How to live on your own private Caribbean island

(2011 - 2014)

Looking for somewhere warmer

I had no plans to buy a Caribbean island. In fact, I was only on a property fact-finding expedition...

I had been living in the woods to the west of Whitehorse in Canada's Yukon Territory. At the end of my two years of travel, in July 2010, I had moved in with Moe and her two kids, joining them in an off-grid log cabin about 45 kilometres out of town.

It was a fresh start, far from the chaotic hustle and bustle of my previous life, which had involved a well-publicized "life for sale on eBay", followed by two years of goal-achieving world travel adventures.

The winter of 2010 had been cold enough to convince me that the frozen north was not the place for me...

An article discovered online titled, "The top 10 cheapest tropical places in the world in which to live" caught my eye. In early 2011 Moe and I made our way south to Panama, where we planned to conduct some initial studies.

How to buy a Caribbean island

I liked the look of Bocas del Toro, an archipelago of little bays and islands off the Caribbean coast of Panama. There were quite a few expats living in the area, many from Canada or the USA, a few from Europe too. The real estate agent was originally from Florida, and he was keen to show me around. 

In traditional estate agent style he'd saved the best until the last. The little island was abandoned and overgrown, and we had to battle our way around it with machetes. It had three small docks, and was obviously ripe for development as a home base. "The owner turned down an offer of $30,000 (USD) a few months ago," the agent confided. "He just told me he now wishes he'd accepted."

I couldn't believe the price. I've always been quite impulsive, and after a little consideration and some further hurried study, I submitted an offer of $25,000. I'd already done my homework on options for living in Panama, and was ready to make a commitment. The reply came quickly:
"Split the difference at $27,500, and the island is yours."

I'd just bought my own private Caribbean island! Now what?

Building an off-grid house

After returning to Whitehorse for the summer of 2011 I headed south to begin my new life in Panama. Moe and the kids planned to follow a couple of months later, when (hopefully !) there would be somewhere to stay on the island. Their plan was to spend the winter months in Panama, returning to Whitehorse in early 2012.

The house build was completed around May 2012, and Moe and I, and sometimes the kids too, split our time between Canada and Panama. Unfortunately, this time-together time-apart took it's toll, and in 2013 Moe and I went our separate ways. It was a tough time, as the island was something we had dreamed of and created together, but it was the right decision for us both.

Later that year, while passing through London, I met Vanessa. I invited her to come out to Panama, and in July2013  she came to visit the island. She never went back!!

TV show appearances

Around that time I had been contacted by a UK TV show producer, who wondered if they could make an episode of "Ben Fogle: New Lives in the Wild" on the island, documenting the story of how I'd arrived there, and how Vanessa had come to join me. You can watch that episode of the show in the first video.

The second show, for a Korean TV company, was shot shortly afterwards. Our section in the second video begins at: 33 mins 25 secs.

Ben Fogle: New Lives in the Wild
UK TV Channel 5
Series 2 Episode 4: Aired 21st Feb 2014

TV show for SBS
Seoul Broadcasting Corp, Korea
Aired April 2014

Selling the island

After Moe and I had gone our separate ways I had decided it was time to sell the island and move on to new adventures. It took a surprising amount of time to find a buyer, but eventually, in May 2014 the sale completed, and Vanessa and I left Panama to begin a new adventure together.

This was the true beginnings of our search for a "freedom lifestyle", and you can find out about how it is working out for us on the next page:
Freedom Lifestyle

Caribbean island blog posts

You can find all of the blog posts I wrote relating to my time on the island here:

Happy New Year


Usher’s Island


Wikipedia page


Island update


A new start


Back in England.


Finn’s video


Island Paradise


New blog for 2013….


Welcome back, family.


Pressure is on….


House progress.


Island Time!


What next?

In May 2014 Vanessa and I flew to Texas, where, using funds from the island sale, we bought an RV. This was just the beginning of our lifestyle of global freedom. In 2015 we had to figure out how to create an income, while still being free to travel.

The journey so far has included teaching English for a year in China, house sitting in twelve different countries, spending a month in Cuba and sailing a yacht in the Caribbean. 

We continue to work at creating the lifestyle we truly want to live, and the next section, Freedom Lifestyle, is the true focus of this website.

We've enjoyed so many adventures and experiences together in the last 7 years, but the one factor that makes all of this possible is house sitting. Find out more, and discover how house sitting could help you create your own freedom lifestyle on the next page:

How to build a "Freedom Lifestyle"