How Living In Mexico For A Year Inspired Me

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For the average American moving to Mexico sounds like a bad idea.

I don’t personally watch the news, but according to every Tom, Dick, and Harry, this is a dangerous place. There’s crime and drugs, lots of drugs. So why did this mom of two move her family to Mexico a year ago?

As a teenager I took a trip to the other side of the world it and it rocked me to my core.

If you ever saw the movie, The Village, directed by M. Night Shyamalan, you know where I am from. A small town a long way from nowhere. The isolation encourages more isolation. Don’t leave because it’s dangerous out there, is the motto that was drilled into me from as far back as I can remember. I wanted approval like any kid, but try as I may, I couldn’t talk myself into being content with marrying the neighbor boy and living in the hayfields. What did I do instead?

I spent a summer in Rangoon, Myanmar volunteering and I sealed my fate as an unconventional explorer.

I spent my twenties as a volunteer in some off the beaten path countries and just before turning thirty I got malaria in Kenya. Recently a friend told me she believed that mosquito caught me smack dab in the middle of my bliss of travel and humanitarian work and the guilt of not being the dream daughter. I never earned a college degree. I didn’t take over the family business. I didn’t have a car and a mortgage. I was flying by the seat of my pants on some quest to save the world. I took the illness as a sign to return to my village.

I landed at JFK airport and I instantly felt the most difficult of all culture shocks, reverse culture shock.

We can’t actually see our culture while living in it. It requires us to leave and when we step back in, it’s like the veil is pulled back on what used to be normal and accepted. For the next nine years I dedicated myself to living the American Dream as much as I possibly could. I started a business with my husband. We bought a house. We had two cars. We worked hard. In 2011 I hit my breaking point. We were living in downtown San Diego surrounded by more navy suits than I could stomach and I told my husband, let’s get out of here. We sold everything we owned and spent a year in Albania, a country that had always felt like home to me. We spent many a lazy day on the beach and internally I was confronted with the battle of pleasing others over pleasing myself.

Once again I caved and returned to the U.S. in hopes of making peace with living in the country I was born.

I was determined to be good American, collect stuff, and compete with the Jones. Just a few months after arriving I got pregnant and ended up having two babies in twelve months. I believe the magnitude of motherhood is what helped me get honest with myself. I had a sixteen year old dream of living with my own family all over the world, living a slow lifestyle that focused on quality of life over mass accumulation. Was I going to suppress it and deny my true self or did I have the courage to face my demons, the naysayers, all the CNN watching friends and family and make it happen?

One year ago my husband and I made the decision to move our family to Mexico.

We started off in San Carlos, a short six hour road trip from Tucson. It was an easy way to wiggle out of the country and to see if our one and two year old boys were up for the adventure. I could feel myself relaxing a few weeks after we arrived and within two months we knew we were ready for more. We pared our possessions down to three suitcases and a bag of Legos and boarded the plane to Guanajuato. It was love at first sight.

This colonial city has been incredibly good to us.

Right away we found a loving nanny and this allowed my husband and I the luxury of two things: quiet work time and weekly date nights. Having quality family time and hubby time really changed the dynamic of our relationships for the better. There is more communication and fun in our lives and it feels so good.

We work less and make more.

While most of our American peers are putting in sixty hour work weeks just to pay the bills we are working three or four hours a day and our businesses are booming. When we work it is focused and productive. I ended up writing and publishing my first book and I have now started my second. I gave myself a 400% raise and began to call in my dream clients.

Our boys are happy, content, and in great health.

Observing my children in this culture has shown me how much more leniently we can be on little ones. Kids are allowed to be kids. Toddlers can be loud in restaurants. They can have meltdowns in the streets. You don’t have to try to hide it and you don’t have to stay at home. Our boys can feel this love and acceptance by the locals. They also get to spend lots of time with both their parents and I know it’s having a profound affect on their development. One of my favorite things about our year in Mexico is that they have been on so many adventures including visiting Mexico City and Costa Rica.

I feel deep gratitude for all that Mexico has given us.

It’s reminded me of who I really am and that it’s more than ok to embrace it.

It’s shown us what it’s like to create a lifestyle that focuses on living well over impressing others.

We feel secure in our desire to give our children the world and that it’s ok to be a little unconventional.

Monique Alvarez is the author of Success Redefined Travel, Motherhood, & Being the Boss. She offers business consulting and facilities masterminds exclusively for female entrepreneurs. You shares life lessons, business advice and her latest journey at