What I learned from eating tacos for one year
Recently, I spent a year in Mexico.
I went there because I was maximizing for freedom. Last winter, Mexico and El Salvador were the only countries you could visit without proof of colonoscopy. No paperwork whatsoever, all you needed was your passport.
How can that be, you might ask? Keep reading to find out.
Contrary to most countries, Mexico does not have a monolithic, top-down power structure. Yes, they have a government and a president but there are other more decentralized power hubs at play.
To start with, each state is like a country in each own right. It has its own culture, architecture, governance, and of course, its own cartels. Any decision made at the national level has to filter through all those layers before it manifests in people’s life.
Case in point, any public health restrictions over the last 2 years, if any, were enforced in a completely different way in each state and city. And if those mandates happened to be at odds with the interests of the cartels, then . . . no bueno.
All those vigilante groups are enmeshed with the local community. Their homes are local, their children attend local schools, everything they do, their entire world is local. Indeed, their interests are not far removed from the interests of their city and community. Contrast that to the situation in Europe, where some zero-skin-in-the-game bureaucrat in Brussels gets to pass regulations that affect the lives of people in Spain, Italy, and Greece.
“Keep the politicians near enough to kick them.”
– G.K. Chesterton.
In Mexico things work differently. When a state decision in Jalisco was announced last December to close down bars and restaurants for public health reasons, it was reversed within a few days in some cities. Why? Because it jeopardized tourism revenue, which in turn would affect cartel revenues. That’s how skin in the game works.
“Wait, are you glorifying drug cartels and mafia lords now?”
Don’t get your panties in a twist. Much of what the Western world knows about countries like Mexico is (mis)informed by mainstream media, which means it is downright wrong. Their allegiance is not with their readership – but then of, course, you knew that already. You knew that already, right?
Mainstream media tells you that Mexico is not safe. Truth is, I’ve never felt threatened in Mexico. In fact, I felt more safe than in any Western country. Is there violence in Mexico? Of course there is. But mainstream media would make you think that you can’t survive in Mexico without bodyguards, bulletproof vests and handcuffed suitcases.
Western media laments about the freedom of press in Mexico. And I would take this accusation seriously if Western media had an ounce of freedom. Don’t make me laugh.
I can go on and on. Bottom line is this: we need to abstain from forming opinions before we experience something for ourselves. Most Westerners think that watching Netflix documentaries and lapping up The Economist articles makes them smarter. I used to be one of those Westerners. Alas, truth and discernment are a hands-on affair.
In any case, after a year In Mexico, I think I know why this country is not towing the globalist line that much. Part of it has to do with language. Mexicans couldn’t speak English to save their lives. This language barrier shields them from much of the degeneracy of Western media. Mexico has managed to preserve its essence. Local culture, traditional values, family and religion are still strong in this country, much to the chagrin of globalist entities like UNICEF who are hellbent on changing that – but that’s a story for another day.
The million dollar question remains: Is Mexico a free place?
That’s a resounding yes. If you are maximizing for freedom, you should move to Mexico. If you want to evade restrictions, mandates, and government overreach, you should move to Mexico.
“So why did you leave Mexico?”
Legendary investor Charlie Munger (Warren Buffet’s partner) is known to have said: “The best way to be smart is to not be stupid.”
It’s not about picking the right country. It’s about avoiding the wrong ones, i.e. the jurisdictions that could make your life difficult. As long as you stay away from the dystopian hot spots in the next few years, you’ll probably be fine. To be clear: avoid Western countries, and make sure you hold a passport that is different to the jurisdiction you reside so you can further insulate yourself from state violence. I've talked about all this in previous posts.
But let’s get back to Mexico for a minute.
Over the last couple of years, Americans, Canadians, Australians, and British families made a beeline to Mexico. They emigrated there to preserve their freedom. In 2022, the trend accelerated even more because now even more Americans are moving to Mexico to escape inflation back home.
What those Westerners have in common, is optionality. Meaning, they have the means to move. So what you get is wealthy Westerners copy-pasting their lifestyle to Mexico. Naturally, this is raising the cost of living in Mexico.
If you want to live like a local, you still can find $100 monthly rentals and $3 meals – if you know where to look. But if you want to live like a Westerner – i.e. rent in the central neighborhoods and wine and dine with your Westerner friends – prices are not that different from what you’d find in the US.
South East Asia is insulated from all this.
Do countries like Malaysia, Vietnam, and Thailand have foreigners? Of course they do, millions of them. But those crowds are mostly tourists, not expats. And they are typically younger. Think European backpackers and digital nomads in their twenties and early thirties. The gringos I met in Mexico were in their forties and fifties, many of them with established careers, money, and a focused intention on buying property and settling down. So, we are talking about different demographics with different needs.
At this particular juncture, now that the borders are wide open and the world is my oyster again, I gravitated back to South East Asia. Should the situation change drastically (see Shanghai) then Mexico is sitting in my back pocket. Mexico is my plan B.
Speaking of which, if you’ve completed my Plan B course, you know how important mobility is during times like these. My entire life fits in a 35L backpack for a reason. The optionality of living like this has paid dividends over the years. Local knowledge, on-the-ground insights, and connections I can trust are just some of those dividends.
Couple that with a rock-solid framework for freedom in the real world and virtual world alike, and you start to get a sense of the type of offering I give to my clients. If you want to be one them, click here.
Okay, time for some housekeeping.
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