Help me island my life
June 24, 2014 6:24 PM   Subscribe

I will admit up front that this is a vague, cerebral kind of question. I'm not sure how to make it less so at this point, so if you can wade through, I'd really appreciate it. Wall-o-text ahoy.

I've always been unhappy with where I live. The weather traps me indoors half the year. There is no unique scenery, & what is here I'm incredibly tired of seeing. I'm way beyond over it. Additionally, my life isn't working for me. I haven't found gainful employment despite years of applying. The job I do have is a low, precarious position seemingly akin to that of an intern where I have to scavenge for things to do in different areas or departments. My current environment/daily life is rushed, unfulfilling, stressful, emotionally unhealthy, counter-productive to growth & improvement, aesthetically dismal. What I long for is constant & consistent access to the outdoors & pleasant weather (warm, sunny, beachy), a less pressured life, interaction with fun, positive, (emotionally & physically) healthy people, a sense of purpose, a way to support myself financially. I suppose all of these things can be condensed into "peace & contentment". It is hard to describe in words, so if the above isn't helping, what I'm picturing is a (year-round) warm, sunny, breezy beach locale that offers unique, outdoor-friendly employment opportunities, smiling people (myself included - gasp!), where I have lots of opportunities for recreation & building a support network, feeling healthy and at peace (not anxious, sick, stressed, frustrated, defeated and deeply unhappy as I do now on a daily basis). I don't know how to make this happen. Have any of you traded your crap, non-working life for something you longed for? Does it work, or is it just a pipe dream that I'll never achieve? What steps did you take? What concrete things can I do to get myself there within a short amount of time? I feel incredibly stuck, trapped in my life & circumstances & nothing I've tried to change it has worked at all. If you've made it this far, thanks for reading.
posted by msbadcrumble to Grab Bag (14 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
What Color is Your Parachute is a good place to start.
posted by Seeking Direction at 6:30 PM on June 24, 2014

I would suggest finding a place that would house you in conjunction with you working there. I know some seasonal places on the beach have staff housing, which is crap work for crap pay, but it could get you to the geographic area where you'd want to be and you could treat the first few months as a trial-by-adventure, of sorts.

I will say that places which are warm all year round and jobs that are fun and outdoorsy year round tend to be on the low-paying side because many people want those jobs, and you can pay little for them, so remember that it may be a lifestyle trade-off, in regards to living by yourself vs. roommates, ability to advance, etc.
posted by xingcat at 6:45 PM on June 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

What is your debt situation like?
posted by empath at 7:29 PM on June 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

I have on several occasions picked up and moved extended distances to places with better weather thinking that was going to improve how I felt about my life. In both cases I liked the places I ended up living, although there were some big issues with both that were pretty unique to me. But in neither case, fundamentally, did the change of scenery really help me feel better about my life overall when I didn't feel like I had any idea what I wanted. In particular, if you've had trouble building a support network in your current city, picking a new city, even a prettier city, is unlikely to help. (Exception: if there's some reason like being a gay person or atheist in a conservative small town that limits the number of supportive peers, but in that case your nearest big city is probably sufficient.)

I'm still not against the idea of moving, but it's usually easier to fix problems like that or major career direction stuff before you leave.
posted by Sequence at 7:30 PM on June 24, 2014 [3 favorites]

It is hard to describe in words, so if the above isn't helping, what I'm picturing is a (year-round) warm, sunny, breezy beach locale that offers unique, outdoor-friendly employment opportunities, smiling people (myself included - gasp!), where I have lots of opportunities for recreation & building a support network, feeling healthy and at peace (not anxious, sick, stressed, frustrated, defeated and deeply unhappy as I do now on a daily basis).

The reason I ask, is because you can find something like that by volunteering somewhere in the developing world for a while, or WWOOFing, or otherwise travelling. You can do it while absolutely dead broke, as long as you don't have a bunch of debt hanging over you, I know people that did.
posted by empath at 7:31 PM on June 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

But on the other hand, keep this quote in mind, too:
“Traveling is a fool's paradise. Our first journeys discover to us the indifference of places. At home I dream that at Naples, at Rome, I can be intoxicated with beauty, and lose my sadness. I pack my trunk, embrace my friends, embark on the sea, and at last wake up in Naples, and there beside me is the stern fact, the sad self, unrelenting, identical, that I fled from. I seek the Vatican, and the palaces. I affect to be intoxicated with sights and suggestions, but I am not intoxicated. My giant goes with me wherever I go.”
-- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Moving somewhere new isn't necessarily going to fix you if you're not going to do take the opportunity to change your state of mind. And you can actually do that at home. I guarantee you there are places you can go and people you can meet wherever you live. You just have to get out of your comfort zone and try new things.
posted by empath at 7:33 PM on June 24, 2014 [13 favorites]

To clarify: I'm not looking for an "outdoor job", so much as a well-paying one that allows one to be outside sometimes, work remotely, etc. basically, not be trapped at a desk. Also, debt load is high.
posted by msbadcrumble at 7:44 PM on June 24, 2014

I know many people who go traveling with next to no money. I learned how myself, it's pretty fun -- you find someplace that you enjoy, and get a job at a hostel or bar, or a coastal farm or something, and they house you and feed you sometimes too. It's a pretty good way to drop out of the rat race.

Your debt load is probably your biggest block to making this happen quickly. How high is it? Is bankruptcy an option? Can you find well-paid remote work that would allow you to go to this island and still pay down your debt?

What are your skill sets? Do you have skills that translate well to remote work? Alternatively, can you move somewhere with a better job market so you can find a job that you can transition to remote work, or at least pay down your debt so you can go find an island you like?

I've done this myself, more or less, but I did pay down all my debt first.

Good luck :)
posted by ananci at 9:34 PM on June 24, 2014

I've heard there's a fair number of folks that took a vacation to Hawaii and didn't bother to get on the return flight. Unfortunately they changed a law that that the rich folks had to have a relative living in their beachfront home almost all the time. Used to be a lot of nice unused places that were available to beach bums that kept it on the qt.

But yeah, loose the debt, if you can pull together a little cash, settlements can be done.
posted by sammyo at 9:47 PM on June 24, 2014

You might want to consider just moving. Take a chance - you are in debt, but your spirit is the bigger problem. Emancipate it and you will thrive. I used to live in a gloomy Midwest location and now I live in Orange County, California. I can confirm to you that blue skies and sunshine and geographical diversity (ocean, mountains, desert) make a huge difference. I doubt you would regret it and I doubt you would go back.
posted by Dansaman at 9:57 PM on June 24, 2014

I lived somewhere gloomy and cold. One unrelenting winter as I was shoveling my car out for the 10th time, I vowed that I'd live somewhere warm by the next winter. And I did it! It was risky, but worth it.

I know I preach San Diego like it's my job, but this place is pretty much exactly what you're looking for in your question.

Perfect - unrelenting perfect - weather.
Lots of outside time. Beaches, parks (city, state and national), mountains in driving distance.
Low key, relaxed people.
Entirely manageable traffic.
Super healthy lifestyle.

Granted housing is expensive but there's a ton to do that free - movies at Balboa Park, the beach, lectures at the universities.

Move. Sell what you can. Pack what you need and move.
posted by 26.2 at 10:26 PM on June 24, 2014

What's your skill set? What kinds of work can you do well? That could help us give more precise suggestions.

I feel compelled to point out, in conjunction with the Emerson quote above, that there's no such thing as paradise on earth (and I live on a tropical island). The best thing you can do for yourself is get into a good place mentally before making any changes.
posted by orrnyereg at 11:17 PM on June 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

I can relate. Recently got out of a soul-killing job and I'm trying to figure out my next move. I'm in the Pacific Northwest, which everyone thinks is Shangri-La, but it's too damn cold for me. I visited Austin, Texas a few years ago and can't stop thinking about it. It's gorgeous and has an amazing vibe - a university town with a thriving cultural scene. From what you've said here, I think you'd enjoy it.

I wouldn't go with the advice to solve all your financial and emotional issues before moving. You'll be working on yourself your whole life. Do what you can to make your daily life better, and you'll be in a better place to make the big changes over time. You are soul-starved for beauty. Do what you can to acquire some of that, and the rest will fall into place eventually. Good luck!
posted by cartoonella at 2:03 AM on June 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

Those of you suggesting SoCal - that's been my dream destination since I was a teenager (I'm not going to say how long ago that was), but I can't even support myself now, so regardless of where I want to go, I don't have the income or the funds to move and support myself.

cartoonella - "soul-starved for beauty". This is perfect.

I am currently working on my mental state, but it's extremely difficult in the environment in which I live/exist. It is not a healthy one, but I'm trapped here because of debt and not being able to earn enough money. No one wants to hire a summa college grad who has worked as a legal investigator, real estate agent, research assistant, computer fixer.... If I could just pick up and move, I'd have done it long ago.
posted by msbadcrumble at 4:49 PM on June 25, 2014

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