Over the years I have met many people in person or via email that have their own version of ‘Living the dream’ and moving to paradise. They all seem to share one thing in common, a thirst for knowledge and finding out how others have gone about doing what they want to do.
Today’s guest post comes from Ron who I met while he and his wife Kathy were visiting back in Feb 2012 almost a year ago. Their version of living the dream ended up in Akumal Mexico not far from Belize. As I went back over Ron’s emails to check the month we met, I found a very fitting email signature that he had at the time – 3/4 of the Earth is covered by water and 1/4 by land. Clearly God intended us to spend 3 times as much time fishing and diving than mowing the lawn – I am sure many of you feel same.
I would like to dedicate this to John Lori and their one year old Madison who have bought land in south Ambergris Caye and plan to build. He and I have been emailing back and forth all morning about their dream and what it is like here. I put him in touch with John East who writes Belize Building a New Life blog which details their house build in North Ambergris Caye and what it has been like for John and his wife Rose in regards to making their move to Belize.
Making the move to paradise
written by Ron Paulick
Wisconsin is where I was born and raised , its been home for my whole life.
This is where I met my wife , raised our children , worked played and watched my children and grandchildren growing up. I live in a town called omro and I grew up not far from here in a town called Oshkosh.
The weather here has 4 seasons with summer being the best with an average of 75 degrees and winter the worst.
I love the summer and spend my summers racing dirt track race cars and scuba diving the local quarries and outdoor activities with friends and family.
On the other hand I dread the coming of winter with its extreme cold, snow and unpredictable changes but the winters are the worst sometimes -20 degrees f . I equate this to living in the freezer. See this link for more Oshkosh information.
Then theres the other side of winter , like right now as i write this the snow has come down yesterday , I spent the day moving snow and at this very moment it is raining, the snow is melting and tomorrow the forecast is for freezing and 20 degrees f. Which means driving to work on ice.
All my life I never gave the thought to what its like in other places and just accepted the living conditions I had come to know in wisconsin, which by the way is a beautiful place with lots of green fields, trees, lakes and streams, green lawns adorn living areas in the summer and the road systems, schools and medical facilities are top notch.
Over all it’s a great midwest usa place to live if not for taxs , winter and the occassional tornado in summer.
In april of 2000 my wife and I took our first trip outside the USA together, it was to cancun and it was eye opening. The laid back attitude of the Mexican people, the friendly way they spoke and the feeling of acceptance I felt was awesome , then we saw the mayan ruins at Chichen Itza and I got a taste of the culture and history of this area.
To say Iwas hooked and wanted more was an understatement, I found myself craving more knowledge of all things maya and spanish history became a quest as well. I found myself wondering why I had never cared when history was presented in school and somehow felt a connection.
During that week in Cancun we also experienced our fist snorkel trip and my wife kathy and I loved it. I found myself wanting more and learning a lot about reef fish, I also found a desire to be below what we were seeing and aquired a desire to learn scuba diving. I also wondered if a person could indeed move to and live in a place like this because that’s where my heart strings were being pulled towards.
In the days to follow , we met a few folks who spent winter months here and a few who took a leap of faith and chucked it all to live the life of the ex-patriot after feeling the same things I was feeling at the time . I also began learning how others did it in publications like “international living” a monthly online news service devoted to the expat lifestyle.
This all got me thinking, how could I formulate my plan and make the same thing happen in my life ? What were my expectations and above all how would I do this?
I mean after all, I am not rich so would need to work and having said that , where is my place in all of this ? I decided I needed first to make my desires known to my wife and then see what her thoughts were , man did she have the questions? But she was feeling it too, so we talked…… what about health care, how would we survive, where would we live? Would we rent or buy? And above all , what about the family back home….I mean there is still a family at home so what about seeing them and staying in touch???
I should say , its been 13 years now and we have been to mexico many times, to belize (hello laurie and paul) we have been to the Bahamas, the Dominican Republic and a few other places. I am very outgoing and social and believe that its important when you go to another country to meet local folks, try to learn the language and make new friends every time, I love knowing people and finding out how they came to be there and what their philosophy is, especially the expats, but I also like meeting long time locals and learning why they think their little slice of heaven is the best, or worst.
As we kept going back to Mexico we moved further south every time until we finally took a new adventure to a little place called Akumal Mexico, I was very apprehensive at first, I mean we flew into Cancun then took a van ride 1.5 hours south almost to the Maya ruins at Tulum to come to a small resort in a small town on a beach I had never heard of……ahhh a new adventure. What we found was what I like to now call “home”.
Akumal in maya means “place of the turtle” its called this because every year the large sea turtles make the trip to the place they were born and lay eggs that become the next generation of sea turtles. They come to shore on the full moon and dig deep holes, then lay the eggs and bury them staying for a while then going back to the sea and letting nature take its course, with some help from the locals and the conservation center “cea” that keeps the iguanas and local predators from destroying the turtle nests so the baby turtles have the best possible chances of seeing their life come to the sea. when they hatch you see thousands of little turtles making the pilgrimage to the sea and it is incredible.
So , that being said, I love this place , the weather is excellent and I prefer rain “spanish snow”over American snow any time.
It fits us like a glove with its slow pace, a beach you can snorkel on any given day and see sea turtles, sting rays, barracudas and lots of reef fish . With 2 dive shops and a town so small it feels like home with its friendly locals and lots of expats. It has everything we need .
I also learned to scuba dive here at the Akumal dive shop which is the oldest dive shop in the area and had many “firsts” in the years that have followed.
So heres what became the plan, it came in a round about way but that’s how plans usually happen and its not what you would expect.
The more I learned about scuba diving , the more I liked being around happy tourists and divers in general. My plan for income and keeping busy was to get my open water instructors certification from padi then take some other courses that make me valuable to a dive operation , after that I can either work for a shop or open my own. To date am almost there, having completed my dive-master, becoming a cpr instructor and working on my instructors very soon in the coming month.
I can honestly tell you that I really love my next career and feel very passionate about it.
My wife Kathy plans on working at a local school or care center as she loves kids , she may even donate her time as a volunteer. She will snorkel, raise her flowers , scuba dive with me and relax.
We will rent initially or buy a property that needs some work , we cant afford beach front so a jungle lot or something off the beach can work but must be under 100,000, for now renting at 400-600 a month works fine. We may be able to make this much just doing the scuba and some odds and ends as I am very resourceful, I weld, i am a great person on mechanical stuff, I have a lot of experience in the chemical industry and know a lot about building and remodeling from having a business doing this in a past life.
We will maintain some doctors back home for emergencies and contact local doctors for the simple stuff , were still up in the air whether we keep a residence in the usa or just a motor home somewhere to call home when we visit and then store it when were gone. Our plan is to visit family in the summer months when its rainy season in our new home then when we have had our fill, return to the akumal area.
Our 401k savings will pay for our medical needs and insurance through a trust I will set up and will also provide for our minimal day to day needs. It is now 5 years away but our plans are firm and if the job situation were to change I would be more than happy to move right now except for the fact that we have a teen in school yet for 3 more years and she doesn’t like the idea of leaving friends, she just cant see the better quality of life she would have but I understand that, having been that young and inexperienced in the ways of adult life once myself.
My personal desire is to eventually own a home and have a small business in mexico but the move would need to come first and that’s the ground work I have laid to get from point a to point b beyond that anything is possible.
For a quick reference to what Akumal is look at Loco Gringo search the Akumal forums for the Akumal Mexico webcam or any information links and Akumal Vacations.
If you have any questions feel free to email [email protected] for questions