Keith Brown left his life as a New York City public school teacher behind and went south of the border to Mexico City in October 2022. Brown had never been to Mexico before visiting for what was supposed to be a temporary stay, but after just three days in CDMX he knew it was home.
“It was so cosmopolitan. It also felt like the Bronx. It felt like Manhattan. Parts [of Mexico City] felt like different parts of the city,” Brown tells CNBC Make It.
Brown spent a month in Mexico before heading back to NYC to pack up his apartment and make his move permanent.
The 48-year-old had been teaching poetry, health and physical education and making $109,000 when he resigned from the NYC Department of Education, according to documents reviewed by CNBC Make It.
In New York, Brown was living in a one-bedroom apartment he rented for $1,800. With rent included his monthly expenses added up to about $2,800.
While living and working in NYC, Brown had been thinking about what life would look like if he moved to another country. The Covid-19 pandemic, along with losing his parents in 2020 and 2021, helped the 48-year-old realize it was time to move on from his life in the United States.
When the pandemic hit, many countries closed their borders, but Mexico was still allowing Americans to enter when Brown decided to move.
Brown says the murder of George Floyd in 2020 also helped make his decision to leave the United States much easier because, as a Black man, he didn’t want to live in “a country that is so steeped in negativity and racism.”
“Seeing a person publicly executed over and over again while we were trapped at home really changed my thinking and the thinking of a lot of people,” Brown says.
While Brown has a deeper sense of safety living in Mexico, the country does suffer from high rates of violent crime. It’s estimated that 90% of crimes in Mexico are never reported, according to the Human Rights Watch.
“Danger exists here and cartels exist here, but as many people have said before, ‘if you’re not dealing with cartel business, then you don’t have cartel problems,'” Brown says. “Compared to New York, where there seems to be a sort of confrontation about anything all the time, you don’t see that here.”
“People have a different respect for each other that you don’t see in other places and that makes a difference,” he adds.
Now that he lives in Mexico City, Brown is making less money as a day trader than when he was a teacher.
At the time of the interview, Brown did not disclose his current income. But money isn’t what’s important to him these days.
“I have more time to myself. I go to Spanish classes, I play basketball, another day I go to a chess club,” Brown said. “There’s always something to do. I like doing many things and this place affords me that opportunity.”
In Mexico City, Brown rents a two-bedroom apartment for $1,575 and his monthly expenses, including rent, total $2,000. The current exchange rate of Mexican pesos to dollars is $1USD = $17.29MXN.
In addition to his profits from day trading, the former teacher also lives off of his savings, though Brown did not disclose just how much money he has saved.
Brown has been living in Mexico City for over a year and says the most significant adjustment has been his speed of living and intentionally slowing down.
“Here, there is no need to rush and sometimes it feels like you’re walking in reverse when I’m rushing to get somewhere. It’s hard to slow down when you’re from a place like New York City,” Brown says.
Brown is applying for permanent residency and has no immediate plans to return to the United States. “If anything, I see myself going further,” he says.
But for now Brown is enjoying his time in Mexico City: “I’m loving it down here and finding a community of like-minded people and making those connections feels like little slices of home every time.”
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