So many people have reached out to us along our journey with words of encouragement and support. The most common thing we hear is how envious people are and wanting to know how we did it. In my last post I explained how we did it, but I left out the two most important things required because they both need a bit of explaining:
Money and guts.
We’ve been here a month and a half and I can already see why the locals are skeptical of expats moving here and actually staying here. There are abandoned construction projects all over the place. Why? People ran out of money or their contractor bailed on them are the likely reasons. You cannot come here without a healthy amount of loot in the bank. Many things are cheaper here and some are more expensive but everything is slower – including construction. You either need to have enough money to retire here, or to build your own business here. You won’t come here and “get a job”. The unemployment rate is sky high. Your plan needs to involve a way for you to generate your own income. Rent is not cheap (not for the kind of place you will want anyway) so having the funds to build your home will eliminate that expense. Everything is in USD so don’t forget the exchange rate if you’re not American. You need a golf cart. Electricity can be pricey depending on how much you use your A/C. Then there’s food (fresh and locally sourced food is super cheap but brand name processed food from home is insanely expensive). There’s cable TV, Internet and cell phone (cheaper here) and gas for the golf cart (more expensive) insurance, healthcare (basics are cheap), etc.
Is it cheaper here overall? Definitely – but not if you live here like you would if you were on vacation. If we were out for dinner or buying the insanely delicious drinks all the time we’d be in trouble. (I seriously think about frozen coconut mojitos more than I should). If we were trying to see all the amazing things to see here: snorkel tours, diving, the Blue Hole (google it, seriously stop reading this and google it right now!), swimming with sea turtles, nurse sharks and rays, booze cruises, parasailing, helicopter tours, cave tubing, jungle hikes, Mayan ruins, etc. This place is set up for tourists, so there are tourist prices attached to just about everything. When the merchants know you live here you get the “local price” on some things, but not all.
Bottom line: Save your pennies to get here and spend them wisely when you’re here. Have a good plan to make your own money. (There are so, so many opportunities here, guys)!
On to the “guts” part of the equation. Almost every other hurdle you can dream up can be overcome except the money and guts part. If you don’t have the courage to actually make the huge change and take the leap, then you’ll never do it, obviously! I believe this is what will hold most people back. It was the hardest part for me. Fear has a way of creeping in and shitting all over your dreams. Here’s my advice. When fear shows up, invite it in for a cup of coffee and then take that sugar spoon and poke it in the eye.
Of course it is terrifying to quit your job, leave everything and every single person you know and move to a foreign country with a different culture and different way of life. The “what ifs” will consume you if you let them. Whether it is this particular topic or any other issue you are dealing with that creates fear or trepidation my approach is to figure out the absolute worst case scenario and work on that. What would you do if the absolute worst thing happened? Can you overcome it? Will it kill you? Are you an intelligent and resourceful person that can bounce back from a setback? Yes. Then it becomes not so scary anymore.
The worst case scenario for me was that we fail. We move our lives here with everyone we know watching us and we fail. Ok….that could happen. And if it does, we will figure it out. I decided I’d rather try it and fail than always yearn for it. I changed my mindset and chose to see it as an opportunity. If we fail here, maybe we go back to Canada but….whatever we do, we would do it different this time around, so it would still be a positive!
Bottom line: Poke fear in the eye. Wrap your head around the worst case scenario and you will see how easy it is to overcome many fears that hold you back.
Money and balls (er, guts!) – that’s all, guys. I don’t say that lightly. I realize these can be huge deal breakers. We’ve planned for something like this for years and saved accordingly. If it is a goal, you need to work towards it, but when you have the money and you have the guts, you can figure the rest out.
Raine says “The truth is you don’t know what is going to happen tomorrow. Life is a crazy ride, and nothing is guaranteed.” (Also, Eminem said this….)