Following last week’s post about my small emotional freak-out over selling all my Stuff to being a new phase, I thought it’d be fitting to introduce you to Annabel Candy. I met Annabel in person one rainy day in Melbourne, and her warmth and positive energy was infectious. Annabel is a serial dream chaser, so if – like me – you’re in need of a voice of reason to help you take baby steps towards a big leap, here are some words of wisdom from a brave woman who learns to swim by jumping in the deep end …
How to Quit Your Job, Sell Your Stuff and Move to a Tropical Paradise – By Annabel Candy
That’s what we’d all love to do isn’t it?
We all want to take a break from work, be free to move anywhere and experience life in our dream location, where ever that is.
But is it really possible? Do you really have what it takes to let go of your stable income, sell the things that are tying you down and set up home in a foreign land? And if so how do you do it?
It’s inspiring to pore over travel blogs searching for the ultimate lifestyle destination and it’s fun to read books about other people’s travel adventures. But what if you try and it all goes wrong? What if those horror stories people keep telling you about con men, tropical diseases and other travel disasters happen to you? What if the naysayers are right and you try it then fail then have to come back with your tail between your legs?
Adventurers all have those fears of failure. We’re all scared to give up our income and sell the clothes, cars or house we love. The thought of moving somewhere you’ve never been before thousands of miles from your friends and family is terrifying.
So let me tell you about how I overcame my fears and did it anyway.
I haven’t just done this once either. I’m a serial dream chaser who’s taken risks repeatedly that have allowed me to live in eight different countries and travel to many more.
So far I’ve lived in the UK (where I was born), France (several times), the USA, Zimbawe, Laos, New Zealand and Costa Rica.
I’m currently holed up in one of the world’s many paradises, Noosa on the Sunshine Coast of Australia and, although I plan to spend a long time here, I’m not done with travelling yet. My future travel plans include a six month safari in Africa and a big trip to South America. And that’s just for starters.
But now I’m just going to tell you the story of my most recent move, from New Zealand to Costa Rica, where me and my family spent 18 months, then on to Australia.
How I Quit My Job
Me and my husband lived in New Zealand for 10 years and during that time we set up our own business.
It took us many years to build up our business and earn enough not just to survive on, but to thrive on. We lived on stunning Waiheke Island with a work-from-home-in-tropical-paradise-lifestyle that was envied by all our friends.
But although we already lived in tropical paradise we wanted to try another type of tropical paradise. We were dreaming of abundant wildlife, the chance to learn a new language and the reality check that comes from living in a developing country. The jungles of Central America were calling us.
After endless months of debating about taking the risk of shutting down our business we decided to do it. We handed all our clients over to a friend who could help them and shut it down.
We knew if all else failed we could always come back and start all over again. Yes, we’d be back to square one but at least we’d have some great stories and unforgettable memories to fuel us into old age.
How I Sold My Stuff
We sold almost everything we owned starting with our home which had a huge garden with 16 different types of fruit growing, a (small) sea view and was close to some of the most beautiful beaches in the world.
When we bought it that house was a dive but we’d spent years of hard graft and money doing it up. It wouldn’t be easy to replace either because houses with sun, privacy and a flat garden are rare as hen’s teeth in that part of the world.
Plus there was an emotional attachment.
You see it wasn’t just me and my husband whose lives were going to be turned upside down.
We have three kids and two of our children were actually born in that house. In the Maori tradition we’d planted trees for them and buried their placentas in the garden.
Selling the house was hard but it was harder still to sell my children’s toys. Especially for them.
We kept about half a container of belongings including family photos, some very special pieces of furniture and a few treasured personal items in storage to be sent out later when we settled down.
Our children were aged two, five and eight so this move was also about us being the type of irresponsible parents who’d moved their children from a beautiful stable environment on a wild trip into the unknown. We planned to start our travels in Guatemala and one friend asked if I knew that Guatemala has the world’s highest incidences of child kidnapping. I did not. I wished she hadn’t told me either.
We encountered many naysayers like her along the way but we did the only thing you can do: develop a thick skin and keep your eyes firmly on your dream.
How I Moved to a Tropical Paradise
We picked Central America because it had the wildlife we craved and it was spanish speaking so our children would be able to grow up being bi-lingual.
Most of our friends, family and banking facilities couldn’t cope with such a vague destination – many didn’t know where Central America even was – so we told everyone we were moving to Panama. From our research, Panama seemed like the most-likely outcome although we planned to travel round Guatemala, Nicaragua and Costa Rica before settling anywhere.
We ended up spending 18 months in Central America and living in Costa Rica for over a year. During that time we visited four countries, lived in countless cabinas and in three different houses.
Our children went to four different schools and were soon getting 100% in most subjects at school including spanish.
The Costa Rican beaches are gorgeous and we learnt to surf, recognise and name most wildlife in english and spanish and appreciate the delights of ceviche – a local specialty made with raw fish.
Best of all Costa Rica exceeded our expectations when it came to wildlife. We not only constantly saw toucans, monkeys and coatis, we had them in our garden. I regularly shooed errant wildlife out of our house including giant bugs, beautiful humming birds and even a bat that I fished out of the toilet using one of the kid’s swimming flippers.
But there were two main problems with our new tropical paradise.
First the schooling was poor; our two oldest children attended a local school which ran for just three hours a day with had no books or educational tools. We even had to buy them a desk and chair.
Secondly we couldn’t get internet. Getting a mobile phone in Costa Rica is hard, and because we lived in a remote area, we couldn’t get internet. Since our main business is web design we knew that, with no income coming in, eventually we’d have to leave. The proceeds of our house sale wouldn’t last forever.
How I Admitted Defeat and Moved On
We had to face it: Costa Rica wasn’t the right fit for us.
But we had a plan B to live to Australia where we are now. The beaches are picture perfect, the schooling excellent and they don’t call it the Sunshine Coast for nothing.
So what’s the point in this story?
The point is that we did what we set out to do. We quit out jobs, sold everything, moved to a tropical paradise.
Yes, we were scared about closing our business, selling our home and moving our children to somewhere we’d never been before with a language we didn’t speak.
Sure there were sacrifices like going from living in a four bedroom house to living in one room with five people.
We failed in our bid to live in Costa Rica, but we left rich with experiences. It didn’t turn out exactly as planned, but there were many successes along the way, like the love of spanish, surfing and wildlife which we took with us and the many life lessons we gained.
You can do this too.
You can quit your job and come back to it if you want or need to. There are always jobs around for risk-takers and movers and shakers.
You can sell your belongings. You can always buy them again if you really want to.
You can move to a tropical paradise. It might not be forever but at least you’ll have done it.
So what are you waiting for? What’s really holding you back?
We all have fears but we can’t be ruled by them. I decided to give fear the finger every day of my life and you can too. I’m cheering you on.
And who knows? Someday we might run into each other in some tropical paradise. How great would that be?
Annabel Candy has hitched rides on a fire engine in Turkey, a donkey cart in Tunisia and a gravel truck in Zimbabwe. She’s traveled the world to spot animals in the wild and ended up sharing her home with them. She lives with her husband and their three children in Queensland, Australia where she writes travel stories on her blog Get In the Hot Spot and shares blogging tips at Successful Blogging. You can catch up with her on Twitter or Facebook too.
What tropical paradise are you dreaming of?
Torre DeRoche is the author of two travel memoirs, Love with a Chance of Drowning (2013) and The Worrier’s Guide to the End of the World (due out September 2017). She has written for The Atlantic, The Guardian Travel, The Sydney Morning Herald, Emirates, and two Lonely Planet anthologies.