In the United States, beginning at birth, we are taught all about the American dream. We are fed this dream through TV, our parents, our schools, church, and friends. I lived it and then I quit it and I am never looking back.
What exactly is the American dream I am talking about? Simple. According to Wikipedia, the know it all of the internets, the American dream is the idea that everyone in the United States has equal opportunity for prosperity and success.
Maybe you even have a degree or two, a nice big home, nice car, great job, and even a spouse, but deep down something doesn’t quite feel right.
Of course, this is only a personal opinion drawn from my own misery of life back in the U.S. trying to keep up with Joneses while yearning for happiness and not being able to figure out why the hell I was so damn miserable.
I definitely am not alone in this. According to the Very Well Mind, statistics show that 16.2 million adults in the United States have experienced a major depressive episode in the past year alone.
Why I Quit My American Life And Moved To Mexico
I don’t know if I can tell you the exact moment I quit my American life. I think it was a series of events actually. My marriage fell apart, I became a single mom faced with having to put my newborn into daycare, and mounting debt threatened to crush me.
Basically, I was sinking fast. All this happened in what seemed like such a short time. I was overwhelmed with one thought. I hate my life. A small trip with my daughters to the coast was the only thing that seemed to make me forget that my life had literally just fallen apart.
Everything I had worked so hard for; my degree, my marriage, my house was all gone now. We didn’t just all of a sudden decide to move to Mexico.
Actually, we traveled a whole bunch before that after getting rid of most of our possessions and home. We traveled for a year and a half and the only place that truly pulled us in completely was Mexico. One of our first and longest trips.
We chose Mexico because we wanted to attend the Project World School Family Summit hosted by a fellow single mom and world traveler, Lainie Liberti. Lainie is also the founder of the We Are Worldschoolers FB group that serves as an amazing resource for all your worldschooling needs.
Out of all the single mom blogs I sifted through before starting our journey of full-time travel and then living in Mexico, Lainie’s was the one that truly pulled me in.
Even though we did not get to attend the Project World School Family Summit due to a strange illness, we are still thankful that we booked tickets because that was the true start of our life-changing journey into worldschooling and living abroad as a single mom.
Let me tell you a little bit about Lainie and how she inspired me to quit my American life, travel the world, and eventually move to Mexico.
Lainie Liberti and her son Miro set out on a journey for a year but decided to never return “home” after that. What can I say? It happens to the best of us! Like myself, Lainie follows an unschooling and worldschooling approach when it comes to her son’s education.
In Lainie’s own words, she practices the philosophy behind unschooling that children will learn what they need to know when they are ready and want to learn it and this flows through every other aspect of life.
The whole essence of unschooling is that children, when empowered, will learn based on their individual interests. Lainie explains more about worldschooling in her TedTalk below. This is the TedTalk that first pulled me into the idea of worldschooling. Check it out below.
A Lifechanging Journey
The three-and-a-half months spent in Mexico changed us forever. Even though we realized on our first trip to Mexico that we were not quite ready to make it home base just yet because we still wanted to travel a lot more, we would find ourselves right back in Mexico a year later calling it home.
You see. Before that, we WEREN’T truly ready to quit our American life.
After traveling for a year-and-a-half and getting super sick in Albania, I felt an undeniable pull to return to the states. I secretly wanted those trips to Target, white subway tiled backsplash in my oversized home full of stuff, and perfectly manicured lawn. I wanted it so badly. Or did I?
Careful What You Wish For
A two-week return to the states after a 5-month long stay in Albania would finally give me the clarity I needed to quit my American life and move to Mexico.
It had been nearly 7 months since we stepped foot on American soil after slow traveling in Europe through Ireland, Italy, Albania, and Kosovo. As soon as we got off the plane at the Orlando International Aiport, the stress hit me.
It is such a large airport and we had heavy bags and a very tired toddler. My grandparents came to pick us up but I could not for the life of me figure out where she was in this big ass airport.
She tried to explain, we walked and walked, and still could not find her. Our bags were weighing us down. I spotted the luggage carts finally relieved to be able to get our very heavy backpacks off our backs.
Our whole lives were carried in the three backpacks we owned. But when I walked up to the luggage cart I realized that they cost $5 to use. Now, I know $5 is not a ton of money but something about this price bothered me.
Maybe it was because I had flown in from the London Heathrow Airport that was unbelievably kid friendly and whose luggage carts were free. That could be a big part of why I felt so damn frustrated at that moment. It could have also been that fact that I had very little sleep in those last couple of days.
I jammed my card into the reader and took the cart to spare us all from needing chiropractic work due to our backpacks that weighed more than baby elephants. After what seemed like forever, we found my grandparents and headed on the one hour journey to their home in Florida.
As I sat in the car, I noticed how everything was the same as it was the year before. Things are eerie like that when you return to the U.S. after being gone for so long.
Feeling out of place
We got home. We slept. We woke up and I immediately felt off. I felt out of place. How could I feel out of place in the U.S.?
Don’t get me wrong. I felt the cold air from the central air coming from the vents that was much appreciated with the Florida heat, and I could finally flush toilet paper again.
Still… something felt very off. The girls and I spent the next two weeks resting, watching lots of TV, shopping at Target, and walking around a perfectly manicured neighborhood.
There were no language barriers to overcome, people actually followed the posted street signs, very few holes in the road and for the most part people picked up their dog shit. Yet, I still found myself counting down the days before our big move to Mexico.
I yearned for the noise, unpleasant smells at times, colorful buildings, cobblestone streets, and general lax attitude of it will happen when it happens and don’t worry about how long it will take.
I looked forward to practicing my elementary level Spanish and shoving my face with the best tacos in the world. The pull to get to Mexico and connect with others was a magnetic pull like no other.
Don’t shoot the messenger but something about the U.S. feels so unauthentic. I know that I am a privileged American citizen. My citizenship gives me the ability to literally travel the world and draw in pay with the very strong US dollar. I am not naive to this fact. I don’t hate being American and I don’t hate the U.S. but have absolutely no desire to return to life in the U.S. and to the American dream.
I Quit The American Dream And Moved To Mexico
We touched down in Mexico close to midnight on December 31st, 2018. Mexico welcomed us with open arms. Since it was New Year’s Eve we felt like the entire country was throwing us a welcoming party. Everything went shockingly smooth as we arrived and were let into our Airbnb for the evening.
I relished in the noise of fireworks in every direction. Granted… fireworks are common in a lot of places for New Year’s Eve but Mexico always takes celebrating with fireworks to the next level. It is a daily thing in Mexico no matter what time of the day. Finally, we were home.
The First Two Weeks After American Life
We spent the first two weeks reconnecting with Mexico taking in all the sights, sounds, and smells of this majestic country. It was both comforting and invigorating to be back in the first country that took my breath away.
After traveling the past year-and-a-half in the unknown, it was so nice to be back in the familiar. We hung out with friends, took long naps, soaked up the warm sun after nearly freezing to death in Albania.
I can’t even begin to explain the amazing food we ate our first few weeks back in Mexico. I took comfort in the spices and my taste buds appreciated all the variety it had been missing. Mexicans put so much love in their food.
Luckily it only took us two weeks to find our home in Mexico. Finding a home in Guanajuato City, Mexico can be super challenging especially if you do not know the language. Finding a long term rental in Mexico is not for the faint of heart. We bounced around from three different Airbnbs during those two weeks.
The first two were an absolutely stunning and great comfort for our return to Mexico. The last one, which we booked in for 10 days, was absolutely terrible. It felt like we were in jail. I am proud of us for sticking it out but more than once I wanted to just lose out on the money and book another place.
We saw three possible rentals in the first two weeks after arriving in Mexico.
The first one was an overpriced shit hole. It didn’t even have a toilet. I am not joking.
The second place was decent but it was overpriced and I did not get a good vibe from the owner at all.
The last place we saw that a friend had told us about while we were still back in the states, felt like home as soon as we walked in.
It had everything we needed which is super important when you have been living out of a backpack for the last year-and-a-half. I could already see my kids’ artwork being hung on the walls and Novie’s toys scattered throughout the house.
We moved right in a few days later to our new $400 a month rental. No contract was signed which is what I wanted. I just wanted a relationship with an owner that felt more like family than a business contract. You can check out this home in the video below.
We transitioned into our slow Mexico life very quickly. We adopted routines and were comfortable but after two months in Guanajuato City, Mexico, we took a trip to surprise a former client of mine in Merida, Mexico.
If I am being completely honest here, I did not expect to like Merida. To my surprise, I didn’t just like it, I fell absolutely in love with it and the thought of getting on a return flight back to Guanajuato City nearly broke my heart.
A city had never felt so right for us. Reluctantly, we got on that return flight but within a week we had tickets back to Merida making it our new home In Mexico!
A New City
Merida has welcomed us with open arms. We hired a transition specialist, Barbara Blanco, that I highly recommend if you ever plan on moving to Merida. She will be the one to help us find our long term rental in Mexico.
From past experiences, I know just how difficult it is to find a long term rental in Mexico. We are taking our time finding a long term rental by renting a monthly Airbnb for cheap while we take our time and search throughout Merida for our home.
I don’t know if I can put into words how vastly different Mexico life is from life in the U.S. Call me crazy but I love sending my clothes out to be washed, dried, and folded for only $4.
I absolutely love how kind the locals have been to my little family.
I feel safe.
I feel welcomed.
I feel free to be myself.
Are you wanting to quit your American life?