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

Meet the whiteheads. A family of 7 who decided to moved to Mexico.

By Annie André ⦿ updated January 10, 2024  
susan-michael whitehead family sabbatical mexico
susan-michael whitehead family sabbatical mexico

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. A stay at a luxurious resort in Mexico is the perfect way to experience that dream without fully committing.

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. 

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning I get a 'petite commission' at no extra cost to you if you make a purchase through my links. It helps me buy more wine and cheese. Please read my disclosure for more info.

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Annie André

Annie André

About the author

I'm Annie André, a bilingual North American with Thai and French Canadian roots. I've lived in France since 2011. When I'm not eating cheese, drinking wine or hanging out with my husband and children, I write articles on my personal blog annieandre.com for intellectually curious people interested in all things France: Life in France, travel to France, French culture, French language, travel and more.

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