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Living large on a lower income

While she doesn’t earn as much money now, Aborisade has more disposable income. She pays $750 a month in rent for a two-bedroom apartment and about $500 for food (eating out frequently). She can even afford a house cleaner who visits weekly, at around $117 a month.

Aborisade also has private health insurance, which costs about $1,800 a year.

“I can at least afford to go to the doctor here or the dentist. Those things are within my reach, where they weren’t before, even with medical insurance,” she said.

On Aborisade’s average monthly salary of $3,170, she still has about $1,000 left over for discretionary spending — and saving is no longer a priority. She has a nest egg of more than $545,000 in an individual retirement account and says she’s already achieved Coast FIRE (financial independence, retire early) status, which refers to having enough savings and investments to coast into retirement.

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In search of a better quality of life

The Association of Americans Resident Overseas (AARO) estimates that at least 5.4 million Americans live abroad, as of 2023.

A poll conducted by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago in October 2023 found that only 36% of respondents believe the American dream — the idea that if you work hard, you’ll get ahead — still holds true. Half of respondents (50%) say life in America today is “worse” than it was 50 years ago.

Mortgage rates continue to rise amid a shortage of affordable housing. And many Americans are mired in debt, from student loans to credit card debt.

Moving abroad comes with challenges — such as conflicting tax systems and onerous reporting, according to the AARO — but for some Americans, it’s worth it. The Great Resignation of 2020 saw people start to reevaluate their careers, with some deciding to move abroad and work remotely from countries where their dollar could stretch much further.

Some countries now offer visas for digital nomads, along with more traditional options like work visas. But the top destination? According to legal tech firm Lexidy, it’s Mexico, with almost 800,000 American expats currently residing there.

Clearly, Aborisade isn’t alone in her decision to move to Mexico.

“My dream life is almost the antithesis of what we consider to be the dream life in America,” she said. “I do not own a lot of stuff. I make a point not to. It’s not about accumulating wealth. It’s about having control over my time. That is my dream life.”

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Vawn Himmelsbach Freelance Contributor

Vawn Himmelsbach is a journalist who has been covering tech, business and travel for more than two decades. Her work has been published in a variety of publications, including The Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, National Post, CBC News, ITbusiness, CAA Magazine, Zoomer, BOLD Magazine and Travelweek, among others.

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