It's been a little over a year since we packed up all our stuff and moved our family from Burlington, Ontario to Queretaro, Mexico. Here's a bit about our story and why we made the move and what Living Abroad in Mexico is like!
It was late January 2021 in Ontario, we were in another lockdown fearful of everything; a virus we knew very little about, the future of our health, our children's education and social development, our families and the unknown. It was a time and a feeling I will never forget. I had lost my father very suddenly a year earlier and I was still grappling with grief and confusion. With anxiety and an auto-immune condition that was running havoc to my body, I was anything but able to move. It was another freezing day after a winter that had worn us down, it was a day we were scared to enjoy. We were still in Toronto at the time, living in a very small home that felt that much smaller in the weeks leading up to our decision. My husband turned to me as we sat in our living room that was equally light filled as it was compressing and asked me if we need to move. Move where? Move what? Our bodies? Our home? Our family? I craved it all. But I just sat there, silent for a while because I had been so used to being still over the last year. Suddenly, and out of a desire to force myself out of whatever we were all feeling my only response was, "Yes".
Then he said, "I meant to Mexico". But I already knew what he meant. We had discussed this a few times in the past, both before and after having kids. Many years earlier, my husband (then boyfriend) was offered an incredible job to Mexico City and wanted us to move together and live through an adventure together. I was terrified and absolutely not ready. The idea of leaving my family and making a decision for myself was something I had struggled with for so many years. But between then and this day in January, everything we had lost, feared and lived through were the exact reasons why I said yes. Out of fear and devastating loss came such power and determination. In this day, I went from someone who struggled to take risks and never put myself first to doing something that I deeply wanted and needed. Once I clearly knew what I wanted, we thought about all the benefits for the family: My husband being Mexican, the biggest motivation to move was being close to family we barely saw, then came the cultural immersion for our girls, the weather, the food, the cost of living, the ability to be outdoors all the time, travel and tackling the unknown.
With the decision to live in Mexico for one to two years, we first decided to sell our home in Toronto and purchase a home in Burlington, Ontario, a beautiful suburb of Toronto where I grew up. We wanted this home to be the one we return to - our forever family home. In the move from Toronto to Burlington, we packed two piles: the Mexico pile and the pile we would return to after our year in Mexico. Six months later, we were handing home to Airbnb Guests and heading to the airport with 10 suitcases.
We had already enrolled the girls in school in Mexico. With my husband's Mexican citizenship, me and the girls entered as family members of a Mexican citizen and would be able to get passports for the girls and a permanent residency for me if we wanted it. We had a temporary home waiting for us, and family waiting to embrace us. My mom and sister came along and would stay for a few months and help us settle in. My husband's job was remote, but living in Mexico made his new role in Latin America easier. I quit my job as an architect, and began to work on my business full-time. I also dove into settling our family into this new chapter.
This was a little over a year ago. How would I summarize the last year? Well, it started with thrill. Also a sense of novelty. Everything was new, exciting and somewhat surreal at the beginning. I was very much still planted back home so I enjoyed everything at the beginning as a tourist, really. As months past, life normalized a little. The day to day becomes familiar and routine, but with this came a sense of ease. We felt many things to be much easier here. We spend all our time exploring and learning, trying to take as much in as possible. Today, our life is a balance and sometimes misbalance of after-school activities, work, travel and life.
What's it like to live in Mexico?
We're about 2.5 hours from Mexico City and 30 minutes from San Miguel de Allende. We travel to both often as we have family in Mexico City and absolutely love spending time there and then the small and charming pueblo-magico of San Miguel de Allende is perfect for day trips. Where we live in Queretaro, a lot is familiar for Expats coming from Canada and the US. We have friends from all over the world as there are a lot of industries in Queretaro that draw families from Europe and Asia. This mix of Mexican culture and our global community feels very Canadian to us!
If I had to summarize living in Mexico in a few words I would choose- contrast, warmth and unhurried. That's not to say it's easy or better than back home. But it's different. I really enjoy living here for so many reasons - the beautiful lands, the weather, the food, the people and the quality of life. Sometimes, it feels easier to enjoy things and sometimes, it's too easy. What I mean by that is sometimes there is a cost associated with it, whether it's at the expense of something or someone else. There are beautiful things next to ugly things and when you stop to pay attention to this, your curiosity will lead to discovery and fascination. Things move slowly which is a challenge I've found both personally challenging and rewarding. Life isn't easy for many people who live here, and I think that inequality leads to frustration for many. There are days I yearn for home - the mentality, the equality, the acceptance and space for everyone. Some things function better back home. But as of today, we're happy as a family here and our children have learned so much about life in other parts of the world. We have access to things we'd never have back home. I'm proud of what we've done and for now, we're enjoying our time here. Our ability to have these two beautiful lives fills us with gratitude and I'm happy to share our experience with you all!
If you're new here, I'm Donata Delano. I am the creative owner and artist behind Donata Delano Art. As for my business, as some of you know, I run my art studio out of our home. I have a dedicated room where I paint, package and ship all my artwork to you. If you're curious about my daily life and how I run my business, I post often about my process, my studio and my work on my instagram here: https://www.instagram.com/donatadelanoart/
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