I’m trying to figure out how to start this blog, and since I don’t know where to begin, I guess I’ll just start from the beginning. We first visited Puerto Rico in October, 2014. We traveled there in order to work on a houseboat for someone I met online. At the time, everyone in our family exclaimed that we were going to get murdered or worse. There are terrible people in this world, after all. How did we know that this guy wasn’t some rapist or murderer? Well, to be honest, we didn’t know for sure that that wasn’t the case. But we took a leap of faith (After thorough online background checking) and it paid off big time. We got to experience a small island that few people ever get to visit. We made new friends, experienced a new type of living, and just generally had a good time for 3 weeks in paradise. I was immediately head over heels for the place and dreamed of retiring there some day.
This year, in late July 2015, we went again, though this time with friends and family. We spent 10 wonderful days in Puerto Rico and didn’t even come close to seeing or experiencing everything that the island had to offer. We swam in the ocean, hiked to a century old lighthouse, saw hundreds of species of fish while snorkeling, and camped in the rain forest. We swam in a rain forest river (Freezing, by the way), explored mountain towns, and drove through little neighborhoods. We experienced what happens when the stop lights stop working in Puerto Rico (complete chaos) and met even more friendly people. We jumped off of a bridge into the ocean with some local kids and we ate POUNDS of meat at a Brazilian buffet. (I swear I’ll never do that again). To sum it up, we had an absolutely amazing time. Once again, I fell completely in love with everything there. The people are so friendly. The food is different and amazing. The ocean is just…ridiculous. And the family focused culture is just great. Everyone there looks out for each other. You NEVER see someone broken down on the side of the road without 3 other people stopped to help him.
After arriving back home, I found myself literally dreaming of living in Puerto Rico. I was waking up in the mornings happy and immediately becoming sad when I realized that my dreams were just…dreams. Needless to say, this was fairly depressing for me. I wanted something that I couldn’t have. But I was going to tough it out for my family. I knew that my wife wanted to stay near her family and I was going to make sure that she got that, no matter how I felt about staying. After awhile of me not really being myself, Anna was able to coax the truth out of me…I was depressed because I couldn’t live where I wanted to live. My wife, being the amazing person that she is, almost immediately said, “OK, fine. Let’s move to Puerto Rico.” I kept telling her no and she kept insisting that if it was killing me that much, then we should make the move. After a couple of weeks of her nagging, I relented, and here we are. We’re moving to Puerto Rico after Christmas this year.
I’ve done quite a bit of research, spoken with locals, and compared schools and amenities. We’re going to be moving to Aguadilla, PR, which is on the west coast of the island. Specifically, we’re going to aim toward Ramey, which is the northwest coast of the island. The gringo presence in this area is strong. English is plentiful and the schools are fantastic. The boys will be attending Borinquen bilingual school this year, but next year we will hopefully be able to get them into Froedel bilingual school. I’ve researched these schools and their curriculum is very similar to what we have in Arkansas. In some cases, it will even be better (For instance, the boys will be fully bilingual very quickly). There are some massive tax incentives for small business owners and self employed people like me, and we should be able to save a healthy chunk of change with the move because of the VERY low income taxes we’ll be subject to. The housing in the area is extremely affordable and the people are some of the most friendly you’ll ever meet. When you add in the ocean, the food, the rain forest, and the culture, it will becomes an incredible place to live.
I know that things won’t be perfect. I know that after the newness wears off, it will just be a place to live and won’t necessarily continue to be so magical. And who knows, after 6 months of living there we may agree that it’s not working out and that we should move back to Arkansas. But as Anna put it, “We won’t know unless we try. I don’t want to look back and say that we never tried.” And she’s right. The man who took us to Puerto Rico spent 20 years lusting after the Caribbean. After years of nagging from his wife, he finally gave in. He told us that he wished he had not waited so long to make the move. Unfortunately, just a few years after moving, he passed away. He only got to live in his paradise for a few years because he didn’t make the jump earlier in life. I don’t want to experience that situation. Life is short. If you want something, you should go after it. And that’s what we’re going to do. Here’s hoping that our new Puerto Rican life is everything I hope it will be.
We’ve got a lot to do before we can move, and only a couple of months to do it. I expect I’ll be chronicling the process right here.