My partner Lauren and I are moving to Mexico City later this year. This post explains why, both to clarify for myself, and to be able to share with others.
We’ve been able to identify 5 reasons for why we’re moving. I’ll elaborate on them below, from most to least important.
1. It’s time for a change
This is the simplest, and most important reason. It’s a feeling in my bones, that a season of our lives is coming to a close.
We arrived in the San Francisco Bay Area within a month of each other, and it’s been 6 of the most incredible years I could have ever imagined. But I notice time passing faster than ever. Life seems less rich, and I can feel the comfort and complacency settling in like a dense fog.
A rough calculation indicates I’ve lived in 5 other cities since leaving home, averaging just over a year each. Not that I have a batting average to maintain, but the current stretch is far beyond my norm. I came to the Bay Area to establish my career, but now that Forte Labs is mostly an online business, it doesn’t make sense to stay.
2. I miss living abroad
We’ve both realized that our happiest times in life were abroad. The formula seems to be living abroad + challenging circumstances + important work.
I’ve done this twice – teaching English in the favelas of Rio de Janeiro, and serving in the Peace Corps in Eastern Ukraine. As difficult as those conditions were, I remember mostly a deep sense of purpose and belonging in a closely knit group.
I don’t think difficult living conditions are necessary for happiness. They’re just good at forcing bonding, which is the most desirable thing, and the most difficult to achieve, especially past one’s 20s. For this reason, we’re making a commitment to stay put for at least a year so we can integrate with a local community. I’ve heard from digital nomad friends that this is the greatest challenge. We’re also going to join local interest groups and take classes, starting with Landmark’s Team, Management, and Leadership Program starting in November.
3. I want to experiment with remote work
Remote work seems to hold so much promise for so many pressing issues we’re facing. From housing costs, to long commutes, to income inequality, to closing the digital divide, the ability to have a successful career without living in one of a handful of urban centers could be transformational.
It’s become clear that an individual can have a thriving career working remotely. Even distributed teams have become commonplace. But I want to know if remote work could be not only a cost-cutting measure, but a competitive advantage. Could we find a way to make remote work not a tolerable Plan B, but the preferred way of building a company?
We have a remote team now that has the potential to reinvent how distributed teams work asynchronously, across borders and time zones. I truly believe the productivity methods we are developing have the potential to unlock the benefits of remote work for millions of people. But we need to figure it out for ourselves first.
Moving there is also in line with Lauren’s interests and career ambitions, which is a wonderful stroke of luck.
4. Mexico City is perfect
The choice of location took all of 5 minutes. Mexico City is a cosmopolitan, historic capital full of charming neighborhoods, delicious food, stunning museums, and world-famous arts and culture.
The logistics work beautifully too. It is just a few hours from most U.S. cities, in the same time zone, and one-way flights to visit our families in Southern California are as cheap as $90. The city has plenty of coworking spaces, is easy to get around on foot and via public transportation, and the cost of living is approximately ⅓ of what we are currently paying. Many of our friends and family want to visit there, and we’ll be happy to host them.
What we are most excited for is the people. Lauren is Mexican-American, and is looking forward to getting to know the Mexican side of her family better. I’ve always been fascinated by Mexican culture and people, and can’t wait to improve my Spanish and make new friends. Everyone in the tech and startup community seems to know each other, and I’ve already gotten referrals to cool people I should meet.
5. It’s a good experiment
Mexico City is actually quite a safe choice for us. We both speak Spanish and have lived for long stretches in Latin America in the past.
Our initial year abroad will be a test to see if we could make it work long term. I’ll need to make sure that I can continue to build the business, since that’s my top priority. Lauren will need to see if she can advance her career while working remotely. If all goes well, we’ll think about trying other cities or countries further outside our comfort zone.
I’ll continue posting about our experience here as we make decisions and start to pack, leading up to our departure at the end of September. I appreciate any feedback or advice you can give me as we take on the digital nomad lifestyle.
And feel free to send along any recommendations on things to do in Mexico!
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