Many of you know that Jeff and I live out of a suitcase, literally, one suitcase and a carry-on. We’re digital nomads with an online boutique publishing company and a wholistic, Heilkunst Medical Practice serving patients all around the world.
Over six months we travelled across Canada last summer, from Saint John’s, Newfoundland to Tofino, British Columbia we’d pull up to campsites right on the water, store our suitcases under the car, leave the hatch up on our SUV and sleep under the stars, listening to the loons (or ocean waves) while sleeping on our Ikea mattress in the back of our car. It was like a dream come true, as neither of us had ever been west of Toronto.
I’d once been on a trip to Victoria, BC. For five short days I’d showcased courses for the Hahnemann College for Heilkunst at a health show. The thing was, I’d never seen the middle guts of Canada. I wanted to see her portfolio at “see” level. This was my chance to fulfill that bucket list and more. We started in St. John’s, Newfoundland and started to head, by car, across the Trans Canada Highway.
On days that we served clients (three days a week), we’d check into an Airbnb. Our criteria was good wifi and two separate rooms for us each to serve our patients by Skype. At the end of each day, we send our prescriptions to our pharmacists in Canada and The States.
In some cases, we stayed a few weeks or more to stabilize ourselves. We called this ‘slow travel.’ On this longer sojourns, we were able to do research and write in between serving clients. We figured out early in the process that it did not work well for us to see clients and then travel right after. We’ve gotten good at what works best to preserve our personal and couple ecology in good stead.
We’ve loved this expedition so much, that we’ve made it a permanent lifestyle. We’ve lived like this for almost three years; taking periodic, sabbaticals. We can’t call them holidays anymore! We continued, travelling down through the eastern United States and into Mexico for the Winter.
Folks ask us how we can afford to live this way. Our answer is how can you afford to live where you are? Think about it, we sold everything off so we have no debt, no mortgage, no bills, or house/car maintenance. We live in Mexico half of the year with one third the cost of living in Canada.
For the first time in our lives, we’re socking money away. We’re investing in IBC (Infinite Banking Concept) and Bitcoin more than we ever did before. We’ve hit the jackpot as far as lifestyle goes!
Let me explain in point form what our general costs are. If you know me, I’m not shy as we’ve found something that works well for our health and mental/emotional well-being. I also write on the side for International Living. I’m used to divulging what it takes to live this way for others exploring similar options:
- A campground spot in Canada and the U.S. for a car costs on average between $25 – $40 per night. We’ve also found spots for free in truck stops but this was only a couple of times out of sleep-deprivation. Others park at designated Walmarts. We eat one meal a day plus a keto snack of organic beef jerky, nuts or vegetables that we keep on board in a cooler. We’ll generally stop for salad and some form of meat dish for supper. We stock up at great health food stores in towns along the way.
- An Airbnb in Mexico costs between $450 – $675 U.S. per month, including wifi. Our groceries are about $30 – $45 a week for the both of us. We also eat out several times over our four day weekends for anywhere from $5 -$20 a meal. Our cell phone plans are unlimited calling and texting for under $25 per month to the U.S., MX and Can. with 1 gig of data. We have no other overhead expenses. We’ve used only two tanks of gas ($38 Cdn each) in four months given that we walk everywhere in Guanajuato, MX. We’re fit from these cobbled alleyways.
- Our entertainment expenses are $8 for the symphony on Friday nights. We pay less on Thursdays and Sundays for concerts at smaller venues. Sundays you get a class of wine and tapas bar with your concert ticket. Sitting on a park bench or lounge chair in the Sun. with a book from the English Library costs nothing.
- On occasion we take the bus which is $.35 cents and cabs or an Uber are around $3.50 Cdn. which is harder to calculate in U.S. dollars as it is next to nothing. Sometimes we drive and park in a parking garage which ranges from $40 to 98 pesos ($2.50 – $5.00). A full day at the local hot springs is $150 pesos or $9.50 Cdn. or $7.23 U.S. at the time of this writing. At the spa, we get brunch served on our poolside deck chairs with fruit, omelette and carrot juice. All that for under $10 for both of us combined! At the dam down from our casita, they rent boats by the hour for 37 pesos about $2.50. … cost of Jeff rowing, while Ally takes close-ups of ducks? Priceless!
- Travel inside of Mexico may include an overnight at a local town at an Airbnb. Those rooms in someone’s home range from $16 – $24 Cdn. a night. One two day excursion we took to the local pyramids, tequila making rancho came to $190 Cdn in total. This included 5 meals and 2 nights stay in a 500 year old hacienda. This was our biggest expense, other than our rent, in the 5 months we’ll be here.
- We cook a lot from home as we’re on ketogenic diets. We love shopping at the local markets for our meat, vegetables and fruits. There’s a good selection at the health food stores and the items are reasonable unlike back home. Most street food is delicious. Get a taco, loaded with meat, guac., vegetables and eat just the fillings. A large carrot and beet juice runs less than $2 Cdn for the drink and the food.
Many of you have also wanted to know what we have in the way of stuff. Here’s our list of items, excluding our 5 X 7 storage container back home. It’s stashed with extra camping gear, artwork, art supplies, and a bicycle. We’ve also go 7 years of stupid tax receipts (stored on behalf of our government). One day, we plan to have a Tiny House so I kept our stoneware pans and kitchen supplies. There’s also 2 rubbermaid boxes of photo albums and kids’ artwork.
Here’s what we’ve got with us that fits into that one large suitcase and a carry-on.
- Undies, shirts, pants, dresses (mine, not Jeff’s), blouses, work-out clothes, 2 sweaters, poncho, rain jacket, and 5 pairs of very practical shoes stuffed with socks. All clothes are rolled fitting into one and a half suitcases. Camera bag with multiple lenses, underwater camera, toiletries, art supplies and 6 paperbacks for reading on beaches/park benches where I don’t take my i-pad fit in the other half of my large suitcase.
- Neuro-scenar for sore necks, stiff mucles from hiking (http://www.scenar-therapy.co.uk/scenar_therapy_faq.html), toiletries, epsom salts, bath bombs, towels, bathing suits, essential oils, little satchel of jewellry, hairdryer and supplements in use fit in my carry-on, 3 mgs of Melatonin on occasion if I’ve been overscheduled and “Experience” capsules on occasion for helping to keep me regular).
- Small box of Simply Organic Spices (https://www.amazon.com/Herbs-Spices-Seasonings-Simply-Organic/s?ie=UTF8&page=1&rh=n%3A16310281%2Cp_4%3ASimply%20Organic)
- Box of back-up toiletries including Earthpaste toothpaste (https://www.amazon.com/Redmond-Earthpaste-Toothpaste-Peppermint-Ounce/dp/B0080L9G9C), bamboo toothbrushes (https://www.amazon.com/Natural-Bamboo-Toothbrush-Individually-Numbered/dp/B00UYFH6YO), handmade deoderant by The Natural Deoderant Company (https://naturaldeoco.com/) and 3 bottles of Flora and Fauna Skin Elixir (http://florafaunaskincare.com/products/facial-serum), razor and hairbrush, 100% Pure Make-up (https://www.100percentpure.com/) in my Make-up Bag, and all natural hemp shampoo and conditioner brought from Canada, however, I’ve found a honey version just as chemical-free here.
- Box of backup supplements like Zinc, tub of Greens for shakes, flax seeds, hemp seeds, Vitamin D3 for days the darker/colder months when we’re still in Canada and Himalayan rocks salts to make up Solé brine.
- Flat of medium mason jars for fermenting for gut health/probiotics.
- Our high powered blender and a ceramic water crock for dispensing spring water from bottles.
- Ikea mattress, sleeping bags, pillow and lighter cotton blanket for warmer/colder nights. Propane cook stove, dish soap, basic dishes, pot and pan, cutlery, BBQ tools for open fire cooking.
- Computer bags and one box of work supplies including a modem, Vonage Phone and Charger, Apple Time Capsule for backing up our computers and wire-like electronic thingys that you’d have to ask Jeff about, one inbox (I try not to have one or people will put stuff in it!).
- One bottle of Dr. Bronner’s all purpose cleanser as there are only toxic options available in Mexico.
And that is about it. The car has to be packed like a game of Tetris. Yet, that’s everything you might want to know about living on the road to Mexico. The reason I put that latter bit into the title is that when you have little stuff, you don’t spend anytime servicing it. When your stripped bare of luxuries and nefarious responsibilities, you feel free. The doing is gone, so all you’re boiled down to is being.
We only need to clean our car/or Airbnb apartment a couple times a month, total, a couple of hours at the most. Otherwise we’re working at what we love. The rest of the time we’re out playing, studying Spanish, walking the colonial city, or grabbing a bite. We love to spend hours reading, photographing, drawing, or off at the local hot springs. When we arrive anywhere, we unhook the TV right away and shove it a corner or out the door. Neither one of us have had one in over 25 years so why start now in any language!
We decided that we love our life too much to ever retire, so we’ve crafted a healthy lifestyle in our 40’s and 50’s instead. One day we may grow up and build a Tiny Home on our two acres in New Brunswick, Canada. Mexico also has our heart so swinging back and forth each season will work for us. Our savings will love us! That alone feels generative and rejuvenating!