This is the first in a series of articles that Tom will be writing for EFAM. This article will address the how’s and the why’s of his 3 month motorcycle journey through parts of Latin America to find a place to settle in as an expat somewhere along the beach. Following articles will give us more insight into the places that he passes through – from the eyes of an expat looking for his new city to live in, not from the eyes of a vacationing tourist.
I’m just an average guy who wants to live on a beach somewhere. So, how in the hell am I gonna get there from here?! That’s the question that I kept asking myself! Recently, the answer became quite clear…my motorcycle and I are going to go now, but let me digress for a moment.
I have always held the opinion that when I am old and begin to reflect on my past life, my experiences, my success’s, my failures, etc., I never want to be left thinking “ I wish I would have…” Too many of my friends and family are paralyzed by the phrases “I can’t, I shouldn’t”, or “that just wouldn’t be responsible”. It’s these thoughts that prevent many of them from acting on and fulfilling their dreams. Not that any of those decisions are wrong, we all live by our choices. To some, that is an acceptable way to spend your time here, to others, including me, it’s not an option. By the time most of us realize we have an opportunity, it’s already fleeting.
In the United States, everything revolves around “convenience”. If it requires too much effort, forget it, we don’t do it. We no longer have to think on our own and we’re practically protected from our own actions. If things don’t work out, apply for a government entitlement. I think we all qualify for something! Was your coffee to hot when you spilled it on your lap, or did you fall off the top step of a ladder? File a lawsuit, it couldn’t have been your fault, you should have been warned, and now you need to be compensated your pain and suffering…I could go on and on. I certainly don’t want to appear that I dislike my home country, that’s not the issue at all. It appears that in our government’s effort to please the entire population, our common sense has been watered down and repackaged as “political correctness”, much like Halloween was rebranded as “Harvest Day.”
I have always found that the Latin countries are more common sense-oriented. There is not the sense of entitlement that we, as Americans, seem to possess or expect. If I fall off of the top step of my ladder in a Latin country, it’s my fault, not the ladder company’s fault. I’m the idiot whoclimbed to the top and common sense should have dictated that nothing good would have come from that idea. This is the attitude and culture I’m looking for…I have a sinking feeling that our land of opportunity has become a land of entitlement and litigation.
I grew up in Ohio and as a youngster knew that someday I wanted to live on the West Coast – I just didn’t know where. After college and a 3 year hitch in the US Army, I relocated to Seattle, Washington and then moved on to Scottsdale, Arizona where I have lived since 2000. Even though I truly love the desert lifestyle, I still have that nomadic bug that has plagued me all my life, and it’s calling out for a tropical beach. I am 45 years old now, divorced, and I don’t have any kids. For the last 11 years I have been a real estate agent in Arizona. I consider myself middle income, I never got stung by the housing collapse and I own two homes, my personal residence and a rental home that I purchased 2 years ago. My current debt is that of my two mortgages, a car loan, and a single credit card that is paid off each month. My motorcycle is owned outright, and in 2008 I quit living beyond my means. What a novel concept!
If there is only one thing that I have learned in the real estate business, it’s that at some point the research has to end. You need to trust that you’re going to make the right decision, and then pull the trigger. Now I’m looking for my trigger to pull. Over the next three months I’ll be traveling through Mexico and Central America by myself, on my motorcycle…10,000 +/- miles round trip, in search of my destination. This is my “one-shot deal” to find where I want to land. Many people spend several years researching and traveling to find that special place. I didn’t want to waste that time, because time is the one variable we can never get back. Once it’s gone, it’s gone forever.
How am I taking off from work and what am I doing about my bills? In one word, sacrifices!
I’m not leaving my bills behind – trust me, they’re following along. I’ve rented my house for two months, fully furnished, utilities included to snowbirds from the Chicago area, thank you Bob and Virginia. With their monthly rent I can cover my mortgage and bills, and even have some money left over to defray my travel expenses.
My salary is based on commission. If I don’t sell a house, I don’t get paid. So I have budgeted for this and I am comfortable with the fact that when I come back I won’t have any business…that is, if I come back! That is the sacrifice, yes, I can come back and spend several months jump starting my business, or I can find my destination, and jump start a business/livelihood there, wherever “there” is!! You just have to believe in yourself and your abilities. Over the next three months, I’ll be updating everyone on my progress on what I am seeing firsthand “on the ground”. This is not going to be a leisurely trip, bouncing from one resort to another. This is going to be my report on the good, the bad, and the ugly of each of the places I visit. I’ll be staying with locals and or expats in each destination and observing from their perspective, not the perspective of a vacationer in a flowered button-up.
I’m beginning my journey by traveling south, down the Baja Peninsula with planned stops in San Felipe, Loreto, and La Paz. My only commitment on the Baja is stopping in Loreto and spending the night at the Villa Del Palmar, http://villadelpalmarloreto.com, an all-inclusive resort in Loreto (my only resort stop).
I’ll cross the Sea of Cortez by ferry from La Paz to Mazatlan. From there I’ll be exploring the entire Pacific Coast of Mexico and with trips inland to Guadalajara and Oaxaca. I’ll be zigzagging through each Central American country, but my focus is going to be on the coastal areas and the locating possible business and real estate opportunities along the way. My turnaround point is Panama City, Panama. I visited Panama 3 years ago on vacation and I was very impressed. This time around I’ll be looking at it from a different perspective.
Business opportunities…hmmm? My passion is real estate, just not being in real estate sales. I love remodeling and reselling homes, and I have a knack for it. Another interest is Property Management of second homes in resort areas. I’ll let you know what I find along the way.
What areas am I going to be focusing on? Initially, I have several destinations in mind. In Mexico, my interests lie anywhere along the Pacific Coast from Puerto Vallarta south to Puerto Angel, and on the Caribbean side from Playa Del Carmen to the Belize border. In Central America, I will focus on Belize and Panama. Who knows though, anything in between could hold a surprise!
I would like to invite everyone along on my journey by following me on:
Feel free to friend me, ask questions, or make suggestions.