Austin, Texas is an amazing place. Between the creative, progressive vibe, the fantastic food, the live music scene and its proximity to spring-fed swimming holes, it’s a wonder we ever left. Coupled with our enormous and beautiful clan of friends and family? It makes me heartsick just thinking of it. So why did we leave?
My husband was laid off after a company downsize in March of 2010 and I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t a bit of a relief. A successful start-up gone corporate, the switch to everyday cubicle and computer-screen culture was slowly draining the life out of him. The man has entirely too much extravert, energy and wanderlust in him to be happy with partitions between himself and, well, anything. I was staying home with the kids and managing the inevitable insanity that comes with raising a toddler, a teenager and two in between, carting them to four different schools, keeping up with six different schedules and balancing the need to supplement our income with the endless housework. We were frantically busy, barely making ends meet and downright exhausted.
Consequently, I had a massage scheduled – the first in years – on the same day he was laid off. Lying on the table in a state of bliss obtainable only when a such a degree of need is met by the hands of a true artist (you’re the woman, Negeen), I experienced one of those unmistakable messages from wherever you believe it is that divine messages come. A wave of comfort, satisfaction and realization came over me: we were supposed to move south and everything was going to work out beautifully.
Mexico called me. What else can I say?
Now, I can count on one hand the times that I have heard a message that clearly. It was right up there with “You’re are going to be a mother now, it’s okay that you’re only 16,” followed by, “Here’s the man you are meant to marry” and again at my lowest point after baby #4, “You are the only person who is responsible for your happiness, Beth. Create the life of your dreams,” (which, by the way, marked the beginning of my personal revolution).
I called Hunter. “I don’t think you’re supposed to look for another job here. I think we’re supposed to move to Mexico.” (We’d talked of moving south with our kids since before we were married.) I don’t remember what he said, but he didn’t argue.
Thrilled by the thought of adventure, we immediately started selling stuff, looking for jobs, and researching Spanish-speaking countries. Were there safe places in Mexico or was it really as horrible as the media made it out to be? Who did we know with southern contacts? Could we really just up and leave the country with our kids?
Over and over, the same thing popped into my mind, “If not now, when? Don’t worry, just go.”
We announced our decision to the girls one evening over dinner at our backyard picnic table. Their reactions were as varied as their personalities. One pushed her plate off the table and stormed inside, another sat sulking and pretended to be more angry than curious (while asking questions for the better part of an hour), number three inquired eagerly, “Can we go there in a house car?!” and the littlest surprised us all with, “Should we say cheers?”
We fixed up the house, found renters and ran around at an impossible pace for three months tying up loose ends. (It was amazing how many loose ends demanded to be tied.) When the day came to leave (June 30, 2010), we still didn’t know where we were going, but Hunter had a friend in Playa del Carmen with a potential job and the beach sounded nice, so we said our sad farewells and hopped on a plane to Cancun.
Playa was a different place altogether than when we had visited 7 years prior. It is beautiful and the beaches some of the most pristine on the planet, but between the condos and cost-of-living, it felt more like Miami than Mexico. By the second day we had decided it wasn’t for us. Plan B? We had no plan B. We had heard that a friend of Hunter’s sister lived in Chiapas. We emailed her and she spoke highly of the place, so we bought tickets for the 19-hour overnight bus to San Cristobal de las Casas. We fell in love within minutes of exiting the bus. Everything has, indeed, worked out beautifully — more so than we could have imagined. Our commitment of a year has now turned into two. Beyond that? Who knows. I’m certainly open to another divine calling.
Here are a few favorite photos from those first few weeks…
Love the story and the photos. Enjoying your writing. Thanks for sharing.
you inspire me, lovely. it’s not easy to hear much less listen to your inner voice, and i admire you for doing so without judgement of your authentic self. i try to be honest with myself about whatever life throws at me, but i have a lot of work to do. thank you for writing your truth. xoxo
Dear Berry Brigade,
Congrats on the move, I admire your brave family for chasing the dream and chewing life at a slower pace! Beth, I enjoy your writing, and Carly and I will keep up on the posts now that I stumbled across the blog. We have a 7-month old boy and are certainly trying to live a more deliberate and examined life of our own. Thanks for the inspiration, keep it up!
Trent, Carly and Gray
“Create the life of your dreams” – those are the words I needed to read 🙂 Thanks & love your blog so far!
I love to hear your stories; I admire your courage & faith to be able to make things work where ever you are. You’re a beautiful grandaughter. Love you. Mema
beth, you rock! love your blog, keep it up.
much love to all of you!
Beth, beautiful writing. Inspirational. It’s amazing where our spirit guides can lead us if we only invite them in and listen. I have found they are always speaking to us but we hear them best when we stop the chatter of our minds and tune into our body, spirit, mind connection. What better place for that then the massage table. Thank you for sharing your story. I am so happy for your family! Jealous too! Maybe chris, Silas, and I will be able to find our way south some day too, I hope. 🙂
How did I stumble here tonight? I woke up from Roman’s bed at 1:55 to get him a drink and usher him back up to my bed to warm up my space. I stayed downstairs to become the wee-hour leprochan (sp?) that tidy’s our home from time to time! We fell asleep after carving pumpkins – well poking pumpkins and leaving a trail of pumpking meat from outside to all over the kitchen. Soooooo after doing some mild remodling downstairs, emptying the dishwasher and beginning the reload, cleaning the critter cage (feeding them too and wooing over them for a wasted 15 minutes), I brought a load of clothes upstairs and dumped them onto the floor pile of 3 other existing loads, contemplated folding them….then turned on the light to review my email….then thinking, I wonder if I can find Beth’s blog because Holly asked me a couple of weeks ago if I had seen it! Long story short, it is 4:02 and I have found you and reviewed the site. It is beautiful – no surprise, everything you do is. I brag about you often. So, I leave you with a hug and A belated Happy Birthday, hope the New York trip was a BUZZ! Good night sister in law. Give your girls lots of love and send them Happy Halloween wishes from us. Blaine really misses Taos a ton. Love, Happy
Wow – that is inspiring fly by the seat of your pants action. What a brave family. I did this once on my own to Boulder, Colorado but I could never see my family doing it. The hubby is too much of an action plan man, he needs those plans. But hey, we’re moving to Kuwait which may or may not be a great thing. But our lives should slow down a lot and we’ll get lots of photos of sand and water as we will also be living on the beach.
[…] 6. Think far outside the box. Many people decide they can’t afford to live abroad but it’s often more affordable than you imagine . Check out how this mom moved her family abroad on less than $1000. Need more inspiration? Check out this awesome mama of four who moved her family to Mexico. […]
Are you still in Chiapas? My husband and I moved this last year to Roatan Honduras. Our move is only for the year however and Roatan hasn’t really resonated with us. I have traveled quite a bit around Mexico and always wanted to visit San Cristobal. Maybe we will in June when we have finished here.
I agree, this move has tested my family relationships almost to the breaking point and it hope, strengthened them as well. Time will tell on that front. My daughter (8) has had a challenging time with the move, but my son (10) is thriving. I love the slower pace of life, but just think we haven’t found our exact spot.
Thanks for sharing your story.
Love your story! Brave and bold–yeeeSSSS! Listening to your inner compass! YES!
We just took big leaps in our lives–up and moved from NC to Colorado rather spontaneously after door after door closed…As the last door closed (didn’t get the job), I felt liberated, joyful and wanted to THANK the person for calling me to tell me I didn’t get the job. I KNEW we were leaving that moment. It was sunny out. I didn’t really know where, but I knew we were on to something. We love CO and talked lots before children about moving out west…here was our chance. We sold our house in A DAY, my husband found a new teaching job (in a couple weeks) and I’m able to continue to stay home with our girls rather than returning to teaching..Each step forward, better and better.
Very inspirational post. Were you able to find a job in San Cristobal? Any ideas on how to create an income living in Mexico? How do you do it?