How I Quit My Life and Moved to a Tropical Island

by | May 19, 2020

On May 2, 2019 I posted this as my Facebook status:

Our house sold that weekend and in less than two months my wife and I:

  • Gave away most of our belongings
  • Sold or stored the rest
  • Paid off all of our debt
  • Moved a family of 6 from Dallas, Texas to Cozumel, Mexico

This is where people usually respond, “What? Wait…how? WHY?!”

Two Years Prior

Rewind two years before the move. I had just gotten my annual bonus and was standing in the kitchen sharing the numbers with my wife. We were excited about paying down more of our debt and maybe taking a small vacation with our family.

In the middle of the excitement, I stopped and stared down at the table in front of me. It was time to confess what I’d been feeling for months. I looked at my wife and said, “I’ve got two years of this left in me.” I dont think it hit her at first. It didn’t come up again for a week until I said it again.

I was willing to hang on for two years, but at the end of it, I was done.

Things looked amazing on the outside. Thankfully, my wife and I have an unbelievably great relationship with each other and our four kids. We had a good social group and were plugged in to our local church. I had recently moved teams to work for a boss I adored. We had a great income and had a noticeable yearly bonus too.

But I wasn’t happy

Despite the great things about our life, we didn’t like where we lived. Dallas, Texas is a great place to start a family and build a career. But it’s a huge metroplex with little outdoor life to offer. No beaches, mountains, forests. And summers are unbearably hot.

It didn’t matter. I had little time to go outside. Two hours daily commute plus one hour lunch meant three hours a day wasted away from my family. It didn’t even count as work. 15 hours a week. 780 hours a year.

My work days looked like this:

I quit my life because I was tired of cramming everything into the tiniest part of my day

I was cramming my entire life into the smallest part of my day.

You identify your priorities by where you spend your time but my priorities did not match what I wanted for my life.

By the time I got home each night, it was that mad dash to bedtime. The kids were tired. Focus was on dinner and getting the day settled for six people. The hours we spent together were our most exhausted hours of the day.

Weekends were just as bad just in a different way. Mad dashes to fill in all the gaps that we didn’t have time for during the week.

It was killing me.

Two years. I had two years of that left in me.

We started planning

It took a few months of repeating that phrase but my wife finally understood I wasn’t just venting. I think it happened when I said, “I don’t care if we’re homeless in two years, I can’t keep doing this.” It wasn’t an ultimatum. It was the words of a drowning man. My life did not look the way I wanted it to.

We zoomed all the way out on Google Maps and considered where to move.

So we started planning. It was a full year before we told anyone in our lives, including our kids. We zoomed all the way out on Google Maps and made a list of what we wanted life to look like. Where we wanted to live. How we would support ourselves financially.

Of course, because I’m a nerd, I made a spreadsheet to plan our future lives. Here was our criteria:

  • How well did locals respond to US expats
  • Was it homeschool friendly
  • What was the cost of living
  • What was the weather like
  • Was there an ocean, mountain, and/or wilderness nearby

We picked Cozumel because it scored well. An added bonus was the short flight time to Dallas. We did a preliminary trip 8 months before our planned move and agreed to put the plan in action.

With a destination in mind we were both excited. We felt confident that we were doing something bigger than we’d ever done and loved sharing that adventure together.

Telling people

After a year of quiet planning, it was time to tell people.

Our kids were first. We told them one by one to give them a chance to ask questions and respond without pressure from their siblings. Having lived in only one house ever, there was a wide range of responses from excited to nervous. No one was angry.

Next was family. Our parents were great. If they disagreed with the decision they were silent about it and chose to be encouraging where they could. Our siblings were going to miss us, but were still supportive.

Where things got interesting was our friends. This brought about a wide range of responses from excited encouragement to anger and name calling. Some friends were awesome and have continued to be supportive even now. Some were less than awesome and told us I was having a mid-life crisis and my wife was incapable of speaking her mind. According to our friend group were simultaneously adventurous and inspiring as well as idiotic and stupid.

We continued with our plan (and adjusted our friend group accordingly).

Telling my work

Next was my work. I had really enjoyed working for my company and wanted to give them a big heads up. Months before putting our house on the market I asked my boss if we could talk. Something in my voice must have given it away because he asked, “Is it THE talk?” and I just nodded my head.

I had “jokingly” always told him that the only way I’d leave is if I persuaded my wife to move to a tropical island. When I said I was giving a him a 4 month heads up he jokingly asked, “So which island are you moving to?” Without missing a beat I replied, “Cozumel”. I explained what led to that moment and how much I had appreciated working for him. I’m an emotional person and was super close to tearing up. He smiled and said I should be the one to tell his boss.

I left our meeting and walked straight to his boss’s office. It was a Friday afternoon and I didn’t want to think about that all weekend. I got about three sentences in to telling my boss’s boss and he asked, “Would you be willing to work remote?” My first thought was, “DO NOT OVERREACT!”

Long story short, I did not quit. In fact, I’ve worked remote for the past year…and love it.

On a side note, my coworkers were among the most supportive and encouraging of all my friends. If there was any jealousy, they were masters at putting it aside and cheering us on!

Pulling the trigger

Two months later we put our house on the market and posted on Facebook what we were doing. You know, because that makes it official. The house sold in three days! We paid off our remaining debt and entered the final phase of moving.

What followed was incredibly hard. Countless goodbye parties, tears, and prayers. I had an actual panic attack at work two days before we left as I thought, “WHAT AM I DOING TO MY FAMILY!” The last moments in our house as all six of us said a prayer together and then fell apart. Watching my 8 year old son stare blankly at his empty room one last time. Saying goodbye to everyone we’d done life with for decades. Packing 26 suitcases. Flying with 26 suitcases!

Somehow we made it to the plane with our kids. For months, that had been our finish line and getting on the plane was the best feeling ever.

Well, until we landed less than three hours later in the Caribbean.

A year later

This year has been crazy. Selling everything and moving internationally with a family of six is the most exciting, terrifying thing I’ve ever done.

I have loved being around my family all day long! I still work normal “office hours” but take breaks and lunches with them. My kids do schoolwork in my office while I’m working. Our entire schedule has changed to reflect what we truly prioritize in life.

A lot has happened and we’re so grateful for where we’re at.

And that is how I quit my job, sold everything, and moved to a tropical island.

We have not yet mastered the art of all smiling at the same time…especially in the sun. 🤦‍♂️

If you made it here, I’d love to hear from you on Twitter @DavidCrandall_W or feel free to write me an email. 😁