Those who work only to live are the ones who do it for a living. When they collect their paycheck, they take it to Lisbon or Paris or Madrid where they post pictures of their experiences on social media.
Dar LaBeach is part of a new type of people.
Life has changed a lot in the last two years, and many people are embracing a so-called soft life, a rejection of the struggle, stress, and anxiety that comes with working a traditional 9-to-5 career. Living the soft life is about throwing yourself into joy and taking in as much experience as you can.
LaBeach decided it was time to change in the early days of the Pandemic. He went to Mexico after being laid off from his marketing job. He was earning between $100,000 and $150,000 a year but was stressed and tired of living for something else.
LaBeach tells Fortune that it was "F- all this."
He was going to go to Mexico for his birthday, but he was suddenly unemployed. He lost his job on Tuesday, booked a flight on Wednesday, and then sat on a beach in Mexico. He needed to rest.
I realized I could do this in a sustainable way while I was there. What should I do? Don't worry, be on a beach. I realized I don't have to be in New York. I leaned into the idea that I would figure it out if I needed it.
The trip went from one month to three.
He splits his time between New York and Mexico. He can do it without spending a lot of money on rent. He shares an apartment with a roommate in Brooklyn when he's in Mexico.
He had some savings set aside when he decided to shift his focus away from work, and he got a severance package when he lost his job. LaBeach says he doesn't worry about money, and he admits that he chose capitalism for a long time.
When I need money, I can book projects, work, and other things so I don't worry. He lost his job in 2020 and since then has been doing marketing and strategy consulting on a part time basis. I give myself credit for developing a diverse set of skills over the years in business, strategy, entertainment, service, travel, and more to make that happen.
New York University sociology professor Deidre Royster says it takes an "ironic conversation" with yourself before you can pursue a soft life. Life and what people value was changing even before everything stopped.
Royster said that the script for a good American life has been completely changed. A white-picket fence and a tidy home are no longer enough for a family of four to live in. Royster, a tenured professor at NYU, had a passion for interior design and decided to pursue it during the Pandemic. She received a partial scholarship after applying to the institute.
People in the ’80s were wondering how to maximize. People are asking about the amount of money they need to live a sustainable life. Royster is a big fan of that idea.
While he recovered from burnout and a life in service to his career, LeBeach made a few things very clear to him, "never again would I not take the trip, book the flight, eat the thing, because of money..."
Many Americans used the Pandemic as an opportunity to change their lifestyles. The collective trauma of this worldwide tragedy allowed some to pump the breaks, turn into the skid and realize that maybe there was something more important in their lives than the stress of their job.
Quiet quitting, lying flat, and soft life are all symptoms of a shift away from what it looks like to be successful in America. It doesn't mean you don't have a job, it just means your job is not your whole world.
He says that embracing the soft life has led to becoming an anti capitalist. He became involved in mutual aid after moving to Mexico City. A lot of black people are moving to Mexico City without realizing they are gentrifiers, according to him.
Mexico City has become a haven for some Americans looking for a change while they take full advantage of the work from anywhere era. More than 5 million Americans flew into Mexican airports in the first five months of the year. That is more than the same period last year.
LaBeach looked at all the people coming to Mexico from the U.S., Canada, the U.K., Brazil, etc., and set out to form a new community of like minded people. The dinners he hosted were for black and brown people. He helped to spread the word about the women's rights movement. He wanted to be sure that his community was involved.
Black women really liked the term soft life. The cottage industry of advice, lifestyle hacks, and femininity is littered with videos such as "How to live your best soft life," "How I created a softer life for myself," and "The truth about the'soft' life." They are geared towards black women.
The creator of the video says that she has stepped into her era of living a soft life. I invested in slowing down and detaching myself from the idea of high levels of stress and just struggle in order to be more productive.
Many of the creators are painting a very opulent picture of the soft life.
According to the video, soft life can look like luxury and true levels of enjoyment. You need to work, you need to make money in order to live a soft life. Sometimes life is not roses.
People ask LaBeach how he is able to live the way he is. He doesn't have a nest egg to fund his life. He took a $10 in; $20 out approach and it worked for him. While living in Mexico, he has booked commercials and has a line, which provides him with some extra income. He does his work while relaxing on the beach or in the stands at the U.S. Open.
He doesn't have any regrets. I know what it means to be in that space, so I might return to a full-time job. I know I'm not there because I have to be, but there are rules that allow me to live the life I want to live.