How much they spend, what life is like


In 2009, my husband Vernon and I got married on Mazatlán Beach, Mexico. At our reception we told ourselves that one day we would move there.

Of course life happened and that dream was postponed until later, maybe when we were ready to retire. We had three beautiful children, two cars, a house in the Chicago suburbs, and a dreamy white picket fence.

Still, something was missing. We worked full time, including side jobs in the fitness industry, which brought us close to six-figure combined income. But we were becoming increasingly frustrated with the amount of energy it took to just get through.

Every day we came home tired and discouraged. What did we work so hard on? What was all this “stuff” for? The house, the cars, the student loans – it was all a bunch of bills to be paid. We didn’t imagine that.

We have always dreamed of living on the beach and building our own businesses so that we would have the flexibility to spend more time with our children.

Then, in February 2016, I received the call that no daughter would ever want to receive. My mother died unexpectedly and alone in Mazatlán, where she and my father were retiring.

As I slid to the floor and almost dropped my cell phone while reading the news, I felt a sense of recognition: Nothing, not even tomorrow, was guaranteed. If we wanted to experience happiness, we had to act.

Now or never: leave the United States

By October 2016 we had sold our house and our cars, quit our jobs and reduced our lives to 10 suitcases and eight carry-on bags. We booked a one-way flight to Mazatlán with our three children (then three, four and five years old).

We lived in this beautiful colonial city on the Pacific for two years. My husband worked building his consulting firm while I started my own copywriting business, which I still run to this day. Both companies were profitable, and the financial freedom and flexibility allowed us to have fun without being chained to someone else’s timer.

Living abroad offers you a different perspective – one that encourages growth, compassion, self-awareness, and a deeper understanding of other cultures.

We created a life that we really loved, full of activities, friends and cultural experiences, just blocks from the beach. With our monthly spending of around $ 1,500 per month, we’ve spent significantly less than ever before in the US

  • Private school for all three children: $ 425
  • House rental with four bedrooms and 3.5 bathrooms: $ 475
  • Food: $ 250 to $ 300
  • transport: $ 100
  • free time activities: $ 100

We used the leftover money to eat out in nice restaurants, put on new clothes, or pay for medical supplies when they showed up (and when they did, we easily paid cash out of pocket as the cost of treatment in Mexico is significantly lower than in the USA).

We felt like we were finally living the American dream – unless we had to leave America to do so.

As a black family, we’ve never felt safer

Here’s a memory I’ll never forget: On one of our first days in Mazatlán, a policeman got out of his car and cut the traffic so our family could cross a busy street. As we walked, he gave my husband a warm smile, who nodded his head in return.

When we got to the other side, my husband looked at me and said, “Wow.”

With that one word, I realized that my strong, good-hearted black husband had never felt safer around a cop than he did at that moment.

Gabriella M. Lindsay and her family in Mexico

Gabriella M. Lindsay

All of our experiences with the police during our stay in Mexico have been beneficial. I’m sure the locals may feel differently, but this was a welcome change compared to the grinding treatment we received from some US police officers.

We now had a chance to live peacefully without the fear that comes with being black in America. I no longer had to worry about my husband or sons being in the wrong place at the wrong time and someone who saw the color of their skin first and then their heart.

Next stop: Antigua

In 2018 my husband was offered a professorship at a medical university in Antigua, an island in the Caribbean in the West Indies.

We loved Mazatlán but felt that this was a once in a lifetime opportunity that we couldn’t miss. Although our expenses would go up, we knew that the university’s income, combined with the income from my copywriting business, would enable us to make ends meet comfortably.

So we said goodbye to our friends and set off with our suitcases on another adventure abroad.

Scenic view, Antigua

Gabriella M. Lindsay

Antigua is an island of approximately 97,000 people, 108 square miles, 365 beaches, and a rich history. Here we have again created a life that we love, free from the materialism that we in America have so desperately and vehemently sold.

The population is mainly black (due to the transatlantic slave trade), so my family fits in perfectly and feels very comfortable here. The pace of life is slow, the people are friendly, the beaches are calm and social expectations are less demanding.

We now had a chance to live peacefully without the fear that comes with being black in America.

The median rent in our area is $ 1,200. We live one block from the Caribbean Sea in a beautiful four bedroom, five bathroom home with a pool on a large lot that we rent for significantly less than some downtown Chicago apartments.

For all three children combined, school tuition, along with swimming lessons, is $ 800 per month. We don’t eat out that much because of Covid and our monthly grocery bill is around $ 600.

Aside from friends, family, and the Cheesecake Factory, we don’t miss the US that much. We can get almost anything we need here.

We left America to discover something new and we finally found happiness in return.

Most of the people here are very compliant when it comes to following the Covid guidelines. We disinfect, we mask, we distance ourselves. My husband has to take a rapid Covid test twice a month to be on campus. He works from home whenever possible.

Leaving the United States was the best decision for our family

We don’t regret leaving the United States. Our children are now global citizens with the education neither my husband nor I had at their age. They have kept their Spanish and are now learning the unique dialect of our adopted island, along with gardening, hiking, swimming and cricket.

Living abroad offers you a different perspective – one that encourages growth, compassion, self-awareness, and a deeper understanding of other cultures.

We left America to discover something new and we finally found happiness in return.

Gabriella M. LindsayBorn in Chicago, he is a copywriter, author and educator. She lives with her husband and three young children on the island of Antigua in the Caribbean in the West Indies. “Living FIT: A 40 Day Guide to Living Faithful, Purposeful, and Persistent” is her first book. Follow Gabriella on Instagram.

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