Why We Moved to Mexico…
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It all started (queue story voice) one cold, wintery night in Brussels, Belgium in November 2017.
Paul and I are lounging on the couch in our cozy studio waiting on news from his uncle and cousin who are supposed to arrive by plane tonight (but didn’t due to flight delays). The gas fire is toasting our kitty, Yoda, who is stretched out in front of the dancing flames when we begin to talk about the future.
“What are we going to do? I’ll be finished with school, and I don’t want to stay in Europe and work for an institution,” I said. Paul fidgets while I eagerly wait for his response in silence. We both agree we don’t want to settle down in France or in the U.S, and not being married, it certainly complicates the situation (visas, etc).
“Where to Next?”
“Why don’t we make a list of countries that can host us, then?” With a burst of curiosity that I know all too well, I search for pen and paper.
“What about Japan? Japan would be amazing.” “Yeah!” Paul shouts from the kitchen. “But what about quarantine time for Yoda?” Oh. Yikes. Six months? “No way, we can’t do that. Plus, Japan is pretty expensive!”
“Let’s do island life for a while. What do you think? Island life would be so cool.” I check for Fiji. Nope. French Polynesia? Nope. Each has pretty strict pet immigration guidelines.
“How about this: Let’s make a list of countries that can host us all (as French and US citizens, plus easily accommodate Yoda) for the longest period possible without any crazy visas.”
So I proceed to make a list with three columns. Countries that accept me up to six months visa-free, countries that accept Paul for up to six months, and countries that are fairly easy for Yoda to immigrate to (aka, no quarantine protocols).
Within ten minutes, the task is done. I present the results to Paul, pointing at only three countries on the list which satisfy all our requirements. They are:
And as you can very well see by the title of this article, we chose Mexico. But wait! Was it really that simple?
Yes, and no.
Paul, still unconvinced, looks at me blankly. I on the other hand immediately fell in love with the idea of Mexico. It was undeniable after that moment that we’d end up anywhere else! I believed in it so strongly, without knowing where we would go or what we would do.
That same night I began searching for “Mexican coastal towns” and found a small community-driven pueblo known as San Pancho.
After reading about it, the urge to go grew stronger and I may or may not have hinted at the idea to Paul at every chance I could. For example, for the first time ever, while playing with Paul’s guitar I just happened to notice the small print which is visible on the inside of the guitar. There, in tiny writing, underneath the “Baby Taylor” marking, was written, “Made in Mexico.”
Did I use that as a sign from the universe that we should move to Mexico? You betcha I did!
When Did We Move to Mexico?
With a little more research and more persuading, the idea to move to Mexico was finally flourishing from a dream into a goal.
So we packed up our apartment in Brussels and drove down to spend our last month in Europe with Paul’s family in Ardèche, France. The month flew by, and before we knew it, it was time to leave Europe.
First, we were going to India for the wedding of an old friend Paul and I met 7 years ago at college. After a few more weeks back in France, we were off to the U.S. to see my family before heading to Mexico.
Our flight departed on Earth Day – April 22nd, 2018
This time moving abroad didn’t feel so far (at least for me) since Mexico is just a short 4-5 hour flight from home. It was both Paul and I’s first time in Mexico and I couldn’t wait to meet the little town of San Pancho, a place we read so much about!
Why Did We Move to Mexico?
Visas and the sunny weather might be why we moved to Mexico, but San Pancho is what made us stay.
We flew into San Pancho’s nearest airport in Puerto Vallarta – a metropolitan coastal city about an hour south of the town. When we arrived, the airport staff were so welcoming and offered us free margaritas. They also thought Paul and I were honeymooners, until we said, “Nope! We’re moving to San Pancho, even though this is our first time in Mexico.”
Many people asked, “Why San Pancho?”
So what made us choose San Pancho? Well, from the few blogs that I previously wrote about it, we discovered Entreamigos.
The Heart of San Pancho – Entreamigos
Entreamigos is a community center that leads by example. Their three foundational pillars of education, environment and community create opportunities for children and adults to learn, create, and share among each other.
Immediately when I read about them, I felt drawn to their work. And since it is a local non-governmental organization (NGO), it connected with my humanitarian background.
Being able to freelance and work independently is also what allows Paul and me to travel and live abroad.
It’s also for this reason that I was able to volunteer at Entreamigos to gain experience with a local organization and to participate in a beautiful, active community without having to worry about finding a job.
Plus, actually working in Mexico would’ve meant visa applications and lots of paperwork. Volunteering is the best way for us to participate in the community!
How Did We Move to Mexico & Why Are We Still Here?
Moving to Mexico, at first, was just a temporary move. After all, we only have only six months at a time on our tourist visas.
So when the time came to exit, we went back to our homes for a while (U.S. and France) so that we could come back and renew our tourist visas.
Our apartment lease was ending a few weeks after we got back in Mexico, so we had to decide whether or not to stay in San Pancho or see if elsewhere in Mexico suited us. We went to visit the Yucatan Penisula, some 2000 km away from San Pancho. We thought we would love it over there, and we did, but not as much as we love living in San Pancho. 🙂
San Pancho has its ups and downs like any other place, but it’s a very special town where people from all over the world come to learn, heal, grow and discover.
So, we are approaching our 1 year anniversary since moving to Mexico. We came because of easy visas and warm weather, we stayed because of the community, the culture, and of course, the cerveza y tacos!
Besides the diversity and rich sense of community here, San Pancho has so much to offer. Did I mention we have the best sunsets over the Pacific ocean? And the beautiful beach? The jungle hikes, local parks, and artisanal market? The tastiest churros and the freshest chocolate/cacao bar?
But all of that will be for another post, of course. I’m just getting started. 🙂