Gringos in Paradise

I literally typed in “Paradise” into google and clicked on images.  I saw beautiful sandy beaches, palm trees, a couple of hot girls, and some minions.  Next I typed in “Gringos.”  I saw a bunch of sombreros.  Sombrero logos for Mexican restaurants, white people in sombreros, and a couple of hot girls in sombreros.

From these two searches I would put some white, attractive people in sombreros on a beach, under a palm tree with a beautiful waterfall in the background.

To me that says Gringos in Paradise.

I know some gringos sell all their personal belongings and go to live in paradise.  That sounds really awesome and more people should do it.  It does seem a bit financially risky … but like they say:  “If you’re gonna be poor, you might as well be poor in paradise.”  Or maybe no one says that, but they should.  They really should.
Once in a while I meet someone who does something kinda “crazy” and decides to turn those daydreams into reality.

Case 1: The Family

I know a family that did just that. They lived in the Pacific Northwest.  I won’t name the name of the town but it rhymes with preyattle.  While they loved their town and their family, the wife suffered from seasonal depression.  The grey season became too much.  One day I saw a facebook post from this family, saying they were moving to paradise.  That decision was the first step of the plan.  They hadn’t figured out the logistics, but there they were making their plans official and publicly.

Step one: Make the decision

They made it official.  They said to all their friends and family this is what we are doing.  By saying it out loud and telling people about it, it became real.  It became a solid decision.

Step two: Sell and downsize

The next thing I saw this family do was list their belongings for sale.  I saw links to their craigslist ads and posts for items for sale.  This allowed them to raise the money to get and live for paradise for some time before they needed to figure out cash flow.  You will need money and to get rid of about 70% of your possessions.

Step three: Book that plane ticket and rent

Next they booked that plane ticket and found a place to rent in …. PARADISE!  This step is pretty self explanatory…
Step four:  Paradise

Here is where I started to get a tinge jealous.  Following the “great move” were pictures.  Lots and lots of picture posts: amazing beach pictures,  showering in waterfall pictures, swimming with sea turtle pictures, palm trees, sunsets, and a smiling family that looked genuinely happy.

Step five: Livelihood

This particular family found pretty cheap housing and since most of the activities in paradise were free (warm, sandy beach time), but still they had a family to feed and shelter.  Their savings weren’t going to last forever.  One thing I saw was that Paradise itself was providing a way as revenue.  They started a blog and an instagram. Almost immediately it seemed that they had tons of followers.  Thousands of followers.  They wrote ebooks and sold them for cheap to their followers.  They also started an etsy store of beautiful, unique jewelry.  With the way the world is connected online now, they seemed to be making a decent living this way.  I don’t know that they became wealthy but they were comfortable and happy.

I’ve followed this family’s journey for a few years now and it seems opportunities started to present themselves just by their lifestyle. Last time we talked they said they wanted to write a book about their experience.  I asked them “What was the most important step in this journey?”  They said “The first step, making the decision.”

Case 2: The snowbirds

This couple followed mainstream lifestyle.  They worked hard, raised their kids, and had a good retirement fund. They spent a few years in retirement before they decided to have a bit of an adventure.

They wanted to start a business abroad.  Specifically in a warm, tropical village.  They had enough capital to move and start a business.  They didn’t need to sell anything and kept their place in their hometown and lived between the two places.

I’ve known this couple my whole life.  I grew up with their kids.  They never striked me as wild-haired type, but they proved me wrong.  It showed me that no matter what stage in life you are it’s never too late to become a gringo in paradise.

Who says you can’t live in a tree house in the forest, a hut next to the beach, or a tiny house in countryside.  It’s the voice of doubt.  You really can do anything you put your mind to.  There is no easier era to do this than now.  The internet has changed things. It’s opened doors and we can share all we learn with each other.   That’s the way the world is evolving.  One by one people are catching on that you don’t have to play life safe.  In fact it seems riskier to play things safe these days.   Start a business, move, be adventurous.  Or maybe just get that pixie cut you’ve been thinking about all these years.
But whatever you decide remember to prepare yourself for adventure: which includes both hardship and joy.  It’s never too early, it’s never too late.

Get up and go!



Where do you think Paradise is?

Some of us will think of heaven, some of us will think of palm trees and sandy beaches. Maybe heaven is a sandy beach full of coconut huts and palm trees. At times paradise is in my own backyard while I listen to the sounds of my children play joyfully with each other. Paradise is what makes you smile.

I used to dream as a child of travelling the world. I often wondered why more adults just didn’t travel. Late in my teenage years I bought myself a passport. I imagined it full of stamps from exotic locations. I was going to go to Peru and conquer Machu Picchu. I was going to go to Egypt and ride a camel past The Great Sphinx of Giza. I was going to go to the Australia to hop with the kangaroos and listen to opera in Sydney. I was going to do all these great things.

And then I didn’t. I had that passport in plain sight to remind me when I was through with college that I was going to conquer the world. But conquering the world would just have to wait. Life came to play. I graduated college, got a job, met someone and got married. And then suddenly we were expecting a baby. I put those stamps on the back burner and replaced them with bouncy chairs and burp rags. I kept that passport stuffed in a drawer along with pacifiers and random junk. As we moved from rental to rental and had more babies I lost track of that passport.

Life was taking over. My teenage plans were being replaced by different dreams. Was I becoming an adult? Babies and a mortgage. I suddenly felt grown up. It was scary to think about, but also felt so natural.

During a move it rained profusely. I ran to get our moving boxes inside. As I started to go through the boxes, salvaging what I could save, there it was: my passport. It was drenching wet, but in the midst of the smearing ink I saw a picture of me. A picture that was stamped with youth and adventure. It had been ten years since I first got that passport, just reaching its expiration. I flipped through the empty, unstamped pages and started to fill them in.

I drew a picture of a stamp of my wedding on the first page. Next page, bringing home our first baby and then our first tiny house. Quickly the pages filled up. I realized that my life had not gone according to plan. My first passport was filled with life experience, plenty of babies and plenty of moves. I was smiling after it was filled. All that I accomplished in the last ten years could never have been more fulfilling if I had travelled to the remotest locations on Earth.

The next day I went out and filled out an application for a new passport. I took a new photo. This girl looked older, the same but different. I wonder where the next ten years will bring me. I know I’m headed for paradise. That is for sure, but I don’t know what the stamps will look like. I imagine there will be some “real” stamps as the kids grow and we gain time. I imagine there will be grandbabies. There will be joy and heartache. There will be cheesy Christmas pictures of a growing family year after. There is no place I’d rather be.

So to answer the question: where is paradise? Is it a physical location. I used to think so. Now as life passes by and maturity sets in, I realize paradise has been growing within all these years. I believe paradise lies in your passions and in your vocation. My vocation turned out to be my growing family. With every newborn cry my heart grew, my perspective changed, life become fuller and more fragile at the same time. Paradise is like a heaven on Earth. It’s what makes you smile. It’s not to say everyone has to live a family life, or a mainstream life, but they should find something that brings meaning to their life. You could live in the most beautiful island on Earth, but without some purpose or meaning in your life … physical paradise will never make you happy. Wherever you are at in life, there is always room for growth. The first decade of my life was stamped with milestones. It wasn’t what I had planned when I stepped foot in that passport photo booth. I was smiling because all these adventures awaited. I was ready to break from my parents and find my own way. But life is funny and full of twists. It almost never goes the way we plan.

The road to paradise has been a maze and I’m still finding my way. I can see the beginning and the end, but the path between is full of twists and turns. Through the passage of time we collect our memories, building those paths between the beginning and the end. On that note and for one last time: Paradise? I suppose it doesn’t actually have to be beaches and perfectly clear water. Paradise can be a downpour during a move- the worst possible timing- but also…so perfect.

Living Fargo ND

I’ve always dreamed of living on some deserted island, just me and my family. I know it sounds so, “dreamy” but truth is- I would do it in a heartbeat. I look around this world and think there’s so much, but so very little too. Sometimes I think Paradise is often having only what matters and not the location. It’s funny where you can find paradise. I’ve found it in the places I use to run from and scoff at.
Fargo, ND is that first place. Yeah, it’s paradise. Yes, it’s colder than Antarctica sometimes and it literally the flattest land on earth. It gets so cold in the winter that once I left my water bottle in the car and it froze within a few hours. We have to plug our cars in just to keep them alive and warm- think a heated blanket for car engines. There’s no hiking and no trees. There are lakes in the summer of you like the kind of bugs that will creep up through your nose to your brain and kill you. I mean, it’s not really the place people think of when they say paradise. But guess what? I’ve lived in the south, the coveted California, and grew up in the beautiful Oregon Mountains but Fargo- Fargo takes the win. It’s absolutely paradise here. The cold? It keeps the criminals away. The lack of stuff to do? Keeps the adventurous hipsters away- they keep all going to Portland and it’s hilariously funny to me. In the summer everyone in Fargo flocks to Minnesota for better lakes so half the town is gone. NO waits, no crowds…just peace. It’s pretty rad. Also- it’s a bit old fashioned and stuck in the 50’s and I couldn’t be more happy about it.
In Fargo the men work, and work hard. The women stay home and home-school their kids. Yet most of the women are college graduates and incredibly smart. People here are kind and love God. There’s no place God isn’t welcome and no place Atheists aren’t welcome. People here don’t really give one fleck about what you believe- they care if you’re kind and honest and work hard- so most people do. We moved to Fargo almost six years ago and are incredibly proud to call it home.
One year in Fargo- they had this unusual wet fall and a lot of snow in the winter- then they had a rapid melt and that causes this flood of almost biblical proportions (but in Fargo). Remember how I said its flat here? Well, imagine pouring some water on a flat table- what happens? It goes everywhere right? Yup. That was what was about to happen to Fargo once the Red River reached the top of the dikes that protected the city. And it’s was expected to reach that peak- and then some. The entire town was expected to go under, and fast. So Fargo residents did what they always do- got to work. The mayor canceled all public high and middle school so the kids could make sand bags and then deliver them and set them up around the entire city.
The mayor actually called for help from the teenagers of this city- he said the elderly cannot do this and young children cannot do this- the fate of Fargo rested on the shoulders of our youth. We needed their energy and stamina and strength. And guess what? They completely pulled through. One boy even guarded his house while his parents were out of town- he surrounded it with sand bags and got all his friends to stand guard for when the water breached- which they expected it would. They worked nonstop for days to make the sand bags higher and higher. While some water made it into the basement- he saved his house. He had to be airlifted out from off his roof- but he saved the house.
Teenagers even saved a neighbor’s house that was gone. In fact, the teenagers saved Fargo. We avoided disaster because the men and leaders of this town called on the youth and the gifts God gave them in strength- it worked. I was amazed and touched. It was an incredibly scary week as the waters were rising, and dikes were breaching….but by golly this town pulled together and saved it. No complaining about lack of assistance from the government- no complaining about anything- just honor and respect. I bet those teens have a lot of pride- which they should. And guess what? When it was all done the teens even helped clean up. Yeah.
So Paradise to me is a cold, bitter, weird weather place that floods almost every three years it seems. There’s no beach and no ocean close and the winters are hard. The cold shows no mercy but here- these are my people and this is paradise. This is home to my children. This is where I became the Mom and wife and God intended. This is where I learned to let go of selfish and unrealistic desires and be thankful for what was right in front of me. This is where I fell in love with my husband, my high school sweetheart and love of 19 years- over and over and over again.
Fargo- you are my paradise. I didn’t even know where ND was on the map six years and now, I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. Nor would I ever think any “paradise” could top this.

Want to be a gringo in paradise?

Most of us dream from time to time about getting away from it all and taking some time off to rejuvenate and get away from it all. Vacation time is a valuable thing and you want to make the most of it. You want to maximize your actual time on vacation and minimize travel time. Americans tend to either go to Hawaii or the Caribbean. But there are lots of islands to choose from. While you really can’t go wrong with a tropical island, there are some that are more remote and some with a more vibrant night life. What kind of vacation are you looking for? One that is more remote and isolated or one that has got a good mix of adventure and nightlife? Here’s a few top choices.

Maui, Hawaii.
From San Francisco to Maui is roughly a 5 hour plane ride. Maui has some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. There are plenty of opportunities for snorkeling, surfing, whale watching and beach time fun in Maui. Another can’t miss opportunity is watching the sunrise from atop Haleakala, an inactive volcano and visiting the national park. The views and colors from up Haleakala are magical. If you like hiking consider the bamboo forest known as Na’ili’ili Haele. The tall green bamboo stalks will leave you breath taken and be prepared to stop at one of the pools and waterfalls along the way. Of course there are many fun and touristy things to do in Maui as well. Enjoy a luau, get a massage, check out Elvis, and eat lots of food. Do all those fun things that Maui offers to the tourists as well as those off the beaten path activities. Maui has it all, it will feel like paradise.

St. Lucia, Caribbean Island
If you’re looking for a more romantic getaway consider St. Lucia. This Caribbean island has it all and is truly a paradise in the sea. It’s lush, green terrain offers lots of banana and coconut trees. It also features a drive in volcano, white sandy beaches, reefs for diving enthusiasts, and is top destination among chefs and foodies around the world for it’s rich and diverse cuisine.

Turks and Caicos
So this is where I would go- well- one of the places. It has those huts on water that you can stay in. It’s water is clear and see through and everything you ever thought paradise would be. I mean, you can go grab a coconut down the sandy road and enjoy it while watching a still, peaceful scene of paradise. If I could just leave it all and live there- I would in a heartbeat. I would home-school the kids, live off the land and make money selling something to all the travelers. It doesn’t even matter what I would sell- I would just really make them want what I had. And that would be it- and that would be life. It would be amazing. I think the only obstacle would be my husband- who despises the heat- he spent too much time in the sandbox of war so heat makes him cranky. But you know, I could convince him I’m sure!

Now this one is less picture perfect but still a great place. People travel there often so it would be easy to find work. There’s a lot of opportunity there but also a lot of crime- so it’s a little lower on my list but still fun and worth a look. It’s incredibly popular for Cruise ships and I hear the night life is to die for. I hear you can literally party all night almost anywhere and any type of party- the quiet and sophisticated or the rowdy and wild! Really something for everyone. And the music you guys- incredibly worth it.

Hvar, Croatia
OK- I know you’re thinking, “Croatia” with a question mark at the end, right?? Trust me on this. This is one of the lesser known places people like to move to. It’s incredibly trendy while also being rich in historical importance. If you want a Villa, and one with a view- all you need is 500 thousand dollars. Seriously-not bad. It’s full of palm tree’s and absolutely stunning (in the pictures…I’ve only seen the pictures).

So if you don’t mind really leaving EVERYTHING behind this might be the place for you. It’s found in the south pacific islands and has a very laid back lifestyle where most people have few possessions. Sounds heavenly doesn’t it? Beach front property is about 350,000 and if you get bored- there’s a town not too far with some cafe’s!

Ahhhhh Belize. This is a tax free place where things are just- slow and easy. Most people get around by bike and the weather is to die for. While property is pretty expensive (800,000 for a good view) there are a lot of investment opportunities that can help bring you some income in. Get ready to know everyone- I hear their only sign say, “You won’t be a stranger for long.”

So it’s reported that people here live to be 100. It’s climate is perfect- not too hot or wild- making a place where lots of people retire too. There are plenty of beaches to see and life is just easy!! There’s even a museum. I’m thinking about retiring now…here….

Mallorca, Spain
So my Mom is slightly obsessed with mountains. She loves the beach, but she needs mountains to climb and ride her bike up. That’s why this place is PERFECT for the energetic retiree. There are mountains surrounding the beautiful beaches- you really can’t ask for more!

So there you have it friends! Some great places to look into before you ditch the 9-5 and move to a dream location.

Blissful Gringo 🙂