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A Mexico Influx~It’s Not Just a Trump Thing

It comes to me as no great surprise that we find ourselves in a time when more and more people are moving to Mexico, looking not just for an escape from the current political and social climate north of the border, but for a reinvented, reinspired life where adventure is affordable and enhanced quality of life is your most precious commodity.

As the granddaughter of a former Chief of the US-Mexico Border, it is no small irony that I, along with my husband and two young children, would immigrate to Mexico nearly five years ago.

Departing from San Diego with nothing more than a car and trailer full of stuff that we deemed to be the remaining essentials after gifting, donating and selling the rest, we headed south.

Shortly after our arrival to the beach town of San Pancho, we became permanent residents, having begun the process stateside to facilitate its expediency.

From a very early age, perhaps even encoded in my genetics, I have had a deep love for Mexico–her people, her magic, her fervent sense of community amongst family and friends…the sense of freedom I feel in her rich biodiversity. 

Growing up a half an hour away from the San Diego-Tijuana border, my relationship with my grandfather was by far one of the most significant contributors to this undeniable connection I have with Mexico.

My “Big Joe” as we called him, adorned in his Stetson cowboy hat and crisp-collared Oxford shirts, modeled such a deep respect and brotherhood for our south of the border neighbors, that I too could not help but fall in love with a land and people so magnificently rich in corazón y alma (heart and soul).

I would marvel with the pride that only a granddaughter can feel at my grandfather’s ability to conduct himself so eloquently in both languages and cultures.

He would turn the ordinary into magic.

His affinity for conversation, his staid charisma, his thoughtful ways and his sharp sense of humor made for a dynamic mixture that quite simply attracted people to him. It felt good to be in his company and I was just lucky enough to be his granddaughter.

I would sit mesmerized on his living room couch, predicting my future in his black Magic Eight Ball, listening to his stories of herding cattle and training horses down at our family’s dairy ranch in Chula Vista.

He would speak of his many adventures, one of them of having left home at the age of 14 to become a cowboy on the last rancho that spanned the US-American border.

Family historians have shared with me that he was known as the “Paul Revere of Chula Vista” on account of his warning the Otay Valley on horseback of impending rain that ended up bursting the Sweetwater Dam.

He died when I was a freshman at university, and while I miss him dearly, I will carry the strength of his legacy, his humility, and his wisdom with me always.

Growing up in a border city gifted me access to a bilingual and bicultural world, allowing me to move easily between both realms to this day. 

If former lives exist, I am certain that I was a salsa-dancing Latina in mine!

My Grandmothers Mary & Elizabeth had their own fair share of shenanigans south of the border and their stories were the material of an I Love Lucy episode! The picture below is of the two of them (in the middle) in Tijuana, in 1982 when I was just 14, an impressionable age for sure.

Why Mexico?

Here in Mexico, there is a palpable beckoning and invitation to slow down and to take it all in, to be in the moment and to not rush from point A to point B on autopilot for the sake of checking off a to-do list.

The stimulus and sensory-rich nature of the Mexican culture—alive with a detectable vibra (energy)—beckons one to be awake to and appreciative of the details around.

Life in Mexico takes you out of whatever slumber you might have previously found yourself in, RESETS your outlook and REMINDS you that true, mindful, engaged living results from paying attention to and participating in LIFE.

Mexico has taught me, and reminds me daily, to relish and thrive in the here and now, to celebrate the present moment and the textures and layers within that moment, and to always, always be grateful…for health, life, family, friends and fun!

Mi Querido México, thank you for taking us in, for welcoming us and for graciously adopting us with open arms. These past four and a half years have been one heck of an adventure and we are better people for it….mil gracias. 

For more stories about our immigrated life in Mexico, please follow us here:


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About the author: Together with my Retired Firefighter Husband and our now 18-year-old twins who were just 8 when we immigrated to Mexico in 2012, we have created a joyful life of design and freedom South of The Border. Welcome to Los O’Gradys in Mexico! Saludos, Katie 🇲🇽 ☘️

{ 8 comments… add one }
  • Tanya Murchie July 4, 2017, 7:47 am

    Lovely article. My husband and I are Canadians who moved to central Mexico 5 years ago. (has passed far too quickly) We moved for his work but eventually will retire in this beautiful country. We have lived in three different locations in MX and have loved them all, from a small village to Mexico City.
    I agree, MX beckons you to slow down, pay attention and appreciate life. For me, they way the people ALWAYS greet you with a smile and actually look me in the eye and want to talk is wonderful. There are certain smells – flowers and wood smoke that I find very comforting. waking up in the morning a listening to the birds sing or the 6:30 am church bells resonate within my soul.
    Thank you for sharing your story.

  • David July 4, 2017, 8:32 am

    Nice article. Just as I prepare myself for retirement and looking at Mexico to live, i found your article pleasant and motivational.

  • Cree McCree July 4, 2017, 4:08 pm

    My husband and I first went to San Pancho a few years back and fell in love! I have several old friends who live there, including Fred Feibel and his family and Alice Sealey and her husband Mark, and have since gotten to know a number of expats, like Eileen and Tory. The last time we were there, we started looking at property. San Pancho itself, where my stepson bought a place a couple years ago, had gotten too pricey for us. So we went a little further north to Lo de Marcos, where we found a lovely casa. We will be coming down in August to start furnishing it, and will be staying in San Pancho while we do that. If you’re there during rainy season, would love to meet you. Or if not then, at some point in the future. I enjoyed reading this piece, and look forward to receiving your newsletter!

  • Sonya Ennis July 5, 2017, 8:30 am

    I have to say that I totally agree with Tanya Murchie’s comments above about Mexico and its people. My husband and I have been going to Bucerias every year for the past nine years for warm getaways from Saskatchewan winters.We are not resort people; we prefer to stay in a very small hotel owned by a gracious Mexican couple. From the window of our second floor basic-yet-adequate room we can look out onto the beautiful Bay of Banderas and hear the waves. We can hear young children singing and playing at their school across the street and we can often hear the sound of a horse and rider clopping down the old cobblestone street beside our hotel. We hear roosters crowing, dogs barking, and both locals and happy tourists chit-chatting as they pass by. We smell coffee roasting nearby and hear church bells ringing. I feel more alive there, and life there just takes me back to a much simpler time. Every time we return home from Mexico I believe a small part of my heart stays there, and after having enjoyed nine winter trips there, sometimes I feel the urge to just go back there and stay so that my heart can be in one place instead of two.

    • Katie O'Grady August 14, 2017, 10:11 pm

      Hi Sonya!

      We are not resort people either!
      I love your description of your time in Bucerias!
      Sounds like Mexico is calling you home…

  • Mary Ann Hammond August 10, 2017, 11:11 pm

    Always enjoy hearing your Mexico perspective. Life has its bumps in the road on either side of the border. Thank you for sharing your ups and downs and not giving up on your Mexico life and dream.

    • Katie O'Grady August 10, 2017, 11:13 pm

      Thank you Mary Ann…appreciate your comments.
      And yes, life for sure has its bumps and bruises and celebrations ANYWHERE in this earthly & human experience, that is for sure.
      I am grateful that this chapter of my life has me learning and celebrating in México.
      Katie 🙂

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