Are you so jazzed after an amazing vacation in your favorite corner of paradise that you feel ready to take the plunge and move there? PJ Wade cautions that there are 5 life-defining challenges to consider before you head for paradise.
Just back from an extended tour of the South Pacific, I am ready to move to almost everywhere I visited.
Travel inspiration may mark the start of a new exhilarating life adventure, but if you jump before you think, paradise may be anything but.
As a quick reality check, consider our Five “Is Grass Greener?” Challenges for Bringing Paradise into Achievable Focus:
#1. Fact or Fantasy?
How much of your strong affinity to this vacation spot is tied to a romantic love interest or a resort-based lifestyle that is two or more notches above your normal pay grade? Sorry about this cold-water splash of reality. Talk to your life partner and crunch numbers to help you form your achievable view of paradise. For instance, after two weeks on a pre-paid luxury cruise ship, I was lulled into living with everything at my finger tips. What a reality check to land in pricy Sydney, Australia, and to have to pay out-of-pocket for everything. I’m still reeling at the price of an Aussie coffee. This beautiful but expensive city may still be within my grasp because the very-affordable, totally-amazing, fully-accessible transit system, which seamlessly links trains, buses, and ferries on one card, makes getting around without a car a cost-effective breeze.
#2. Weather or Not
When you believe the grass is greener somewhere else, you believe that other people’s situations are better or more attractive than your own, but in the few days or weeks of your visit, you may not have experienced typical weather. Check local media to learn whether your vacation coincided with atypical weather or the expected seasonal. During my two weeks in New Zealand’s summer, even though locals repeatedly referred to unseasonably warm and dry weather, I was taken in by the heat. Instead of cool, windy, rainy days, everyday was a warm, sunny delight that played up the extraordinary scenery and beaches until I was well and truly hooked on New Zealand. Then, for one day, real New Zealand weather hit. Balmy breezes became biting winds, and it rained on and off all day—that was the real New Zealand. Locals noticed nothing; vacationers were in shock and shivering. Yes, New Zealand does have lots of great warm days, but this is not a tropical country as my visit had left me believing.
#3. Fabulous or Frustrating
“I’d live here in a heartbeat!” places like Sydney’s Bondi Beach and Honolulu’s Waikiki Beach were highlights of my travels. Yes, I would love to live on or near either beach. However, the reality of living near a world-class beach or other feature can mean continuous crowds, heavy traffic, and high prices for everything including accommodation. Will you love living with “amazing” every day if it comes with daily frustrations like lack of parking, time-consuming line-ups, and noise galore? If all of this seems a small price to pay, you may be a step nearer to your paradise.
When I gushed to locals about how wonderful it must be to live in the paradise that is Hawaii, one Waikiki resident told me firmly that she was exhausted by the experience. A continuous stream of family visitors, kept her so busy that she couldn’t get out to enjoy Hawaii herself. Is having a small family another essential for living out your dream of paradise?
#4. Consistent or Changed Climate
Southeastern Australia, which includes Melbourne, Adelaide, and Sydney, is the most populated part of the continent. For a few years now, weeks of +100-degree summer heat waves have taken their toll on crops, animals, residents, and power grids. In parts of southeastern Australia, power outages, wildfires, cyclones, and extensive flooding have become commonplace, expensive realities. Furthermore, floods are sending coral-killing silt out to The Great Barrier Reef. Prolonged heat-waves warm the ocean and cause blooms of potentially-fatal stinging box jellyfish, which keep swimmers in full protective body suits or out of the water. These changing patterns are not unique to Australia. Red algae tides have plagued Florida’s west coast. California has been besieged by wildfires and the threat will continue. Storms and flooding ravage the Atlantic Coast making waterfront seem a high-risk environment. What’s taking a toll on the paradise you lust after?
#5. Economic Wonder or Financial Worries
Successfully financing a new lifestyle requires a long-term look at the economic realities of life in paradise:
• Many of the world’s best-places-to-vacation are difficult places to find well-paying, full-time employment. That’s why most of the crew on my American cruise ship were from Indonesia where beaches are beautiful and living-wage jobs are scarce.
• Many locals in Honolulu repeated the same story: “Life is great, but good jobs are scarce, so most people who move here don’t last long.” Traditionally, the hospitality and travel industry, that makes our vacations terrific, does not pay high wages and often offers only contract or seasonal work.
• If your paradise is offshore, check out government restrictions for working and owning property. Investigate changing politics before you move.
• Your savings, pension buy-out, or pension may not last as long as you think. What choices would you have in paradise if you had to supplement your income?
• One common global parallel may surprise you: real estate prices have risen sharply in most popular vacation spots—million-dollar homes are the norm in “hot spots.” Local real estate professionals can usually provide up-to-date overviews of housing, foreign ownership regulations, and economic conditions in their corner of paradise, so you can begin to assess the feasibility and practicality of a move.
This list is offered as a practical first step for following up on your passion. Within the United States, there are many variations on paradise, so following your passion may not be a high-risk pursuit, but consider our Five “Is Grass Greener” Challenges first.
An extended stay of one to three months may be an ideal experiment to check out details regarding a longer stay or a permanent move to your paradise.
What’s Coming Next?
Which topic or pending real estate decision would you like PJ to explore in a column? Let PJ know: email@example.com
Additional Resource: For more about Achievable Focus visit PJ’s blog, What’s Your Point?