Things I Gave Up when I Moved to Mexico (that I don’t even miss)
☀ Indoor plumbing– Instead, we have an open air outdoor bathroom, with a beautiful mountain view, flush toilet and gravity fed hot/cold shower. Dishes are done in a sink on the porch (same gravity fed, hot/cold set up) and laundry is machine washed and hung outside to dry year round.
☀ Central heat– Instead we have a fireplace that I built after our first winter proved that Mexico is not always hot! We have several months of cold nights that bring frost, chilly morning mountain air and rain season to contend with. We have an abundant supply of wood here on the land. No central heat means no heat bills! We wear layers and use our fireplace accordingly.
☀ Amazon.com and other internet shopping. We live in a house with no address, on a street with no name outside of a village that doesn’t receive mail delivery. I no longer have endless access to an overwhelming variety of goods. I have learned that the solutions to many of life’s problems can not be purchased. Instant gratification has been traded in for creative problem solving. I have become more thoughtful towards what I purchase and take better care of those things because they can not easily be replaced. More creativity less excess.
☀ Convenience foods and fad diets– Instead of running to the store to satisfy cravings, buying packaged prepared foods to save time or buying too much of the odd sale item, I buy what’s locally produced, seasonal and available. Not as part of a “be-green campaign” but because that’s life. Imports and off season produce don’t exist here. Processed/packaged “American” foods are expensive. Fancy coffee stands haven’t made it to this part of the world. Fresh and local foods are dirt cheap. This was not a tough decision.
☀ Closets, cupboard and other out of sight-out of mind crap storage. Everything we own is on display. We have shelves instead of dressers. Nothing is hidden. While this did create some initial distress, rather than buy or build systems to contain our things…. I decided instead, to get rid of many of those things. You only need to store the stuff you have, and why store things you don’t use?
☀ Paying rent/standard utility bills– We own this house. We own this land (whatever that means). We don’t pay taxes. Cooking is propane or wood fire. Basic prepay cell phone is cheap. Our only utility bill is the power which sits around $5 usd every two months. Our consumption is very low. We run a refrigerator, occasional lights and an electric water pump once a day. We charge our cellphones. Eventually, we will switch to solar and eliminate this bill as well.
☀ High speed internet/WIFI– For the first two years we had no signal whatsoever coming to our house. Cell reception was sketchy. That was challenging, I had to go to the city to use the internet. Then around six months ago, a new tower went up, and now I have (slow) internet on my phone. This is not unlimited, however, and I am allowed a fairly low monthly amount of megabytes unless I want to spend more. Which I don’t. This means no videos, no streaming and I have to be aware of my use. As long as I use the internet as a tool, rather than a mindless distraction, this is not a problem.
☀ Products– Mexico is very different when it comes to health and beauty or products for the home. Lots of fragrance, chemicals and artificial. It took me a full year to find unscented toilet paper. Almost three years into the Mexico journey, I have learned to either make it, or live without it.
☀ Trash/recycle service– That’s right. We are personally responsible for all of our waste. No truck to haul it away, no center to drop it off at. We have reduced our intake a great deal by using things like reusable cloth shopping bags, cloth diapers, buying certain things in bulk and by becoming conscious about packaging. The non-burnables that do accumulate here get stuffed into plastic bottles and stored. When we have enough of these garbage filled bottles, we will use them with concrete (in place of bricks) to build an animal house. Our family is choosing not to add to the landfill.
☀ Laws, rules and arbitrary standards and expectations– We do not need building permits or inspectors. We do not need to worry about homeschool laws or vaccines or CPS. We don’t need to ask permission or explain or register. There are no Jones’s to keep up with. We live the way we want, with the ultimate freedom to make our own decisions. We are accountable for how our choices impact our health, family, land, community. It’s not up to anyone else to decide for us.
☀ Fast paced living and running around everyday– We live on land. We homestead. The children run free. We have zero scheduled activities. We rarely check the time. We eat when we’re hungry and sleep when we’re tired. We garden, do “school”, make things, do diy home improvement projects, cook real food…. We don’t have a TV. We don’t make daily trips out. We live a slow, relaxed lifestyle full of hard work that pays off. I see where my energy goes and it directly benefits myself, my family and my environment.
This list is not all inclusive. There are many small things that add up to create the big picture. Leaving my life behind to move to the middle of nowhere in a developing country- with kids- was a scary, exciring, crazy leap. And it is paying off!!!