from food to entertainment to produce this estimate, but the low cost of renting a 3 bedroom apartment in the beautiful beachside city of Playa del Carmen kind of says it all…

A 3 bedroom apartment in the city center and a simple, but entertaining life, for $2,000 USD is literally a dream come true. Obviously some of this data could be wrong, but I sourced similar numbers from several places before finding the calculator.

If this data is even close to accurate then we’re talking about a 2/3 reduction in monthly expenses. It’s worth highlighting that by drastically reducing our expenses, we’ll be able to save the difference –and saving a few thousand dollars a month adds up quickly.

Here’s another sample from the same site, displaying a comparison of costs between Dallas, TX, USA and Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo, Mexico…

Needless to say, I got very excited about the prospect of cutting our monthly expenses by significantly more than half, and I also discovered the narrative I needed to get Sarah on board.

Work less, save more, and wake up in a Caribbean paradise every morning.

It sounds pretty great, right? Sarah certainly thought so.

Isn’t it worth changing your life to make it the one you want to live?

Turning Dreams Into Plans During A Pandemic

Obviously I couldn’t have picked a worse time to plan an escape, but we’re just playing the hand we’re dealt and refusing to succumb to fear or doubt or limitation. We anticipate many difficulties along the way but have faith (in ourselves, our mojo, and our spiritual support) and we know that we’ll ultimately succeed.

But that’s easy to say and more challenging to live up to in “times like these”, so we’ve forced ourselves to discuss, strategize, and formalize a plan for our expatriation.

Mexico is very dependent on US trade and tourism, which should play to our favor when it comes to requesting visas; if our own country will allow us to leave when we want.

Establishing permanent residency requires a period of four years of temporary residency, as well as a number of achievable financial and legal requirements.

With these requirements in order, the rest of planning becomes logistics. Where to live, how to transport our things, how to travel with our dogs, and numerous other challenges I look forward to solving soon.

I’ll be sharing the results of our “escape planning” research and documenting our experiences in this section of the blog, to inform and hopefully inspire you to either join us in the Caribbean, or to find your way to the paradise of your dreams.

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