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After 11 years as a digital nomad, living in 60 countries, I'm settling in Mexico. It fits my lifestyle and business goals.

Robin Madell   

After 11 years as a digital nomad, living in 60 countries, I'm settling in Mexico. It fits my lifestyle and business goals.
  • Hannah Dixon became a virtual assistant in 2013 and has worked in 60 countries.
  • Dixon plans to apply for permanent residency in Mexico, after her four-year residency expires.

This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Hannah Dixon, a 36-year-old virtual assistant coach, recruiter, and founder of The Virtual Excellence Academy, living in Mexico. It's been edited for length and clarity.

In 2013, I started my digital nomad life, dove into entrepreneurship, and became a six-figure virtual assistant. My former partner, who worked online, set me on a path to learn everything I could about this career.

It was an alluring path because it allowed me to continue to travel and make a living while doing so. This industry allowed me to live and work in more than 60 countries. While I loved traveling fast and seeing so many awesome things, key problems like disconnection from others made it challenging at times. After a while, I decided to slow down and started noticing the people and places that treated me well.

I lived in Bangkok for two years, then spent some time in New York with family; in France with my stepmom; and in Budapest, Hungary, alone. In 2021, I moved to Guanajuato, Mexico.

Since moving to Guanajuato, it's become a good home base that serves me, my wife, and my dog well — and my business has grown tremendously.

I tried to live in Austria

In April 2020, right before the pandemic lockdown, I took one of the last trains from Budapest to Graz, Austria, knowing that things would change rapidly. A new love interest, my now wife, who's German, was getting her master's degree and living in Austria. I moved there because I didn't want to be alone.

I'm American and British. As a UK citizen, I had the right to live and work in the eurozone, but once Brexit was finalized, this right was revoked. My wife and I married in 2021, and after applying for residence in Austria, I received a letter indicating that I had to leave.

During the pandemic, Mexico was one of the few countries that kept its borders open. Friends, who were fellow digital nomads, suggested we consider moving to Guanajuato, Mexico.

Guanajuato welcomed me and my wife with open arms

During our six-month tourist visa, Guanajuato equated to a level of ease and connection I hadn't experienced before. We quickly became part of an eclectic community that felt like a chosen family and experienced unprecedented hospitality from people of all ages and backgrounds.

In 2022, my wife and I got a four-year temporary resident visa and officially became residents in Mexico — as opposed to long-stay tourists. We got our visas at the Mexican consulate in Kansas City, one of the breezier consulates.

Some consulates are known for long wait times and weeks of delay, but Kansas City processed us on the same day. I'd spent extended periods in Mexico before moving here, so not much came as a surprise about the process. But I learned that renting a place to live in Mexico is a million times easier once you're on the ground. There are signs with WhatsApp numbers on properties for rent everywhere that helped simplify things.

The transition went smoothly, and I wouldn't change anything.

I also learned about the world of "fixers"

There's a whole industry of people whose only job is to make immigrants' lives easier by helping with things like opening bank accounts, extending residency visas, buying a car, driving your pets cross country while you fly, etc.

We spent around $290 for fixer support with renewing our residency visas, which included early morning pick-up services, an hour's drive to the National Institute of Migration, being on hand for our interview if we needed help, and driving us back home with our extensions in hand. Also, when we bought a car, we used what could be considered a fixer service.

Since making this move, my business has grown tremendously

This stability has allowed me to focus more intently on my business and spend more time learning and implementing growth strategies. Being in a time zone that closely aligns with most of my clients and collaborators in the US has been a game changer. I've been able to increase my frequency of launches, produce more social media content, and spend more time refining processes.

Without the constant need to adapt to new environments, I've reclaimed a considerable amount of time and mental energy that was previously spent on life logistics like securing reliable wifi, finding suitable accommodations, etc.

Living here has encouraged me to embrace a more laidback lifestyle

I've found it easy to strike up conversations with interesting strangers who turn into friends just from walking around town. Guanajuato is the kind of place where you ask a question in a local Facebook group, and by the end of the day, you have an invite to someone's birthday party.

This lifestyle gives me more downtime and rest, which keeps me mentally sharp. My schedule feels more flexible, which has helped me make smarter choices about investing my time. I've invested in personal growth, expanded my team, acquired more clients and students, and dedicated myself to spreading the word about my services.

Living in the mountains and frequent visits to Mexico City and beaches provide the perfect balance for me. Mexico has a bit of everything.

There are things I haven't liked so much

Mexico isn't known for being quiet. There's lots of street noise and incessant dog barking. But the things I haven't liked so much are sacrifices I'm willing to make.

I find it challenging that, in some places, people have very different ideas on how to treat animals — specifically dogs. Many are undernourished and don't have any socialization. However, there are many great organizations in Mexico, like Amigos de los Animales, working hard to change attitudes through education programs.

I also try to put a positive spin on these things. The noise can be annoying, but it's a reminder of the sense of community and life that happens outside the home here. Also, the animal issues are at times heartbreaking but create opportunities to be a part of the change.

We have a home base to come back to that feels good

For me and my wife, nothing is forever. We're content with our decision to be here, but we've also taken numerous trips during this time and are open to new experiences exploring different parts of the world.

We're still on a temporary resident visa. After residing here for four years, we'll have the option to apply for permanent residency, which we intend to do.

We have no idea where the road will take us, but we're very content in the present and are thankful to have found a timely home in Mexico.

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