During a recent job interview, my soon-to-be boss asked what I’d been doing before I relocated to New York City in 2011. I responded, “For about nine years, I was living in central Mexico, working as a freelance writer and…”
“…And just hanging out,” he concluded, finishing my thought with his own assumptions.…it’s true that my life in Mexico was rather unconventional when compared to the high-stress, always-on-the-go regimen typical to New York.Although I may not have chosen that phrasing myself, it’s true that my life in Mexico was rather unconventional when compared to the high-stress, always-on-the-go regimen typical to New York. As an expatriate, I mostly worked for myself, and when I was able to earn in dollars and spend in pesos, I could make time to travel, paint, and explore my adopted home.
In the new world economy, however, expatriating is no longer synonymous with dropping out of the system or “just hanging out” in another country. I met a lot of other foreign residents of Mexico during my years south of the border, particularly while working on the expat handbook Moon Living Abroad in Mexico. Though many were retired or living off a foreign source of income, others put together a career teaching English, opened a small business or restaurant, authored travel blogs and websites, worked as journalists, or were employed remotely for companies back home.
While living abroad continues to appeal to retirees and adventurers, a much wider range of people are on the move today, especially in the world’s fastest growing economies. For some professionals, living overseas can translate into a better salary and a higher standard of living. For others, living abroad provides the opportunity to experience a new culture—while still offering the opportunity to build a career. Even in places where the job market isn’t as robust, expatriates today are a more diverse group than in the past, focused more on building a life overseas than escaping one back home.