In 2008, after 10 years in Maui, Hawaii, Erin and Philip Whitley were ready for a change.
Philip had spent 15 years in a chiropractic practice and he was feeling burnt. He was “ready for something very different,” says Erin, who’d been teaching dance and movement there.
They were getting itchy feet. “How do we want to reinvent ourselves?” Erin recalls.
Mexico didn’t figure in their plans at that time. But one day a friend mentioned San Miguel de Allende—the scenic artists’ colony and expat haven in Mexico’s Colonial Highlands. “We made some connections here in San Miguel,” says Erin, “and everything just lined up for us.”
Soon, they were settling their affairs in Hawaii and packing their bags for Mexico. “We came down literally sight unseen…But we both have high spirits of adventure.”
Like many others, Erin had thought of San Miguel as a place for retirees. But today, she notes, younger expats in greater numbers are moving there—to start new businesses, raise children, and to find “a different way of life.”
The Whitleys house-sat for their first three months in San Miguel, figuring this would give them time to decide if the place was right for them. “In that three-month window we definitely got the feeling to stay,” recalls Erin.
However, at ages 42 and 51, respectively, Erin and Philip weren’t ready to retire. They needed a way to make an income.
Both are computer-savvy, so they thought, “Let’s try to create something online,” says Erin. “We started networking, researching the whole industry, and then we just jumped in.”
Today, four years later, Erin and Philip have a successful online business. They spend every day on the Internet, creating websites and doing research. “The easiest way to think of what we do is ‘Internet marketing,’” explains Erin.
Right now, they’re very happy in San Miguel and have no plans to move. They rent a furnished house with expansive views of the city and surrounding countryside, just a 10- to 15-minute walk from centro. Because San Miguel is an expat haven, “there are a lot of beautifully-furnished, available rentals,” notes Erin. They’ve made friends in the expat community, enjoy the city, and work at improving their Spanish.
Erin has even taken up her old career again part-time, teaching movement classes three times a week. She’s evolved a new movement style in San Miguel. It combines elements of dance, martial arts, and basic body awareness—all set to music. The drop-in classes have proved popular.
“People come of all ages who love to move. For some people it has a very spiritual component. For others, it’s just physical movement… They don’t want to go to a gym; they just want to dance.”
Erin and Philip were brave enough to make a big leap out of their comfort zone—and today they’re reaping the rewards.
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