I’m a traveler – it’s one of the true loves of my life. I’ve always known that I would like to live outside the U.S. after living in London in 1991. I became an intentional traveler after my experience in the UK. Any time I considered going on vacation, I selected a location where I asked myself about moving to a different country. Could I live in this particular destination? This has been an interesting strategy as some places I loved but wouldn’t live there and others have remained on my list for years. Is moving to a different country right for you? Maybe yes and maybe no but . . .
This is the MILLION DOLLAR QUESTION, no doubt about it!
In 2006-2007, I lived and worked in the Riviera Maya. I fell in love with the culture, food, people and lifestyle. It was this experience that won my heart. I knew I would eventually end up living in Mexico. Therefore, I began doing research and speaking to others about their recommendations regarding different cities, Mérida was mentioned over and over again along with a few other locations. Additionally, other countries may be a consideration for you such as Panama, Portugal, or Costa Rica, to name a few.
7 Considerations for moving to a different country
Within the U.S. or outside the U.S.
While moving to a different country sounds glamorous, is it right for you? For example, have you traveled as a tourist? or is this your first trip? What makes this particular destination attractive to you? OR is it better to choose a location in the U.S. that might fit the bill?
Look at accessibility including cost, flight time and airport location. In the event of an emergency, can you return to your home country quickly? Are there multiple ways to access your city – flying? driving? other airports available?
Is the location you’re considering on the same time zone? Does it matter? For example, are you still working and is time zone a consideration? For some, being on the same time zone is extremely important.
“Cost” of living
This is meant to stretch your mind a bit. How I looked at this particular part: I compared my current budget of what it costs me to “exist and get by” vs. what it will cost me to “thrive and be alive”. This isn’t just about the financial costs, it’s also about the mental, spiritual and emotional costs. I realized I was spending a lot of time, energy and effort into existing and getting by when what I really need is to invest in feeding my soul.
I use this term because that’s what people will tell you when you talk about moving. They will find every way possible to convince you not to do it, offer free advice and give you lots of what if’s. My response is always the same, “I don’t live my live on what if’s that usually NEVER happen.” If I don’t move now, WHEN will I do it? There is always another person, situation or circumstance to consider. This time in my life is about ME!
Sometimes determining what you don’t want helps you find what you do want.
- Recognizing I did not want to live in a primarily touristy location. I love Tulum but there are a lot of tourists…same with Playa del Carmen.
- Reseaching the expat population: I did not want to live somewhere with a tremendous amount of ex-patriates.
- Importantly, I wanted to live in a location that was rich with arts, heritage and culture; a vibrant city with comforts of home as well as authentic local lifestyle.
This was HUGE and something I didn’t even think about until I was pretty far into the process. I realized the location I was looking for based on #6, would be a bigger city vs. a smaller city.
Because I knew Mexico was the country for me, I chose locations that might be a good fit (not in any order):
- San Migel de Allende
- San Cristobal de las Casas
- Lake Chapala / Ajijic
- San Luis Potosi
As I dove down into the details, this is what I found:
- San Miguel de Allende was a consideration however the population is approximately, 60,000.
- Ajijic and Lake Chapala came up on my radar however the combined population is around 50,000.
- The smaller the population, the quicker the ex-pat population would overtake the local population.
- In a smaller city, I may not be able to find or order things I might need or want (you know, those Amazon.com delivery types of purchases).
- As I narrowed my choices, I discovered Mérida is about the size of Fort Worth, Texas (just outside of Dallas where I moved from) with different “colonias or barrios” that are sections of the city. There are parks, museums, restaurants, cultural events, and more – all promoting community and connection which is also what I found in Mérida.
My research trip to Mérida
Most people will tell you that their decision to move here was based on a “feeling”. I know it because it happened to me too. Mérida was the first stop of my research trip to move to Mexico. My plan was to visit the destinations listed to see which was best for me. I would visit all of them over a 2 year period of time, decide which was the best, and then make my move. Sounds very practical and well thought out, doesn’t it? Well, that was not the case when I came to Mérida.
I decided to visit in September, the rainiest, most moquisito-borne month to see if I liked it. If I liked it during a not-so-great month, surely I’d love it when the weather was better. From the first moment I entered the city, I picked up a certain vibe. I can’t accurately describe it other than to say you feel it or you don’t. No judgement, it just is what it is. My best recommendation is to visit during the worst part of the year. If you love it then, you’ll surely love it during the best part of the year.
On my third day, I visited Santa Lucia Park and was enchanted. I stood under the two large trees in the center of the park and it felt like my feet were growing roots. Closing my eyes, I connected to the imagery. Seeing the deep roots and the earth infused with Maya energy, I felt a bond. I sensed I finally had come home. My intuition-inner voice said, “this is your home – move here as soon as possible.” No, this was not my plan. However, I know enough about myself and my intuition that I must follow this very strong recommendation. And I did.
So, you may or may not have this feeling. You’ll know it or you won’t. People either love Mérida or they don’t. It’s definitely not for everyone. It’s a slower pace – the culture here actually forces you to slow down and that’s not for everyone. This isn’t a city of convenience. It will take you twice as long to accomplish simple things like a grocery store run. You’ll be frustrated when you don’t understand why things work or don’t work.
Final Thoughts on Is moving to a different country right for you?
Moving to a new country, a new culture, and a new language can either be a source of frustration. Or, for people like me, it can be an adventure . . . learning, exploring, plugging into a new city full of culture, gastronomy, new friends, and creating a new life. So, be honest with yourself before committing to a move.
- First, do heat and humidity bother you? OR do you think you can adapt?
- Second, are you prepared to live in a place where English is not the first language?
- Third, will you commit to learning a bit of Spanish?
- Fourth, will you be able to adapt to a different culture?
- Finally, are you ready for a change?
If you answered yes to most of them, chances are you are ready to enjoy a more relaxed, affordable lifestyle as expats in Mérida. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it also sounds like the perfect place for you; just like it is for me. It’s all part of the adventure!
NOTE: All images on this article are from Hacienda Yaxcopoil taken on a recent trip by Angel & I. Enjoy!