A lot went in to deciding where we would move.
Ultimately what we did was write a list of what we were looking for. That gave us an opportunity to really communicate about what we wanted. Our list wasn’t all that long, and basically outlined what we felt what we could or could not live without.
For my work I need a stable Internet connection. Right away that took out a lot of the rural areas out of the picture. I didn’t want to have to depend on good weather to be able to do a desk job. Also we really like being able to stream videos on Netflix and Youtube, so that was a comfort that we’d rather not give up if possible.
An obvious requirement was that it would have to be a low-cost area so that we could make it work with either me working only part-time, or a combination of me and Dez working part-time to support us.
Another thing we wanted was to avoid the heat. In Guyana the heat was intense. We still laugh about the time when we moved back to Canada and I held my wife’s hand and was shocked at how it was so smooth instead of hot and sweaty… so yeah, we wanted some more temperate weather.
We also wanted a fairly comfortable house. In Guyana we both had lived in some extremely basic conditions. For example, we didn’t get a washing machine until we were married. For me that meant that for 2 years I washed my own clothes by hand. It was a lot of work but at the time I was fine with it. But with two little kids that love messes we decided we needed to be practical about where we were willing to spend our energy. I also wanted a separate office if I was going to work at home, so we decided that we needed a 3-bedroom home. Also with two girls it seemed like a necessity to have at least 2 bathrooms.
Health and safety were also high on our list. We wanted a place with easy access to really good quality health care if need be.
We also knew that while every country has crime, we wanted to be somewhere that we wouldn’t be overly concerned about it. As in theft is not as big a deal as violent assault is.
We also wanted to go somewhere where we knew people that could help us out to get started. Someone that understood what we were giving up and how local conditions compared.
For us language wasn’t that important. English was a perk but we kind of liked the idea of learning Spanish. Our thinking was that once we learned Spanish, an enormous amount of other travel locations would be much more doable.
There were a bunch of other smaller point on our list, but these were the main ones. We spent weeks talking about it and defining what we meant by each point so we were on the same page.
In a nutshell, it looked something like this:
- Good Internet
- Low cost of living
- Mild climate
- 3-bedroom 2-bath comfortable house
- Good health care accessible
- Little or no violent crime
- English or Spanish
Once we had that list, we started contacting old friends to ask about where we were living. We developed a rough-in list of countries that were worth looking at closely. We also decided that we didn’t need a perfect match, but it would have to have at least the large majority of points we were looking for. We picked:
- Costa Rica
We started asking around and sending lists of questions to the people we knew with some kind of a connection to these areas.
Now for those reading this and maybe thinking about the expat life I want to mention something that might be different about the position we were in to move to another country. We get a lot of support through our congregation. We’re Jehovah’s Witnesses, and it’s really not that uncommon for us to pick up and leave to volunteer in an area that needs help. Some people have likened our organization to something like a fraternity. At first I laughed when I heard that but when I thought about it I realized it’s actually very true. If we want to move somewhere we can just write the local branch office and they’ll put us in contact with local people that will do an absolutely amazing job of helping us get settled.
That said, at this point we hadn’t written to any branch offices, we were just asking around through people we knew. In my next post I’ll go over some of our thoughts on the available location choices.
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