“Moving to Mexico”-What does that conjure up? Beaches? Lazy days in the sun? Perpetual vacation? Cheap living?
Certainly some people are moving to Mexico for these reasons. But in my eleven years of living in Mexico and through extensive interviews with expats, I’ve discovered there are more meaningful reasons why baby-boomers, as well as people between 30 and 62, are moving to Mexico. They are discovering that Mexico offers a different quality of life than that of the first world.
Expat after expat has told me that they have deeper, more meaningful relationships in Mexico than they had at home in the states or in Canada. Some of these people are alluding to their relationships with Mexicans, but most are really speaking about their relationships with other expats. I’ve been struck by the number of people who talked about having found “family” in Mexico; how their new-found friends provided them with something they had yearned for, but had never had. Other interviewees spoke about the fact that living in Mexico was akin to being back in college where they were surrounded by like-minded people.
Cheryl, an attractive, hip jewelry designer from San Francisco, said, “When I moved here I didn’t know a soul and I don’t know why I had the bravery to do this. But I immediately felt I had family here.”She continues, “I didn’t realize how important it was to have these relationships in my life. When I was in San Francisco and in that kind of life, I didn’t have time to think about this. Actually I didn’t realize I needed it so badly until I came here.”
Ed, a lawyer from California said, “San Miguel is an unusual place. I like living here for many reasons, but primarily because of the strong sense of community I feel here”. “Last year when I faced serious health issues, I received 480 emails, mostly from people here in this town.”
*Sense of Community
In Mexican towns and cities you see old people and babies on every single block! American cities are homogenized. Babies are at home or in daycare and the elderly are hidden away.Many of us don’t realize the connection between our sense of losing soul and our not being with kids and old people.
The famous philosopher Theodore Rozak talks about the fact that we (in the first world) are losing contact, contact that opens our heart. He says, “If you make one contact everyday, you are lucky.” Rozak describes our current state as one of “psychological pollution.”
Maybe this is why most interviewees talk with such satisfaction about how it feels to walk to or from the jardin or zocolo (the main plaza in every Mexican town.)Expats report how it feels to walk down the street and make eye contact and say “Buenos dias” and to have it said back to you. These feelings may represent deep longings that are being met though contact.
Rosemary, a 60 year old from Montreal, came to San Miguel de Allende on a “little trip” when she was 26. She is still there. She reports, “In Mexico the main square is called the jardin. And it is a gathering place. A place where people say, ‘I will meet you at such and such time.’It is always pleasant to sit there. No one will bother you or people will speak to you as you wish. You can hear about everything that is going on or you can sit quietly”
She goes on, “People and your relationships are very important in this country.When you walk out of your door in the morning, your neighbor who is probably outside sweeping the front step, says, ‘Buenos Dios’.This seems to me to be the height of civilized behavior.It identifies each of us to each other. It acknowledges that you are in each others’ lives
Mira, a retired couture designer from New York says, “I believe one of the greatest things that has happened is that I’ve been able to share with other people and really give to people. That is a great, great gift. When I lived in N.Y. I didn’t have relationships with people younger than I am. Here all the ages mix.
Steve, a psychotherapist from New York said, “I always had a group of friends and colleagues and naturally they tended to be virtually the same because generally you meet people through work. That is how people make friends in the United States. Here in Mexico I know all sorts of people from all sorts of fields that I normally wouldn’t have known.”