My wife, Karen, and I look back at our decision to hit the road full-time as one of the best we’ve ever made. Instead of shelling out for a two-week vacation every year, we now get to live and work abroad every day. And we’re actually saving money by doing it.
Before embarking on this adventure, we were based in Seattle. The nudge to consider other options came in the form of a looming 10% rent increase. Given the economic boom in the U.S. Pacific Northwest, we were facing higher expenses every year, and we knew our incomes wouldn’t keep up. So we set off for Akumal on Mexico’s Caribbean coast.
Akumal is a small town, best known for the migrating sea turtles that visit every year to lay eggs along the shore. It’s a beach-lover’s paradise, perfect for anyone who enjoys relaxing with their toes in the sand and an adult beverage in their hand. There is also a significant expat community.
We started our slow-travel lifestyle in Akumal as it’s actually closer to Karen’s employer in Florida than Seattle. Karen and I are fortunate that our writing and marketing careers, respectively, allow us to work remotely.
As a freelance marketer, I just needed to inform my clients. Karen, on the other hand, had to promise that her availability wouldn’t suffer by leaving the country. She had nine years of remote work under her belt, so it wasn’t too difficult to sway her manager, but the proximity was still a major plus. I also wanted to be nearby in the event my work required quick trips to the States, which it eventually did.
Another reason for our choice was that we had friends who owned property in one of the resorts in Akumal. By renting their place, we enjoyed access to the resort facilities (for a small additional fee), and we were halfway between the well-known beach towns of Playa del Carmen and Tulum on the Riviera Maya.
Our primary work concern was reliable internet. Our clients need access to us, and we need to be available at a moment’s notice for deadline requests. Fortunately, the resort we were in had internet speeds of 20+ megabits per second, so we were good to go.
We both enjoy working at cafés too, and scouted out local spots with power sockets and reliable WiFi. We discovered Turtle Bay Café during our first stroll along the beach, and it became our remote office whenever we opted to work away from the condo, which was usually two or three days per week. It was about a 20-minute walk from our house to the beach and another 20-minute walk along the beach to get to Turtle Bay Café—not a bad commute, especially in the winter.
From time to time, we need to remind friends and family we’re not on a permanent vacation. We work five days a week. However, in the evenings and on the weekends, we enjoy amazing adventures. There are a limited number of restaurants in Akumal, but a 30-minute drive north to Playa del Carmen or south to Tulum provides a multitude of dining options. We fell in love with the food scene in Tulum and found ourselves heading south frequently.
During one of our many visits to Tulum, we befriended a taxi driver who ended up being our go-to driver for weekend excursions. We’d contact him on WhatsApp and make plans for day trips to cenotes (amazing above and below ground swimming holes), Maya archaeological sites, and the waters of Bacalar near the Mexico-Belize border.
With so much to do along the Riviera Maya, we always looked forward to exploring after a busy week at the “office.”
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