by Kim Kessler for CNN
I am a third-generation Angeleno. For most of my adult life living in Los Angeles, as a luxury lifestyle public relations executive and to satisfy my own wanderlust, I would travel as much as possible to tropical parts of the world, with an opportunity that arose. I lived on Maui for three years and truly embraced the Hawaiian culture and loved living by the beach in nature.
For the past 10 years, I traveled often to other parts of the world, including Mexico, Bali, Greece, Italy and Costa Rica. But I never felt settled in the big city of Los Angeles. I was always wanting to escape. I didn’t exactly know why, as I also loved it there, for the wellness community, family, and friends.
When the pandemic hit, things got very intense in Los Angeles, especially in Venice, where I was living. I heard screaming outside my door at 3 a.m., and I suddenly felt unsafe when I went on beach walks. The palpable anxiety and fear during the pandemic were too much for me to handle.
Careyes is in the Mexican state of Jalisco.Courtesy Kim Kessler
It just so happened that right before the pandemic, I’d invested in a small beach casita in Careyes, Mexico. I have been coming to Careyes for the past three and a half years and have visited more than 20 times.From the moment I first arrived in Careyes, I felt completely at home. I was mesmerized by the beauty of the ocean and lush jungle, stunning architecture and eclectic residents from around the world, which comprise such a special global community.
Making the move
So when the pandemic hit hard in March, I decided to relocate to my providentially purchased casita and live here full-time. I feel so grateful to be able to go into the warm, clean ocean daily, and be surrounded by a small but caring community.
Courtesy Kim Kessler
My life is much more simple now than in the city and the US. Since moving to Mexico, my overall expenses have gone way down.I traded in a fancy car lease in Los Angeles and bought a used jeep in Guadalajara. I get my hair cut in the little pueblo of Zapata and do food shopping in a little food store called Chavita.The gas station in Zapata is staffed by a single man, who’s usually laying on a hammock when you pull up. He brings over jugs of gas and puts it into your car directly.
Once every five or six weeks, I drive two and a half hours to Puerto Vallarta to stock up on the specialty foods I can’t buy locally, such as miso, tofu and gluten-free bread. I found two local farms who deliver organic produce, such as coconuts, pineapples, moringa leaves, squash blossoms and arugula. I cook most of my meals.This is the first time in my life that I truly feel at home and at peace with being in one place.
I truly think this pandemic has taught us what is important in life, including living where you really want to live, doing what you really want to do, being in touch with family and close friends, and letting the rest fall away.
Courtesy Kim Kessler
Although my parents live in California, we still speak every day. I’m much happier living in nature, with clean air without smog, being surrounded by colorful butterflies, spotting dolphins, and helping to release protected baby sea turtles into the ocean at sunset through the Careyes Foundation. Since 1982, the foundation has helped 1.7 million baby sea turtles to date.
A new way of life
This move is not without some challenges. I’ve found it difficult living among creatures like occasional frogs, mosquitoes, wasps, the flying beetles in July, and the bats that surface on the balcony of my casita at night. There are also scorpions, but fortunately I haven’t encountered any yet.
The key is to fully surrender, and I have found that the less fear you have about the wildlife, the less they bother you. I embrace this as part of living in nature, and the immense beauty of the ocean, butterflies, whales, dolphins and turtles much outweighs the troublesome aspects of the insects and other creatures that live in the jungle.
The process of moving to Mexico was very easy on a tourist visa, as I can stay six months at a time, leave the country briefly and return. However, I plan to get my Mexican formal residency as well, so that I can eventually have dual citizenship.
I feel very safe here in Careyes, much safer than I did in Venice Beach. Careyes is in the state of Jalisco, and I find the people very kind and helpful. It’s so refreshing.Courtesy Kim Kessler
An office in nature
I think that in the coming years, more people will crave living in nature and respecting nature in unity, and they can make this possible, as long as there is decent WiFi to enable them to work, since many people are currently working from home.The pandemic has definitely shifted the workplace. I have about eight friends who have left Los Angeles to live in Costa Rica, Mexico, Hawaii and Bali, and they seem much happier.I think people should follow their intuition and passion, and live where they feel happiest. I think a key to feeling calmer and at peace is living in more remote areas of the country or world. Whenever I get stressed, I go right into the ocean and immediately feel renewed.