Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Rootless Relocation, Part 1b: Where?

Tlaxcala, Mexico.

In Part 1a: Where? I narrowed down my relocation choices to:
  • New Mexico
  • Mexico

Both met my primary criteria

  • Reasonable access to family/friends; 
  • Proximity to mountains; 
  • Locations with mild(er) climate; 
  • Cultural and language diversity; 
  • Low cost of living; and 
  • Income opportunities

All things are relatively equal in regard to mountains, climate, diversity, and low cost of living.

Income opportunities

In Mexico, based on my research, mostly via Dave's ESL Cafe Forums, I'd likely earn enough to be self-sufficient, but not enough to put money aside for the future. But Mexico's relatively low cost of living is a powerful draw. And doesn't international living trump domestic living for the rootless glam value?

I'd probably have to relocate to a city larger than I'd prefer in order to maximize my earning potential as an EFL teacher. I have no interest in Mexico City as a base (20 million in the Mexico City metro area). But the other usual EFL targets such as Puebla, Monterrey, Queretaro, Oaxaca have more than a million in population. (Even Tijuana, that much-maligned "town," has more than a million residents).

All of the above would be offset, however, by living in a different country where I could improve my Spanish and enjoy lots of exploring.

In New Mexico, the cost of living is higher, but I have a much better chance of earning money for both subsistence and savings, plus the potential of work with benefits such as health insurance.  Also, as an American citizen, I don't have to worry about getting a work visa. And in addition to ESL work, I have a range of other income-producing avenues open to me that would likely not exist in Mexico.

Bosque del Apache Wildlife Refuge, near Socorro, NM

Access to family

For the next year or two, I need to have reasonable access to/for family.

Mexico. Airfare between St. Louis and Mexico City isn't bad - often there are nice sales. Even so, it's going to be a minimum, with a really good sale, of $300 per person round trip. Ditto for places like Cancun. Problem: I don't want to live in either of those places, so my Mexican base needs to be within 2 or three hours of Mexico City or Cancun. Mexico has a wonderful bus system - comfortable long-distance buses at very affordable prices. 
New Mexico. Driving between central or eastern Missouri and New Mexico is a minimum of 13 hours, most likely 18-20 hours, depending on the New Mexico location. Up to 15 hours is doable in one day, albeit a long day. More than 15 hours driving in a day is suffering, so it's realistically a two-day trip. For me doing the trip, not terrible, but for family to come visit me, it might be prohibitive. Flying possible into Albuquerque or El Paso, TX. Can find fares to Albuquerque for about $300 round trip. El Paso, TX, is about $100 higher.

So both Mexico and New Mexico offer fair accessibility, with New Mexico edging out Mexico because driving is possible, although it will take a minimum of one day and more likely require an overnight stop. For family to visit me, there's a psychological advantage to New Mexico because it's domestic travel rather than international - no language issues, no passport required, and none of the fear factor that taints Mexican travel these days.

Then there's the chemistry thing

A few months ago, my chemistry was saying, go to Mexico. But now, the chemistry is leading me to New Mexico.

When all things are relatively equal, you can't argue with chemistry.

New Mexico it is.

But where in New Mexico? 

Tune in for Rootless Relocation: Part 1c: Where?

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