It wasn’t easy moving to Central America. It’s not easy to uproot your family just like that. You keep wondering – is this really worth it? Will it work out?
Not so long ago I went back to the U.S. to visit everyone and it was through this visit that I saw just how much it has worked out.
I mean, routine-wise, we did the same things as I do in Central America, but the ways in which I approach these things has entirely changed.
And so I came up with the ratio of effective living: to see the amount of time spent doing that which you love, versus all the other admin-stuff.
My pattern wherever I’ve lived is similar to most people’s: I get up. Eat. Drop kids at school. Work. Pick up kids. Cart to after school activities. Do some chores. Buy admin-stuff, like food. Cook that food. Clean up. Sleep. Repeat five times a week, forever.
In the U.S. it involved at least two hours a day in the car, just going to-and-fro, as well as shopping a heap of different places for different niche things. It involved different schools for different children, with their different schedules and different needs all over town.
It was time-consuming to put it lightly.
Choices are limited. When I go into the supermarket (where I do the weekly shop) I am limited with choice: instead of fifty different types of cheese there’ll be three. This limitation saves me time – it means I nab the cheddar and off I go, not worrying about the fact that it comes from the local dairy and not from France. Instead of being too exhausted after running around town for cheese all day I can actually use it for supper and sit down to eat the mac-and-cheese I just made for my family.
Having supper and breakfast is something I do with my family nearly every day. Things like these, things that are important to me, I can make time for. Why? Because I’m not sitting in traffic; because soccer practice and music lessons? They’re both offered at the same place: at school; because I actually have time.
Moving to Central America has improved my effective living ratio. Living here has shown me how to spend my time. It’s shown me how much of it that I have, and how I should use it. With the beach being five minutes away, it helps me focus on doing a quick shop and getting out there for a surf; time for a run. Time to myself.
It’s changed my approach to life. It means that I have time to do the things that I love.
I whipped out my calculator to put a value on my time. Say I am awake 16 hours a day. In the U.S., chores (fetching-and-carrying kids, shopping, traffic, those sort of mundane things) would take me around 3-4 hours a day.
So what, if it’s four hours that’s 75% of my day doing that which I want.
But wait…that’s 120 hours in a month wasted on the mundane.
And that’s only if you don’t count your job as mundane…otherwise add another 8 hours a day.
In Panama I spend 15 hours of a day doing the things that I want to: I use my time. I use it to surf, to spend time with my family, my friends. I spend time living. And effectively at that (93.7%).
It wasn’t an easy decision to move to Central America, to leave the comfort of the U.S. But the comfort living here has brought us all is worth it.
I’m living effectively. And I love it.
The decision to pack up and leave the familiarity of life in the United States in exchange for the freedoms of life in the tropics
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