Last week, I “moved” to Mexico City!
I put “moved” in quotes simply because I still feel like a bit of a nomad. I’m living out of a suitcase. I didn’t buy a home or sign a lease. Nope. I’m doing it my way, currently a la Airbnb, and it feels so good! I’m continuing to run my coaching business from here, as well as writing and doing all my consulting gigs. There are at least 5-10 coworking spaces within walking distance from me, so I can’t wait to find a place to set up shop. For now, I’m exploring all the lovely cafes! There are certainly no shortage of them.
Back it up. How did I get here?
I’m pretty sure I fell in love with Mexico when I was living in San Diego as a kid. I remember crossing the border to Tijuana with my family, mesmerized by all the colors and the children selling chicles. (“Chicle, chicle!” You know what I’m talking about.) International travel was something that I was raised experiencing, so being abroad has always felt normal to me. And I am grateful for that.
I majored in Spanish in college and studied abroad in Madrid. I was determined to be fluent in Spanish, but never practiced it consistently enough to get there. It was still a dream of mine, though, and I still haven’t let that dream go.
Fast forward to my late 20s/early 30s. I dabbled in some international business at WD-40 and visited Santiago and Mexico City. I took a girls trip to Nicaragua. I went to Mexico with grad school. Then, after a life-changing event, I quit my corporate job as a Brand Manager for Revlon, and bought a one-way ticket to Quito, Ecuador. I spent nearly one year backpacking throughout Latin America, using my Spanish, and falling deeply in love with the culture. Seriously, everyone is so warm and friendly down here! As I worked my way north, I started questioning what I wanted to do after my journey, and where I wanted to live. Medellin, Colombia was high on the list, as was Merida, Mexico…but when it finally came down to it, I just knew I had to return to Mexico City. This place is SPECIAL.
But…why Mexico City? Isn’t it dangerous?
My initial (uneducated) impression of Mexico City was that it was a place to be feared. I heard it was dangerous and full of kidnappers. There’s no doubt that Mexico and Mexico City have been through a lot, but every big city has its problems. Just stay away from the bad areas and don’t do drugs, ok? I know there’s a lot more to it than that, but I no longer let my initial fears or impressions of places keep me from really getting to know them. I remain smart, aware, and curious.
The first time I visited Mexico City was in 2013 on a corporate trip. I was with two men, and we stayed in a nice touristy hotel and always had a driver. I was extra cautious of my surroundings and didn’t get to see much since I was there for work. I met my good friend from grad school, Mabela, out for dinner one night…and she sent her driver for me. I didn’t get to experience anything on my own, but I didn’t think it was safe enough to do so anyway.
I returned again in 2017 at the end of my backpacking trip. I stayed for 2 weeks (with Mabela and more friends from grad school!) and fell in LOVE. I was mostly using Uber to get around. And I went everywhere. I explored the historic downtown. I saw the castle on the hill. Went to Frida Kahlo’s home in Coyoacán. Visited at least 10 museums (there are 150+). Window shopped in the financial district of Polanco. Went out in the hipster areas of Condesa and La Roma (where I’m currently living). Ventured outside the city to see the pyramids and neighboring towns like San Miguel de Allende. I started to get a real feel for the city which was proving to be f’ing incredible. There is absolutely no shortage of things to see and do here, and I know which of the neighborhoods are safe for me to live in and explore, even at night. At the end of my 2 weeks, I was very sad to say goodbye to Mexico City and promised myself that one day I would return to live. And here I am.
I’d never lived in a big city before. San Diego was as big as it got for me. I once had dreams of living in NYC or San Francisco, cities that never sleep, and places that were entirely accessible on foot or via public transport…but then I found Mexico City. A place with all the novelties of a big city, but without the grotesque price tag. Mexico City earned my third visit when I arrived on a one-way ticket on March 1, 2018. I’m so happy to call it home!
Here are some fun facts and some of my initial insights about Mexico City.
It’s 7,350 ft (2,240 meters) high. Luckily this elevation hasn’t seemed to adversely affect me. (The pollution, however, might.)
There are 9 million people living in the city center and 22 million total when you include the surrounding metropolitan area. (Conversely, San Diego has 2 million.)
Some of the best food I’ve ever had in my life is here. From street tacos and vegan street carts to incredible seafood, trendy spots to be seen, and fine dining, there is something for everyone. (And it’s all affordable!)
It’s home to some of the best restaurants in the world. (Ever heard of Pujol? Last year it ranked #20 in the WORLD.) I love walking down the street and seeing men outside dressed in suits, waiting to greet you. Makes me feel fancy. (Ps. Who wants to take me to Pujol, por favor?)
You can live like a Queen here if you earn the American dollar. Most of my meals out average $4-5, and they’re about $15-20 when I splurge (drinks and all the things). Contramar is my favorite spot.
There are over 150 museums here. No joke. My favorites (so far) are Frida Kahlo’s place and the anthropology museum. I think I need a few days to fully explore it, though.
There are so many parks! So many! Chapultapec is probably the most notable (even referred to as the “city’s lungs”), but I even love exploring the smaller ones near my place. So great for people watching and to get some fresh air.
It seems like everyone has a dog. This isn’t rooted in anything factual, other than I see people walking their dogs at all times. The next place I’ll be living has a dog as well!
The fashion here is on point. I feel inspired to dress up every single day which has been a fun change from my yoga clothes. (But those are acceptable here too. Everyone dresses how they want.)
The people are friendly and fabulous. I haven’t gotten in with any local inner circles yet, but I’ve made a couple of expat friends, and I’m starting to find my way.
How long will I be here? I’m not sure, but it feels like home for now and I feel quite comfortable in my new hood. Those that I’ve met down here have told me I’ll never want to leave. Vamos a ver. All I know is that I am so excited to continue to explore all that Mexico City has to offer.
Do you ever dream of living or traveling abroad? What is that special place for you?