There’s an old parable about a crab being boiled alive, not realizing the peril it faces until it’s too late because the water temperature rises so gradually. This story resonated with me deeply over the past few years, symbolizing my own situation.

As a self-help author, health coach and nutritionist in my 50s, dedicated to helping others achieve a healthier, more fulfilling life, I’ve become increasingly aware of the simmering pot the US has become. The erosion of personal freedoms, a spike in violence, burgeoning government control, and reckless fiscal policies paint a grim picture. My decision to become a resident of Mexico wasn’t made overnight but through a meticulous evaluation of what I valued most: quality of life, freedom, and community.

1. **A Breath of Fresh Air: The Alluring Climate of Mexico**

My journey began with a longing for a better climate, both metaphorically and literally. While I love Idaho in the spring and summer, winters are harsh. I don’t like icy roads and sidewalks, and the absence of heat and sunlight affects my well-being. The darkness and cold lasts for months, and last winter I longed to be in a place where I could go for a walk without having to bundle up against the cold or fear slipping on the ice. Naturally, I am not as active in the wintertime, and that also affects my creativity and mood.

When most people think of Mexico they think of beaches. Well, I am not a beach person. In fact, I dislike extreme temps and humidity. Fortunately, the diverse landscapes of Mexico offer a spectrum of climates from desert to tropical. I felt most drawn to the colonial highlands where temperatures are in the 70s and 80s most of the year with consistently sunny skies and low humidity. Unfortunately, it can get into the 90s in April and May, but at least it cools off at night.

I also prefer towns over cities, and being close to nature and hiking, and so I chose the Lake Chapala area with its massive lake and green mountains. This harmonious environment was not just a boon for my physical well-being but also mirrored the internal climate I sought: one of peace, balance, and growth. In Lake Chapala, I was thrilled to find a hiking club that meets twice a week. There is also an 18 mile (28 kms.) long pedestrian bike path that follows the lake shore. I can bike, walk, or take the bus everywhere.

2. **A Leap Towards Simplicity: The Affordability of Living**

Another compelling reason for our move was the significantly lower cost of living. The financial flexibility allows me to prioritize what truly matters: health, wellness, and community. In the United States, the cost of living has become a towering wave, threatening to crash down on the pursuit of happiness. Mexico has also experienced high inflation since 2019 but a comfortable, middle-class life can be had for about $2500 a month per couple in the Lake Chapala area – one of the most expensive regions in Mexico. My $2500 budget for two people with two large dogs includes:

A gardener 2x a month
House cleaner 2x a month
Spanish lessons 1x a week
Gym membership for two
Entertainment (an English speaking movie is $4 with large comfortable seats, paddle tennis is $6 a game)
A massage 2x a month for hubby and me
Excellent private health care (insurance, medication, labs, doctor’s visits)
Eating out 3x a week at a nice restaurant
Vet care and dog food for 2 dogs
Car maintenance and fuel
…Groceries, propane, utilities, high-speed internet, car and house insurance, haircuts, weekend trips to the beach and cities, etc.

*Does not include rent, which is normally $750-$1500 a month in Lake Chapala. In fact, $1000 a month can get you a very nice 2+ bedroom furnished home here. My budget is very high. Most expat retiree couples live comfortably on less than $3000 per month including rent. Many people also choose to buy a home outright with cash, and therefore spend significantly less than $2000 a month on living expenses. One other thing to keep in mind is that if you make $1350 a month in Mexico, you’re considered “middle class”.

The quality of health care here is also excellent. You can find a highly trained English-speaking doctor who will spend an hour with you, do house calls, and give you their cell number. I broke my toe in Mexico and had it x-rayed in 10 minutes. Coming from the Canadian health care system, this was nothing short of amazing.

In fact, I calculate that we will save approximately $12,000 a year in health care alone by living in Mexico half the year!

3. **A Community of Hearts: The Warmth of the People**

The heart of Mexico is its people. The warmth and friendliness of the local communities (expats and Mexicans alike) have been a balm to my soul. Where conversations in the U.S. had become minefields, here, they flourish into friendships. As a health coach, the importance of community cannot be overstated. It is something I have longed for since moving to the United States over a decade ago from my hometown in Canada.

Let me give you an example: When I mentioned needing to take a parallel parking test to get my Mexican driver’s license, two Mexican acquaintances volunteered their vehicles for the parallel parking test! I was very humbled by their (completely unsolicited) offer.

Indeed, in the last two months, I have been invited into people’s homes, taken to restaurants, live music events, and even an “Oscar’s Night” where people lent me clothes so I could “dress up” for the red carpet  (Yes, there was a red carpet, along with a photographer, champagne and appetizers. Some ladies even rented ball gowns for the occasion! – so much fun!).

I’ve been encouraged to join in on social events from softball to paddle tennis to “Gringo Bingo”, where half the money goes to a local charity. I am not exaggerating when I say that I have socialized more in the last 2 months in Lake Chapala than I have in 10 years in the United States! Joan, my perceptive assistant, said that maybe I’m not the introvert I thought I was, and I just needed the right environment to blossom.

4. **A Feast for the Senses: The Culinary Delights of Mexico**

Then, there’s the food—a vibrant tapestry of flavors, colors, and textures that celebrates Mexico’s rich cultural heritage as well as international cuisine. Here in Lake Chapala, the restaurants are astounding, creative, and plentiful. As someone deeply connected to the principles of nutrition and health, the abundance of fresh, locally-sourced ingredients has been a revelation. With so many restaurants, I could eat in a different establishment every week for a year! And I REALLY appreciate the ability to enjoy a meal outside; on a restaurant patio, a rooftop terrace, or in a walled garden….in February! It almost makes me giddy to think about it.

5. **A Plan B: Seeking Refuge in a World of Uncertainty**

The final push towards getting Mexican residency was the search for a Plan B in a world where the United States seems to be unraveling at the seams. The political strife, social unrest, and economic volatility has created an atmosphere of constant anxiety. Mexico presents an opportunity to step away from the chaos, to build a life grounded in personal freedoms, surrounded by a community of small businesses and people that value joy, respect, and mutual support. This move was not just about finding a place of safety but about rediscovering hope—hope for a peaceful life, for the freedom to live authentically, and for the chance to build a community rooted in wellness and mutual respect.

In Mexico, the affordability of fresh foods, quality healthcare, and the lower cost of living doesn’t just mean a more comfortable life; it means a richer one, with resources allocated not to mere survival but to thriving.

This journey from the United States to Mexico has been transformative. The last two months in Lake Chapala have been a balm to my aching soul. I lost my brother to suicide in September and it was, and still is, devastating. Losing him made me re-evaluate my life, and how I want to spend my remaining years.

As a health coach, becoming a resident of Mexico has offered a living example of how environment shapes our well-being. My story, like the parable of the crab, serves as a reminder that sometimes, recognizing the need for change is the first step towards a more fulfilling life. In embracing Mexico, I’ve found not just a new second home, but a community that cherishes connection, and a landscape ripe with opportunity for growth and healing. This move was my leap out of the boiling water, into a place where I can breathe, grow, and help others do the same.

So will we move to Mexico permanently? It’s possible, especially if things get REALLY crazy in the United States. But we do love our home in Idaho, and we enjoy hiking in the Tetons and gardening and beekeeping in the summer. Right now, we feel lucky to be snowbirds, so that we can experience the best of both worlds.

Do you have any questions about Mexico? Did you enjoy this blog? I know it’s a little bit of a departure from nutrition coaching. I’d love to know if you’d like to hear more stories about Mexico and my travels.