American Expat Living in Mexico - Interview with Casey

Published: 27 Mar at 9 AM
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Filed: Interviews,Mexico
Casey Cline is a freelance editor and travel writer whose wanderlust was sparked by an Army brat childhood spent in far-flung locales. She recently moved from Denver, Colorado to Todos Santos, Mexico with her hilarious husband Jim and their two dogs, Otis and Miles. She documents her travel and expat adventures at, and offers her editing services at Casey's expat blog is called The Wanderlust Diaries (see listing here)

Lovely Todos Santos
Lovely Todos Santos

Here's the interview with Casey...

Where are you originally from?
I consider Denver my home town, but I was born in Ohio and have lived in 6 states and two foreign countries.

In which country and city are you living now?
Todos Santos, in Baja Sur, Mexico

How long have you lived in Mexico and how long are you planning to stay?
We've been here for 9 months and plan to stay indefinitely, though we are very open to life taking us to other parts of the world.

On a boat in Cabo
On a boat in Cabo
Why did you move to Mexico and what do you do?
We moved here looking for a more laid-back and affordable lifestyle, warm weather year-round, and the chance to get to know a new culture and language.

I work for myself as a freelance editor, focusing mostly on self-published novels though I also offer academic editing and editing for businesses. After many years in the telecom industry, my husband is enjoying his first real break from working full-time. We have plans to start a new online business together very soon.

Did you bring family with you?
Yes, my husband and two little dogs.

How did you find the transition to living in a foreign country?
In some ways it's been easier than I anticipated and in other ways much harder. I figured I'd breeze through it because I tend to thrive in change and have moved around more than most. I've had challenging times though, just like anyone. The language barrier, lack of certain conveniences, and need to make new friends have been difficult at times. Overall though, I'm glad we made the leap and find living here to get easier and feel more natural all the time.

Was it easy making friends and meeting people; do you mainly socialise with other expats?
Yes and no. Both expats and locals are friendly, to an extent. It's been easy to make lots of acquaintances but more difficult to form deeper friendships. Part of the culture shock for me has less to do with Mexico and more to do with moving to a small town. There are fewer people to choose from, if that makes sense. The expat community can seem a little cliquish. We've started to build a great friend base made up of both gringos and Mexicans, but it's taken time. It seems way easier to make friends with people who've moved here recently like us, whether from the States, mainland Mexico, or other parts of the world.

View from Hacienda Cerritos
View from Hacienda Cerritos
What are the best things to do in the area; anything to recommend to future expats?
Todos Santos is so picturesque and pretty that my favorite thing to do is just walk around town, especially during the "golden hour" before sunset. I also love walking on the beach, swimming in the ocean, hitting up the local festivals, and enjoying the incredible food and art. For a small town we have a plethora of great restaurants and art galleries. Whale watching and turtle releases are popular during the winter. I also recommend taking a daytrip to nearby La Paz- the malecon area is beautiful and La Paz has the nicest beaches around.

What do you enjoy most about living in Mexico?
The sunshine and lack of winter blahs. The beautiful natural setting, which is unlike anywhere else in the world- a lush oasis backed by desert and mountains on one side and the Pacific on the other. The slower pace of life. Friendly, polite people. Getting to know people from all over the world. The light. Whales. Tacos. How romantic-looking the town itself is, with its cobblestone, papel picado and colonial homes. Palm trees. I could go on.

How does the cost of living in Mexico compare to home?
We spend less than half what we spent back home. The biggest difference is housing. Our rent costs less than half our mortgage back home. We have been trying to live more like locals, eating simple, healthy, local food instead of the expensive imported stuff, and enjoying mostly free entertainment, like the beach. It's definitely possible to live just as expensively here as in the States, and Todos Santos is not nearly as cheap as other parts of Mexico.

Mexican sunset . . . ahhh
Mexican sunset . . . ahhh
What negatives, if any, are there to living in Mexico?
This is specific to Todos Santos: It can get lonely. Sometimes it feels like there's not much to do. If you need lots of stimulation a bigger city will probably be a better option.

If you could pick one piece of advice to anyone moving to Mexico, what would it be?
Be humble and gracious instead of condescending. I sometimes hear gringos speak to locals in a know-it-all, bossy manner, starting sentences with "You know what Mexico/you/Todos Santos/you people should do is . . ." It's much better to ask questions and hear people's perspectives and learn from them than to impose your arrogant opinions on someone.

What has been the hardest aspect to your expat experience so far?
Dengue fever was no fun.

When you finally return home, how do you think you'll cope with repatriation?
If we need to move back to the States at some point, I hope we can incorporate some of what we've learned here into our life back home. Our life here feels less stressful and much healthier than it was in Denver, and I'd hate to lose that.

Lost in translation? Funny sign we saw in La Paz
Lost in translation? Funny sign we saw in La Paz
What are your top 5 expat tips for anyone following in your footsteps?
  1. Challenge yourself to break free from your comfort zone- befriend locals, try new food, attempt the language whenever you can, even if you're a beginner like me.
  2. Listen more, talk less.
  3. Save up more money than you think you will need before moving. If you're pre-retirement find a way to work remotely and get it in place before moving. It's virtually impossible to work here as a foreigner and wages are much smaller.
  4. Be prepared for bumps in the road and days when you wish you'd just stayed home. A good friend with experience living abroad gave me great advice just when I really needed it: he said that both times he's lived abroad he had a really hard adjustment period at the six month mark and ended up moving back to the States. He regretted it both times and told me to stick things out for a full year. I also went through a rough patch 5-6 months out, but things got much better after that. The longer we're here, the better our Spanish gets, the more people we get to know, and the richer our experience become. We would have missed out on a ton if we threw in the towel when things got hard.
  5. Keep a sense of humor. Things like geckos living in our house, bumpy dirt roads, illogical-seeming road construction, whatever, can accumulate and start to feel like bigger problems than they are. Seeing the humor in every situation keeps the challenges from feeling too heavy . . . and it leads to way better stories. :)
Tell us a bit about your own expat blog.
The Wanderlust Diaries started as a place for me to write sometimes funny, sometimes informative, sometimes more poetic stories about my travels. I also wrote about my longing to break free from the rat race and move overseas. Now it's turned into more of a "living in Mexico" blog.

How can you be contacted for further advice to future expats coming to your area?
Send me an email or leave a comment on my blog.

About the author

Expat Blog ListingCasey is an American expat living in Mexico. Blog description: travel and expat adventures. for dreamers, misfits and giggle bugs.
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Comments » There is 1 comment

Dawn Butler wrote 10 years ago:

Wonderful read. Felt like I was experiencing a day in your life.

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