Working Remotely

Working Remotely

Remote work – aka telecommuting – has become increasingly popular over the years as technology and jobs have made it possible to work from anywhere. The pandemic further accelerated the remote work trend and showed employers that many jobs could be done remotely and maybe even more productively as the numbers indicated in the past year.

At first glance, Mulege might seem an unlikely spot for remote work. Our quaint little colonial town and newly minted Pueblo Historica appears untouched by time, but it turns out the 4G wireless Internet here is actually pretty speedy. For those out of town without Telcel coverage, there is also satellite internet available and the newer systems sound a lot faster than years past. SpaceX Starlink internet promises to be a game-changer in the near future.

To learn more, we put out a call on Facebook for people who live and work in the area remotely and got back some interesting responses. The interviews with Jenn, Aria, James, and Kevin are below:

Hola, Jenn! Please introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about your background.

Originally from the East Coast, I lived in Portland, OR for 15 years. Three years ago I moved to Santa Fe, NM where I have been living for the last 3 years. I have been coming to Baja for the last 10 years. I am here with my partner who is a high school teacher and our 4 dogs. We are thoroughly enjoying our time here.

How did you find Mulege and how long is your stay here?

We were looking for a place in Baja where we could rent until at least June with a yard and solid wifi. My partner had been through Mulege previously on a road trip and remembered it fondly so we decided to look in this area. We found the casita where we are staying and sorted out the details.

What kind of work do you do?

One of the businesses I started is in administrative support for professionals and small businesses. My specialty is working with people who have been doing everything themselves but are looking to move toward having more time in their day to live their lives and do the things they love to do. Basically, my clients discuss with me their goals and their hurdles including anything that keeps them from their ideal workday and I then create systems that facilitate real changes in their day-to-day. That process is adapted to each client depending on their industry and individual needs.

I am tech-savvy and enjoy problem-solving so the work suits me well. I am approached by clients for special projects (for things like a marketing campaign, or building a website) and/or for more regular hours each week (like customer service, record management) depending on their individual needs. At any given time I tend to have a mix of remote clients from all over the US and several local clients (Santa Fe). I have a holistic approach and encourage my clients to incorporate healthy habits into their long and busy day. While I do make myself available to my local clients for tasks that require my presence, the majority of this work is remote.

My other work is as a personalized yoga teacher. I do one-on-one yoga, health coaching, and meditation with my clients in their homes, offices, and online. I specialize in working with people who are new to yoga or have injuries/pain. I had moved to offering yoga online prior to the pandemic largely as a way to innovate. I had resisted it for a while thinking it would take away from the experience of connecting with my clients but have instead found it to be an interesting way to reach more people and help them to integrate yoga into their lives.

What’s the internet speed like here for remote work?

The casita has wifi via Telnet with a relatively old router. It would be adequate for our general use if not trying to work from here. Knowing that we would more than likely need additional coverage we proactively brought with us a wifi booster that I had researched. My partner is teaching from here also and is on Zoom for hours at a time. When that happens, even with the booster, things can slow down a bit but most of the time we can both accomplish what we need to do.

Any challenges in working here?

The power going out and our casita has only two rooms so both of us trying to work at the same time from such a small place has been an adjustment.

Hola, Aria! Please introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about your background.

I have previously lived in 12 states in the United States. In 2017, I sold my acupuncture practice in Oregon, and rode my Suzuki DR650 motorcycle south into Mexico, Guatemala, and Belize. As part of my sabbatical, I started to study Spanish, became active with Acupuncturists Without Borders, and walked the Camino de Santiago from Switzerland across France to the coast of Spain.

How did you find Mulege and how long is your stay here?

While riding in Baja, I met another female rider who invited me to stay with her in Posada Concepcion while I rested and prepared for a 4-week motorcycle tour in Colombia. I felt at home in Bahia Concepcion and the town of Mulege. About a year later, I was in Cuba and thinking of buying property or a home in Yucatan when I got a call from my rider friend in Mulege. Her little house had never left my mind as I traveled around the globe. Now, it is mine and I am a year-round visitor in Baja.

What kind of work do you do?

While traveling, I had been an online teaching assistant and grader for an acupuncture masters degree program. During the months I spent in Australia, I began “teaching English” online. This mainly consisted of helping students with practicing conversational English, preparing students for university qualification exams, and assisting other professionals with presentations and writing for scientific publications. The events of 2020 drastically changed my work plans. I have been doing remote healing work, remote consultations, and a new mixture of online teaching including meditation and healing techniques.

What’s the internet speed like here for remote work?

Internet speed out at the beach is dependent on satellite technology. I use Viasat (formerly Exede) which has two systems, both requiring the purchase or rental of equipment. The older system, Viasat I, runs through a United States account with a US IP address. Viasat II’s newer satellite runs through a Mexican account which means the IP address location is Mexico. Each plan offers a slightly different breakdown of metered data. The plans are called unlimited, but the speed is throttled back after hitting your package usage limit. There is an unthrottled window in the wee hours of the morning which is “unlimited” data. My actual speeds are around download 10 – 17, upload 2 – 3.9.

Any challenges in working here?

The biggest internet work challenge for me is the ping rate. Normally, you want as low as possible, with 50 milliseconds to 100 ms considered very good to average, and 150 ms and up considered high. When I go through the best, closest server available, my ping rate is about 550 ms. My ping rate is about 700 ms through the Japanese servers I have to use for work. This forced me to leave a job with a platform that could not function with such a high ping rate. I had to start over with a different company and my work quality is still negatively affected. Otherwise, all the great weather and opportunities to be out in nature make it hard to keep a regular schedule. You have to go when the wind is right and the fish are in!

Hola! Please introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about your background.

Hola, my name is James and I’m a Bajaholic.

In 2011, my girlfriend and I quit our lucrative San Francisco careers, sold everything we owned, and moved into the back of a 1987 Toyota 4runner. We hit the road headed south traveling through all of Mexico, Central America, and South America, traversing the Pan-American Highway, 4×4’ng, camping and exploring all the way down. When we made finally it to the bottom, I realized we made it all this way living 2 inches from one another without anyone being killed, ha! I asked her to marry me right then!

We have been traveling pretty much full time ever since. Our wolfpack has expanded to now include 2 Mexican street dogs and our tiny 4runner rig has been upgraded to a slightly larger 1992 Winnebago Warrior RV! We are currently on a break from the road living in Loreto, Baja Sur.

How did you find Mulege and how long is your stay here?

I am in Loreto, Mulege’s big brother, but the story is the same. Back when we first had the idea to do this big trip we decided to do a shakedown run in Baja to see if we even liked this whole “overlanding” thing. We threw some sleeping bags in the back of our truck and drove down from California. We spent 3 weeks exploring the peninsula and had an amazing time.

Fast forward 8 years later we are sitting in a café in Alaska, our RV parked outside. It is freezing cold and raining, we are contemplating what to do next with our life. I pulled up a temperature map and Baja California Sur was the warmest place within driving distance. My wife has wanted to return to Baja ever since our first trip, the plan was set! We started heading south the next day.

Our original plan was to head to La Paz to find a place to rent, but spent a few nights in a campground here in Loreto and started falling for her. 2 weeks later we had rented a house on the outskirts of town and started our new Baja life. That was 2 years ago! We had plans to get back on the road to explore the interior mainland Mexico this year but well… 2020 happened. We shall see about 2021.

What kind of work do you do?

When we first started traveling we took the save up/sell everything/travel till you’re out of money philosophy, which, while was exactly what we needed to do at the time to get us moving, is certainly not sustainable. As we quickly learned when we went broke for the 1st time somewhere around Lima, Peru. We hustled working odd jobs, maxing out credit cards, and lived as cheap as possible to make it work for the rest of that trip.

At the end of that trip we made a feeble attempt to reintegrate into normal society, getting 9-5 jobs, stable housing, and all the trimmings of a regular life. By the 2nd week of work I found myself browsing craigslist looking at used RVs dreaming of getting back out there, but with a plan to make it comfortable enough that we could work from the road.

At that time, we also started researching how we could make money online, eventually landing on e-commerce. We started a small amazon store which specialized in construction products and started making a few sales.

After 6 months of the 9-5 we were both done with work, we had a small (very small!) amount of income coming in from our online business. But we both agreed we would rather be poor and free than rich and stuck doing something we do not want to do, so we quit again!

We purchased a small Toyota RV, added some solar panels and a cell phone booster, sold off the few possession we acquired and headed west from FL, traveling around the US, Canada, and Mexico. Slowly building our online business as we went. That was 3 years ago. We now have a decent online business and are able to work from anywhere in the world that has internet connection.

What’s the internet speed like here for remote work?

Here in Loreto speeds are nothing to write home about, we pull about 10 MBps down and 1MBps if we are lucky. This is on Telmex DSL, the only game in town.

Telcel has a in home 4GLTE option that works if you don’t mind dealing with the caps, which I think are ~100-200 gig per month?

Any challenges in working here?

My biggest challenge is forcing myself to work instead of FISH! Luckily there are a lot of windy days in the wintertime, which keeps me inside. Aside from dealing with the occasional internet/power outage, it’s not too bad, the internet is slow but it’s sufficient to do zoom calls/skype/etc.

Hola, Kevin! Please introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about your background.

My wife Emma and I lived in Maine till the start of 2016 when we sold our house and started traveling full time with our two daughters. Every winter since, we have tried to spend at least some time in the Baja, working our way further and further south each year. We travel in a DRV fifth wheel, Volvo Truck, and Jeep Wrangler.

How did you find Mulege and how long is your stay here?

Visiting Bahia Concepcion was on our sights for the winter of 2019/2020. Mulege is a natural launching point to get there, after spending a few nights there with some friends who were also visiting it was an easy choice to extend our stay for a full month.

What kind of work do you do?

A couple years into our travels, I retired from my work as an Electrical Engineer. My wife Emma works as a virtual pharmacist.

What’s the internet speed like here for remote work?

Almost every winter we have found that the “best” cell plan for internet in MX changes. Last winter we used an unlimited Telcel US plan as our primary, and AT&T US as our backup. In general, so long as a signal is available (we check coverage maps), then we have had speeds that rival that of many spots we visit in the US.

Any challenges in working here?

The greatest challenge that we faced working in Mulege was the desire to always be out exploring. Mulege Brewing also turned into a daily favorite of ours as well.

Thanks, Jenn, Aria, James, and Kevin for your responses! Anyone else doing remote work here in Baja? Let us know in the comments.

2 Comments to “Working Remotely”

  1. suzie sichler says:

    Interesting interviews with usable information. Liked the reporting style, very good.

    1. ssichler says:

      Thanks, Mom!