As we lounge by the pool on this glorious sunny day, I marvel at the amazing lifestyle my wife, Johanne, and I have created for ourselves in less than a year. We had no idea that all of this was achievable—and that it would cost us so little.
We always knew that sitting at home watching TV would never feature in our vision of the future. After a month-long scouting mission to Nicaragua in December 2015, we returned to Vancouver and pulled the plug. For us that meant selling what we could and giving away the rest. Even my beloved 36-foot sailboat went to a new owner. Three hectic months later, we had our final pay checks, eight pieces of luggage, and one-way tickets to Nicaragua.
For the past year, we have lived very comfortably for free throughout Latin America by housesitting in different countries. We have lived on the rim of a dormant volcano in southern Nicaragua. We awoke each morning to the sound of howler monkeys in the mango trees and to breathtaking vistas across the pristine crater lake.
We have been immersed in the rural setting of magical Ometepe Island in the middle of Lake Nicaragua. Stepping off the Ometepe ferry is like stepping back in time and the pace is slow and easy. With two volcanoes as the backdrop, the island is dotted with rural communities where a tightly knit group of expats thrives. We felt very welcomed by everyone that we encountered.
Since then we have spent sun-drenched days strolling the secluded beaches on Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula. On the Gulf Coast, we experienced charming little fishing villages such as Holbox, Sisal, and Celestun. Getting out beyond the buzz of Cancun, you can find pristine beaches where flamingos and pelicans are the only life you will encounter.
Right now, we are enjoying the luxury of a fabulous colonial house in Merida, Mexico. With its high ceilings and a tropical back yard, the home is an oasis especially on searing Merida afternoons. It is so pleasant to relax by the pool during the day, writing and reading then stepping out into this vibrant city as the nightlife awakens.
Our new lifestyle has given us experiences that would have been unattainable before. We find that prices in the tourist areas are on par with or even higher than North American cities but by venturing out to the less traveled areas we’ve found costs to be lower. We are often able to enjoy a healthy, local dinner for just $10 for both of us.
Because we live rent-free, not only is our nest egg untouched, but we are actually saving a small portion of our retirement income.
An unexpected side benefit of our new adventure is the endearing connections that we have made with fellow nomads. We are now welcomed into a global network of like-minded travelers that support and encourage each other’s endeavors. It is most assuring to know we are not out here alone.
So, as the sun slips behind the palm trees, and we toast to our new lives, we look to the future and wonder where our adventure will take us next. The world awaits us.