In 2015, I felt an immense compulsion to leave Jamaica and go anywhere―anywhere that offered me better economic opportunities and greater safety. It became an obsession I could not shake. After years of my family trying to talk me into moving to America, I had finally hit that point where I had to leave no matter what. Staying just felt like it was no longer an option.
In March of that year, I visited my mom in Atlanta and told her that I planned to quit my job and travel. I had no idea where I would end up just yet, but I wanted six months to get my thoughts together and formulate a plan. On July 28th 2015, I came to America and never left. In all honesty, I regret that. I wish I had gone on to Germany or Canada or Australia or the UK to see if life was better there.
But, instead, I stayed here and made a life in the United States. Yesterday, America struck down Roe v. Wade and took away women’s right to choose. One of the Supreme Court Judges behind the decision also formally recommended reconsidering Americans’ rights to contraceptives and same-sex marriage.
So, what am I doing? I’m considering my options!
One of the great things about dual citizenship is that I can pack my things at any time and take my butt right back to my tropical island in the Caribbean Sea. I still own property there and, unlike in America, I can build whatever I want on my land. I don’t need to go back and forth with planning and zoning departments. I am free to do as I please.
Unfortunately, I could not bring Shadow or Samson back with me. Jamaica eradicated rabes decades ago and they have strict entry requirements. Pets entering the island must go into six-month quarantine, regardless of their vaccination status. Six months of separation from my little demon spawn would be a nightmare for us both, especially trusting government agents to feed him, care for him and keep track of him.
The country also has a ten-year limit on the age of cars imported to the island. So, I can’t ship my 2011 FJ back. I would have to sell it. No amount I could sell it for in America would get me something similar in Jamaica. I could, however, get a Suzuki Jimny and I could live like a Queen on my American income. Putting shadow at risk is just not worth it to me, though.
Europe is a diverse continent with a country and culture for everyone. I especially liked the idea of moving to Spain. The cost of living is relatively low compared to the rest of Europe and I could live like a Queen on my U.S. income there, too. There’s only one problem. That is a very long flight and Shadow would have more than a few unkind words to throw at me. Shipping the FJ wouldn’t be too bad, but my heart would be in my throat for the entire Transatlantic sail.
Living in Europe would also require an equally long flight to see family. That means I would be completely cut off. Believe it or not, I am close with my family. Despite living alone on the opposite side of the country, I have seen my family in October, December and March. Mom flies back again in August. Tickets are way too expensive to make those trips to Europe, and what would happen to Shadow if I fly back? I just trust someone to watch him?
If I felt he could handle the long flights, it wouldn’t be so bad. But, Shadow is semi-feral and does not like being around strangers. He would probably freak out in the airport and again on the plane. We have tried tranquillizing him before, as per recommendations from my vet, and it did not work.
There are some Transatlantic cruise ships, but only one of them is pet-friendly, it fills up fast, and COVID-19 is still a concern. In a few years, though, if they come up with an affordable Transatlantic cruise that lets me keep Shadow in my room, we are out of here!
In 2021, America’s COVID-19 response―or lack thereof―drove me up a wall. Coupled with all the racist incidents I had experienced over the summer and all the conspiracy theories I had to listen to, I just couldn’t stomach another month of living in America. So, I packed my things and ran off to Mexico to see if that was a better alternative.
Mexico was better in several ways. I was a block away from the beach but was only paying $300 per month. My grocery bill rarely exceeded $40 per week, even when I picked up everything I wanted. Seafood was abundant. I had access to lots of Jamaican food that I could never find in America. Mexican people did not give two f**ks about the colour of my skin and I experienced no sense of being “Othered”.
But, as I explained in Here’s Why I Wouldn’t Live in Mexico―But You Totally Should, there were also some downsides. Mexico is a volatile country, property ownership is tricky and you are very restricted when it comes to travel. There are certain areas you shouldn’t drive through at all, especially with American plates. That made Mexico great for long-term visits, but not ideal for long-term living―at least, not for me.
While Europe has always been my ideal home, Canada was right behind them. For years, in high school and college, my plan was to move to Canada―not America. The United States held no appeal to me besides the fact that my family lived there. However, when we finally started getting real snow in Atlanta, I realized that true winters are not for me. That sent me right back to the drawing board.
At the time, I had not yet discovered true nomadic living. I thought you had to be wealthy and have money saved to do that. Working online and remotely had not yet exploded to the point where everyday people―like me―had those opportunities. So, the idea of snowbirding in the South did not even cross my mind. I wish it had!
Now that I know better and I do work remotely, I’ve had a few chats with the friendly and welcoming Canadians about potentially moving. The end result is that I’ve decided to give British Columbia a trial run in 2023. The rentals there are reasonably priced and while it will cost me more than RVing in America, freedom is not free. Never has been and never will be.
My Final Thoughts on [Potentially] Jumping Ship
A lot can change between now and May 2023. I could find a new spot to put my dome and decide to stay and finish it. Maybe America finally comes to its senses and lives up to its promise of being a place that delivers freedom instead of taking it away. Maybe Christians will recognize that they are not the only ones living in America and that stopping women from getting legal abortions is neither going to save their lives nor their souls.
But, if nothing changes, you know where I’ll be in 2023! In all honesty, I was prepared to start heading north by July 15th. The only thing that stopped me is the fact that rentals in British Columbia are booked completely out for the summer already. Once I discovered that, it became obvious I would need to play the long game instead of running to the border like a bat out of hell.
Ultimately, if nothing changes, the plan will be to spend five months in America, four months in Canada, and three months in Mexico, each year. If America can’t get it’s sh!t together, then I can at least put my nomadic lifestyle to good use and stay out of the country as much as possible.
I am not the only one pursuing that solution. One of my friends already moved to Singapore and is in the process of relinquishing his U.S. citizenship. Another friend of mine leaves for Spain, this summer.
The United States was so much nicer when I only visited. Maybe it will feel that way again if five months is all I see of it.
Good luck to us all!