It’s taken a lot longer than I expected, but I’ve finally achieved another major goal.
In 2011 I bought a small island off the coast of Panama. Why?
Well, if I am completely honest there is a small part of me that quite liked the idea of being able to say “I own my own private Caribbean island”.
However, I also think that after selling my “entire life” on eBay and then travelling the world for a couple of years tackling my bucket list of 100 goals, I was simply longing for somewhere of my own to call home again.
I’ve had a lot of press coverage about my island adventures, and I wrote my second book about the mishaps and challenges of turning a small patch of overgrown jungle into a comfortable off-grid home. There was even a full length documentary about our off-grid lifestyle filmed at the island.
But now, in late 2015, I have just completed the sale of my island property. My first mention of possibly selling was in April 2013. When I talked about this on my blog I managed to get front page coverage on the UK newspaper The Daily Mail’s website.
I thought a small Caribbean island at a bargain price would have been quickly snapped up, but it’s taken over two years to realise my dream of an outright sale. It wasn’t until the island was featured on US TV show “Island Hunters” that I received some really serious interest.
Graham Hughes, another UK traveller with a similarly quirky background to mine, stepped up and made an offer to buy a one-third share of the property, and a deal was agreed. This meant that Vanessa and I could travel for a while, during which time Graham would live on the island.
Graham has since fallen in love with the place. As the end of his agreed one-year tenure of the island approached we discussed the possibility of him buying me out completely. Again a deal was struck, and just last week all paperwork was completed and the funds transferred. Graham is the complete and sole owner of Usher’s Island, now renamed “Jinja Island”.
Once again, as I did in 2009 when my house in Australia sold, I find myself without any ties, no property, and very little in the way of possessions. And I feel incredibly free.
“Do you regret having to sell the island?” I have been asked. Not at all. When I bought the place in 2011 I think I was still a little tied to the idea of having a place to call home. Another common question is, "Why are you selling your island?"
With hindsight I simply trapped myself in one location, albeit a very nice one, and after a couple of years I found once again I wanted new experiences and new adventures. I managed to engineer this through a partial sale, but ultimately I am so much freer now I am unfettered by property ownership.
Over the past couple of years Vanessa and I have become trusted and reliable house sitters. Now, when we need the comforts of a home we can settle wherever we wish and enjoy the luxury of someone else’s home for a month or two - at almost zero cost to us. It’s a win-win situation, as the home owner has someone to look after their property, possessions and pets while they are away, safe in the knowledge that we are very reliable, and come with great references.
Our time in China is drawing to a close. In November we will have been here for a full year, as we originally planned, so it will time to move on. We have already secured a two-month house sit in the beautiful Alpine region of Victoria in Australia. It will be my first time back “down under” in over five years. I’m excited.
As I often say, I believe life is about experience. In order to fit as much new experience into the short time we all have, it is important to keep moving forward. If Graham hadn’t gone ahead and bought the rest of the island, I would have had to return to try to sell my remaining two-thirds, which would have felt like a backwards step.
Vanessa and I will return to Bocas del Toro one day soon, but next time it will be as house sitters, rather than as property owners. We both miss our good friends there. We miss the camaraderie of wonderful neighbours on long happy afternoons at Pizzeria Rana Azul. We also miss the boat ride home on those afternoons, skimming across the flat surface of the quiet lagoon as the sun sets, hoping to spot a dolphin or two in the gathering twilight.
Hmm, maybe I shouldn’t have sold the island. Ah, but there are so many adventures ahead too.
I am excited to be completely free from any ties once again.
If you want to live a lifestyle of global freedom, with endless choices and possibilities, it’s probably easier than you think.
In a recent post I outlined a simple three-step plan which can take you in this direction. You can read more about that here:
Keys to the World
For a general introduction to house sitting as a lifestyle option, this post will give a good overview:
What is house sitting?