The deafening click of golden handcuffs

I’ll just come out with it. Most of the reason you have not heard from me recently is that the financial ramifications of my move to Latin America have changed significantly. This is due in no small part to my boss’ unwillingness to take “no” for an answer. As a result, my exit seems to be following the “4-hour Workweek” formula much more closely than I had previously imagined, or even wanted.

In that book, Tim Ferris lays out his plan for separating yourself from your job in phases. The first and most critical phase is to “identify your leverage” and use it to gain the ability to work offsite. The concept basically relies on the notion that if we are left alone to get our work done–rather than sitting in seventeen mind-numbing meetings a week–we can usually wrap it up in a fraction of the time it would otherwise require. Then we simply start using that freed up time to cultivate other, more satisfying, ways to make a living. The moment I read that section I knew it applied to me, a writer of ad campaigns. However, it was also fairly obvious to me–and I’m sure to the author as well–that not every occupation works that way. In other words, it’s pretty tough to be a plumber, cop or firefighter over the Internet.

Still, I preferred to make the cleanest break possible, even if it meant cobbling together what was left of my 401(k) and living from that while I explored other writing opportunities. Then my boss went and offered me full salary and benefits to move to Mexico and remain a full time employee. The dirty sonofabitch.

As most of you know, I turned down three separate partnership opportunities to make our move to Latin America possible. I simply was no longer willing to put money in front of happiness. But with this latest proposal, I may be able to salvage a bit of both.

Living on the Baja with a First World salary is a far cry from the original sentiment I expressed when I began this blog last spring (I can almost hear Steve from Colorado sighing) but I don’t know how I can turn it down. At least for now. In other words, I was more than willing to do something impulsive, and even irresponsible, but I’m trying not to venture into full-on stupid.

I feel some guilt in all this. Here I invited you all to come along for the ride as I gave life in The States my middle finger, perhaps emboldening you to do the same one day. And instead, come January, I’m going to wind up renting a fairly sizable Mexican hacienda with a panga boat and a groundskeeper while continuing to suckle me some First World teat.

Still, the ultimate goal will be the same, I suppose: to find myself writing more art and less commerce in the very near future while broadening my view of the planet.

All that being said, Loreto is a fine place to start. Its economy took a shit a while back when Citibank decided to try turning it into Cabo. Unfortunately (or not, depending on your perspective) this caper failed miserably as America’s financial meltdown conspired with head-lopping drug cartels to pop the proverbial bubble down there. The result is a glut of empty houses that are selling for half their original prices. Many of these can also be rented while their For Sale signs fade in the Baja sunshine.

Okay, you’re still thinking about the head-loppers, aren’t you? Well don’t. From everything I can gather, most of mainland Mexico’s PR nightmares simply do not happen on the Baja. In fact, we spoke with several Mexican nationals who said they themselves came to Loreto to escape “Bad Mexico.” Even petty crime is said to happen far less often on the Peninsula.

In fact, the only real downside I can point to is the fact that they serve their fish tacos breaded. It’s kind of a nightmare.


12 thoughts on “The deafening click of golden handcuffs

  1. Ive been following along, and I’m not disappointed at all. I think you are getting the best of both worlds.

    My family is moving to Costa Rica in January. We the plumbers trying to run theyre business over the internet. Ok, technically it’s a swimming pool maintenance business, but still location specific. Wish us luck! If you need a secretary based out of Costa Rica hit me up šŸ˜‰

    Post more often! Love following your journey.

    • We *are* the plumbers trying to run *their* business….
      That’s what I get for trying to comment on my phone!

  2. John,

    Wow, what a change. I have to agree with you, you cannot pass that up. It gives you some security and income, yet, your still on a adventure. And remember, if you can work from Baja, you can work from anywhere in the world. NICE!
    Its much better to have golden handcuffs than to have a ball & chain mortgage around your ankle.
    Keep up the writing. I am still trying to get to ecuador, but anywhere around Loreto , mulege, santa rosalia, is fantastic. Thanks for keeping us updated.

    • Thanks Steve. Yeah, it’s pretty tough to turn down, as much as I would love to feel a bit more retired. But that will come. And yes the idea that I could do this anywhere there’s wifi is pretty amazing to think about.

  3. Well, I’m not going to throw any stones, I’m not sure if I would refuse the offer in your situation. Probably not…sigh.
    I’m going to Ecuador for a week to finalize the purchase of the house and get basic things in, coming back to Toronto to deal with some paperwork that can’t be dealt with earlier, and then going to Cotacachi again “for good” – or at least for quite bit longer – at the end of November. I just hope that my cats will make the trip and not hate me forever for putting them through this. Wish me luck!

    • Yeah, we’ve got dog/cat combo to factor in. I’m allergic to cats, so I’ve had to promise not to drop Norvil off at a nice, friendly looking farm house between now and departure time. Sounds like you’re doing a good job of keeping your eyes on the prize. I think we’re all at the “darkest before the dawn” stage. Lots of minutia to deal with. Hopefully it will be that much more fun to compare notes on the other side!

      • How is the Wi-Fi availability in the area you,re looking John? Glad to see things progressing for you and Di. Interesting to see how the whole job situation is playing out. You couldn’tt have seen that coming 6months ago, huh?

      • Wifi was available in each of the small hotels we stayed in. Also is currently in the house we’re planning to rent. It’s not lightning fast, but I’ve heard you can choose different packages. As far as the job offer, it seemed like a possibility early on, but I didn’t seriously entertain it. Partly because I didn’t want to be arrogant enough to imagine that my employer would chase me to the ends of the earth, and partly because I didn’t want them to! Still, I see this as a transitional thing at best, but time will tell.

  4. I just happened across your blog and am enjoying it very much.

    I believe retiring outside of US is a real possibility; however, need to grind out a living until my children are grown.

    I was curious, what did you end up renting in terms of size, amenities, etc, and what did it all cost you? I am curious what electricity, water, and internet costs in Mexico.


  5. John,
    Congrats! It looks good for the time being. Nothing wrong with making money while acting “retired”.
    The wife has decided that she is going to come along on my exploratory trip to Panama. From the pictures, we really love the look of the Bocas Del Toro area. We are going to stay in Panama City for this trip, but plan on going back SOON! Good luck to you. Try to keep in touch. The site is still a nice place to come.

    Ed & Tina

    • Have a great trip to Panama, Ed and Tina. We were in Panama City for just one night during our Ecuador trip, but it seemed cool in a 1950’s Cuba kind of way. Lots of English speakers too. Let us know how it goes!

  6. A quick update: I’m in Cotacachi, with the cats, camping on the mattress in an empty house, but at least under a warm duvet I brought from Toronto. In a week I got gas tanks for my stove, so I can cook now, connected the fridge and washing machine (I’m afraid to start the first wash and inundate the house), got the internet, a good haircut for $4, and I’m collecting quotes for furniture from the local carpenters. It cools at night quite a bit, and rains on and off, but everything is much greener than in September. The grass in the garden needs cutting. It will take quite a bit of work to really settle down here, but, one thing at the time…
    By the way, the internet is not the fastest, but not worse than what I had with Rogers in Ottawa. Couldn’t get it from local telecom – they wanted a “cedula”, which I don’t have yet, so I went to a one person small company and had it installed the next day.
    Ecuadoreans just love to ask for cedula or passport number all the time, so be prepared.

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