Wednesday, June 19, 2024

From Canada to Cabo: A family’s journey

As a young girl I dreamed of traveling the world and having a family. I also dreamed of living somewhere with a warm breeze and palm trees, but I had no idea how on earth this small town girl, a hairstylist, would ever be able to afford that lifestyle or create it. Over the past 7 years I’ve learned, if you want something bad enough, the “how” shows up, you just have to be willing to work for it. 

I’m a 39-year-old entrepreneur, and my husband, Ryan and I have an animated, almost 7-year-old daughter, Isabella. We moved our family from Vancouver Island, BC, Canada in October of 2021 to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. Although, at the time, we shocked our family and friends, we knew it was the next right move for us.

Christina Whiteley and family

This world has changed a lot over the past few years. We knew that to stay true to who we are, how we wanted to raise our family, and to put our mental health and well-being first, it was time to take a break from the life we were living in Canada, and instead choose to create one that served our family better here.

My husband and I were married 10 years ago at the Secret Silversands resort, near Puerto Morelos. We fell in love with Mexico; the culture, the people, the food, the weather and the lifestyle. We have been coming down here to vacation and explore, a couple of times a year, since we met 14 years ago. 

At one point, before we had our daughter, we took a couple of months off work and bought an old 1985, 24ft motor home and drove from Vancouver Island down the west coast of Washington, Oregon, California all the way down the Baja peninsula, to just south of Mulegé. That year we had planned to drive to Cabo, but there was a really bad hurricane and it washed out a lot of the roads, so we ended up staying south of Mulegé on Santispac beach (with our solar powered RV) for 2 weeks before driving home. It was that trip that the seed was planted. 

One day, this young surfer-looking couple drove up and parked next to us in their camper van. The couple said we are heading to Cabo San Lucas to see if we like it, and if we do we might live there. I was shocked. They were the original digital nomads.  I thought we had made it in life, taking 2 months off work to travel?! I didn’t have any friends that had that kind of freedom or flexibility. I owned a salon and wedding business and my husband was managing a rock and roll bar for 18 years. 

Beach in Cabo San Lucas

This encounter was almost 10 years ago. No one at that time was building businesses online. My mind went to work. That night we were sitting around the campfire and Ryan’s dad said to me, Christina, the problem with your business, as successful as you are, is that you are the commodity…and he was right. I had to work 14 hour days for two weeks straight to make that 2 month trip, it was exhausting and my body was a wreck… so was I really as free as I thought I was? That night Ryan and I agreed that we needed to change our lifestyle.   

The crazy thing is I didn’t do anything about it for almost 4 years! It wasn’t until I was 7 months pregnant, and an excruciating shoulder injury prevented me from working. I knew I wanted a different lifestyle, but I just didn’t know how to get it. I was exhausted,  frustrated at the growing cost of doing business and never being able to clear the balance on my business credit card. What I really wanted to do was to be there for my new baby and that is when I realized that I had to find another way.  But then I saw this girl at the beach making 5 figures a month from her phone, while she played with her kids. I knew instantly that I wanted that life. So I learned from her how and I went to work.  

What’s interesting is that back then, I didn’t have the experience, education or skill set necessary to build a successful online business, I simply had the drive and determination to learn. I really believe that we control our destiny and are capable of so much more than we give ourselves credit for. Over the next few years I built a successful and sustainable online business that gave us options. During COVID, we watched the middle class get destroyed and knew there would be long-term consequences to our economy. 

I look back now and see that as the single biggest blessing we had because it gave us the courage to do something different, and we had the income and ability to pick up and move, when many didn’t. 

Even though my on-line business was growing at a rapid rate, 2021 proved to be a very difficult year for our family. As we tried to grow our family and give our daughter a sibling, I suffered 2 miscarriages with very little medical support because of COVID. With each one, my postpartum depression got worse. The COVID lockdowns as well as divisiveness within our family, friends and community, weighed heavily on our mental health.  

In October 2021, my husband and I decided to pull our (then) 5 year old daughter from school. We had put her in French immersion for her first year in Kindergarten, and with the mask mandates it made it really hard and stressful for her to try and learn another language. A week went by, and my husband proposed that we take that paid work trip to Cabo and we could homeschool our daughter on the beach!

Christina Whiteley

I now realize that this suggested beach adventure was a beautiful and desperate attempt by my husband to try and make me happy, but at the time I couldn’t believe my ears.  I almost fell over. We packed up our house in two weeks and agreed we would talk about listing it on Airbnb once we got to Cabo. We booked a vacation rental for a week before and a week after the free company trip, and figured it out, step by step, from there. We thought we would go to Cabo for 3 months and get a balcony view of our lives, then decide what we wanted to do from there. Within a month, we decided that we wanted to stay for 6 months and then we could get our daughter into school for the rest of the year, so she could start learning Spanish. That was the beginning of our new chapter as a family here in Mexico.  

All I can say now is that you have to hold on to that vision of your dream because you are the creator of your life. The faster you realize that, the faster you will race to take action and create it. 

To read Part 2 of writer Christina Whiteley’s story, click here.

Christina Whiteley, founder of Life Transformed, is a best selling author, speaker and business strategist who leads the 6 Figure Profit Plan Mastermind and hosts corporate retreats where she resides in Cabo San Lucas. She and her husband Ryan, who is a realtor, live for road trips and weekend adventures with their daughter and their dog, Larry.

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