Want To Live In Mexico? Find Out how An Adventurous Family Of 7 Did It

Have you ever dreamed of leaving it all behind to live in Mexico or Costa Rica?  Think you have to be rich or save a bunch of money to support that new life?  Think you need to spend years planning it? Think Again. The WhiteHeads are an ex-military family of 7 who decided to take action on their dream of travel: kids and all. Find out how they did it.

Lured by the warm weather and beautiful beaches, every year, thousands of people from around the world travel to Costa Rico and Mexico for a vacation.

Many of those same people dream about what it would be like to trade in their lives for a new life in Mexico.

Very few take action because of all those pesky hurdles you have to jump over to make it happen. Things like how would you support yourself? How would you keep up with the kid’s education? Where would you live? Not to mention the fact that you would have to learn a whole new language (Spanish).m

I found a couple who jumped over all the hurdles and through a few hoops. And they did it with five kids between the ages of 3 and 14.  They aren’t rich. They didn’t sell off a bunch of Google stocks to make it happen, and they didn’t plan the move over several years either. They hustled and were persistent.


The WhiteHeads

  • Number Of Kids: 5 kids  (14, 11, 9, 6, 3)
  • Educating Kids: Homeschool and Spanish language tutor
  • Type Of Travel: Long Term, Slow Travel, International
  • Length Of Travel: Since 2011, 1 Year +
  • Where Travelled: Costa Rica, Mexico:—> Atenas, San Jose,  Chapala, Mexico.
  • Challenges: Initially adjusting  to a new location and learning to cook without all the convenience foods found in the US
  • Finances: internet marketing clients, sale of previous business, digital products, kindle books, new travel magazine, teaching English online.


FamilyTravel Bucketlist

Since 2011, Susan and Michael Whitehead and their five kids have been slow travelling in and around Mexico and Central America. So far, they have lived in Costa Rica, Atenas, San Jose and now Chapala, Mexico.  

Their goal is to travel indefinitely and knock as many things off of their family bucket list as possible before the kids leave to conquer the world on their own.

Living in 4 places might seem like a lot in such a short amount of time, ~12 Month Period. But thanks to the U.S. military, the WhiteHeads are no strangers to moving around. This adventurous family of 7 has had the pleasure of living all over the U.S. starting in Wichita, Kansas, then to Milton, Florida, Arkansas, Texas, Georgia and then back to Texas again.

A Chance To Settle Down

It wasn’t until they broke ties with the military that they decided to plant some roots in one place.

That place was Eastern North Carolina. There they set up their version of “THE DREAM LIFE,” which included a 9.56-acre rural farm, chicken coops, plenty of land for the kids to play on, fresh blueberries, apples, pears and more. You get the picture, right? Susan and Michael also home-schooled their kids. Life was pretty good.

You would think that they would welcome the routine and comfort of one permanent place after bouncing around to so many different locations.  So what happened? How did they end up living in Mexico?

The Travel Bug

Wanderlust happened.

It’s true, once the infectious travel bug bites, the uncontrollable urge to see and explore more of the world takes over. No matter how much you try to fight it, no matter how much you try to push it aside, it is always there. If you deny this urge, horrible things can happen like regret and wondering, “what if… ”

At least that has been my experience, and that is apparently how the Whiteheads feel too because, after three years of living their ideal rural life, they felt that inevitable pull of their wanderlust spirit too.  They longed for somewhere new to explore AGAIN!

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Time To Make A Dream Come True

At the time, the economy and the country seemed to be taking a turn, and they no longer viewed the U.S. as the BEST place to raise their children. That is when they started to take action on a new dream, which was an old dream that they had put off for a long time. Susan and Michael always dreamed of travelling and showing their children the world.

First Steps

So Susan and Michael began taking steps to reduce their possessions, and the anchoring effect of having a lot of stuff has on a family. 

They also started to grow an online business selling self-published books that they hoped would eventually help support their lifestyle and life of travel.

Lightening Their Load

They sold most of their things, gave away the rest and stored some of their keepsake items like photos at Susan’s parent’s home.

They now own 99% less than what they used to own, which makes it easier to travel the world as a family unhindered by “THINGS.”   They each have one backpack plus they carry an additional three suitcases for other miscellaneous items totalling a whopping ten bags for seven people. That’s pretty lean.

What About The Kids?

costa rica with kidsThe kids were already being homeschooled, so education was not an issue. Susan and Michael decided to get the kids a language tutor who has worked out pretty well.

Money Money Money

The biggest surprise Susan revealed to me is that when they embarked on their travels, they didn’t have a ton of savings and have had to hustle to finance their lives.

Now they have more income streams than ever and plan to add more and more as time goes on, which include internet marketing clients, sale of a previous business, digital products, kindle books, Travel Magazine and teaching English online.

The cost of living in Mexico is a lot less than the U.S., and they were able live quite well for under $2,000 per month. That’s for everything; food, rent, medical, clothes, tutors, sightseeing etc.

Want To Live In Mexico Too?

I asked Susan to give me her top tips to families out there who wanted to travel like they are, and here is what she said.

  1. Find some way of making money remotely before you go.
  2. Sell your stuff and take the leap!

The Whiteheads are one of many families featured on this site. See also other amazing Families & Couples Who Are Making Their Dream of Long Term Travel A Reality. 

Photo of Annie André: www.AnnieAndre.com

Annie André

About the author 

I’m A Bilingual North American With Thai And French Canadian Roots Who's Been Living In The South Of France For Over 10 Years. I Love Writing Weird, Wonderful, Interesting, Forgotten, And Fascinating Articles For Intellectually Curious People Amazed By France, French Culture, And World Travel.

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  1. Our readers love everything about living and retiring in Mexico. It is one of our top retirement destinations. Retirees love the affordable cost of living, the friendly people, the stunningly beautiful landscape, the superb weather that Mexico have to offer.

    1. Mexico is certainly an affordable place to retire. One of many factors when choosing someplace international to retire too.

  2. This family reminds me of my wife. She has six siblings and her parents took the famliy traveling all over Europe when she was younger. My wife’s dad was in the military too. I wonder how much that helps get families to travel more.

    Anyway, that’s a lot of kids to be traveling around with. You’d think it would be hard to keep track of all the stuff they need to carry around. Well, then again, if they got rid of most of it, that would make it easier.

    I think an important piece of advice made in this post is to take the leap before any dream stealers can convince you otherwise. Such a great point.

    1. Hey Steve,
      That’s so cool about your wife. I could be wrong, but i think once exposed to another culture through travel, it’s hard to go back.

      I have yet to meet anyone who has said i have travelled and hate it and will never do it again. If anything, they want to travel more.

  3. I am SO encouraged by this post, another big family traveling. We are home-educating parents to 9 dc ages 5-25. We are discussing heading to Mexico with our youngest 7 and slow traveling long-term to lands end and take a hop to somewhere else when that time would come. We’ve done some traveling around/across Canada/USA but too rushed and expensive. Now we want the slower travel.

    I was excited to read “they are able to live quite well for under $2,000 per month. That’s for everything; food, rent, medical, clothes, tutors, sight seeing… EVERYTHING.” because figuring speculated costs is difficult when most are based on only 2 people.

    1. I agree Karen,
      speculating costs based on 2 people is really hard. It so much better when you actually see someone doing something you want to do but were not sure about it before. It can be done and quite affordable at that.

  4. Hi Annie,

    Wow, I realized that I am behind with your blog posts.

    I think that what this family did is fantastic. Every one should be able to do this, travel and settle wherever they want.

    Thank you for bringing up this story and inspiring people to do the same.

    1. I agree, but not everyone thinks they can. Plus, not everyone wants to do that which is perfectly fine. I just hope people are living their lives where they want to because that is what they want not because that is what they think they are supposed to do.

  5. Annie,

    Each time I visit your blog, I want to take an adventure. I find myself making so many “excuses” that I have grown to a mindset that realizes I’m using my dogs as an excuse.

    Anything can be done! I could pick up and leave any time I want to. If these folks can do it with their kids, why can’t I do it with my dogs?

    Where there is a will there is a way. My husband and I do want to take adventures at this point of our lives. What is stopping us? Dogs? Silly excuse!!!

    Thank you for helping me see clearly,

    1. Donna,
      When the time is right you will do it. Dogs or not. And with your business being mostly internet based, you can run it from anywhere in the world where there is an internet connection. ..

  6. You mean there is a family more adventurous then you? No way!!!

    A family of seven.. Now that’s something else because most people would sit at home and just talk about it but never actually do something about it.

    I think that’s so cool that Susan and Michael took action and their kids will have such a cool experience now to share later in life just like your kids Annie.

    I would be one of those people who just talked about it but was too much of a wimp to do anything about it. But I love reading what other people are doing so thanks for sharing this with us. I get to live through all of you.

    Have a fabulous weekend.


    1. Hi Adrienne,

      You are so right, it is cool that Susan and Michael took action. Even if you don’t want to travel like them, i think they are a good example of the human spirit and can certainly inspire other people to live their own adventures and dreams no matter what. Just like you are doing yourself.

  7. Hey Annie, Every time I read your articles, I feel like traveling. You are a bad influence on me lol.

    I have been to Mexico, well I have been to Cancun for spring break party time; not sure if you can call it Mexico lol.

    These guys are so brave IMO, taking on the world without fear! Awesome.

    Cool post Annie

    1. Oh stop it mr “i am going to Spain twice in a row”. And i suppose Cancun does count.

      I have more families lined up so buckle your seatbelt and get ready.
      love your new profile photo..

  8. Hey Annie

    The Whiteheads are certainly adventurous!

    We’ve lived in a number of places in the UK but we’re settled in Edinburgh for now. My wife is a teacher in a private school here so we plan on sending our kids to that school too.

    I am in awe of anyone who takes on home-schooling, particularly with 7 kids! I would be concerned that I wouldn’t have the patience or I couldn’t teach them enough.

    Great story Annie. Thanks for sharing.


    1. Tim, i know what you mean. I tried homeschooling with my two older boys for a whole year while living more nomadically and it was extremely hard. It worked for my daughter who was younger but my two boys were just entering their teen years and rebelled a bit against it.
      Having said that, i think it could have worked if i had hired a tutor because i think when you are travelling, you spend so much time together that the last thing my kids wanted was to spend additional time learning from their mom.

  9. Sounds interesting Annie!

    I wish I had the freedom like the Whiteheads to roam around and finally settle down in Mexico!

    Well, I guess that would remain a dream till after my kids have completed their education and settled down well into their careers. :)

    But yes, I do know of a few couple who have done likewise and they too sold off everything, which lightened and made their trip easy and affordable. Of course, money is a major issue always and unless you have some backup plan or savings, it does become tough.

    Thanks for sharing and it surely does seem like a lucrative opportunity. :)

    1. Harleena,

      I think a lot of people in this world wish and like the IDEA of moving somewhere lie Mexico but for most staying put in one place for the sake of the kids is a major point of contention. It could just as easily be a mortgage or a good job that keeps them in one place too not just the kids.

      But Like any wish or dream. It all comes down to choice. How badly do you want it? Are you willing to take action? For the Whiteheads, they wanted it so bad that they they completely went all out and sold it all and did it. Certain dreams are worth it because if not attempted they have the potential to turn into a regret while dreams will always just stay a wishes or wants with no regret whatsoever.
      Thanks for stopping by Harleena.

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