Moving to Central America wasn’t a decision that came easily to us. Before finally deciding to go for it, my husband, Rich, and I had endless circular debates, many sleepless nights and lots of heart ache.
But eventually we took the plunge. We sold our home<!–more–>, along with most of our other belongings, uprooted our kids from the beautiful island in New Zealand where they’d been born and raised, and moved to Panama.
For many years we’d planned to move overseas to Australia and visited several times to check it out. We were looking for warmer weather and, although what we saw of Australia looked great, it didn’t set our world on fire.
Meanwhile, my husband, Rich, was spending a lot of time on the Internet researching other possible places we could move to. We were attracted to Central America for four main reasons:
- Strategic – We could get residency in countries like Panama, Costa Rica or Nicaragua.
- Setting – It’s tropical and safe with great beaches and amazing wildlife.
- Language and Culture – The main language is spanish and although we didn’t speak it we were keen to learn and wanted our kids to be bilingual and experience a totally new culture.
- Adventure – We’d never been there before but love to travel.
When it came down to it, the idea of moving to Central America and having a real adventure captured our imagination in a way that the safe move to Australia couldn’t.
But still the dilemma raged on for months
Our heads were saying move to Australia. It was the safe, sensible option. It was near New Zealand with the same language and a similar time zone so we could even maintain our web design and copywriting business and have a continuous income.
But our hearts were keen for adventure, even though we knew it would be tough to settle down and earn money in a developing country where we didn’t yet have residency or speak the language.
So how did we make the decision?
Why did we choose to go down the unknown path and take a risk? Were we brave, mad or both?
As Sir Edmund Hilary said about climbing Everest, we did it because we could. We knew that the freedom and opportunity we had then might not come our way again for a while. Our kids were still young (1, 5 and 8 years old) so we weren’t too worried about them missing school and we wanted to travel with them and expose them to new languages and cultures while we could.
We knew that if we don’t do it right then, we knew we might never visit Central America.
Best of all, we knew that if it all went wrong we could still move to Australia at a later date because Australia wasn’t going anywhere.
Of course, in the end that’s what happened. We spent 18 months in Central America and ended up living in Costa Rica, not Panama, for over a year before moving to Australia.
But we’re so glad we went there in the first place. Maybe our business and retirement fund suffered, but the experiences we had were priceless and we’d do it all over again in an instant.
Making hard decisions easy
Have you ever spent time reading and thinking about doing something without ever actually taking the plunge and doing it?
People often tell me they want to do something but they can’t because of this, that or the other reason. Usually they’re quite sensible reasons too, but do you want to lead a sensible life? Or maybe you’d prefer one filled with adventure?
If you want to avoid leading an average life you’re going to have to make some hard, uncomfortable decisions and be prepared to take a few risks.
Sometimes it does take a long time to make a decision but then a tipping point comes and suddenly you know what you need to do and you find a way to do it.
For me, life is all about having new and exciting experiences, challenging the status quo and challenging myself.
You can learn about something second hand and study it until you’re blue in the face, but you won’t really understand it or appreciate it until you try it.
Reading about Costa Rica, India or Africa isn’t the same as actually visiting those places with all their inherent sights and sounds. Watching documentaries or slide-shows don’t cut it either. In the end you have to do stuff.
You have to live life and not hide away from it because you’re too worried about what might happen if it doesn’t go to plan.
It’s the same scenario with getting healthy. It’s no use buying fancy exercise gear, new trainers and filling the fridge with seasonal fruit and vegetables. You have to get up early, get the clothes on and go for a walk then come home and make a fruit salad. Repeat for 28 days and you should start to feel a difference.
You can’t just think about doing things, you have to actually do them.
5 Secrets for Avoiding an Average Life
- Be prepared to make some decisions that scare you.
- Embrace the fear of the unknown and think of it as an adventure.
- Think about the worst thing that could happen and have a ‘plan b’ to fall back on.
- Be pragmatic and grab opportunities while you can in case they don’t come your way again.
- Be brave… and maybe even a little bit mad.
We may be average people with average families living in average houses on an average income. But that doesn’t mean we have to lead an average life.
Thanks for reading and good luck with all your plans!
Photo Credit: Many thanks to Hamed Saber.
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