Sometimes there’s a calling you just can’t ignore. The type of deep-down calling that keeps you restless until you fulfill it.
It’s the kind of thing that keeps nagging at you day in and day out and doesn’t allow you to give up.
If you’ve had this type of
nagging calling, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. And you’ll understand exactly why our little family gave everything up to move to this crazy little place called Costa Rica.
I know I haven’t shared much of my personal life with you here on the blog and I guess that’s because I wasn’t really sure how to relate my life to blog design tutorials. But what happened for us this summer is a result of all the time and dedication I’ve put towards DYOB.
I FINALLY QUIT MY JOB!!!!
Wow, you have no idea how long I’ve been waiting to say that. Years. I mean years!
Now that the move is done and we’ve been here three weeks already, I’m finally ready to share the story! Let’s start at the beginning…
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That Dang Book, The 4-Hour Workweek!
Have you read this book yet, The 4-Hour Workweek*? This book changed my life. Sometimes I wanted to kiss it and other times to curse it. Why?
Because it’s what started this whole restlessness, this whole calling for a life that could be…. different.
Sometimes it’s a blessing to be ignorant to the way things could be. You don’t know how many times I wished I had just never opened this book. Because if I hadn’t, I would have just been “content” with the hum-drum of my well-paying job in our fun and funky city of Denver.
Unfortunately I had already bitten into the proverbial apple. I had read the dang book and I knew what was possible. And I couldn’t let it rest.
Then I Became a Mother
About two years after I read the book, I became a mother. I suddenly felt desperate to get out!
Going back to work full time when my son was barely two months old killed me. Not only did I hate being away from him and pumping at work three times a day, he wasn’t a good sleeper at first. I was waking up four times a night to feed him until he was almost seven months old.
The lack of sleep is no joke! My brain shut down and I almost lost my job (though in hindsight it might have been a blessing) 😉
After we finally got him to sleep through the night (hire a sleep consultant if you’re desperate like I was, they really work!!), I was able to start thinking again about alternatives to working out of the home full time.
I knew that there was more to life than slowly dying in a job that really didn’t do that much for me and took me away from my baby. I knew there was more.
DYOB Becomes a Thing
It took a while to come up with the idea for my exit strategy. I had so many ideas (nursery design blogs anyone?) but none that really struck a chord. All this research though made me realize just how much opportunity the blogging world had for women.
Women were starting blogs in droves and many of them were just not very pretty. I knew I could help them, having designed websites myself professionally for over 12 years. And that’s how DYOB came to be.
I finally launched it when my son was a year and a half old. It felt far too late in my opinion, but then again it’s never really too late is it? (By the way, if you’re in the same boat and haven’t yet started a blog, what are you waiting for? I can help you start a blog today) with this free guide.
Blogging and Working Full Time
It ain’t easy. Every weekday for four years, I got up at 5:30 to work a full day, fight traffic on the way home, spend a little time with my family when I got there, eat dinner, put my son to bed, work on the blog for a few hours, put myself to bed around midnight and start over again the next day.
It. Was. Utterly. Exhausting.
I hated every minute of it. I began to resent my job so much, but I was also trapped. My husband Eric was working, but his job didn’t pay as well as mine did and didn’t offer benefits. There was no way I could quit and continue to afford to live in our city and have health insurance coverage for our family.
So we made a plan to get out of the rat race.
In The 4-Hour Workweek, Tim Ferris talks about something called Geoarbitrage. It’s basically when you earn income in a location with higher pay but live in a location with a lower cost of living. This increases your spending power and you can either live richer or live on less and thus work less. The key to geoarbitrage is working remotely.
When my husband and I got married in Costa Rica in 2011, we knew we would live there someday. Using geoarbitrage, we knew we could lower our cost of living (and save more money) if I could continue to earn the same salary from my job.
The problem was, I really didn’t want to keep working at my job.
But I knew that if I could grow DYOB big enough by the time we were ready to leave (my step-son was graduating high school in 2016 which is why we chose this date), we could live off the earnings of the blog.
Fast Forward to 2016
Unfortunately, as I said earlier, it’s a lot of work managing a full time job, a family, and a business. I know some people can do it, but to kill myself to get DYOB fully-functioning during this time was just not feasible for me. Working late into almost every night nearly killed my marriage, so I had to scale back… and keep my job.
In early 2016 I had been at my job for 7 and a half years. During that time, I saw several people move away from the Denver area for some reason or other and still keep their jobs remotely. I had worked as the sole designer most of my tenure there. I had no backup, so I felt pretty sure they would allow me to work from Costa Rica. We were pretty much banking on this.
In January, once we learned of my step-son’s graduation date in late May, we concluded that we would leave soon after. We decided that giving my job plenty of notice (to plan) was the best option, so in February I let them know that we’d be moving and I requested to work remotely.
Not As Planned
I was told they’d have to think about it and a week later was told that they wouldn’t be supporting my role remotely because they felt that my position was too collaborative. Honestly I am not sure how my role is any more collaborative than any other, but ok.
I told my husband and we were devastated. I always thought in the back of my mind that there was a small possibility they would say no, but honestly? We weren’t prepared for that answer.
So, we did what we thought was our only option: we canceled our dreams. I mean, sure I had DYOB which was making a little bit of money, but with a small child, we just couldn’t take the risk of not having the steady income.
I went back to work the next day and informed them that I would be staying put indefinitely. Eric and I were both very angry and depressed. For several weeks we moped about and fought with each other a lot. We were sure this was the end of our dreams. It was a really dark time for us.
A Glimmer of Hope
About three or four weeks later something changed. I told Eric that I still really wanted to make this happen and that I was sure we could make it work. I think that my glimmer of hope sparked a glimmer in himself.
Next thing I knew, we were throwing out all sorts of ideas on how we could make it work. We started getting excited again and I just knew we would make it happen!
I should note here that at this point, I no longer hated my job. During my almost 8 year tenure, a lot of things changed and when I left, it was at a high point in my job. I loved my team and I loved my bosses, heck I still do! I had a lot of autonomy in my job and schedule as well.
Given these circumstances, some people would probably think I was crazy to leave such a great job. Unfortunately, when you have that calling inside of you to live a different life, it’s not that easy to let that dream go. I’d done my time there and it was time for another adventure. Life is too short to stay comfortable.
The Plan Comes Together
Here’s how we are making it work:
I gave my job less notice this time (three weeks instead of three months), which kind of forced them to contract me out until they find my replacement. I got a three month contract with the option to extend if necessary. This will buy us a few months to get settled before worrying about replacing that income.
Without the commute and traffic every day and less to do, I will have more time to focus on DYOB and finally grow it to another level.
Now that we’re finally here, my husband can focus on building up his own business.
Also, all of a sudden, all sorts of remote and part time job opportunities have been offered to us! It’s funny when you finally start to set plans in motion how opportunities just seem to present themselves.
Now some of you are probably wondering… Why Costa Rica? Well let me tell you.
First of all, where is Costa Rica?
Costa Rica is a friendly, beautiful, biologically diverse country in Central America nestled between Nicaragua to the north and Panama to the south. It has 2 coasts: The Pacific and the Caribbean. Contrary to what many believe, it is not an island.
Ok so why Costa Rica?
Soooo sooo many reasons, the first being: THE BEACH! As you may know by now the beach is my happy place and as much as I loved Colorado, the lack of water was a huge void for me.
The next biggest reason: Quality of life. We were tired of the rat race, TRAFFIC, never having enough, having too much, running around, barely having time to enjoy life!
Costa Rica is one of the happiest countries in the world. Though it’s in Central America, it is quite safe. The economy and government is stable and it takes care of their people. They have not had a military since the 1940’s and have no conflict with other countries.
What Costa Rica does not have:
- The majority of crime is theft, not violent crime.
- No school shootings.
- No gang or drug wars (outside of the capital city, San Jose).
- No terrorists.
- No political ads!
- No weird diseases other than Dengue fever or Zika, both of which you get from mosquitos. You don’t need special vaccinations to go to CR.
What Costa Rica does have:
Sloths, toucans and scarlet macaws! Monkeys, whales and sea turtles! And so many more amazing animals and wildlife.
Waterfalls, volcanoes, beaches, mountains, rain forests!
A few more reasons:
- It is fairly quick and inexpensive to travel back and forth from the US.
- Life is slower and simpler.
- Surf- and paddle- boarding YEAR ROUND!
- Healthier and more active lifestyle.
- Cost of living is less for the most part. For example:
- Our Costa Rican rental home is newer than our rental home in Denver was. It has one additional bathroom (hooray) and we are less than a mile from the beach. Although our rent was well under market in Denver, our rent here is still $400 less per month.
- Our son is going 5 full days per week to a private bi-lingual international school that costs $400 less per month than his 4 full days in Denver.
- Fruits and vegetables are ridiculously cheap here and promote a healthier diet! A kilo of Roma tomatoes for less than $1? How about 3 pineapples for $2?
- Our cell phone bill for two phones went from $175 per month to about $12. That’s not a typo. We’re on prepaid here but so far I’ve barely used any of my minutes or data and I’ve had no issues with connectivity.
- There are other ways we’ll be saving money as well: we’re driving less (no commute!!) and buying less all around. Life is just simpler here.
What About Healthcare?
Healthcare is AFFORDABLE here, as it should be. CR has high quality care available in world-class hospitals with many American and American-trained doctors. In fact, CR is a medical-tourism destination for Americans. Many American retirees even move to Costa Rica for it’s access to quality and affordable healthcare.
I couldn’t possibly have quit my job and stayed in the US simply because of healthcare and insurance costs. How sad is that?
Where in Costa Rica?
We’re living in the southern Pacific zone not far from the Osa Peninsula, named by National Geographic as “the most biologically intense place on earth.”
The southern zone is known for it’s beautiful, quiet beaches, whale migration, and extensive mountainous rain forests. It’s not uncommon to have beaches all to yourselves here. Seriously, not a single soul, it’s magical.
How Long Will We Be Here and Will We Return to Colorado?
We have rented our home for one year. After that, who knows?! We want to make sure we love it here before we apply for residency. This means that we will be living on 90 day tourist visas that require us to border hop in order to renew our passport stamps.
As for returning to Colorado, we’re not sure. Currently, we’re thinking “no” mainly because we’re tired of winter, the increasing population, traffic, and cost of living.
But we left a lot of wonderful friends and family behind and we may tire of the slow Pura Vida lifestyle. Who knows? Our future is open-ended. Scary but exciting!
What Did We Do with All Our Stuff?
We sold or gave away almost everything we had in Denver. The rest we brought down with us in eight boxes and suitcases and three carry-ons.
We have a lot less here and I won’t lie, I miss some of the stuff I gave away, but I do feel lighter having less. Less to worry about, less to clean, less to clutter.
So What Does this All Mean for DYOB?
It means that after more than a month hiatus, I am ready to put more into it! You’ve all been so patient with me during this time! I’ve continued to gain followers and subscribers and you’ve all been so supportive so thank you so much!
DYOB isn’t paying all my bills yet and I’ve still got this three month contract to fulfill. But I’ve figured out that if I can continue to work part time, I can pay our bills and that will give me way more time for DYOB!
Remember the CSS course I had hoped to launch last spring? That’s still coming! My goal is to get it out to you guys as soon as possible. Again, thanks for your undeniable patience with me during this time!
Is there anything else you’d like to see from me in the near future? What am I missing here on the blog? Let me know in the comments below!
Oh yeah and don’t forget to check out the bundle* too as it expires TONIGHT!
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