Ulrike Kuhnert was born and raised in Germany, and moved to Punta Mita in 2001. In 2006, after living in Punta Mita for five years, she decided to move to Sayulita, where she has been living ever since. Ulrike shares with El Sayulero why she decided to move to Sayulita, what her experience here has been like, and much more.
How did you first hear about Sayulita?
Fifteen years ago, when I was living in Punta Mita, I regularly visited Sayulita because it is a neighboring town. Back then it was a one hour adventure ride on a very bumpy, one lane road because there wasn’t yet an asphalt highway.
What was it about Sayulita that made you want to move here?
Sayulita started to grow and became a vibrant little town. Something more interesting was clearly going on here and I wanted to be part of it. After running Punta Mita’s first internet café for five years, I was ready for a change. Two years prior to my move to Sayulita I had taken a massage course and had started practicing that part time. I felt that I was ready to make that my main profession. And then the magic happened: As soon as I made the decision to move, I immediately found a house to rent, as well as a person who wanted to take over my café. Within one month, I was living in Sayulita. When the time is right…
What was the hardest adjustment you had to make when you moved to Sayulita?
Well, when I first moved to Mexico it took me a long time to adjust to the much slower pace of life compared to Europe. Nothing got done in the time I was used to, which was very frustrating. Also, prior to moving, I had been employed by a big international company for about 13 years. I think this change was the biggest challenge. Now I had to come up with a good idea about how to make a living! What to do? And how to go about setting up my new business…and learning a new language….uff!
What do you like most about living in Sayulita?
I really like the size of the town, which makes it easy to get to know new people all the time. An interesting and very diverse community is in the making. Everything is happening outside and everything is in walking distance. I can walk barefoot every day and we are surrounded by so much beautiful nature. Life is good.
How do you support yourself in Sayulita?
When I moved here from Punta Mita I started working full time as a massage therapist and I graduated from the Guild for Structural Integration in Boulder, Colorado, which is one of the main schools for this hands-on bodywork called Rolfing. This therapy form became my main work since then. I am running my own bodywork/massage studio, Great Massage And Rolf Bodywork with Riki, right downtown.
Are you involved with any local organizations or do volunteer work? If so, what do you do?
I donate bodywork sessions every year to all the fundraisers that take place during the winter, such as ProSayulita and Costa Verde International School. I also sold homemade fermented foods at our local farmers market, El Mercado del Pueblo, for three winter seasons – not so much for earning money, but out of enthusiasm about making available to the town some truly healthy foods. It was fun and a lot of work!
What do you do for fun and relaxation? Any favorite restaurants or places to go?
I love to hang out with friends at Panino’s for a coffee after work, and I sure can be seen very often at Natty’s kitchen for lunch – one of the best taco places in town, in my opinion. Two times a week during the morning I am jumping around at Shanti’s fitness boot camp, Sweat Play Live, at Playa Los Muertos, and I discovered Luli’s great workout class at the Quilombo Gym this summer. Now and then I’ll go for some Stand Up Paddle boarding. For the last two seasons I have offered my own weekly free-style dance class here in town because I just love, love, love this form of dance.
How does the cost of living in Sayulita compare to where you used to live?
The general cost of living in Sayulita is certainly lower than in Europe. The trick here is to manage well the ebb and flow of income, due to the high and low season. That takes a bit of planning ahead in order to be able to sail through the entire year without shipwrecking, so to speak. Also, I am renting both my home and my workspace, and to see the rental prices on a constant and steep upward curve in the past few years makes me wonder where that will end.
How has the experience of living in Sayulita changed you?
Over the years that I have been living in Mexico a lot of things have changed in my life. Instead of worrying about my career with a big corporation, I took my life in my own hands and made it work. That alone feels fantastic. I became patient and more accepting about how things are done here and I can go with that flow without wrecking my nerves. I am in tune with the much slower rhythms of life and enjoy it very much. I haven’t owned a TV since living in Mexico and I don’t miss it at all. And to see the blue sky when I open my door in the morning makes me instantly happy – every day.
What advice would you offer someone wanting to move to Sayulita?
If you feel the calling to move here, do it without thinking about it for another five years. We always can go back to where we came from. Have a plan for the low season in case you are planning to live here full time. Learn Spanish and don’t assume that everybody else understands and speaks English. Accept and respect that things might be done here in a very different way than were you are from.
Anything else you’d like to add?
Just go get a massage when things become too stressful. This will get you back into the flow.