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My Immigration to Mexico~ A Tale of Irony, Coincidence & Destiny

My Immigration to Mexico~ A Tale of Irony, Coincidence & Destiny

As the granddaughter of a former Chief of the US-Mexico Border, it is no small irony nor coincidence that I, along with my retired firefighter hubby and our eight-year-old twins, would immigrate to Mexico to create our lives anew.

We were ready to get out of the rat race and redefine our lives. 

Departing from San Diego with nothing but a car and trailer full of stuff that we deemed to be the “essentials” after selling, gifting and tossing the rest, we headed South!

Immigrate to Mexico

Shortly after our arrival to San Pancho, Nayarit, we received our Permanent Residents cards (having begun the process stateside at our local Mexican Consulate) with the assistance of a highly reputable, local legal liaison. 

Immigrate to Mexico

A Historical Love

From a very early age, perhaps even encoded in my genetics, I have had a deep love and respect for Mexico–her people, her magic, her allure, her fervent sense of community and reverence for history and tradition. I often joke that in a former life, I was a salsa dancing latina

My proximity to the San Diego-Tijuana Border granted me access to a bilingual/bicultural upbringing that allowed me to move easily between both worlds. Speaking in both Spanish and English at school, work and play has always been my norm.

And without a doubt, my relationship with my Grandfather, my father’s Dad, was one of the most significant influences in my ties and connection to Mexico. 

My “Big Joe”, as we affectionately referred to him, was a humble, bright, witty gentleman with no time nor concern for nonsense.  Always dressed impeccably in his signature crisp-collared Oxford shirt, ironed slacks and shined shoes–no matter the occasion–he was as tough as nails and lived his life to the fullest until the age of 94.

He adored me, and I him.

Immigrate to Mexico

A Living History Book

Sitting in his living room overlooking Mission Bay, he would speak to me of his many adventures, of his life on our family’s dairy farm in Chula Vista, of the beautiful horses in his care, and how at the age of 14 he left his home to become a cowboy on the last rancho that spanned the US-American border. 

Family historians state that he was the “Paul Revere of Chula Vista” by warning the Otay Valley on horseback of impending rain that ultimately ended up bursting the Sweetwater Dam.

I would listen in awe, taking mental notes of these precious conversations, knowing that I was bearing witness to a living history book. 

We would drive down to Rosarito Beach on weekends for an early dinner at El Nido and I would marvel with pride and joy at my Grandfather’s ability to conduct himself so eloquently in both languages and cultures. Sitting in front of the open, wood-fired oven where our quail and lobster tails would cook, my Grandpa turned 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 simply attracted people to him. It felt good to be in his company and I just happened to be lucky enough to be his granddaughter. 

Although my Grandfather passed before I began my teaching career, I know that he would have been so very proud that I had chosen to go into a line of work that shares the beauty of the Spanish language and culture with the youth of today. 

Family Shenanigans

My Grandmothers Mary & Elizabeth had their own fair share of  South of The Border Shenanigans and their stories were nothing short of hilariously entertaining–like something out of an I Love Lucy Show! This 1982 picture is of the two of them (in the middle) on a day’s outing in Tijuana…I can imagine the laughter!  

Immigrate to Mexico

A Mexico Influx

It comes to me as no great surprise that we find ourselves in a time when more and more people want to immigrate to Mexico, looking not just for an escape from “politics” that defy reason and common decency, but for a reinvented, reinspired life where adventure is affordable and time and freedom are your most precious commodities. 

Life in Mexico WAKES you up from whatever slumber you might have previously found yourself in, RESETS your outlook and REMINDS you that true, mindful, engaged living results from paying attention and participating in a life of design.

I thank my beloved Grandfather for setting the bar high, for leading by example and showing me a love and respect for Mexico that is forever imprinted in my heart and has forever changed the trajectory of my life.

Grandfather holding Granddaughter in Chair

Mi Querido México, thank you for taking my family in, for welcoming us with open arms. These past seven years have been one heck of an adventure and we are better people for it. 

!Viva México!





*Please protect yourselves and your loved ones with carbon monoxide detectors for both home and travel safety.


*If you would like to learn more about how to immigrate to Mexico: Relocation Consulting



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About the author: Internationally-Acclaimed Author & Relocation Coach Katie O’Grady is a 4th generation San Diegan who together with her retired Firefighter hubby and their now 14-year-old twins immigrated to Mexico in 2012. Los O’Gradys in Mexico is InterNations Top Expat Mexico Blog and Katie has been featured on various distinguished platforms including Elephant Journal, Yucatan Times, and Huffington Post. Seven years into their Mexico adventure, Katie and her family continue to embrace their reinvented, reinspired lives where tacos and fun are part of their daily round! If you are interested in learning about raising bilingual, bicultural, cross-border children and creating a life of design south of the border, feel free to contact Katie at [email protected] and on the following platforms: Facebook Instagram Pinterest

{ 25 comments… add one }
  • Jeannie Kezlan February 21, 2015, 4:18 pm

    I sooooooooo loved reading your story. Now , want to hear more of your adventures.
    Very different from my experience as I have been here for over 9 years and had to go thru the visa process …but finally have had my Permanent Resident Visa for a couple of years now. I too, love it here for many reasons……..Keep writing and enjoying life! Jeannie

    • Willie Bautista February 3, 2017, 12:27 am

      Thank you for article. It is so positive. Look forward to new ones.

      • Katie O'Grady February 3, 2017, 1:57 pm

        Mil Gracias Willie!
        I appreciate your taking the time to read and comment on my article.
        Will begin the next one tomorrow!
        Katie 🙂

    • Katie O'Grady August 12, 2019, 4:40 pm

      Thank you kindly Jeannie!

      I look forward to sharing more of my family’s stories.


      Katie 🙂

  • Frank February 21, 2015, 5:19 pm

    Wow, honey, touched my heart and brought a tear to my eye with that writing.

  • Daniel Reveles February 23, 2015, 4:28 pm

    What beautiful writing! You’ve got a national best-seller taking shape.

    • Katie O'Grady January 12, 2018, 6:03 pm

      Wow, thank you kindly Daniel!
      Coming from you, that means a lot!
      Saludos y un abrazo,

  • Tim & Olga Simms March 6, 2015, 9:53 am

    Hello O’Grady family- Tim and Olga Simms from Montana here- We enjoyed reading your website! We have a problem similar to what you had when applying for your Permanent Resident Visa. My wife and kids are Mexican citizens as well as American citizens, I (Tim) am only an American citizen and thought it would be a breeze to get “legal” in Mexico, because of my wife and kids status as Mexican citizens. Dealing with the Mexican Consulate and Immigration has been a nightmare to summarize my ordeal. We call one agency and they contradict the other agency etc. etc. We read a woman named Raquel Cibrian of L.I.A. was of great help to your family and assisted you with your visas. How do we contact her? We would like to hire her to help with our immigration issues. Could please help us contact her? Our email is [email protected]– any help you could give us would be greatly appreciated!! Thanks for your time and consideration- Tim & Olga Simms

    • Katie O'Grady March 6, 2015, 2:12 pm

      Hello Tim & Olga,

      Yes, I understand that the immigration process can be tricky.

      Fortunate for us, it was rather smooth, and in large part because of the tremendous help from Raquel.

      Her contact info. is:

      Raquel Cibrian
      Legal Immigration Advisers
      [email protected]

      Best of luck to you!



  • Fidel C. Rodriguez February 2, 2017, 9:06 pm

    Wow is all I can say. Your grandfather would be proud as am I to know ya’ll. I admire you and Franks courage to march to the beat of your own drum and move to Mexico despite it going against the grain. I can only imagine the obstacles both real and perceived you’ve had to overcome and I’m grateful because you’re journey gives each one of us the courage to march to our own drum. Today, I realized we are kindred spirits because I read the words I’ve used many times to explain my love for Mexico – “I feel it’s encoded in my DNA.”
    Y que vivan los O’Grady’s! Si señor!

    Tu amigo,

    • Katie O'Grady February 2, 2017, 9:15 pm

      BIG, BIG smiles around here, reading this Fidel!
      Muchas Gracias hermano mío…
      Saludos y un fuerte abrazo….
      Los O’Gradys 🙂

  • glenn February 3, 2017, 6:57 am

    Hi Katie,
    I too enjoy my new found friends in Mexico. My first venture I had some concerns. The US media puts a negative spin and allows us the bad Mexico, instead of the good Mexico I’ve had the pleasure of associating. I’m unsure of the future relations between the countries, though I hope the media spin will get better. The people I have come to know are good, hard working, spiritual people, just like me. I’ll be back for sure, I look forward to associating with my new friends, that noise will tone down, that we can share the good that each country has to offer.
    Be Well.

    • Katie O'Grady February 3, 2017, 1:54 pm

      Hi Glenn,
      I understand certain concerns and I definitely understand the distortion of the media. Of course there is good and bad everywhere, and therein lies the human condition–good and evil. Research and common sense go a long way no matter what country you find yourself living or traveling in. As for me, I have never felt so supported by community, so integrated and so wonderfully welcomed as I do here in Mexico. We can all only be responsible for our own behavior and the energy we hold towards others.
      I hope you continue to enjoy your own adventures south of the border!

  • Eduardo February 3, 2017, 12:21 pm

    You may have heard this a lot but once again, in the name of many Mexicans, you are welcome in our country! hope more people could see life as you do..

  • Lisa Terreri February 3, 2017, 6:55 pm

    Strong work Katie! You distill your experience of Mexico so well. She definitely left a mark on me.

  • Maribel Gonzalez-Becerra February 15, 2017, 2:12 pm

    This blog post brought me to tears. Thank you so much for representing us (Mexicans) in the positive light that you do. Muchas gracias de todo corazon.

    • Katie O'Grady February 15, 2017, 7:07 pm

      Hola Maribel,

      That is absolutely the highest compliment I could receive, thank you!


      Katie 🙂

  • Pat Huber February 15, 2017, 10:26 pm

    Love this piece! Pat

    • Katie O'Grady February 16, 2017, 11:09 am

      Thank you Pat,
      I have to say it is one of my personal favorites.
      Un abrazo,
      Katie 🙂

  • dept of edu March 16, 2017, 3:57 pm

    Hmm it appears like your blog ate my first comment (it was extremely long) so I guess I’ll just sum it up what I wrote and say, I’m thoroughly enjoying your blog. I as well am an aspiring blog blogger but I’m still new to the whole thing. Do you have any suggestions for newbie blog writers? I’d definitely appreciate it.

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