Corbett Barr

Lifestyle Business Weekly

Mexico, Parte Dos (Personal Update)


It’s official! Jessalyn and I are headed back to Mexico for 2-3 months starting on January 15th. We’ll be living in a little town near Manzanillo on the Pacific coast that we fell in love with last year. We can’t wait.

We haven’t decided whether we’ll be driving or flying yet. We would probably prefer to fly, although having a car when we get there is nice. Regardless, this time around we plan to stay in the same town for the whole trip, instead of exploring the country like we did on our sabbatical last year.

We already have a place rented for two months, right on the beach and in town. It’s about 500 yards from the surf break, so I’ll be able to see what’s happening just by stepping out on our balcony.

So, if last year was a sabbatical, what’s the excuse this time?

Yes, I know. We’ve been home for less than 4 months, and we’re already planning our next extended trip. What gives?

To be honest, we’ve always talked about living somewhere for a few months each winter. If you’ve ever spent a winter in the Pacific Northwest (where my wife and I both grew up), you might know why.

We’ve recently made a very deliberate decision to try to structure our lives in a way that allows us to travel for extended periods each year. This is a trial run of sorts.

This whole idea of location independence may have been in the back of our minds for a long time, but I never really thought it was possible unless you were rich or retired. On our sabbatical last year, we met plenty of people living unconventional, adventurous lives that totally changed the way we thought about work and life and how you can live if determined enough.

And so, we’re at the beginning of that journey. We aren’t completely supporting ourselves from a location independent income yet, but we’re working on it.

While I’m building various online businesses to support myself (like this one, Morning Spanish, Gatejumper and some others TBA), it actually makes as much sense for us to live in Mexico or somewhere else as it does here. At least for part of the year.

As long as I have a WiFi connection and can concentrate enough to get work done (the beach can be a bit of a challenge in that regard), we’re set. My wife is a painter and can do promotion, pre-work, sketches and generate ideas for paintings while we’re away. She’s currently working on a series inspired by our trip through Arizona last year.

Why Mexico again?

If we can could theoretically work from anywhere, why are we headed back to Mexico again? That’s a great question, and we’ve asked ourselves if we should be headed somewhere else as well.

For this winter, Mexico makes sense for a lot of reasons. First, it’s inexpensive, which is one of our primary requirements. I mentioned before that we can live comfortably in Mexico for a third to a half the cost of living in San Francisco. We found a reasonably priced place to stay this year, so it will cost us closer to a third of our normal monthly expenses.

Second, we want to continue learning Spanish, so that narrows it down to Spanish-speaking countries. Third, I want to get better at surfing, so that narrows it down to beach towns. Fourth, we will be bringing our dog with us, so the closer to home the easier it will be logistically.

Finally, we really love the town we’re headed back to again. We met a lot of really fun and amazing people who spend months there every year. It is like the small town we always wished we had lived in at some point in our lives. The kind of place where everyone knows your name. It’s also a great contrast to the pace of life we’re used to in the States. Everything is much slower and more relaxed. Really, we couldn’t ask for much more in a vacation destination.

What’s the plan when we get there?

Our itinerary looks something like this:

Visiting friends. Surfing. Swimming. Relaxing. Working. Learning Spanish. Hosting friends and family. Eating good food. Drinking tequila and cheap Mexican beers.

Need I say more?

photo by `David

Corbett Barr

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  1. Jen

    Awesome! … Jealous… moi?! ;) Have a fantastic time.

  2. You should definitely consider Argentina at some point, as it fulfills all the requirements you mentioned (though you wouldn’t want to try surfing in Buenos Aires). Not only that, but you’ll get the chance to try on a completely different dialect of the Spanish language! Woo!

    Super-excited for you! Your plan sounds amazing, and it’s making me really want to check out Mexico.

    • We’ve been to Argentina and Uruguay, and loved both, especially Buenos Aires. I didn’t want to leave once we were there and we definitely want to make it back sometime soon.

  3. Stick around there long enough and you’ll have 3 new guest swinging by to visit! It sounds amazing!

  4. This sounds like a great plan indeed. My plans for the next months are similar, just without the Mexico. Many people ask me why I’ll stay in Cartagena over Christmas instead of visting my family… and well, while I have never spent a winter in the Pacific Nortwest, I have spent several in northern Germany… not too nice either. ;)

  5. Awesome!

    Hey can you add a link to where someone can check out some of your wife’s work?


  6. This literally put a smile on my face:

    Our itinerary looks something like this:

    Visiting friends. Surfing. Swimming. Relaxing. Working. Learning Spanish. Hosting friends and family. Eating good food. Drinking tequila and cheap Mexican beers.

    Need I say more?

    No, you definitely do not need to say more. It sounds like an awesome plan and kudos for you to focusing on how you live your life and setting goals around that.

  7. Sounds great! You might want to check out my cousin’s website– For the last eight years, Mike and his girlfriend have been leaving their small businesses in Seattle (he washes windows, she details boats) each winter to explore and spend time abroad (thus the “quarter year”)…

    Cheers to you two for being bold enough to live your dream! My husband and I sold everything back in 2005, left our suburban Portland lifestyle behind and headed to Mexico–but we had four teenage daughters at the time! After a year there, we moved to Buenos Aires, where we’ve been living for the last three years. We love it here, but hey, there are always things to explore, right? With our kids launched, we’re ready for a new adventure. Yesterday, we bought a small farm in Uruguay and plan to spend most of our time there. Life is full of possibilities. ;-)

    Maya ;-)

    • Hey Maya, it sounds like you have it all figured out. A small farm in Uruguay? What will you be farming there?

      • Haha–not sure yet! Loads of possibilities. There are fruit trees there already, and we plan to enlarge the vegetable garden considerably, but most of the five acres is meadow or former pasture so it’s somewhat of a blank slate. (The current owners had Jersey cows and made cheese.) We may add guest houses or some sort of building that can be used for gatherings. We’ll just have to settle in, get to know the land, and then figure out what we want to do. ;-)

  8. Your itinerary sounds like paradise to me. I have got to find a place to go for the winter once I am a little more stable financially. I can relate to your Pacific Northwest winters, except for me it’s Atlantic Northeast. Anyway, good for you! Hope you have an even better experience this time around.

  9. What’s the little town’s name?

  10. That’s awesome! I lived in Oaxaca and Vera Cruz for 3 years as a missionary and loved it! Planning on starting a unique surf business in Costa Rica in 2010. Are there a lot of surfers where you are going? Ones that like to go to various beaches during their stay down there?

    • Yeah, there are lots of surfers all over the Pacific coast of Mexico. The best surf is further south at places like Nexpa, Puerto Escondido, Pascuales, etc., but Jalisco is good in places too.

  11. Congratulations! I love that you’ll be immersing yourself in the language as part of learning it. As a northeasterner I know all about lousy winters, so I can relate to wanting to go somewhere warm and tropical in January and February. Enjoy it!

  12. Jim Ireland

    You say the expense is a third of what it is in San Francisco. Ok, but the expenses you had in San Francisco don’t go away for the time you are in Mexico. So your living expenses are really 1.33 times what they were unless you have leased your place in SF.
    Just an observation. :)

    • We sublet our place in San Francisco. Also, most of the other expenses (dining out, entertainment, etc.) transfer to Mexico regardless of whether we sublet. We could actually live down there without subletting our S.F. place and still save money. San Francisco is expensive, yes, but it’s where we choose to live. If you’re from a cheaper part of the country, you wouldn’t get nearly the same benefit from moving overseas. Although we do live in relative luxury when we’re in Mexico (about $2k a month in total expenses). We’ve met people living well down there for less than $1k a month.

  13. Liz

    Way to start 2010! Spend time with some of the locals and force yourself to speak only Spanish with them. Use hand signals if you have to and you’ll be amazed at your progress.

    Nice of you to bring your pooch along. I’m sure he or she will have a blast as well. Look forward to reading about your trip.

  14. Your story is telling. Congrats on making the move back to Mexico. We’ve been down in Baja, California Norte for several years now and I am amazed at the level of negative USA press Mexico can overcome. Whether it’s the beaches, the low cost of living, or just needing to get away from Gringolandia for awhile. Mexico is always top of our list for places to just get away.


  15. Right on Corbett! I’ve been trying to explain all of the above to family and friends for weeks with little success. I just keep on getting the ‘but I don’t understand, why Mexico?’ response. Anyway, I’m headed back to Mexico next week for a few more months as well…with an itinerary that looks quite similar to yours!

  16. Totally jealous, Corbett. I’m up in Northern MN and it’s snowing and cold as I type this. Come January I’ll be ready to ship out to somewhere warm too. Find the best wifi spots down there and maybe my wife and I will join you guys. :)

  17. Jason

    Sounds unbelievably fantastic, Corbett. It’s interesting to see you start living the way you envision with only a few small projects up that aren’t entirely financing your ideal lifestyle. Truly inspiring!

    Once more of your projects are live, do you think running multiple smaller businesses will turn into an administrative or scheduling problem? Would 1-2 larger online businesses be simpler to manage? It would be interesting to hear your thoughts on this as I see many Lifestyle Designers creating many small projects as opposed to a larger business. Thanks!

    • Hey Jason, I would definitely prefer to run fewer businesses eventually if it makes sense. My plan is to start a number of things this year and next, and then to run with the ones I enjoy most and that are most successful. There is definitely some administrative burden to each project. I’m willing to deal with that extra effort for now.

  18. Nice plans! I’m jealous. Ive spent a year living in Spain and totally loved it. Right now i’m working again, but within a couple of years i’ll probably take another sabattical, maybe in mexico.

  19. I just read Tim Ferriss’ updated 4-Hour Work Week and have been thinking about my own dream of spending a few months of every winter in Mexico. It probably is no coincidence that I found your blog today.

    Live that dream!

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