Living in Color

Glenn Lawrence, writing from San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

My family and I had only been in San Miguel for two days when I declared, “we’re going to move here.”

That was in the summer of 2000 when we had first arrived for a two-month stay. My resolve was even stronger when we returned to the United States. Strangely, it seemed much drabber than the place we’d left only two months before. Then it hit me—in San Miguel, we’d been living in color, and only upon returning did we realize that we had been living in black and white in our previous life. And we’d been living in color both figuratively and literally.

Literally, in the sense that Mexican colonial houses are typically painted in bright colors, both inside and out. The food is spicy and colorful. The mountains and countryside are visually stunning with color. The local artwork is alive with color. And colorful pink, purple and red bougainvillea are everywhere.

And beyond color, we were continually entranced by the artistic beauty of the incredible architecture and stonework that would be cost-prohibitive to replicate in the modern world: beautiful cathedrals and church towers at every turn, numerous picturesque plazas, and stunning courtyards that belong in Architectural Digest yet hide in plain sight behind walls of color.

All of this became part of our routine daily experience. It was an opportunity to continually lift our spirits and appreciate our decision to live there. We didn’t have to work in the black and white world for 50 weeks a year to live in color for a couple of weeks of vacation—it became a rich fabric of our everyday lives. More important than San Miguel’s literal color was its figurative color. We enjoyed a more dynamic and active lifestyle.

We left the extreme temperatures of New York and Austin behind for a pleasant year-round climate. We walked almost everywhere, yet we weren’t beset with the costs and stress of a dense urban environment. And we took advantage of the climate by eating in outdoor restaurants year-round (which eventually became a huge advantage during Covid).

Upon returning to the U.S. from those first two months in San Miguel, and realizing what we had been missing, I wanted more. I wanted to live in color everywhere and all the time. I started to understand how challenging it is to try to live in color in a drab environment that sucks the oxygen out of you.

So, we decided to move to the color rather than attempt to remake our environment with limited ability and success. I wanted to give direction to our lives—to live life in color by choice, not to live in black and white by default. And that’s when I decided to become an expat: live independently, treat the world as my playground, and introduce my children to the vast, wonderful, and colorful world, not just the black and white suburban playground down the street.

Of course, living in color isn’t for everyone. Not everyone is suited to be an expat. Some prefer the seeming comfort and perceived security of living in a drab world. And, I don’t begrudge their choice; everyone should be content with their life. It’s just that I’ve seen people blossom and grow beyond what they could have ever imagined when they venture out of their black and white world and experience living in color.

It was easy to declare that we were moving here on the first weekend in San Miguel. But admittedly, making it happen was not as easy as the dream.

For the devil was in the details—making sure to identify the right country for the right time of our lives, moving our household belongings from the U.S., navigating immigration requirements and establishing legal residency, opening a bank account, purchasing property in a foreign country, finding high-quality schools for our children, integrating into the expat community, finding doctors and dentists and various service personnel, working remotely, managing our business from afar, handling our tax obligations as foreign residents, etc. Yep, it took a while, but we made it happen by navigating steep learning curves with dogged determination.

And we’re still learning along the way in our multi-decade, multi-country expat adventure.

And that’s where SX International can help.

Recently, I wrote an investment guide for my children, who are now young adults, starting up their careers. They are saving money and want to learn how to invest in an increasingly uncertain world. I wanted to share what I wish someone had taught me at their age. [Incidentally, these are the same children who were educated in San Miguel and earned degrees from top-flight U.S. universities.]

In the spirit of sharing with my children what I wish I’d been taught at their age, our mission at Sovereign X is to provide the guidance, direction, and knowledge we wished someone had shared with us when we began our expat journey. The lessons we learned along the way are proofed and packaged in our digital books, reports, briefs, and Master Class series.

We wish you the best of success with your expat journey—should you choose to pursue it—and I hope that SX can be of value to you in your adventurous path forward. _________________________________________________________________________________________  L. Glenn Lawrence is co-founder and managing partner of Sovereign X.