How to become a BLACK EXPAT in MEXICO
Soooo…. before I begin, I need you to get comfortable.
Warm-up your tea…
Pour up that wine…
Grab that snack from your fridge, cupboard, or store…
Put your hair bonnet on, if necessary…
I’m about to spill the details on how I traveled to Mexico during the COVID-19 pandemic and ended up staying there for the past year 20 months and counting!
It was a warm September 2020 summer evening in New York. The mosquitos were out in full swing, blood-sucking the life out my me and my boyfriend, while we lounged in his parents’ backyard. We were listening to Burna Boy’s “Twice as Tall” album on repeat. I was sipping on Kirkland Sangria, feeling good, when my boyfriend told me: “so… my friend’s and I will be going to Tulum for my birthday”. At first, I was very hesitant about this news, since we were in a COVID pandemic, but after I received my personal invite to the trip… my tune changed, and I was right on board to sip on margaritas and party in Mexico!
Fast forward to the day we were on the airplane flying over the Cancun Ocean, preparing to land at the airport…. I was completely speechless at how beautiful the turquoise blue ocean looked hugging the beautiful beachfront properties. I had never been to Mexico, so I had no idea what to expect, especially as a BLACK TRAVELER in a foreign country. To my surprise, I was delighted when I realized that Mexican locals were SUPER WELCOMING and friendly to our all-black group during our 5-day vacation in Tulum.
One thing I realized quickly was that the US exchange rate was in our favor. 1USD = $20MXN, which allowed us to enjoy luxury on a budget, vibe on our own time, and enjoy ourselves. We had such an amazing time visiting all the different cenotes, lounging on the infamous Tulum beach, eating plenty of mangos from local vendors, sipping on margaritas, eating fresh seafood, listening to relaxing music, connecting with other tourists, and can’t forget… having a great party time with friends.
Our 5-day vacation went by SO FAST. I had a hard time leaving Tulum as I boarded the plane back to New York. Back to the gloomy air of COVID restrictions, busy workdays, and normal life woes. When we arrived back in New York, something inside me wanted to go BACK, but this time, I wanted to stay there for a few months. At the time, my job was remote, so I figured, why not go back to Mexico, and see if I could get away with working there remotely? I convinced my boyfriend to come with me, and one week later we were BACK IN MEXICO, at an Airbnb in Tulum that we booked for the month.
Soon enough, one month living in Tulum, turned to 3 months! Luckily, we moved to Tulum during the pandemic when most people were afraid of traveling. We were able to snag a luxury 1-bedroom apartment in a gated community with 24 hr security and a pool that cost $800 USD/month on AIRBNB! Which sounded crazy cheap to me at the time, because I use to pay $800/month for my portion of rent living in a closet-sized bedroom in a 3-bedroom 1 bathroom apartment in New York City. My partner and I ended up saving so much money living in Mexico, which was an added plus.
I was able to do my job without too many major interruptions. When I did have power failures (which did happen from time to time living in Tulum), I could usually solve my unstable internet issues by running to a local coffee shop nearby. Living in Tulum felt like I was living in a dream, this small beach town was beautiful on the inside and out, and we were able to meet local Mexican friends who made our experience in the town delightful. Shout out to our Tulum homies: Diego, Fern, and Ciuaxochil for showing us your beautiful town.
Soon enough, Tulum became a hot-spot tourism area, and our beautiful Airbnb spiked up to $1600 USD/month. Instead of leaving Mexico, my boyfriend and I decided to try out the neighboring town of Playa Del Carmen, where we found a fully furnished, 2-bedroom 2 bath apartment in a gated community for $700 USD/month. We stayed there for 2 months and then finally found a realtor who helped us find a 3-bedroom 2-bathroom apartment for $475 USD a month on a 1-year lease. We had no idea that we would stay in Mexico that long but decided to commit to the cause and see what happened.
Crazy enough, a year later, we are still in Mexico now, in that same apartment. We go grocery shopping for groceries at local grocery stores, we catch a taxi (since we do not own a car) at least 3 times a week to get around to our desired locations, or bike around town when the weather is nice. We say “Bueno’s Dias” to our neighbors as we go about our day and are blessed to have the beach 8 minutes away from us. We live in the local side of town, so we have picked up Spanish and that has allowed us to travel deeper in Mexico to places where English is not as commonly spoken. In that same time of living in Mexico, I’ve evolved so much as a person. I quit my corporate accounting job (when they called me to ask me to go back to work. I said HELLZ NOOO, I’m in Mexico and I isn’t coming back!).
There is an ex-pat community here that has encouraged me to continue chasing Mexican sunsets by creating my own employment opportunities by starting my own business ventures. I went on YouTube and started learning new skills and started my own e-commerce business which is just celebrating its 30th sale on its 4-month anniversary today, and I can honestly say I’ve had ZERO REGRETS moving to Mexico. The challenges I’ve experienced here have been minimal in comparison to the challenges being a black woman in America have been, and I am so grateful to wake up every day able to do what I want and travel the world. So far: I’ve travelled to: Tulum, Playa Del Carmen, Bacalar, Isla Holbox, Cancun, Valladolid, Merida, Celestun, Rio Lagartos, Boca Del Rio, Puerto Escondido, San Cristobal Del Las Casas, Mexico City and if you want to see more about where I’m at feel free to follow my travel blog: @cgyalyogi on Instagram for all the tea.
I strongly encourage all my ladies and gents to visit Mexico. You will truly fall in love with this beautiful island if you open your heart to the opportunity that lies here. If you’re ever in town feel free to send me a message on IG and we can link up! Much love, Cici!
By Cici aka @cgyalyogi on Instagram.
Thanks for coming to internet home! My name is Alieshia and I am a millennial travel blogger. I encourage millennials to travel no matter what and provide resources for adulting.