a woman spins her daughter around in the streets of Mexico
Alyssa Pfennig and her daughter.Courtesy of Alyssa Pfennig
  • Alyssa Pfennig moved in 2021 from Indianapolis to San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.
  • She wanted a better life for her and her daughter in a place with a lower cost of living.
  • Now she can afford luxuries such as cleaners and chefs and has more time to spend on her hobbies.

This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Alyssa Pfennig, 43, who moved from Indiana to Mexico in 2021. The following has been edited for length and clarity.

I'd wanted to live abroad my entire life. As a single mother of a 4-year-old from Indiana who lived in Indianapolis for 38 years, I also wondered whether I could have a better quality of life in a country less expensive than the US.

Since I do much of my work remotely, I figured I could work and live anywhere. I was mostly drawn to the idea of living in Mexico because I had visited a few times and liked its proximity to the US, culture, food, traditions, and language.

I've now lived in Mexico for over two years, and my quality of life has drastically improved. Here's how I made the move and how it's benefited my daughter and me.

I decided on moving to Mexico in April 2021

I hired a relocation consultant whom I found on the internet for about $500 to help me determine the best place for us to live and what we needed to do to make it happen, including how to move my dog and items across the border.

She also provided information on how much to budget and medical resources, recommended stores and schools, gave an overview of neighborhoods, and offered referrals to a real-estate agent, immigration lawyer, and insurance broker.

Then I had to choose a city

The relocation consultant and I discussed options including Todos Santos and Puerto Vallarta. After I decided that I wanted to live somewhere with year-round mild weather, she recommended San Miguel de Allende.

That summer, my daughter and I took a 10-day trip there, and I knew it was where I wanted to move. Everything was easy from the moment we arrived.

We found our first nanny from a referral in a Facebook group, and the owner of our rental house referred us to another nanny. Her sister cooked for us, and her other sister helped on the weekends so I could enjoy a working vacation. Their family is still part of ours.

I even met a taxi driver on our scouting visit who would wait for us while we looked at homes. He still honks and says hello when he sees me walk by now that we live here.

I came home and began figuring out the logistics

My relocation consultant recommended not signing a lease in Mexico without seeing the property first, so when we moved down, we found a place to stay for just a few weeks.

I realized it was too far outside the city, and I felt isolated, so I picked another place near the city center, in Colonia San Antonio, that felt more upbeat and signed a lease there.

I hired an immigration lawyer to help me with residency, which made the process so much easier. I attempted the traditional process, but because I had traveled to Mexico before 2020, I was eligible for a special program that would grant me four years of temporary residency.

I moved on a tourist visa and applied for temporary residency once the tourist visa expired. We secured mine first and later added my daughter as family.

It's much less expensive to live here than it was to live in Indiana

a woman with a coffee in Mexico
Pfennig.Courtesy of Alyssa Pfennig

A big reason I was eager to move was that I knew I could make the same amount of money working remotely but save more and stress less about my cost of living.

I moved into a brand-new 1,500-square-foot loft apartment with a giant terrace and balcony overlooking the city center — it costs $750 a month. In Indiana, my apartment was smaller and not as nice or luxurious, but it cost me $1,500 a month.

I pay a nanny $5.50 an hour, a fair wage here, for daily childcare while I work. There are labor laws in Mexico that protect her, my nanny has paid holidays and an annual bonus, and I give her a raise every year. In Indiana, I paid between $18 and $25 an hour for a nanny.

I can also afford luxuries that I never could before, including a housekeeper whom I pay $25 to clean my house each week — compared with the $125 I paid on average in the US — and a cook who costs $33 each visit and provides us with a few days' worth of meals. These rates are also fair for my area.

The hardest part was assimilating into a new city

When I moved here, the hardest part was figuring out how to take the bus, where to buy groceries, where to buy food for my dog with allergies, how to call the best taxi service, and how to get water delivered.

I had a good base of Spanish that I picked up from friends in college. Once we arrived, I took online classes, used Google Translate, and learned the language faster than I thought I would just by communicating with my nanny daily.

We assimilated well and got to know our neighbors. I also made new friends, including some other expatriates. I've especially connected with parents here who have children of a similar age.

My parents and family still live in Indiana and we visit at least once per year because I do miss them. I still have a lot of friends whom I also visit when I'm in Indiana, and we stay connected on social media, too.

I now have time to do more things than just work around the clock

I feel like I have a life now beyond running a business and being a mother.

I work about 20 hours a week or less by hiring part-time freelancers who take on work that doesn't require my immediate attention. I use my free time to focus on hobbies that I love, from tango dancing to going on long midweek hikes, and I have a lot of time to spend with my daughter.

There are still a few challenges, but it's worth it

The people I've met here don't live or work with a sense of urgency like people I knew in the US did. For example, if someone here says they'll deliver something "ahorita," or right now, that can mean immediately or, say, five hours, which took some getting used to.

Fireworks also go off almost every night around where I live for many different reasons, such as celebrating a saint or holiday or commemorating someone who died. I hear them sometimes at 4 or 5 in the morning, but I've learned to deal with it.

I was told that Mexico would either chew you up and spit you out or embrace you with open arms. The latter was true for me. I'm happy I moved here because life is easier and better than I ever could have imagined.

Read the original article on Business Insider