Puerto Rico Adventure – Part 1: The Brainstorm
It all started 12 years ago, on our 25th Anniversary.
|At El Yunque National Forest
I remember saying to Julie, “Wouldn’t it be great if we could live here?”
That got us thinking! Then a whole lot of questions popped up. What if we did move to PR? How could we make it happen? Would we work or semi-retire? When would we do it? What would our friends and family say?
That was 2010. We were in our mid-40s.
Slowly, a plan emerged and a few years later we both agreed – by our mid-50s we wanted to go for it! We called it our 2020 Vision. By then our house would be paid off, our two adult daughters firmly established, and our health and finances relatively intact. (grin)
So sure. Let’s do it. We’d move to Puerto Rico in 2020! (I can hear you chuckle at the timing. We’ll get to that!)
While we dreamed, we thought it a good idea to get to know the island. Google Maps Satellite View is a wonderful tool! But nothing beats firsthand encounters. So we returned to PR on our 30th Anniversary to experience more of the island.
|At a Mountain Eco-Lodge
Another fabulous trip. A bed & breakfast at a mountain eco-lodge. A cave with bats. Coffee plantation tour. (We’d done the Bacardi Rum tour on our first trip.) Spent 4 or 5 days at a condo at Luquillo Beach. (“Could we live here? Why yes, yes we could! Just look at that view!”)
|Our view from a high rise condo in Luquillo.
We were convinced. So we did some brainstorming.
- First thought, housing. We’d sell our home here in Kansas and use the money to buy a three bedroom condo outright. Check.
- Second thought, income. We’d rent out our condo part time as an AirBnB. I’d also write full time and Julie could teach English online. Check.
- Third thought, our cat. Charlie was getting up there in years. It might be tough on him, but we’d have to take him with us. Check.
We had a few more thoughts, of course, but you get the idea. We were solution oriented. We saw opportunities and looked for open doors. We knew there would be challenges and we worked on ways to overcome them.
Then came Hurricane Maria.
This was tough. By now, we had friends in Puerto Rico (a sister church relationship with a congregation in Orocovis, right in the middle of the island). We waited to hear from them about damage and followed the news there like so many others.
|Rebuilding the roof.
The long and short of it was that we were able to organize a work trip in 2018. We accessed some relief funds from our Baptist denomination and took a few friends from Kansas down to PR to help a woman from the church reroof her house.
|A new roof for our new friend!
What a powerful bonding experience with our Puerto Rican family! While at the same time it gave us a real taste of day to day living on the island. We were more convinced than ever. Life on this Caribbean paradise was for us.
Here were some factors:
- US Territory, so no visa or passport needed. Also they use US money and there are plenty of familiar franchises like Walmart, CVS, Costco, grocery stores, and fast food places (of course).
- Friendly people. Most Puerto Ricans speak English but we know Spanish as well (or at least Julie does!). And there are plenty of vibrant churches there that serve their communities.
- Cost of living is a bit higher than in Kansas (especially utilities); and fulltime job opportunities were limited but we were semi-retiring, right? So we would make it work. (Maybe become YouTube stars? Yeah, right!)
- Beach living. I mean, really. If we’re going to make this momentous life transition, we’d have to have an ocean view. And there are plenty of views! So many great little beaches in PR to choose from.
|One of hundreds of beautiful beaches.
On our previous visits, we’d rented a car and driven around the island, but this time we’d do so with an eye on finding a place where we could be happy for the next ten years or so.
And we’d take that trip in 2020! Welp! You know what happened.
Of course, we had to put off our plans a bit. But we eventually did make that excursion, just last year. And next week, I’ll share about that and how we nailed down where we hoped to settle in for our upcoming “ten year vacation”.
I’ll also share what we’re doing right now (as in right now! – with 80 days to go!) to make it happen. And it’s not all candy and nuts. Oh no. We’re learning every day to overcome new challenges. But we keep this in mind: it’s an adventure worth pursuing!
Until then, do you have any mid-range to long-range plans that you are starting to develop for your next chapter of life? Tell us about them! How far along are you? Are things shaping up like you expected or are there twists and turns you never thought you’d encounter?
Remember, it’s supposed to be a fun and exciting journey. Don’t stress. Keep planning. Keep dreaming. Keep brainstorming. And then start working on bringing it to reality bit by bit!
|Sunset at Viejo San Juan.
Read all our posts in our Puerto Rico Adventure series...